Virabhadrasana – meaning of the pose

I was always wondering why the peaceful practice of yoga includes a pose named after a warrior? How this relate to Yamas – ‘no- harm’, ‘no-violence’ principle (“ahisma”)? The pose is so well known for all practitioners from very beginners to advance yogis, but do we really are understand the meaning?
There is a tragic love story behind this posture. The story is one of love, hate, violence, sadness, and forgiveness, which begin with the marriage between Lord Shiva and Sati. The marriage against the consent of Daksha, Sati’s father.
At one time Daksha organized a great ceremony, known as Yagna, to which he invited all but not Lord Shiva and Sati. Against Shiva advise, Sati attended the ceremony and before thousands of guests she asked her father why he had not invited them.  In his response Daksha insulted Lord Shiva, Sati was so angry with her father that she burst into flames and was reduced to ashes.
Shiva soon heard the news of his wife’s death; he tore off his clothes and ripped out his jatars (dreadlocks). From one of his jatars  arose “Virabhadra” (Vira – hero and Bhadra- friend). Shiva directed his warrior to go to the Yagna and kill everyone, behead Daksha and drink his blood.
The story continues, but we can leave it here as far as our posture is concerned. It is here that we can see the links between this story and the warrior poses that we know as Virabhadrasana I, II and III. Imagine the poses:
Virabhadrasana I
Virabhadra entered the Yagna by thrusting his way up from deep underground with his sword held over his head in both hands.   
Virabhadrasana II
Next, Virabhadra made his presence known to the Yagna guests by standing with his sword poised and ready to strike.
Virabhadrasana III
Finally, Virabhadra lifted his sword into the air and, as instructed by Shiva, quickly and precisely he severed the head of King Daksha.
Well, contrary to appearances, Virabhadrasana is not in conflict with the peaceful “ahisma” of yoga practice. For in this pose we are not celebrating a warrior, destructor and murdered. Instead, we acknowledge our own spiritual warrior who every day does battles with our own laziness, self-ignorance, false perceptions and distracted mind.
Don’t forget about your spiritual warrior when things become very difficult – on the matt but also in all battles that we face in our life off the matt.  Summon him every time – be inspired.
Beata, 200 Hrs YTT, November 2015

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