Being a Warrior
What does it mean to be a warrior?There are many references to fighting in the philosophy and mythology of yoga. Probably, the most well known poses are those of the Warrior I, II and III - in Sanskrit Virabhadrasana I, II and III. These poses represent the story of Virabhadra, a fierce warrior who was at the command of Lord Shiva. When the father of Shiva's consort, Shakti, did not invite him to a ritual, Shiva created Virabhadra and ordered him to cut off the head of his girlfriend’s father and place it on a stake. This total over reaction to not being invited to a party greatly upset his girlfriend Shakti and Shiva relented, bringing her father back to life.Yoga is full of stories about fighting and warriors, which is interesting, given its reputation for non harming and gentleness. In fact, one of the yamas, or social restaints, in yoga is ashima - non harming. I remember my yoga philosophy teacher, Carlos Pomeda, telling us that there was a difference between non violence and non harming. Sometimes violence is needed to avoid greater harm: a classic example would be Great Britain declaring war on Germany in 1939 in order to defeat the Nazis.But one of the reasons I love yoga is that it mirrors life and doesn't shy away from the hard stuff. Life can be hard and messy. Painful. Exhausting. We ALL over-react and behave in ridiculous ways when we're angry. Yoga acknowledges this and doesn't shy away from making us face these things, unpleasant though they may be. In fact, you cannot experience the good things such as love and pleasure without experiencing the flip side. A life full of only positivity isn't reality.
Probably one of the best weapons in our tool box is that of compassion, and especially self compassion. We ALL make mistakes and get things wrong. We all upset others unintentionally, when exclude them, or when we hurt them or their families or friends. This is the life we live. Accepting that we are not perfect, forgiving ourselves and then moving to right the wrong is really the message at the heart of the story of Shiva, Shakti and Virabhadra.