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Yoga 101: Humble Warrior

“Do you wish to rise? Begin by descending. You plan a tower that will pierce the clouds? Lay first the foundation of humility.”

Saint Augustine 



One of the fascinating parts of yoga asana is the hidden meaning that lies beneath the form. Unpacking each pose or posture can deepen awareness of the subtle effects of the practice. Whether we are opening our hearts or folding forward, each posture contains a symbolic meaning that is supported by the physical form. 


Humble warrior is a posture where the yogi bows forward in a Warrior I stance with their hands clasped behind their back. Bowing forward, tucking and rounding the torso, the yogi allows their hands to move toward the floor in front of their head staying mindful to release the shoulders away from the ears. 



 

The adjective “humble” comes from latin roots humilis, which can be translated as “from the earth” or “grounded.” Defined as “a modest or low view of one’s importance,” humility or “being humble” can easily be associated with the emotions of submission or passivity. However, the asana, Humble Warrior, invites forth a new, more expansive definition of being humble.


If you have ever attempted the posture, you already know that Humble Warrior requires an incredible amount of strength and balance alongside an element of surrender.



Each stage of entering the posture teaches us something about embodied humility. We first find stability and presence with solid footing and a rooted foundation. Then we balance our hips as we send our front knee out directly over the ankle. Our hips are strong emotional centers in our bodies and, by balancing and opening our hips in this posture, we are also releasing stuck emotional energy. Lifting and opening the heart, we clasp our hands behind us, melting our shoulder blades down our backs and interlacing the fingers. The next action is to draw the navel toward the spine, tucking and rounding, engaging the core.


At the core resides an energy center called the Manipura Chakra, which is associated with self-esteem and confidence. A strong sense of self helps this energy center stay vital and healthy. Likewise, a healthy sense of self precedes humility.


After we lift the heart and engage the core, we bow the head toward the inside of the front foot, releasing the head and the neck, while keeping our hips and shoulders aligned. 


Humble Warrior teaches us that humility is much more than submission, or even letting go of pride.


Here’s one way to look at the subtleties of the posture. Finding stability and strength, we can stand in the present moment on our own two feet. By aligning and opening our hips, we balance and let go of stuck emotional energy, generating inner peace. By releasing our shoulders (or “should-ers”) down our back with our clasp, we open and lift the heart. Engaging our strong core, we express a healthy sense of self. And, finally, surrendering to higher power with a deep bow toward the floor, we let go of pride.


With each step, we discover our own sense of humility. Far from passive or submissive, we are strong, balanced, open, and bowing to a power higher than ourselves in this posture… and in life. Humble Warrior helps us to develop the body wisdom and state of mind that expresses humility.



“Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.”

-C.S. Lewis



Enjoy this article? #GoDeeper and learn the ins and outs of the form with Five Pillar’s article: The Other Warriors: Reverse and Humble.


*Article Image taken from http://blog.robertrandall.com