Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Virabhadrasna 1 & 2 & 3

These past three weeks I have been teaching virabhadrasana poses. Read the Virabhadra story on this blog post.

The first week we worked warrior one.  I told the story of virabhadra in the beginning. Vira one comes from the action of the warrior Virabhadra (incarnated out of Shiva's hair) busting up from the earth and into the party that Darksha (Shiva's father in law and ruler of the cosmos) party. This represents arriving with an intention and have an intention. My main intention is to be loving and tolerant to myself and others, and to be happy. This pose is challenging for me. I remember when I was first started practicing yoga I was instructed to go into and out of first warrior pose with in a breath or two.  When I started teaching I also instructed in this way. Later on I started to study the alignment of the pose. Like the old saying goes "ignorance is bliss". Now days I rarely teach this pose in class and have to push myself to include it in my personal practice. So warrior one week we really worked. Lots of lunge variations getting the hips squared. Towards the end we did some calf smashing work (rolling up a blanket and sticking it behind the knees). This I find helps tremendously to get the heal to the ground.

The second week we worked on second warrior pose. I again summarized the Virabhadra story focusing on the action that we name our warrior two pose after, which is when Virabhadra scans the crowd looking for Darksha.  This represents that we have to look through our life and see where we are acting in ways that don't reinforce the intention. The example I gave for myself is road rage. My intention is to be loving and tolerant of others, and looking at my life (just like Virabhadra looks around the party) I see that when I drive and get all worked up and frustrated because someone is driving slow. That is not reflecting my intention. We did lots of work on finding expanding spiral (inner spiral) on the back leg, keeping that expansion and then doing contracting spiral (out spiral) on the front leg. That's the hard part for me, maintaining an action while performing the next. I also had the students partner up for warrior 2 with one person doing the posture while the other one is by the back leg with one hand on the shin pressing in and the other hand on the inner thigh pressing out (this is the alignment principle shins in thighs out). The students seemed to enjoy partnering which makes me smile.

This week we are working on warrior 3. Again I summarized the story focusing on the third action the warrior makes which is beheading Darksha. Wow how extreme! Beheading is an intense way of looking at this, I prefer to think of it as letting go of. We set out intention (warrior one), we look through our life (warrior two), and we let go of what no longer is serving us (warrior three). This is such an appropriate time to be doing this as New Year is right around the corner and the cold dark weather is such an invitation to turn within. We can reflect on what we want to let go of, as well as what we want to cultivate for 2012. I took a class from Adam Ballenger last week and he was talking about how important it is that we let go of things to make room for the many gifts that life is always giving us. We did lots of muscular energy drawing in from the periphery to the core for stability and inner spiral work on the back leg to keep the hips square, and drawing the waistline in. It was fun I think the students really enjoyed it.

It was really fun teaching like this, having a plan for three weeks. I teach multiple classes a week and I didn't teach the same class twice. But I did use the same apex pose and same antidote of the Virabhadra myth. For more advanced classes I made them work harder and pointed out more refinements and for more beginner or stiffer bodies classes we moved a little slower focusing more on the general shape of the pose.

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