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The Warrior in You

All week @ Dragonfly Yoga Barn I’m weaving in Warrior 2 pose to our Flow classes. Today I opened class with a message about how we can learn to find the strength and stamina to reside in our personal power and to consider what it is we “stand up” for, while maintaining a softness that allows us to be at ease and to do our work from a heart-centered place. What is each of us here to do on this planet, anyway? Standing in Warrior 2 (or residing in any pose for that matter) gives us a chance to practice what it means to maintain a sense of ease and to remain steady and grounded even when we are under physical and / or mental stress.

At the Ganges, Rishikesh

I shared a version (as there are several) of the mythological story of King Daksha, his daughter Sati, and her husband Shiva, the lord with the matted hair and dreadlocks, blue skin, a man deeply connected to Nature and preferring to hunt and meditate than socialize. Daksha had never been impressed with his beautiful Sati for marrying such a distasteful character with his weird skin and crazy hair. Sati stayed true to herself, however, and created a beautiful life with Shiva, despite her father’s dismissal.

My photo of a mural in Varanasi: Lord Shiva

On the occasion of this story, the King prepares a huge sacrificial celebration and invites all the deities but chooses not to invite his daughter and horrendous husband. Sati finds out and asks Shiva to accompany her to the party to confront her father, but Shiva stays behind not wanting to anger Daksha with his presence, while Sati stands in her own power and marches confidently into the party to confront her dad about the lack of invitation. He taunts his youngest child, unloading his litany of reasons why Shiva is a horrific beast of a husband, who is more like an animal than a man. While her father and his company of guests laugh and jeer, Sati, in silence and with strength, and fully prepared to separate herself from her family to stand in her truth, walks past her father toward the sacrificial fire, sits down on her own, and in deep concentration and focus, immolates herself by her own internal flame and dies in front of the array of esteemed guests.

When Shiva hears of his dear Sati’s death, he is overwhelmed by grief, confusion, and an anger that becomes a rage. He explodes into unfocused action, ripping dreadlocks from his head and throwing them wildly to the ground at Daksha’s party. Two swords erupt from under the earth where the dreadlocks land and form Virabhadra, an avatar of Shiva that stands with blades drawn overhead in Warrior I stance, ready to slice heads and dominate the guests with his anger and ferocity. When Virabhadra opens his arms wide (Warrior 2), he takes aim, pointing his swords out across the horizon and focusing his intense gaze. Swiftly, he moves to Warrior 3 and slices heads from necks with the whip of his blades, including King Daksha’s own head, which rolls on the ground, leaving Sati’s father in a heap beside her own burned body.

It takes a while, but eventually Shiva reabsorbs Virabhadra into himself and can see the horror his avatar created. He immediately regrets the severity of his uncontrolled anger and power, and he wants to make amends. Have you ever felt like this? When your anger was in the driver’s seat, making it impossible to connect with your heart, your “true North” as they say? In our heart of hearts, there is no room for anger and violence; that place is reserved for love and only love. Standing in Warrior 2 gives me a chance to contemplate this reality. One of my favorite of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras is 2:46: “Sthira Sukam Asanam,” or to embody poses with both steadiness (effort) and ease (comfort and openness). For me, the “pose” this sutra refers to is every posture we make, both physical or mental, both on and off the mat. Is there too much physical effort or emotional struggle? Is there too much softness or a lack of will? Can we be strong and joyfully confident and yet empower others through compassion and with empathy? I believe we can.

There is more to the story (of course, there always is), but I’ll close with brevity and say that an available goat becomes Daksha’s new head, and with Shiva’s help Daksha is reborn with humility, as well as respect and admiration for Lord Shiva, gratefully calling him Shankar (shan / sam = happiness  + kar / kara  = cause), as Shiva restores good fortune to Daksha, whose former hatred severed him from his daughter, just as his head was severed from his shoulders. He had lost connection to his heart–clearly both men had done so. The two clear their bad blood through humility and forgiveness, and as Shiva lifts his dead wife into his arms, he weeps as he wanders back into the wilderness.

