Viparita Virabhadrasana: Reverse Warrior Pose
In viparita virabhadrasana (VIP-uh-REE-tuh veer-uh-buh-DRAHS-uh-nuh), experience a member of the “warrior” family with an incredible opening in the side of the torso as well as the stretching the legs. By giving the side of your heart an opportunity to shine (as a side bend rather than a back bend), this posture offers all sorts of positive vibes, including a boost of self-esteem and perseverance.
Philosophy + Origin
The general definition of a warrior is someone who “engages in warfare,” which conjures up images of battlefields, weapons, and violence. The power of reverse warrior is to “turn around” this imagery to think about warriorship in different contexts. The idea of a peaceful warrior, or even a light warrior, is used in yoga to remind students that showing up with love and intention in day-to-day life is just as important, if not more so. When practicing reverse warrior, ask yourself to consider definitions or beliefs in your life from another perspective. There are two sides to each coin, and the better you know both sides, the better prepared you will be to live your life with steadiness, grace, and ease.
- If gazing up feels uncomfortable, practice the pose with your gaze toward the ground or use your raised arm to cradle the head.
- Rather than trying to reach back as far as possible in this pose, bring your attention to lifting and lengthening through the spine.
- Pay special attention to your lower back as you practice this pose. If you begin to feel a backbend more than a side bend, ease away from the shape until you can once again find length and space.
- Start in warrior II with your right foot forward and your left foot back. Bend your front knee directly over your ankle.
- Inhale your right hand to the sky.
- Keep the bend in your front knee.
- Lengthen the sides of your torso with every inhale, strengthen your legs with every exhale.
- If it’s comfortable for your neck, turn your gaze up to the fingertips of your right hand.
- Soften your shoulders down your back.
- Hold for 3-5 breaths, then release to warrior II. Repeat on the other side.
- Warrior II | Virabhadrasana II
- Extended side angle | Utthita parsvakonasana
- Revolved head to knee | Parivrtta janu sirsasana
- Extended triangle pose | Utthita trikonasana
- Seated compass pose | Parivrtta surya yantrasana
- Monkey lunge | Anjaneyasana
- Viparita = reversed, turned around
- Virabhadra = incarnation of Lord Shiva
- Asana = pose
- Stretches groins, hips, and obliques.
- Releases tension in the muscles around the ribs to create a deeper, freer breath.
- Energizes the body.
- Improves self-esteem and perseverance.
- Opens the heart and throat chakras.
- Calms the mind.
Uttana Shishosana: Extended Puppy Pose
An intelligent pose to help lengthen the spine and relieve mental stress, uttana shishosana (OO-ta-NAH she-SHO-sahna), is a hybrid pose — a cross between balasana (child’s pose) and adho mukha svanasana (downward facing dog). Uttana shishosana is a great way to energize the physical and subtle bodies for when you’re feeling fatigued, or when you’ve been stuck behind a desk or in a chair all day. Energetically, the posture has the benefits of increasing both self-confidence and self-love.
Philosophy + Origin
Uttana shishosana is a great reminder of why we practice yoga: to feel better and to find tools to help us live our best lives. Named because of the way dogs and puppies stretch, this posture, while far from fancy, is effective in its simplicity. As humans, it’s easy to want to complicate life, always looking to the past or future in order to find meaning.
Dogs, on the other hand, are great at being present. Loyal and playful, our canine companions have a lot to teach us about relaxing and taking care of ourselves and those we love. As you practice extended puppy pose, allow yourself to settle into your senses. Allow yourself to linger (and lengthen) in the feel-good sensations.