Love Story

Long, long ago, in a spiritual galaxy far, far away lived a young gal named Sati who’d found her true love in the arms of the rather unorthodox Lord Shiva. With his wildly dreadlocked hair, penchant for hanging out in cemeteries, and a taste for snakes as accessory, the outrageous Lord Shiva had no chance of winning the approval of Sati’s father, Daksa. The ultra-conservative Daksa ruled his house and land with an iron fist; rules, regulations, and plenty of structure. Lord Shiva on the other hand, loved to dance, tended to burst into loud, spontaneous song on a whim, had a habit of dousing himself with ashes and was prone to a libation or two. What a wildman.

Not long after Sati left her father’s house to marry Lord Shiva, Daksa threw an enormous religious ceremony (read: party) inviting everyone in the galaxy except Shiva and Sati. This was to be the spiritual event of the millennium and his faithful daughter and her beloved were intentionally not on the list! What a blow! Shiva was nonplussed and shrugged it off – perhaps there was a sky burial that night to attend – the offended Sati, however, decided to go anyway.

At the festivities, Daksa taunted his daughter and dissed Lord Shiva in front of all the guests who found the exchange quite amusing. Shamed and embarrassed, Sati walked away dejected and determined to cut all ties with daddy-o. She sat to meditate (what else would she do?) and her tapas – internal heat – built so quickly she burst into flames!

News in the celestial world travels fast, and when Lord Shiva heard of his wife’s death he become enraged. Tearing one of his matted dreads completely out of his head, he slammed it to the ground and up from the surface rose the ferocious warrior Virabhadra! In seconds, Virabhadra crashed the party and raised holy hell. With a sword in each hand and mighty magical powers, he destroyed the pious party and with one fell swoop cut off Daksa’s head.

So there.

Vira = hero or warrior

bhadra = best or auspicious

asana = pose

In last months’ issue, we established a place of peace in our homes in order to begin a meditation practice. It’s helpful to move a bit before sitting – especially if you commit to sit in the early morning hours. Virabhadrasana II is one of my favorite morning poses. In addition to building strength, stamina, and power in the legs, it cultivates steadiness, focus and courage as well. It opens the groin and hip joints, and gets your blood flowing. It’s a great pose for figuring out how/where you are in space, and generates in the mind a calm intensity. Most importantly for any warrior, it opens the chest and the heart.

Get Your Warrior On:

  • Stand with your feet about 4 feet apart
  • Turn your right toes towards the front of the room and your left toes in slightly
  • Inhaling, draw your arms straight out to the side and lift your kneecaps up by engaging the quadriceps
  • Exhaling, simultaneously turning your head to the right and bending deeply into your right knee so that it stacks directly over your right ankle
  • Refine the pose by pressing firmly into the ground with the four corners of both feet, extending the back leg strong and reaching back through the left arm
  • Continue to track your right knee above your ankle, don’t allow the knee to drop inward – pull it a little to the right
  • Draw the tailbone down towards the earth and snug your bellybutton in towards your spine, creating support through your hub
  • Keep your arms strong, the shoulders relaxed (how’s your jaw?) and your eyes softly looking out beyond your right fingertips
  • Line your ears over your shoulders and your shoulders over your hips

Breathe deeply, mighty warriors.

Seven breaths; then change sides.

One variation says that after Virabhadra got medieval on the bullies, Lord Shiva calmed him by turning him into the planet Mars. Others say that Virabhadra was drawn back into Lord Shiva’s form. Either way, at the request of the few humbled survivors, Lord Shiva brought Daksa back to life, and then he took his wife’s lifeless body and traveled into the high hills of the Himalayas to return to the life he once knew as a wild, wandering yogi aesthetic.

The end.

Lisa Bracken teaches at The Yoga Barn at The Canebrake as well as at NSU in Tahlequah. She has an affinity for dreadlocks. Always has…

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