The third warrior

by Alice Dommert
October 23, 2017

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I love stories, images and metaphors. When I don’t understand something, I love to make an analogy and then see how it might be the same or different. It helps me find a path to understanding. One of the mysteries of yoga for me has always been the ordering of the Warrior poses. Warrior II seems to be the easiest one for most people. It is about grounding your feet and building strength, opening the hips and reaching your arms side-to-side.

Warrior I is a bit trickier since the hips have to press toward the front of the mat and the arms are up overhead. For short waisted people like me it has always felt awkward and hard, so perhaps that is why it is Warrior I, with the pains of being the firstborn warrior.

Warrior III is the warrior pose with fewer pictures. Like that third child, it seems as if the energy ran out by the time this one came along. Over the years, I have watched third born people with a fierce sense of quiet, deeply rooted in their humble nature and admired those qualities of equanimity. Like third borns, there is a beautiful treasure inside Warrior III.

As I’ve been playing a lot more with this pose the last few months, two things are happening. The first is that some part of the body has to be rooted as the anchor and another part of the body is reaching and exploring. In Warrior III, another point is added. Two body parts are reaching, arms and one leg raised behind you to create this triangulation of balance.

That is what is happening on the outside looking in. But how does it feel? How a pose feels is what yoga is really about.

Sporty young man practicing yoga, doing stretching exercise for legs and spine, balancing in Warrior III posture, Virabhadrasana 3 on white background

Warrior III feels like a slow walk up, up and up. Tedious. Requiring careful attention, so you don’t slip off the edge of the path. Wondering if you have the strength to make it to the top. Then you make it all the way up and catch the breathtaking view. There was no way to have imagined the vast space and how far you can see. No way to describe how tiny you feel and the overwhelming reverence of the bigger system of the world, and life, that you are part of. Awe is joy standing perfectly still, in this moment, and connecting to your breath.

As you stay in that place of beauty and absorb every drop, you know this is a place that lifts you up and carries you through those times of climbing. The times climbing toward the next dream, or view, or the time making your way back down the mountain, completing the journey of this particular experience of life. This view, this feeling, fuels your courage tenfold for what is next. Yes, all of this is possible inside one yoga pose, if you allow it to happen.

Warrior III is not an easy pose. And like climbing to that stunning view, it takes practice and patience to get there. It is a one leg balance posture and in its full form you have an extended leg and reaching arms. It requires presence and honed attention. Most importantly it requires courage. Courage to climb into it, to stay there in full awareness, and then to climb back down. The grounding and strength that Warrior I and II have built allow this third child explorer to fly.

My invitation this week is to find a quiet, private space at home, to play, like when you were a child. You don’t need a yoga mat for this pose. I love Adriene’s playfulness in her foundations of yoga video to explore¬†Warrior III. (Don’t be afraid of the big lunge at the beginning of the video.) She will lead you through variations and take you step-by-step if you are a new beginner and help you learn some nuances if you are a more experienced yogi. Take care as you float into and out of the pose. It is the journey up and back down that frame the awesome view.

My other invitation is to abide in nonjudgement. You are where you are, right now. Accepting that is important to work safely. Don’t let your energy get zapped by criticising yourself with harsh words or thoughts. Be a light, playful, curious child. Reach a little further than you think you can go and have fun.

Enjoy the view.

ps. Here is one of the yoga stories of the Warriors.

Alice Dommert

Alice Dommert

Founder, Wholebeing Architect

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Photo Credit:

Photo by Nina Lindgren on Unsplash