Once upon a time in ancient India, an unorthodox young god named Shiva fell passionately in love with a spirited young woman named Sati. Sati’s father, Daksha, was a hard-headed, egotistical man and fiercely disapproved of his daughter’s choice. Defying him, Shiva and Sati wed in a romantic ceremony and went to live among the majestic snow-capped peaks of the Himalayas.
To spite them, Daksha organized a grand and lavish sacrificial ceremony in his palace, with glorious melodies of Vedic chants, fragrant garlands of jasmine, and sumptuous aromatic dishes made with the finest spices. He invited princes, gods, goddesses and dignitaries from near and far, but intentionally excluded Shiva and Sati.
Shiva was indifferent to his father-in-law’s self-centred antics and had no interest in the event, but Sati, determined to win her father’s respect, insisted upon attending without an invitation. Unfortunately, she arrived at the ceremony only to be faced with a tide of derogatory sneers and insults from Daksha. Overwhelmed with anguish, humiliation and pain, she resolved to no longer be associated with the earthly body her father had given her. She sat down, retreated deep within herself and began to practice fierce yogic breathing, which violently ignited her inner fire and engulfed her body in flames.
Devastated and enraged by the news of Sati’s tragic death, Shiva ripped out his hair and created Virabhadra, a fiery gigantic warrior who carried terrifying weapons and embellished his body with snakes and skulls. Virabhadra dove into the ground toward the ceremony. Once there, he broke through the earth holding his sword above his head (Warrior I) and met Daksha’s frightened gaze. He then took his aim (Warrior II) and brought his sword down into a fatal blow (Warrior III).
Although this story seems dramatically violent and far from the inner peace and serenity that yoga promotes, the underlying message is very important. Lord Shiva represents the Higher Self; Sati represents the Heart; and Daksha represents the Ego and all its ramifications, such as anger, impatience, maliciousness and arrogance. As human beings, we all fight spiritual battles with our egos and practicing the Warrior Sequence is essentially practicing control and triumph over those negative vibrations by virtue of our pure hearts.
Andrea is a lifelong practitioner and certified Teacher of Yoga from the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Dhanwantari Ashram in Kerala, India. As well as being the founder, creator and author of Body Mind Light and a Brand Ambassador for yoga clothing lines, she also teaches private classes in Sivananda Yoga in Toronto, Canada.