Last week I revisited the island of Oahu in Hawaii – a place I have held dearly in my heart since living there in the late eighties/early nineties.
During my trip, I was reacquainted with the ancientness of the land and its rich beauty. Despite the fact that there were more high rises and roads than I remembered, the nature of the people on the island was just as dynamic and compassionate as years gone by.
The root of these virtues can be traced back to the Polynesian heritage of the Hawaiians. A prime example is the ancient culture of Samoa. Its foundation was centered around the principle of vāfealoa’i, the relationships between people. These relationships were based on respect, or fa’aaloalo. This sense of respect continues today in the way the islanders show admiration for their land with all its gifts and the kind treatment they bestow on each other.
As ancient warriors, Hawaiians valued compassion as well as powerfulness. The most revered chiefs were those that held the wisdom of healing in as much esteem as the knowledge of war. This balance between power and humanity was their most treasured quality and has been carried down to the present time.
Your challenge this week is to evoke the ideal warrior character in yourself. To master the art of inner peace while practicing the robust qualities associated with Virabhadrasana or Warrior I.
Points of Action for Virabhadrasana I
- Bend the forward leg deeply while keeping the knee aligned with the ankle
- Extend the back leg strongly, pressing into the outer heel to secure your base
- Lift the torso firmly, drawing upward from both sides of the chest
- Draw the upper back forward, extending the sternum proudly
- Rotate the upper arms externally to fully project the arms upwards
There can be conflict within this pose as you experience extension vs compression, twisting vs backbending and internal vs external rotation. However, the non-harming nature of yoga should lend a peacefulness to this fierceness. In order to balance the two qualities, locate within yourself a sense of triumph for the spirit within – be mindful that the breath is your support as you yield to the true warrior who is both harmonious and powerful.
(If you are new to the site, here is where we began our quest for a Year of Living Yogically!)