At the Autumn Equinox day and night are once again in equal balance, and with the Harvest Moon we celebrate the Earth’s abundant provision for our survival through the colder, harsher days and months to come. After this celebration, the journey into winter begins as dark starts to conquer light, the days shorten and nights lengthen. To mark this point in the Wheel of the Year I was moved to focus on Virabhadrasana II.
Virabhadra is a warrior from Indian mythology, and we may take an awareness of that – and an inspiration – into our practice of this dynamic pose. One of three ‘warrior’ asanas, this standing posture builds stamina and brings energy and heat to the body. With a focused intent we can work on it and in it to build our physical strength and mental resources to face the challenges that deep winter may bring.
- Improves stamina, posture and balance.
- Strengthens legs, feet and ankles and helps correct fallen arches.
- Opens the chest and shoulders and firms the arms.
- Tones abdominal muscles and organs.
- Neck problems: keep looking straight ahead throughout the pose.
- High blood pressure: keep the arms down – try hands on the hips instead.
- Pregnancy/back problems: step the feet apart to start – don’t jump.
- Stand in Tadasana (feet together).
- On an exhalation, jump or step the feet 4ft or so apart and stretch the arms to the side, palms down.
- Turn the left foot and leg in slightly (about 15 degrees) and the whole right foot and leg out 90 degrees. Right heel in line with the left instep.
- On an exhalation, bend the right leg down to a right angle – keep the trunk upright.
- Press both the back foot and front foot down firmly to ground the posture.
- Relax the arms and shoulders while actively stretching them away from each other. Keep the wrists straight, fingers together.
- Turn the neck and head to look along the front arm with a relaxed gaze.
- Hold for 20-30 seconds, breathing evenly.
- Come up on an inhalation pressing the back foot down.
- Repeat to the other side.
- For full benefit, repeat the pose twice on each side.
Work and Care in the Practice:
- Keep the bent knee in line with (above) the heel, and ensure it does not extend beyond the ankle to avoid pressure on the knee.
- The shin bone should be perpendicular to the floor – ensure the feet are wide enough to achieve this.
- The front thigh should be parallel to the floor, so forming the right angle.
- Take care not to tighten the shoulders, but rather draw them down away from the ears and lengthen from shoulder to fingertips.