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.
Janu Sirsasana: Head to Knee Pose
Janu sirsasana (JAH-new shear-SHAHS-anna), may look simple, but it combines elements of a forward fold, twist, and side body stretch. Head to knee pose stretches the hamstrings, low back, and groins and can be adjusted to be very challenging or very relaxing.
Philosophy + Origin
While the name of the pose may seem to reveal an intention based on physical anatomy (head to knee pose), janu sirsasana is really all about turning inward and creating space for self-reflection. Instead of focusing on the intensity of the posture — or a desire to bring your head to your knee — turn your attention to the peace and stillness that may be hiding beneath the more prominent sensations.