Virabhadra’s Pose is also known as the Warrior Pose (there are three variation of Warrior, of which this is customarily numbered I). It may seem strange to name a yoga pose after a warrior; after all, aren’t yogis known for their non-violent ways? But remember that one of the most revered of all the yoga texts, the Bhagavad-Gita, is the dialog between two famous and feared warriors, Krishna and Arjuna, set on a battlefield between two great armies spoiling for a fight.
What’s really being commemorated in this pose’s name, and held up as an ideal for all practitioners, is the “spiritual warrior,” who bravely does battle with the universal enemy, self-ignorance (avidya), the ultimate source of all our suffering.
Step by Step
|Contraindications and Cautions|
|Modifications and Props|
|Beginners find it very difficult to keep the back heel grounded and the lower back lengthened in this pose. As a short-term solution, raise the back heel on a sand bag or other height.|
|Virabhadrasana I is commonly used as the beginning position for Virabhadrasana III. It's also a good standing pose preparation for backbends.|
|When the front knee bends into the pose, beginners have a tendency to tip the pelvis forward, which duck-tails the coccyx and compresses the lower back. As you perform step 2 in the main description above, be sure to lift the pubis toward the navel and lengthen the tail toward the floor. Then as you bend the knee, continue to lift and descend these two bones, keeping the top rim of the pelvis relatively parallel to the floor.|
|Here's a partnering exercise for this pose, but you need two partners (of approximately the same height) and a thick pole (like a broomstick). As you perform the pose, have your partners stand, facing you, to either side of your torso. It's helpful if you and your partners are similar in height. They should hold the ends of the pole and hold it above your head. Grasp the pole with your raised hands, then you and your partners push the pole up until your arms are fully extended. Imagine then, as all three of you push, that your torso and legs are "hanging" from the pole.|
|This pose can be performed with the arms in various positions. For example, go through steps 1 to 3 as described above, except with your hands resting on your hips. Then, once the forward knee is bent, swing your arms around behind your torso and clasp your hands. Stretch your hands away from the back torso and lift your chest. It's acceptable to squeeze your scapulas together at first, but be sure, once the chest is lifted, to push them away from the spine. To leave the pose, reach back with your hands and, with an inhalation, "pull" yourself up, straightening the front knee.|