Virabhadra

I was out last night with a friend who has recently gotten into yoga, and as a result, he has initiated his Sikh (a branch of Hinduism) girlfriend (who had never previously tried it–oh the slight irony). She joined us at one point and was discussing yoga, how she felt, what she did/didn’t like. She was very specific on one point, that she didn’t like any of the warrior poses, Virabhadrasana WARRIOR I & II, (she’ll obviously change her tune when she gets to III –non-serious tone there) which I understood, as they can be challenging and are endlessly analyzable as far as a alignment goes. One can always find things to tweak in WARRIOR II no matter how many years he or she has practiced. And no matter the type of yoga, Anusara, Vinyasa, Forrest…you will eventually find yourself in that swaying dance of a flow with Virabhadrasana II WARRIOR II, Utthita Parsvakonasana EXTENDED SIDE ANGLE, and Viparita Virabhadrasana REVERSE WARRIOR. This is THE flow in the beginner class (C1) at Corepower Yoga, and a variation of it is usually found in even the most revered teacher’s classes I’ve taken (Shiva Rea and Twee Merrigan both incorporated it at last week’s Yoga Rocks the Butte Festival).

The true Warrior Series has quite a story to it, and a detailed explanation can be found here, but quickly, its symbolism is basically Hindu mythology dealing with a wedding and some rather contentious characters: the poses represent Virabhadra bursting up from the earth, chopping a head off and putting it on a spike (WARRIOR I-III all together, and don’t worry, the aforementioned beheaded does get a new and improved goat head to replace the one he’d lost).

Despite the violent mythology, the Warrior poses represent large portions of the bedrock that form modern yoga. Each works on balance, opening of the hips, concentration, and sculpting of the leg muscles. They aren’t always the most fun, but with a frequent asana practice, you’ll be in them more times than you’d likely care to count. I’m reminded of a time during my Teacher Training when I was letting my not-entirely-positive feelings on Nataranjasana DANCER’S be known. One of my favorite instructors let me know that the reason I wasn’t getting it was because I didn’t care for the pose, which became a very big teaching moment. How often can you push against something because you don’t like it only to get nowhere? Like knots in the muscles during a massage, the harder you treat them, the less likely they are to get worked out. If it’s WARRIOR I or any other pose that you find uncomfortable, be gentle with yourself, and if you are lost please ask a teacher what you can do. There’s always a modification or other pose that accomplishes the same thing–there are 840,000 yoga poses. Sooner than later you’ll be dancing into and out of the warrior poses along with the others in your own beautiful way.

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