Embodiment,  Inspiration,  Practice

Being Grounded – The Deeper Meaning of Warrior II

Before Christmas I wrote a post about learning to live the deep philosophy’s of the East and West through our yoga practice.  I believe that this will be a topic that will thread its way through my blog for as long as I write it.  Recently, I’ve been inspired by Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II) and in this post, I will unpack this living posture so that it’s layers of meaning and impact can be seen.

Warrior II
It is possible to be in an asana without really being in an asana.  We have become masters of mechanically applying instructions for just about everything without actually participating or being present.  We can apply an approximate form to our bodies of every posture in yoga, but what I believe we are actually being called to do is to participate actively in the sensation of the dynamic forces aroused by each posture and movement.  We have the opportunity to come alive in a posture and begin to know ourselves as something extraordinary.  

If you check in with your body right now you will likely find some degree of holding in your breath and ribs, chest and shoulders or jaw.  These tensions are often in place to protect us from perceived threats in our environment – they are armour that keep us from more deeply feeling life’s impacts and impressions.  They are put here by the ego which lives in an ungrounded and non-present realm of thought where ideas about life take precedence over reality.  Because the ego has a deep investment in it’s own survival and we do not pursue other ways of seeing the world but through this structure our whole being becomes slave to it’s demands and preconceptions about imminent dangers.   But what if something was able to ground us in such a way that instead of armouring to protect ourselves we could rest in the deep support and security of that grounding?   Like all standing poses, Warrior II can offer us the experience of deep grounding so that our security is derived from this anchoring in the here and now rather than in the defensive walls of the ego.   In Warrior II, the stance is wide, our base is broad.   With the back foot turned in slightly we are able to deeply penetrate the earth with our heel bone and as we send the leg bones down into that connection the back leg comes alive. The front leg bends, knee over heel, and the bones and muscles work together to support our weight.  The tendency is to stop here but to challenge tight hips and groin we must also begin to engage the deep butt muscles to externally rotate the legs outward and back.   This makes the posture active and creates a sense of deep grounding.     
The large muscles of the gluts (butt) and thighs are dense muscles that have the power and stamina to anchor us and withstand the weight and impact of the rest of our body.  This is their greatest talent – can we let them have this?  Then when these muscles are able to express their nature so too can the muscles and structures of the upper body.  As the upper body gains the support and security that it’s been trying to garner from over tensing it can start to relax.  The diaphragm can remember its place in the body community as the great respirator, moving and flowing freely, unfixated by fear.  The heart can soften and open relieving tension on the upper back after chronically rounding in protection, it’s great talent is to embrace and to share love and with enough support it can reclaim its rightful place in our being.   The shoulders and jaw can perch atop the deep supportive foundation and once again become mobile vessels for expression.        

In Warrior II when we find the deep grounding through the legs and a level pelvis (not tilted forward or back) we have the laid the foundation for the ribcage to stack over the pelvis and the shoulders to stack over the ribs.  The arms extend out from the shoulders, movable under the influence of breath, hands on fire with as the heart’s smoldering well of compassion spreads.  The body becomes self supporting and a play of dynamic forces.  Deep, strong, active grounding through the lower body and soft, breathable, openness in the upper body.   Density and lightness unite and when both are held in Awareness, Presence is born and I know that I AM.