I talk a lot about deconstructing movement and the importance of working on individual components in order to reach your overall goal. So much so that it can seem like I don’t teach yoga. At least in the traditional sense. I thought it would be fun to mix it up for a change and highlight a pose I still love to this day.
To me, a pose is literally just that; a shape the body is making. there is nothing Magical about the asana itself.
Actually, let me be honest. My daughter took this photo of me while we were vacationing in Thousand Islands, Canada. She’s been experimenting with photography and she asked me to “do some poses” for the camera. I kind of cringed because my practice is so different than what it used to be. I don’t have an agenda anymore, nor do I have a list of poses that I’m actively pursuing. As mentioned above, I focus on understanding the principles. The rest is just an expression of my mobility.
To me, a pose is literally just that; a shape the body is making. I do not believe there is anything magical about the asana (pose) itself. This tends to go against the grain of mainstream yoga, and especially those who love to throw around excerpts from ancient texts. For example, there is no evidence to support that backbends ‘open your heart.’ Do they create a sense of spaciousness or freedom? Sure. But what about people who don’t enjoy backbends? Does that mean they’ll never open their hearts unless they ‘surrender’ to the process? No. That’s ludicrous.
When my daughter showed me this shot, however, I was reminded how a pose can make you feel… mentally, physically, even spiritually. If you’ve ever practiced yoga you’ll know that there will always be at least one pose that does it for you. It can be anything, even savasana (relaxation pose). When you find that pose though, it’s a pretty cool experience.
That’s what Warrior pose does to me. If you’re unfamiliar with Warrior pose, there are numerous variations, but they all stem from what’s called Warrior I, II, and III. My favorites are I and II. Warrior III depends on the day. Even as I write this it’s hard for me to pinpoint what makes it special. Perhaps I’ll start with the obvious.
I’ve always had strong, muscular legs. Supporting my body in a standing posture feels like second nature to me. Not only in Warrior pose, but other one’s like Tree or Dancer’s pose. Ironically, I never liked the lower half of my body growing up. I was teased by boys in school for having shapelier hips, thighs, and bum. Many years were spent fantasizing about having longer, leaner legs… and of course a much smaller tush. Essentially, I wanted to be something that my body could not possibly be.
warrior pose makes me feel like i’m the shit.
The first time I practiced Warrior pose I was in my bedroom, watching a yoga video. I remember it just clicked. I my body felt strong, like I was taking up space in a dignified way. Since I was in my room I took for granted how easily it came. It wasn’t until I took group classes that I realized the pose didn’t come as naturally to others. They’d struggle with finding their stride or balance. They hadn’t yet built the stamina, but not me. I was steady as a rock.
Now, you might be thinking, geez Naz, how judgmental of you! Trust me when I say I was not critiquing others negatively. I was noticing the differences for the first time, which led me to appreciate my own body and skill. Had I not observed those things I wouldn’t have begun to appreciate my body for what it was. I started to see that each one of us has an innate ability that should be honored, not hated. It’s a realization I wish everyone can experience.
On an emotional level, Warrior pose makes me feel like I’m the shit. Yeah, I just said that. I sat here for a few minutes trying to think of a classier way to describe it, but sometimes a curse word sums things up beautifully. Regardless of what is going on in my life or whatever obstacles I’m facing, this pose brings me home to myself. There is something so magnificent about staying rooted through your own two feet. I feel so beautiful in this shape, both physically and emotionally, which doesn’t happen very often! I now love my legs, hips and butt. They are sturdy and have carried me through some difficult times. I love the way my chest can expand and how my arms are free to inhabit the space around them. I love how my breath is rhythmic and my mind is clear. I love how Warrior pose reminds me that I have the stamina to withstand any challenge that comes my way.
So while I still am a huge advocate for breaking apart the pose into digestible components, there is still a time and place for enjoying the experience for what it is. If this pose has always felt the opposite to you, know that you’re not alone. I’ve got some quick tips on how to trouble shoot Warrior I and Warrior II to make them work for your body. In the meantime, pick a pose, give it a try, and notice how you feel. Which one makes you feel like the shit???