These two divine energies represent the masculine and feminine aspects of the universe, and they are often associated with the concepts of consciousness and energy, respectively.
In this article, we will explore:
- Who are Shiva and Shakti?
- Shiva meaning in Hindu mythology
- Shakti meaning in Hindu mythology
- Their relationship with yoga
- 7 ways that you can balance these energies
What are Shiva and Shakti?
Both Shiva and Shakti are present within both men and women, as we all possess aspects of divine masculinity (Shiva) and divine femininity (Shakti) within ourselves.
Traditionally, it is believed that our left side represents our feminine nature (Shakti), while the right side represents our masculine nature (Shiva).
These energies of Shiva and Shakti coexist within us, and when they unite, they bring about a state of complete balance, joy, and presence.
Exploring and accessing our divine nature, which encompasses both masculine and feminine aspects, can be enlightening and surprising. It is important to remember that we carry within us both aspects of the Divine.
Shiva Energy in Hindu mythology
Shiva meaning the Hindu god of destruction and transformation is a prominent figure in Hindu mythology. He is often depicted as a yogi with matted hair and a third eye on his forehead.
Shiva represents the Absolute Reality and Consciousness that encompasses the entire cosmos. He embodies the transcendent aspect of cosmic consciousness, serving as the source from which everything in existence emerges.As the Lord of Yoga, Shiva exemplifies the unbreakable link between the inner and outer worlds. His consciousness holds immense power, providing inner strength and expansiveness.
In the Shaivism tradition, Shiva is eternally united with Shakti, his divine feminine counterpart. Shiva’s energy is characterized by steadfastness, stability, peace, strength, and a constant presence.
He epitomizes a state of being unaffected by external pain or suffering, remaining centered, grounded, and compassionate. Through meditation, we can invoke his pure presence and embrace the exceptional qualities of Shiva within ourselves.
The divine masculine qualities encompass direction, purpose, freedom, and awareness. Shiva’s masculine energy encompasses a profound awareness of all manifestations in creation.
Shiva also plays a crucial role in awakening individuals to their true nature by representing consciousness and awareness in the universe.
Shakti Energy in Hindu mythology
Shakti meaning the divine feminine energy is the driving force behind the universe. Depicted as a goddess with multiple arms and a fierce expression, she embodies power and brings about transformation.
Shakti possesses beauty and embodies a fluid and adaptable nature, embracing reality as a dance. Her energy is sensual, expressive, and present in all living beings, while Shiva’s energy remains formless.
Shakti energy manifests as prana, the life force that flows through nadis, our subtle energy channels.
By becoming the witness of Shakti, we connect with our Shiva energy. Through meditation and presence, we embrace our inner Shiva nature. Shiva provides direction to Shakti’s energetic flow, holding space for her movements.
Union of Shiva and Shakti
Together, Shiva and Shakti represent the union of opposites, or the merging of consciousness and energy. In union, Shiva and Shakti form the composite deity known as Ardhanarishvara, the half-woman lord.
The image of Shiva-Shakti is a profoundly beautiful representation. This androgynous figure symbolizes the harmonious union of masculine and feminine aspects within our being, resulting in mystical wholeness.
Shiva-Shakti represents the union of sacred masculine and feminine consciousness that resides within us and permeates the cosmos.
How are Shiva and Shakti related to the practice of Yoga?
In the practice of yoga, Shiva and Shakti are often associated with the two main channels of energy in the body, known as the ida and pingala nadis.
The ida nadi is associated with the feminine energy of Shakti, and it is said to govern the lunar, or cooling, aspects of the body and mind.
The pingala nadi, on the other hand, is associated with the masculine energy of Shiva, and it is said to govern the solar, or heating, aspects of the body and mind.
When these two energies are balanced, the practitioner is said to experience a state of bliss or enlightenment. However, when one energy is dominant over the other, the practitioner may experience imbalance or discomfort.
Here are 3 ways you can balance the energies of Shiva and Shakti in your life:
3 Powerful Ways to balance Shiva and Shakti
Practice Pranayama to balance Shiva and Shakti
In various yogic traditions, the right side represents the masculine energy of Shiva, while the left side is linked to the feminine energy of Shakti.
Pranayama, or Yogic breathwork, is a simple yet powerful way to balance the energies of Shiva and Shakti effectively.
Here are three of my favorite pranayama techniques to try:
1. Balancing Shiva and Shakti through Nadi Shodhana
To balance both energies, you can practice Nadi Shodhana, or ‘alternate nostril breathing’.
