The Viparita Virabhadrasana, also known as Reverse Warrior Pose, stretches your groins, hips, obliques, and opens your heart and throat chakras.
Viparita Virabhadrasana (Reverse Warrior Pose) is one of the sequences in the warrior series. This is an effective Yoga Asana for opening up your upper body and improving the flexibility of your spine and pelvic region.
The expert believes that practicing this pose can release tension in the muscles around the ribs to create a deeper, freer breath. It energizes the body and improves self-esteem and perseverance.
The pose can also be practiced regularly to uplift the mental, physical and spiritual aspects of the body.
|Known as:||Viparita Virabhadrasana, Reverse Warrior Pose, Urdhva Virabhadrasana, Peaceful Warrior Pose|
|Sanskrit name:||विपरीत वीरभद्रासन|
|Type:||Standing, back-band, side-bending, balance|
|Focus:||Neck, shoulder, knees, hip flexors, pelvic muscles, thighs, glutes, hamstring, lower back|
|Total time:||30 to 60 seconds|
|Drishti:||Urdhva or Antara Drishti (up to the sky)|
|Chakra:||Manipura Chakra, Swadisthana Chakra, Muladhara Chakra|
|Indications:||Respiration, stress, anxiety, depression, cortisol|
|Counterposes:||Tadasana (Mountain Pose), Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog), Balasana (Child’s Pose), Anjaneyasana (Low Lunge), Trikonasana (Triangle Pose), Utthita Parsvakonasana (Extended Side Angle Pose), Prosarita Padotanasana (Wide-legged Forward Fold Pose), Uttanasana (Standing Forward Fold Pose), Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon Pose), Virabhadrasana II (Warrior II Pose)|
|Preparatory poses:||Virabhadrasana II (Warrior Pose II), Trikonasana (Triangle Pose), Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend), Utthita Parsvakonasana (Extended Side Angle Pose), Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog), Parivrtta Janu Sirsasana (Revolved Head-to-knee Pose), Anjaneyasana (Low Lunge), Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana (Extended Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose), Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose)|
|Follow-up pose:||Ustrasana (Camel Pose), Virasana (Hero Pose), Parivrtta Parsvakonasana (Revolved Extended Side Angle Pose), Parivrtta Trikonasana (Revolved Triangle Pose), Utthita Trikonasana (Extended Triangle Pose), Parivrtta Surya Yantrasana (Seated Compass Pose), Anjaneyasana (Monkey Lunge Pose), Utkatasana (Chair Pose), Bakasana (Crow Pose), Chaturanga Dandasana (Four-Limbed Staff Pose), Upward-Facing Dog Pose (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana)|
|Contraindications:||High blood pressure or low blood pressure, vertigo, dizziness, migraine, or headache, diarrhea, knee arthritis, cervical spondylitis, slip disc, disc bulge, herniated disc|
Meaning + Origin
The Viparita Virabhadrasana is derived from the Sanskrit name, which is made up of three words — Viparita + Virabhadra + Asana:
- “Viparita” = “reversed or turned around”
- “Virabhadra” = “warrior or fierce incarnation of Hindu Lord Shiva”
- “Asana” = “pose or posture”
According to Hindu legend, Daksha (father of Shiva’s wife Parvati) hosted an oblation, where his daughter and Shiva (supreme of all gods) were not invited. Upon which, Parvati, feeling humiliated and disrespectful towards her husband, steps towards Sati (to be burnt alive in the fire). When Shiva found out what had happened, he broke a lock from his hair and threw it on the ground. Thereafter, gave birth to Virabhadra and Bhadrakali (the angry incarnation of the goddess or goddess who bestows upon them the power of destruction). Due to this the entire kingdom of King Daksha was destroyed and due to the anger of Virabhadra, his head was also beheaded.
The general definition of a warrior is one who “engages in battle”, conjuring up images of battlefields, weapons, and violence. The power of the Viparita Virabhadrasana is to “change” this imagery to think about the warrior in different contexts. The idea of a peaceful warrior, or even a mild warrior, is used in yoga to remind students that showing up with love and intention in day-to-day life is just as important, if not more so. Is. When practicing Reverse Warrior Pose, ask yourself to consider your life definitions or beliefs from another perspective. Every coin has two sides, and the better you know both sides, the better prepared you will be to live your life with consistency, grace, and ease.