But what of Sati, the one who stood up for herself and her husband, and ultimately, what is right and true? Thankfully we don’t have to set ourselves on fire to demonstrate our love and compassion. For me, Sati is the true essence of Vira = Hero + Bhadra = Friend. I remember her when I stand in Virabhadrasana. She is the strong and compassionate warrior I want to be.

Who and what are you willing to show up for on your mat and in your life?

As in many of the Hindu stories, multiple characters come back to life, reincarnated, often with new names, and this is the case for Sati, who reincarnates as Shiva’s second wife Parvathi. But that’s another story 🙂

My point in telling the story is that we humans are often tested in this life. We have opportunities to be strong, to stand up in the face of challenging situations and people, to work hard to move through whatever is our current challenge, learning the lessons we are here to learn and hopefully while maintaining a sense of grace and ease. We breathe. We stay to do the hard work it takes to grow and evolve. While in the “fire” of the posture and in our day to day lives, we are tested and may feel the well of anger or fear or confusion rise up, but we stay despite the inner turmoil. We dig deep, remain rooted and connected to the Source, and by doing so we become polished, transformed, move closer to our true essence, with an opportunity to rebirth ourselves with greater clarity, more compassion and forgiveness for ourselves and others, and igniting a deeper sense of purpose for our walk on this planet.

with Shiva at the Isha Temple in Coimbatore, India

This is my hope this week as we explore the challenges of Warrior 2 and all poses. If you’ve been rolling out your mat, thank you for showing up. Next time the pose could be a little harder–held a little longer. Are you ready? I think you are. All you need to do is show up for yourself and see how your Warrior story unfolds.

With love and many blessings,

Katie

© 2022 Dragonfly Yoga Barn

All images in this post belong to / were created by the author.

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Essential Oils for Winter Health Class

DATE: Wed. Dec. 17th

TIME: 9:30 am, after yoga class!

COST:  FREE!!!

TOPIC:  Have you ever wondered about how to use essential oils effectively and which ones are beneficial for your health during cold and flu season?  Sanja Chambers and Katie O’Connell will offer an informational session on Essential Oils for Winter Health, including individual oils and blends created for respiratory wellness, emotional well-being, and even how to cleanse your environments of bacteria and viruses that lead to sicknesses we are often exposed to during the Winter months and year round!  Join us for a short presentation on how to begin or deepen your practice with essential oils!

RSVP:  It is helpful if you rsvp so we have enough materials for all who attend. All are welcome, whether you rsvp or not! rsvp to: dragonflyoga@gmail.com

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RDC Yoga Retreat~Lock in this year’s rates for 2016 NOW!

Dragonfly Yoga & Rockywold-Deephaven Camps Present
Relax & Renew Yoga Retreat
Thursday, June 9 – Sunday, June 12th, 2016
with Katie O’Connell, E-RYT 500
Candace Renfro Kayak

Energize and nourish your body & soul with daily yoga classes, meditation and pranayama, T’ai Chi, wholesome food, optional day hikes and kayaking, and time relaxing on beautiful Squam Lake. All activities are included in your investment. Do as much or as little as you like!

All-inclusive 4-day/ 3-night retreat: $695 (this is the 2015 Rate–Book by Sept. 15th to lock in rates for 2016!!  After this, rates are subject to RDC’s regular annual increase). All rooms have twin beds, shared baths, and are in one of Rockywold-Deephaven’s beautiful lakeside lodges!! 9 meals, lodging, kayaks, daily classes & workshops, and all taxes included. Check-in 3 pm on Thursday, and check-out after lunch at 2 pm on Sunday. Optional extras include licensed massage therapy, Reiki, and Thai Yoga Therapy. Request a roommate or let us pair you with a new friend! Some singles available on first come-first served basis. Some private cabins available upon for an additional rate–please inquire: dragonflyoga@gmail.com

REGISTER NOW for BEST Availability!  Spots are going quickly in Greenwood Lodge!
RDC Registration 2016 
Mail form to: Dragonfly Yoga, 280 Bennett Street, N. Sandwich, NH 03259