Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Focus Pose - Virabhadrasana II (Warrior II, Warrior B)

Virabhadra = the name of a fierce warrior, an incarnation of Shiva, described as having a thousand heads, a thousand eyes, and a thousand feet, wielding a thousand clubs, and wearing a tiger's skin.

In the Ashtanga Primary Series, Virabhadrasana B concludes the standing sequence. I really enjoy doing warrior II, I love how it feels so open, how everything feels like it is stretching toward infinity. Reality is, not everyone agrees. Many people find this intense  on the front quad(s), uncomfortable in the hips, awkward on the back leg, and sometimes hard on the lower back and shoulders.

We move into the pose from Virabhadrasana I. Some teach opening from Warrior I to Warrior II on an inhale, my body seems to prefer an exhale, as if the exhale is allowing me to root into the earth, the hips opening and sinking down just a bit lower.

Hold for 5 breaths, then straighten the front leg, rotate around, and reestablish pose on the right hand side.

Hold for 5 breaths, then exhale hands to the floor through Chataranga dandasana (vinyasa)

Some technique points:

  • Traditional stance is front heel in alignment with the back arch. This is not comfortable for everyone. If this bothers your hips or knees, move the back foot so that the front heel is aligned with the back heel, or even a gap between the two.
  • Front knee over the front ankle. NOT over the foot or toes. Conversely, knee should not be behind the heel (stance is too wide).
  • If too much strain is felt on the front quad or knee, OR the back knee, shorten the stance, keeping above point in mind.
  • Activate the back leg by pressing through the back heel. Use both legs to support you in the pose.
  • Keep torso upright as possible, not lunging forward or arching back.
  • RELAX the shoulders! Move shoulders away from the ears.
  • Reach equally from front fingers through back fingers. Flipping palms up engages slightly different arm muscles.
  • Drishti is over front fingers unless you have neck concerns. Then look in the same direction as your torso. 

There are some fun variations to take on the Warrior II stance, but in the Primary Series we stick to the traditional pose as above.

Below, the lovely Maria Villella demonstrating the last three standing poses in the Primary sequence. 

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