My late 20s have felt like a decade of suffering and depression.  Two (beautiful) babies, one soul-crushing marriage and a two-and-half year long divorce took every bit of strength and courage I had to keep moving forward.  When life is that hard, moving is painful.  Thoughts are jagged and exhausting.  I was so overwhelmed by anxiety and trauma that I was basically handicapped and homebound for about six months.   My mind, emotions, spirit and body were sick.   

I started doing yoga in 2017 at Dragonfly 360 Yoga & Wellness.  At 27, my right leg was so weak that I couldn’t lift it to put on my pants.  My yoga teacher, Mike Camp, was able to work with that limitation while increasing my range of motion and strength.  A weekly yoga practice over the next year toned me up, physically and emotionally.  But my divorce was still dragging out.  I felt like it would never end and I’d never be free.  I was tired of fighting, and it seemed like the trauma in the past was following me into the present.

As I learned more about the meaning behind yoga poses, the warrior poses became an essential tool along with talk-therapy, naturopathic medicine and acupuncture to help me regain my life. 

Understanding the traditional meaning of the warrior poses and making them my own gave me a strength and confidence to move forward and continue to fight for a good life for my daughters and myself.  Each pose has a meaning and importance in itself.  The order of the warrior poses is crucial to developing a guide to deal with anxiety and depression.  

Warrior I

Ground & Recharge

The first pose, Warrior I, is all about solidness.  Chronic anxiety feels like floating through the universe, in danger of getting whacked by passing by debris, bad energy and mean people. 

In this pose, I feel rooted and grounded.  Once I establish that strong stance, I feel a sense of relief and stability in myself.  Lifting my arms up, I remember my connection to a higher power and the universe.  That line up to heaven draws down power and strength from God, and I feel that eternal energy in the palms of my hands moving down through my spine and into my feet. When anxiety makes me feel hopeless and weak, this pose reconnects me to a firm foundation and surging strength of the will.

Try: I love visualization.  Imagine a light in between your out-stretched hands.  The light holds all the power and love you wish to bring into your life.  Feel the tension and heat in your hands.  Hold it there, or feel a burst of sparkling light falling all around you.  Your life is a celebration, and the universe celebrates you.

Warrior II

Focus on the Present

Everyone has a pose in yoga that their body just doesn’t fit with, and Warrior II is one of those for me.  But it is my favorite!  Warrior II is the focus pose.  After grounding with earth and connecting with universe in Warrior I, it’s time to focus on what’s directly front of me – my fingertips. 

Unlike Warrior II, anxiety is not focused.  Anxiety needs to do or fix something when that which needs to be fixed is out of my hands to fix.  Maybe it can’t be fixed now, or maybe it can never be fixed, or there is nothing to be fixed but only the fear that something will go wrong.  

Warrior II brings me to the present moment, to focus, to be in my body and present.  It is that moment of clarity that anxiety stole.   It’s a reminder that there is a time to fix or fight, but that time is not now.  There is no battle now, only the laser-focus on my fingertips and maybe a bit beyond.

Try: Focus on the moment.  Focus into your feet, your ankles, your legs, your torso and shoulders and arms.  Stay in your body.  Don’t release yourself into the great unknown… yet.  The time will come to take action, but now, regroup yourself and call yourself back into your body.  Let the strength build.

Warrior III

The Battle (Pose) is Short

Warrior III is the battle pose.  The time to finally release your strength and focus into a well-planned attack.  No reactionary behaviors.  No sudden burst of anxiety-induced fighting.  You have built yourself up to this.  

There is a part of me that believes that Warrior III can only be done once I’m more fit or yoga-practiced, but falling and losing balance is a major lesson in Warrior III.  Warrior III is finally taking on the challenge, engaging the battle, running the race.  There is no challenge you will face that doesn’t knock you around.  It wouldn’t be a challenge. Strength is resilience and perseverance.  That is what is needed in Warrior III.

Note the order of the poses.  Anxiety says that Warrior III is the first pose: the FIRST thing you do is to act fast.  But there is a lot of time between that which makes you anxious, like a court hearing or tough conversation with a loved one, and the present moment.  There’s a lot of life and happiness and sleep to be missed if anxiety catches you in a never-ending Warrior III.  

In yoga and in life, the battle (pose) is short.  Take the time to ground and recharge.  Focus on the present and being inside your body.  Gain that momentum and power.  Then take flight and conquer that thing you’re afraid of.  Rest in savasana. 

As the manager at Dragonfly 360 Yoga & Wellness, Erin Rodgers is passionate about helping others (like herself) find relief from anxiety and depression through naturopathic medicine, acupuncture, and yoga.  

Call 317-818-1800 to learn more about our services or request an appointment.