Side view of Virabhadrasana I
|English name(s)||Virabhadrasana I
Warrior Pose I
|Sanskrit||वीरभद्रासन / Vīrabhadrāsana|
|dṛṣṭi (eye focus)||Hastagrahe dṛṣṭi (to palm)|
|Asana type||Standing Asanas|
|Muscles stretched||Latissimus dorsi, pectoralis major, pectoralis minor, anterior neck
Back Leg: psoas major, Iliacus
|Muscles working||Spinal extensors,
legs: hamstrings and quadriceps.
The myth is that the powerful priest Daksha made a great yagna (ritual sacrifice) but did not invite his youngest daughter Sati and her husband Shiva, the supreme ruler of the universe. Sati found out and decided to go alone to the yagna. When she arrived, Sati entered into an argument with her father. Unable to withstand his insults, she spoke a vow to her father, “Since it was you who gave me this body, I no longer wish to be associated with it.” She walked to the fire and threw herself in. When Shiva heard of Sati’s death, he was devastated. He yanked out a lock of his hair and beat it into the ground, where up rose a powerful Warrior. Shiva named this warrior Virabhadra. Vira (hero) + Bhadra (friend) and ordered him to go to the yagna and destroy Daksha and all his guests.
- Virabhadra's first aspect, (Vīrabhadrāsana I) is his arrival, with swords in both hands, thrusting his way up through the earth from below.
- In his second aspect, (Vīrabhadrāsana II) he sights his opponent, Daksha.
- And in his third aspect (Vīrabhadrāsana III), moving swiftly and precisely, he decapitates Daksha with his sword.
Shiva then arrives at the yagna and sees the rout that Virabhadra had wrought. Shiva absorbs Virabhadra back into his own form and then transforms into Hara, the ravisher. Filled with sorrow and compassion, Shiva finds Daksha’s body and gives it the head of a goat, which brings him back to life. In the end Sati is also reborn.
- Starting from Tāḍāsana
- The arms are stretched up, palm touching.
- Inhaling spread the legs sideways by jumping or stepping, creating a gap of 2/3 body height.
- Exhaling turn the trunk facing to the left while rotating the left foot 90° so it faces forward and the right foot so it points slightly to the right
- Bend the left knee till the thigh is parallel to the floor, avoid extending the bent knee past the ankle and keeping the other leg straight.
- Stretch the right leg, with the knee locked.
- The head, chest, left knee and left foot should be aligned facing forward.
- The head should be bent back and up with the eyes facing the hands.
- Hold the asana from one to four breaths.
- Return to Step 4 repeat on the other side.
- Finally exhale and jump into Tāḍāsana.
Use of bandhas increase the stability of the body in this asana. Both mula bandha (root lock) and uddiyana bandha (abdominal lock) should be engaged. This creates an axial extension in the spine which assists in supporting in the torso as the chest is brought up and back.
There are two ways to deepen the asana:
- To decrease the lateral distance between the feet and
- To increase the size of the stride.
While the center of mass becomes lower, the base of support is reduced and it becomes increasingly more difficult to maintain balance and the correct posture.
- Strengthens and stabilizes the muscles of the feet and knees, also strengthens the shoulders, arms, and the back.
- Stretches the hip flexors and calf muscles.
- Improves balance and concentration.
Contraindications and obstacles
This asana may be counter-indicated for practitioners who have a weak heart. Other obstacles are:
- Tight latissimus
As the gap between the legs increases, other problems may present:
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