In this four-part series, I’ll examine the connections between four specific poses (asanas) and their chakra correspondences. I’ll also dive into the physical and emotional benefits of the pose, and what it means if you love the pose or hate it. First up, Virabhadrasana.
You’re in downward facing dog (adho mukha svanasana) and you’re teacher cues you to extend your right leg out behind you toward the ceiling, and to swing it through to a high runner’s lunge. “Yay, here it comes,” you think to yourself.
Ground your back foot, engage your core, and rise up to standing; extending your arms proudly to the sky — warrior I (virabhadrasana I). You sink into the pose, with your heart wide open, your chin held high, and the stability of a mighty warrior.
This demanding standing posture requires strong legs and core, and flexibility in the ankles. While it may not look like it, this pose also cultivates a strong, flexible back. With your knees, hips and toes all pointing in the same direction — forward — warrior I is a pose of no turning back. Caution: If you have problems with your low back, close your stance so that you don’t sink as deeply into the posture. If you have tight shoulders, you can raise your arms into a “cactus” position, and if you have hyper or hypotension, rise up into warrior 1 slowly, and carefully so you don’t experience a sudden drop in blood pressure.
We often think of yoga as a peaceful, conflict-free practice right? Let’s take a quick look at one of the foundational texts within hindu and yogic tradition, the Bhagavad Gita. The poetic Gita is a conversation between Lord Krishna and the prince, warrior Arjuna that takes place in the middle of the battlefield before the start of the Kurukshetra War. “Know what your duty is, and do it without hesitation. For a warrior, there is nothing better than a battle that duty enjoins.” – Krishna.
Like the hand mudra, Abhaya Mudrāthe, Warrior I is a gesture of no fear. Deeply grounding, the Muladhara (root) chakra is activated as all four points of both foot are equally pressing into the earth and receiving its support. Physically, this pose opens the heart, chest and throat while strengthening the legs, back, shoulders and arms.
If you love Warrior I, you are confident and grounded. Your heart is open and you look forward without fear. If this is not your favorite pose, ask yourself, “do I struggle with confidence or anxiety?” “Do I trust myself in making decisions?” The next time this asana comes up in practice, welcome what it brings to your life. Open yourself to your inner warrior, and look ahead fearlessly.
– Your Charmed Yogi