What’s Up With Warrior 3?

Key Actions for an Alignment Alteration

virabhadrasana 3

WARRIOR 3

Going to a tailor to get fitted for the perfect item of clothing may just be one of the most underrated incredible feelings in the world. After all, you’re coming away with a piece of clothing that is altered with 100% you in mind. It’s going to fit your body just as it should. This doesn’t mean that the garment didn’t fit you before, but now what you’re walking away with is something more streamlined for your own body. You can compare this to Matt’s approach to alignment in your yoga practice in that it’s not about the “right” or “wrong” way to do a yoga posture (more on this later). Warrior 3, or Virabhadrasana 3, is no exception. There are specific micro and macro movements along with techniques that Matt teaches in order to optimize this posture and acquire the alignment that matches your body.

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IDEAS ABOUT ALIGNMENT

The common belief about alignment when it comes to a yoga practice is that you’re either doing a pose correctly or incorrectly based on achieving an “ideal shape.” From Matt’s perspective, it’s more about getting to know how to align the joints in the most optimal way for each individual body. He says that once the joints are aligned and you begin to add on specific movements and articulations of bones as they relate to other bones, that will ultimately create the shape. It’s not about fitting the body into the shape; rather, the shape is the result of your joint awareness.  

The term “bespoke” means custom-made (often when referring to a tailored item of clothing), and that’s how you can approach alignment in your yoga practice. This approach can increase strength, flexibility, and proprioception, and it can help to minimize the risk of injury.

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WHAT’S UP WITH WARRIOR 3?: KEY ACTIONS FOR AN ALIGNMENT ALTERATION

HIP IMPINGEMENT

In any movement practice, the risk of injury is almost inevitable. Some of the most common conditions/injuries you may encounter in a physical yoga practice are issues related to hip impingement. Hip impingement occurs when there is damage and/or deterioration of the soft tissues that lubricate the hip joint. A scientific study from 2018 that examined athletes returning to yoga after hip arthroscopy for femoroacetabular impingement syndrome (FAIS) states that “Femoroacetabular impingement syndrome is most commonly diagnosed in patients who perform activities that require repetitive hip flexion and rotational loading.” These are common actions in a yoga practice, and hip flexion is present in Warrior 3. In today’s video, as Matt guides you through the variations and articulations in Warrior 3, you’ll see that the actions not only can drastically improve your individual alignment but also may greatly decrease the risk of hip impingement.

Frank RM, Ukwuani G, Allison B, Clapp I, Nho SJ. High Rate of Return to Yoga for Athletes After Hip Arthroscopy for Femoroacetabular Impingement Syndrome. Sports Health. 2018 Sep/Oct;10(5):434-440. doi: 10.1177/1941738118757406. Epub 2018 Feb 14. PMID: 29442577; PMCID: PMC6116099.

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WARRIOR 3 ALIGNMENT TO AVOID HIP IMPINGEMENT

The video starts off with Matt demonstrating Warrior 3 preparation. One of the first things to consider is whether or not your pelvis is leveled. This is important because it provides information about whether your lifted leg is “dropped” or more open. Matt recommends a little opening so that the pelvis is not collapsing on the opposite inner thigh. The concern here is that the pubic bone on the side of the standing leg may collide with the femur bone on the same side, which may cause hip impingement. An added benefit of creating this opening is that it will promote more strength in the standing leg. You must activate the muscles of the outer hip in the standing leg to initiate the opening. This preparation will allow you to explore other variations of Warrior 3, such as Matt’s demonstration of Dekasana in the video.

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THE HARDEST VARIATION?

If you’re really interested in challenging yourself, then you can try Warrior 3 at the wall. In theory, this variation may sound easier; you may be thinking that you have the wall as a support. The truth is, doing the pose in this way can feel quite laborious. Because the foot of the lifted leg is actually planted on a wall behind you, finding the right stacking for the standing leg is imperative. Doing so means the difference between balancing and falling out of the posture, particularly when you start to incorporate arm placements. Attention to the articulations of the pelvis are the same as above, and lifting the arches of your feet is key to promoting greater strength and balance, but this is true for all variations. It’s the push and activation of your entire body, pressing into the ground and the wall, that make this variation challenging.

THE EASIEST VARIATION?

From Tadasana, you start off with more of a “macro movement” to tip yourself into the shape for Warrior 3. This may feel easier because your body may more naturally fall into where it needs to be. It’s up to you, however, to then explore the specific articulations that Matt offers to find the stacking and alignment for your body. Your intentions within a given practice will also determine the alignment and/or variation you select. These considerations are how you formulate a practice that is tailor-made for you. The foundational pattern may offer a layout, but you have the authority to stitch all of the pieces together.  

Jump into Matt’s current Alignment Immersion for an opportunity to delve into ways you can redesign your relation to your asana practice.

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Article by Trish Curling

Video Extracted From: Alignment Immersion

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