Virabhadrasana I (Warrior Pose I)

Story of Virabhadra

Vīrabhadra (Sanskrit: वीरभद्र, lit. distinguished hero) is an extremely fierce and fearsome form of the Hindu god Shiva. The story of Virabhadra goes like this,


Sati was the youngest daughter of King Daksha (one of the sons of Lord Brahma, the Creator). While growing up, she sets her heart on Shiva. But in her Swayamvara (an ancient Indian practice of choosing a husband), Daksha invites all the devas (Gods) and princes except Shiva. King Daksha did not approve of his daughter marrying a dreaded hair yogi who danced, sang, and consumed intoxicants. Nevertheless, Sati marries Shiva and makes her home with him in Kailash.


One day, Daksha invites all the devas (Gods) to a great offering called the Ashwamedha Yagna, except Shiva. Sati decides to attend the event alone, due to her affection towards her parents. However, Daksha mocks at her in front of his guests that she must have come to her senses and left her husband. Angered after hearing insults against her husband, she announces “since you have given me this body I no longer wish to be associated with it!” and bursts into flames, leaving the body her father had given her. At this moment, Shiva senses that his true love has died and falls into a state of grief. Grief turns into rage, he rips a dreadlock from his scalp and throws it down from the heavens. He summons the great warrior Virabhadra to rise and seek revenge against Daksha. Virabhadra descends, destroys Yagna and beheads Daksha. Later Shiva arrives, looks around at the carnage and the people hiding in fear, his anger turns to compassion as he realises that revenge will not bring back his dead wife. Filled with remorse Shiva re-absorbs Virabhadra into his body, finds a goat's head and places it on Daksha’s headless body bringing his father-in-law back to life. After Daksha awakens, he recognizes Shiva’s kindness and bows. Shiva mourns the loss of his great love and retreats to the Kailash mountain where he immerses himself in meditation for thousands of years.


Virabhadrasana (Warrior Pose)

Virabhadra rises with his body reaching to the skies, his hair like fire and weapons in his many hands, forming the pose Virabhadrasana 1. Virabhadra sets his sight on Daksha, draws his sword and beheads him, forming the pose Virabhadrasana 2. Then he takes Daksha’s head and places it on a stake and this forms the final pose Virabhadrasana 3.

Technique

  1. Stand in Tadasana (Standing pose).

  2. Spread the legs 1.2-1.5 meters apart sideways. Turn the right foot sideways 90° to the right and left foot slightly to the right. Keeping the left leg stretched out, tighten at the knee and stretch the hamstring muscles of the left leg.

  3. Inhale deeply and raise both arms above the head and join the palms. Stretch the arms up; arms must be touching the ears.

  4. Exhale, turn to the right and bend the right knee till the right thigh is parallel to the ground, forming a 90° angle between the right thigh and the right calf. The bent knee should not extend beyond the ankle but should be in line with the heel.

  5. The face, chest and right knee should face completely towards the right side. Gaze forward.

  6. Hold the pose from 20 seconds to half a minute with normal breathing.

  7. Repeat the same on the left side.

  8. Inhale and straighten the knee, exhale and come back to Tadasana position.

Effects

The pose fully expands the chest and helps with deep breathing. It relieves stiffness in thighs, buttocks, calves, shoulders and back and tones ankles and knees. It also reduces fat around the hips and stretches the hips (Iliopsoas).


Sources:

(1) Virabhadra: The Rise of the Warrior (https://beyogi.com/virabhadra-rise-warrior/)

(2) The Mahabharata (https://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/m12/m12b111.htm)

(3) Vishnu Purana (https://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/vp/vp043.htm)

(4) Light on Yoga, by BKS Iyengar (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Light_on_Yoga)

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