warrior II – virabhadrasana II

Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II in Sanskrit) is a foundational yoga pose that is found frequently throughout a vinyasa practice. Here’s a thorough guide on how to get into the pose, how to work within the pose, and benefits/contraindications.

getting into the pose

From downward facing dog, lift your right leg with your foot flexed and your toes pointed toward the floor on an inhale.  As you exhale, step the right foot to the inside of your right thumb to set up for warrior II.  

Pivot your back foot so that it’s parallel with the back edge of your mat.  Keeping the bend in your right knee, windmill your arms up so that your shoulders stack over your hips, your arms extended outward in either direction.  

upper body

  • Roll your shoulder blades down your back and away from one another
  • Drop shoulders down as you lift your chest
  • Keep your neck long
  • Stretch your arms away from the space between your shoulder blades
  • Keep both sides of the torso equally long
  • Keep shoulders stacked over hips – there is a tendency to lean the shoulders toward the front knee in warrior II

lower body

  • Lift through the inner arches of both feet, engage pada bandha
  • Ground down the outer edge of your back foot
  • Keep your front knee directed outward, away from the midline – it’s going to want to cave in
  • Aim to keep your front thigh parallel to the floor – if your groin is tight or you’re still building stamina and strength in your thighs, you might not be able to right away.  But that’s ok!  Practice, and all is coming


  • Strengthens the hips and legs
  • Establishes groundedness and focus
  • Opens hips
  • Broadens chest


Hip, knee, or shoulder injuries


If your arms get too tired staying up, you can place your hands at your hips, or modify with garudasana arms or a different arm variation

Calligraphy-style stick figure doing warrior II pose in yoga, demonstrating the shape of the pose since this post acts as a guide as how to get into warrior II.

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