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Warrior 4 + The Warrior Within

By Elana Love

TUE NOV 23, 2021

What does it mean to you to be a warrior? To be powerful or strong? To be brave or a fighter? How do you see these qualities embodied in yourself and others?
If I had to take a guess, I'd say that these are some of the main qualities of a warrior that you see embodied in pop culture... How do you wish that was different?

The warrior postures (Virabhadrasana I, II, III) are some of the most common and familiar yoga asanas we practice (check out the origin story here!). We often associate them with being strong, stable, and powerful, but what does it really mean to be these things? Could this look differently than what we often see portrayed? What about Humble warrior, Peaceful warrior, or what I call Warrior 4?

child's pose is the new warrior pose
child's pose is the new warrior pose

What if we expanded our typical view of strength to include the strength in surrender (ie. being able to take a rest or back off when needed), and shifted our idea of what it looks like to be physically powerful to what it means to be in our power (by staying true to yourself, saying no, and honoring boundaries)? In fact, did you know that the strength of your muscles actually depends on how much they can relax just as much as how much they can contract? Talk about strength in softness.

What if we looked at being strong not only as resilience, grit, and physical stamina, but also as being soft, open, showing emotion? Sometimes the most powerful thing to do is stand your ground, persevere, or fight for something, and sometimes it's actually silence and humility. I think in a lot of ways, being a warrior is about doing the thing that doesn't come easy - to You specifically, at that unique moment.

And for someone like me, who is constantly going going going and doing doing doing, Child's pose is the most warrior thing I can do a lot of times. If this resonates with you, see here and here.

So, I ask you, what is the most warrior thing you can do right now?

There is so much more to being a warrior than what we see portrayed. I am here to tell you that there are actually numerous meanings of "warrior." No shame on the traditional tropes (which we'll get into more below), but I wanted to start by encouraging you to challenge your original notions and explore the many different ideas of the term, and even possibly create your own meaning. There is a warrior within us all that we can tap into at any time to find the strength to stand in our truth, be vulnerable, and walk our authentic path (which is inherently brave).

This sometimes requires us to get to know ourselves intimately, through all kinds of weather. It sometimes requires us to get comfortable with the uncomfortable. One thing is for sure - the warrior path is a journey of endless growth.

from Merriam-Webster Dictionary
from Merriam-Webster Dictionary

“Warriorship here does not refer to making war on others. Aggression is the source of our problems, not the solution. Here the word “warrior” is taken from the Tibetan pawo, which literally means “one who is brave.” Warriorship in this context is the tradition of fearlessness.”
– Chögyam Trungpa

Here's yet another definition of what it means to be a warrior: Warriors know how to stand their ground. Stand in their truth. They are relentless in living and they walk through the fire, (even if it’s just one tiny step forward or a small sliver of faith carrying them through). This makes the warrior inherently brave. In many cases, warriors feel the fear and do it anyway. We all have this natural warrior drive in us - it's what keeps us alive, keeps us moving forward. But sometimes we can have trouble connecting to it. Ever relate to feeling like a small fish is a giant pond? Or imposter syndrome making you feel miniscule & meaningless? Life circumstances making you feeling powerless?

The truth is that You are inherently PowerFull just by being human. You have a magic in you that you might only realize if you witnessed yourself through the eyes of the people who love you. This kind of warrior energy is in you - just waiting to be harnessed to shine your light & gifts on the world. How can you tap into this energy? By activating your Manipura Chakra (solar plexus), also known as the power center.

Here are 4 ways to work with your Power center + Activate your Inner Warrior (in the traditional sense):

  1. Connecting with the sun or color yellow - especially in the winter months, make sure you find some time to sunbathe!
  2. Sun salutations, Kapalabhati Breath, or other heat-building practices
  3. Core strengthening exercises
  4. Warrior Poses or other Power stances that open & center the front body (like the one in the photo below)

Goddess Pose on tiptoes
Goddess Pose on tiptoes

(For a more complete explanation on the Manipura Chakra, check out this blog post on the chakras!)

Now circling back to those Warrior poses
What is the meaning of a warrior according to their origin story?

The story of Virabhadrasana, which means "hero" and "friend" in Sanskrit, is a story of the Warrior Within us overcoming the ego, in the name of love. It is about our Higher Self killing the part of us that over-identifies with superficialities and differences rather than what brings people together. It is about successfully navigating through our anger and ultimately returning to love, compassion, humility. This inner hero is our friend, it is here to teach us a lesson. Both internal and external battles are never going away - we become true warriors when we understand how to fight them, according to yoga. And you will always have your spiritual practice or yoga practice to guide you in that.

And lastly, my personal favorite definition- I can't think of anything that portrays the warrior spirit better than the Native American people - of being a champion for social justice and equity.

"The warrior, for us, is one who sacrifices himself for the good of others. His task is to take care of the elderly, the defenseless, those who cannot provide for themselves, and above all, the children - the future of humanity."
– Sitting Bull, Hunkpapa Lakota Sioux (The Warrior Tradition)

So there it confirmed my belief that one way to be a warrior is by standing up for the good of all humanity. I believe that if you have the privilege of standing on stable ground, it is your duty to do what you can for others to have that same strong foundation. And that's why every month, I donate 10% of my Living Yoga Membership to a relevant social cause in need. Let's harness the energy of the warrior to do more good in the world, shall we? Let's ask ourselves these questions more often:

What is something I care about outside of myself?
What cause can I be a warrior for?

So, which definition of warrior do you resonate most with? Shoot me an email at elanaloveyoga@gmail.com and let me know!

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Thanks for reading! If this article was helpful to you, please share it and tag me on Facebook (@elanaloveyoga) or Instagram (@awholelanalove). If you like my style, join me in weekly yoga classes or the Living Yoga Membership. And always feel free to write me with any questions or feedback. 🙏🏼