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Season 2 - Episode 9

Women, God, and Yoga

15 min - Talk
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About 80% of the yoga practitioners in the U.S. are women, and yet most of the yoga postures we practice today were originally designed by men for men. Katie encourages us to awaken the divine feminine within, and to embody both the yin and yang energies.
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Oct 27, 2015
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Women, God, and yoga, is the title of this short introduction to the subject, and as I was thinking about this talk I was really feeling like these could be, perhaps, some of the most powerful words in the English language. So, what I'm about to say, it's important to preface it by saying that I want you to really think about the word woman less as woman in terms of a specific sex, but as this feminine force. You know, we could really think of it as yin and yang. So, I may be using this word, woman, but I want you to think of it as this femininity that is longing to be expressed on the planet at this time. It is inside men.

It is inside women. Typically women hold more of it, but not always. There are some men that have a lot, and there are some women that have more of the masculine, and that's beautiful. But this pulse, this wisdom, this knowingness is longing to be recognized in both men and women, particularly at this time. What does this Divine Feminine force have to do with yoga?

Have to do with our connection to divinity? Well, I really believe that a lot of the yoga that we have been presented with, albeit from very deeply loving teachers, has come to us through channels of the masculine perspective and this isn't bad, this isn't bad at all, this is beautiful, it's to be celebrated. It's a particular portal, it's a particular prism through which the ancient back engineering of connecting to love and connecting to God can be seen. It's like comparing one artist to another, you can't, they're both perspectives on how one experiences beauty, in the case of art. In the case of yoga, because many of us have learned from men, and because many of us come from lineages that have primarily been the masculine gaze on God, we are learning as women from that perspective, and again, I want to reiterate, it's a great thing because it enables us to have a different perspective.

But after 15 years of practice of yoga in my own body, and having been the loyal student of an amazing male teacher I will say that this Divine Feminine really does not hold as much of her seat yet in the yoga world, and in the yoga experience, and in the yoga community as I think she longs to have. And so I want to talk a little bit about what is my opinion and my experience around how a woman, or how the Divine Feminine touches into this thing we call enlightenment. You know, yoga is a practice for reaching enlightenment, the last time I checked it was still that, and so when we say enlightenment we really need to look at what, A, what we mean by that, and B, how there are so many portals into how we can achieve that. A woman's body physiologically is different. The chemicals that make up her body are different.

And again, there's a spectrum here, but in general that's true. The brain we're now looking at is also structured slightly differently in the sexes, and so to think that a woman would enter into the practice of hatha yoga in the same way as a man is really shortsighted. A man, the teachings say, can reach enlightenment fully by honoring, and worshiping, and adoring one woman, because the ancient teachings, many of which have been burned, and stolen, and lost, trained men to understand that women held by nature so much of this natural life force, God force, that they were longing for. So a woman's process of unraveling into her own relationship to the divine, in her own relationship to God if you will, will be a little bit different usually than that male entry point. As my teacher says, who adores women, and worships women, as he says, a woman really enters in in a different way than a man, but at the end of the day, what we find at the end of this tunnel, called yoga, is the same thing whether you're a man or a woman.

But what I want to speak to today is that until we get to that point of fully reaching our highest potential, we may enter in in different ways, and so what are some of those ways? The old school teachings talk about the natural way that a woman will give herself. The natural way that a woman longs to give and serve. And so what we see in so many of our beautiful yogini sisters and teachers on the planet is this desire to serve yoga in the world. I can think of so many teachers doing active work to help the poor, and to reduce suffering in humans and animals, and on the earth.

This is a natural proclivity for the Divine Feminine. She serves God and she awakens herself through the act of serving God in the world here and now. She is not attempting to transcend and leave this mortal plane of delusion, like a hell below. She isn't attempting to transcend. She's actually attempting to take that wisdom, and bliss, and the nectar of her practice, and bring it back down her body, the Tantrics say, so that she can become a tiger that can prowl the earth.

A spiritual tigress. So, really I think, one of the most beautiful ways we can serve our yoga practice is to figure out how we can really serve our planet, and serve our children, and serve our men, and serve our world. So shakti, this word means power, has a way of working in the Divine Feminine in asana. And so, again, many of the practices of the physical body that we have received, and by the way most people practicing yoga in the United States are women, most of us are women. I think the number is at about 80%.

And yet most of the practices, if not all, have come through the male body. At the end of the day, this doesn't matter, but while we are in the practice of becoming more Christ-like, more Buddha-like, more Mother Theresa-like, while we're in that practice we have to honor the fact that we are in duality. And so the asanas, over time what I believe will happen, is that the more that we activate this Divine Feminine, in both men and women, our asanas will start to look different. Many of the asanas, if not all that we practice now came from the beautiful lineage that I operate in as well from Krishnamacharya, who gave these practices to young boys. It's not a bad thing.

But how does this translate into a 30, 40, 50, 80 year-old female body? We really need to look at that. So as men and women activate the Divine Feminine in themselves, our asanas may look different, they may look more feminine, they may have more rounded edges, they may be more circular instead of so linear and arrow-like. I'm shooting the arrow of war. What the feminine does, she holds.

So I just want to make room for that to come through in your own experience, and in the experience of our yoga culture at large. Shiva Rea talks about this as sahaja asana. That the asana begins to emerge spontaneously out of this direct connection with my life force. I can't help but move my body into this pose because there's this love force that is blazing my heart that wants me to move, and shake, and dance, and blaze, in the words of Rumi. And so we need to make room for this in our culture.

This isn't to say we abandon alignment, no, we need it all. We need it all, we need it all. That's what the Divine Mother says, we need all of it. The first asanas came to us in this way. There's a word for this, it's pranatana.

That is the original word for asana, that out of prana, out of my experience of my own creative life pule, the thing that knows how to make me and destroy me, and sustain me, I move my body. So the Divine Feminine is longing for this. I have a nice talk if you want to tap into it after you watch this one on the emotions. And I think this, again, in men and women is tapping into a very feminine form, feeling, beginning to honor feelings as important, that they are as vital, and that they are as intelligent as rational thought. And we have these patriarchal understandings in our language, such as, "Oh, I lost my head," or "I wasn't thinking rationally." And what I am offering up as something to chew on, is well maybe we need to not think rationally only.

Maybe we need to also feel. And so emotions can be powerful entry points into the deepest forms of meditation. Not only do we need the transcendence of non-attachment and silence, but we also need the raw, wild tiger of anger, and fury, and passion to be a part of our discussion on the yogic enlightenment process. Lastly, I believe that nature is also our greatest guru in the Divine Feminine path, our greatest lover, as my friend Kiera and I were discussing, and our greatest teacher, and so really men and women coming into seeing our care-taking of nature as one of the highest yogic pursuits, taking care of children, taking care of water, taking care of animals, taking care of the food that we eat, really is the Divine Feminine way and should be held as the most important highest yoga. Lastly I want to leave you with the idea, there's a Lauren Hill lyric from the Fugees where she says, "You're poppin' yang like you got yin." This is the essence of the Divine Feminine.

Don't think that you can enter into your warriorship, don't think that you can be in the power of the thrust forward, until you have deeply humbled yourself into the yin element of being soft, of having the reserves, of having both your tiger, all four of your tiger paws on the ground that you walk on. This is the Divine Mother, this is the yin of the yang, and this is the Divine Feminine that I really hold in my heart that I am personally beginning to honor more and more and become a servant to, and I really beg you, as women and men, to begin to serve this yin, this divine female, feminine force, and I promise you that when you do it will give you back ten fold and you'll be able to become an even more powerful force of yang on the planet. Thank you.

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1 person likes this.
girl power!

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