Parsva Virabhadrasana, or reverse warrior, is a standing lateral bend that provides a deep side stretch and a deeper backbend. The name is derived from the Sanskrit parsva, meaning “side” or “flank”; Virabhadra, an incarnation of Shiva and a powerful warrior in Hindu mythology; and asana, meaning “pose.” It is also sometimes referred to as Reverse Warrior pose or Joan of Arc.

To enter the pose, the legs are placed in a lunge position with the forward leg at a 90-degree angle. The front foot points to the top of the mat while the back foot is at a 45-degree angle. Your pelvic basket sits evenly between both legs, lengthen your tailbone to the earth – Apana Vayu, feel that connection to the Earth Element, while the crown of your head reaches to the sky. Breath into your entire body. Unlike Virabhadrasana II, the rear hand rests along the back leg, as the forward arm reaches to the sky, creating an arch in the spine. Traditionally, the face and gaze are up but if you look down towards your back leg you (might) receive an even deeper lateral stretch. See what feels good for you!

Parsva Virabhadrasana is beneficial for stretching the arms and sides of the torso, strengthening the lower body and opening the hips. It also opens the chest and builds core strength. It is an especially beneficial asana for those with sedentary jobs. Other benefits include:

  • Calming of the mind.
  • Energizing of the body.
  • Improved balance.

One can also practice a variation of this pose where both legs remain extended and straight, as in trikonasana (triangle pose), this is called reverse triangle.