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Being a Warrior

Warrior series has always frustrated me during my asana practice...until recently. My legs shake and I don't like to hold the pose. I want to flow...not only to feel graceful, but to get the heck out of that lunge! Warrior II works the hips and the thighs to a place that doesn't seem natural when done correctly. Even Yoga Journal confesses the intensity of the pose:
Few poses beat Virabhadrasana II (Warrior Pose II) at strengthening your hips and thighs. As you might guess from the way your legs burn in a long Warrior II, the pose strongly works your quadriceps muscles, which make up the front of your thighs. But Warrior II is not just about strength: It can also correct a common misalignment that can lead to many knee problems. To see if you have this misalignment, stand barelegged in front of a mirror. If your alignment is healthy, your kneecaps will point straight out over the midline of your feet. But you may find that your thighbone rotates inward in relation to your shinbone and that your kneecap points slightly inward, too. This position is bad news: It torques your knee, putting uneven pressure on the cartilage and straining the supporting ligaments and tendons every time you bend it.
I continued to practice the pose, and more often than not, I would release from the lunge and straighten my front leg. I couldn't bear the burn. What kind of warrior am I?! But as with everything in life, there came a shift. Perhaps it was my frustrated and constant internal dialogue - "to get stronger you have to stay here". Or perhaps, just like in the alignment of the pose, I was finally aligned mentally, physically and emotionally to recognize the warrior I have always been.
Warrior II
Pictured above: Yoga Instructor Jen Pinto deepens her yoga practice and her Warrior II by wearing yoga socks with grip.