Underlying each yoga asana a story can be found. Some of these stories are ancient myths that can reflect to us our own deepest drives, obstacles and desires. These myths can give us a greater incite into the deeper layers of the practice that involve us questioning life & trying to understand it off the mat.
The origin of the warrior poses, Virabhadrasana I, II and III comes from an ancient story of Lord Shiva. You might ask how does a warrior pose have place in a practice built on love & peace? Well, the myth is a story of love, attachment, pride, shame, vengeance, violence, sadness, compassion and renunciation.
Lord Shiva was married to his beloved Sati and lived in the pleasure city, Bhoga which he had created. Sati’s father Daksha, had never approved of his daughter’s marriage to Siva whose habits included befriending ghouls, draping himself in serpents & spending much if his time dancing around cremation grounds. He was not a worthy husband for his daughter.
To show his disapproval of their marriage, Daksa organized a great party, inviting all the members of the entire heavenly realm. All, except Shiva and Sati. Sati was hurt by her father’s refusal to acknowledge her marriage so she decided to go alone to the party to confront him. When she arrived, her father asked her why she was there, as she was not invited. All the guests present laughed. Sati began defending her husband and their love but to no avail. Sati was humiliated by this public argument with her father & pledge to break all ties to the family. These extended to the physical body her parents had given her. She summoned up her strength, walked past her father and sat in a meditative seat on the ground. Closing her eyes, Sati fell into a mystic trance. Going deep within herself she began to increase her own inner fire until her body burst into flames.
As the news of Sati’s death reached Shiva, he was filled with rage. He tore one of his dreadlocks form his heair & threw it to the Erath. The lock of hair transformed into the great warrior Virabhadra. Vira (hero)+ Bhadra (friend). This is depicted by the first posture Virabhadrasana I as the lock of hair rises from the Earth into the warrior. As the warrior pulls his sword we come to our second posture (Virabradhasana II.) With one swing of his sword the great warrior cuts off the head of Daksha and places it on a soit for all to see.
When Shiva arrives to see the work of his warrior he is filled with sorrow and regret. His compassion moves him to forgive Daksha and bring him back to life by commanding Virabadhra to replace the fallen head with that of a goat, therefore bringing Daksha back to life. Lucky Daksha hey!
The meaning of this story
On the surface, we could say it’s a story teaching us not act in a judgemental and mocking way like Dasksha had. The deeper meaning is to look at the story as a metaphor of our own inner consciousness. Shiva is the Higher Self who destroys the prideful ego, (Daksha), for the sake of love, (Sati). Through means of infinite compassion, the higher Self forgives the ego and allows it opportunity to transform.
Take It To The Mat
The great epic tales of Yoga give a new layer of understanding to our practice. While in the postures you can evoke these aspects and ‘feel’ the postures in an entirely different way. I want you to look at the alignment of the 3-warrior asana & as you practice them try to embody this great myth.
Rise from the Earth and transform from lifeless hair to a great & powerful warrior.
Draw your sword, open your heart and be ready to defend the higher self from the onslaught of the Ego-ic mind.
After the destruction, we reincarnate. Forgiving ourselves, forgiving the Ego, we place a new head on top of the body and transform.
Peace & Love