How to Modify Your Warrior II Pose for an Accessible Yoga Practice

By: Steph Ball-Mitchell, E-RYT-500, RPYT, RCYT, YACEP, CAADC

How to Modify Your Warrior II Pose for an Accessible Yoga Practice

Modify Your Warrior IImodify your warrior II pose

If you’re a regular yoga practitioner, chances are you’ve already practiced warrior II pose quite a few times. Warrior II pose is an excellent posture to strengthen the legs, open the hips and groin, and improve balance. Whether you are a beginner or an advanced yoga practitioner, there are likely still some things you can learn about how to modify your warrior II pose to find more comfort and ease in your practice. modify your warrior II pose

In the Patanjali Yoga Sutras, the main description of yoga asana or the physical poses is to find ease and stability, and modifications can help you achieve exactly that! So, in this article, we will explore the importance of modifications for accessible yoga practice and how you can add some simple adjustments or variations to your practice of warrior II pose. modify your warrior II pose

Why is it Important to Modify in Warrior II Pose?

Each body is unique, so when you get into your version of warrior II pose, it might not look the same as it does for someone else. Taking the time to explore your own body and your alignment can help you find comfort and ease in each position. Additionallymodifications and alignment help protect you from injury – yoga is meant to be therapeutic. With a few adjustments, you can access the full benefits of the pose without any strain!

5 Modifications for Warrior II Pose to Address Common Alignment Issues

1. Change Your Stance

One of the most common mistakes that yoga students make is not taking the proper stance for their body. The standard rule of thumb provided in yoga classes is to make your stance a 3-foot distance between your legs, but for someone with shorter or longer limbs, this might not work for them. modify your warrior II pose

Try adjusting the width between your feet to see how it feels for you. To decrease the intensity, you might try shortening your stance. In contrast, if you want more intensity in the pose, then try widening your stance so that your front thigh is parallel to the ground.

2. Adjust Your Hips

The common alignment suggestion in warrior II pose is to keep your hips squared to the long edge of the mat. But for many yoga practitioners, that can put excess strain on their knee and compress their lower back. Another option is to explore a different position in your hips by slightly turning the pelvis towards your front foot to keep the pelvis neutral.

Although this makes the pose a bit more similar to warrior I pose, you can still get many of the same benefits as warrior II pose in both your lower and upper body. Getting into each pose is not about having it look a certain way; it is about finding what is most supportive for you!

3. Shift Your Back Foot

If you adjust the angle of your hips, you might also find that to ease up the pressure on your knee, pelvis, and spine, it is also more supportive to turn in the angle of your back foot. A good rule of thumb is to try and match the angle of your back foot with the angle of your pelvis.

If you have tighter hips, you might also consider aligning your feet heel to heel rather than heel to arch to give your hips more space for the external rotation in your front thigh. This can also be beneficial for people who feel more compression in their lower back in this pose.

4. Find More Engagement

In warrior II pose, most people experience the majority of the strain in this pose in their bent front leg. While your thighs are certainly engaged, you can also ease up some of the pressure by checking into the engagement of your back leg. Make sure to firm into your back foot and root down through your pelvis, quadriceps, and calves to equally find support from both legs.

You can also add stability to this pose by engaging your core and rising through the crown of your head to broaden your chest. This full-body engagement can distribute the weight in this pose and help you truly access the warrior within you.

5. Check-In with Your Knees

Another crucial mistake yoga students make in this pose is in the alignment of their front knee. Often when the pelvis and hips are not aligned in the best way for your body, then your front knee may begin to drop inwards. A good cue to remember is to try and gently pull your front knee towards your little toe to stack your knee and ankle on top of each other.

But remember, you absolutely do not need to keep your front thigh parallel to the mat or at a 90-degree angle to gain the benefits of warrior II pose. If you are feeling engaged, then you are benefiting from the pose. So, just make sure that you are constantly tuning into the sensations in your body, and if you feel any discomfort in your knees, support your body accordingly!

Warrior II Pose Variations

In addition to the standard warrior II pose, there are also some fun variations that you can use to explore this pose a bit deeper. Some of the most popular warrior II pose variations are exalted or reverse warrior pose and humble warrior pose.

