For my last asana homework assignment, I chose to explore Warrior III, also called Virabhadrasana III, or “Airplane Pose.” Once again, I am practicing a balance pose since these are poses I am weaker in. This asana is excellent for stretching the hamstrings, gastrocnemius', quadriceps and gluteus muscles. It also strengthens the erectors, trapezius, supraspinatus, latissimus dorsi, and abdomen. The whole body is engaged during this pose, especially the core.
Standing in mountain pose, shift all of your weight onto one foot. Lift you arms in the air, interlacing the hands, pointer fingers facing toward the sky. Slowly hinge your torso forward from the hips while raising the opposite leg in the air behind you. Gaze down toward the floor and find a focal point to assist with balance. Keep a micro-bend in the standing leg while ensuring your raised leg is straight, toes pointing down toward the Earth. Your arms and leg will form a straight line, stretching in opposite directions. You may keep your hands interlaced in front of you or open them facing each other, the arms stretched out next to you like an airplane, place them on the hips, or have them interlaced behind your back.
Although this asana is strong (like all warrior poses), there is a grace to be experienced. It is a pleasant exercise to flow your arms in front of your head and back toward the body as if you are flying in the air. This advanced variation adds fluidity to the pose while challenging the balance portion. If you are new to the pose, you can place blocks stacked in front of you, under each arm's length, for support. Breathe, release, and switch sides.
This intermediate pose is great for transitioning next into standing splits or carefully into crescent pose. It is always important to remember to stretch in all directions, remain buoyant on your standing leg, balance with focus, and keep the core engaged for support.