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.
Vrksasana: Tree Pose
Vrksasana (vrik-SHAHS-ah-nah) is a deceptively challenging pose. While at first glance tree pose may seem easy, the combination of strength, balance, and flexibility required can take lots of practice. Never fear, props like a wall or a chair can come in handy while finding the balance point of the pose, and there are plenty of variations to fit everyone’s practice. This is a great pose to practice dristi (focused gaze) to help with balance.
Philosophy + Origin
In many Indian traditions, trees, specifically the ashoka tree, are symbols of love and devotion. Many cultures seek the knowledge of trees for healing, searching their branches, trunks, leaves, and roots for powerful medicine. Patient by nature, trees are quiet and steady, living their long lives in rhythm with the seasons and the circadian rhythm of the world. In Indian literature, trees often make appearances as sacred symbols of the universe, a bridge between creator and individual.