About the pose

Viparita Virabhadrasana (Reverse Warrior Pose) is a standing backbend posture that compresses the entire spine while stretching the intercostal muscles (these are breathing muscles that help the rib cage to expand along with the diaphragm). Viparita Virabhadrasana though is part of hip opening yoga sequence, it is mainly practiced as part of backbend, to help strengthen the middle and lower back and also as part of balancing yoga poses, to gain better stability and control both over the body and the breath.

Considered as a standing backbend helping the chest open, it an also be practiced as part of heart opening yoga sequences, activating the Anahata Chakra (Heart Chakra) and as part of the intermediate level, where students are comfortable holding this posture, longer.


Anatomy

Reverse Warrior Pose benefits the following muscles and hence can be included in yoga sequences with the corresponding muscle(s) focus:

  • Arms and Shoulders
  • Back
  • Hamstrings
  • Chest
  • Hips
  • Knees
  • Neck
  • Psoas
  • Quadriceps

How to do the pose

  • Starting in Warrior 2 with the right knee bent, turn the palm of your right hand to face the ceiling.
  • As you inhale, lift your right arm up to the ceiling. At the same time lower your left hand and slide it down your left leg. Think about keep length in both your side waists as you do so.
  • Firm your shoulder blades on the back and knit your lower ribs in, slightly engaging your core muscles. Lift your chest as you come into a gentle backbend. Look to your raised hand or gaze to your back foot if you have neck or balance issues.
  • Stay in the pose for up to 5 breaths.
  • Come back to Warrior 2 as you exhale.
  • Repeat on the other side.

Beginners tips

  • Focus on building the pose from the ground up. Spread your weight through the four corners of your feet and use that stability to find lightness in your spine.
  • Focus on lifting your chest and spreading your collar bones, rather than how far you bend.

Benefits

  • Opens the chest and side body, releasing tension in the intercostal muscles around the ribs and allowing for a freer deeper breath.
  • Strengthens the legs.
  • Helps with mobility in the hips and stretches the inner thighs.

Watch out for

  • If you have neck issues, or if you feel unsteady in the pose, look down to your back foot instead of up to your raised hand.
  • Check that your knee is stacked over the ankle. For most people this is the healthiest position for the knee,  it is common for the knee to fall in towards the big toe side of the foot.

FURTHER READINGS


Variations

  • Curve the right arm over your head (pointing to the back of the room) while you curve the left arm across the front of your body – pointing towards your front knee. This is a nice variation from which to transition in and out of Extended Side Angle pose.
  • For more of a shoulder stretch and chest-opener try sweeping the left arm behind the body, reaching for the top of the right thigh.

Credits

Model Robin (Yoga Peda) – An Ambassador of Beinks
Yoga Mat b’EARTH  &  b’EARTH X by Beinks
Photographer Sophie Dupont
Content Tummee & Ekhart Yoga

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