Lessons from Yoga: Warrior Poses

Ok, so the other day I realized that I almost never do Warrior poses in my personal yoga practice and I asked myself why. Why do I avoid Warrior Poses? So, I started thinking about this and it was really revealing for me. Here’s what I came up with…

First, I don’t do these poses, or when I do them I don’t hold them for very long, because my legs are actually fairly weak. I don’t do these poses often (I haven’t actually done many standing poses in general lately) so these muscles haven’t had a chance to build strength.

My second reason for not doing these poses often, or not holding them for long, is much more mental and emotional and it is really the thing that was revealing for me. Basically Warrior poses are very assertive poses. They are strong, powerful poses. They are very much “warrior” poses and there is a feeling of assertive warriorness that comes to me when I do them. And I don’t like that. I don’t like being or seeming assertive. I don’t feel that I should be powerful. I think there is a very real internal feeling in me that feels that it is not right to be powerful and assertive. I think there is a part of me that feels that being assertive or powerful shows pride and arrogance instead of submissive humility. I value humility but I don’t value assertiveness. So, I don’t like doing warrior poses. They feel too powerful and that scares me.

But, as I’ve been thinking about this I’ve been realizing some things. For starters God is a warrior God and a powerful God. And He calls his people to fight powerfully for truth and justice. There is a time for asserting ourselves on behalf of others. There is a time for powerfully standing up for another. I think that fighting for justice is something that I have very little experience in, but it is something I have felt God challenging me on and in a strange way I think the first step He is asking me to take is to start incorporating Warrior pose into my yoga practice. Maybe it sounds weird but I think the first step for me is to experience God’s warrior strength and power and heart for justice in my body and then to take that out into my everyday life.

The other thing that I have been thinking about is that humility and submissiveness really can be taken to an unhealthy place. I used to not like when people said that. I thought aren’t we suppose to completely die to self and thus not care if people walk all over us? But, really I’m realizing that what I often do when I don’t stand up for myself, when I let people walk over me, is that I give into fear. So, often I don’t share what I really think or feel, or I don’t stand up for myself because I am scared of what people will think of me and scared that I will hurt their feelings. But, I don’t think I am really helping them or me when I do that. I think the other thing that I have been realizing is that in cowering and not standing up for myself I am often lying. There is a place for setting your own needs and desires aside in favor of another person’s needs/desires. But, there is also a place for being honest and standing up for yourself as one of God’s beautiful creations. I’m starting to learn that there is a place for asserting yourself.

So, God has been challenging me to start doing warrior poses and to start allowing myself to be strong in my yoga practice and in my daily life - asserting myself on behalf of others and on my own behalf (when appropriate) as well.

Rejoicing in the journey - Bethany Stedman