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Posture of the Month: Virabhadrasana III / Tuladandasana (August 2016)

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Warrior 3 Pose (also known as Standing Stick Pose) is an asana commemorating the exploits of the warrior Virabhadra, an incarnation of Shiva. The name of this asana is rooted in Hindu mythology. The myth is that the powerful priest Daksha made a great ritual sacrifice but did not invite his youngest daughter Sati and her husband Shiva, the supreme ruler of the universe. Sati found out and decided to go alone to the yagna. When she arrived, Sati entered into an argument with her father. Unable to withstand the insults she spoke a vow to her father, “Since it was you who gave me this body I no longer wish to be associated with it.” She walked to the fire and threw herself into it. When Shiva heard of Sati’s death, he was devastated. He yanked out a lock his hair and beat it into the ground, where up rose a powerful Warrior. Shiva named this warrior Virabhadra (Vira (hero) + Bhadra (friend)) and ordered him to go to the yagnaand destroy Daksha and all his guests.

• Virabhadra's first aspect, Virabhadrasana I, is his arrival, with swords in both hands, thrusting his way up through the earth from below.

• In his second aspect, Virabhadrasana II, he sights his opponent Daksha.

• And in his third aspect, Virabhadrasana III, moving swiftly and precisely, he decapitates Daksha’s head with his sword.

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Pose type:

standing balance pose

Benefits:
• Improves balance and posture
• Strengthens the shoulders and muscles of the back
• Tones the abdomen
• Strengthens the ankles and legs

Preparatory poses: half moon pose; wide leg forward fold; reclined hand to toe pose; reclined hero’s pose; chair pose; forward fold; warrior 2; warrior 1; hero’s pose; tree pose

Follow-up poses: one-legged king pigeon; plow pose; monkey pose; boat pose; supported headstand; chair pose; yogic squat

Cautions: This asana should be avoided by practitioners who have a weak heart.

Modifications:
• Use the support of a chair, wall or solid item to help maintain balance.
• Do the pose with your palms pressing into the wall.
• Do the pose with your back heel pressing into the wall.

TIPS:
• Lift the arches of the standing leg foot and keep the outer standing hip engaged.
• Do not lock or hyper-extend the knee of your standing leg.
• Keep both hips aligned as you lower the body toward the floor.
• Focus on the stretch, not on the lift. It doesn't matter how high your leg goes if you don't have safe alignment.
• Work to keep your arms, trunk, and raised leg in one line. Do not bring your raised leg higher than your hips or your head.
• Keep your neck relaxed, not stiff or compressed. Reach forward through the crown of your head.
• Keep your spine in one straight line.
• There are many options for your arms in this pose: arms forward with either palms facing each other or fingers interlaced with the index finger pointing forward and the thumbs crossed; arms to the sides like wings; hands at your heart center; fingers interlaced behind your back with the arms pulling towards the back of the room; bring your arms back alongside your body; and, a reverse Namaste position with palms of the hands pressed together and fingers pointing upward behind your back. Or, how about with Eagle pose arms? :-)

As with all postures, I encourage you to listen to your body and honor where you are mentally, physically and emotionally each day. The pose will be there again tomorrow... practice in such a way that you can be too!

Warmly,
Hollye and the SGY Teaching Team



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