Last updated: December 21, 2023

What Does Virabhadra Mean?

Virabhadra is the name of a powerful warrior in Hindu mythology. The name is derived from the Sanskrit vira, meaning “hero,” and bhadra, meaning “friend.”

An incarnation of Lord Shiva, Virabhadra was created to destroy the yagna (fire sacrifice) of Dakshas, the son of Brahma. According to the legend, Dakshas opposed the marriage of Shiva to his daughter, Sati, and cut her off from the family. The story varies depending on the Hindu tradition, but Sati eventually killed herself. In his grief, Shiva created Virabhadra to exact revenge.

A series of yoga asanas have been named in honor of the warrior, most notably Virabhadrasana (warrior pose) 1, 2 and 3.


Yogapedia Explains Virabhadra

The “Puranas” describe some of Virabhadra’s other feats fighting demons and protecting the gods and sages. This great warrior represents the destruction of evil, ignorance and delusion. In some Hindu traditions, Virabhadra is worshipped as a separate deity rather than an incarnation of Shiva.

In yoga, the Virabhadrasanas are powerful poses that promote mental focus and energize the mind and body. They begin in a lunge position with the forward knee at a 90-degree angle and the back toes at a 45-degree angle. The heels are in line, and the hips level and square with the top of the mat.

The most common variations include Virabhadrasana 1, where the arms are raised overhead with the palms facing each other or touching. It represents the arrival of the warrior, materializing out of the ground. In Virabhadrasana 2, the arms extend out in opposite directions at shoulder height with the gaze looking over the forward arm. This represents the warrior sighting his enemy and preparing for battle. Virabhadrasana 3 begins with the same arm position as in 1, but the back leg lifts off the ground and the arms, torso and leg are parallel with the ground. It symbolizes the warrior moving quickly to attack the enemy.

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