Virabhadrasana III (Warrior 3 Pose)

Iyengar's difficulty rating: 5* out of 60*

Iyengar's Technique:

  1. Assume the final form of Virabhadrasana 1 with the R leg forward.
  2. Bend forward and rest your chest on your R thigh. Keep your arms straight and palms together. Take two breaths.
  3. On an exhale, simultaneously lift your L leg and push down to straighten your R leg, "making it stiff as a poker."
  4. Turn your L leg inward so that the front of your thigh is faces straight towards the floor.
  5. "While balancing, the whole body (except the right leg) is to be kept parallel to the floor. The right leg, which should be fully stretched and stiff, should be kept perpendicular to the floor. Pull the back of the right thigh and stretch the arms and the left leg as if two persons are pulling you from either end."
  6. Hold for 20-30 seconds, then return to Virabhadrasana I.

Comparing Forms:

  • Iyengar's R leg is completely straight and at the end of its range of motion. In my picture, I'm "microbending" my R knee in an effort to avoid hyperextension and posterior knee pain. In the time since this picture was taken, I've learned how to activate my muscles in such a way that I can skip the microbend with no adverse effects.
  • Iyengar's toes on the back leg are flaring strongly. I'm pointing my toes. I play with both depending upon the day, but I find that pointing my toes often gives me a little more power and control in my quadriceps muscles.