How Do You Protect The Knees In Warrior One?

Transcript below of: How do you protect the knees in warrior one?

Hey everybody! Welcome to this month’s question of the month. You can submit your own question. Go to, ask us a question, and we’ll answer it on video. So this month’s question comes from Francoise and it’s about how to protect the knees in warrior one.

Learn a system for working with injuries

The Question:

Thank you for putting online so much information. Greatly appreciated. My question is about warrior one. I do not feel comfortable about the twist created in the back leg in virabhadrasana one. The foot is [at a] 45-degree angle out; the hip is turning in. As the foot is grounded and the movement of the hip is forward, the knee twists. Is it not asking for trouble?
Thank you,

The Answer:

Francoise, I’m with you. You could be asking for trouble. So, as I often do, I have to take in the whole picture. Where is the trouble starting from? Is it because the foot’s at 45 degrees? Is it because the knee is aligned to the foot? Or, is it because of the action that we’re doing in the hip?

I think, in this particular case, the technique that’s taught for warrior one is commonly to square the hips. Everybody is so focused on squaring the hips that they forget about what you bring up, which is that the action of trying to square the hips and the pelvis, if you have the foot in a particular position, can cause stress in the knee. That is true.

Do you actually need to square the hips?

Now, the question becomes, why is everybody trying to square the hips? It’s a great question! I’m going to leave a pregnant pause there, as we say. Why does everybody want to square the hips? Because it’s an alignment rule. Where does that rule come from? Probably—I’m just going to guess here; this might be false — it comes from somebody who has open hips and could square their hips and their pelvis because their hips were flexible. The tissues around there were flexible, so that they never felt anything in their knee. But, if you, like me, don’t have super bendy, flexible hips, then planting your leg and trying to pull your hip forward can stress the knee in warrior one, 100%.

If that’s a problem for you and you want to protect the knees in warrior one, you have basically two choices. One, don’t try to square your hips so much. It’s okay if it’s at an angle. That’s still normal, natural movement, maybe even more normal. Second, instead of putting the heel down and the foot at 45 degrees, raise the heel if that feels like it’s more important. Both of those things could reduce the amount of stress going into the knee, which you so correctly pointed out. I really appreciate that question. It’s really common. I’m often having to undo people’s desire to square their hips or point out why that isn’t natural for everyone’s body. So, I really appreciate the question.

Anybody else, if you have a question, even if it seems obvious, go ahead and submit it. Go to and we’ll answer it on video.

Check out our online courses and workshops