This pose is accessible even if you have something going on in your shoulders that is challenging because it doesn’t require full range of motion in the shoulder joints. And you don’t need to bear weight on your hands, so if you have wrist or hand problems you can still can do the pose.
Because we’re focusing on upper body strength for next several weeks, we’re going to give you three different ways to strengthen your body with Warrior 2. Version 1 is the traditional pose, and Versions 2 and 3 use a slightly different arm position.
Instructions: Starting in Tadasana, step your feet wide apart. Turn your right foot out 90 degrees, then, pivoting on the ball of your back foot, shift your left heel back an inch or two to your left so the foot is slightly turned in.
Next, inhale and raise your arms up so they are parallel to the floor, with your palms facing down toward the floor. Keep your shoulder blades relaxed and moving down your back (not sliding up toward your ears) as you raise your arms. Then, on an exhalation, bend your right knee directly over your right ankle while keeping your torso centered over your pelvis (not leaning over your front leg). Allow your hips to rotate slightly toward your right knee but rotate your chest away from your right knee so your chest faces directly forward. Finally, allow your head and neck to turn so you gaze over your right hand.
To come out of the pose, exhale and release your arms. Then straight your knee, turn your feet to a parallel position, and switch to the other side:
Version 2: Palms turned up
For this version, follow the instructions for Version 1. When it comes time to raise your arms, start by spinning from your upper arms to turn your palms to face front. Then as your raise your arms, keep spinning form your upper arms to turn your palms up toward the ceiling.
Version 3: Holding blocks
For this version, start by holding the props and then follow the instructions for Version 1. As you lift your arms, rotate your upper arm bones so as you arms come out to the sides, the blocks are resting on your upturned palms.
Because of the additional weight, you may feel the additional work, and you may need to reduce the time you stay in the pose! If you become fatigued or shaky, release your arms. Gradually, over time, increase your time in the pose to up to 2 minutes.
Cautions: In general, Warrior 2 is a very safe pose. However, if you experience pain in your shoulder joints or neck, come out of the pose and get some advice from a yoga teacher about your alignment. If you have a history of rotator cuff injury or dislocated shoulder, approach the pose carefully, especially Version 3.