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Sun Salutation with Warrior 1 (Virabhadrasana) and Intense Side Stretch (Parshvottanasana)

warrior 1
Virabhadrasana (Warrior 1)

If you’ve attended a yoga class with me, you would have noted that Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation) is an integral part of the routine that we practice. Typically, we practice three rounds of Surya Namaskar. In the first round, we go through the basic sequence which has the classic 12 movements. In the second and third round, we add some variations to many of the movements. For example, in the second round some of the common poses that we practice include warrior 1, warrior 2, triangle pose, pigeon pose etc. In the third round, we usually practice the upward facing dog and also occasionally some twisting variations from the lunge position.

In today’s post, I am presenting the sequence of three rounds of Sun Salutation with warrior 1 and the Intense Side Stretch integrated into the second round. My friend Neha has graciously agreed to bring you the video presentation.

Step-by-step

Round 1

  1. Stand close to the top of the mat with the feet together or slightly apart but parallel to each other. As you exhale, bring your hands in the prayer position in front of your chest.
  2. Inhaling, stretch your arms out in front, raise them up and arch back from the waist, pushing the hips out, legs straight. Relax your neck.
  3. Exhaling, fold forward, keeping the arms alongside the ears initially. In the final position, drop the hands to get close to the toes. Try to keep the knees straight, bending slightly if necessary.
  4. Inhaling, bring the left leg back and place the knee on the floor. Arch back and look up, lifting your chest and chin.
  5. adhomukha-small.jpg
    Adhomukha-shvanasana (Down Dog)

  6. Exhaling, bring the other leg back. Lift your buttocks up, coming into an inverted "V" shape called the Adhomukha Shvanasana or Downward Facing Dog. Try to push the thighs back, heels and forehead down, tailbone lifted up and keep your shoulders back.
  7. Exhaling, lower the knees, chest and the chin to the floor, keeping your buttocks lifted up.
  8. Inhaling, lower the abdomen to the floor and slowly begin to lift your head, neck and chest to get into the Bhujangasana or Cobra pose. In the first round we try to lift the palms off the floor, using the upper body strength to lift the chest higher, if comfortable. Keep the shoulders rolled back.
  9. Exhaling, place the palms down, curl your toes under, lift the buttocks up to get back to the downward facing dog. Try to push your heels and forehead down and keep your shoulders back (same as position 5).
  10. Inhaling, lift the head up, bring the left foot forward and place it between your hands. Rest the other knee on the floor and look up, as in position 4.
  11. Exhaling, bring the other leg forward and bend down from the waist with th knees stretched straight. This is called Uttanasana (standing forward bending pose).
  12. Inhaling, stretch your arms forward, lift them up and back overhead and bend back slowly from the waist, as in position 2.
  13. Exhaling, gently come back to an upright position and bring your arms down by your sides. Relax for a few breaths before proceeding with the next round.

Round 2

In this round we integrate the practice of Warrior 1 (Virabhadrasana) as well as the Intense Side Stretch (Parshvottanasna) as a part of the sequence.

  1. Stand close to the top of the mat with the feet together or slightly apart but parallel to each other. As you exhale, bring your hands in the prayer position in front of your chest.
  2. Inhaling, bring the arms to the side and then begin to raise them up and arch back from the waist. If comfortable, deepen the stretch by pressing the feet firmly into the ground, pushing the buttocks and thighs forward, keeping legs straight. Relax your neck.
  3. Exhaling, release the hands down and begin to bend forward. This time bring the hands behind the back, interlock the fingers and lift the hands up toward the ceiling when you inhale. When you exhale, make a gentle effort to drop the chest to close the gap with the thighs.
  4. warrior 1
    Virabhadrasana (Warrior 1)

  5. Inhaling, bend the knees, place the palms on the floor right next to the feet. This time bring the right leg back.
  6. To get into the Warrior 1 pose, we will keep the right foot flat on the floor with the heel pressing firmly into the ground. Try to keep the right leg straight with the toes turned slightly toward the front foot. Roll the shoulders and hips to the left and bend the front knee, keeping the front foot facing forward. As you inhale try to raise the arms up and push them back to create a gentle arch in the spine. As you exhale, try to drop the buttocks down, bending the front knee close to 90 degrees. Make sure that the front knee is positioned vertically above the ankle. You may spend three to four breaths in this pose.
  7. From the Warrior 1, we’ll transition to the Parshvottanasana (Intense Side Stretch). Release the hands down and place the palms on the thigh in front. Stretch both the legs straight and begin to slide the hands down the leg, keeping the leg straight. If needed, feel free to bend the knee slightly. While bending forward keep the right hand a little ahead of the left to maintain good shoulder alignment. In the final position try to drop the chest close to the thigh.
  8. Exhaling, bend the front knee and placing the palms on the floor, bring the other leg back. Lift your buttocks up to get into the Adhomukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog). Try to push the thighs back, heels and forehead down, tailbone lifted up and keep your shoulders back.
  9. Exhaling, lower your knees to the floor and this time push the buttocks all the way back close to the heels. Keep the forehead on the floor and start walking your hands out in front.
  10. Inhaling, keeping the hands where they are, begin to slide the body forward, keeping the forehead close to the floor. Slowly begin to lift your head, neck and chest up to get into the Bhujangasana or Cobra pose. Keep the navel on the floor, legs together, elbows tucked in close to the body and shoulders rolled back.
  11. Exhaling, curl your toes under, lift the buttocks up to get back to the downward facing dog. Try to push your heels and forehead down and keep your shoulders back.
  12. Inhaling, lift the head up, bring the right foot forward and place it between your hands. Here we will repeat the movements for the Warrior 1 pose as we did before.
  13. To get into the Warrior 1 pose, we will keep the left foot flat on the floor with the heel pressing firmly into the ground. Try to keep the back leg straight with the toes turned slightly toward the front foot. Roll the shoulders and hips to the right and bend the front knee, keeping the front foot facing forward. As you inhale try to raise the arms up and push them back to create a gentle arch in the spine. As you exhale, try to drop the buttocks down, bending the front knee close to 90 degrees. You may spend three to four breaths in this pose.
  14. parshva-lake.jpg
    Parshvottanasana (Deep side stretch)

