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 chest and shoulders, as well as the stretching and opening of the legs. By giving your heart an opportunity to shine, 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.
- Neck, spine, or shoulder injury.
- High or low blood pressure.
- 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.
- Viparita = reversed, turned around
- Virabhadra = incarnation of Lord Shiva
- Asana = pose
- Strengthens quadriceps, arms, and neck.
- Stretches groins, hips, and obliques.
- Opens chest and shoulders.
- Releases tension in the muscles around the ribs to create a deeper, freer breath.
- Energizes the body.
- Increases blood flow.
- Improves self-esteem and perseverance.
- Opens the heart and throat chakras.
- Calms the mind.
Om Namah Shivaya
Honor Virabhadra, the incarnation of Lord Shiva, by reciting this mantra: “Om Namah Shivaaya, Namah Shivaaya, Nama Shiva.”
MUDRA: Rudra Mudra
Allow room for your thoughts and beliefs to transform with the rudra mudra, which is said to increase clarity of the mind. To practice, bring the tip of your thumb to touch your index and ring fingers. Allow your other two fingers to extend as straight as possible. This mudra is also thought to help relieve chronic tension.