Virabhadrasana or Warrior poses are often overlooked opportunities to go deeper within and reflect on what it really means to be a “warrior” in our everyday lives.
Virabhadra was a fierce warrior born from a hair off Shiva’s head. Shiva, the compassionate Lord who is both creator and destroyer, destroys obstacles and crushes ignorance. He used his divine power to create Virabhadra in order to achieve specific desires and defeat enemies.
When I flow into my warrior postures I begin to visualize I am tapping into my own inner warrior that resides deep within and guides me through much more in life than I give her credit for. I am reminded that a warrior is not devoid of fear, far from it but rather what makes a Warrior unique is his or her response to fear. The passionate desire to face fear, look deep into its eyes and call its bluff. Knowing that the very facing of fear is enough to make it begin to disappear.
In Warrior 1 pose the warrior Virabhadra had just fallen and as he rose from the ground defiant he reached for answers high above him. He reached for something higher, greater than him, more than what he knew. So as I rise into my Warrior 1, palms pressed high in prayer, arms outstretched to the sky, I see myself getting back up after a fall, removing that which I have deemed an obstacle to my success and face my fear, challenging it head on to come and find me.
As I move into the Warrior 2 position I stand tall and centered while stretching back to the past and forward to the future. I am connected to the present by honoring where I’ve come from yet looking out towards where I am heading. One arm is extended behind me, away from my gaze yet very much part of my awareness.
It represents all I have been through and all that has made me who I am today. My failures and successes, my tears and sorrow, my heartbreaks and fragility, the good moments and the bad, all of the things that are the foundation, the anchor of where I stand in the present. I honor it all.
And then there is my other arm, stretched out fiercely before me, my drishti (gaze) just beyond my middle finger as I look out ahead towards where I am going.
I ask myself, what is my purpose in life? Where am I heading? What does success look like to me? Does every breath I take contain the seed of awareness to get me there with integrity?
What do I stand for and how can I best serve my higher purpose? So in my Virabhadrasana 2, I acknowledge my past, look ahead towards my future yet I stand tall with grace and dignity in my present.
The fallen warrior Virabhadra reminds me that I am on this earth to fall, to stumble, to experience disappointment, to have my heart broken and to make mistakes yet more and more, through my yoga practice, I’ve become okay with that.
I’m okay with the falling because I now know that when I get back up that I will rise that much higher, that I will stand that much taller and the Inner Warrior in me will become that much stronger.
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Assistant Editor: Karen Cygnarowicz / Editor: Catherine Monkman
Image: Wendy Cope / Flickr