Virabhadrasana commemorates the exploits of a mythical warrior – Vira (hero) + Bhadra (friend).
In the myth, a powerful priest named Daksha makes a yagna (ritual sacrifice) and does not invite his youngest daughter Sati nor her husband Shiva whose mariage he does not approve of. Sati finds out and decides to go to the yagna where she is met by her father’s anger and insults.
Saddened and humiliated by the public argument, Sati vows; “Since it was you who gave me this body, I no longer wish to be associated with it.” and throws herself into the fire.
Shiva, devasted of his wife’s death, yanks out a lock of his hair and beats it into the ground. From the lock emerges a powerful Warrior Virabhadra who Shiva orders to destroy Daksha.
The three Virabhadrasana poses represent the Warrior’s actions:
Warrior I: arrives at the yagna with two swords in hand
Warrior II: he sights his target: Daksha
Warrior III: he decapitates Daksha
After Virabhadra avenges Sati’s life, Shiva absorbs Virabhadra into his being and then transforms into the Hare, the ravisher. Filled with sorrow and compassion, Shiva finds Daksha’s body and gives it the head of a goat, which brings him back to life. In the end Sati is also reborn.
Virabhadrasana poses, allow us to symbolically slay our enemies, whether they are internal demons or external challenges. However, destruction and death cause sorrow and pain which eventually transforms into compassion and kindness. The Virabhadrasana series gives up the strenght and power to take action in time of injustice and unkindness, yet cautions us on our actions which must not be taken brashly nor blindly.
Striking the pose
> Stand in Tadasana (Mountain Pose). With an inhalation, step or lightly jump your feet 3 1/2 to 4 feet apart.
> Bend the front knee to 90 degree angle so that it is in line with the ankle and hip while gently pressing your foot down.
- Strengthen gluteus maximus, quads and tensor fascia latea
- Stretch hip flexors, hamstrings
> Roll the back leg in and turn your back foot out until the pelvis turns slightly to face the other foot.
- Strengthen gluteus maximus, adductor magnus
- Stretch the iliopsoas and sartorius
> Anchor the back heel firmly to the ground helping to stabilize the pose by distributing the weight evenly across the front and back of body.
- Strengthen peroneus
- Stretch tibialis anterior
> Straighten back knee and keep the back leg strong.
- Strengthen quads, gluteus medius
- Stretch hamstrings, thigh abductors
> Raise your arms parallel to the floor and reach them actively out to the sides.
- Strengthen deltoids (lateral, posterior), infraspinatus and teres minor muscles
- Stretch biceps
> Turn the palms down to the floor.
- Strengthen pronator teres and pronator quadratus
- Stretch supinator
> Open the chest with shoulder blades wide
- Strengthen rhomboids, serratus anterior
- Stretch trapezius
- Strengthens your shoulders, arms, thighs, legs and ankles.
- Stretches your groins, thighs, and ankles.
- Expands your chest, lungs and shoulders.
- Stimulates abdominal organs and digestion.
- Increases stamina and endurance.
- Rlieves backaches, especially through the second trimester of pregnancy.
- Improves balance, concentration and core awareness.
- High blood pressure
- Medical conditions that affect balance
- Neck problems – Keep the head and neck looking forward from the chest
Virabhadrasana II opens your chest and pelvis conveying a strong and stable posture and in so doing helps you build confidence.