Arti H. Mehta about Guruji Vīrabhadrāsana I

Guruji tells us time and again that while performing any āsana, observe what you are doing, observe what is

happening - unknowingly. He always tells us to reflect on our actions. Most often than not, we are satisfied

with doing the pose but we have to learn to do the āsana - wherein there is complete engrossment - i.e. a

meditative state. Guruji does not use the word “meditation” but he has made us go into that state in whatever

āsana we are doing in his presence.

However, we are unable to achieve the same during our own practices. Guruji’s knowledge about the human

body and mind is unimaginable. Without looking at the student, he can rightly state what exactly we are doing

or not doing in any āsana. In this article, we have compiled how the mind and attention wanders and the

common errors that we tend to make while doing Vīrabhadrāsana I, and, how to adjust ourselves to attain

perfection in this āsana. This article has to be read in conjunction with Light on Yoga and Yoga in Action.

Guruji says, “Vīrabhadrāsana I is the first step for all backbends. I f you do not know how to do

Vīrabhadrāsana I correctly then you will never learn backbends in totality – even if you are doing them. But

if you capture the total movement of Vīrabhadrāsana I, observing part by part, then you can transmit those

adjustments from Vīrabhadrāsana I to the backbends.


Going into Vīrabhadrāsana I

Spread the feet apart and turn the right leg outwards and the left leg in. Turn the trunk completely

to the right side. Keep both the knees straight.

Front leg:

The leg that is in the front drops.

Broaden the inner edge of the heels.

When you start to bend this leg at the knee, observe

the inner portion of this foot. As you bend, the

region between the arch and the edge of the heel


Prevent this shortening by lifting the sole of the

foot and then extend the arch of the foot towards

the heel before placing the complete foot on the

floor. This brings life in the leg.

The quadriceps muscle of the front leg (right leg)

turns in then the left side of the chest turns to the


The inner portion of the upper thigh of the front

leg is dull as if the container is moving towards the

content of the leg.

Push the content to feel where the container is.

You will then notice how the tailbone rotates. If

you feel some pain in the leg then turn the outer

chip of the knee of the “back leg” towards the

middle of the knee for the pain to disappear.

The space between the kneecap and the knee

joint of the “back leg” should be lessened as you

bend at the knee of the front leg.


The tongue:

The tongue goes up when you bend the knee. The

root of the tongue is your enemy as it goes into the

throat and closes the windpipe making breathing


Keep the top of the tongue passive as you bend

the knee so that the root does not jam the throat.

Do Śavāsana with the tongue.


Back leg:

If the edge of the mount of the big toe is touching

the floor then it indicates a fear complex.

Open out all the toes and see how the energy is

felt in the same line through the entire leg.

The inner leg is dull.

Lengthen it and observe how the waist turns


You lose your attention on the knee of the back leg

when you bend the knee of the front leg.

Maintain your attention on the “back leg” and see

how the leg retains its power and potency.

Observe the inner portion of the upper leg. The skin

in this region tends to move outwards.

Move it inwards towards the flesh. The way the

skin touches the flesh, your intelligence is sharpened

in that region.

The outer portion of the bottom edge of the foot

lifts up.

Your attention should be on the bottom of the

outer ankle and the skin should be extending

towards the heel. As the heel descends, the calf

muscles open and the outer calf muscles move in.

Watch the lateral side of the muscles of the shin. It

drops outwards, moving away from the body, away

from the consciousness.

Move the bottom portion of the shin bone (just

above the ankle joint) towards the back of the leg.

You may feel pain on the outer side of the bottom

of the shin. This is right pain which educates you.

Don’t rest the buttock on the tail bone.

Release the buttock (of the leg which is behind)

from the tail bone. The knee cap turns in more

and the pain lessens.

Iyengar Yoga News, Issue number 34, Spring 2019

Turn the outer chip of the knee of the back leg

slightly towards the middle line of the leg by

releasing the buttock which is stuck to the tailbone.

The outer kneecap moves in and there is no



The feet:

Broaden the skin of foot and touch the outer

corner of the heel of the foot of the leg which is

back on the floor.

The little toe of this foot rests on the second toe.

Create room on the outer side of the little toe.

If you observe the feet of the front leg, you will find

that the heel tends to move in more than the sole.

The sensation felt on the heel has to be retained

when you bend the leg.

The skin on the bottom of the foot should be

spread out.

The sensory nerves should take the motor nerves

back along with the entire gross body.

Bend the knee of the “front leg” by touching the

inner and outer plate of the heel evenly on the



Adjusting the bottom of the foot to adjust the complete


The energy in the upper portion of the back leg

moves upwards while the energy in the lower legs

moves downwards. The mount of the big toe moves

towards the floor while that of the little toe moves

off the floor. The back of the heel does not touch

the floor. This is contradiction in action.

Broaden the mounts of sole of the foot of the

back leg from the big toe towards the little toe.

Also, touch the heel bone. The upper leg then

turns in and the energy moves uniformly in the

entire leg.


Turning the trunk:

Turn the muscles on the lateral side of the shin of

the back leg circularly inwards so that the trunk

turns on its own.

The centre of the ankle joint of the “back leg”

should be lifted up. The motor nerves should feel

the skin of the ankle. Ascending the ankle, revolve

the lateral thigh muscles (especially the bottom of

the thigh) from outside inwards.



Broaden both your knees. Feel the inner and

outer knee. Are they parallel? As you bend the

knee, the inner portion of the knee moves down.

If the inner knee is down, the head of the toes are

rolling in. Open the toes and the inner knee bone

goes up.


Calf muscles:

The inner portion of the shin bone of the bent leg is

straight but the calf muscles protrude out like a balloon.

