YOLY Challenge #38: What Kind of Warrior Are You?

Last week I revisited the island of Oahu in Hawaii – a place I have held dearly in my heart since living there in the late eighties/early nineties.

During my trip, I was reacquainted with the ancientness of the land and its rich beauty. Despite the fact that there were more high rises and roads than I remembered, the nature of the people on the island was just as dynamic and compassionate as years gone by. hawaii-1427662__340

The root of these virtues can be traced back to the Polynesian heritage of the Hawaiians. A prime example is the ancient culture of Samoa. Its foundation was centered around the principle of vāfealoa’i, the relationships between people. These relationships were based on respect, or fa’aaloalo.  This sense of respect continues today in the way the islanders show admiration for their land with all its gifts and the kind treatment they bestow on each other.

As ancient warriors, Hawaiians valued compassion as well as powerfulness. The most revered chiefs were those that held the wisdom of healing in as much esteem as the knowledge of war. This balance between power and humanity was their most treasured quality and has been carried down to the present time.

Your challenge this week is to evoke the ideal warrior character in yourself. To master the art of inner peace while practicing the robust qualities associated with Virabhadrasana or Warrior I.

Points of Action for Virabhadrasana I

  • Bend the forward leg deeply while keeping the knee aligned with the ankleyoga-241614__180
  • Extend the back leg strongly, pressing into the outer heel to secure your base
  • Lift the torso firmly, drawing upward from both sides of the chest
  • Draw the upper back forward, extending the sternum proudly
  • Rotate the upper arms externally to fully project the arms upwards

There can be conflict within this pose as you experience extension vs compression, twisting vs backbending and internal vs external rotation. However, the non-harming nature of yoga should lend a peacefulness to this fierceness. In order to balance the two qualities, locate within yourself a sense of triumph for the spirit within – be mindful that the breath is your support as you yield to the true warrior who is both harmonious and powerful.


(If you are new to the site, here is where we began our quest for a Year of Living Yogically!)




It’s Hip To Be Square!

In our premier Friday Focus we learned a trick for straightening our Triangle pose. Today, we will delve into what makes a triumphant Warrior by concentrating on the hips.

In order to obtain balance in many yoga postures, it is useful to learn to square the hips.  Although this sounds very geometric, we are, after all, human in shape.  Therefore, we should remember that our bodies are variable and that some hips may never be perfectly “squared”.  But, as often occurs in the practice of yoga, we can apply modifications of the poses to work toward our intentions.  So, let’s look to these variations of Virabhadrasana I or Warrior I Pose as we learn to level our hips.

Since this is a balancing pose, we will begin by grounding.  Find a comfortable Uttanasana (forward bend) and keep the knees soft. img_1343Feel the feet root into the mat. I teach this as a preparation for Warrior I because it allows beginners to maintain contact with the floor for balance.

As you slowly begin to lift the leg, the tendency may be for your hip to rotate externally. This variation actually permits you to monitor the rotation of your lifted leg hip. Look back at your lifted foot. You will know rotation has occurred if you see the toes pointing outward. img_1344

Redirect the rotation of the foot so that the toes of the lifted leg point more downward. Then you will know that the hip is moving back toward neutral.img_1346

And, finally, using a chair for balance can give you more time in the posture to continue to work on the position of your hips.  img_1321

When the hips are level or square, Warrior I is much more accessible and true to form!

As a side note, I am very lucky to have my daughter, Valerie, home early for the holidays, as my model this week!