So often Warrior 3 is taught from expression first instead of from the foundation up. When you start with reaching the arms up and then leaning forward raising up a leg behind you, you come into Warrior 3 by dropping into your joints and locking them up. This makes it so difficult to involve the muscles (try standing with your knees completely locked up and ask someone to push you. You will fall because they muscles can't jump into help you when your bones are locked together). Try it this way, from the earth to the core and then express the pose (like building a house - starting with foundation and ending with decoration!). This way you will have better balance, tone up the right muscles, create support for the lower back spine and be a lot kinder to your joints!
STEP BY STEP: 1. Start in standing forward bend with the knees deeply bent and hands on the floor (or on a yoga block/brick or a big thick book) slightly forward of the feet.
2. Transfer your weight into your right foot, plugging the 3 points of the foot deeply into the earth (coffee table!), and engage the inner thighs.
3. Exhale, draw the pelvic floor and the lower belly in and up, allowing the tailbone and then the whole spine to round so that you curl into yourself. Inhale, walk your hands forward and you wave the spine long from the tail to the crown, keeping both knees bent.
4. Exhale, curl the tailbone under a bit more and draw the left knee toward the chest. The spine will round out a little here. Breathe in and press the left thigh back and up behind you. The left knee can stay bent with the heel pressing up toward the ceiling or you can start to straighten the left leg and press the foot into an imaginary wall. Do not extend the left leg to the point where your lower back begins to arch and drop toward the floor.
5. Breathe out, curl the tailbone down a bit more and then begin to lengthen the spine from the tail to the crown, bringing your torso more level with the floor. Keep the left foot and leg working by pressing the sole of the foot into an imaginary wall that is also pushing back against your foot.
6. The left hip is going to want to open out to the side. Keep your right foot grounded and your left toes pointing down to the floor, while using the exhalation to help you turn your left hip back down. Think about hugging the legs in toward the centre line (toward each other) and really drawing the inner thigh up. To raise the left leg higher without opening at the hip, you need to engage your glutes.
7. If you find that your right foot is firmly rooted, your core is engaged, your left leg and glutes are working, and you can bring your hands off the floor without losing all these key points, then bring your hands up to your heart.
8. When you feel ready, start to straighten the arms out to the sides or forward (as shown). Only do this if you can keep the tailbone down, the pelvic floor and lower belly and lower back in and up, and the ribs in (think breathing into the back body so the ribs don't jut out). Straighten the right leg without losing the connection to the earth through the 3 points of your foot.
9. Stay here and enjoy the pose for as long as you like!
Try dropping into Warrior 3 and then try it this way. This is obviously harder, stronger and probably more uncomfortable to begin with, but you will start to build up strength in all the right places. Remember that transformation is never easy. It's got to challenge you a bit! Let me know what you think. Enjoy.