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Warrior III or Virabhadrasana III

Poses we love to hate, right? Warrior III or Virabhadrasana III (veer-uh-buh-DRAHS-uh-nuh) in Sanskrit. This is one of them for me for many reasons. For me, it takes back strength to extend my arms long and level with the floor. Recently I started to practice a sequence of poses where I practice back stretches and back strengthening poses first. Poses such as Child pose, Lotus, and Cobra. Poses I normally do at the end of a practice when I’m really warmed up. We all love backbends, right again? I love airplane, a variation of Warrior III where your arms are flying back behind you but ask me to lengthen my arms forward and resistance sets in. I got curious and discovered the play with my hands pressed in Anjali Mudra (hands at heart) helped to ground and center me, then lengthening my arms forward from there was pure joy. The flow of breath and the movement made this pose go from a pose I hate to a pose I love. Be curious. Be open to learning. Discover the connection between your mind, body and spirit which is the true meaning of yoga.

Benefits of the pose:

Warrior III strengthens the whole back side of the body, including the shoulders, hamstrings, calves, ankles and back. It also helps strengthen the hips and abdominal muscles.

Cautions: Do not practice this pose if you are experiencing high blood pressure or heart problems. Always work within your own range of limits and abilities. If you have any medical concerns, talk with your doctor before practicing yoga.

Try it:

1. Quick warm up with a couple of rounds of Sun Salutations (Surya Namaskar A and B) and back bends like Lotus, Cobra and Camel.

2. Press your weight into your right foot. Lift your left leg as you lower your torso, bring your body parallel to the floor.

3. Flex your left foot and reach through your heel, as if you're pressing a wall behind you. Strongly engage your flying leg.

4. Root down through the mound of the big toe.

5. Draw your abdominal muscles in toward your spine.

6. Start with your hands pressed together in Anjali Mudra for a few breaths then lengthen your arms level with the floor. Then play with the movement and the flow of your breath.

Variations or modification:

Place hands on blocks under shoulders then progress to just one hand.

Try practicing the pose with a wall or chair.

Airplane - Reach your arms back alongside your torso, and then turn your palms upward.

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