SmartMat Pose of the Week – Warrior II
Even if you don’t practice Yoga regularly, you’d still recognize Warrior II Pose, also known as Virabhadrasana II. This classic pose is strong and powerful looking, and embodies a feeling of overall confidence making it a favorite for magazine covers, instagram shots, and beyond.
But go a layer deeper than just looks, and Warrior II also holds the potential to affect a person’s sense of inner power too. Warrior II is named after Virabhadra, a super-human warrior made from a lock of Shiva’s hair. Shiva represents unmanifest power, and Virabhadra gives Shiva the form he needs to fight in an epic battle to avenge a lost consort.
What this story teaches us modern day Yogis about is how to direct our inner wisdom and passion into thoughtful, meaningful action (not emotional, reactive behavior) so we can use our inner power wisely and with discernment.
Since living with such restrained passion and vibrant conviction can feel like a tall order for us humans sometimes, we can use a pose like Warrior II to practice the stance of confidence, bravery, and strength in our bodies until our minds feel strong enough to hold that energy too! (Minds are very impressionable, and the body’s stance can be a great persuader in changing our moods and mind states!)
A Strong Warrior Needs a Firm Ground
One of the most pronounced characteristics of Warrior II is that beautiful wide stance in the legs, indicating the yogi’s ability to proudly take up space and stand his/her ground. Done correctly, the stance activates all the leg muscles and establishes a strong connection with the earth beneath your feet. The legs act as energy channels bringing the grounded energy of the base up into the pelvis and even into the upper body and out the arms.
It’s as if the yogi becomes a channel, a conduit, for a greater power source to move through them. But in order for this energy channel of the legs to remain unblocked, we need to make sure the knee alignment is correct in the front leg.
Many of us have a tendency to let the front knee collapse a little towards the inside edge of the foot because we have a weak inner quadricep. (The outer quadricep tends to be a lot stronger for many practitioners.) It might look something like this:
Do this often enough, and you can start to wear down the cartilage behind the knee cap and destabilize the joint. Chronic knee pain anyone? No, thank you.
A proper stance will have the front knee track directly forward until the center of the knee cap is lined up with the second toe. It will look more like this:
Please note you make this adjustment not by turning the front foot outward, but by pressing the outer edge of the front knee towards the outside edge of your foot until the kneecap hits center point.
With Smartmat, you can gauge when you’ve hit optimal alignment by noticing when all four corners of the front foot are holding equal weight and the foot is pointing directly ahead. Once there, lock it in and keep breathing. Start channeling the energy up your legs, into the upper body; and imagine it traveling out through the tips of your fingers with each exhalation. Watch the feeling of strength culminate inside.
A Good Warrior Challenges Patterns
Making this knee adjustment may not be the easiest, most natural adjustment for you to make. Your weaker leg muscles may resist. But a good warrior never rests on what’s comfortable or familiar. Instead he or she takes great care in mindfully choosing how to direct one’s energy for an intended purpose, just like Shiva did with Virabhadra.
When we take the time to pay attention to the small details like this, we slow down. We drop in. We show up more in the present moment. And the present moment is where our true power really lies. If you’re working on being more powerful, confident, or strong in your life – why not strike a pose, perhaps Warrior II, and get some practice?
You may just surprise yourself. You’re probably stronger than you think!