Too many days I come home, after six, exhausted from work, upset over an assignment, my feet hurting and makeup smeared, more preoccupied with the stress of the day and the week than with my own emotions, ideas, and self-care. We, as women of the modern generation, have a lot of opportunity to seize power in our society now in our careers, our relationships, and our lives; but despite the advancements in women’s rights, we still (or at least, I still) find myself in many situations where I lack confidence, courage, and real power.
During these moments, what is truly missed is the notion that we, as living, breathing beings, have within us the energy of the Divine Feminine (Shakti) – the creative female energy that is filled with wisdom. We let go of our power too much throughout the day – not standing up for ourselves, not taking initiative—and lose opportunities. But that cosmic energy, that source of power exists insides of us, just waiting to be unleashed.
I know that when I’m watching another episode of Friends, wallowing over a bucket of (vegan) ice cream about how inadequate I feel at work, the last thing on my mind is Shakti and awakening that goddess energy. Only the next morning, on my yoga mat softly humming and meditating in the early light, does something else emerge. In that hour of peace, I find a sense of renewal and recognition that I do have the power to take on this world. That burst of strength and encouragement awakens, that goddess power comes alive in yoga.
And now what I want to share with you is the simple yoga sequence that gets me to the place of divinity that reinvigorates and remembers the goddess within. Below is my goddess yoga routine.
Begin with legs crossed and hands resting gently on knees. Close eyes and come into your breath. Begin to think of all the negative thoughts, whatever is bringing you down. Concentrate on the thought for a moment, breathe in, and then release the negativity as you push out the air. Continue to repeat this until you begin to feel lighter and happier.
When you’ve come to a state of peace, chant the Shakti mantra:
ADI SHAKTI, ADI SHAKTI, ADI SHAKTI, NAMO NAMO,
SARAB SHAKTI, SARAB SHAKTI, SARAB SHAKTI, NAMO NAMO,
PRITHUM BHAGAWATI, PRITHUM BHAGAWATI, PRITHUM BHAGAWATI,
KUNDALINI, MATA SHAKTI, MATA SHAKTI, NAMO, NAMO
As you chant, envision that cosmic energy, that powerful feminine energy, surging inside of your body. Imagine it untangling and rising up to the crown of your head and bursting out in bright, white light that grants you infinite wisdom and power. Feel the light wash over and illuminate you in divine radiance.
Open your eyes, smile, even, and begin the asanas.
Find your strength with a vinyasa.
Start in downward dog with hips lifted. Breathe in and shift your hips down into plank pose. Make sure shoulders are directly above wrists. Bend elbows inward toward your rib cage and hold here for a moment, feeling your weight and the power you have to uphold it. Shift your weight, straighten your arms, and lift your body into upward dog. Make sure your shoulders are not lifting up to your ears and your thighs are not touching the ground.
From upward dog, shift hips back into downward-facing dog, jump feet up to hands, and slowly rise your body up into standing.
Adopt the stance of a warrior and practice a sun salutation that incorporates all three poses.
Step one foot back with the forward leg bent. Turn your back leg’s toes pointing to your side and the thigh turning outward. Have your arms parallel to the floor reaching in opposite directions.
From a high lunge and with hands in prayer, bend your torso forward and lift your back leg. Straighten the front leg. Tighten your core to help you balance. When you have your balance stretch your arms out, parallel to the floor, in front of you. Make sure you are not putting all of your weight onto the front foot. Think of pushing the head of your thighbone straight back, instead of just flopping over your torso.
After finishing a few rounds of sun salutation, practice a few standing poses.
Lord of the dance pose
Every time I do lord of the dance, I feel instantly invincible.
Lift your leg behind your bum and grab a hold of your heel. Tighten your core for balance, and lift your foot up and away from your torso. Reach your other arm forward. Repeat on the other side.
Nothing is more fitting when invoking the goddess than her actual pose.
Spread legs wide apart with feet pointing out. Bend your knees and lower into a squat. Have arms out to your sides with palms facing out and elbows bent. If you’re feeling fearless enough, do a round of Lion’s Breath in this pose.
From your standing poses, come into another vinyasa and then make your way to the floor.
Lie on your back with knees bent. Stretch arms over your head and bend your elbows. Bring palms of hands underneath shoulders. Inhale and press into palms as you lift your body up. Straighten arms and make sure legs and elbows are parallel. Reach your chest for the wall behind you.
One-legged King Pigeon/Mermaid pose (variation)
Start on all fours. Move right knee forward toward right hand. Slide your left leg back. Make sure your right foot is flexed and your hips are square. Slowly fold over and place your forearms on the ground. Fold your chest over the floor if comfortable.
Lift your torso up and bend your left leg, reach your left arm back and grab hold of your inner left foot. If you feel comfortable there, but want to go more, hook your left foot into the crook of your left elbow. When your left foot is nicely tucked into your elbow, reach your right arm over your head and grab onto your left hand.
Finish your sequence in shoulder stand and try holding the pose for ten breaths.
Lying on your back, extend your legs up toward the ceiling and then over your head into plow pose. Place palms on lower back and move your elbows closer in. Lift your legs up and support lower back with palms. Widen your hands to help support you better and lengthen your torso. Do not put pressure on your neck. Instead use the “tripod” of your shoulders, elbows and head for support in this pose.
Related: How to Do a Moon Salutation
Photo: Jessica Renae