The warrior poses are beautiful and challenging named after the mythical Hindu warrior Virabhadra. Practicing the three forms of virabhadrasana is about honoring the fight against our own ignorance and ego, and to cultivate the strength and courage to do the right thing in challenging situations.
The story goes like this. Shiva created the warrior Virabhadra to avenge the death of his beloved wife Sati (known as Shakti). Daksha, Sati's father, didn't approve of Sati's marriage to Shiva. One day Daksha decided to hold a festival at his home and didn't invite Shiva or Sati. His daughter was hurt by her father's action. Sati decided to go to the festival and confront her father. Daksha asked her why she came when she wasn't invited, or was it that she had finally come to her senses and left that "beast of a husband." His daughter was so upset and humiliated that she decided to take her own life. She does so by throwing herself into the sacrificial fires of the festival.
When Shiva heard of the news of his wife's death he was devastated, and then enraged. In anger, he torn out one of his dreadlocks and threw it to the ground. Virabhadra was created, springing up from the anger of Shiva. Virabhadra was a terrible being with a thousand arms, three eyes and a garland of skulls.
Shiva ordered Virabhadra, meaning auspicious hero" to kill the guests at the festival. Virabhadra did this and also cut off the head of Daksha.When Shiva saw the aftermath of this bloody battle, his anger left him and he felt remorse. The slain gods were miraculously healed and Shiva replaced Daksha's head with that of a goat. Daksha and the other gods honored Shiva calling him "Shankar," the kind and benevolent one.
The myths behind yoga poses are metaphors. In this case, Virabhadra can be seen as a metaphor for striving to overcome our own weaknesses. The growth of our "spiritual warrior" means we need to develop courage, unwavering focus and determination to deal with life's challenging moments. Warrior poses are about rising up out of your own ignorance. This is the path to self-realization and peace.
Mary Jane Kasliner
Feng Shui Yoga Girl: www.fengshuiyoganj.com