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virabhadrasana III: warrior III


 

Warrior III, or Virabhadrasana (veer-ah-bah-DRAHS-anna) III, requires balance and strength. Helpful for strengthening the core of your body, Warrior III is a challenging pose for many yogis. Maintaining proper alignment while balancing asks a lot from your muscles, as well as your mental focus. The key to success in this posture is engaging your body in it while maintaining a smooth, even breath.

Philosophy + Origin

Virabhadra is one of Shiva’s incarnations. A fierce warrior, Virabhadra is often depicted as having a thousand heads, eyes, and feed. Draped in the skin of a tiger, this warrior wields a thousand clubs. In Virabhadra’s origin story, he is created from a single dreadlock from Shiva’s head, a manifestation of the rage he feels upon feeling like his true love has died. The shape of Virabhadrasana III comes from this story, the moment when Virabhadra beheads Daksha and extends forward to place the head on a stake. But, despite the outward appearance, this powerful pose is actually a great reminder of our own inner strength and the measures we would take in the name of true love.

ADJUSTMENTS/MODIFICATIONS

  • Rather than stretching your arms forward, keep your arms reaching back by your sides for easier balance.
  • Use a chair in front of you to help aid your balance as needed.

CONTRAINDICATIONS AND CAUTIONS

  • High blood pressure

TIPS

As you work in this pose, see if you can engage the thigh muscles of both of your legs so that it feels like they are drawing towards each other, almost as if you are squeezing a block. At the same time, keep your arms engaged as they reach forward, pressing firmly between your palms and extending strongly through your fingers. Because it’s a challenging pose, many people actually hold their breath. Focus on a steady, smooth breath to bring ease to this difficult balancing posture.

STEP-BY-STEP

  1. Begin in Mountain pose, Tadasana. Bend your knees and reach your right foot back, entering into a high lunge. Reach your arms forward so that they are parallel to the floor and even with each other.
  2. Press firmly into the left leg and the base of your big toe as you begin to lift your right foot off the ground. Keep your hips level with each other and your pelvis as neutral as possible as your right leg continues to raise and extend. As your right leg lifts, simultaneously straighten your left leg without locking your knee. Rather than bringing your focus to lifting your right leg up, instead focus on reaching your right leg back.
  3. Feel your body in space and make small adjustments to bring it parallel to the floor. Arms, torso and right leg should be as level as possible, making a straight line with the ground beneath you. Actively reach through your right leg as you press the palms of your hands together, extending through the fingertips with biceps at ear height.
  4. Build up to staying in this posture for up to 60 seconds before allowing yourself to come back into the lunge position. Step the right foot forward and rest in Uttanasana (Forward Bend) before returning to Tadasana and repeating Warrior III on the other side.

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PREPARATORY POSES

  • Ardha Chandrasana
  • Garudasana
  • Parsvottanasana
  • Prasarita Padottanasana
  • Utkatasana
  • Uttanasana
  • Virabhadrasana I
  • Virabhadrasana II
  • Vrksasana

FOLLOW-UP POSES

  • Eka Pada Rajakapotasana
  • Hanumanasana
  • Salamba Sirsasana

SANSKRIT

  • Virabhadra = the name of Shiva incarnated as a fierce warrior
  • Asana = pose

PHYSICAL BENEFITS

  • Strengthens ankles, legs, shoulders, and back
  • Tones the abdomen and core
  • Improves posture

ENERGETIC BENEFITS

  • Creates a powerful sense

MANTRA

“YAM” 

Reciting the bija mantra, YAM, for the heart chakra is a powerful way to increase steadiness and focus in this pose while maintaining a sense of calm, balanced strength.

MUDRA: Hasta

Also known as Hand Mudra, this heart-opening gesture symbolizes balance, an ability to both give and receive. To practice, reach your arms forward while turning your palms up. Radiate through your fingers, balancing ease through the shoulders and effort through the arms.

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