As we look to the new year ahead of us, we may feel happy and contented with where we are in our lives or we may feel unsettled and unsteady – not sure how to navigate the challenges in front of us. One of the benefits of yoga is that it helps us stand more firmly on our feet, aligned in our physical body – and this can lead to a mental and emotional steadiness over time which supports us. This is reflected in one of the central niyamas or character-building observances – Ishvar Pravidhana – one translation of which is ‘learning how to line up with nature’s intelligence and grace’.
Warrior I (Virabhardrasana Eka) is an excellent pose to start to feel this sense more viscerally in our bodies: learning to stand strong and face what is in front of us. It means literally vira – bravery, courage – and bhadra, meaning blessed or auspicious. To come into the pose, begin in Tadasana, Mountain Pose, with the feet parallel, hips-width distance apart.
1. From Tadasana, step your right foot forward about a leg’s length distance apart. Square your hips to the front of the room and then bend your right knee to track over the right ankle and toes.
2. Refine the pose by drawing the abdominal muscles in and up and elongate the spine by drawing the sacrum towards the ground and press up through the crown of the head.
3. As you inhale, lift your arms overhead, palms facing each other and keep your head in line with the spine, shoulders relaxed. If you have high blood pressure or a heart condition, you can keep your arms at your hips.
4. Breathe into the pose and hold for 5-10 full cycles of breath, cultivating a feeling of stability and strength.
To come out, bring your hands down and step the back foot up to join the front foot in Tadasana. Practice the same thing on the other side.
May 2017 be a year of happiness and prosperity for you and for all beings.