This technique involves inhaling through the left nostril, closing it, exhaling through the right nostril, then inhaling through the right nostril, closing it, and exhaling through the left nostril.
This alternating breathing through the nostrils helps balance the brain and harmonize the body’s energy.
2. Balancing Shiva and Shakti based on your situation
You can determine the dominant nadi in your body by observing which nostril feels more open at any given time.
When you find yourself in stressful or tense situations, you can bring about a sense of calmness by accessing the lunar and cooling energy of the ida nadi, associated with Shakti energy.
On the other hand, if you’re feeling drowsy during a long drive or preparing to enter a meeting where you need to exude confidence and conviction, you can activate the solar pingala nadi, associated with Shiva Energy, by inviting more breath and heightened awareness.
You can also balance these energies using specific pranayama techniques if one is weak or out of balance.
3. Activating Shiva through Surya Bhedana
On the right side of the body is the Pingala Nadi, a channel carrying vital life force energy called prana, which flows from the base of the spine through the chakras to the crown of the head.
This channel symbolizes the sun, heat, fiery energy, and stimulation. By practicing Surya Bhedana, or ‘right nostril breathing,’ we can enhance these energies in our body and mind.
Breathing primarily through the right nostril increases circulation, and raises body temperature, cortisol levels, blood pressure, and heart rate.
These physiological responses indicate that right nostril breathing impacts the sympathetic nervous system, activating the body’s alertness and readiness, which can be useful for boosting motivation and energy and balancing low states.
4. Activating Shakti through Chandra Bhedana
On the other hand, the left channel is associated with the Ida Nadi, a channel dedicated to feminine energy on the left side of the body.
Inhaling primarily through the left nostril, known as Chandra Bhedana or ‘moon activating’ breath, activates the parasympathetic, ‘rest and digest’ side of the nervous system.
This practice lowers blood pressure and body temperature, calms stress levels, reduces anxiety, and directs blood flow to the right hemisphere of the brain, associated with creativity, daydreaming, and emotions.
Align with nature: the cycles of the Sun and the Moon
The changing seasons also embody different proportions of Shiva’s masculine and Shakti’s feminine energy.
In the Northern Hemisphere, Spring and Summer represent a time of building masculine energy, associated with manifesting, taking action, and embracing our fiery nature.
In contrast, Autumn and Winter bring a predominance of feminine energy, encouraging introspection, nurturing, and allowing creative energy to regenerate.
When we disregard the fluctuations of Shiva and Shakti energy throughout the year and live out of sync with nature, we may experience exhaustion, stress, and illness.
These signs indicate the need to realign our bodies and minds with the natural rhythms surrounding us.
To better attune to the rhythms of nature and understand how Shiva and Shakti energies affect us, it can be beneficial to develop a connection with the Sun (a representation of Shiva) and the Moon (a representation of Shakti).
1. Aligning with the Sun
To connect with the Sun, practice observing the sunrise and sunset regularly. One such powerful method is to observe the Ayurvedic clock for when to awaken and plan the activities for the rest of your day.
This ancient ritual allows us to reconnect with our primal instincts and helps regulate our body’s internal clock.
2. Aligning with the Moon
To tune into the Moon, pay attention to the changing lunar phases and reflect on how they may influence your energy levels.
Many people recognize the heightened emotions during a full Moon, which can be an ideal time to release things we have been holding onto from the previous cycle.
Full Moon rituals can be helpful to ground your energy. The new moon, on the other hand, is a period for deep rest, introspection, planning, and self-care.
Creativity is a manifestation of the feminine energy of Shakti, and cultivating a creative practice can help to balance the energies of the body and mind. Cultivating creativity could be as simple as being more mindful and aware of balancing both sides of your body.
For example, spending between three to five minutes in a fetal position on your right side naturally awakens the Ida Nadi. Lying on your left side for a few minutes, you will naturally open the right side, the Pingala Nadi.
Other ways of promoting creativity include writing, cooking or doing chores with your non-dominant hand, or playing sports with your non-dominant leg to activate new neural pathways.
By tapping into your creative potential, you can connect with the receptive, feminine energy of Shakti and promote a sense of harmony and balance. This can help to balance the masculine energy of Shiva and promote a sense of creativity and innovation.
In conclusion, Shiva and Shakti are two of the most important deities in Hindu mythology, and they play a central role in the practice of yoga.
By incorporating the practices mentioned in this article, you can tap into the energies of Shiva and Shakti and experience a deeper sense of peace, fulfillment, and enlightenment. It will create a sense of harmony that brings balance to our bodies and minds.