Tonic Toronto April 2008

Yoga Basics | Temmi Ungerman Sears, MA, ATR, OACCPP
Combat Your Sedentary Lifestyle: The Warrior Pose

As spring arrives with more sunshine and longer days, people come out from their indoor cocoons with renewed energy to exercise. These newly motivated enthusiasts are often called "weekend warriors", and discover that injuries occur after a long break from exercising.

Yoga teaches us how to approach our wellness safely by combining passion with moderation. Practicing the warrior poses (Virabhadrasana I, II and III) helps to combat winder's sedentary lifestyle while experiencing feelings of grounding, strength and a connection to something larger than oneself - the true objective of the yoga journey.

Virabhadrasana III is challenging and fun, as it demands complete concentration. It helps to tone the abdominal muscles, strengthens the leg muscles and is recommended for runners. While practicing, one must remain completely focused otherwise one topples over!

The standing leg provides us with stability and grounding in the present while the extended back leg symbolically reminds us of the past (the cold hard winter!). The arms reach forward and the eyes gaze beyond the fingertips to symbolize the future. When we stand rooted in the present moment, with our heart open, the spine aligned and arms and legs fully extended, we are able to face our challenges with courage and ease. We draw on the many warrior aspects that are already within us.

To come into Virabhadrasana III, jump the legs apart sideways 4 - 4.5 feet and raise both arms over the head. Turn the right foot out ninety degrees to the right and the left foot slightly in. Bend the right knee until it is in line with the heel and the thigh is parallel to the ground forming a right angle. Stretch the left leg fully (this is Virabhadrasana I). Then bend the trunk for trunk forward and rest the chest out over the bent thigh keeping the arms out straight. After two breaths, transfer the weight solidly onto the right foot and simultaneously lift the back leg out while straightening the front leg. Strongly extend the straight arms out so that the trunk is parallel to the ground and the entire body creates the letter "T". Turn the raised leg inwards so that the front thigh is parallel to the ground. Hold the pose for 20 to 30 seconds with even breathing. Repeat on the left side.

Virabhadrasana III challenges and rewards the yoga practitioner. One reconnects to the earth, and feels balanced, graceful and powerful, without injury.