The Warrior poses are a staple in nearly every yoga class I teach. I love teaching them as transitions, building blocks for other postures, or I’ll focus my class on one of them. There’s nothing like staying in a Warrior pose for a minute. You’ll be sweating bullets, your shoulders and legs will be screaming at you, and you will learn quickly to focus on your breath.
When done correctly, these poses can be very transformative in both your physical and mental yoga practice. Lately, I’ve been weaving in the story of the Warrior poses in my classes as they transition through the poses. If you don’t know the tale, read on! You’ll never do a Warrior pose the same way again.
This is a story of love, hate, sadness, pride, vengeance, violence, compassion, and transformation.
The story centers around a powerful priest named Daksha; Daksha’s daughter, Sati; and Sati’s husband, Shiva. Let me start off by saying Daksha doesn’t like Shiva, and doesn’t approve of the marriage between Shiva and Sati. Shiva is a free spirit, has long matted dreadlocks, consumes intoxicants of sorts, sings and dances whenever he pleases, and as far as Daksha is concerned, not a worthy husband for his daughter.
It begins with Daksha having a huge party, ok really it’s a sacrifice, but a party sounds WAY more fun. Sati’s invitation must’ve got lost in the mail, because she and Shiva weren’t invited. Not wanting to miss out on a good time, Sati decides to go to the party anyway, alone.
Upon her arrival, Sati and Daksha get into a huge argument that ends with Sati speaking a vow to her father “Since it was you who gave me this body I no longer wish to be associated with it.” Annnnd with that, she throws herself into the fire. I’m sure I could find a better solution than death, but what’s done is done.
Enraged with the news of Sati’s death, Shiva tore out a lock of his hair, beat it into the earth, and from it arose a fierce warrior he named Virabhadra. Shiva sent Virabhadra to the party to destroy Daksha.
In Virabhadra’s first act, he arrives at the party thrusting his way up from the earth, with both swords in hand.
In his second act, Virabhadra sets his sights on Daksha.
And in his third and final act, Virabhadra moves forward swiftly and with both swords he decapitates Daksha.
When Shiva arrives at Daksha’s place, he absorbs Virabhadra back into his own form and gives Daksha the head of a goat, because that’s the only the logical thing to do.
Next time you’re going through Warrior I, II or III, channel your inner Virabhadra. Your posture will thank you.