For a very long time, one of my least favorite asanas was Warrior II. And while I didn’t love any of the other warriors — this one, in particular, made me groan audibly whenever one of my instructors asked my body to take the shape.
In yoga — we are asked to look hard at the asanas our body or mind dislikes. Something about being in these poses trigger our discomfort and they serve as potent reminders of the places we need to release, to heal, to grow.
The Warrior series grounds us, anchors us to Earth. They are poses that ask us to stand in our own power and tap into that grounding energy. They open our hips and our hearts. They ask us to reach beyond ourselves.
Warrior II is not a technically difficult posture. One foot forward, back foot grounded at a slight angle, upper body facing the side of the mat, arms extended, looking out over the forward extended arm. And breathe.
And yet, it took me literally years to find my sweet spot in this asana. Once I settled in — I found myself struggling to maintain it. My arms became heavy, my hips yelled obscenities at me, my breath came in bursts instead of the even flow I was accustomed to.
What was going on?
This piece from Yoga Journal gives us a clue. According to the article, Warrior II centers us, leading us away from chaos and imbalance. It is a stand-in-place-and-face-your-life asana.
By grounding down through our legs we release the tension held in our hips from all our years of fight or flight reactions. By pulling up our spines and reaching our crowns towards the ether, we open ourselves to divine wisdom. As we stretch out our arms, we point one hand towards our past and the other toward our future. But the most important point is that by doing so — we have balanced our timeline and have come to stand — fully and completely — in our Now.
As time passed, I found myself adding Warrior II to my home practice. Just because of the places it touched. Could I let go of my past with its pain and regrets? Could I not cling to a future with its anxiety and angst? Could I stand strong in My Now — balanced and open to the divine?
For long decades of My Life, I had lived in fight or flight. I held the tension barely in check most days. I was caught in a vicious cycle between the anger of my past and my fear of the future. As much as I tried to hide this dynamic — my emotions would still break through at times. They would throw My Life into chaos and further unbalance me.
Learning to stand in My Now, acknowledging both my past and my future, helped me to find my feet, open my mind, reach beyond my experiences to healing.
This is always the challenge of a yoga practice. Through yoga, we yoke our bodies, minds, and spirits back together. Our body opens channels of communication with our mind, our past, our fears — All. The. Things. By paying close attention to the asanas that challenge us, we can observe with detachment all that we hold in and cling to.
We can learn to show gratitude for even our most challenging asanas.
We can learn to honor the gifts they offer us.
We can learn to slowly let go of the fear and anxiety that keeps us from feeling balanced in our Now.
“Forever is composed of nows.” — Emily Dickenson