Shakti Energy: The Divine Feminine Explained
By: Steph Ball-Mitchell, E-RYT-500, RPYT, RCYT, YACEP
By: Steph Ball-Mitchell, E-RYT-500, RPYT, RCYT, YACEP
Our universe is created out of both matter and energy. Unfortunately, we often miss the deeper energetic aspects all around us because we have become too focused on the material and physical components of this world. But when we shift our perspective and awaken to the presence of energy all around, we can begin to awaken to a higher level of consciousness. In yoga practice, this energy is known as shakti.
Shakti energy is the divine feminine energy that resides within each of us and is present all around us. Awakening shakti inside of you is often connected to kundalini awakening or the divine serpent energy at the base of your spine. But we constantly have these energies working within us. Even without a more profound awakening, you can still gain many benefits from connecting to this divine energy in your life.
In this article, we will explore the intricacies of this divine feminine energy or shakti and give you detailed steps on how you can begin to awaken it in your life through your yoga practice and beyond. So, let’s dive in!
The most commonly used literal translation of the word shakti is energy, potency, strength, or power. Shakti is the embodiment of the divine feminine energy that is present within everyone and everything. As the energy underlying the universe, shakti represents the sacred process of creation, maintenance, and destruction constantly occurring all around us.
Shakti is also the name of Parvati, the wife of the deity Shiva. But beyond this singular form of the Goddess Parvati, Shakti truly represents the Goddess in all her many forms. Shaktism is the spiritual tradition of praying to this divine feminine Goddess and accessing the doctrine of power within you. Shaktism teaches us to focus on the Divine Mother, known as Shakti or Devi, in her many forms so that we can embody her gentle fierceness.
This cosmic female force of shakti is considered the true root of strength within us. When we can tap into this divine feminine power, we can access the true energy of the universe and harness a force like never before. We can feel shakti in every breath, every movement, and every thought, as she underlies the cosmic dynamism and mystical dance of the universe.
In modern times, there is often a debate on what femininity is and what it means to be a woman. But according to yoga philosophy, we all contain both feminine and masculine within us – these are the two dominant energies that underlie the entire universe. So, there is no clear distinction necessarily between who is feminine or masculine, as this is a potency that we all have the potential to tap into.
At the core, the divine feminine shakti energy reminds us of the true power of the feminine and how we can ultimately empower ourselves. Shakti is a personification of the divine feminine creative power that creates, sustains, and ultimately destroys the entire universe constantly. Her dynamic flow represents the cosmic flow of life itself.
Shakti is the Great Divine Mother as she creates and supports us at all times, in the same way as a mother. Creation is deeply connected to the feminine due to the root connection to fertility and birth. The power of creation is possibly the most important power in the universe because without it, then nothing would exist.
Embodying shakti energy teaches us how to embody the feminine within us. But divine feminine energy doesn’t relate to the stereotypical beliefs of femininity of weakness or meekness. Instead, the divine feminine represents truly embodied strength, power, endurance, love, kindness, beauty, forgiveness, and so much more – all wrapped up into one. The divine feminine is the ultimate form of strength as it is the strength of both immense power and immense compassion simultaneously.
Yoga is inherently a practice that awakens shakti inside of us. Regular yoga practice can energize your body, mind, and soul and help to awaken greater awareness of the subtle realms of life. Our perception of the world is often limited to the physical realm, but the more that we can quiet the mind and finetune our senses, the better able we can sense these deeper realms of the universe and experience the shakti within and around us.
Since shakti is inherently a subtle energy force, it can often be influenced by another subtle life force energy called prana. The higher and clearer your prana becomes, the more shakti you will inherently have within you. You can build more prana or energy in your body through pranayama or breathwork practices. One of the best practices for building shakti is nadi shodhana, or alternate nostril breathing. This breathing technique cleanses your subtle channels to help allow the free flow of prana and shakti throughout your inner being.
Meditation helps us to tap into the deeper aspects of life and into the actual flow of shakti energy. An excellent practice to begin this process is through visualization techniques. Try to visualize an image of the divine feminine in your heart center and feel this energy building throughout your entire body. You can also deepen into the divine feminine through mindfulness and loving-kindness meditation.
Traditionally, the primary way to connect with the divine feminine shakti energy was through prayer and studying her many personifications. Learning the stories of the many Goddesses can help you learn about the many manifestations of the divine feminine and how you can begin to embody those qualities in your own life. The stories of these fierce and loving warrior women can truly be empowering to learn and aspire towards in your own life.
Chanting mantras helps you to tap into the subtler realms of life through the connection to cosmic sound. All mantra practice inherently builds energy or shakti in your body and mind, but there are some specific mantras that are particularly potent. Mantras connected to the Goddess are an excellent place to start. Some of the best Shakti Mantras are “Om Shreem Maha Lakshmiyei Namaha,” which connects to the Goddess Lakshmi, and “Om Dum Durgayei Namaha,” which connects to the Goddess Durga.
Another powerful way to tap into the divine feminine shakti is by practicing the shakti mudra or hand gesture. Mudras are a powerful yogic technique to influence the flow of energy in your body and build a strong energetic field all around you. The shakti mudra is especially powerful at harnessing the power of shakti and directing it where you need it to go. To practice the shakti mudra, follow the steps below:
1. Rest in a comfortable seated position with your palms in your lap.
2. Fold your thumbs towards the palm of each of your hands.
3. Loosely cover your thumbs with your middle and index fingers.
4. Keep your pinky and ring fingers extended.
5. Bring both of your hands closer together so that the opposite ring and pinky fingers touch each other. The folded index and middle fingers on each hand should also touch each other on the knuckles of each finger.
6. Take slow, deep breaths through your nose as you hold this mudra and practice mantra chanting, meditation, or pranayama with a focus on Shakti or the Goddess in your mind.
7. To release the mudra, move your hands apart gently, and unfold your fingers slowly before resting your palms in your lap. Notice the sensations in your hands as you release from this shakti mudra.
The benefits of the shakti mudra come with regular practice and dedication. Remember that simply creating this mudra is a great place to start, but try taking it one step further by combining your shakti mudra practice with meditation or pranayama to further build shakti in your body and mind and honor the divine feminine.
The divine shakti feminine energy can feel complex when you first begin to learn about it. But at the core, shakti is simply energy with a unique aspect of the powerful feminine. The more that you learn about shakti, the more that she reveals herself to you, and the more that you will become awakened to the secrets that she has to share. So, dive into these practices to see more for yourself!
Understanding shakti energy can take time, and having a teacher guide you through this process is essential to ensure that you stay on the right track. So, make sure to check out our many online yoga teacher trainings and continuing education courses to dive deeper into the mystery of the mystical shakti energy in your life. Reach out to us for more information on how you can begin your journey as a yoga teacher!