A friend and colleague of mine recently died of cancer. She fought the disease for five years but her greatest victory was in overcoming fear. Although she was physically frail, spiritually she was a warrior. She watched her mind, alert to her thoughts – slaying the quick slippery anxious ones and creating a space for Mantra and Light. Her trusty weapons were humour, compassion and intelligence. She developed a certainty of the subtle and expansive reality she was moving toward and assured me that even when her body was in the greatest discomfort, she was all right. She chose to die while her closest friends were chanting for her in her room.
Observing her honesty, her inner strength and her ability to live out her choice to die consciously has shown me wisdom in action. By accepting life with all its changes and challenges, we too can prepare for this ultimate change from form into formlessness. We don’t have to wait for illness to remind us that life is short. We can act now.
Practising Virabhadrasana 2, or the Warrior 2 position, is a great opportunity for dynamic reflection. Virabhadra was a fierce warrior born from a hair off Siva’s head. Siva, the compassionate Lord who destroys obstacles, focused his Divine power into creating Virabhadra to achieve certain goals and defeat enemies. We can follow this example and practise manifesting our warrior power to gain knowledge and to overcome obstacles such as complacency and self-centredness, in order to serve our highest purpose.
In the pose, we stand centred, while stretching back to the past and forward into the future. The Warrior 2 demands being fully present in the moment – the torso of the body remaining aligned and upright. At the same time we stretch back behind us to recognize the strength we have gained from the past. All of our experiences provide a foundation and anchor for action. If we have learned from the past, we can recognize more options and choose wisely, which will lead to a different future.
In the Warrior 2, we look ahead and can ask such questions as: What is the vision for my life? What are the internal enemies that are obstacles to this vision? What are the tools or weapons arising from intelligence that will help me overcome the obstacles? Where do I want to go? What does victory look like for me?
These essential questions are often overlooked in our day-to-day routines. The Warrior awakens us to the immediacy of life with the goad of death challenging us to clarify the most pressing questions: What is the purpose of my life? Where am I going? How do I need to change in order to attain the victory of liberation?
how to do virabhadrasana 2 : the warrior 2
- Start in a standing forward bend.Work with warm-ups such as Cobbler (Baddhakonasana) and leg stretches (either at the wall or supine) to open the hips; and Eagle (Garudasana) and Cow Face (Gomukhasana) arms to open the chest and shoulders.
- Start in the Mountain pose (Tadasana), focusing on being centred before taking action. Keep this feeling of balance and uprightness, as you step your feet apart in a wide stance.
- Turn the right foot out to 90 degrees and the left in slightly, aligning the heel of the right foot with the instep of the left foot. Be aware of grounding your back foot to the floor, symbolically linking to your past learning.
- Lift your arms to shoulder height, stretching in both directions as if you’re extending beyond your usual boundaries. Then exhale, bend your right knee and turn your head to look over your outstretched hand. Keep the bent knee pointing straight ahead, with the torso as lengthened and centred as possible. Feel the dynamism as you hold the pose, gazing outward but also reflecting inward, looking forward but also connecting to the past, staying calm yet fully alert.
- To come out, straighten the right leg, turn the feet forward, relaxing the arms. Repeat the movement to the other side.
- Follow with a wide-legged standing forward bend, stretching from the hips. Then return to the stillness of the Mountain, observing the effect of the Warrior on your body and mind.
reflections While you are in the pose, ask yourself:
- What is the purpose of my life?
- What are the internal demons I need to overcome?
- What do I know from the past that can support me in my present position? What choices are before me now?
- What is my vision for the future? Take time to write your reflections, and then apply your insights to your life.