A Yoga warrior sequence is often practiced in vinyasa flow-style yoga classes as a way to create dynamic movement to warm up the body.
Yoga warrior sequences increase our cardiovascular endurance and they also promote stretching and strengthening of the muscles, improving blood circulation.
In this article we will discuss:
- Poses Included in the Dancing Warrior Sequence
- Benefits & Purpose of the Dancing Warrior Sequence
- Symbolic Meaning of Warrior Poses
- How To Practice Dancing Warrior Sequence
- Making the Dancing Warrior Sequence Accessible
- Listening to Yourself
Let’s dive into this fun dance-like yoga warrior sequence together!
4 Poses Included in the Dancing Warrior Sequence
The Dancing Warrior sequence moves through multiple Warrior poses and the primary intention is to link breath and movement, connecting the postures smoothly and purposefully.
The asanas included in this yoga warrior sequence are:
#1: High Lunge (Astha Chandrasana) or alternatively, Warrior I (Virabhadrasana I)
#2: Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II)
#3: Reverse Warrior (Viparita Virabhadrasana)
#4: Extended Side Angle (Utthita Parsvakonasana)
Benefits & Purpose of the Yoga Warrior Sequence
The traditional Dancing Warrior sequence can be utilized as a moving meditation, which may benefit those less familiar with seated meditation, or that find it difficult to connect to themselves and their bodies in stillness.
When practicing this yoga warrior sequence you will strengthen your feet, legs, hips, core, arms and shoulders, and you can use it as a warm up, or a complete practice that targets the entire body.
A yoga warrior sequence can be repeated as many times as one would like, depending on what the purpose of its practice is.
If your intent is to build heat in the body quickly, repeat this yoga warrior sequence at a one breath, one movement pace for a few rounds.
If however, your main objective is to cultivate strength and stability, you may practice this yoga warrior sequence at a slower pace; taking a few breaths in each shape.
The Story Of Virabhadra, the warrior within Us
Virabhadrasana (Sanskrit: वीरभद्रासन; IAST: Vīrabhadrāsana) or Warriors, are a family of related standing yoga postures practiced in modern yoga that pay tribute to the Hindu mythical warrior Virabhadra.
According to myth, Virabhadra is spontaneously summoned by Lord Shiva out of a lock of his own hair when he senses that his beloved wife Sati has burst into flames and perished, outraged by her own father’s insults and disdain toward her venerated husband.
Virabhadra, also known as Veerabhadra, is an incredibly tall and fierce warrior with a thousand arms; each of them carrying weapons, and he unleashes his wrath amongst those present, bringing destruction and pain, only to eventually realize the destruction he is causing, and finally choosing compassion instead.
Vira means “hero” and bhadra is “blessing” or “friend.” Virabhadra is a hero and a blessing. The ferocious warrior that scares us is the same warrior who saves us.
When we move through the Warrior poses, we are invited to connect to the warrior within. We are connecting to the part of us that is strong and assertive, determined, and confident, yet also compassionate and kind.
How to Practice the Dancing Warrior Sequence
If you’re interested in practicing this yoga warrior sequence, here are some tips on how to approach it:
1. Start in Tadasana, mountain pose, and take a few moments to ground yourself and check in to see how you feel; physically, mentally, emotionally, and energetically.
2. Inhale, and lift your arms up towards the sky.
3. Exhale, soften your knees and fold forward, send your hands down toward the ground.
4. Inhale, lift your chest half way for Ardha uttanasana.
5. Exhale, step your left foot all the way back.
6. Inhale, ground your feet into the earth as you rise up to a high lunge or Warrior I.
7. Exhale, pivot your left heel to the ground, open your arms wide to the horizon for Warrior II.
8. Inhale in Virabhadrasana II as you flip your front palm up to the sky
9. Exhale, take your right arm up and over toward the sky as you slide your left arm down the left thigh for Reverse Warrior.
10. Inhale, come back to Warrior II.
11. Exhale, as you softly place your right forearm to your right thigh, send your left arm straight up to the sky or over your left ear. Inhale here.
