I have recently been drawn to Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II). I feel powerful, energetic and enthused in this pose.
So what’s going on?
In terms of physical benefits, Warrior II is a hip opener. It strengthens your bum and thighs. It promotes energy and stamina and relieves lower backache. What’s not to love?
For maximum power in Warrior II your body should be fully turned on. Hands and feet are active, arms reaching out strongly to opposing sides and toes lifted. Thighs are powerful and rotated outwards and belly and chest are lifted. Breathe deeply into your heart and feel the full power of this pose coursing around every cell in your body from the tips of fingers right down to your toes. You are fully alive!
But that doesn’t explain how emotional I sometimes feel in this pose.
Warrior II starts off pretty nicely but after a few breaths you start to feel the weight of your arms, the burning in your shoulders and thighs.
The immediate reaction is to change position, lower your arms, stop breathing… anything really to distract from the struggle within. But if you focus on your breath and activating your hands and feet, then the immediate panic of the struggle passes. It is bearable.
For me personally, this teaches me that in times of internal struggle, if I continue (*remember *) to breathe deeply and open my heart, then I can deal with pretty much anything. I can be a Peaceful Warrior, stilling my mind and then acting appropriately rather than freaking out at the first hurdle or having a public meltdown.
This is not easy. Facing challenges head on is tough but with every challenge we front up to we learn more about ourselves and how strong we really are.
In Warrior II your gaze is over the middle finger of the front hand, this is called finding your ‘drishti’ in Sanskrit, a non-moving focal point with the purpose of stilling your mind.
“This pose teaches you how to streamline your power into a single ray of energy” Baron Baptiste
Sometimes we want to do too much and end up feeling overwhelmed, not achieving any of it.
Warrior II hones our concentration skills so we can focus on doing one thing at a time and doing it with our full attention.
Warrior II is all about balance, the front and back limbs stretching out equally in opposite directions, torso, hips and pelvis centered.
Once in the pose, explore the distribution of weight in your legs and hips and shift until they feel are equal. Check in with your torso. Lengthen your tailbone away from your spine to find your vertical centre. Draw your belly in towards your spine and breathe into your ribs, lifting your chest up and outwards. Constantly scan your body in this pose and make adjustments to maintain your centre.
Once the mechanics of the pose are sorted, breathe deeply and enjoy the feeling of complete balance and calm. When we are centered physically then our minds duly follow.
All is well in the world.
My body is dropping me not-so subtle hints that I need to constantly keep an eye on maintaining the balance in whole being. In my body, my work and my family.
Being balanced, having mental clarity and facing challenges are our life’s work. We are never done with them, there is no constant perfect state of being. Warrior II is like a mirror, reflecting the areas we need to work on in each present moment.
This realisation is super helpful. I will continue to do Warrior II and focus my awareness on where I feel there is tension and imbalance now. Is there anything I need to face or anything I need to let go?
Often our yoga practice gives us what we need, we just need to be open to it.