Virabhadrasana 1

Pronounced: Verab-HAD-ras-ana won

Sanskrit Meaning:

  • Virabhadra – A mythical warrior/the best of the best
  • Asana – pose/posture

Asymetrical back-bend

The story … Virabhadra was born from one of the locks of hair plucked by Shiva from his head in an act of grief at his wife’s death. The lock when hitting the ground turned into the ‘best of the best’ warriors.

He was fierce and powerful and armed with magic, as Shiva’s representative he demanded respect and honour for his master. At the request of Shiva’s peers Brahma and Vishnu harmony was restored and Shiva bestowed blessings.

Virabhadrasana 1


To Move Into The Pose

Step or jump the feet apart.

Turn the Right foot out at 90˚ adjust the back foot (Left) so that the alignment of hip knee mid-line of foot is maintained. Often we will see this is described as at 45˚ or with the arch of the foot in-line with the heel of the front foot – in reality each of us has different ranges of movements in the hips (SI joints) which is where the range of rotation in the back leg originates; however this must line up through the knee joint with the foot so once rotated – ideally you work from the foot upwards using foot exercises and bhanda to secure the position – as you do this see a spiral of energy coming from the actions of extending and stabalising the foot grounding and gripping working on up the leg, past the knee into the hip and spine. We must work into whatever position is best for us so the hips and chest are facing forward.

Bend the front (Right) knee so it is as low as it can go to being parallel to the earth, maintain your foot, knee, hip alignment throughout.

Do not let the knee extend out over the foot, if anything keep it back behind the foot.

Lift the arms through the side plane of the body up into a Venus lock or Prayer position.

The spine is arching slightly backwards, keep the chest open, lift the body out of the pelvis, squeeze the buttocks.

Work deeply into both feet, extending the toes, grounding through the heels, balancing on all 3 or four points of the soles and gripping with the toes – this will give both legs a great workout.

Repeat the pose on the left side.


The legs:

Front Leg

Glutus medius and minimus, hip adductors, hip and knee flexors, including the hamstrings and the solues and the extrinsic muscles of the foot.

Back Leg

Hip extensors, hamstrings, knee extensors, intrinsic muscles of the foot to maintain foot arch.

Supporting the knee – gracilis and supporting the ankle – peroneals.

Upper Body:

Scapula abductor and upward rotation

Serratus anterior

Stabalise and adbuct shoulder

Rotator cuff, biceps, deltoid,


Spinal extensors, internal oblique and external obliques to assist in rotation of chest to front.

Stabalise lower spine

Psoas minor and abdominal muscles

Support head

Rectus capitus, capitus and colli and scalene.

Physiology of the Pose

Increases the stamia.

Strengthens the shoulders, back, lungs and chest.

The higher you are (shorter distance between the legs) the less the spine bends and the more closed the hips are, the lower you go the greater the potential spinal back bend, also the centre of gravity is lower so balance may become easier, the hips open more.

Aphorism 46. Posture is that which is firm and pleasant. – Translation of Patanjali Sutra by Yoganada



  • APMB, (2013) Swami Satyananda Saraswati. Yoga Publications Trust, Mungar, Bihar, India
  • Yoga Anatomy – Leslie Kaminoff & Amy Matthews
  • Swati Chanchani & Rajiv Chanchani – Yoga for Children (2011)
  • Google (Free) Images
Copyright © 2016 Susan Pryor The Red Thread & Mala Media Publishing

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