Moonlight Sonata (Movement 1) - Beethoven


Professional pose: Virabhadrasana II

Personal Shot: Virabhadrasana II


Virabhadrasana combines virabhadra and asana, which means the warrior posture or posture of a warrior. The English name for this posture is Warrior Two, as virabhadrasana comes in three parts, each position varying slightly from the others.

There and Back Again

     To get to virabhadrasana II, you must begin in tadasana (mountain pose). From there, you lightly jump or step your feet out on an exhale about 3-5 feet, depending on your height and flexibility. As you jump, extend your arms out parallel with the ground, keeping your shoulders back and in towards the spine and your palms facing the ground with straight wrists. Turn your right foot inwards about 45 degrees, and turn your left foot out 90 degrees, making sure that the heel of your left foot is in line with the instep of your right foot.
     From here, you bend your left knee to create another 90 degree angle. Your thigh should be about parallel with the ground and your arm, and your shin should be perpendicular to the floor, directly above your left ankle. If your knee turned out while you were positioning yourself, it might be necessary to turn your knee in or out so it is directly in align with your ankle (or second toe). To do this, rotate your thigh with your muscles contracted until your knee, ankle, and arm are in alignment. Throughout this, your back leg stays strong and straight, keeping your right thigh contracted in to the bone and pressing into the ground with the outer edge of your right foot.
    Once you have positioned your legs, make certain that your upper body has not strayed form tadasana with your arms straight out, shoulders in and down, your head straight and still, and the pit of your abdomen pulled up without losing the curve of your lumbar, or lower back. Finally, you turn your head (without changing it's position on your shoulders or neck) to face over your left arm.
     To return to tadasana, inhale and look forward and exhale while lowering your arms and either stepping or jumping in to bring your feet back together. As your feet become grounded and you spread your arms, feel the power and sturdiness of the mountain within you. Congratulations! You successfully performed virabhadrasana II.

Muscular Actions Within the Posture

      For the duration of the pose, getting in and out, and tadasana, your upper body should remain in exactly the same position, which the exclusion of the arms and head, which both move slightly. Your thigh muscles should be contracted in and your center of weight should be centered over your midline to maintain steadiness. The further apart your feet are, the easier it is to sink down to create the 90 degree angle with your knee and to maintain balance. Though your arms are held straight out over your legs, your shoulders should be pulled slightly back and down in to the spine, keeping you straight up and not hunched over, which is assisted by pushing the pit of your abdomen down while pulling your sitting bones in slightly.
     It is extremely important that you remember to breathe in this posture, as in any other asana in yoga. Drawing in and releasing breath not only helps you not pass out, but it helps bring calmness and the release of tension as you lower down and lengthen your sides to maintain a steady, clear pose.

How Can Virabhadrasana II Help You?

     Virabhadrasana I, II, and III are all good for your body in many ways. Not only do they bring flexibility to your knees, hips, and sides, but they also help you achieve a certain level of coordination and balance if practiced often and long enough. like many asanas, they help you improve your breathing and general posture, as both are required fully for these postures. 
     Specific health benefits include helping those with carpal tunnel syndrome, flat feet, infertility, osteoporosis, and sciatica. Yes, infertility. Tests have been run proving that performing the postures on a daily basis for at least half an hour increases your chance of becoming fertile. Carpal tunnel syndrome, flat feet, osteoporosis, and sciatica (pressure on your sciatic nerve, against the pelvic bone) are all helped through the stretching and muscle use in the posture.

What I Feel in Virabhadrasana II

     It's one thing to describe a posture and another to actually do it. Am I consciously thinking of every muscle and position for all my body parts at every second while performing warrior two? No, but I try. Keep these muscles contracted, keep this up, and this down, and those pointed that way.
     Still, virabhadrasana II is one of my favorite standing poses. It's not easy by any means, but it's an asana that I find myself comfortable in and able, on some level, to relax and work on my breathing without stressing too much about the positions of my hands, feet, or hips. The first few times we tried this posture in class, we did it against the wall, which was a good thing; I would have surely fallen over otherwise. However, through practice and a better understanding of virahadrasana II, I'm able to stand on my own, with a relatively good posture. Thinking about the muscular actions doesn't come before remembering to breathe and thinking that I'm capable, and because of that, I feel better about myself.