Warrior I, or Virabhadrasana I, is the first in a series of three standing poses. While our practice of yoga is ideally one of cultivating peace, it is important to know this asana is named for Virabhadra, who was born out of Shiva’s rage at his wife Sati’s death and whose name means Hero Friend in Sanskrit. Shiva asked Virabhadra to kill Daksha, the man responsible for Sati’s self-immolation, only to repent after the bloody deed was done and bring him back to life. Similar to the pose itself, the entire story is a metaphor: Shiva represents the Higher Self, Sati represents the heart and Daksha represents the ego. This story teaches us that through compassion the higher self can forgive the ego, but it will always return to the essential nature of the heart.
To come into Virabhadrasana I, begin in Tadasana. Step the left foot back and then angle the toes toward the top left corner of the mat, keeping the stance wide so that there is plenty of room to face the hips to the front. From here, bend into the right knee until it comes over the ankle. Look down to find your right big toe on the inside of the knee–this may require you to track the knee outward slightly. Reach the fingertips up to the sky, keeping a slight bend in the back leg. Allow the shoulders to relax and the tailbone to tuck, almost as though it is being pulled down towards the mat below you. Lift the gaze and breathe. Switch sides after about five breaths.
Warrior I can provide both grounding and strengthening as the feet root into the mat and the arms embrace the sky above. This asana invites you to embody the dharma of Virabhadra and know your purpose. Remember that even amidst conflict, the real goal and intention is only that of peace.
Is there a pose of the month that you would like us to dive into? Email Emily@ashevillecommunityyoga.com and let her know!