So day 6 and time to look at our first standing posture – the classic warrior II or to give it it’s sanskrit name Vīrabhadrāsana II. This is one of the classic yoga postures and has it’s root in Hindu mythology (see below). The asana has many benefits! It strengthens the legs, opens the hips and chest develops concentration, balance and groundedness. It also improves circulation and respiration and energises the entire body. It is generally one of the first posture that we learn in yoga and one that i never get bored of!!
Take a little look a the diagram (one I prepared earlier in the early summer to see it all in action.) The instructions below
are taken from the yoga cards that I put together for part of my course earlier in the year and there will be more to come later in the month!!
From Tadasana take a big step back with your left leg.
- Point your right toes towards the front of the mat and turn your left foot in slightly (towards the same direction as the right foot) about 45/60 degrees.
- Stand with your legs straight, press the 4 corners of your feet into the floor, and firm your legs up.
- Inhale as you raise your arms parallel to the floor, keeping your shoulders down and your neck long.
- Exhale as you bend your right knee, keeping your knee over your ankle, not past it.
- Aim your right thigh parallel to the floor. Sometimes it is necessary to adjust your legs, and bring them further apart.
- Check the alignment of your right knee – keep it over the ankle and line it up more or less with your 2 first toes.
- Roll the top of your thigh down towards the floor on the right. Press down through your big toe to balance that action.
- Press the top of your left thigh back, and ground the outside of your left foot into the floor.
- Engage the sides of your hips and elongate evenly through the four sides of your spine. Draw your abdomen gently in and up, keeping your diaphragm soft.
- Extend through your collarbones and fingertips, and elongate evenly through the four sides of your neck.
- Look out over your right arm. Your body should be at a right angle with the floor, with your shoulders over your hips.
AFFIRMATION: I AM STRONG!
HOLD: 3 breaths
To come out of the pose, press into your feet, and on an inhalation straighten your leg.
Change the orientation of your feet to the other side and repeat on the left side.
Precautions: Take care or advice if you suffer from –
- Knee problems
- Neck problems
- High blood pressure
- Balance issues
- Groin strain
To see it all put together take a look at the video below from the lovely Adrienne!
The story behind the posture! (Source Wikipedia)
The myth is that the powerful priest Daksha made a great yagna (ritual sacrifice) but did not invite his youngest daughter Sati and her husband Shiva, the supreme ruler of the universe. But Sati found out and decided to go alone to the yagna. But when she arrived, Sati entered into an argument with her father. But unable to withstand the insults she spoke a vow to her father, “Since it was you who gave me this body I no longer wish to be associated with it.” She walked to the fire and threw herself into it. When Shiva heard of Sati’s death, he was devastated. He yanked out a lock his hair and beat it into the ground, where up rose a powerful Warrior. Shiva named this warrior, Virabhadra. Vira (hero) + Bhadra (friend) and ordered him to go to the yagna and destroy Daksha and all his guests.
Virabhadra’s first aspect, (Vīrabhadrāsana I) is his arrival, with swords in both hands, thrusting his way up through the earth from below.
In his second aspect, (Vīrabhadrāsana II) he sights his opponent, Daksha.
In his third aspect (Vīrabhadrāsana III), moving swiftly and precisely, he decapitates Daksha’s with his sword.
Shiva then arrives at the yagna and sees the rout that Virabhadra had wrought. Shiva absorbs Virabhadra back into his own form and then transforms into Hare, the ravisher. Filled with sorrow and compassion Shiva finds Daksha’s body and giving it the head of a goat, brings him back to life. In the end Sati is also reborn.
Virabhdadra is not simply a bloody warrior. Like Shiva, he destroys to save: his real enemy is the ego. “By cutting off the head of the ego, Virabhadra helps remind us to humble ourselves.