|The fundamental asana Virabhadrasana II harnesses the archetypal spirit of the warrior. In fact, many martial arts also contain some variation of the warrior pose. Remember that the greatest warriors combine power with compassion that flows from the heart.
Consciously expanding the chest stimulates the organs of the thorax, including the heart and lungs. This action illuminates the heart chakra—the energetic source of our emotions. In this Scientific Key, we illustrate some simple steps for opening the chest in Virabhadrasana II.
Begin by drawing the shoulders back and down by gently contracting the lower third of the trapezius.
Draw the scapulae towards the midline by gently engaging the rhomboids. This action opens the front of the chest.
Continue to stabilize the scapulae by activating the rhomboids, and then contract the pectoralis minor to lift and open the ribcage.
Attempting to roll the shoulders forward while stabilizing the scapulae awakens the pectoralis minor, lifting the ribcage.
Balance the upward pull of the pectoralis minor on the ribcage by gently activating the rectus abdominis. Contracting the rectus abdominis in this region forms udyana bandha and connects the third and fourth chakras. Linking these two chakras connects the warrior's courage with compassion.
Now add mula bandha by gently engaging the muscles of the pelvic floor. This action grounds the pose and creates a column of energy from the first to the fourth chakras.
|The illuminated fourth chakra in Virabhadrasana II.|
If you are new to integrating anatomy into your practice, remember that it is not necessary to memorize this technique on your first pass. Begin by enjoying the beautiful images of the body in yoga. This alone will awaken your brain's awareness of the anatomy during your practice. Return at a later date for a closer look, and then gently go through the motions illustrated above as you do this pose. Then leave it. Your unconscious mind will create new circuitry while you rest. Enjoy the process, and when you return to the mat you will be surprised at how easily you access this technique.