Warrior III (Virabhadrasana III) is a challenging balance and also builds postural strength throughout the body working against gravity. Due to its challenge as a balance it is easy for other aspects of the pose to be lost as the focus can easily be just on remaining on one leg. For that reason I often teach the pose in stages so that elements of the pose can be concentrated on.
Here I demonstrate 3 variations:
1. Keeping hands on top of the pelvis and working with the aspects of balance and alignment without the added strength and flexibility requirements placed by having arms raised.
2. The ‘full pose’. This term is actually a misnomer as the full pose should always be whatever is your full pose on the day; i.e. the furthest you can go into the pose without losing the integrity of the alignment. I demonstrate with my hands together and arms extended but you can also practice with hands shoulder width apart. This may be more comfortable for shoulders. Explore what works for you.
3. A variation on the first. The difference is that this time I moved only part-way into the pose. This reduces the strength required, reduces the need for length of the hamstrings, and allows you to focus on alignment from head to toe without the weight of the arms to maintain position of.
In each variation, give yourself three main areas of focus to remind yourself of what needs to be working to create the pose.
First focus on foot stability. Think of the triangle of support of the foot from big toe joint to little toe joint to mid point of heel. Perhaps lift the toes and then replace to feel the arches of the feet working. Stability created in the foot will create more stability in the pose. Keep those three points in contact with the mat throughout.
Secondly, quadriceps need to be working in both legs to keep knees extended (but not hyperextended). If quadriceps are working this will also allow hamstrings to relax; allowing flexion at the supporting hip.
Finally, keep posterior postural muscles working to ensure you keep alignment of the upper body. Think of drawing shoulder blades towards each other, whilst also drawing them towards your waist, keeping the sternum lifted. Take some time whilst still upright to set the position and feel what needs to be working before increasing the demands on those muscles by changing your relationship with gravity.
There are of course numerous other parts of you which you can focus on in this pose but the three above will be a good starting point. Once in the pose, if you have attention to spare, check your breathing is steady and relaxed, consider the position of the raised foot, lengthen throughout the pose. Always refining.
You can of course enter this pose by stepping forwards from Warrior I. You can also work with a chair, exploring the feel of the pose with hands supported as you develop the strength needed.
Warriors are strong, steady, poised. Enjoy.