“Not being tense but ready.
Not thinking but not dreaming.
Not being set but flexible.
Liberation from the uneasy sense of confinement.
It is being wholly and quietly alive, aware and alert, ready for whatever may come.”
At some point in all of our lives, one cannot help but acknowledge that despite all our well intending efforts, NATURE is sometimes grossly unfair. When the rights and wrongs seem to go all topsy-turvy and you feel yourself being thrown off balance, take a deep breath before leaping headfirst into (re)action mode, and pause to check in with your feeling body.
When engaging in conflict, hot flames of anger, a defensive ego, and a lust for vengeance can create imbalances that make the mere idea of what we strive for in yoga—contentment or “santosha”—seem completely unattainable.
Holding grudges or feeling stuck in victim mode can spiral us into deep inner turmoil, resulting in unresolved arguments and disagreements with others. Whether you can shrug off a negative situation and walk away with a clear conscience, or you have that powerful call to fight the good fight, remember that whatever you do or do not do affects you and those around you.
A Peaceful Battle
The Peaceful Warrior may sound contradictory, but your yoga practice requires that you seek truth beyond illusions and make thoughtful choices instead of floating from one reaction to the next when life happens.
The Warrior has the wisdom to back down and observe himself in the moment, prepared to make split second decisions that support the greater good. Only the truly courageous respond to tumultuous circumstances from the heart,not from a familiar and out-of-date conditioned belief system.
Practice the following poses and mantras individually or in-sequence to stay present, channel fierceness and fearlessness, and become a Peaceful Warrior in times of conflict.
The Will of the Warrior: Virabhadrasana I
Mantra: Steady your gaze.
Traits: Dauntless, Focused, and Silent Observer
The heart and head face FORWARD, resisting the backward pull of past behaviors, ignorance, and nostalgia. This stance exudes a calm presence knowing that at any moment, without anticipation, if the need for confrontation arises, the Warrior won’t let doubts or fears stop him from action.
This asana teaches you how to simultaneously observe your external situation while maintaining an awareness of your internal landscape.
The arms lift skyward to receive cosmic guidance while the feet remain planted on the earth: for grounding roots in the human experience while connecting the body with a higher knowing and deeper focus.
The Voice of the Warrior: Virabhadrasana II
Mantra: Choose your battles.
Traits:: Intuition, Discerning, and Soothing Voice in times of distress
Yoga teaches ahimsa, non-violence to the self or others. When your defenses flare, have compassion for yourself and recognize that something needs your attention. Take the time to understand what irks you rather than sacrificing your authentic feelings for the sake of maintaining the illusion of peace.
Ignoring your needs by suppressing your truth is the same as painfully contorting yourself into a potentially injurious asana, which creates even more conflict, not inner peace. In Warrior II, the arms extend to the furthest reaches so you can embrace the situation in its entirety.
By opening up to your experience of past events, which create fearful anticipation of a perceived outcome, you can practice discernment, let go of the chaos of the mind, tune into the NOW, and listen to the calm intuitive voice.
Warrior II allows you to take it all in without compromising yourself. Even if it may not require going head-to-head with someone in battle, you will retain the know-how to speak up when your boundaries are crossed.
The Spirit of Warrior: Virabhadrasana III
Mantra: Connect to your truth.
Traits: Commitment, Trust, and Devotion
Sometimes you must confront challenges directly and have the courage to see your vulnerabilities as strengths. Do you know your weak spots?
A few observations you might make include: a reluctance to compromise, an incessant need to be RIGHT, the desire to avoid conflict and quickly apologize, or take too much responsibility to put a stop to a necessary disagreement.
The ability to flow while integrating the right amount of strength, flexibility, and balance in the moment will ultimately teach you how to become a spiritual gangsta that won't take no guff!
Warrior III steadies the body, requiring that you to commit to the pose without tensing up. The flowing fluidity, or balance in motion, allows for moments of stillness and deep concentration. One can only maintain this posture when the mind remains open to possibility and when the heart understands how to give AND receive unconditional love even and especially amidst shaky, unstable moments.
Awakening the Warrior Spirit
As you awaken your Warrior spirit within and find the compassion to see both yourself AND others as whole and PERFECT, you find ways to cope and stay empowered, regardless of whatever unfortunate events life throws at you.
Try to celebrate the diversity amongst all beings to make space for absolute acceptance. Remember, conflict with others can allow us brief glimpses of our own blind spots, which we may not have acknowledged otherwise, and the so-called “enemy” can indeed become the greatest teacher.
We ALL have obstacles to overcome, and when something (or someone) pulls one of our triggers, instead of firing back with emotional ammunition, seek the support and wisdom from the Peaceful Warrior and remember that you can always choose peace.