In the light of Virabhadrasana 1

One of the little games I play in my mind is guessing the sequence or approach to the weekly classes. Generally, the pattern is standing asanas for the first week, forward extensions for the second, backbends for the third and prepping for pranayama in the last. Every class surprises me with the difference in treatment. The set of asanas in the syllabus is the same yet the sequencing or the method of exploring it is so dramatically different!

Today’s asana was virabhadrasana 1 and a phrase by our teacher, ‘in the light of Virabhadrasana 1‘ was very illuminating (couldn’t resist the pun)! 😊

Bhujagansana provided the direction of study while the usual trio of Trikonasana, Virabhadrasana 2 and Parsvakonasana provided the exploration. It is a strenuous pose and one that I have just started intensifying my efforts in as the knee feels stronger. End of the class, I was left with a similar sense of light like after a backbends class.

Image from the Preliminary Course book

The symbolism of Virabhadra is interesting, or maybe I am just fascinated with the Puranas. Virabhadra was born of a strand of Lord Shiva’s hair in his raging sorrow at losing his beloved Sati. His sole purpose of coming into existence was to destroy Daksha’s yagna. Three eyed, powerful and with a burning goal, he was a fierce warrior, giving rise to the name of the asana, Virabhadrasana or Warrior pose. The English version is a dilute translation of the Sanskrit name which is so rich in its imagery. Such was his power that even Vishnu could not subdue him with his Sudarshan chakra! He was accompanied by Bhadrakaali, the feminine form of the Devi’s wrath. The principle of destruction is an essential aspect of any transformation and we see it in the story of Daksha as well. Yet, there is redemption for the arrogant Daksha in the end when his head is replaced. Energy can neither be created, nor destroyed. It can only be transformed. School book science echoes elemental truths brought out in the tapestry like texture of our myths.

The name of the asana is significant in its symbolism, painting the principles of bravery, singleminded focus and complete devotion. Karma, jnana and bhakti all in one. Quite like the benefits the pose offers too. There was a brief moment towards the end of the multiple repetitions of the asana that I sensed the solid strength and stability of the earth element. In the preliminary course book, this asana is said to ignite the fire of will power. I’m guessing that in time there would be a touch of all elements in harmony in the same pose. Perhaps, some day when prayatna shaithilyatha manifests itself in the asana for me, I may channel the brilliance of the inner Virabhadra. 

In gratitude

Hari Om

6 thoughts on “In the light of Virabhadrasana 1

  1. wonderful thoughtful post, as always. thank you Sonia.
    prayatna shaithilya is an idea that’s fascinating me at the moment. I’ve also been thinking about the symbolism of the warrior poses and recently read the story for the first time of Virabhadra. I love your idea of jñana, karma and bhakti all encompassed in a warrior pose. The dedication, curiosity and humility I read in your posts always inspires me. grateful to you. x

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Is this picture from the Satyananda Book “Asana, Pranayama, Mudra, Bandha”? I am very interested in finding this posture inside the Satyananda Yoga Tradition…


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