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Essential Sequence: Winning in Warrior III

WHY THIS SEQUENCE WORKS

I spent my first two years of yoga avoiding Warrior III. Then, I spent another year avoiding it. Finally, after avoiding it for an additional 15 years, I’ve made it a mainstay of my practice. What can I say? I guess it takes me a while to warm up to things that expose my weaknesses, knock me off balance, and frustrate my ego. I have to admit, I actually like it now.

Part of the reason I avoided the pose was that I didn’t feel that I should struggle with it nearly as much as I was. The degree of difficultly that I experienced didn’t seem commensurate with the challenge of the pose. After all, standing postures like Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana, arm balances like Eka Pada Galavasana, and balancing in inversions like Forearm Balance and Handstand weren’t very difficult for me. But, three seconds into Warrior III and I would topple over.

Now that I’m no longer avoiding the pose, I’ve figured out a few things that make it much more accessible and effective. Go figure, now that I’m not avoiding something, I’m actually learning about it—shocker. What incredible insights yoga teachers have, right?

Here are the things that I’m focusing on in the pose:

1) Strongly rooting down through the base of the big toe.
2) Strongly adducting both thighs toward each other like I’m squeezing a block.
3) Engaging the spinal muscles and hamstrings (of the top leg) like I’m doing Locust Pose.
4) Firmly pressing my hands together in Anjali Mudra for a few breaths to help me feel the midline of my body before reaching my arms forward.
5) Holding my breath, thinking about the future, judging myself, and assigning blame to others.

Here’s a quick sequence to help you build up to Warrior III. I’ve been enjoying this sequence quite a bit lately.

POSES 1-2

Simple, straightforward reclined Hamstring and Adductor lengthening to prepare for the upcoming demands of Warrior III.

POSES 3-4

Paripurna Navasana and Ardha Navasana pair perfectly to strengthen your core. Bringing your attention to your center early in this sequence will help you keep your attention focused on your midline when you get the wobbles in Warrior III later.

POSES 5-6

These two poses help you transition from the reclined and seated postures to the upcoming standing postures.

POSES 7-9

This is a progression of standing balances with the legs abducted and externally rotated. These postures will get you tuned in to standing balances and they’re typically easier than the upcoming standing balances.

POSES 10-12

These three postures shift the orientation of the legs and hips into the same orientation as the upcoming Warrior III.

POSES 13-15

Parsvottanasana gives you one more opportunity to prepare your hamstrings for Warrior III. Many teachers transition into Warrior III from Warrior I. I prefer transitioning into Warrior III from a high lunge. I think it makes more sense for the hips. Check it out and see what you think.

Want to practice this sequence at home? When you sign up for our newsletter we’ll send you a free printer-friendly PDF of the sequence!

AND, if you want to feel more confident and knowledgeable about your sequencing skills, check out my e-course, The Art of Yoga Sequencing. It’s great for yoga teachers and students who want to better understand how the body works and how to stretch and strengthen effectively.

{illustration by MCKIBILLO}



22 Comments

  1. I love these sequences! I’m currently rotating the headstand/forearm stand/handstand sequences through my daily practice as I work towards freestanding handstand. Question: in this sequence, in the high lunge, is there really a revolved side angle involved, or is the picture misleading me?

  2. Focus #5: really?

    For me, it’s “How long does he expect me to hold this @#$%& pose? This is good for me, right? Right. Just breathe.”

    Thanks for sharing your wisdom with us.

    Namaste,

  3. Are you serious about point 5 of the things you focus on in the pose? Just trying to figure out whether you’re being funny, honest or… ? 🙂

  4. Tip number 5: “Holding my breath, thinking about the future, judging myself, and assigning blame to others.” Perhaps adding in the word “NOT” to the beginning of the sentence? 🙂

  5. Hi Jason,

    Love your sequencing. Only one thing that makes me slightly confused, you mention transitioning from High Lunge, but the asana in the sequence shows Revolved Side Angle?

  6. Love the sequence. I struggled for years with this pose also.

    I question the placement of #12 as the description says 3 poses to shift legs and hips into the same orientation of Warrior 3.

    Like Anonymous, I questioned the pose of twist #14. I like the twist but added High Lunge as entry point for Warrior 3.

    Do you really want to say that currently (6) you are focusing on holding your breath, judging self, assigning blame to others?

    What my students really appreciated learning from you via an associate you attended one of your workshops was the backbend quality of Warrior 3 and the dismissal of the need to keep the outer hip point down.

    Thanks for sharing!!

    1. Suelin,

      Thanks, Suelin. We made a mistake with the illustration. Please change revolved side angle to high lunge! With regards to “holding your breath, etc.,” you know that this has to be a joke, right? When you think about this, there’s no other conclusion that can be drawn when I tell people to “hold their breath, judge yourself, and assign blame to others.”

      1. Jason, your sense of humor is killing me. Like you said, those of you who cannot lift up in Tulasana or do a Handstand you are not spiritual enough, you should leave the room. HAHAHAHA!!!
        Love you.

  7. Hi Jason,

    Great stuff – love the emphasis on locust whilst strongly adducting energy inward.

    Sorry to point out another typo, but you did mean to say that poses 7 -9 are a series of “ab-duction” poses (externally rotating at the hips), right? The only reason I point it out is, for me, the adduction of the energy is key for this pose.

    Otherwise, you rock…and thanks for sharing.

  8. Greetings from Singapore. Hi Jason, the 30 mins sequence is taught as it is or can we weave it into a vinyasa practice. E.g., is Warrior 3 a peak pose? if so, can i follow the Sequence template that you taught at the workshop, the half salutations, lunges, surynamaskar A, W2 based poses, etc. Please advise where would you add in the salutations since Preparations start on Reclined.
    After the peak (warrior3) can we move on with the rest of bell curve eg.,Backbends, Neural spine, Forward Bends, Twists, Closing.

    1. Hi Jane,

      You can definitely weave this sequence into a larger-format vinyasa practice. My goal in providing these sequences is for people to use them however they’re inspired to do so!

  9. Another great sequence that will torture, I mean thrill my students.:) I’ve been lucky to have experienced your wicked sense of humour live a couple of times now, which is one of the many reasons I keep coming back. Focus point 5 just made me crack up!

  10. Hi Jason and Andrea,
    Love this sequence… Warrior 3 is my fave! Jason, I am with you on moving from Crescent Lunge to WIII rather than from WI! So much less explaining for me as a teacher and the hips are already ready to move forward into the pose.
    Thank you for sharing your knowledge, I hope to train with you soon!

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