What's the moral of the story? Double check your invitation list next time you throw a party. But seriously, folks, the hero Virabhadra was not messing around. He was loyal, obedient, and fierce, and the asana named in the warrior's honor embodies this ferocity. As Virabhadra rose up from Siva's severed hair thrown to the ground, so too does the power of this pose arise from the strong grounding action of the feet and legs, drawing energy up from the earth and sending it skyward, infinitely higher.
While warrior I is a highly familiar and commonly practiced pose in the yoga world, it is not an easy one. There's a lot going on here: you're grounding down through the legs, sitting deeply in the hips, but lengthening the spine straight up and out of the pelvis... and just when you think you've got it, you learn there's more work to be done. Once the necessary strength in the legs has been developed to be able to bend into that front knee while anchoring into the outer edge of the back foot, the challenge becomes squaring the hips and shoulders to face forward. Once you think you've got the hips and shoulders nice and square, you learn that the tailbone must be tucked under the body and the ribs must be tucked into the torso to prevent compression in the lower back.
A week or so ago, I wrote about some enlightening adjustments I received in my warrior poses which illuminated some of my weaknesses and revealed to me the extensive work of this pose that I've been missing out on. Tuck the tailbone, tuck the ribs, lift the chest. Rinse, repeat as necessary. In order to bring the work into my core, I have been shortening my stance slightly to allow for better tailbone tucking action, but I still tend to seek that opening in the front body that I'm apparently not supposed to be feeling here. My tendency is to want to spread my rib cage and open my heart to the sky, to lean back and expand from my very center, but this is burdensome on the back.
One of my teachers beautifully described the action of tucking the ribs as "keeping something for yourself." Don't give it all away. Don't pour the energy from the heart. Instead, draw it up the spine and send it out through the crown of the head. This is my work, my warrior's challenge. What's yours?