Yoga's Warrior Poses and Their Benefits
Yoga is a complex combination of art and science which in itself has been an advocate of a way of life for centuries today. This tradition is based on the practice of several easy and complex postures known as asanas. Amongst these poses, there are various levels of difficulty and yoga practitioners who choose the ones based on their own level of expertise. Although all asanas have numerous benefits, one particular asana that is very important is the Virabhadrasana or warrior pose. The name Virabhadrasana is selected on the basis of a warrior who was the reincarnation of the Indian God Shiva, and when performed created the image of a warrior ready to fight. However, there is no element of physical fighting involved during the practice of this asana as yoga's most basic constituent is to promote peace. This asana does however does encourage the yogi to combat the inner fears and rise above them. This asana has three levels of complexity and is there divided divided beginners, intermediate and advanced yogis.
Warrior I: The most basic warrior pose, it is performed by standing in the mountain pose and then extending the left foot behind the right foot at a 45 degree angle. The arms are raised upwards and the shoulders and hips are facing forward. The primary focus is to keep the shoulders down and away from the neck while practicing repeated breathing and channeling the energy inwards. This posture is very challenging for beginners, as it is hard to keep the back foot flat on the ground during this asana. So some teachers allow a few configurations before command is gained over the pose.
Benefits: Warrior I Strengthens the chest, arms, legs, hips, shoulders and back. It also stretches the chest lungs, abdomen and groins. It is also a great way of reducing sciatic pain substantially.
Warrior II: The intermediate level of the warrior poses, II is performed with the legwork similar to I, but the arms are extended out parallel to the floor in opposite direction to each other. The shoulders stay directly over the pelvis and the torso is kept completely straight. Beginners of warrior II are trained to reduce the distance between the legs to gain mastery of the asana before increasing it to the maximum.
Benefits : In addition to strengthening the shoulders, arms, thighs, hips and legs, it also improves balance, endurance, concentration and stamina. This is very helpful in relieving lower back ache during pregnancy, especially in the second trimester. Warrior II also stimulates and improves the workings of the digestive and other abdominal organs.
Warrior III : The most advanced of the warrior poses; this asana requires balancing on one leg. The other is extended backwards and raised up to the level of the torso while bending the torso forward in order to attain a straight line from toe to head. The arms are kept straight at the side, parallel to the torso. This posture requires a great deal of practice and concentration to achieve, and is not recommended for beginners at all.
Benefits : Warrior III develops the sense of concentration and inner awareness. It helps to improve memory, posture, balance and total body synchronization. It also calms stress and anxiety and helps to sooth the entire mind and nervous system. In addition it also strengthens and stretches the legs, hamstrings, back, shoulder, hips and chest.
The three variations of the warrior pose when mastered can prove to be a great asset to any yogi's rule.