What is going on in Warrior I pose?
The requests have flooded in after last week’s #poseoftheweek post! Thank you for your curiosity and support!
I am making a list of poses as they come in, so just know these poses are in no particular order. Watch them in any order you like!
The question: What is the pelvis doing in Warrior I?
Now my disclaimer – as always – is that you can do Warrior I any way you want.
❎ I AM NOT HERE to be a yoga pose dictator.
✅ I AM HERE to keep you safe and help you fit postures to YOUR body, rather than fit your body to a pose.
✅ What’s the point of the Pose of the Week? Not just to help you fit postures to YOUR needs, but also to help you preserve joint function and build strength and endurance, ESPECIALLY if you have joint laxity, you have had or do have pelvic girdle issues (which means hip, sacroiliac joint (SIJ), low back, and/or pelvic floor), or the big one, if you are a woman (we have a higher risk of these issues).
The answer: It depends.
(That was the most popular answer I ever got in spending 2 years on my Masters and 3 years on my Doctorate in Physical Therapy at UNC, and it’s true.)
There IS a best way to do Warrior I when you are talking about hip and pelvic girdle preservation – which means treating, preventing, or maximizing performance in that area specifically.
In this 7 minute video, I discuss how to approach Warrior I. A few major points:
Do in Warrior I*
✅ The feet are about a comfortable hip width distance apart and the lunge stance is shorter than you may expect. It is determined by the true “length” of your hip flexors, rather than the range of motion available in your hip and spine.
✅ Do position the pelvis in a way that gives the spine/pelvis, and hip priority, and protects the hip. Square the pelvis toward the front of the mat, which means stand upright in a sustainable posture that honors the natural spinal curves. *Hint: This is MUCH harder to do than it looks. This 7 minute video scratches the surface of what there is to know about Warrior I.
✅ Do bend the back knee as well a the front knee if you have any hip, back, SIJ, or pelvic floor pain. This takes the stress off the front of the hip capsule, labrum, and also decreases compression through the SIJ and low back and strain through the pelvic floor.
✅ Do optimize length/tension relationship of the pelvic floor and hip lock (see my book Medical Therapeutic Yoga for a complete explanation on Hip Lock and watch this video) for building power (strength + endurance) in these muscles.
✅ Keep the bony landmarks of the pelvis even in this pose. This is not an asymmetrical pose of the pelvis.
✅ Do alternate between a bent and straight back knee to address the gastroc-soleus complex ONLY if there is no hip pain. If you have hip pain, reach out to me or join my Hip Labral Physical Therapy Network group on FB.
Do nots in Warrior I – Don’t be a lazy warrior.
❎ Don’t dump the front of the pelvis (called ASIS’s) and sway the low back in this pose. That is a lazy warrior.
❎ Don’t take a deep lunge here. That is a different pose, called Crescent Pose, and has a different therapeutic intent and impact. I align Warrior I this way to nurture isolation of the hip flexors and improved response, TATD breath postural integration and restoration, gastroc-soleus length, and (eventually) progression to advanced back bending (spinal extension).
❎ Don’t substitute mid-back bending (thoracic spine or thoracolumbar junction extension) for spinal neutral in this pose. That comes later in Crescent Pose progression.
❎ Don’t torsion the sacroiliac joint and back knee by turning the back foot out.
*You can always refer to my book or the Premium Video Library Series for more details and in depth practice and modifications of Warrior I. The Free Basic Video Library Series is a great place to start.
Building Power & Preserving the Pelvis = Orthopaedic Sustainability
When you do Warrior I following these guidelines, you actually make the pose harder, not easier. But it also makes it safer, while building MORE strength and endurance in the legs, pelvis, core, and hip.
There are also MANY other “Hip Hacks” I use to improve pelvic girdle (read: core, abdominal, pelvic floor) functioning in this pose. But this 7 minute video is an introduction to using Warrior I therapeutically in a way that fits bodies which struggle with joint stability and integrity, and for those who want to avoid joint replacements and age gracefully with a yoga practice that is sustainable for the long run.
My goal for using yoga therapeutically is orthopaedic sustainability and mind-body health longevity. This type of yoga may not be for everyone, but it is for every body. It is accessible, compassionate, evidence-informed, scientifically grounded, and field tested for decades by not only myself, but the hundreds of therapists and doctors I have trained.
I look forward to sharing a new asana/pose with you each week, so we can explore safe asana evolution together. So send me your questions!
More resources are found below and also:
- Protecting the Sacroiliac Joint in Yoga
- Protecting the Sacroiliac Joint in Yoga, Part II
- Live Practice! The New Warrior I & II (Hip Preservation, Not Hip Openers)
About the Author
Ginger is a passionate, unapologetic advocate of improving access to healthcare, a mother to 3 sons, & a 20+ year veteran in Integrative & Lifestyle Medicine in women’s health physical therapy & athletic training. She is the author of Medical Therapeutic Yoga, founder of Living Well Institute, owner of EudeMOMIa Integrative PT & Lifestyle Medicine, and most recently uprooted to Greensboro, NC with her family after 21 years of beach living, where they and their rescue pup Scout are wildly joyous about their new hometown.
Dr. Garner partners with Yoga Alliance & Yoga U Online to offer high quality yoga and therapeutic yoga content for yoga teachers, therapists, and enthusiasts.
Yoga for Women’s Health
FREE DOWNLOAD Avoiding Common Post-Pregnancy Health Issues
From Hip Opening to Hip Preservation
FREE DOWNLOAD Why Yoga Can Predispose You to Hip Injuries & How to Avoid Them
BioHacking Your Health Profile
How to Foster Greater Immunity, Strength & Health: Yoga as Lifestyle Medicine
Stimulating the Vagus Nerve
FREE DOWNLOAD Stimulating the Vagus Nerve: The #1 Key to Enhancing Well-Being and Stress Resilience
Your Well-Being Switch
FREE DOWNLOAD Yoga, the Bandhas, and the Three Diaphragms of the Body
Asana Evolution for Hip Injury Care & Prevention
Available at no charge to Yoga Alliance registered teachers
DISCLAIMER: YOU CAN DO WARRIOR I or ANY YOGA POSE however you feel is best for you. However, this particular Warrior I is for protection and preservation, as well as maximizing, pelvic girdle function (hip, SIJ, low back, pelvic floor). This and any other videos I instruct do not constitute physical therapy or a patient-provider relationship. User assumes risk in performing this or any video. Please get the approval of your healthcare provider before doing this or any instructional movement video.