Lessons from the Mat: Live in the Moment with Reverse WarriorArticle posted in: Fitness
By: Eliza Darling
In a world of distractions, often, the hardest thing to be is present. The quiet, intuitive practice of checking in with the inner voice can so easily be overshadowed by the elements of society—family, jobs, technology, politics and social media that make it nearly impossible to sit alone in silence. We pride ourselves on the ability to multitask, to accomplish many things simultaneously—because there just doesn’t seem to be enough minutes in each day to do things one at a time. And the more we do, the further we move away from the present moment. Our obligations and past times become our reality, and the reality of the present, becomes obsolete.
Children have the unique ability to stay present. They don’t fear the future, nor dwell on the past. They are fully immersed in the task at hand and don’t move on to something else until they are certain they are finished doing what they want to do. They let us know (often with tantrums or hysteria) if they feel forced to do, eat or play with something that they do not want. They are highly aware of their inner voice and can effortlessly listen to what it tells them. As we grow older, we learn to quiet that voice—to squash the connection to the self, so that we can fit into the mold that society designs for us. We work jobs we don’t love, eat foods we don’t enjoy, have relationships and meetings with people we would rather not have, and participate in groups, clubs, committees and organization that take up time we would rather spend doing something else. But we do it anyway because we have become skilled at silencing the voice that connects us to our true desires.
Yoga and/or meditative practices provide us the time and space to journey to the self, and to arrive fully in the most meaningful moment—right now. They allow us to objectively look at ourselves, independently of our learned identity and roles, and let us see the person that exists beneath the armor we’ve built to protect from pain, suffering and failure. When the body and brain are synced through the calm rhythm of the breath, and the focus of the busy mind is on the centrality of our being—the heart, we float in the consciousness of truth and are rooted in the reality of NOW.
POSE OF THE WEEK: VIPARITA VIRABHADRASANA (REVERSE WARRIOR)
A Warrior II variation, reverse warrior pose is one of strength, grace and surrender. It simultaneously demands the strength of the lower body and the flexibility in the upper body. It is a great side stretch that opens up the intercostal muscles between each rib. Often offered in a vinyasa flow practice, this pose is most commonly a follow up pose to Warrior II.
- Opens the intercostal muscles.
- Stretches the torso and the arms.
- Can strengthen the legs and glutes.
- Opens the hips.
HOW TO DO IT:
- Begin in Downward Facing Dog.
- Lift the right leg up and 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 heel with the arch of the back foot.
- Inhale, engage the abdominals and lift the torso up, while reaching the arms out with palms facing down, and point fingers to the front and back of the room.
- Point right toes forward and stack the front knee over the ankle and pointing it toward the second and third toes.
- Keep the left leg straight and engaged, and the outer edge of the left foot pressing into the mat.
- Draw the frontal ribs in toward one another, move the shoulder blades down the back and lengthen the tailbone towards the floor.
- Extend energy out through the fingertips; create a straight line from one hand to the other.
- Stack shoulders directly over the frontal hips points.
- Root feet into the mat and the hips sink down, deepening the bend in the right knee.
- Lower the left hand down the back of the left leg, inhale and lift the right arm up toward the ceiling with the palm of the hand facing down.
- Turn the gaze out, up or down the back leg.
- Keep the front knee bent and the hips low.
- Hold for 30 seconds to a minute.
- Return to Warrior II by bringing the torso upright and the arms parallel to the mat.
- 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 food a few inches forward.
- Avoid letting the front knee collapse inward.
- To deepen the pose, take a half bind by wrapping the back arm around the back, reaching for the opposite hip or inner thigh.
*Always consult with your doctor before beginning a new exercise routine.