Viparita Virabhadrasana (pronounced vip-par-ee-tah veer-ah-bah-DRAHS-anna), also known as Reverse Warrior, is a standing pose widely used in yoga practices. Its name stems from the Hindu warrior, Virabhadra, an incarnation of the god Shiva. The word “Viparita” means “reverse” in Sanskrit.
Reverse Warrior has many benefits with continued practice, such as strengthening the hips, quads, arms, shoulders, torso and neck; stretching the groins, hips, legs and obliques; and opening the chest and shoulders. The pose also improves flexibility in the spine, inner thighs, ankles and chest. Viparita Virabhadrasana increases blood circulation within the body, which can reduce fatigue and calm one’s mind. Furthermore, with repeated use, Reverse Warrior can alleviate low back pain.
While Reverse Warrior has many benefits, it should be avoided by anyone with neck, hip, spinal or shoulder injuries and those who have high or low blood pressure. Persons with neck injures should take care to keep their gaze forward in the pose instead of tilting the head backwards.
How to Perfrom Viparita Virabhadrasana:
1. Begin in Mountain Pose, standing with feet hip-distance apart and arms at the sides. Turn to the left and step both feet wide apart, about 4-5 feet. Align the heels.
2. Turn the right foot out 90 degrees, so the toes are pointing to the top of the mat. Pivot the left foot slightly inwards. The back toes should be at a 45-degree angle.
3. Raise the arms to the side to shoulder-height, parallel to the floor. The arms should be aligned directly over the legs. With palms facing down, reach actively from fingertip to fingertip.
4. Exhale while bending the front knee. Align the knee directly over the ankle of the front foot. Take care that the front shin is perpendicular to the floor. Sink the hips low, eventually bringing the front thigh parallel to the floor. This is Warrior II.
5. With the next exhale, drop the left (back) hand to the back of the left thigh. With the next inhale, lift the right arm straight up, reaching the fingertips toward the ceiling. The right bicep should be next to the right ear.
6. Keep the front knee bent and the hips sinking low while lengthening through the sides of the waist. Slide the back hand further down the leg and come into a slight backbend.
7. Tilt the head slightly and gaze to the right hand’s fingertips.
8. Keep the shoulders relaxed, chest lifted and the sides of the waist long.
9. Hold for 10-20 breaths.
To release from the pose, inhale and lower the arms back into Warrior II. Press down through the back foot while straightening the front leg. Lower the arms. Turn to the left, reversing the position of the feet and repeat on the opposite side.
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