Add Warrior Poses to Your In-Season Training

Improve your mobility, flexibility and balance with three Warrior poses recommended for in-season training by STACK Expert and yoga guru Dana Santas.

Warrior Pose

More athletes are practicing yoga as part of their off-season conditioning. But during the season, it's difficult to commit to hour-long yoga classes along with all the other demands. That's why I train my athletes to integrate the most efficient and effective yoga moves into their conditioning programs.

For in-season work,  Warrior One, Two and Three tend to be my go-to postures. Why? Because they target so many of the areas that need attention in most sports. Also, it doesn't hurt that they look cool. Honestly, what athlete doesn't want to be a Warrior?

Warrior One, Two and Three are appropriate for athletes in any sport as add-ons to a warm-up or integrated into a functional training program. You can do these poses consecutively as part of a mobility and balance sequence, or integrate them individually between sets of other conditioning exercises like Squats or lifts with free weights.

During warm-up, I generally recommend moving in and out of Warrior One, Two and Three with your breath—essentially, one breath to one movement, alternating sides and repeating movements several times. When integrating Warriors into other conditioning, especially between sets of other exercises, I recommend holding them for three to five breaths for one or two reps.

Warrior One

Promotes proper pelvic alignment/function; strengthens shoulders and core/low back; stretches hamstrings and calves.

  • From standing, step back as if performing a lunge, but instead of staying on the toes of your back foot, drop your heel and point your toes out 45 degrees.
  • Straighten your back leg and bend your forward knee to align above your ankle.
  • Lift your arms overhead, shoulder-width apart.
  • Internally rotate your back hip and thigh, trying to point your pelvis forward.
  • Press through the outer edge of your back foot, ensuring your entire foot makes contact.
  • Engage your core.
  • Hold for one to five deep breaths. Repeat on the other side.

Warrior Two

Enhances hip mobility; stretches hamstrings and groin muscles; strengthens quads, abductors, glutes, shoulders and upper back.

  • From standing, step your right foot back as though you are going into a deep lunge, but drop your heel and turn your toes out to 90 degrees.
  • Keep your back leg straight and your front knee aligned directly over your ankle; don't let a tight groin pull your knee in toward the midline.
  • Reach your left arm forward and your right arm back, parallel to the floor and at shoulder height.
  • Look over your forward arm.
  • Hold for one to five deep breaths. Repeat on the other side.

Warrior Three

Works balance; enhances core and shoulder strength; stretches hamstrings and adductors.

  • Begin in a standing forward fold (toe touch), hinging at your hips and reaching toward the floor.
  • Engage your core for balance.
  • Shift your weight into your right leg as you lift your left leg behind you.
  • Extend both arms in front of you.
  • Straighten your right leg and press firmly through your heel and big toe to help with stabilization.
  • Align your back leg and arms as close to horizontal as possible.
  • Hold for one to five breaths. Repeat on the other side.

When integrating Warriors into your workouts, don't worry about being barefoot or having a yoga mat. If possible, I recommend minimalist shoes, but any athletic training footwear is fine.

As you get better at your Warriors, you can lengthen your stance in Warrior One and Two and extend your hold time in Warrior Three. With the added mobility, flexibility and balance, you'll be a warrior on and off the field, court or ice.

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Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock