Prenatal Yoga Poses: How to do Warrior II

brenda holding a warrior II yoga pose

Warrior II (sanskrit: Virabhadrasana II) is a fantastic pose to practice throughout your pregnancy. It feels strong and stable and there are lots of options to play in the pose once you’ve taken a few breaths in it. 

Benefits of Warrior II in Pregnancy

  • Strong connection to the Earth and your root chakra (grounding energy).
  • Good for your feet and arches.
  • Build strength in your legs.
  • Therapeutic for sciatica.
  • Front hip opener (external rotation).
  • Work on good posture.
  • Relieve backaches.
  • Strengthens your shoulders.
  • Build stamina and mental resilience.

How to do Warrior II

Check out my video below talking you through how to get into a Warrior II pose.

Alternatively, here are the cues:

  • Walk your feet out as wide as is comfortable
  • Turn your left toes out to the side and bend your knee so that it is over top of your ankle. If you feel like you want to bend deeper and that would take your knee past your ankle, take a wider stance between your feet.
  • Look down at the bent knee and make sure you can see just your one big toe inside of your knee. This will ensure you are externally rotating your hip enough.
  • Very slightly turn your right toes in by lifting your heel and rotating it out an inch.
  • Keep your chest facing the side and lift your arms up to shoulder height with your palms facing down.
  • For a nice shoulder adjustment, for a moment turn your palms to face up and then look at the eye of your elbow the (inner bend). Keep the eye of the elbow facing upwards and then rotate your palms down making the action happen at your wrists and not your shoulders.
  • Turn your head to gaze at or past your left hand.
  • Think about drawing the arches of your feet up away from the ground and then pull that energy up through your pelvic floor and core all the way to the crown of your head to help you stand taller.
  • Deepen your breath and hold the pose for as long as you’d like.
  • To come out of the pose: arms down, straighten your leg, turn your toes back to parallel to your other foot.
  • Now do the pose on the opposite side!

Options to Modify Warrior II

Don’t feel like standing? Try the kneeling variation with the back knee on the floor.

Keep standing but make it a bit easier: Take your arms down & place your hands on yours hips. Walk your feet a little closer together and don’t bend your front knee as deeply.

Options to play while in Warrior II

Shoulder Stretches

Try eagle arms for a delicious stretch between your shoulder blades. One of my favorites! Take one arm atop the other in an X shape and then bind the hands together OR grab opposite shoulders. Keep elbows shoulder height and enjoy the stretch for a few breaths. Switch sides.

Try cow-faced arms for a nice shoulder stretch. Take one arm overhead and then bend elbow and pat yourself on the upper back. Take your other arm and extend it out to your side, turn your palm backwards, bend your elbow and place the hand at the small of your back. Now work your lower hand up your back until it is as close to the upper hand as possible. If the hands don’t connect, use a strap or a belt as your arm extender. Hold the belt in both hands and walk the hands as close together as possible. Hold the stretch for a few breaths and then switch sides.

Shoulder and upper back strengtheners

Try cactus arm movements. Bend elbows into cactus or goal post arms. With an exhale draw the forearms together. Inhale to open the arms back up. Or reverse the breath pattern and see which you like best.

To really challenge your stamina, keep arms out straight in Warrior II and start to make tiny little circular movements forward for a minute or more. (Not pictured). Then reverse direction for the same amount of time. Phew! That will get your shoulders burning.

Add a simple flow to your Warrior II

Keep your feet stable and starting in Warrior II, take a breath in, turn your palms up, and extend your arms overhead, and straighten your front leg. As you exhale, bend your front knee, turn your palms down, and bring your arms back out to Warrior II.

Try nerve gliding movements 

Three options for nerve gliding movements while holding your arms up in Warrior II pose:

  • Flip palms up & down repeatedly (not pictured, self-explanatory)
  • Alternate between pushing the walls away &curling your fingers under
  • Door knob rotations – pretend you are grabbing a door knob in each hand and then start rotating forward & backward quarter turns each way

Do you love Warrior II pose? How does it feel in your pregnant body? Which variation do you prefer?

I’d love to hear your questions or comments below!

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