Strengthen Your Body And Mind With The Virabhadrasana Series
Strength and stability are qualities that we can all aspire towards cultivating in our lives, both on a physical and on an emotional level. I know that when I am feeling strong and stable, both physically and emotionally, I am more grounded and confident in the way I interact with the world around me.
If someone were to ask me which yoga poses I recommend for cultivating strength and stability in both body and mind, I would have to say the Virabhadrasana series!
The Virabhadrasana, or ‘Warrior poses’, are a series of yoga asana, that embody the many positive qualities often associated with a warrior. Internally a warrior maintains strength, stability, determination and tenaciousness, yet externally they reflect qualities of calm, confidence, peace and tranquillity.
The series all start from a lunge position. The front knee is bent and the foot is positioned at a 90-degree angle, and the back foot extended fully behind you and turned out at a 45-degree angle. Your hips are aligned with your heels, and the muscles of your core are engaged. From here you move through the series:
The Warrior I
Lunging as low as is comfortable, making sure the knee doesn't extend over the foot, raise your arms over your head with the palms facing or touching.
Physical Benefits: Warrior 1 works to strengthen the muscles of your feet, ankles, hamstrings, quadriceps and glutes as you hold the static lunge position, working to lower your hips towards the floor. This not only works to engage and strengthen your legs and glutes, it also facilitates an internal rotation of the front leg to open up through your hips. Your shoulders and arms are engaged as you lift up through your torso and open your chest.
Mental Benefits: This asana requires total body awareness and coordination, with the feet stretched wide apart and in opposite directions. The arms, shoulders and torso are fully engaged, expanding this body awareness out in all directions.
Emotional Benefits: Emotionally this pose is all about opening your heart and facing the world around you. For those of us that are a little shy or introverted by nature, this pose can help cultivate confidence, courage and emotional strength.
The Warrior II
In this pose the arms are separated outwards, at shoulder level, palms facing down as you gaze out and over your forward-facing arm.
Physical benefits: As with Warrior I, this pose works all the primary muscles in your body, with an increased focus through the chest, shoulders and arms. Warrior II is excellent for cultivating physical endurance as the asana is often held and repeated. It is a strong asana, yet when practised with the proper alignment, it places little pressure on the joints, and poes little risk.
Mental benefits: This practice is excellent for working on mental endurance and integrity as you move beyond the resistance of the mind and persevere in holding this powerful, lunging stance.
Emotional Benefits: On an emotional level, this pose offers an opportunity to cultivate peace and acceptance within the moment. I find that when I hold this pose for some time, my mind often wants to wander away from the physical challenge and discomfort, and distract myself with other thoughts, so there is an element of consciously drawing it back into the present moment.
The Warrior III
For this posture, your arms return to stage 1, up alongside your head, and the weight is pivoted onto the forward leg as the back leg is lifted up and back. This forms a straight line from your hands to your feet as your arms, as your torso and legs become parallel to the ground.
Physical benefits: This pose is all about balance and stability and works to tone and strengthen your entire core. Trust me, you will feel your glutes and shoulders as they work to keep your arms and leg raised in this position!
Mental benefits: This practice is challenging, and requires focused attention on letting go of any mental resistance to the physical discomfort that comes with maintaining this pose. You may find some days, that your balance isn't quite there, but for me, this has a lot to do with this mental resistance. So keep at it! This is an excellent practice for cultivating that strength and stability of your body and mind!
Emotional Benefits: This posture encourages us to cultivate balance on an emotional level. You may notice your mind wanting to resist the pose, and give up as it can be quite challenging. However, becoming aware of this reaction helps build more emotional stability, encouraging us to become more aware of how our emotions might affect us.
About the Author:
Hannah is an Australian born writer who specializes in Fitness, Nutrition, & Spirituality. She holds a degree in social science, a diploma in Health Science and a diploma in Yogic Studies and Teaching. Hannah is certified yoga instructor and personal trainer with over 10 years experience .