What Is Shakti Yoga?

Yoga is a term that encapsulates many things, including physical exercise and one’s spiritual path.

Shakti’s yoga is a type of practice that includes physical poses but focuses just as much on spiritual aspects of yoga. Specifically, it encourages you to work with your inner divine energy, represented by Shakti, a Hindu goddess.

Shakti represents the feminine energy of creation, as opposed to God Shiva, who represents male energy. Therefore, Shakti yoga focuses more on our feminine side.

Shakti Yoga Definition

Shakti yoga is designed to awaken feminine energy, using breathwork, sun salutations, and mantras. The focus is on transitions between poses, and the flow is much more dance-like than in other yoga styles.

Although the history of this type of yoga is unclear, we know ancient Hinduistic beliefs have influenced it. There are many classes called Shakti yoga, and though they can be different in the style of practice, they are all connected with the same inspiration – the goddess Shakti.

In Hinduism, Goddess Shakti is Lord Shiva’s wife and refers to divine feminine energy. The word Shakti itself translates to power in Hindi and is considered the core element for the creation and any change in nature. Shakti energy flows through everything in the universe, including all living things. It allows us to have emotions, memories, and dreams and is also believed to be crucial for our physical health and vitality.

At the core of any spiritual practice is balance, meaning both the feminine and masculine aspects should be present in all that we do. Since most yoga styles are vigorous, strong, and masculine, it is only natural that yogis also wanted to represent Shakti energy in their flows.

What Does a Shakti Yoga Class Look Like?

To awaken the feminine, creative power within us, Shakti focuses on smooth and gentle movement and flowing through poses that often resemble a dance. Sun salutations are the main sequence of this yoga style, and teachers also include other standing and sitting positions. There are no strict rules or set of poses in Shakti yoga, mainly because it wants to emit the energy of the like-named goddess, which represents creative self-expression. Sometimes, Shakti yoga appears more like a dance than yoga, and music can be an important part of the practice.

However, Shakti yoga also emphasizes the importance of breathing exercises and mindfulness. Mantras are often used to help practitioners get deeper into a meditative state. The main goal of Shakti yoga is to help you on your spiritual path and to increase your vital energy. It increases our self-consciousness and our bodies’ sensibility by allowing us to move as we feel, rather than focusing on stillness and perfect form.

During Shakti yoga, the main mental focus is to observe our everyday experiences and find a way to better deal with stress and negative energy. Awakening the creative energy, or Shakti, within us teaches us to relax, enjoy the positive side of life, and grow our consciousness regardless of outside factors.

Other Types of Shakti Yoga

Since Shakti yoga doesn’t have any strict rules, you will encounter many types of classes going under this name. Sometimes, they will be classes only for women, special classes held on a full moon, or yoga classes backed with music and resembling a free-flow ecstatic dance.

These classes vary because each teacher uses their own creative energy and background in yoga to create something that represents Shakti. However, some teachers also developed specific styles within Shakti yoga, with teacher training and specific moves or guidelines on how a class should look. We thought it’s important to mention two of the most popular such styles, as they still fall under Shakti yoga. They’re simply more structured and are a good option if you prefer to know what you can expect in a class.

Shakti Dance Yoga

Shakti Dance yoga was developed by a yoga teacher Sara Avtar. When explaining her style, Sara writes her system “embodies the principles of harmonious movement”. Her classes involve dance movements and techniques that teach the students to move naturally, in spiral and wave-like motions, to connect to our inner Shakti energy, and to develop our creativity.  Although the teacher leads the students through moves, they are also encouraged to express themselves freely and authentically. This dance yoga practice may be a great choice if you want to heal your feminine side or simply if you love both yoga and dance.

Shakti Power Flow

Shakti Power Flow was created by Lauren Farina O’Brien, a power yoga teacher who wanted to encourage students to find their own personal power and the creative Shakti energy rather than focusing on external goals. It is a type of Vinyasa flow, which includes aspects from power yoga, as well as more dance-like transitions between poses. She teaches her style in Nashville, Tennessee, but there are also many teachers who share their Shakti power flows on YouTube.

