How to Teach Warrior Two

teach warrior two alignment virabhadrasana two

Alignment Tips and Teaching Cues for Warrior Two

Virabhadrasana II is a foundational posture across many styles of yoga from Hatha to Ashranga to Restorative. When taught correctly Warrior 2 or Virabhadrasana II builds determination, focus and fortitude while opening the hips and building strength throughout the lower body, arms and shoulders. In this blog post you will learn to teach warrior two using proper alignment and effective cueing.

Teach Warrior Two, Virabhadrasana II With Effective Cues

As we do with all of our postures we will build the posture from the ground up. We start with the foundation of the posture (the feet) and move up from there. I encourage you to not overwhelm your students with alignment cues. If you’re mindful with how you bring them into the posture you will not need as many alignment cues to keep your students safe.

  • Have your students take a nice long stance and check their leg distance. With legs straight their feet should be equal to their wingspan (ankles under wrists)
  • Back foot is parallel to back edge of the mat or slightly turned in
  • Lift the arches of both feet
  • Front toes point straight forward
  • Front knee is right over the ankle
  • Visually check the front knee. Students should be able to see the big and second toe
  • Hips are square to the long edge of the mat
  • Abdomen draws in to support the lumbar spine
  • Spine is long- make sure they aren’t collapsing in their lower back (no deep backbend in the lumbar spine)
  • Shoulders over hips and relaxed away from ears
  • Arms extended long at shoulder height palms down
  • Arms are engaged and energized
  • Gaze, drishti, is over the fingertips of the front hand

Warrior Two Benefits:

  • Builds stamina, strength, balance and stability
  • Stretches shoulders, hips and groins
  • Increases staying power and fortitude
  • Energizes the arms and legs
  • Improves circulation and respiration

Warrior Two Variations and Modifications:

  1. Flip palms of hands up toward the ceiling, bend the elbows and draw the shoulder blades down and in toward one another. Keep the shoulders as they are and flip the palms down toward the floor from the elbows.
  2. Teach warrior two with a neck stretch. Flip the front palm up toward the ceiling and pull the elbow in toward the waist. The backhand reaches around the back to bind with the elbow of the front arm. Once the bind is achieved draw the back ear toward the back shoulder.
  3. To strengthen the ankles and the calves lift the heel of the front foot.
  4. Modification for Warrior Two: Use a chair to support the thigh of the front leg.
  5. Modification for Warrior Two: Use a wall for alignment of shoulders and hips.

Warrior Two Contraindications & Cautions:

How to Teach Chair Pose

how to teach chair pose

Alignment and Teaching Cues for Chair Pose, Utkatasana

Chair pose, Utkatasana in Sanskrit, is a popular pose in vinyasa and ashtanga yoga classes. Utkatasana or chair pose builds strength and stability in the legs and core, builds heat in the body and requires focus and balance. Here I will provide teaching cues and alignment tips for chair pose that will benefit both yoga teachers and students alike.

Yoga Cues and Alignment Tips for Teaching Chair Pose

I like to teach asanas from the ground up. Just as you would build a house starting with the foundation it’s important to build a steady posture from its base.

  • Stand with feet together
  • Big toes touch
  • Heels slightly apart
  • Knees point over the second toes
  • Weight is distributed back toward the heels
  • Sit the hips low
  • Lengthen the spine by drawing lower abdomen in and up
  • Arms reach overhead with palms facing one another
  • Shoulders soften away from ears
  • Gaze straight ahead- healthiest for the neck
  • Tips if chair pose creates too much tension and stress for your student’s shoulders suggest they take the hands slightly wider than the shoulders or “goal post” the arms.

Variations of Chair Pose

  • Revolved (ie. with a twist): many arm variations available: hands at heart center in prayer/anjali mudra or arms spread wide are two of my favorites
  • Heels lifted. Press up high on the balls of your feet and lift your heels.
  • With hands bound behind hips. This option opens the shoulders and chest.
  • Feet hip width and a block between the inner thighs. This version of utkatasana helps engage and strengthen the inner thighs (adductors).
  • Bring the palms of the hands to touch overhead.

Benefits of Chair Pose

  • Builds strength and stability in lower body, including: hip flexors, quads, ankles and calves.
  • Tones the muscles of the legs
  • Strengthens the core muscles of the trunk
  • Opens the chest and shoulders
  • Stimulates the heart, diaphragm, and abdominal organs
  • Creates heat