To do Warrior 3: Stand with the feet together in Mountain Pose, Tadasana, towards the back of your yoga mat if you are using one. Bring your palms to your hips. On an inhale breath, step the right foot forward. Take an exhale breath and stay here. On another inhale, lift the back heel, so that the back foot is resting on the ball-mound of the foot and the weight shifts towards the front foot. Notice the four corners of the front foot keep you balanced.
Inhale and lengthen the crown of the head towards the ceiling. Exhale and draw the shoulders down the back and away from the ears. On the next inhale, begin to draw the torso forward while simultaneously lifting up the back leg. Continue to find length in the head and torso while hinging forward. Lift the back leg up in line with the hip, or if that is not available, as high as you can while finding balance. Find a drishti gaze, a non-moving object to gaze upon in order to help concentrate and find balance while in the pose.
Continue to breathe, long and smooth inhales and exhales. Option to bring the palms to the heart or straight forward, extending the fingers out in front of the torso. For more of a challenge, interlace the fingers and release the index fingers, creating a steeple gesture. Release the head and neck so that the head and neck are in-line with the spine.
To refine the pose and further articulate the posture, notice the front foot, the foundation of the pose, is grounded down and all four corners of the feet are constantly shifting in order to maintain balance. Press the thigh bone back (standing leg) and straighten and lengthen more through the standing leg. Lower the left hip down in order to “square” off in the hips. Draw the low-belly in towards the spine.
Continue to focus on the breath, and continue to find length out the fingers, through the crown of the head and across the sternum, the area in the chest. Draw the shoulder blades down the back and find more expansion across the back. Notice the length in the spine and continue to lengthen and strengthen out the lifted leg. Allow the lifted foot to stay active, extending energy through the ball-mound of the foot and out through the heel.
Stay here and breathe for 3-5 rounds of breath (one inhale and one exhale complete one round of breath). Visualize the breath moving up and down the spine and perhaps even give it a color. Watch the color and the prana (life-force) as it invigorates and nourishes the body. Slowly come back out of the pose, by lowering the lifted leg and bringing the torso back up-right. Repeat on the opposite side.
Warrior III has many benefits. It helps to strengthen the legs, spine, shoulders and arms while stretching and lengthening the hamstrings. It strengthens the entire core and creates extension and health of the spine. It helps to build focus and concentration while practicing tapas, or focused energy on one thing. Rather than multi-tasking, practice uni-tasking. You may find that you become fearlessly determined while focusing purely on the breath. Take a moment to notice how you feel after doing the pose. Make a commitment to bring these qualities off of your yoga mat and into your life. Find the same focus, concentration, and “attitude of lightness” throughout your day.
Check with your doctor before performing any form of exercise including yoga. Always honor your body. If a posture gives you pain, gently come out.
Christi Iacono, owner of In Rhythms Yoga
www.inrhythmsyoga.com to see the full schedule, instructors and for private lessons.