Stiff yoga guide: Virabhadrasana A & B

I suppose I’ve sort of touched on parts of these poses during the Surya B entry early on in this series. But let’s see what we might be doing a little differently during these poses.

(I suppose there’s also this for a guide, if you’re into that sort of thing.)

And my disclaimer: These are tweaks I’m making, drawn from any number of Ashtanga teachers’ suggested modifications, as I try to find the fundamentals of the practice and maybe loosen up my hamstrings, among other parts, in the process.

So. The Warriors.

Well, do you start off after shooting back from Utkatasana? That’s a dynamic way to start, but as I noted in my last “stiff yoga” post, holding plank for a breath/second after just stepping back can work your arms and shoulders more (theoretically more of a concern for the target audience of these posts), and when you get to Warrior I, that strain/effort may continue.

There’s something to be said for each way, I guess I mean.

First thing with Warrior I, of course, is that by now — versus that Surya B — one ought to be a bit warmer and be able to settle down into the pose a bit more. Front thigh parallel to the floor, right? It isn’t impossible. For the stiffer, it is probably a worthwhile aspect of the pose to think about, one that is “attainable” — to put quotes around that word to forestall any responses to its use. You know what I mean.

I find — speaking from the stiff POV — that ensuring my torso is facing forward can be a challenge. Something more to think about. As is trying to get the arms straight. (I’m pretty sure this is the first pose in which Tim Miller said to me: “This isn’t Egyptian yoga.”)

That might be my tristana for this pose: focus on the front thigh, trying to keep the arms straight and shifting the torso forward.

It’s also quite the hip check at this point. I think I’ve determined, after years of this yoga thing, that the hips are one of those sneaky “I didn’t have any idea I could be stiff there” places. If you are stiff, it’ll come through like this: a twinge right at the crease where you leg hits your hip. A wonderful additional stiff spot to add to the list.

I suppose, after Warrior I, that Warrior II feels like a bit of a relief. But it only feels that way, because chances are your arms — straight out front and back, of course — aren’t as straight or parallel to the ground as you think. They may be off-kilter in any number of directions, up or down, left or right. And there needs to be some strength in them — I’ve had teachers push down gently to make sure enough “energy” is happening.

This pose is one — as, sigh, all seem to be — to think about Mula Bandha. And to breath into your upper chest, expanding front, sides, back. I’d say that proper breath is a good thing to focus on here.

Do you want to come out of the pose the fancy, legs flying way? Give it a go. I know some people worry that, because you only do it on one side, it leaves you a little unbalanced.

But who said unbalanced is bad?

Posted by Steve

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Two Ashtangis write about their practice and their teachers.

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