The Warrior Variations

Between the years 1819 and 1823, Ludwig van Beethoven created a series of works based on a simple waltz by Anton Diabelli. Diabelli originally wrote the waltz, in 1819, as a vehicle for some of the greatest composers of his time to create variations. By the end of his working with the waltz, Beethoven had created thirty-three variations. A lot. Given the simplicity of the piece, and the initial request, the number of variations sometimes is interpreted as Beethoven saying, "Well, yes, I am that good, and look what I can do."

Today, we attempt our own yogic variations. We're not looking to show off how good we are, just trying to have a new experience in a posture that we may have done a thousand (or two) times.

The pose? Virabhadrasana II (Warrior II). The practice? Vinyasa-y and sweaty.

If you have any favorite or oddball variations on a pose, let me know. I like learning new ways to switch things up.

The Warrior Variations

For the Vinyasa parts of this sequence, try to flow with the breath between postures. Once you arrive in the Warrior variations, however, see how long you can hold with both strength and ease. When you lose your breath, it's time to move on from a pose (or find your breath again, if you can).

  1. Sukhasana (Easy Pose)
  2. Gentle twist to one side and the other
  3. Head and neck rolls
  4. Placing hands on knees, use the hands to "pull" the chest open towards the knees
  5. Exhale, bring the chest back slightly behind the hips, making a C curve with the back
  6. Flow between steps 4 and 5
  7. Tadasana (Mountain Pose)
  8. Uttanasana (Forward Fold)
  9. Chaturanga Dandasana (Plank Pose)
  10. Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (Upward Facing Dog Pose)
  11. Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facind Dog Pose)
  12. Uttanasana
  13. Repeat steps 7-12 three times
  14. Repeat step 13, adding low lunges where appropriate
  15. Repeat step 13, adding high lunges where appropriate
  16. Tadasana
  17. Virabhadrasana I (Warrior I)
  18. Tadasana
  19. Virabhadrasana I
  20. Tadasana
  21. Virabhadrasana I 
  22. Virabhadrasana II (Warrior II)
  23. Repeat steps 9-12 (Vinyasa to standing)
  24. Repeat steps 20-23
  25. Again, make your way into Virabhadrasana II. This time, turn the palms upward making the hands into cups, like your hands are trying to catch falling water. Repeat other side.
  26. Vinyasa to Virabhadrasana II. Take prayer hands in front of your heart. On an inhale "fly" the hands out to the traditional "T" position. Flowing with breath move the hands from prayer to T position. Repeat other side.
  27. Vinyasa to Virabhadrasana II. Allow the fingers to point towards the ceiling, heels of the hands pressing outwards ("Stop" hands). Repeat other side.
  28. Vinyasa to floor. Come onto your back
  29. Chakrasana (Wheel Pose). Repeat three times
  30. On back curl into ball, bringing head towards knees
  31. Paschimottasana (Seated Forward Fold Pose)
  32. Janu Sirsasana (Seated Head to Knee Pose)
  33. Parivrtta Janu Sirsasana (Revolved Head to Knee Pose)
  34. Repeat 31-33 with other side
  35. Sarvangasana (Shoulderstand Pose)
  36. Viparita Karani (Legs up the Wall Pose)

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