Feeling Stressed? Try These Yoga Poses to Unleash Your Inner Strength
Our modern lives can often feel hectic and stressful. Unexpected challenges and changes can stir up feelings of anxiety and uncertainty. Yoga can help us to find stability in frenzied times by allowing us to access and develop our internal resources for dealing with what life has to offer. What we can handle on the mat, we can likely handle in life.
Using Yoga to Find Your Inner Warrior
Warrior postures (Virabhadrasana I–III), when mindfully and knowledgeably executed, can be helpful for that finding and use of our inner resources. Warrior I draws on strength to balance several complex and interacting forces.
First, we must rely on the integrity and stability of the hip of the forward leg while also keeping the knee above the front ankle. The back foot, on the other hand, is placed in a degree of rotation that allows for balance, strength and flexibility while simultaneously squaring the hips and torso forward.
Once the lower body has achieved balance, the arms can extent toward the sky, with palms facing towards each other or in other variations (e.g. Anjali Mudra). The drishti (gaze) looks softly yet strongly forward.
Warrior II also challenges us to maintain balance, strength and focus. Similar to Warrior I, the front knee is aligned above the ankle in a lunge. It is important to not allow either the front or back foot or ankle to collapse inwards, because doing so comprises stability and anatomical safety.
In Warrior II the hips open in the same direction as the torso. That positioning allows for openness in the torso, as well as the ease to elevate the arms to the horizon. The drishti in Warrior II rests over the front fingers, with arms aligned parallel to the floor.
Warrior III brings all of the elements of strength and stability as the first two postures while also introducing a one-legged balance. Similar to the two prior postures, it is important to maintain proper anatomical alignment. In this case the back leg is elevated parallel to the floor with squared hips. This alignment will allow for one’s natural balancing equilibrium to do its work.
It can sometimes take a bit of realigning and repositioning to gain balance and stability. This may be achieved by selecting an arm position that provides the greatest equilibrium. This can include hands in Anjali mudra, arms extended backwards towards the raised foot, or reaching the arms wide or forward. The head is evenly aligned with the spine and the extended hind leg, and the gaze is fixed on one spot.
Warrior poses are great reminders of our inner resilience when life’s chaotic ups and downs make us feel like we might topple. Wise alignment, keying into our bodily sensations, and maintaining full and even breath are skills that we can take with us off the mat and into our lives.
Kathryn Boland is a third-year Master’s degree student in Dance/Movement Therapy at Lesley University (Cambridge, MA), and an RCYT. She is originally from Rhode Island and attended The George Washington University (Washington, DC) for an undergraduate degree in dance (where she first encountered yoga). She has taught yoga to diverse populations in varied locations. As a dancer, she has always loved to keep moving and flowing in practicing more active Vinyasa-style forms. Her interests have recently evolved to include Yin and therapeutic yoga, and aligning those forms with Laban Movement Analysis to serve the needs of various groups (such as Alzheimer’s Disease patients, children diagnosed with ADHD, PTSD-afflicted veterans, all demographically expanding). She believes in finding the opportunity within every adversity, and doing all that she can to help others live with a bit more breath and flow!