Benefits of Viparita Virabhadrasana (Reverse Warrior Pose)
The physical and mental benefits of this yoga pose are listed below:
- Physical Benefits:
- Stretches the hamstrings, groins, quadriceps, gluteus, chest, rib cage, abdominal area, intercostal muscles, neck, shoulders, arms, and psoas muscles
- Strengthens the ankles, knees, and hips1
- Improves the flexibility of the hips, spine, and rib cage
- Expands the chest and thoracic cavity
- Improves the breathing
- Tones entire leg muscles
- Helps in keeping the natural curvature of the spine
- Improve the posture
- Stimulate the nervous system
- Alleviates the digestive ailments
- Remove the sluggishness in the kidney
- Improving the conditions of blood pressure2
- Reduce the chances of hernia
- Controls the diabetes, and Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
- Improve the athletic performances
- Help address issues related to menopause, fertility issues, or irregularity in menstruation
- Remove excess side belly fat and thighs fat
- Reduce stiffness in the neck, and shoulders
- Relieve lower back pain
- Mental Benefits:
Viparita Virabhadrasana (Reverse Warrior Pose) Practice Guide
- Begin in Warrior Pose II, with your feet apart in a wide stance, with the toes of the front foot facing the short end of the mat and the back foot parallel to the short end of the mat.
- Turn the entire torso to face the long side of the mat. The hip bones point in the same direction.
- Bend your front knee to a maximum of 90 degrees, that is, the knee should not go beyond the ankle. Also make sure that your knee neither falls in nor out.
- Engage your back leg by pushing the outside edge of the foot firmly into the floor and pulling your knee cap up.
- Inhale to lift the rib cage, your shoulders, armpits, and arms up to fully expand the lungs.
- Exhale and tilt the torso towards the back leg. The backhand can either meet the thigh of your back or swing elegantly behind the back.
- Bring the hand in front of you to the ear and turn the palm towards you above the head. Make sure you keep your front knee bent.
- Turn your head to look straight ahead at the long side of the mat.
- To come out of the pose, inhale and draw your navel in to engage your core. Use the strength of the core muscles to lift the torso back up into Warrior Pose II.
Proper alignment is essential for practicing Viparita Virabhadrasana safely and effectively. By following these alignment cues, you can practice Viparita Virabhadrasana safely and effectively, and experience the many benefits that this pose has to offer.
Here are some alignment cues to keep in mind:
1. Front knee alignment
Bring awareness to the alignment of your front knee. For many people, the knee drops inward. To balance it, push the knee out more. The outward rotation of your thighbone will also support this action. Also, make sure you keep your knee bent when you lean back. Often, the tendency is not only to lengthen your torso, but — unintentionally — to straighten your front leg again. You can also practice the pose by straightening your front leg if you make a conscious decision to do so.
2. Engage core
Engage your abdominal muscles to lift your torso, instead of simply falling backwards. Although the backhand may rest on the back thigh, you’re not really putting all the weight on it. If you’re passively hanging into the pose, hover your hand just above the thigh or swing it behind the back. That way, you just have to attach the core.
3. Maintain the neck
Traditionally, Viparita Virabhadrasana (Reverse Warrior Pose) can be taught to look into the palm of your hand with your head elevated. However, many practitioners will feel a more or less intense compression in their neck as they do this. Instead, keep the neck long and neutral. This means that you are actually looking straight ahead toward the longer side of the mat (i.e., the rest of the torso in the same direction). You can support the side bend even better if you turn the face to the side you’re leaning towards, i.e., look down.
4. Leaning sideways, not backwards
Pay special attention to the lower back when practicing Viparita Virabhadrasana (Reverse Warrior Pose). This is a side-bending pose at the top, not a backbend. If this pose feels more to you like a backbend than a side bend, step out of the pose slightly and lift the pubic bone to lengthen the lower back. Once you feel that your lower back is secure, you can lean over your back leg once more to find length and space.
By being mindful of these common mistakes, you can practice Viparita Virabhadrasana safely and effectively, and enjoy the many benefits that this pose has to offer.
Here are some common mistakes that practitioners may make while practicing Reverse Warrior Pose:
- Letting the front knee collapse inward: It is important to keep the front knee aligned with the ankle to protect the knee joint and engage the leg muscles. If the knee is collapsing inward, adjust your alignment or reduce the depth of your lunge.
