Virabhadrasana I (Warrior I)
Virabhadrasana I, Warrior Pose I
वीरभद्रासन / Vīrabhadrāsana
Virabhadrasana I (veer-ah-bah-DRAHS-anna One) opens the chest cavity, improving the elasticity of the lungs. It also removes stiffness in the shoulders, neck and hip joints while giving strength and elasticity to the back muscles and removing strain in the lower back.
The lunge-like nature of this pose means that the leg and buttock muscles are strengthened and toned.
The daughter of the great King Daksha, Sati was known for her beauty and divinity. She falls in love with the ascetic Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva, the great master of yogis, smeared in ashes, matted locks, adorned in skull garlands, living by the fire pyre was not the ideal groom for a king’s daughter. King Daksha refused Sati’s request to take the hand of Lord Shiva, but her love was strong and she left the kingdom to join Lord Shiva.
The king had a big fire ceremony and all were invited to the ceremony, except Sati and Shiva. Sati was disappointed by her father’s behavior and she decided to go to the ceremony without his invitation. Lord Shiva advised her not to go and get embarrassed by her father. She leaves believing that her father would change upon seeing his daughter in a sorrowful condition. But at her arrival she was not invited in or given any respect. Feeling embarrassed in the gathering of all the gods and kings, her anger caused great heat in her body and she self-immolated her body. This caused great disturbance in the universe. Lord Shiva appeared in the scene with great anger. He pulled a matted lock from his hair and threw it on the earth. From the earth sprung a huge warrior, Virabhadra. Virabhadra cut off the head of King Daksha. Lord Shiva felt compassion at some point towards King Daksha and gave him a goat head in replacement of his original head.
It is not easy being a warrior, especially when we have to fight our own minds and habits. The warrior in us should work to bring the best out of us in all situations. The warrior pose reminds us that ferocity exists not only to destroy but also to cultivate strength to achieve integrity, compassion and love in our mind.
Those with high blood pressure should not lift their arms up and should keep their palms on their hips. Those with lumbar lordosis should bend the back leg knee to ensure the length of the lower back. Women who are pregnant or menstruating should do this asana on a chair with the back heel against the wall. Avoid overarching the lower back in this pose.
Getting into the Pose
Meera Watts is a yoga teacher, entrepreneur and mom. Her writing on yoga and holistic health has appeared in Elephant Journal, Yoganonymous, OMtimes and others. She’s also the founder and owner of Siddhi Yoga International, a yoga teacher training school based in Singapore. Siddhi Yoga runs intensive, residential trainings in India (Rishikesh, Goa and Dharamshala), Indonesia (Bali) and Malaysia (Kuala Lumpur).