Virabhadrasana (Veer = Victorious; Bhadra = Virtuous ; Asana = Posture)
Yet another intensive standing asana, Virabhadrasana is beneficial in:
- Removing stiffness of feet and legs.
- Rheumatism in knees and ankles.
- Increasing sense of balance.
- Curing flat foot.
- Reducing cellulite.
- Improved breathing.
- Managing pain in disc herniation and bulging.
- Curing backache, neck ache.
- Managing pain in fingers, elbows and joints.
- Curing hyper acidity.
- Improved intestinal function.
- Massaging abdominal organs thereby increasing the blood flow through the viscera.
In our series of blogs on asanas, this section will focus upon Virabhadrasana 1 also known as warrior pose in English. Warrior is not an exact term defining Virbhadra is one of the historical characters who is supposed to be born out of lord Shiva’s mat lock. The story is interesting and we can cover it up later in our class discussions. This asana is yet another powerful one in the standing series and is a beauty to perform. The feeling itself comes of valor and strength as the pranic channels open up while boosting the flow through the system and giving a sense of rejuvenation.
Attaining a perfect Virabhadrasana requires the following steps to be taken:
1. Attain Samsthiti (neutral position) : Samsthiti is a position where body weight is evenly balanced on all the four corners of the body, say, front and back and left & right. (pic 1) This is a position which makes you feel neutral in relationship to the gravity. Legs are held firmly on to their foundations in feet while spreading the toes on the floor. Pelvis has to be centered while maintaining a natural curvature of the lower spine. (Believe me, most often we tend to intensify the lumbar curve in a bid to be firm, unknowingly). Arms will be straight and hanging out to side, while awareness being the same from shoulders to the finger tips. Shoulders will be mildly held squared while a gentle tension will be felt in the blades so as to keep the chest open. Head will be kept firm on those shoulders and gaze in front on one single point. Feel this position for a few minutes to experience the bliss of neutrality, one of the most recommended virtues of Yoga.
2. Move to utthita hastapadasana : For details of this position see the previous blog on Utthita Parsvkonasana. (pic 2)
3. Now raise both the arms up straight while being in the hastapadasana. (Pic 3) The action of lifting up the arms must be accomplished while exhaling. Make sure the exhalation synchronize with the arms moving up. Arms must be kept straight, with Triceps (the long muscle at the rear portion of the upper arms running from shoulder to elbow) being active which will keep the arm in extension. Its an important muscle and awareness must be spread throughout it to feel its effect.
4. With both arms straight, turn to your right in a way that your left foot rotates to 60 degrees and the right foot rotates to 90 degrees. This action seems to be the most difficult when it comes to turning from the waist and carrying the pelvis to move along as well. Stiffness around hip sockets and sacroiliac joints will prevent a complete turn and there might be a possibility that pelvis will retaliate. You also might feel a strong stretch sensation in the front portion of left pelvis just above the groins, which can be disturbing at times while trying to attain an equilibrium in the posture. To avoid any such feeling contract the left hip consciously giving room to the muscle groups in front to lengthen. In addition to that, navel, sternum and chin must form a straight line to the right vertically to assure that you are in the right alignment.
As a matter of fact when you turn to either of the sides, the opposite arm will get tighter and flex to some extent. Which will eventually create an asymmetry around shoulder blades and associated fibers of the back on that side. To avoid this you will have to consciously extend the ribs on that side and pull the arm upwards avoiding body weight to recline downwards.
For elderly, it might be a bit exhausting to turn with arms up over the head. They can opt for keeping the arms on the waist while holding the pelvic rim on both sides.(pic 5)
5. Bend the right leg from the knee, bringing the right thigh parallel to the floor. Right shin will be perpendicular to the floor. Try and maintain a right angle (90 degree) between thigh and calf of the right leg. Knee and ankle must be in a straight line.
In the beginning it would seem difficult to align your thigh parallel with the floor. Of course we all have our limitations. But that’s not something to be demotivated of. The complex network of hip muscles and its association with sacroiliac joint, which itself is of rigid character, providing for a very limited range of movement, will not allow you to lunge more then beyond a range. To achieve this, focus on the joint where your leg connects to pelvis. After a dedicated focus, you will be able to feel the socket where the thigh bone inserts, especially the front of it. Try and press this section downwards towards the floor. This will allow for the contraction of hip flexors and increase your range considerably. But do not seek to achieve this in the first few attempt. Its a gradual journey from bondage to freedom, done intelligently. Try act smart in that!
One more thing that will help you with a firm balance in the asana is keeping the left leg firm while holding the knee against any flexion (bending). Only when the left leg at back is firm, the right will be able to identify its true strenght. If the knee on the left bend and fall down, you might get more range in the right, but that will not be a true representation of your abilities and merely an impostored version of your true callibres. Remember, yoga reveals your true self to you, and this is also a part of the same process, getting to know your real abilities and limitations as well. So keeping the left leg in a firm position will help with that enlightenment. A smart trick for that is to press the outer edge of your left foot deeper into the floor as if its hooked on nicely with the earth. You can see it works!
In the final position raise your head up to look onto your palms or upto the ceiling, but please avoid your head to fall off more than a 90 degree angle from the spine, else you might feel light headed or even loose your balance.
Breath fully and rotate your awareness from the tip of your left toe up to your Sahasrar Chakra and same on the right side. Spend anywhere between 30 seconds to 2 minutes in the asana and then come back following the same course you went it.
Word of caution: People who have a history of Cardiac issues or High blood pressure, must consult an expert before attempting this asana, or its better to do it under a direct supervision of competent teacher.
Have a happy exploring. See you next time!!