Hero and Friend – the Warrior Poses achieve the impossible

Today, I achieve the impossible. I am whole, healthy and vibrant and capable of amazing things. I bring all my power and care to my practice. As I experience the impossible, I honour my heart and soul which have enabled this. I honour my body, and know that for me, making the amazing possible will be different for me and others. I let go of my doubts and fears, and beyond them, find a more amazing me.”   Shift Uplift Affirmation – Week 1

Seems very anti-ahimsa to name yoga poses after a warrior. Aren’t us yogis meant to be non-aggressive, spiritual dream heads?

Yoga is full of these fabulous contradictions – one of the most revered of yoga texts, the Bhagavad-Gita, is the dialog between two famous and feared warriors, Krishna and Arjuna, set on a battlefield between two great armies spoiling for a fight.

The story of this set of asanas is the journey we all travel to become a ‘spiritual warrior’, one who bravely battles the universal enemy,  our self-ignorance (avidya), the ultimate source of all universal suffering. To become at peace with ourselves and the world.

When yoga teachers tell you that these asanas are heart openers, it is not just about the physical alignment, power and stretch…

What is the story of the Warrior Poses?

The powerful priest Daksha threw a yagna to end all yagnas (ritual sacrifice). He invited everyone – except his youngest daughter Sati. Who was married to Lord Shiva, whom Daksha would have cut his own nose off rather than acknowledge (even though Shiva was supreme ruler of the universe). Shiva was a bit of a groover, with long black curly hair, big gold earrings and kohl around his eyes – not at all suitable for a priest’s daughter.

Sati found out about the party and suggested to Shiva they go anyway.  Shiva, not wanting to incite her father’s anger anymore than he had already, asked, “Why go, where we are not invited?”  Sati, hurt by both her husband’s response and her father’s refusal to acknowledge her marriage, decided to go on her own to the yagna.

Well, you don’t have to be a fortune teller to guess what happened next. Sati and her father start arguing, which entertains the guests mightily. Fuelled by public support, her father taunts Sati further.

Sati remains silent, more and more miserable, angrier and angrier. She lets go of all desire to argue with her father, defending her husband. That her father, the one man upon whom a daughter should always be able to rely, could do this. She made an internal resolve to relinquish all family ties. Finally she speaks, “Since you have given me this body I no longer wish to be associated with it.”

Walking past her father, Sati sits in a meditative seat on the ground. Closing her eyes, Sati practiced her yogic exercises and began to increase her own inner fire until her body burst into flames.

When Shiva got word of Sati’s death, he was devastated, furious, vengeful.  He cut off some of his beautiful hair, turned it into his fiercest warrior., Virabhadra (Vira – hero, and Bhadra – friend). He was fierce and scary – a thousand heads, eyes and feet, wielding a thousand clubs, wearing a tiger skin (don’t ask how it fitted, I have no idea).

He ordered Virabhadra to go to the yagna, destroy Daksha and all guests assembled.

The Warrior Poses show the story of this warrior avenging Sati’s death. 

For explanations of each of the warrior poses, please click on the following link..http://wanderingyogi.org/2015/08/14/hero-and-friend-the-warrior-poses/

So you have practiced the asanas, wow they are powerful.  But what happened after Virabhadra’s murderous revenge on behalf of Shiva?

Of course there is always a morsel of a moral…

Never known any folk-lore to end this simply. This one doesn’t either.

Shiva arrived at Daksha’s palace to check out Virabhadra’s handiwork. He absorbed Virabhadra back into his own form, and as this happened, his anger was replaced with deep sorrow for the loss of his wife, Sati.

And as he looked at the bloody work of his warrior, his sorrow then turned into compassion. All this senseless death, he could not bring his wife back, Daksha had lost his beloved daughter, but he could bring back Daksha.

The now alive Daksha bowed in awe and humility to Shiva.

We practice Virabhadrasana I, II and III not to honor the practice of violence, but to remind ourselves every day, we must do battle with our own ignorance and ego. We become spiritual warriors, for the sake of our heart and soul. And that despite all the problems our ego gives us, we must forgive our ego for being selfish. battle will continue until our heart rules our world, and prideful ego learns to be humble.

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