- Leaning too far back: While it is important to stretch the side body and open the chest, leaning too far back can put too much strain on the lower back. Instead, focus on lengthening the side body and only lean back as much as feels comfortable.
- Allowing the hips to twist: In order to maintain stability, the hips should remain parallel to the front of the mat. If the hips start to twist, engage the core muscles and adjust your alignment.
- Overreaching with the arm: While it may be tempting to reach as far back as possible, overreaching with the arm can strain the shoulder joint. Instead, focus on lengthening the side body and keeping the shoulder blades relaxed.
- Holding the breath: It is important to breathe deeply and continuously while holding the pose. Holding the breath can create tension in the body and prevent the muscles from relaxing.
Remember to listen to your body and make any necessary modifications to ensure that you are practicing the pose safely and comfortably. With practice, you may find that you can gradually deepen the pose and experience more of its benefits.
Here are some modifications for Viparita Virabhadrasana (Reverse Warrior Pose) that can help make the pose more accessible or suitable for your individual needs:
- Use a block or chair for support: If you find it difficult to reach the floor with your hand, you can place a yoga block or chair next to your front foot to rest your hand on.
- Place the back foot on the floor: If you have tight hips or limited mobility, you can place the back foot on the floor instead of turning it out at a 45-degree angle. This will reduce the depth of the lunge and make the pose more accessible.
- Modify the arm position: If reaching the arm overhead is uncomfortable or not possible, you can place your hand on your hip or thigh, or extend the arm out to the side instead.
- Reduce the depth of the lunge: If you feel unstable or experience discomfort in the front knee, you can reduce the depth of your lunge by bending the knee less or shortening your stance.
- Use a wall for support: If you struggle with balance or stability, you can practice the pose with your back against a wall for support. This can help you maintain proper alignment and feel more secure in the pose.
Precautions and contraindications
While practicing Viparita Virabhadrasana, although a safe and easy practice, yoga should be aware of its limitations for certain physical conditions.
Some of the precautions and contraindications are explained below:
Injury and surgery
Individuals with injuries to the neck, shoulders, arms, chest, rib cage, feet, hips, knees, ankles, spine or lower back should avoid practicing Viparita Virabhadrasana. Also, students who have recently had abdominal or heart surgery or are recovering from any internal surgery should avoid this practice.
Physical strength and weak body
- If you are experiencing body weakness and weak joints or muscles, especially from senior citizens, or weak digestion or diarrhea, weak knees or arthritis, disc related problems such as cervical spondylitis, slip disc, disc bulge and herniated disc If you are suffering then avoid this yoga posture.
- Also, this balancing back-side bend pose should be avoided in those with high blood pressure or low blood pressure, vertigo, dizziness, migraine, or headache.
- Individuals with neck issues may keep their neck in a neutral position instead of raising your head.
- If you feel unsteady or find it difficult to balance the pose, you can follow the pose with your back leg facing down.
- As you hold the pose, you will feel a stretch in your thighs, waist, and sides.
- However, if you feel any sharp pain, come out of the pose slowly.
Lack of body-breathing awareness
Usually, when you look up, you get breathless. Therefore, you should encourage yourself to bring awareness to the breath.
For pregnant women, although Reverse Warrior Pose is a safe pose, the center of gravity may shift. Therefore, you must be extremely careful when exiting the pose and keep your gaze down or in front for stability.
- J Sports Sci Med. 2012 Jun; 11(2): 322–330. Effects of an 8-Month Yoga Intervention on Arterial Compliance and Muscle Strength In Premenopausal Women. SoJung Kim, Michael G. Bemben, and Debra A. Bemben. Available here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3737865/.
- Dtsch Arztebl Int. 2018 Dec; 115(50): 833–839. DOI: 10.3238/arztebl.2018.0833. Yoga in Arterial Hypertension. A Three-Armed, Randomized Controlled Trial. Available here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6375068/.
- Yoga and social support reduce prenatal depression, anxiety, and cortisol. Tiffany Field, PhD, Miguel Diego, PhD, Jeannette Delgado, B.S., Lissette Medina, B.S. Available here: https://www.yoga-als-therapie.de/assets/Studien/Downloads/Field-2013-J-Bodyw-Mov-Ther.pdf.