Additionally, warrior II pose is an excellent opportunity to explore different arm positions. Perhaps you experiment with raising your arms straight overhead, clasping your hands in a mudra, holding a block, or keeping your hands on your hips.

Another excellent variation if you find discomfort in warrior II pose is switching to crescent lunge pose instead. For many people with issues in their hips, knees, or pelvis, warrior II pose can be uncomfortable. But the good news is that you can get many of the same benefits to the body in warrior II pose as you can from a crescent lunge pose instead.

How to Make Warrior II Pose More Accessible

In addition to the above modifications and variations for warrior II pose, there are also some ways that you can add even more accessibility to your practice by incorporating props like blocks, straps, chairs, and even a wall.

Warrior II Pose Near the Wall:

A fun variation to explore engagement and the alignment of your knee in warrior II pose is to stand near a wall in warrior II pose with a block behind the knee of your front leg. By pressing the block between your knee and the wall, you can find more engagement in your legs and adjust the stance in your knees to protect your joints.

Warrior II Pose with a Chair:

Another excellent, accessible variation for warrior II pose is to use a chair. Students who have no issue standing but still need some support in their balance might find more ease by standing behind a chair and placing their front hand on the back of the chair before stepping back into warrior II pose.

Another variation is to sit in the chair as you get into warrior II pose. But make sure to sit closer to the edge of the chair and then have your front leg bent across the seat of the chair as you extend your back leg out to the side. You might also need blocks underneath your feet if you find the distance to the floor is a bit hard to reach.

Warrior II Pose on the Floor:

For students who prefer a more restorative practice, struggle to stand up, or want to explore warrior II pose from different vantage points, the floor is a wonderful place to do that! You can practice a variation of warrior II pose by laying down on the floor near a wall and placing both your feet against the wall.

Another option from the floor is to keep the knee of your back leg down on the ground and then bend your front knee into a warrior II pose position. This is an excellent option for people who are still working on their balance, and you can also work on more core engagement in this variation.

Become a Yoga Teacher at Online Yoga School

As you can see, there are so many different ways to explore warrior II pose in your own body. Yoga is not a one size fits all solution; it is about an exploration of your body and your inner self. So, in each yoga pose, try exploring different options to find more comfort and ease in your body, and you may be surprised by your experience!

In our accessible online yoga teacher training courses, we will give you all the tools that you need to explore each yoga pose in depth in your own body and for your students. Each body is unique, and by learning the ins and outs of alignment, modifications, and variations, you can meet your students where they are and create a practice that is nourishing for them. Reach out to us for more information on how you can begin the exciting journey of becoming a yoga teacher!

About the Author

Founder of Online Yoga School and Yoga & Ayurveda Center

Online Yoga SchoolSteph Ball-Mitchell, E-RYT-500, RPYT, RCYT, YACEP, CAADC

Steph has over 25 years of experience in yoga and movement.  Her understanding of yoga and the human body has been influenced by lifelong dancing and holistic health.  She found her life’s purpose in helping people become happier and healthier through her own healing journey.  Steph assists her students in knowing the joy and wonderment of integrating the mind and body through accessible yoga.  She encourages an authentic and life-nurturing practice, one that brings greater consciousness to each moment and every movement of the body with a heavy emphasis on breath.  

With a masters degree in counseling, Steph brings awareness, acceptance and a down to earth approach to her classes.  She studied with Maty Ezraty and later completed her second 200-hour training with Nancy Candea at Yoga Impact in New Jersey and her 300-hour training with Chris Loebsack at Boundless Yoga Studio in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania.   The perpetual student, Steph has studied with Leslie Howard, Travis Eliot, Bryan Kest, Donna Farhi and countless others.  She has extensive training in pelvic floor yoga, restorative yoga, yin yoga, power yoga and accessible yoga.  Most recently, Steph was certified as a Grand Master of Meditation through Swami Vidyanand.

Steph founded Yoga and Ayurveda Center with her husband.  She later launched Online Yoga School to support her local trainings and has recently launched a virtual yoga studio to accommodate the international community of trainees.

When she isn’t on her mat, Steph can be found volunteering, enjoying her husband and children, dancing and cooking.  She currently enjoys serving on the board of World Yoga Federation and Meditation Alliance International and previously enjoyed serving on the Education Committee of Yoga Alliance and places a strong emphasis on inclusivity in her teacher trainings.