Pose of the Month: Virabhadrasana II (Warrior Pose II)
By Chrisandra Fox Walker
Many of us cultivate a habit of yoga because it gives us a glimpse of who we truly want to be. That might mean we feel stronger and more courageous, more flexible and less reactive, and more loving, patient and kind, if even for just moments at a time. Our regular practice helps us “be the change” that we want to see in our own lives – and possibly the world in which we want to live.
As a science, yoga helps cultivate the power of being and the power of becoming. Through the steady and loving attention we give to circulating our prana, our life force and master guiding intelligence, we harness the power of “becoming” and remove obstacles in the body and mind. Through dissolving the limitations of the mind, we can remember a place of Awareness, where we harness the power of our “being”.
This month, we’ll practice this dance with Virabhadrasana II to embody the balance, courage and presence required of a spiritual warrior, who, through subtle effort, strives to be the change and become who he or she truly wishes to be.
Staying in balance and cultivating true power to change a habit, pattern or conditioned response in asana – and life – requires great moment-to-moment attention to both the strength and the subtle actions of the bodymind, and a willingness to let go of unnecessary effort and tendencies. In harnessing this power to change, we can become more fully present, alive and aware of the unchanging nature of our true being.
Bring your feet one leg’s distance apart, somewhere between 3 ½ to 4 ½ feet, depending on your height. On an inhalation, lift your arms out to the sides. Turn your right foot out and your left toes in toward the center of the mat.
As you exhale, bend your right knee above your ankle. Keep your back leg straight. Be sure that your knee is above your ankle and does not fall in to the inner or outer edges of your right foot.
Now, stretch through both arms with equal effort to keep your spine centered above your pelvis. Press your left thigh back and turn your head to the right.
Observe the tendencies in your body. Can you keep your pelvis from rotating to the right? If the pelvic ligaments are tight, your left hip may rotate slightly. In this case, turn your torso lightly to the left to keep the spine at center, and keep pressing both thighs back. Lift your front hip pointers up, release your tailbone down and keep your pelvis neutral.
With long, smooth breath, embody the balance of effort between the sides of the body. Can you continue to root through the bases of the big toes and the pinky toes? Draw weight down through the inner and the outer heels as you lift through your arches? Hug your feet in toward one another to harness stability, while you stretch your inner thighs, broaden your collarbones and feel the expansion within?
Balance your effort in Warrior II with receiving the waves of energy that build and flow down through the legs, up through the spine, out through the arms and back toward your heart. As you feel steadiness grow in your body, soften any tension from your eyes, your neck and your shoulders. Allow your mind to rest in the uninterrupted moment-to-moment flow of Awareness of your own being.
Chrisandra Fox Walker teachers 3 weekly classes at Yoga Tree. Click here for her schedule. She is a core teacher in Yoga Tree’s 200 hr and 500 hr teacher trainings. Join her for The Tantra Training April 15-21, 2013. Click here to register. Email Chrisandra@gmail.com
Photography by Ryan Scott