My favorite yoga pose is Warrior II or Virabhadrasana II, named after the fierce warrior Virabhadra. No matter how new or advanced your practice is, chances are you can easily get into this pose. This was also one of the poses that helped me overcome challenges that I faced while doing my yoga teacher training. Back then, I was extremely self-conscious about my body and my yoga skills. Everyone in the class had what some would think as the ‘typical yoga body’ and most could get into the more challenging poses. After two weeks of the training, I was ready to quit. I was forcing myself to do more than my body could handle and I was in a lot of pain because of it.
With my teacher’s encouragement, I stuck it out and it ended up being one of the best experiences of my life. You see, I realized that my body and my practice were exactly where they needed to be at that moment. My challenge was to be able to push through and come out the other end stronger both mentally as well as physically. What kind of teacher would I have been if everything came easy to me? How could I relate to my students without experiencing some resistance myself?
Which brings me back to Warrior II. This was the one pose that during my training made me feel alive and connected. It reminded me of my strength and my love for yoga. In the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali he states that “in the real mental silence, the wisdom dawns.” This is what yoga means to me. The mental silence that ensues from the poses allows complete presence as well as acceptance of the here and now.
When I’m in Warrior II and my arms are getting heavy and my legs start to ache, this is when I connect deeply with my breath and invite the energy and strength into my body. As they say ‘the pose begins when you want to leave it.’ I’m not advising you to push through or go hard with your practice, I’m saying that if you’re still and focus on your breathing, you can listen to your body’s intuition and it will show you the way.
Benefits of Warrior II
- Stretches your hips, groins and shoulders
- Opens your chest and lungs
- Energizes tired limbs
- Stimulates your abdominal organs
- Develops balance and stability
- Improves circulation and respiration
How to Warrior II
- Open your legs wide and turn your right toes to the right, bend the right knee and stack it directly over the ankle, back leg straight
- Align your front heel with the arch of the back foot
- Stack your shoulders over your hips so you are not reaching too far forward or too far back. Imagine you're on a surfboard. Keep your weight even.
- Tuck your belly button in and tuck your tailbone under slightly
- Try to keep your hips even.
- Press into the feet, keeping the legs strong. Sink the hips down towards the floor, and reach the crown of the head up to lengthen the spine. Relax the shoulders down and back, pressing the chest forward.
- Breathe and hold for 3-6 breaths.
- To release the pose, slowly start to straighten your right knee, turn your toes in and repeat on the left side.
You can't help but feel powerful and strong in this pose. Imagine yourself as a fierce spiritual warrior standing your ground for peace and love. Maybe give yourself a warrior name and each time you come into this pose, instead of thinking of the discomfort focus on your intention.
Fun fact: Sometimes when I’m cooking dinner and I’m feeling a bit stressed and rushed, I move into this pose and hold it on both legs for five breaths. It does wonders for keeping me grounded. Give it a try.
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