by Baxter and Nina
Warrior 3 is unique in that in this pose you keep your torso, arms, and one leg parallel with the floor. In this position, gravity challenges you to keep yourself upright instead of folding over your front leg. All the musculature on the back of your body has to work actively to keep you in this position, including your hamstrings and buttocks along with all the spinal muscles up to the base of your neck. You are also building strength the arm muscles required to keep your arms overhead (the position known as flexion), including trapezius, anterior and posterior deltoid, serratus anterior.
To enhance the strength building aspect of the pose when you are using your hands on the wall, use the lightest touch possible on the wall so your arms still have to work to hold themselves up. Touching the wall with just your fingertips is the most effective, but you can still gain strength building with your palms lightly on the wall if you prefer full contact with the wall for support, balance, or even just a sense of security.
Instructions: Start by facing a wall, standing about one foot away. Place your hands on the wall shoulder-distance apart, either with palms or your fingertips on the wall. Depending on your hamstring and hip flexibility, your hands should be somewhere between shoulder height and elbow height. Next, bend your knees and push your hips back away from the wall, and, keeping your buttocks over your heels, slowly walk back until your arms and torso form one long line approximately parallel to the floor.
Featured Pose: Half Dog Pose at the Wall for photos and detailed instructions of moving into this pose). From here, push your fingertips or palms firmly into the wall as you press your sitting bones away from the wall. Then shift your left foot to the right, at the mid point between your feet, while allowing your hips to shift a little to the left so you are balancing on the left foot. Then swing your right leg up and back, in line with your arms and torso.
One you’re in the pose, try lightening the press of your hands on the wall so you can feel the work of your back body’s musculature keeping you in position. With your raised foot slightly pointed, lengthen through your hell away from the wall. Start by staying in the pose for six breaths or so and gradually over time work your way up to 1.5 to 2 minutes.
To come out of the pose, release your right leg down to the floor, bend your knees, and walk in toward the wall. Repeat on left other side.
Cautions: This pose requires a lot of back strength, so if you have lower back issues, you may need to modify the pose by placing your hands higher on the wall or by keeping your lifted leg slightly bent. If you have a hamstring strain, if you feel any strain in the standing leg, bend it slightly so you don’t aggravate your injury.