In my yoga classes this week, I have been teaching a pose that I've been calling "Victorious Warrior." It's not a real yoga pose, but it's a posture that helps generate strength and stability in your core. I combined the posture with the concept of Ujjayi Breathing. Ujjayi means "victorious" in Sanskrit. The idea of the yoga sessions was to find and experience the victories in your life.
That can be the intention for your home yoga practice this week: to take a moment and call to mind your personal successes and victories that you've experienced this week. Be proud of the moments when you made great achievements. Give yourself a pat on the back for accomplishing something you've been working on. Celebrate!
Start in Mountain Pose. Be sure your feet are firmly planted on the floor with your toes pointing directly forward with your feet about hip-distant apart. This will establish a strong foundation. Stand tall with strong legs and extended spine. Feel the energy rising up through your body through the crown of your head. Just standing here can give you a sense of feeling victorious. Mountain Pose can help you feel majestic, proud, and confident.
Close your eyes and focus on your breath. Breathe slowly and deeply. Use the muscles of the throat to engage the Ujjayi Breath. With each inhale, experience how the breath rises high into the chest, expanding the lungs, chest, and opening the heart. Maintain this vibrant, intentional breath by engaging the abdominal lock (i.e. draw the belly button in toward your spine.) This will allow the breath to remain high in the chest space rather than "falling down" into the belly. This way of breathing creates that uplifting, victorious sensation in your body. Take 10-15 breaths here. Celebrate the stillness, celebrate your victories, celebrate the moment.
As mentioned, their really is no such thing as Victorious Warrior, but a variation of Warrior II and Side Angle Pose combined that generates strength and stability in the core body.
Come to Warrior II. Start with you right foot forward. Bend that leg so it is just about 90 degrees. The back leg is straight with the foot firmly connected to the mat. Be sure your right knee is stacked directly over (or slightly behind) the right ankle. The arms are extended out to the side (with hands reaching toward the front and back of the room.) Engage your core by scooping the pelvis under so that your tailbone is pointing toward the floor. By tilting the pelvis in this manner, you create more opening and alignment in the hips, a release in the low back, and an engaged low abdominal region. Hold this posture for a few breaths with some emphasis on the exhale so you are able to hold the posture. Experience the energy and strength generated in this pose so far.
Now, keep your right hand right where it is while reaching the left hand up over your head. The upper body will shift a bit toward the front knee creating a 45 degree angle with the floor. Be careful NOT to shift the lower body too much. It's just an upper body movement. If you shift too much energy into the front knee, you might experience a release of the core engagement. For this particular pose, you want to remain strong and connected to the core system. Keep the arms extended and even form a "V-shape" with the arms (turn your hands so your palms are facing each other.) This is what I call Victorious Warrior. The longer you hold this position, the more intense it may feel. Here, be reminded of your inner strength that it took to meet your goals, to be successful, to be victorious. If you can, hold for 5-10 breaths. Return to Warrior II, then do the other side.
By practicing these two yoga poses, we can be reminded that it can take great effort to achieve our goals. And once the goals have been met, you have every reason to celebrate.