This yoga pose has two simpler predecessors: warrior 1 and warrior 2. All warriors are in standing poses, with warrior 3 being a challenging upper-balance pose. Accordingly, warrior 3 belongs to the more advanced positions of the upper balance.
The name of this pose in Sanskrit is Virabhadrasana C.
A DEEPER INSIGHT
This asana is very challenging and demanding, as warrior 3 requires you to balance on one leg while the other leg is fully stretched back and is in line with your back and arms outstretched. We certainly do not recommend it if you are new to your yoga practice.
Since it is necessary to have a well-developed sense of balance to remain calm during this pose, we advise you to practice warrior 1 and 2, tree pose, and lunge pose before practicing warrior 3.
By practicing this pose, you bring the following three chakras into balance: the solar plexus (Manipura chakra), the sacral chakra (Swadisthana chakra), and the root chakra (Muladhara chakra).
The elements that are associated with this pose are fire, water, and earth. With the regular practice of warrior 3, you will achieve balance on an emotional level. At the same time, you will also achieve energy balance.
VARIATIONS AND PRACTICE
Warrior 3 is practiced in most yoga styles starting with Hatha Yoga, through Vinyasa, Ashtanga, and so on.
In order to fully perform the pose correctly, it is very important that you have a developed sense of balance and that your leg muscles are developed, primarily the quadriceps.
Before you enter Warrior 3, we advise you to do a small Vinyasa that involves the transition from Warrior 1 to Warrior 2. Do it for both the right and left sides. Stay in each pose for up to ten breaths.
You can enter Warrior 3 with a smooth transition from Warrior 2, so continue that mini Vinyasa. Although, if you still find that transition challenging (going from Warrior 2 to Warrior 3), feel free to only practice Warrior 3.
To perform Warrior 3, you must pay attention to the following: your landing leg must have stability in contact with the yoga mat; you achieve this stability through the contact of the toes, soles, and heels with the yoga mat. Feel free to slightly bend the landing leg at the knee if you are not yet able to fully extend it. Over time, you will be able to fully extend your landing leg. This usually happens when your leg muscles get stronger and your hamstrings are fully stretched.
You can enter the pose by doing a lunge from the mountain pose with the leg that will be standing. The step need not be more than three feet. After stepping up, be fully aware of the contact that your foot is making with the yoga mat. Fully contract the muscles of the landing leg and apply the bandhas while in the pose.
Rotate the hips down; you must not allow the hips to rotate to the side. Hips should be in line, rotated downward.
Extend your arms forward, stretching them fully. Your back should also be fully extended when you get into the full pose.
The last part of getting into this pose is lifting the leg back. Raise your leg completely, slowly, and consciously. The back leg in this pose imitates the tail of animals, so it is responsible for balance. If you do not yet have a well-developed sense of balance, do not lift your back leg too quickly; otherwise, you will lose your balance very quickly and be out of pose.
Your gaze during the pose can be directed forward or downward.
If you still don’t have strong leg muscles, we advise you to practice the chair pose. Thanks to this pose, you will very quickly develop the strength of the muscles in your legs.
If you do not yet have a well-developed sense of balance, you can use the wall as a support. Stretch your landing leg, your back, and your arms, resting your palms on the wall along the entire surface.
In this variation, focus entirely on the stability you achieve through your landing leg. Become aware of the rotation that is happening in your hips. Become aware of the stretch in your arms and back. Using the bandhas, stabilize your breathing with your gaze.
This variation allows you to progress very quickly; your mind will not wander, and you will be focused on only three positions (foot support of the landing leg, rotation in the hips, and stretch of the arms and back).
Once you are able to perform Warrior 3 fully, try to hold the pose for ten breaths.
Warriors 3 leads to the strengthening of your joints, knees, and quadriceps. Thanks to this pose, you will improve your posture; your shoulders will be more open, and the same goes for your chest.
Your hip rotation will improve significantly.
The more often you practice this pose, the better the work of the organs inside your abdominal cavity will be. Consequently, the digestion process will improve.
Warrior 3 improves your concentration, memory, calms your thoughts, and makes your mind more focused.
Warrior 3 is considered excellent for people who are dealing with anxiety, panic attacks, and fears since practicing this pose strengthens your confidence and courage. Warrior 3 is a grounding asana.
If you are pregnant, have high blood pressure, or are currently recovering from hip, leg, back, or shoulder injuries or surgery, we advise you not to do this pose right now.
Keeping in mind that this asana is practiced in different styles of yoga, you only need to make a distinction within which style this asana is more challenging for you at the moment.
Within Hatha Yoga, this pose can be practiced as a pose for itself, without any attachment to other poses.
Within the Vinyasa and Ashtanga systems, Warrior 3 is linked to other poses, thus forming a meaningful sequence of a certain number of asanas.
If you are just starting out with Warrior 3, we advise you to practice it completely separately from other poses. Focus on getting into the pose itself, on your gaze, and on your breathing. Try to make your breathe as deep as possible.
If you are not yet able to do this pose completely correct, practice the variation against the wall. The wall makes it easier for you to stay in pose, allows you to improve your focus, and harmonizes your breathing.
You can include it in your Vinyasa practice or as part of Ashtanga yoga only after you can do it properly.