Why Warrior Arka?
The Sanskrit word arka is so powerful it has over 18 different definitions and each one is different and deep in itself. Of the many definitions, arka means fire and flash of lightning, Sun, and it is known also as the body or the strong body of a medicinal plant. Arka is also the 795th name of Vishnu, also known as the Adored One. The word Warrior, like arka, also has many meanings mostly denoting strength. So the Warrior Arka (Body) is a strong beam of light that becomes the guardian and the protector, being adored and respected. The Warrior Sun Body is what rings through as we move through the poses of the Warrior and take these lessons off the mat.......
Yogis & Martial Arts: Is there a Connection?
One of my Yoga teachers, Duncan Wong says that Yogis are Warriors of Peace. Sometimes in life we have to be strong and courageous to take on the challenges of life, by standing up for others and ourselves. When we do these things, we still have to find our own path. Warriors are guardians of peace, and sometimes they have to fight and stand their ground. When we stand our ground we have to look within, find our true selves — find that warrior.
Martial arts and yoga have similar qualities; they both teach self realization — transformation of the self through movement and breath. They both teach self discipline — to keep the body and mind strong to help others and fight for others. Full contact or fighting is only used when necessary. History says that a Saint named Bodhidharma traveled from India to China to teach Shaolin Monks physical exercises — asanas — and fighting techniques for them to be able to protect themselves and others. Bodhidharma is also said to have taught meditation techniques and spiritual disciplines. Looking deeply at martial arts stances and the Warrior yoga poses, we can see the same principles of alignment and stability. I personally believe that martial art movements were secretly taught by the Yogis through the warrior poses. Often times Yogis were sent to teach military and militia asanas and fighting techniques.
There are probably hundreds of warrior poses within yoga asana. For example goddess pose (Utkata Konasana) in Yoga is sometimes called horse stance which is actually the martial arts name given to the same pose. This is a warrior pose in martial arts that has been used for ever. Looking at the postures, seeing the parallels of warrior poses and yoga poses, think about how many archer’s poses there are, just putting this all together in a physical sense, we can see the parallels. The warrior poses in the Yogic tradition were started by Lord Shiva, an amazing story of seeing things as they really are. Seeing true love and compassion, that what a Warrior does, a Yogi.
The Story of the Yoga Warrior: Shiva & Virabhadra
The story of Lord Shiva is based upon an incident that is a story solely on love, compassion, sadness, shame, and attachment — a story of transformation. The story is full of emotion and also strength like the Warrior within, that makes good decisions and sometimes not so good. But this story teaches that we have to slay the ego like a Yogi or a Warrior, and remember that the nature of the heart is to love.
Lord Shiva was married to his love Sati, and they lived in a beautiful city Bhoga, which Shiva had created. Sati's father Daksha never really approved of his daughter's marriage decision. To her father, Shiva was a unorthodox hermit and sadhu, who was a spiritual outcast to some. A Yogi with dreads, sings, dances, and rejects the riches of the world, etc — a “bad boy” or “rebel” in Daksha’s eyes. Daksha felt like Shiva wasn't a worthy husband for his daughter. Daksha was the worldly creator, upholder of civilized people. He loves rules and regulation. Shiva was an outcast in that way.
Soon Sati left her home to marry and live with Shiva, her father organized a huge party, a ritual sacrifice. Her father invited all the members of the entire universe, except for Sati and Shiva. Shiva and Sati got word of the party, and Sati was upset by it and wanted to go anyway. Shiva says to Sati, why go some place we are not wanted? He did not want to anger Daksha any further, so Sati went alone to the party. And when she arrived her father asked why she was there? He said, “have you come to your senses and realized that your husband is a barbarian? Isn't he called Lord of the Beast?” The guests laughed at the remark. To take up for her husband she said, "He is one with nature and does not seek to control animals by bending them to his will. Society is artificial and exploits nature." The conversation between the two was very entertaining to the guest. Sati was sad at the conversation and humility by this public argument.
As Daksha talked, Sati shut down with sadness that this man, her father, the one she has always looked up too and respected would not honor her marriage and disrespected her husband. She decided right at that moment she would cut out all her family ties and told her father that. She said " Since you have given me this body I no longer wish to be associated with it." She walked by her father and then sat down in a meditative posture on the ground. As she meditated right then she went into a meditative trance, going within she began to increase her inner fire and then burst into flames!
When Shiva found out, he was so shocked and sadden; then he became fierce with anger. He fell into a super dark dark place. He tore off some of his dreadlocks, and from that the hair turned into a Warrior, an actual real warrior. Lord Shiva named the warrior, Virabhadra — Vira (hero) Bhadra (friend) .
Shiva commanded the Warrior Virabhadra to go and destroy Daksha and all the guests. So Virabhadra arrives at the party, with a sword in both hands, and is coming up with within the ground and earth. Arms reaching up, just like Virabhadrasana I (Warrior 1), and on his arrival for all to see he sees his opponent and points the sword at Daksha like Virabhadrasana II (Warrior II). Virabhadra then moves in for the sword kill with Virabhadrasana III (Warrior 3) slicing the head off of Daksha. Shiva then shows up to see the damage that the warrior Virabhadra has done.
Love & Forgiveness
Shiva, then, absorbs into the warrior and becomes known as Hare, the ravisher. Shiva’s anger is now gone, and all he feels is sorrow and sadness. He starts to see see compassion after this, and seeing Daksha headless, Shiva replaces Daksha’s head with that of a goat, and brings him back to life. Daksha is overwhelmed with compassion and generosity, and he calls Shiva, Shankar, the kind one. The father Daksha bows to Shiva, and the other gods and goddesses follow Daksha’s lead and bow to him, too.
The meaning of the story is that Shiva is the higher self who gets rid of the ego. For only with the purity of the heart can the higher self forgive the ego, and still continue to fulfill who he is with nature and himself. The power of love brought back the warrior — the love warrior — and brought back life again.
This is a reminder to be the love warrior in our own life: strong, compassionate, selfless, and of nature — a connection to all things......
Wesley Pilcher is a yoga instructor at Arkansa Yoga Collective in Little Rock. Wesley has received certifications in Chinese herbology, basic foundations in Ayurvedic medicine, and aromatherapy. He completed a 6 month Internship with Dr. Murta Champa, a Tibetan and Ayurvedic healer. Wesley received his 200 CYT in Dynamic Hatha Yoga at Circle Yoga Shala and received 2 teaching certificates in Mixed Yogic Arts , and taking under the wing of Ruslan Kleytman AKHILA YOGA and has been teaching since 2007.
Wesley occasionally makes an appearance in St. Louis at Blue Sky Yoga offering stories through movement and much more! He’ll be here May 31st and June 1st.