Virabhadrasana – The Inner Battle

There are three common Warrior asanas, I, II, and III. I often refer to them as peaceful yoga warrior poses, but what does this mean? The context of the name Virabhadra is a warrior created in anger by Lord Shiva after hearing that his wife Sati was no more. In the literal sense, Virabhadrasana I is the stance to look for the enemy (Sati’s father, Daksha), Virabhadrasana II is the stance to line up the bow and arrow to aim, and Virabhadrasana III is to shoot. In the ancient texts, we always search for the deeper and true meaning to help us live well. For humankind, the ‘enemy’ is avidya or self-ignorance. Avidya can manifest in many ways such as, ego, fear, attachment, desire, etc, and comes from not knowing oneself and not living our true purpose. As we all stumble along the path of life, there are times when we feel good, confident, and that all is right. There are also times when there is doubt… for these phases, we practice our Warrior or Virabhadrasana poses to ‘fight’ or calm the fear, limitations, doubt, anxiety and so forth, which all reside within ourselves, the inner battle. While we hold the postures and breathe into them, we may see manifestations of avidya arise, and we allow these emotions to come up. The idea is that we are left with clarity, in the physical body and most importantly in the mind, allowing us to attend to our daily lives with the ability to make clear and rational choices; rising up out of avidya into vidya (self-knowledge).

Virabhadrasana I: Begin by standing at the front of your mat, arms by your side, feet firmly planted, both legs engaged. Inhale into the belly and exhale while stepping the left foot back (left toes pointing to the top left corner of the mat) while bending into the right knee, ensuring the ankle is directly underneath the knee. The back leg is strong to support the knee. The hands can be kept in Prayer (Anjali Mudra) in front of the heart. If there are no issues with high blood pressure, you may raise the arms up to the sky. Breathe fully into the body while holding for 5 deep breaths. Repeat on the other side.
V1

Virabhadrasana II: Begin by standing at the front of your mat, arms by your side, feet firmly planted, both legs engaged. Inhale into the belly and exhale while stepping the left foot back (left toes pointing to the left side, foot is parallel to the short edge of the mat, perpendicular to the front foot) while bending into the right knee, back leg is strong. Check to ensure the ankle is directly under the knee, shoulders are relaxed, arms active and out-stretched, chest/heart open towards the left side and the gaze is over the right fingertips. Breathe fully into the body while holding for 5 deep breaths. Repeat on the other side.
V2

Virabhadrasana III: Begin by standing at the front of your mat, arms by your side, feet firmly planted, both legs engaged. Inhale into the belly and exhale while stepping the left foot back, staying on the ball of the left foot (heel lifted), toes pointing forward, bending into the right knee, back leg is strong. The head is forward and arms are reaching back, so most of the weight is in the right foot. Feel free to stay in this variation. If you are ready for more, place a chair in front of you, reaching the arms forward pressing into the top of the chair. If the balance is still strong, lift the left foot intending it up to hip height, never forcing it. Hips are both pointing down toward the mat. If you are ready for a greater challenge, let go of the chair, engaging the abdominals and keeping the gaze firmly fixed, standing leg is strong. In any pose, always choose the options that work for you, where the breath is still in tact. Hold for 5 deep breaths. (Note: The first photo is showing the opposite side first – p.s. the model is my Mom, Sudha Bhandarkar!)
V3 prep V3 with chair

 

In loving service,
Pam Bhandarkar MacPhee

 

Published by Pam Bhandarkar MacPhee

After an eight year career as an engineer in high-tech, I am fulfilling my desire to help others and teach yoga and Reiki full-time so I can share the benefits of each of these powerful healing modalities. My passion is to teach Star Reiki, so we can all heal ourselves!

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