Monday, September 26, 2011

Warrior what?

If yoga is all about peace and unions, then what’s with the Warriors? Is it a bad translation? A way to relate to those who do not seek peace? Did we run out of animal names that looked like these poses?

Perhaps. For those interested in the mythology, the great story of Virabhadra talks of a vengeful god, born of rage as lord Shiva tore a lock of hair from his head and threw it into the ground. Up from the ground (warrior one) came a fierce multi-armed-eyed-and-weaponed Virabhadra. He did lots of nasty, merciless things, destroyed a lot of sacred stuff and royally irritated everyone around. To make matters worse, he cut off one particularly important head (warrior two).

Really? Is this the energy I’m manifesting in my yoga classes… this seems like a bad plan.

Yes. However, after his rage burned out (and he had a firm talking to from some other god-friends), Shiva recognized the pain he had caused and replaced Daksha’s missing head with the head of a goat as an act of reconciliation. Peace (warrior three).

Yoga does not prevent us from feeling rage, from making poor decisions, or operating without a perfect plan. Some days I wish that it did. Others I know that I wouldn’t relate well to others if I didn’t experience the same myriad of emotions that they do.

Instead, asana animates this ancient story of confronting one’s rage and making amends. By sensing the power of what is planted beneath us (w1), we redirect it into everything we do (w2), and it takes balance and attention to lower the gaze to the earth, allow the heart and mind to live on the same plane, and restore sanctity to what we have overlooked or chaos we have created (w3). By finding balance, pushing into the earth with just as much force as the earth presses into us, we deliver what we can truly offer, no more, no less.

"Nothing in the Universe survives without mercy..."

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Weary Warrior

Virabhadra was born of rage. He had lots of arms. He was cutting off heads, poisoning sacred oils, breaking stuff, poking people with sticks, holding a flaming lotus, shooting arrows all at the same time.

Does this sound familiar to you? You’re probably not quite as destructive as Virabhadra was, but you likely have only two arms. Have you wished for more? Have you heard others (or yourself) say something like “I only have two hands!” Would you say this is more often during times when you are closer to or further from the emotion of ‘rageful’?


I myself have wished for additional arms now and again. I’d love to be able to chop, grate and peel at the same time. I long for additional arms when the time comes to match and fold socks. It would be convenient to have at least one extra hand while wrapping a present. How on earth are we expected to wash the dog with only two hands? And god help you if you have to wash a cat.

While it would be irrefutably easier to have a third, and possibly fourth, hand while changing diapers, there are few tasks where our wish aligns with only a single task. Many times we entertain these multi-limbed fantasies because our minds are already attempting the multi-task mambo. With few exceptions, our minds really like to be in one place, managing one concept at once. This has become a strange and foreign concept. We prefer to fantasize about the possibilities of accomplishing many tasks simultaneously. Like scaling a fish, changing our contact lenses, and hamstring curls.


It is just as silly to consider walking the dog while earnestly learning French on your iDevice as your toenail polish dries. Texting and driving? Or perhaps eating in the shower? To save time? If you can seriously tell me you love nothing more than eating a Reuben in the shower, by all means, live it up. But just because these multitasking scenarios are more plausible than the insane scene I painted above doesn’t mean they make any more sense to your brain.

Reasonable multitasking scenarios:
- Enjoying a sunset while resting on the beach.
- Running and listening to music.
- Eating and enjoying a conversation with a friend.

Next time a loved one calls, try focusing in on the conversation. Stop everything else. Sit. (ok, enjoy the breeze). Virabhadra could take a lesson from you and your two arms.