Wake up the Warrior dwelling deep down in your heart
All asana is precious, but some are just basic or impossible to skip over -WARRIOR, VIRABHADRASANA 1,2,3 with Reverse Warrior or Viparita Virabhadrasana and Humble Warrior. They are all standing postures usually sequenced together and are often included in vinyasa style classes and modified sun salutations. These poses are named after the legendary warrior Virabhadra, created by the god Shiva. These challenging yoga poses stretch and strengthens our bodies, hearts and minds. The Virabhadrasana series is yoga’s most often and most valuable—group of postures. Thus, Virabhadrasanas can be called auspicious heroic postures.
The mythology behind Warrior
The story behind it is a classic warrior tale about the struggle between Truth (Atman or ‘Higher Self’) and the Ego in the name of Love. Lord Shiva takes a wife—Sati—but her father, Daksha, disapproves of Shiva’s bizarre way of living. Daksha throws a party, not inviting Sati and Shiva as a sign of disapproval. Sati decided to change her father’s opinion showed up at the party but couldn’t change his father’s distaste for their marriage. Torn by his stubbornness, she put herself into flame and ashes. Grief-stricken Shiva sends Virabhadra for vengeance. When faced with Daksha’s decapitation felt sorrow and regret, bringing Daksha back to life. When alive, he also regrets being an opponent to their marriage and bows to Shiva Shankar, who is kind and benevolent.
Long story made short, through compassion, the higher self forgives the Ego, and Love always wins. When Shiva brings Daksha back to life, he reminds us that it is not about destroying what we don’t like. So let’s not strive to kill our Ego; instead, understand this part of ourselves and tame it, keeping an eye on and directing it towards love and acceptance. May we show some compassion toward parts of ourselves not as perfect as we would like them to be?
The actions that Virabhadra took that night in battle resulted in the asana poses we have come to know as Virabradhrasana 1, 2, and 3.
Virabhadra entered the party by breaking through the ground as he rose from within the earth, clasping a sword in each hand. Moments later, he spotted Darksha from across the room. Lastly, he cunningly approaches Darksha while slaughtering the surrendering guests before he finally beheads Daksha.
Why do we practise warrior?
The moral of Virabhadra’s mythological story is that it is best to transcend our anger, fear, hurt and insecurity by activating our strength, power, courage and devotion. When we move into these Warrior shapes, we embody the auspicious and heroic energy. As we hold and breathe in these asanas, we connect to our strength, confidence, compassion and power. However, these warriors are some of the most common shapes you’ll encounter in a yoga sequence, so it is essential to learn their correct alignment to prevent injury. Routinely practising them brings many powerful benefits.
Warriors on the mat
Stepping onto the mat, we feel this concept through an asana inspired by the fierce warrior Virabhadra. This posture starts with good solid grounding, then builds the body’s strength, opens through the chest, shoulders, and hips, and provides a great lateral stretch. It strengthens the legs, especially quads. Reverse warrior wants us strong on our mats, gaze upward as if toward our potential and reach back for support. It helps discover courage, perseverance, and self-empowerment —powers any warrior needs!
Warrior I increases flexibility in the hips and strengthens and tones the legs, ankles and feet. We get a twist for the spine in this pose while the opening of the shoulders and side body prepares us for backbends. However, it is a complex pose with many different alignment cues to learn. Keeping all of these in mind while staying with the breath can feel like a juggling act. The warriors challenge and test us but bring us strength, focus, confidence and courage.
Warrior II requires lots of strength and stability and flexibility in the hips and upper body. This teaches us about one of the key principles of yoga asana practice; the balance of sthira and sukha or steadiness and ease. Keep the back arm lifted and the outer edge of the back foot grounded. Keep your knee above the ankle and avoid it falling forward.
Warrior III / Virabhadrasana III trains our focus and works the small muscles in the feet and ankles. Keeping a slight bend in the knee can help balance and prevent the knee from locking. Think about shooting energy out through your back foot to help lift the leg. This pose can be practised with the arms in different positions: extended in front, to the sides, slightly pointing back or with the palms together.
Reverse Warrior Pose opens us up to the world. It is often used as a transition between poses in a Vinyasa Flow class. Take care of your neck in this pose. You can look to the floor behind you or to the side instead, especially if you’re holding the pose for longer. When held longer can give you a fantastic opening of the side body, releasing tension in the intercostal muscles around the ribs and allowing for a more accessible, deeper breath.
Humble Warrior teaches us to surrender as we bow into the pose. Unlike the other warrior poses, which open us up to the world, this forward bend variation allows us to draw our focus inwards.
Retreating Warrior might not be seen as a traditional Warrior Pose, also known as Skandasana. This pose strengthens the core and increases flexibility in the hips and hamstrings.The warrior poses are a group of powerful yoga poses that build strength, flexibility, and balance. These are dynamic and powerful postures that can help you move past your fears and into your inner power. These asanas are also a great way to build mental focus, concentration, determination and perseverance.
The warrior poses are a group of powerful yoga poses that build strength, flexibility, and balance. These are dynamic and powerful postures that can help you move past your fears and into your inner power. These asanas are also a great way to build mental focus, concentration, determination and perseverance.
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