Definition - What does Virabhadrasana mean?

Virabhadrasana describes a series of poses named for a powerful warrior in Hindu mythology, Virabhadra. The name is derived from the Sanskrit vira, meaning “hero,” bhadra, meaning “friend,” and asana, meaning “pose." In English, the asana is commonly called “warrior pose.”

An incarnation of Shiva, Virabhadra was created to destroy Daksha, the son of Brahma. According to legend, Daksha 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.

Yogapedia explains Virabhadrasana

The virabhadrasana poses 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.

In addition to providing inner strength and power, the virabhadrasana series of poses stretch and strengthen the shoulders, arms, neck, legs, ankles and back. They also require balance and flexibility, and promote mental focus and energizing the mind and body.

Some of the variations include:

  • Virabhadrasana 1 – Part of the primary series of Ashtanga yoga and a foundational asana in other schools of yoga, this pose is known as warrior one. The arms are raised overhead with the palms facing each other or touching.
  • Virabhadrasana 2 – This pose, known as warrior two in English, represents the warrior sighting his enemy and preparing for battle. The arms extend out in opposition directions at shoulder height with the gaze looking over the forward arm.
  • Virabhadrasana 3 – Known in English as warrior three or flying warrior, this pose symbolizes the warrior moving quickly to attack the enemy. The arm position is the same as Virabhadrasana 1, but the back leg lifts off the ground and the arms, torso and that leg are parallel with the ground.
  • Baddha Virabhadrasana – Called humble warrior in English, this pose represents bowing to the Divine. The hands are interlaced behind the back with the palms are touching. While the forward leg remains bent, the hips hinge and the upper body folds forward. The arms stretch toward the head. The crown of the head may touch the floor; if not, the gaze should be toward the ground.
  • Parsva/Viparita Virabhadrasana – This pose is considered a variation of Virabhadrasana 2, but unlike its cousin pose, the rear hand rests on the back leg, as the forward arm reaches to the sky, creating an arch in the back. The gaze is to the sky. In English, it is called side, reverse or inverted warrior.

Email Newsletter

Join thousands of others with our weekly newsletter