Pause for the Pose: Viparita Virabhadrasana
Welcome to the first, weekly Pause for the Pose series! Each week, a different yoga asana will be featured and we'll get deep into the nooks and crannies of the postures, along with plenty of yoga selfies! So join me by tagging your #PauseForThePose pictures on Instagram. (@pedalsandposes)
This week: Viparita Virabhadrasana, otherwise known as Reverse Warrior; viparita means reverse in sanskrit and Virabhadrasana stems from the mythical warrior named Virabhadra--an extension of Shiva. You can find a good summary of the myth of Virabhadra here from Authentic Self Yoga. Basically, Shiva creates Virabhadra from a lock of hair in a moment of fury and devastation and sends Virabhadra to cause hell and destruction on his father-in-law. Then Shiva sees the destruction, feels bad and finds his compassion and restores peace. Little bit of an ego check?
Image from: Janti2008
Now back to the posture....reverse warrior; the word reverse doesn't inspire the most poetic of language and yet I've heard it referred to as peaceful or exalted warrior as well. Why? The sanskrit translation seems pretty clear. So let's imagine our powerful, angered Virabhadra coming in with swords and chopping off heads in a warrior 2 stance, and then all of a sudden drops his swords and opens his heart to the heavens in a reverse posture. Almost seems like a surrender when you put yourself in that vulnerable position. And yet, the legs are still in that strong warrior stance, holding their ground.
Despite reverse warrior being a beautiful pose, the symbolism that I draw from it paints this colorful picture of strength, love, surrender, openness, and versatility. Everyday we fight internal and external battles with all that life presents to us. Heartache, loss, confusion, anger, the list goes on and on. But there is a deep force within, be it from a spiritual level or not, that gives us the ability to find our strength and face these struggles, these fights and un-clench our fists to once again find inner stability and calm. And we are not weak when we let go of our anger or despair, we still hold our strong warrior stance. Reverse warrior reminds us to be solid in our foundation and roots, but to let go of unnecessary resistance and furies to open our heart to inspiration and love that the world offers us.
As a mom of a one year old, everyday I face the challenge of constantly being a strong mom, but giving in when I need an extra hand to help so I can catch up on sleep or when I need to say no to an opportunity because I have stretched myself too thin. Being able to release my idea of being the "perfect mom" has not broken down my abilities to be a good mom, in fact I am a better mom because of it. How can I possibly give my daughter the attention I need if I'm walking around like a zombie? (Someday you'll have to hear about my struggle with breastfeeding and my very tough decision to go to all formula--a reverse warrior move indeed!) What energy can I give to a project or an extra class if I am stressed during the duration and thinking about everything I have to do? My daughter won't think less of me if I tell her that I decided not to do a show one time because I felt so torn physically, mentally, and emotionally. Making those hard decisions shows value of self and understanding of surrender amongst the petty battles.
So when I think about the other names for reverse warrior, it makes total sense. Peaceful warrior, exalted warrior--a warrior who lays down their weapons and opens themselves to love, compassion, and understanding. I think there's definitely something to it.
When teaching your yoga classes and Viparita Virabhadrasana is in your sequencing, maybe share some of this insight with your yogis. Most certainly my interpretation of the posture is by no means the one true answer, nor should it be. What I love about yoga is that every one of us finds our deeper meaning on our own. Even though we are all practicing the same postures, what they speak to in our lives is a purely individual, personal truth.
For the rest of this week, check out my posts on Instagram featuring Viparita Virabhadrasana. I'll show some different arm variations and perks of the pose. All in different places where I feel so inspired! And like I said before, please do the same and tag me, I'll feature you!
AND HAPPY EARTH DAY!!! ENJOY YOUR OUTDOORS! Finally Iowa City has some nice weather. Looking forward to a long walk with my hubby and baby girl. :)