We do it in almost every vinyasa flow class. It’s an integral part of the Sun Salutes or Surya Namaskara B series. However, many of us may not know how to break this posture down effectively to suit our own bodies. We may not have the opportunity to hear this posture carefully instructed to understand its benefits or how it relates to other poses. Some of us may not even like this pose because we don’t feel at ease in it. We’d like to help you understand it more fully so you can learn to love it!
In this posture lab offered by YogaWorks master trainer, Natasha Rizopoulos, we review how to effectively instruct Virabhadrasana 1 coming in from Downward Facing Dog, since this is the most likely scenario in a class room setting, especially as part of the Surya Namaskara B sequence.
In a YogaWorks Teacher Training, we have the opportunity to break down each pose and view its relevant muscle groups (what we call component parts). We do this so that we understand how to use a pose effectively to open the body and use it in a sequence to prep for more difficult poses like handstand, forearm balance, or headstand. Once a student is in a pose, we instruct key action points that help to customize the pose for the students’ bodies that are in the room, so each student can find ideal alignment in the pose and work their way into the more challenging poses.
You will see examples in our video of what you might see in a classroom based on different body types. Natasha offers some key actions to get the students into optimal alignment and also offers helpful modifications.
For example, in some bodies you may see a big backbend in this pose. When you do this pose as a backbend you miss some of its most important qualities which are opening the shoulders and lengthening the hip flexors. So Natasha offers “to direct the front ribs to the front hip bones” to create an upright position in the spine. In addition to this action, she also instructs to “drop the tailbone". As you do that you have to balance that action (what we call a counter action) by “pushing the femur back.”
We want to practice the correct actions of a pose so that we can gain the most benefit out of our poses. Some of the benefits of Virabhadrasana 1 are to create length in the hip flexors of the back leg, and shoulder opening (when you keep the front ribs soft). The risk of this pose is to compress the lumbar spine, especially when it’s turned into a back bend.
As you can see, lots of things to think about in this pose! We hope you enjoy this educational video.