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Warrior II

Runners are warriors. We fight to reach goals: personal records, stress relief, mile markers, ideal weight, faster paces and so forth. So what better way to channel the warrior within than with yoga practice?

Virabhadrasana II, also known as Warrior II, is a standing pose that embodies the mental and physical state of a warrior. The pose’s namesake, Virabhadra, is an incarnation of Shiva, the prevailing god of destruction. Virabhadra is a powerful warrior that serves Shiva, known for his battles against demons and protection of holy beings. He is a crusader and the pose lends itself to this deity.

Incorporate virabhadrasana II—and your inner running warrior—into a flowing sun salutation as such:

  • Begin standing. Inhale the arms toward the sky, lengthening the spine.
  • Exhale, folding forward at the hips. Reach towards your toes.
  • Inhale, planting the palms and stepping both feet back for a plank (pre-push up) position.
  • Exhale, lifting the hips back and up for Downward Facing Dog.
  • Inhale, extending the right leg toward the sky.
  • Exhale, bring your gaze to your hands, sweeping the leg through, planting the foot between your thumbs.
  • Inhale up to standing, virabhadrasana II.

Take the legs about four feet wide, shortening or lengthening the stance as needed. The right knee is bent directly over the ankle and the left leg is straight, like a warrior poised for battle. Right toes point to the front of the room and left toes point to the left wall of the room. The heel of your right foot is in line with the center of your left foot.

Work on evenly distributing the weight of the upper body between the feet. If the right thigh is burning or working too hard, readjust so the strength is even in both legs. The hips and chest stretch open, square to the left wall. The hips are tucked and the belly is up and in, supporting the upper body and opening the flow of energy. Engage mula bandha here if you like.

The right arm extends toward the front of the room and left arm extends toward the back of the room. Shoulders relax. Check that your arms are level as they extend from your shoulders – not swaying front or back, not swaying up or down. Your gaze is calm, over your right index and middle fingers, toward the front of the room. Hold for three to five breaths, or longer if desired. As with all Yoga, repeat on the opposite side.

In addition to symbolizing a warrior’s strength, the pose also represents the flow of time. A warrior’s mind and heart are consistently in the middle, pulled into the past and the future. However, the peaceful warrior knows his balance and support is in the present as he looks to and prepares for the future… just like a runner’s legs and core support and strengthen as he moves forward from the past toward the future.

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Photos by Jubal Leierer

Alma Bahman is a certified yoga teacher registered with the Yoga Alliance. She completed 200-hour yoga teacher training in November 2010. She has been practicing yoga since 2006 and running since 2008 but it wasn’t until she began her teacher training that she realized how intertwined yoga is with running. She plans to run her first marathon for her 26th birthday at the end of this year. Bahman is also a journalist, recently graduated from Cal State Long Beach, and will be pursuing her master’s degree later this year. Currently, she is assistant editor of Caring Magazine, a quarterly publication of The Salvation Army.

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