Benefits of Shakti Yoga

Benefits of Shakti yoga may include:

  • Improved Blood Circulation
  • Released Tension
  • Healthy Menstrual Cycles for Women
  • Reduced Stress and Fatigue
  • Increased Confidence and Creativity
  • Detoxification
  • Leads to a Calmer State of Mind
  • Aids in Spiritual Practices

Shakti Yoga Poses

The foundation of Shakti yoga classes is sun salutations. Different Sun Salutation sequences include these yoga poses:

How to Practice Shakti Yoga

If you want to practice Shakti yoga, it would be good to get to know sun salutations well. Although there are multiple variations of sun salutations, Shakti yoga mainly focuses on sun salutation A. If you’re an absolute beginner to yoga, you can first try a Vinyasa class where you will quickly remember the sun salutation sequence.

Once you understand the basic sun salutation poses, also learn other common standing positions, like Warrior I and Warrior II. Although Shakti Yoga is appropriate for beginners, knowing common poses will diminish the confusion one often has when they first begin practicing yoga. Instead of trying to understand how to enter a pose, you will already be familiar with it. That will allow you to focus less on form and more on flowing transitions and self-expression, which are at the core of every Shakti yoga class.

Furthermore, starting with Vinyasa or Hatha yoga classes before trying Shakti will teach you how to link breath with movement. This practice is believed to help awaken the Shakti energy within you. Having some experience with conscious breathing will allow you to relax and open up when you do Shakti yoga. Shakti yoga will also involve pranayamas and mantras, particularly at the practice’s start and end.

With all these in mind, you can try developing your own Shakti flow. If you’re not familiar with mantras, you could find mantra music online. This way, you will become familiar with mantras and have background music, which can help you find your movement.

For your first class, you don’t have to know many poses. Begin with a short meditation practice with a focus on your breath and set an intention. Then, for the class, you can only go through sun salutations, playing with transitions and the tempo. After, you might be inspired to add a couple more poses – expressed in any way that seems natural to you. At the end of the class, stay in Savasana for a couple of minutes to observe if you feel different and enjoy a moment of complete relaxation and bliss.

Alternatively, you can visit a studio that offers Shakti classes or try one of the YouTube flows we share in the next section.

Start Shakti Yoga at Home

Check out these follow-along videos if you can’t make it to a Shakti Yoga studio or simply want to try it out at home.

Shakti Power Flow – Yoga With Adriene

Divine Feminine Yoga Flow | 40 Min. Shakti Awakening Vinyasa

Shakti Dance® Taster Class, with Sara Avtar

Shakti Yoga FAQs

Why Is Shakti Worshiped?

Shakti is one of the most esteemed goddesses in Hinduism, and she represents feminine energy and the dynamic forces of the universe. She is the creator and responsible for change, and is often called upon for power, strength, fertility, and happy marriage. She is also a protector and a source of vital energy and creativity. 

What is Shakti Meditation?

There are many methods to meditate on Shakti, and they all begin with setting an intention to connect to this cosmic, feminine energy. Sometimes, a body scanning method is used, some chant mantras, and there are also many guided Shakti meditations online. Depending on your goal to call upon Shakti and the virtues you want to reach, you will meditate on different forms of Shakti. For example, you might meditate on Durga for strength and protection, Lakshmi for self-compassion and abundance, Kali to release inner blockages, and Sarswati to improve communication and spark your creativity.

How Do You Awaken Shakti Energy?

The most common method used to awaken Shakti energy is chanting mantras. There are multiple mantras associated with Shakti, each representing a different form of the Goddess. For example, Sarswati’s mantra is Om Sam Saraswatyai Namaha, and Lakshmi’s mantra is Om Shreem Maha Lakshmiyei Namaha. You can chant a mantra during seated meditation or throughout the day. Traditionally, Hindus also read myths about the Goddess or keep her statues and images to connect to her energy. Tantra and Kundalini yoga are other practices that may help awaken this divine energy within you.

Important: Check with your doctor before trying Shakti Yoga for the first time if you have any injury, illness, pain, or are pregnant.

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