Arm Options for Warrior One

Full Warrior One

Warrior one is an asana that can easily cause shoulder or neck pain if performed incorrectly.  Traditional arm positioning for warrior one pose requires at least 180 degrees of forward flexion of both arms.  Any physical therapist or seasoned yoga instructor can immediately identify the problem; insufficient flexibility in the gleno-humoral (shoulder) joint.   A very common substitution pattern for individuals with tight shoulders is to elevate to scapulae when moving the arm overhead.   If the scapulae elevate at the same time as the humerus, shoulder impingement occurs, possibly pinching the tendons of the rotator cuff or the long head of the biceps.  The solution is to choose an arm option that allows the yoga practitioner to keep the scapula depressed.

Fortunately, there are many different arm options possible for this posture, so there is literally something for everyone.

Field Goal Arms

Also known as cactus arms, this is a great option for individuals with tight shoulders looking to still have an opportunity to strengthen the scapular stabilizers.

Instructions:  With the elbows bent to 90 degrees, align the elbows with the shoulders and pull the shoulder blades back and down.

Open Heart Arms

This variation will provide more muscle activity of the deltoid and rotator cuff muscles than the other two options.

Instructions:  Raise arms out to the side with the palms facing up.  Pull the shoulder blades down and widen the chest.


Prayer Arms at the Heart

The most gentle arm option for warrior one is to rest the hands in prayer position at the height of the sternum (heart chakra).  

Instructions: Actively press the hands together and point the fingers to the sky if possible.

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4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. ruthsharon
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 16:04:04

    Thanks for these variations. I like your website and blogs. I teach yoga and meditation, along with being a counselor, coach, consultant, retreat and seminar leader and author. I wonder if you have family yoga where you teach or in your community. I just finished a book with my daughter and granddaughter “Be Your Best Self:Yoga for Families” Would you be open to reading and reviewing it once it is published? Be in touch: Ruth Sharon at Website is Namaste


  2. Paul
    Nov 06, 2011 @ 23:20:46

    Well put Keep up the good work. I do like the manner in which you have composed this specific problem. Thanks.


  3. Leslie
    Jan 05, 2012 @ 20:03:16

    Thank you for the variations! I also like hands clasped behind back, dropping hands toward the earth. An instructor also just introduced me to Gomukasana arms as another option to open chest and shoulders.


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