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Picture of Reverse Warrior Pose

 

Viparita Virabhadrasana: Reverse Warrior Pose


In Reverse Warrior pose, or Viparita Virabhadrasana (VIP-uh-REE-tuh veer-uh-buh-DRAHS-uh-nuh), you experience an incredible opening in the chest and shoulders, as well as the stretching and opening of the legs you feel in other versions of Warrior poses. By giving your heart an opportunity to shine, this posture gives you 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 a coin, and the better you know both sides, the better prepared you will be to live your life with steadiness, grace, and ease.

ADJUSTMENTS/MODIFICATIONS:

  • If gazing up puts too much strain on your neck, practice the pose with your gaze toward the ground or use your raised arm to support and cradle the head.
  • Rather than reaching the back arm along the back leg, place your hand at the crook of your hip to support your lower back and to avoid sinking too deeply.
  • To reduce intensity, practice the posture with a shorter stance than you would in Warrior pose.

CONTRAINDICATIONS AND CAUTIONS:

  • Neck, spine, or shoulder injury
  • High or low blood pressure
  • Diarrhea

TIPS:

Rather than trying to reach back as far as possible in this pose, bring your attention to lifting and lengthening through the spine. Like all backbends, it’s important not to go too far if it compromises the health, quality, or comfort of your spine. Pay special attention to your lower back as you practice this pose. If you begin to feel a sense of collapse, or “crunching” as some students describe, ease away from the backbend until you can once again find length and space.

STEP-BY-STEP:

  1. Start in Warrior II with your right foot forward and your left foot back. As well as you can, get your front thigh parallel to the ground with your knee lining up directly over your ankle. Make sure your back foot is turned out to about a 45-degree angle and the heel of your front foot lining up with the arches of your back foot.
  2. Once you have developed a strong foundation in Warrior II, exhale to begin reaching your left hand back to the hamstring of your left leg. Inhaling, extend your right arm toward the sky, pulling energy up the arm and out through the fingertips.
  3. Continue to find strength and steadiness in the legs, making sure your front knee remains bent and your hips stay low. Use each inhale to lengthen the spine and each exhale to move deeper into the backbend, sliding the left hand further down the leg.
  4. If it’s comfortable for your neck, turn your gaze up to the fingertips of your right hand. Don’t let the shoulders creep toward your ears. Instead, keep your shoulders relaxed, your chest lifted, and the sides of your body elongated. Even though the posture creates space around the heart and lungs, the breath can feel a bit constrained. Do your best to keep the breath as easy and natural as possible while you work to stay in the pose for 10 or more breaths.
  5. On an inhalation, return to Warrior II and then back to Mountain pose. Repeat Reverse Warrior on the other side.

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PREPARATORY POSES:

  • Anjaneyasana
  • Utthita Parsvakonasana
  • Utthita Trikonasana
  • Virabhadrasana II

FOLLOW-UP POSES:

  • Parivrtta Surya Yantrasana
  • Ustrasana

SANSKRIT:

  • Viparita = reversed, turned around
  • Virabhadra = incarnation of Lord Shiva
  • Asana = pose

PHYSICAL BENEFITS:

  • 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

ENERGETIC BENEFITS:

  • Improves self-esteem and perseverance
  • Opens the heart and throat chakras
  • Calms the mind

MANTRA:

“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.

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