Yoga Pose of the Week: Virabhadrasana 1

Suki Dalury in Virabhadrasana 1; photo By Zoe Zimmerman for Sundara Studios 2013

Suki Dalury in Virabhadrasana 1; photo By Zoe Zimmerman for Sundara Studios 2013

Many yoga asana names are rooted in myths and tales of hero’s and gods.  Virabhadrasana 1 is one very such pose.  The tale is one of love and heartbreak much like Romeo and Juliet.  However, in this story rather than a double suicide, Shiva brings to life a Hero (Vira) Friend (Bhadra) to take the head of his dead beloved’s father.

There are three varitations of warrior poses which tell the tale.  The first variation of warrior pose is representative of the hero coming up from the Earth with two swords in his hands.

It is beneficial to begin with a long lunge, stacking your front knee right over your front ankle with the foot parallel to the sides of your mat and your knee extending out over your second toe.  With your hands alongside your front foot on the floor, place your back heel down at a 45-degree angle.  As you exhale, press both your hands and your feet into the floor. This engages your abdominal muscles and creates room in your low back for more mobility. Inhale to lift your torso upright and bring your arms up alongside your ears. If you have the space in your spine to curl back into a deep and expansive backbend do so, as you scoop your tailbone toward your heels and bend more deeply into your front knee.  Breathe, enjoy, and repeat on the second side.

Invite yourself to remember that all too often, when we associate myths to something manifest we take too much of a literal translation to heart.  It is wise in the yoga practice to think of the beheading of the father much like the beheading of anything that would stand in the way of your ability to deeply and truly love.