The Woes and WHOAHs of Warrior 2
Warrior 2 pose
This is a common vinyasa yoga pose (pictured above) and it can tend to feel clunky or awkward. I used to hate this pose until I learned why it was important and how I could modify it to fit my body. In this post you will learn:
- How to cue this pose as a teacher/ how to use the cues for your own body
- Why it’s beneficial
- How to modify it to save your hips and knees
Warrior 2 uses more external rotation than other poses and due to modern day movement (or lack thereof), there can either be too much external rotation in the hip socket or not enough. Too much rotation without proper engagement in this pose can lead to sinking into the hip joint in which bone touches bone and could cause ligament tearing, or tendon pinching. This doesn’t mean it will happen, just that it’s possible. Not enough external rotation can put too much pressure on the knee if you try to keep forcing the thigh into external rotation. Do not force this pose.
So what cues are needed to engage the muscles in this pose and make it more sustainable?
- Make sure the left and right pelvic points are level.
- Engage the glutes as you wrap the tailbone towards the floor.
- Pull the low belly in towards the spine.
- Push the feet away from each other.
- Lift the ribs out of the pelvis.
Lots of engagement happens after using the muscles that surround the hip joints. If you are trying to achieve full external rotation in this pose, I would ask yourself 1 thing: What’s the point? I was talking with my friend, Vanessa, recently and we discussed the topic of achieving ‘perfection’ in a pose. If you don’t have pain in a pose then what is the point of pushing a joint further into a ‘perfect’ position going to accomplish for you? Especially if the joint isn’t ready for that type of load. If you can answer that question, then the way you pursue going into the pose will be safer as opposed to, “This is what the pose should look like, so I’m going to try looking like that.” Listen to your body.
If this pose is so vulnerable then why should you add it to your practice? It is a great pose, alongside goddess, that holds the pelvis in in a secure position while moving the torso. There are 36 muscles that attach to your pelvis and some of those muscles are in your upper body. By keeping the pelvis stable you are able to laterally flex the spine and stretch/strengthen muscles like the obliques, quadratus lumborum, lats, abdominals, shoulders and more. I wish I could show a visual of the muscles on this, but they’re all stacked on top of one another so all I would be showing you is a blob. Just imagine everything above your pelvis is being stretched the moment you decide to side bend your upper body in warrior 2. These moves I refer to as reverse warrior and warrior variation in my classes. Plus, this pose is great for strengthening the legs.
If this pose still doesn’t feel great, well, what can you do for your students or yourself to modify this pose? There are circumstances that you can’t control in your body sometimes and that’s okay! Try some of these options out to get some of the same (or more) benefits.
Taking warrior 2 down to the floor.
Turning the bent knee’s foot in to reduce torque on the knee joint.
I hope these modifications and cues help. This pose is a great way to get in touch with the pelvis and the muscles that surround it. If it's still feeling clunky, schedule a private with me so we can analyze your movement patterns.
What pose/topic would you like to see covered next month?