The Warrior poses are central to most yoga. Most traditions have their own way of portraying the revenge of Lord Shiva via his warrior, Virahbadra.
In Hatha tradition, we hold each of the asanas for up to 1 minute. We tend to start with Warrior 1 (which can then move into any number of other asanas). If we perform the asanas as a ‘job lot’, we tend to do Warrior 1 followed by Warrior 3 then Warrior 2.
Virabhadra comes up from the earth with his clubs above his head (this is our hands above our head), surprising the guests and Daksha.
To break the earth, you must have a strong back and core, your feet about 3-4 feet apart. Imagine your feet on small but separate train tracks, the weight of your body evenly distributed over both your feet. You should be able to turn your hips to face the front foot, as square and as straight as you can. Match your shoulders to this stand. Make sure you can still see your toes in front of the bended knee.
As you breathe in, think core, and stretch the arms up further, until they are by your ears, but shoulders away from the ears, back straight, long and strong.
As you exhale, feel the strength emanate from your core, travel up your chest and rest in your gaze.
You are alerting the world to your presence.
Virabhadra faces the guests with his clubs in both hands, the hindu equivalent of ‘en guarde’. The guests and Daksha know they are about to die a horrible death.
Feet are 3-4 feet apart, this time your front foot heel is in line with the arch of your back foot. Hips open, and extend the arms horizontally to your shoulders, all five fingers actively pushing out (your clubs). Look out over your front hand.
As you inhale, engage the core, roll the shoulders back, and stretch both arms out at the same time. As you exhale, extend your focus to just beyond the extended front hand.
You are challenging mere followers, people who say cruel things with no thought of consequence, those people who have no strength to speak up when there is bullying or harassment. You are challenging others and maybe even yourself?
Virabhadra lunges forward killing all the guests and beheading Daksha.
Keeping the arms above your head, bring your gaze between your hands to about 3 feet in front of you. Start to edge the back foot closer to your front foot, until it is about 2 feet away. Lift up onto your toes, back straight, and gently kick off, hinging from the hips until your arms and back leg are in a straight line, like T for Thomas. Stretch arms forward, look forward, leg back all the way back, suck the belly in.
You are ridding your world of demons, bad thoughts and deeds.
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. The battle will continue until our heart rules our world, and prideful ego learns to be humble.
To read more about the story of Virbhadra, please go to http://wanderingyogi.org/2015/08/14/hero-and-friend-the-warrior-poses-achieve-the-impossible/