By Bhavan Kumar
Warrior 1 Pose is a solution to much of what ails humankind. In our day-to-day lives, many painful, difficult and stressful experiences are held in the body and mind. Relationships that are challenging at best, and devastatingly painful at worst, often close down our heart areas. A collapsed chest area and tense shoulders also restrict our capacity to breath fully and deeply. This diaphragmatic restriction limits the flow of energy throughout the entire body. When the heart area is collapsed, we feel defeated, depressed, stressed and depleted of vital energy. On an emotional level, this restriction may also keep us in a state of denial or in constant pain over unresolved experiences.
Yoga poses that open up and expand the heart area are extremely beneficial for increasing the circulation of blood through the heart. Heart-opening Yoga poses also expand the rib cage and in turn, our breathing capacity. At the end of a Yoga practice filled with heart-opening poses, we are left with a much greater sense of expansive well-being. When we continually contract our heart chakra, our body becomes solidified around that contraction. Our shoulders may rise up to meet our ears and the muscles in our throats and necks may become quite tense.
In order to begin to unravel the layers of holding and tension, particular care must be given to proper alignment in heart-opening Yoga poses such as Warrior 1. Practicing Warrior 1 Pose in correct alignment may feel challenging at first because you are unraveling layers of muscular tension and holding. As the chi or life force energy begins to flow more freely throughout the front of the chest, shoulders, neck and throat, your energy level will soar and you will feel lighter. In the process, memories and emotions may arise as you release the muscular tension in the tender region of the heart. Be patient and compassionate with yourself. Breath and honor your experience whatever it may be.
Warrior 1 Pose
To practice Warrior 1 Pose with an open heart, begin by standing in Mountain Pose at the front of your Yoga mat. Step or jump your feet three to four feet apart. Turn your right foot in so that it is parallel to the sides of your mat. Turn your torso to face your right leg. Raise your arms up to shoulder height and parallel to the sides of your Yoga mat with your palms facing the floor. The key to practicing this asana with an open heart is to lay the shoulder blades flat on the back while resisting the temptation to collapse the front of your chest cavity.
In order to establish proper alignment in the pose, hook your thumbs under your armpits in “Farmer Joe Position.” Puff your chest out and feel how these two actions immediately set you shoulder blades down onto your back while expanding your entire chest and throat area. Maintain this alignment as you inhale and raise your arms above your shoulders with your palms facing each other. With your next exhale, bend your right knee to a ninety degree angle. Do not extend your right knee beyond the line of your ankle. Hold the pose for up to five breaths. Release and repeat on the left side.
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