When it comes to yoga teacher training, I feel very fortunate that I learned from a team of highly skilled and evolved trainers. My lineage includes Judith Lasater and B.K.S Iyengar, and my own mentor trained in Hanna Somatics as well as yoga and other fitness modalities. As such my training is rooted in personal antomy, and somatic experiencing. One thing that has always felt ‘off’ to me was the warrior 1 to warrior 2 transition. It feels awkward and clunky. Through my own education and experience over the years I’ve come to a shortlist of three reasons why I don”t like it, and don’t teach it.
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Traditional Warrior 1 to Warrior 2 transition
In many yoga styles, warrior 1 and 2 are taught in a sequence together. You begin in warrior 1. Traditionally performed with the front knee bent and back leg extended. Hips and torso facing towards the front of your mat, with the feet grounded, and arms raised overhead.
Then, to transition to warrior 2, open the hips and torso to the long edge of your mat. Shoulders over the pelvis and the arms lengthening to the short edges of your mat.
Three reasons why I don’t like it, or teach it
Firstly, these two poses are totally different anatomically. Warrior 1 is neutral/internal rotation at the hips, and warrior 2 is external rotation. For many, the nature of warrior 1 having the pelvis towards the short edge of the mat and the foot planted to the floor, means the stance has to be shorter than it would for warrior 2. This alone kind of shows that the poses don’t belong together. It’s not just simply a matter of turning the pelvis and torso to the side, you have to adjust the feet and leg position too.
Secondly, this adjustment from front to side on can be problematic. Due to the back foot being grounded the turning motion can create torque in you body, leading to instability of the pose. This toque can manifest as pain or tension in the ankle, knee, hip or lower back. This loss of integrity of the pose can happen in the straight leg, or the front bent leg. While you man not feel this torque and stress the first few times, this is similar to an RSI that gradually may build up over time.
Thirdly, it just feels funky. Tiny adjustments in yoga poses are fine, but these two poses have different foot, knee, hip, pelvis, torso and arm positions. There is lots of opportunities to lose the mind-body connection and again lose the strength and stability of the poses.
How I teach the warrior 1 to warrior 2 transition
While I prefer that these two poses NOT be together in a sequence, if I have to then I’ll switch in high crescent lunge instead of warrior 1. This allows for a longer space between the feet. The back foot can pivot more easily to the floor, reducing the torque in your body. And most of all, it just feels a lot nicer in your body!
So that about sums up the top three reasons I don’t like or teach these poses together. While they have the same word in the name they aren’t poses that go together, in my opinion. If in your yoga practice you feel the transition between these poses is a little clunky then perhaps give crescent lunge a try.
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- How do you feel in this yoga pose transition?
- Would you be willing to change warrior 1 to high lunge?
- Are there any other transitions or poses you find challenging?