The yoga posture known as Humble Warrior, sometimes called Devotional Warrior, is an example of Patanjali’s sutra 2.1 in action. The posture requires not only great strength throughout the legs, pelvis, and core, but also balance. The focus and effort for this pose requires fiercenss, tapas. The upper body folds forward encouraging a yogi to look within, to be able to see oneself with honesty and discernment. This is the practice of svādhyāya. Devotion, Īśvarapranidhāna, appears in the posture by bowing the head low, even touching the head to the floor inside the front foot. In India, the birthplace of yoga, to bow and place the head low or to the ground is the highest form of humility and respect. Though it take some flexibility in the hips to come into Humble Warrior, without the strength and stability of one’s tapas and the willingness to uplift the mind from constraint through svādhyāya, one would not be able to bow the head low to the floor. It takes fierceness for our full understanding and capacity of humility to arise.
1. Begin in Warrior 1 with the right foot forward. Heel-toe the right foot to the right slightly.
2. Interlace the fingers at the base of the spine into yoga mudra. If it is available, press the heels of the palms together.
3. Inhale, lengthen the tailbone and lift the heart and gaze toward the sky.
4. As you exhale, keep space in the heart space as you bow forward. The right should moves to the inside of the right knee. Lift the arms up and over.
5. Press into the back foot, and square the hips by pulling the right hip back so that you can bow deeper into the posture.
6. Engage the core so that the crown of the head may release toward the ground on the inside of the right foot.
7. To exit, press into the feet, release the hands. Inhale to rise.
8. Repeat on the opposite side.
Tightness in the hips and shoulders may limit some practitioners. To modify for tight shoulders, hold a strap in the hands (see picture below). If the crown of the head does not reach the Earth, place a block on the appropriate height and allow the forehead to ground to the block (see picture below).
Do not perform this pose if you have high blood pressure or a heart condition. Though a strap may help with tight shoulders, avoid this pose if you have a shoulder injury.