As a lifelong worrier, I have definitely NOT connected to my inner warrior until the last couple of years. What? A yoga blog about being a warrior? Aren’t yogis supposed to be peaceful and practice ahimsa (non-violence)? We are, and yes, we do practice non-violence on and off the mat. So what does shifting from a chronic worrier to a peaceful warrior look like, and what are the benefits? Let’s explore.
There are seemingly many things in this life about which to worry: homes, families, relationships, careers, food, clothing, health, burning that bread in the oven, and the list goes on eternally. I think worrying must be in my DNA since when I became aware of my habit I began noticing how much everyone in my family focused on worrying rather than embracing. I realized I often did (and sometimes still do) the same. One day I realized I was tormenting myself with disturbing thoughts of what could happen and I was a textbook-case worrier. I decided that even as strong as I thought my faith had always been, it wasn’t as strong as my worrying! Faith and fear simply don’t go together. Not to mention the time I was spending on worry, I was not spending on awareness, experience, and in peace. Worry began to affect me physically.
How did I overcome this habit? By not fighting it, and rather giving it less chance to manifest by carving new pathways, new habits—changing perspective. Swami Satchidananda teaches in The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali that “Pleasure and pain are but the outcome of your approach” (commentary for Sutra 2.15). I had to let go of my own avidya, or ignorance and begin detaching from the outcomes of situations beyond my control or of a temporary nature. Once I did this, I began experiencing more pleasure, more joy in my life. So less worry equals more love, more experience, and more freedom.
There is one pose that I find myself doing often when I need to feel strong, sturdy, or even offer gratitude for victories of a spiritual and emotional nature. Actually, it isn’t just a pose, but a series of poses—the Warrior Series. Virabhadrasana or Warrior pose has many benefits anatomically as well as, for me, spiritually. Sometimes I use Virabhadrasana II when I need to feel strong as I focus on a goal or path ahead of me. Sometimes I use Virabhadrasana III when I need to feel strong AND balanced. When I want to open my heart or lift my eyes towards heaven, my go to posture is Virabhadrasana I, sometimes with arms outstretched or even Eagle arms. When I’m feeling particularly victorious or joyful (or need to feel this way), I will exalt my Warrior, opening the side body, chest, and heart while energizing the whole body.
Spiritually, Warrior pose is an outward symbol of an inward condition we either possess or are working towards cultivating in our lives. This is true with every asana. The Warrior poses can be physically challenging when practiced with full awareness of the physical, mental, and spiritual alignments that occur as a result of practicing these postures. By cultivating the strength to let go of attachments to the impermanent or painful, we carve new paths, new perspectives. By finding the grace in the space between reaching forward, looking back, and just living in the present, we experience life with ALL of our being. By balancing our weight on one foot, we learn to stand with strength upon whatever ground is beneath us and look forward with unbreakable focus.
Children love the Warrior poses for the same reasons, only with different levels of awareness. They like to feel strong, powerful, joyful, focused and balanced. At Kidding Around Yoga, we teach these postures in a way that encourages connection to those peaceful inner ways of being rather than external violence. Plus Warrior poses are really great to work into yoga stories! Come learn how to share these ideas and MORE at one of our in-person trainings or even from your own home with our Online Training.
Are you a worrier or a WARRIOR? As a mom of one with another on the way very soon, I make the conscious choice every day not to allow room for worry in my life. It doesn’t always work, that’s why we get to start over with each breath and each moment. I challenge you to try a Warrior pose or series in the morning or before facing a challenge (even if it’s a mental pose) and teach your children to do the same. Let’s raise a generation of Peaceful Warriors on the inside and out!
“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” –Ralph Waldo Emerson