Virabhadrasana III is also known as the warrior three asana.
There are three variations of the warrior pose, and each is as strong and powerful as their namesake, Virabhadra, who had a thousand heads, a thousand eyes, a thousand feet and wore tiger skin (I would imagine he was a also quite a handsome chap… not).
Hindu mythology states that he was born from a lock of Shiva’s hair and was commanded to lead Lord Shiva’s army. Shiva sent Virabhadra to appease the death of Lord Shiva’s consort Sati (who had died fighting for Shiva’s honor), destroy disrespectful worshippers and instill harmony once again.
I find that students usually get the gist of the powerful virabhadrasana pose once I have relayed the tale of the powerful Virabhadra.
The physical strength that you gain from this posture is predominately focused on the legs and ankles but I also think that the transference of body weight in this posture is important.
It allows you to feel more comfortable in your body and teaches you how to move your body mass skillfully, which is one of the factors that can save you from taking serious falls.
I have mentioned the centre axis in the body a few times over the last few months and again it is one of the key focal points when practicing warrior three.
So I will repeat my explanation again: Keep your middle axis point or vertical axis point, in mind. This is the point that runs from the top of the head through the centre of the body and between the legs. You will find that your balance wobbles will reduce, if you can keep strong awareness of your centre line.
The benefits of virabhadrasana include strengthening the ankles and legs; strengthening the shoulders and the muscles on the back; toning the abs; and improving balance and posture.
Here are the steps to becoming your own wrathful one leg balancing warrior:
Start with your right foot pointing straight ahead inhale and rise your hands above your head. Exhale and lean your torso forward and put a bend in your right knee, being sure to keep the knee from going over the ankle.
Keep your eyes on a fixed position and transfer your weight onto your right foot, leaning your body and outstretched arms over your right leg, allowing the left foot to lift off of the floor (see photo one).
As you feel more comfortable with the posture and your balance start to straighten the right leg and lean further forward. If you are feeling a little unstable you can use a chair to stabilise your balance (see photo two).
Your aim is to have your torso parallel with the floor, your leg straight and a steady hold maintained with steady breath for about 30 seconds to 1 minute (see photo three). Keep a steady breath cycle whilst holding the balance.
Repeat on the left.
Have a happy stretching in 2013!
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