Benefits: Virabhadrasana I/Warrior I pose strengthens our connection with the grounding energy of the earth. This variation has an emphasis on establishing a firm and grounded foundation in the legs while fearlessly lifting and expanding the chest. As such, it is great for integrating the upper and lower halves of the body.
Contraindications (cautions): High blood pressure, those with shoulder problems should keep their raised arms parallel (or slightly wider than parallel) to each other. Those with neck problems should keep their head in a neutral position and not look up at the hands.
Step by Step
1. From Tadasana, Mountain pose, inhale, step the feet wide apart, and bring your hands to your hips. Turn the whole left leg and foot out at 90 degrees so that the heel intersects the inner arch of the right foot. Turn the right foot and leg in about 45 degrees.
2. Turn the chest toward the left and square the hips by pressing your right hip well forward. Inhale, raise your arms above the head, bringing the palms together.
3. Exhale as you bend the right knee, sinking down into the left thigh and sitting bone. With your knee bent 90 degrees, it will be directly above and in line with the ankle hinge.
4. From your front leg, take your weight equally into the back leg. Press into the right heel, feeling the stretch along the back of the left leg.
5. Let the tailbone drop down toward the floor to open the front of the hips, the pelvic abdomen, and the front left thigh. This will also create space in the lumbar spine and help to lengthen the lower back.
6. Lift your head back and gaze upward. Move from the back of the waist to develop your backbend as you stretch upward through the middle back and arms, even while you maintain your connection with the legs and feet.
7. Stay for 10 deep breaths. If your arms tire as they remain lifted, focus on your inhalation. To release, inhale as you straighten the right leg. Lower the arms as you step the left foot forward on the exhalation, returning to stand in Tadasana/Mountain pose. Repeat for the same length of time on the other side.
8. Counterpose: Uttanasana/Restful Deep Forward Fold.