12. Exhale take both hands to the ground.
13. Inhale gaze forward.
14. Exhale, step to the top of your mat.
15. Repeat on the other side.
If you’d like to practice this in a traditional vinyasa-style, try it now like this;
1. Inhale, and lift your arms up towards the sky.
2. Exhale, soften your knees and fold forward, send your hands down toward the ground.
3. Inhale, lift your chest half way for Ardha uttanasana.
4. Exhale, step both feet back to plank pose.
5. Inhale in your plank.
6. Exhale, lower down to knees, chest, and chin, or take a chaturanga.
7. Inhale, lift your heart up for cobra or upward facing dog.
8. Exhale, send your hips up and back for downward facing dog.
9. Inhale, lift your right leg up toward the sky, three legged dog.
10. Exhale, step your right foot between your hands.
11. Inhale, ground your feet into the earth as you rise up to a high lunge.
12. Exhale, pivot your left heel to the ground, open your arms wide to the horizon.
13. Inhale in Virabhadrasana II as you flip your front palm up to the sky
14. Exhale, take your right arm up and over toward the sky as you slide your left arm down the left thigh for Reverse Warrior.
15. Inhale, come back to Warrior II.
16. Exhale, softly place your right forearm to your right thigh, send your left arm straight up to the sky or over your left ear.
17. Inhale, come back up to Virabhadrasana II.
18. Exhale, cartwheel your hands down to the ground and step to plank.
19. Inhale in your plank.
20. Exhale, lower down to knees, chest, and chin, or take a chaturanga.
21. Inhale, lift your heart up for cobra or upward facing dog.
22. Exhale, send your hips up and back for downward facing dog.
23. Repeat on the other side.
Making the Dancing Warrior Sequence Accessible
One of the most important things to consider when we practice (or teach) yoga is to create layers that we can build upon in order to bring more accessibility to the physical practice of yoga.
Even though yoga warrior sequences may not be the most accessible right off the gate, there are many ways in which you can explore similar shapes and energetics in a way that may fit you, your energy, and your needs better.
Here are two less traditional ways to access and explore the dancing warrior sequence:
- Seated Sequence (most accessible)
- Close to the Ground and with blocks
Seated Sequence (most accessible)
This is a great way to practice a similar flow while staying seated and stable.
1. Start by finding a comfortable seat. On the ground, on a chair, even on your bed.
2. Inhale, lift your arms up to the sky and face your palms toward each other, soften your shoulders.
3. Exhale, open your arms to the horizon, palms face down, gaze over your right hand.
4. Inhale, flip your right palm up to the ceiling.
5. Exhale, take your left hand down and reach your right arm up to the sky, open through the right side body.
6. Inhale, come back to center, arms parallel to the ground.
7. Exhale, take your right elbow to a block or the ground, stretch your left arm over your left ear.
8. Inhale come back up, arms up.
9. Exhale, hands together in front of your heart.
10. Repeat on the other side.
Close to the Ground and with Blocks
One of my favorite ways to practice this warrior yoga sequence is staying a bit closer to the ground and using blocks to increase support and stability yet staying quite true to the shapes and the energetics of the dynamic warrior sequence.
Try it out:
1. Start in table top position (or downward dog).
2. Inhale, lift your right leg back.
3. Exhale, draw your knee to your chest and step your right foot between your hands, bring your blocks under your hands on the highest setting.
4. Inhale, stay, or lift your arms up toward the ceiling
5. Exhale, pivot your left foot to the right, and open your arms to the horizon for modified warrior II.
6. Inhale, flip your right palm up.
7. Exhale, take your right arm up and back, and send your left hand to your left hip or a block behind you.
8. Inhale, come back to modified warrior II.
9. Exhale, bring your right forearm to your right thigh, or your right hand to a block or the ground outside of your right foot, lift your left arm over your left ear for modified side angle.
10. Inhale, come back up, arms parallel to the horizon, exhale take both hands to the ground and take it back to table top or down dog.
11. Repeat on the other side.
listen to Yourself
However you choose to practice and explore the dancing warrior flow or any other yoga warrior sequence, always check in with yourself and be honest about how you feel, what you need, and in which way you’ll be utilizing your yoga practice to support your life.
Learn more about the asanas that make up your yoga routines with our resources, check out Asanas Explored!