Yoga is being practiced all over the globe, every day, by millions of people.
Shakti Yoga is essentially a homage to the “Shakti” divine feminine life force, and it aims to take on qualities, in recognition of the female goddess Shakti.
It is an application of creative energy flow, the dynamism of movement, and aims to instill a self-awareness of that mental and physical animation.
In this article, we’ll cover the following:
- What Is Shakti?
- What Is Shakti Yoga?
- Asanas And Sequences In Shakti Yoga
- Benefits Of Shakti Yoga
What Is Shakti?
Shakti, within the context of Hindu philosophy and spirituality, embodies a dynamic and transformative energy that is in a perpetual state of interaction and transformation with the various qualities and forces that constitute the cosmos.
This energy is marked by its ever-changing nature and its capacity to shape and influence the universe’s workings.
Despite its interconnectedness with other cosmic forces, Shakti maintains a unique and separate identity.
In the realm of Hinduism, Shakti is revered as the ultimate source of creativity and vitality. It serves as the driving force behind the animation of all sentient beings, including humans.This vital energy is responsible for the movement, growth, and evolution of life forms. It’s not limited to mere physical existence but also encompasses the spiritual and emotional dimensions of life.
The impact of Shakti reaches far beyond the confines of the physical realm; it is intricately interwoven with the path of spirituality.
It is a held belief that the emergence of one’s inner Shakti has the potential to foster profound self-discovery and illumination.
This process transforms Shakti into a mentor, illuminating the comprehension of the interlinking nature of all beings and the fundamental harmony that unites the entirety of existence.
Her significance is often symbolically represented through various deities and goddesses in Hindu mythology, each embodying different aspects of her energy.
Shakti is both the nurturer and the destroyer, representing the cyclical nature of creation, preservation, and dissolution that governs the universe.
What Is Shakti Yoga?
Shakti Yoga is an inspired yoga style that can be likened to a freeform style of vinyasa yoga that incorporates deep breathing and dynamic movements through traditional poses.
You might even expect periods of the class to be about free movement or ecstatic dance in conjunction with traditional poses and sequences.
Shakti Yoga can also be referred to as unique sessions designed for women. These classes are typically scheduled during full or new moons, as the moon is closely linked to shakti (feminine energy).
You might come across classes labeled as “Shiva-Shakti Yoga,” which represent an approach to hatha yoga with a focus on harmonizing masculine and feminine energies.
Another variant is “Shakti Power Yoga,” which involves a dynamic vinyasa practice that can be performed in a heated or regular environment.
Shakti Power Yoga lends itself to a more exercise-based practice, but it is rooted in spiritual and energetic principles.
You may have even experienced elements of Shakti Yoga in your regular yoga classes.
If you’ve been told to turn your Bitilasana Marjaryasana (Cat and Cow) pose into some self-exploring hip circles, or make it your own, then you’ve already been adding dynamic and Shakti-inspired elements to your practice.
Asanas And Sequences In Shakti Yoga
There will be a lot of familiarity in Shakti Yoga, especially with the asanas.
It would be expected to do poses such as the warriors, your usual display of chest and heart-openers, and of course, sun salutations.
What is especially important in Shakti Yoga is the transitions. How can you make the flow between postures engaging, and inviting for that dynamic and creative divine feminine life force.
The Sun Salutation In Shakti Yoga
The primary pose sequence in Shakti Yoga is the hallmark sun salutation. This sequence opens your heart, flexes your spine, and brings you into your body with presence.
The most commonly used sun salutation in Shakti Yoga has 12 asanas, which help strengthen, warm and align the whole body, in aid of promoting Shakti-based dynamism, creative flow, and self-awareness.
The sun salutation includes the following poses:
#1: Pranamasana (Prayer Pose)
This is a centering asana that traditionally opens up a sun salutation. This is all about finding grounding and strength in the present moment before conducting your sequence.
Whilst standing upright, you press your palms together in front of the heart center, let the shoulders roll down, and tuck the elbows to sit beside your rib cage.