  15. From the Warrior 1, we’ll move on to the Parshvottanasana (Intense Side Stretch). Release the hands down and place the palms on the thigh in front. Stretch both the legs straight and begin to slide the hands down the leg, trying the keep the leg straight. If needed, feel free to bend the knee slightly. While bending forward keep the left hand a little ahead of the right to maintain good shoulder alignment. In the final position try to drop the chest close to the thigh.
  16. Now bend the front knee and place the palms on the floor. Exhaling, bring the other leg forward and bend down from the waist with th knees stretched straight. This is called Uttanasana (standing forward bending pose).
  17. Inhaling, stretch your arms to the side, bring them up and back overhead and bend back slowly from the waist.
  18. Exhaling, gently come back to an upright position and bring your arms down by your sides. Relax for a few breaths before proceeding with the next round.

Round 3

  1. Stand close to the top of the mat with the feet together or slightly apart but parallel to each other. As you exhale, bring your hands in the prayer position in front of your chest.
  2. plank-small
    Plank Pose

  3. Inhaling, stretch your arms out in front, raise them up and arch back from the waist, pushing the hips out, legs straight. Relax your neck.
  4. Exhaling, fold forward, keeping the arms alongside the ears initially. In the final position, drop the hands to get close to the toes. Try to keep the knees straight, bending slightly if necessary.
  5. Inhaling, bring the left leg back. This time we’ll keep the back leg very straight. Try to push the heel back and lift the left thigh upward to keep the back leg straight and strong.
  6. Exhaling, bring the other leg back. This time we’ll get into the plank position. Roll the shoulders forward so the shoulders are vertically above the palms. In the plank position, the heels, buttocks, shoulders and the neck are in a straight line. Try to keep the heels pushed back. Maintain the pose for a comfortable duration.
  7. Exhaling, lower your knees, chest and the chin to the floor, keeping your buttocks lifted up.
  8. urdhvamukhashvana
    Urdhvamukha-shvanasana (Up Dog)

  9. Inhaling, lower your abdomen to the floor and slowly begin to lift your head, neck and chest up. Keep the toes pointing backward with the top of the feet on the ground. To get into the upward facing dog, we’ll try to press down with the top of the feet and then slowly lift the knees off the floor, if comfortable. While lifting the knees up, we want to keep the thighs pressing downward. Try to keep the shoulders vertically above the hands. Stay in the pose for a few moments.
  10. Exhaling, curl your toes under, lift the buttocks up to get back to the downward facing dog. Try to push your heels and forehead down and keep your shoulders back.
  11. Inhaling, lift the head up, bring the left foot forward and place it between your hands. Keep the right leg straight behind you. Try to push the heel back and lift the right thigh upward to keep the back leg straight and strong.
  12. Exhaling, bring the other leg forward and bend down from the waist with th knees stretched straight. This is the Uttanasana (standing forward bending pose).
  13. Inhaling, stretch your arms forward, up and back overhead and bend back slowly from the waist, as in position 1.
  14. Exhaling, gently come back to an upright position and bring your arms down by your sides. Relax for a few breaths.

Is Sun Salutation part of your own yoga sequence? If so, please share your practice and the experience with the practice. I would love to get your feedback or comments on the sequence presented here.

2 comments to Sun Salutation with Warrior 1 (Virabhadrasana) and Intense Side Stretch (Parshvottanasana)

  • Laura Busam

    I have been doing the Sun salutation every day since I have moved back to Long Island from Cary, NC. I took your class at the library every Friday morning. Thank you so much for the Newsletter and for all you have introduced into my life.
    Your faithful student,
    Laura Busam

    • Hi Laura, so wonderful to hear back from you. Glad to hear that you have been practicing yoga and the Surya Namaskar routine on a regular basis. Wishing you all the best for the New Year!