They move outwards and backwards. It means

the consciousness is not penetrating.

Pound the ankle joint to the ground (slightly turning

it in), nail it down and then stretch the top of

the outer leg. The leg will be stable there only if

the intelligence is stable.

Observe the skin on the bottom of the arch. Create

life in the skin of the arch where the flesh and

the skin become harder. The skin and the flesh

at the arch should be in contact and then spread

the skin and the flesh (like ironing a cloth). The leg

then becomes very stable.

Observe the middle of the inner calf muscles of

the back leg. These are the muscles which move,

which grip, which extend and expand. These are

the muscles which work for the backward bending


Broaden the calf muscles of the back leg.


Bending the knee of the front leg:

Maintain the length and girth on the back of the

knee of the back leg as you bend at the knee of

the front leg. Also “lock” the top of the knee-cap.

Move the groin of the bent leg to reach towards

the inner bank of the calf muscles and you feel

lightness in the āsana .

As you bend the knee, on the outer side of the

thigh, the energy moves towards the knee while

it moves away from the knee on the inner side of

the thigh. Move from the groin towards the inner

knee (and not the outer knee) as you bend at the

knee. The energy is balanced evenly on both the

banks of the knees.

The outer side of the socket of the back leg

should move towards the groin of the front leg.

The more you rotate the leg, the greater is the

lightness felt on the leg.

The weight should be felt firmly on the centre of

the sole and the heel of the bent leg.

The tailbone and the sternum should be brought

in line to each other.

The mounts of the toes of the back leg should be


If the big toe of the “back leg” is moving towards

the floor then move the energy to the outer

side of the foot bone. To do this, raise the inner

portion of the knee cap of the “back leg” and the

energy will shift automatically.

Rotate the “back leg” along with the knee from

outside inwards as you bend at the knee of the

“front leg”. The groin should also be rotated along

with the leg. Then, there is no chance of any injury

to the knee. The load comes on the knee when

the groin does not turn in.

The middle of the thigh of the bent leg should be

parallel to the floor.


The groins:

Turn the groin of the front leg from outside in.

Watch the mounts of the toes of the back foot when

you turn the groin of the front leg. The mounts


Broaden the mounts. You have to be on the heel

of the front foot and not the sole to broaden the

mounts of the toes of the “back foot. Then you

can easily adjust the back foot. Introspect and try

to get the same movement on both the legs.

Make the bottom of the groin of the bent leg passive.

Drop the groin. The groins should drop even

when you lift the arms up. There is instability in

the pose when the groin is lifted up.



When the right foot is turned out, the left side of

the waist should move away from the spine

Release the skin from the spinal column to move

towards the periphery, let it not rest on the spinal




If your wrists are light after you have stretched your

hands then it means that there is darkness there.

The intelligence is jarring on the back of the upper

arms but there is no sensation on the front of the


Observe the middle of the “thumb side” of the

forearm (which is the pole star of the hand) and

make the inner consciousness to feel the skin

there. Then the shoulders go down and the lightness

is felt on the back of the upper arms (where

the intelligence was initially jarring).

From the pole star, move the skin back and

stretch the rest of the arm forward. You are closer

to the self and the arm is also closer to the self.

This pole star drops when you take the hands up.

Keep the pole star stable as you take the hands

up. The skin and the bone should run parallel to

each other.

The arms can be lifted up further by stamping the

heel of the bent leg and sending the energy from

the front towards the back of the heel.

The arms can be moved up further by doing

Tādāsanaon the back of the knee of the “back


The arms have to be stretched from the back of

the floating rubs and not the frontal portion of

the breasts

Observe whether the flesh or the skin has lost its

potency when you take the arms up ?If the flesh

has become dull, then stretch only from the inner

flesh. If the skin has become dull then lift only the

skin up without touching the flesh.

Iyengar Yoga News, Issue number 34, Spring 2019

The palms become rigid if they are tensed. Do not

let the middle of the palm cave in, let it move out.

You lose the sensitivity in the inner upper arms and

the inner elbow at the joint.

Keep the skin in contact with the flesh. Then,

stretch both the skin and the flesh only from the

bottom of the forearm towards the wrist on little

finger side of the palm.



The skin of the outer edge of the index finger, from

the nail to the first knuckle, is dead.

Stretch the skin from the first knuckle towards the

nail and observe how the trapezium, the shoulder

blades and the deltoids start working.


Shoulder blades:

Before talking the arms up, turn the palms up

and then stretch the shoulder blades towards

the thumb. Move the shoulder blades away from

each other as you move the arms up. Space is

created between the shoulder blades for the arms

to move up easily.



Stretch the arms by locking the elbow joints.

Open the palms so that the energy does not block


The energy moves down towards the triceps at the

back of the head of the elbow joint while the energy

moves up in the rest of the arm.

Let the energy at the head of the elbow joint

also move towards the thumb.

The eye of the elbow is the brain. Open the eye

of the elbow and lift your arms up without dropping

the skin there.



If you cannot join the palms, keep them away

but the wrists should be vertical and parallel to

each other. The inner wrist should also be parallel

to the outer wrist.



Extend the arms to the side and release the

head of the deltoid.

Lift the arms up by maintaining the softness

in the deltoids.

When you turn the palms up, the sensory

nerves of the deltoids must dip towards the relaxed

motor nerves. The arms then get longer.

The deltoids must not sink into the shoulders.

Lift them. Lift the arms from the outer collarbones.


This article is a compilation of Guruji’s teaching during his 8Oth birthday and the silver jubilee

celebrations of RIMYI – reprinted with thanks from Yoga Rahasya Vol. 9 (4), 200