How To Master Warrior II (Infographic)

Written by Andrea Rice

When Keith Mitchell, the former NFL linebacker turned yoga teacher stopped by Yoga Shanti in Manhattan recently, he demonstrated his favorite pose for us: Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II).

The Los Angeles based-yogi visited the NYC area to teach mindfulness programs to middle school students at The Urban Assembly School for Global Commerce in Spanish Harlem, part of his continuing work with the Light It Up Foundation.

Looking strong and powerful in Warrior II, it is evident here that this pose in particular is an authentic one for Mitchell.

There are many alignment cues for Warrior II, a popular grounding pose that can easily be performed incorrectly without remembering the following key adjustments.

Here, Mitchell keeps his Drishti gaze focused yet soft, without straining the muscles of his face.

His shoulders are drawn down his back, creating space between his ears and trapezius muscles. The shoulder blades are then drawing into the midline of the body.

And sometimes, the back arm likes to run away from us. It helps to take a look and make sure that it is extending directly out of the shoulder socket, so that both arms are forming one, continuous straight line.

The lower back should form a slight C-shape curve, slightly contracting the thoracic spine which helps protect the lumbar spine.

Mitchell's back hip is also externally rotated slightly, activating the gluteus and quadricep muscles, to rotate the back thigh bone inward.

Note the back knee is also almost straightened completely by the contraction of the quadriceps, but not hyperextended which can strain the hamstrings.

Pressing through the outer edge of the back foot helps Mitchell feel stabilized and grounded, taking some strain off of the front quadricep to promote equal distribution of his bodyweight.

With a wide stance, foot alignment is also crucial to proper execution of this pose. Here, Mitchell's front heel is aligned with his back heel or sometimes, even the inner arch of the back foot.

Stacking the front knee over the ankle is often the greatest challenge for many yoga students, because of the amount of strain that is put on the front quadricep.

But by contracting the quadricep the muscles are strengthening, helping to ease the overall strain of the pose. The bodyweight is distributed evenly and Warrior II is successfully mastered.

To learn more about Keith Mitchell, check out his website for the latest news, workshops and events. You can also follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

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