Lessons from the Mat: Find Strength in Routine with Warrior IIArticle posted in: Fitness
By: Eliza Darling
My family and I just returned home after being away for a month. We visited new places, as well as places we’ve been many times before. We ate foods our bodies aren’t accustomed to and foods that nourished our souls. We participated in a historical event; visited a city I’d only seen before in movies, books and in my dreams; spent much needed time with family we don’t see often; journeyed to a Mexican town, known for LOVE, to witness our dearest friends commit to a lifetime of adventures together. With full hearts and heavy bodies (from too many tacos and not enough yoga), we were eager to get home to the customs of our everyday lives. It wasn’t until the days became spontaneous and ever changing, when monotony ceased to exist and when more meals came from a restaurant than from a home kitchen, that I realized how much I depend on routine to have a thriving and healthy lifestyle.
During the last month, my diet and my yoga practice suffered (to say the least), and I was caught in an unavoidable web between knowing that the day would improve if I practiced and not having the time to dedicate to myself. Staying at other people’s houses, and not having a co-parent (while my son and I traveled alone for the first two weeks), meant that access to the foods I normally prepare and eat, and the time to practice yoga, were basically non-existent. As a seasoned traveler, I expected this to happen, and rather than dwelling on what wasn’t or what could’ve been, I embraced the journey and went with whatever was tossed my way. I allowed myself the time to travel, overindulge and find other ways to move my body, without sinking into a destructive place of blame and/or guilt.
Now that I’m home, I’m able to prepare healthy, locally sourced and organic foods. I start the day with a delicious green smoothie and coconut almond milk latte. I’m able to set aside a part of my day to unroll my mat and practice yoga. I get to teach and uninterruptedly write again! I can act like a child, as I practice handstands in the sand at the beach, and feel the soft rain on my head as I watch the crashing waves. I’ve always known how important routines are for babies and children, but it wasn’t until I was out of my own, that I realized how offbalance life becomes when we, as adults, neglect our daily rituals.
POSE OF THE WEEK: VIRABHADRASANA II (WARRIOR II)
This pose is the quintessential warrior pose. When properly executed, there is a grounding effect on the bottom half of the body that allows for expansion on the top. A highly therapeutic pose, statuesque Warrior 2 allows the practitioner to experience growth, strength, focus and strength, with only the subtlest of movements.
- Strengthens and stretches the legs and ankles.
- Stretches the groins, chest, lungs and shoulders.
- Stimulates the abdominal organs.
- Helps increase stamina.
- Can bring some relief backaches.
- Therapeutic for carpal tunnel syndrome, flat feet, infertility, osteoporosis and sciatica.
HOW TO DO IT:
- Begin in Downward Facing Dog.
- Lift the right leg up, shift the shoulders over the wrists and bring the knee toward the nose.
- Step the right foot between the hands.
- Spin the back foot flat, parallel to the back edge of the mat.
- Align the front heal with the arch of the back foot
- Inhale, engage the abdominals, lift the torso up and reach the arms out with palms facing down, while pointing fingers to the front and back of the room.
- Point right toes forward with front knee stacked over the ankle and pointing towards the second and third toes.
- Keep the left leg straight and engaged with the outer edge of the left foot pressing into the mat.
- Turn the gaze beyond the front middle finger.
- Draw the frontal ribs in towards one another, move the shoulder blades down the back and lengthen the tailbone towards the floor.
- Extend energy out through the finger tips and create a straight line from one hand to the other.
- Keep the shoulders stacked directly over the frontal hips points.
- Root the feet into the mat and allow the hips to sink down, deepening the bend in the right knee.
- Hold for 30 seconds to a minute and then repeat on the other side.
TIPS & MODIFICATIONS:
- Avoid bending the back leg and lifting the outer edge of the back foot.
- Avoid extending the knee beyond the foot. Modify by lessening the bend in the knee or inching the front foot a few inches forward.
- Lift the front hip point and lower the back one, to avoid leaning the torso forward in the direction of the front toes.
- Press the feet into the mat and energetically try to draw them together without shifting their placement
- Avoid letting the front knee collapse inward.
- Imagine that there is something resting just underneath the arms, engage the muscles and energetically press into it without letting the arms drop down.
- If the shoulders are fatigued, flip the palms over and put a slight bend in the elbows.
- To find more focus in this pose, joint the index and thumb finger tips together.
*Always consult with your doctor before beginning a new exercise routine.