Virabhadrasana (Warrior) I, II and III
In Myths of the Asanas by Alanna Kaivalya & Arjuna van der Kooij, the mythology behind the warrior poses I, II and III is described quite poetically. I’ll give you the abbreviated version.
Sati was very much in love with Shiva and wanted to marry him. Shiva was not Sati’s father, Daksha’s, idea of good husband material, what with his dreadlocks, being covered in ash, his skimpy clothing, and generally wild ways. Sati married him anyway.
Daksha threw several grand parties and didn’t invite Shiva to any of them. Shiva barely noticed this, but it was very hurtful to Sati. The third time it happened she was so upset that she spontaneously combusted right in front of her father. Sati’s destruction was instantly felt by Shiva, who ripped one of his dreadlocks from his head and threw it to the ground. It was transformed into Virabhadra, the greatest warrior and rose out of the ground with arms stretched overhead (warrior I) in front of Daksha. Virabhadra drew a sword and extended it toward Daksha (Warrior II) and cut off his head. Virabhadra then reached forward (Warrior III) and placed the head on a stake.
As it is with Gods and Goddesses, Sati instantly reincarnated and scolded Shiva for killing her father, asking “do you really think this will make him accept you?” Shiva hadn’t really thought of that or how Sati would feel- he hadn’t really thought at all. Sati told him he had better fix it. Shiva saw that he could not reattach Daksha’s head, so he took the head of a goat and attached it to Daksha’s body. Daksha was so happy to be alive that he forgave Shiva and saw the error of his own ways in not accepting the man that his daughter loved.
The lesson? There are two lessons from this story. One is the lesson from Daksha. It isn’t always easy to be happy for someone. We need to get our own judgments and beliefs out of the way sometimes and just accept that another person is happy in whatever situation they’re in, no matter what we think.
The second lesson is from Shiva. It’s not easy being a warrior- especially one with a reactive mind. When we do react without thinking, there’s always an opportunity to make things right. We need to be brave and humble warriors to admit our mistakes and fix things.
Virabhadrasana II is done with a wide stance, open hips and arms extended over the legs. The shoulders relax away from the ears as if resting on a mantle. The quadriceps, hamstrings and glutes work to stabilize the hips and legs as the posture is held. Eventually the front thigh parallels the floor. Extend the spine upward even as you sink into the hips. Press the back foot into the floor and let your drishti, or gaze, fall over the front middle finger. Be a warrior.