#2: Urdhva Hastasana (Upward Salute Pose)
This is an asana that requires subtle attention and focus – because although it appears easy it is foundational for all more “complex” standing poses.
You extend from your waist upwards through your spine, whilst grounding your feet into the earth.
From the prayer pose, glide your arms above your head and feel the energy expand through your spinal column as you stand and stretch tall, and slightly backward.
#3: Pada Hastasana (Standing Forward Bend Pose)
A classic asana, standing forward bend pose is effective at resetting the energy flow through your body, and opening up your back and core.
This pose is also about regulating the balance of the body and centering our mind into stretching.
To perform this pose from upward salute, you drape your arms down with palms facing forward.
Bending from your lower back, do not be afraid to microbend the knees, and relax your body whilst you catch your toes or ankles with your hands.
#4: Ashwa Sanchalanasana (Equestrian Pose)
A staple of modern yoga, ashwa sanchalanasana is a fundamentally balancing posture that is about commanding opposite forces to promote strength and stability.
From standing forward bend pose, take a sturdy step forward with your right foot, and ground it into the floor in front, pulling your left knee forward also onto the floor.
Keep your right leg in parallel to the floor, and keep your right ankle in line with your right knee.
At this point, open your chest by lifting your torso, transferring weight to your right side, and stretch out your left leg fully.
#5: Chaturanga Dandasana (Four Limbed Staff Pose)
Four limbed staff pose is an instrumental pose in the transition between equestrian pose and the eight limbed pose.
It requires a full activation of your body, and requires proper alignment in aid of balance and harmony in the body.
You kick your right leg back from equestrian pose, and lower yourself down with complete control across your body’s muscles. Tighten your elbows close to the sides of your torso, and hover gently just above the ground, activating your arms, legs, and chest.
#6: Ashtanga Namaskara (Eight Limbed Pose)
Another balancing pose, the gesture of this asana is about paying homage, and in the context of Shakti Yoga, this is homage to the divine feminine.
From the four limbed staff pose, you lower down to touch the ground your knees, your chest, and your chin.
#7: Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (Upward Facing Dog Pose)
From the eight limbed pose, extend your legs out backwards, press down with your hands and the tops of your feet, and lift your head and chest upwards and your knees and hips ofd the earth.
Whilst doing this, roll your shoulders down, and keep your elbows tucked in.
#8: Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Dog Pose)
Downward dog pose is probably the most well-recognized asana there is. It’s an equally strengthening and stretching pose that encompasses stabilization with activation of muscles, and opening of chakra centers.
From upward facing dog pose, move back the soles of your feet onto the floor and ground them in.
Bring back your hands in front of your shoulders, and ground your fingers and beneath your knuckles into the floor also.
Lengthen your back, and push your sitting bones towards the ceiling. Push the back of your thighs behind you and reach your heels into the floor. Lift along your arms and draw your shoulders towards your tailbone.
#9: Ashwa Sanchalanasana (Equestrian Pose)
Perform this pose like in step #4.
#10: Pada Hastasana (Standing Forward Bend Pose)
Perform this pose like in step #3.
#11: Urdhva Hastasana (Upward Salute Pose)
Perform this pose like in step #2.
#12: Pranamasana (Prayer Pose)
Perform this pose like in step #1.
Benefits Of Shakti Yoga
Yoga is an ancient practice spanning thousands of years, and has benefited humankind spiritually, emotionally, physically, and mentally, for millennia.
The benefits of shakti yoga, or shakti power yoga, or any other form, extends to your full well-being.
Let’s say you have difficulty opening up in traditional yoga classes, Shakti Yoga might be a good option as you can look to get in touch with more intuitive and expressive activity whilst still advancing in authentic and ancient asanas.
Further to what we said earlier, Shakti Yoga is really a blend of concepts, and there is no right way to involve creative, energetic intention with your asana sequences.
It’s rooted in ancient, spiritual concepts and not based on any one school.
If you’re looking to interpret and explore the divine feminine Shakti through your yoga, then Shakti Yoga is for you!
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