Everyday requires a little courage. The alarm calls us to duty each morning, ushering us into a day that we can never fully anticipate no matter how hard we try. Something is bound to test our patience or strength of spirit – that’s just life. But there are times when we’re knocking on our inner warrior’s door and she’s just not answering.
Whether you’re prone to anxiety and stress or you’re facing a particularly challenging situation in your life right now, yoga can help you find and harness your inner strength to persevere. Sustained yoga warrior poses coupled with deep, focused breathing work together to maximize the blissful benefits of the powerful yoga practice.Holding open-body postures for 1-2 minutes can help decrease cortisol levels and boost testosterone, a hormone that encourages confidence and self-assuredness.
These 6 yoga warrior poses aren’t necessary the traditional ones, but they’re great tools to fire up your inner yoga warrior. We hope they will help you connect with yours.
Extended Triangle Pose, Utthita Trikonasana
A quintessential standing pose in many styles of yoga, Extended Triangle Pose has so many benefits. Not only does it therapeutic for anxiety, pain, and stress, it also improves digestion and helps stretch and open up the entire body. Start in Downward-Facing Dog and then step your left foot between your hands, moving into Warrior II. Then, straighten your front leg and on an exhale, reach your right arm forward, extending your torso to the right. Raise your left arm skyward and keep your gaze down or move it up toward your top thumb. Take 5-10 deep breaths. Feel free to move through a vinyasa or simply switch sides and repeat.
Tree Pose, Vrksasana
Tree Pose is a calming pose that improves your sense of balance. Shift your weight onto your left foot and bend your right knee. Using your right hand, place the sole of your right foot against either your inner left thigh, the inside of your shin, or over your ankle, with your toes pointing toward the ground. Root down into the ground with your standing leg and hold here for 5-10 deep breaths. Try repeating a mantra in your head as you breathe. Ex: “I am centered” or “I am strong.” Repeat on the other side.
Wild Thing, Camatkarasana
One translation of Camatkarasana is: "The ecstatic unfolding of the enraptured heart." This beautiful chest opener fires up your strength while opening up the body toward the sky. Begin in Down Dog and then slowly bring your weight into your right hand and roll onto the outer edge of your right foot as if you were moving into Side Plank Pose. Stay strong in your right hand as you flip your dog by lifting your hips and stepping your left foot back, placing your toes on the floor with your knee partially bent. Lift your hips higher until you curl more into a backbend with your right foot solid on the ground. Allow your head to drop back and extend your left arm over your head or to heart’s center to express your power and freedom. Hold for 5-10 breaths then return to Down Dog and repeat on the other side.
Side Plank, Vasisthasana
This challenging pose really tests your balance and willpower and builds wrist, arm, shoulder, and core strength. Begin in Plank Pose and make sure your shoulders are flush over your wrists as you widen your shoulder blades and slide them down your back. Move into Side Plank Pose by pressing your right hand down and spinning your outer right heel to the floor. Stack your left leg on top of your right and stretch your left arm toward the sky. If your balance and strength are supreme, externally rotate your left hip, bend your left knee, and grab hold of your big toe as your straighten your left leg up. Keep your right side body in a straight, diagonal line. Hold for 5-10 breaths and repeat on the other side.
Revolved Squatting Twist
This gentle, twisting position detoxes and soothes your mind and body. Start from squatting in a stance that works for you – you may like to take a wide stance with toes and knees angled out or pull your knees and feet closer together in a tight squat. If your heels don’t reach the ground, that’s OK. Bring your hands together at heart center. Then slowly twist to one side, hooking your elbow toward the outside of the opposite knee. Take 5-10 deep breaths and then repeat on the other side.
Reverse Warrior, Viparita Virabhadrasana
A variation of the classic, beginner yoga pose Warrior II, this pose aids in opening up your side body. To come into this position, first start in Warrior II. Step your left leg back, as though you are coming into a lunge position, but drop the heel down and point the toes out to almost 90 degrees. Keep your left leg straight with your right knee bent and aligned with your ankle. With your shoulders centered above your hips, reach your left arm back and right arm forward with your palms down. Then let your left arm drop and rest on the back of your leg, while your right arm reaches up and over your head. Close your eyes and take 5-10 long, deep breaths. Repeat on the other side.
What yoga poses help you harness your inner warrior? Let us know in the comments below!
Photography by Robert Sturman featuring Tiffany Cruikshank in the Black Onyx Seva Legging. Learn more about the story behind this special legging here: Black Onyx Seva Collection