25 Sep The Peaceful Warrior
The Warrior postures are some of the most commonly known images of a classic Yoga Asana. With Yoga being so intimately aligned with peace, stillness, love & acceptance it seems a contradiction to have some of its postures named “Warrior” which conjures up war, pain and conflict. The reasoning behind this leads us to look at one of the oldest texts known to civilisation The Bhagavad Gita. The Gita recalls a great battle of the Vedic dynasty (recently there is significant evidence this battle took place) and is the poem that Krishna himself spoke to the Prince who had been gripped with fear & doubt. The texts had Krishna help the Prince steady the minds usual tricks & conquer his fears to lead his family & followers to a great victory. The lesson was found in the stilling of the mind. When the mind became peaceful the great Warrior was able to refocus on why he was there & to have confidence in his conviction.
The book may be left to legend with the battle itself causing division with historians. The lessons from the texts have great metaphorical implications for each of us that follow the Yogic path. Gandhi referred to the Gita as one of the foundation texts that guided his life & his legacy definitely owes a debt to this ancient book.
Thousands of years have passed since the Gita was first recorded verbally and decades since Gandhi’s quotes but we still face the same metaphorical battles today. All of us experience doubt & fear. Today’s great battle comes in the form of increasing economic pressure, bills, debts, the breakdown of families and communities as our support system. The Gita & the Warrior postures are a reminder of how we can stoke the fire of our inner Warrior when we are faced with adversity. Rather than being filled with rage, we learn that its calming the mind & finding a peaceful place that will present the solution.
Warrior postures are physical theres no doubting that but if we meet that physicality with tension and stress the posture becomes a battle we cannot win. If we take a close look at Virabhadrasana II I can hopefully explain this in a more tangible way.
Standing in Virabhadrasana II follow these steps to experience the Asana.
Evenly distribute your weight over the right & left side by rooting both feet firmly into your mat.
Bend one knee & let your hips sink to ease you deeper into the lunge
Keep your other leg straight & firm.
Next play with the mobility in your hips. They will usually feel pretty rigid and tilted forwards which over arches the lower back. Take a breath & begin to make circles or start tilting the pelvis backwards & forwards. Theres actually loads of movement here & as your Yoga practice continues you will feel very fluid in motion around the hips.
Are you collapsing into your lower back? Find your STRONG WARRIOR back bone! Pull the hips upwards towards the lower ribcage, grew in the belly button & send your tailbone to the mat below.
This action will awaken your abs & help you feel grounded, string & present.
Now balance your rib cage directly over your hips. We sometimes learn into Warrior Postures but like a soldier we want the spine to be alert & standing to attention.
Finally…breathe & let the shoulder blades slip down the, the chest open as the shoulders roll back & let your gaze (dristi) fall over the leading hand.
As you stand in Virabhadrasana you can begin to observe the duality of the posture. the balance between working to your full potential and completely relaxing or being active & yet perfectly still at the same time.
Having the patience to stay peaceful when we are faced with challenges & the wisdom to look within before we react is the type of Warrior we want to be.