I am due to be assessed on my teaching in September and had to choose seven main asanas.
The first pose I chose was Warrior II. In a past life I was a journalist, a writer - and I love stories.
There are three Warrior poses with a fascinating story of love, hate, rage, violence, sadness, wrath, compassion and forgiveness.
It begins with the marriage between Lord Shiva and his bride Sati.
According to ancient texts, Sati’s father, the powerful King Daksha did not approve of their union.
Shiva was free spirit who loved to meditate and was the opposite of King Daksha who thrived on rules and regulations and was a preserver of traditional society.
After they were married, Sati left to live with Lord Shiva in the Pleasure City, Bhoga, on Mount Kailash.
Enraged by their union, King Daksha decided to hold a huge event known as a Yagna (a ritual sacrifice) to which he invited all heavenly creations, deities and dignitaries… with the exception of Shiva and Sati.
Sati was enraged at the snub and decided that she would go to the Yagna alone and confront her father.
Shiva, however, refused to go choosing instead to remain alone and meditate. Unfortunately, when Sati arrived the guests looked on and laughed at Sati as her father sniggered and mocked her new husband saying that he was a despicable character and asked if Shiva was also known as “the Lord of the Beasts”.
Sati was so angry at her father that she decided that she would sever all ties with him which also included the earthly body which he had given his daughter.
The story goes that Sati then sat down on the floor, went into a meditative trance and, by way of yogic exercises, began to increase her inner fire until such a point that she burst into flames and died.
Shiva soon heard the news of his wife’s violent death and became so enraged at his loss that he tore off his clothes and ripped out his jatars (his dreadlocks).
Legend has it that Shiva then picked up one of his jatars from the floor and threw it down to the earth to create “Virabhadra” (Vira meaning hero and Bhadra meaning friend).
Shiva then directed his warrior demon, Virabhadra, to go to the Yagna and kill everyone, behead King Daksha and drink his blood.
According to the ancient texts, Virabhadra entered the Yagna by thrusting his way up from deep underground with his sword held over his head in both hands – a feat re-enacted in the pose, Warrior 1.
Next, Virabhadra made his presence known by standing with his sword poised and ready to strike - Warrior II.
Finally, Virabhadra lidted his sword into the air, as instructed by Shiva and severed the head of King Daksha.
Shiva arrived at the Yagna and absorbed Virabhadra back into his body.
Seeing the death and destruction left behind, Shiva was no longer angry but filled with sadness.
Shiva then saught the headless body of the King and gave him a new head, one of a goat before bringing him back to life.
Daksha bowed to Shiva and called him the kind and benevolent one.
Shiva then picked up the remains of his wife's body and left to live in solitude.
This story is symbolic and can be viewed as Shiva (Virabhadrasana) representing the higher self doing battle with the arrogant ego (Daksha) in the name of love and the heart (Sati).
In this pose we are not celebrating a warrior who caused a scene of destruction and carnage.
Instead, in this posture, we acknowledge our own spiritual warriors who every day do battle with our own egos and avidya (self-ignorance) which is the ultimate source of all our suffering.
To practice WarriorII
Stand up straight in mountain, step feet three to four feet wide apart.
Raise arms parallel to floor, palms down.
Turn right foot in to right, left foot out to left 90 degrees.
Align left heel with right heel.
Bend left knee over left ankle.
Stretch arms parallel to floor.
Turn head to left, look over fingers.
Hold for five breaths.
Reverse feet and hold for a further five breaths.