Life is complicated – and sometimes it confronts us with problems that require a mindful balance of virtues to deal with.
Yoga is all about finding that balance, in body and mind.
In fact, the science informing the poses of yoga centres on mirroring and encouraging the complementary forces and virtues that are called for in all aspects of life.
The humble warrior yoga pose is a shining example of this, balancing the humbleness of a forward bow with the determination of a warrior’s stance.
The posture forces us to look into ourselves (quite literally!), fostering introspection while simultaneously making us aware of our own strength and rootedness.
For this reason, the humble warrior pose is highly recommended for those who are looking to improve mental balance, as well as physical balance.
So, for those of you who need a little more balance in your life…
…in this article we’ll answer:
- What is the humble warrior yoga pose?
- What are the benefits of the humble warrior yoga pose?
- What are the safety precautions of the pose?
- How to master the humble warrior yoga pose?
- Modifications and variations
What is Humble Warrior Yoga Pose?
The humble warrior pose is a powerful posture wherein the legs are positioned in a lunge, the torso is bent over the front leg with fingers interlaced behind your back and arms raised to the sky.
Also known in English as devotional warrior, bound warrior or silver surfer pose, the humble warrior posture places your head slightly lower than your hips and heart it is also a moderate inversion.
Originating from the Sanskrit title Baddha Vīrabhadrasana, it literally translates to ‘bound friendly warrior pose’ – with baddha meaning ‘bound’, vīra meaning ‘warrior’, bhadra meaning ‘friend’ and asana meaning ‘pose’.
The humble warrior yoga pose belongs to a larger group of poses. This group, called Warrior Poses (Vīrabhadrasana), is a collection of standing lunge postures commonly practised in contemporary yoga.
Traditionally the pose was an exercise in paying homage to the exploits of Vīrabhadra, a mythical warrior in Hindu texts. Today, the posture is practised in modern yoga due to its ample physical and psychological benefits...
3 Humble Warrior Yoga Pose Benefits
The physical and mental benefits of this pose are bountiful. Here’s our favourite 3:
#1: Flexibility and Strength
By placing our bodies in a position outside of those that you would regularly find yourself in day to day, the humble warrior pose does wonders to improve our flexibility and strength.
By expanding our bodies’ range of motions, the humble warrior yoga pose activates and challenges certain muscle groups in new and dynamic ways.
Yep, this pose is an all-over body toner.
The lunge opens the hips, engaging the core and strengthening the calves, hamstrings, quadriceps and glutei, while the forward bend opens and stretches the back, shoulders and chest.
As an inversion posture, the humble warrior yoga pose is great for improving alertness and increasing energy levels.
Having your head lower than your heart stimulates greater blood flow, and not only encourages oxygen and nutrient supply to cells around your body, but also melatonin production to help regulate your sleep cycles.
The humble warrior yoga pose doesn’t just improve your physical balance but also encourages emotional balance and mind-body awareness.
The increased circulation mentioned above also encourages the release of oxytocin, serotonin, and other feel-good endorphins which improve alertness and mood.
Anatomically, the bowed posture of the humble warrior yoga pose also creates a vulnerability and surrender of pride, fostering introspection, the lunge fostering strength and groundedness.
What are the Safety Precautions?
As well as the bountiful benefits that the humble warrior can offer, like any exercise, there are also risks and safety precautions to be mindful of.
As an inversion, humble warrior pose places your head lower than your heart and hips. This can affect your circulation, which may complicate conditions such as high blood pressure, eye conditions such as glaucoma, heart problems and pregnancy.
In addition to the above, those with past or current injuries to the back, neck, knees or ankles should be cautious and consult a doctor before attempting this pose, which places pressure on these areas. If you practice in a studio, always inform the instructor of these conditions.
As well as the above, look out for pain, numbness or cramping which are your body’s way of telling you something isn’t right. If experienced, gently exit the pose and perhaps explore other Warrior Poses better suited to your body.
Everybody is different, so the effects experienced by each of us will inevitably vary across different body types and psyches.
Of course, pursue progress, but stay mindful of your body’s personal limits.
Master Humble Warrior Yoga Pose in 12 Easy Steps:
1. Begin standing halfway between the centre and the top of the mat. Gaze resting ahead, your spine should be long, back straight with arms hanging loosely at your side.
2. Inhale as you raise your arms out to your side and up to the sky. Keeping shoulders down, reach those fingers up, up, up and sit bones down to elongate the spine.
3. Exhale as you slowly bend forward, hinging at the hips bringing your chest close to your thighs, hands on the floor if possible. It’s important to keep your back straight as you bend – it’s absolutely fine to bend your knees to help you achieve this!
4. Inhale and move your heart towards the top of the mat and chest away from the thighs so the space between your torso and legs is at roughly a 45-degree angle, fingertips grounded to the floor.
5. Exhale as you gently push your hands into the mat to move both legs back into a downward-facing dog pose, sit bones up to the sky and shoulders back and down away from the ears. Stay her for 2-3 breaths.
6. Inhale as you lift your right leg up to the sky keeping it straight if you can, while shifting your gaze straight ahead.
7. Exhale and bring your right leg down to step your right foot between your hands at the top of the mat. Keeping your right foot straight, turn your left foot out so the outer side of the foot is at a 45-degree angle to the back of the mat.
8. Ground your feet here and experiment to find where in this position you feel the most rooted. Maybe this means shifting your back leg slightly forward, or maybe it means walking your right foot slightly out to the right (this can help those with tight hips, for example).
9. Press down with the feet to bring your torso up, arms rising out and up to the sky with palms facing each other. Your right knee should be stacked directly over your right ankle, sit bones tucked under, rolling in your lower abdomen.
10. Exhale and bring the arms down and behind your back, interlacing your fingers. Inhale as you push your shoulder blades together, lifting your heart and gaze up towards the sky.
11. Exhale as your fold forward, bringing your torso to the inside of your right thigh. Pull your arms up to the sky to minimise the rounding in your back. Deepen the stretch by bringing your head as towards the floor, perhaps even rest the top of your head on the mat in you can.
12. Stay here for 10 deep breaths, reflecting on the virtues behind the pose and noticing how your body feels here. Then repeat on the other side.
To exit the pose, simply follow the steps in reverse.
Congrats Warrior! You’ve mastered the pose – but stay humble about it!
2 Variations of Humble Warrior Yoga Pose
There are five warrior poses in traditional yogic texts, however over the years, many other variations have arisen become popular in contemporary yoga practice.
Here are our picks:
1) Humble Chair Warrior
The humble chair warrior is a great modification that you can even do at your desk, that provides more support to the lower back and abdomen.
In this modification, you are straddled over a chair in a lunge position, and your torso from the hip crease to just below your chest is resting on the chair seat.
As your lower back is held in a fixed position, it’s completely normal that your head will not be able to reach as close to the floor as in the full pose.
2) Handy Humble Warrior
In this modification, rather than interlacing hands behind your back, with arms raised up to the sky, the palms are instead planted on the floor beneath you, stack directly beneath your shoulders.
This modification is great for easing those who find balancing tricky into the full pose.
By having the hands rooted to the floor it provides greater stability, from which you can then slowly experiment with first lifting one arm, then eventually both arms off the floor and to the sky.
Reflection during humble warrior yoga pose:
Being humble is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less. – C.S. Lewis
Reading this article at your desk? We’ve got just the thing!
If you spend your 9 to 5 sitting at a desk, chances are it’s taking its toll on your body. But don’t worry! With some targeted stretches, you’ll be feeling on top.
Need some stretching ideas? Read this guide: The 9 Best Chair Yoga Poses You Can Do At Your Desk!