I had an epiphany while standing in the yoga pose Warrior II yesterday. This epiphany may not blow you away. But it meant a lot to me. It came in the form of the sentence: “This is me.” Or in other words, “I am one with this energy.”
Allow me to offer a more refined explanation: The transition from Warrior I to Warrior II is such a beautiful move. It’s a switch from piercing the sky with your arms, gazing up for inspiration, then smoothly rotating your hips to the side, bringing one arm back, one arm ahead, and looking out over your front hand with uncommon clarity. You know who you are in Warrior Two; nothing cute about it. It’s a posture of preparedness–you’re looking ahead over your hand, extended palm down, ready for anything.
Warrior II is translated from the word “Virabhadrasana” (veer-ah-bah-DRAHS-anna). Yoga Journal says “Virabhadra” is the name of “an incarnation of Shiva, with a thousand heads, a thousand eyes, a thousand feet, wielding a thousand clubs, and wearing a tiger’s skin.” Nice outfit. Great regalia.
Although I have struggled to make contact with my masculine side–I don’t argue well in public, and think of myself as sweetly receptive–I am at home in these assertive postures (is my Chattering blog also helping?). And when I’m in this pose, looking out over my front arm, it’s odd… it’s like I quickly fall in love with myself, like a beautifully adorned warrior might. But it’s not really me, you know? It’s a much bigger divine life force.
I’m trying to convey one of yoga’s many gifts, to explain why if you haven’t tried it, you might want to get yourself to the nearest class. Yoga lends you an inner vocabulary, a new way to articulate the unity of self, soul, earth. The Sanskrit word “Yogah” translates to “oneness,” “union” or “the way.” Given those meanings, you can see why some conservative Christians are threatened by it. But bear in mind that many contemplative Christians today are in yoga’s full embrace. Here, for instance, is a DVD from Sounds True (a great company) that melds yoga moves with “The Lord’s Prayer.”
I have found images of people doing Warrior II without enough attention to detail and energy. I’m not an expert, but I could see the flaws in posture right away. And I bet you can too. Corrections could be made here and here and here, though all of these photos show the posture’s essential glory. In an effort to locate the best photo for you, I wrote my favorite yoga source Frances Stahnke, who assists yoga über-teacher Glenn Black at Omega, and she thinks the Yoga Journal photo I linked to above (and shown here) is the best, though the model’s upper torso, she says, is slightly collapsed; the chest should be out and active since this is also a heart-opening pose for increasing stamina.