Warrior II pose in the sunrise

Live Life with Grace and Determination

Warrior II Pose

Warrior II, known in Sanskrit as Virabhadrasana II, is named after the Hindu god, Virabhadra, who incarnated as a human. Reputedly the pose enhances the strength and stamina of yoga practitioners. In the pose, your front knee bends, your arms engage and extend straight out from your shoulders, and your gaze, or dristhi, remains calm and steady toward and beyond your front hand.

Remaining in the pose strengthens your resolve and your focus goes internally on your mental and physical sensations. The discernment developed is said to be the discipline and strength of a true warrior.

Asana or Mudra

My teacher, J Brown, talks about the pose being more of a mudra than an asana. According to Indu Arora the difference between them being,

Asana is where you begin and Mudra is what you become; Asana is a pose but Mudra is the poise; Asana is a seat by the body and Mudra is a state of the mind; Energy moves in with Asana but stays within through Mudras.

J talks about the attitude of mind that you have in the pose rather than the physical alignment you need. For him it's a cipher of your approach to the world, of who you want to be in the world. I love this view of and approach to yoga, it encompasses why I do yoga and what I want to achieve in doing it.

In an earlier letter, 'Yoga Mudra As A Practice Of Presence, Ground Yourself In The Present Moment', I explored the idea of humility in yoga as seen through the practice of Yoga Mudra.

Humility is one of the qualities I see embodied in yoga, it is essential to any practice. In Yoga Mudra that act of bowing down is an act of humility and respect to yourself, your practice, your body and your soul. Doing Yoga Mudra after every practice is a commitment to yourself and your practice, a commitment to the consistency you need to practice yoga.

Grace and Determination

Recently J talked about Warrior II demonstrating the ability to live life with Grace and Determination, a fascinating combination of ideas to embody within the mudra and a great counterpoint to living life with humility as embodied in Yoga Mudra.

A ballerina moves with beauty, elegance and poise, yet she has such inner strength, patience and determination. Much like having gratitude, grace is life changing, it's possible with grace to heal old wounds and to find a new perspective on arguments. Grace puts the power back into your hands, and shows you that theres a choice to live in peace and clarity. And a way to live thats not forceful, hectic or struggling. But to let things happen and flow naturally with humility, trust and faith.

Mel Madgwick

Determination speaks for itself. Whatever life throws at us, we keep going, we know what we want, we know we are going to get there. It is not about achieving aims or goals, it is about an inner knowing that stays with you and moves you forward.

I was born with a club foot, while much of the deformity was removed when I had operations aged 5 and 10, it still leaves me with after effects. My ankle is largely fixed with little movement and my leg is around an inch shorter than the other. Adapting to this has been with me my whole life yet I am determined that it does not define who I am.

Why Do I Limp?

Some years ago a mentor of mine asked me Why do you limp? I explained about my foot and the differing leg length. She said, Yes, I know, but why do you limp? That set me thinking and helped me to realise that there is a difference between a physical characteristic and letting that characteristic define you.

In my yoga practice I have always had to deal with the numerous minor limitations that my foot creates, from simple standing in tadasana (mountain pose) to warrior II where there I need to bend my recalcitrant ankle. Practicing yoga is something I enjoy doing, something that incorporates grace and determination for me, the grace of exploring my body, with all its quirks and limitations, and the determination to just be me despite the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.

Virabhadra means distinguished hero in Sanskrit,

Virabhadra […] is an extremely fierce and fearsome form of the Hindu god Shiva. […] He is described as a warrior who eventually blinded Bhaga, subdued Indra and broke, among many other countless gods, Pushan's teeth. Other gods fled the battlefield unable to sustain his power.


I have no desire to display the power of Virabhadra, merely to display the power of my own determination in life with grace. I feel this in Warrior II.