I was always wondering why the peaceful practice of yoga includes a pose named after warrior? How this relate to Yamas – ‘no- harm’, ‘no-violence’ principle (“ahisma”)? The pose is so well known for all practitioners from very beginners to advance yogis, but do we really are understand the meaning?
There is a tragic love story behind this posture. The story is one of love, hate, violence, sadness, and forgiveness, which begin with the marriage between Lord Shiva and Sati. The marriage against the consent of Daksha, Sati’s father.
At one time Daksha organized a great ceremony, known as Yagna, to which he invited all but not Lord Shiva and Sati. Against Shiva advise, Sati attended the ceremony and before thousands of guests she asked her father why he had not invited them. In his response Daksha insulted Lord Shiva, Sati was so angry with her father that she burst into flames and was reduced to ashes.
Shiva soon heard the news of his wife’s death; he tore off his clothes and ripped out his jatars (dreadlocks). From one of his jatars arose “Virabhadra” (Vira – hero and Bhadra- friend). Shiva directed his warrior to go to the Yagna and kill everyone, behead Daksha and drink his blood.
The story continues, but we can leave it here as far as our posture is concerned. It is here that we can see the links between this story and the warrior poses that we know as Virabhadrasana I, II and III. Imagine the poses:
Virabhadra entered the Yagna by thrusting his way up from deep underground with his sword held over his head in both hands.
Next, Virabhadra made his presence known to the Yagna guests by standing with his sword poised and ready to strike.
Finally, Virabhadra lifted his sword into the air and, as instructed by Shiva, quickly and precisely he severed the head of King Daksha.
Traditionally, Virabhadrasana A is believed to activate the the muladhara (root) and svadisthana (spleen or sacral) chakras. Energizing the muladhara chakra through this asana is believed to ground the individual, providing the inner stability necessary for personal growth. By activating the svadisthana chakra, this asana fosters inner acceptance and promotes focus and productivity
Well, contrary to appearances, Virabhadrasana is not in conflict with the peaceful “ahisma” of yoga practice. For in this pose we are not celebrating a warrior, destructor and murdered. Instead, we acknowledge our own spiritual warrior who every day does battles with our own laziness, self-ignorance, false perceptions and distracted mind.
Don’t forget about your spiritual warrior when things become very difficult – on the matt but also in all battles that we face in our life off the matt. Summon him every time – be inspired.
Being a “yogi” isn’t about existing in a permanently blissful state. Being a “yogi” means being able to successfully navigate the often complicated world of relationships and emotions. We become true warriors when we understand how to fight our battles with the proper weapons.Along with the extraordinary range of emotions we exhibit as humans, we also have the unbelievable capacity for reflection. And so, when our battles scale beyond our control, we possess the most important tools of the “spiritual warrior”, which is compassion and forgiveness.
Word credit to
Beata, 200 Hrs YTT,