I’m teaching a class on New Year’s Day at my favorite Minneapolis yoga haven YOGA Garden. As I thought about what I would use for a theme, I wasn’t too excited about the regular old 108 salutations, or the popular Sankalpa (“inspired intention”). While those are great ways to inspire and start your new year – or anything new for that matter – I wanted to continue on the themes I’ve been building in class lately, and it seemed like a perfect time to pause and dive into Shakti – the energy behind inspiration, behind action, behind consciousness. As you start a new year, bring the last year with you to assess where your energy is right now.
So! We’re gonna get snuggly with Shakti on New Years Day.
Shiva is sure a popular guy – ahem, deity. How many variations of “Om Nama Shiva,” have you heard sung, chanted, called, themed, etc. in yoga classes? In the dual-energy concept (which could be related to our western-scientific notion that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction) of Shiva and Shakti, he certainly gets a lot of attention.
But as we enter into a new year in the middle of winter, where days are shorter in the northern hemisphere, and – unless you’re in a marine bubble like San Fransisco or Ireland – its noticeably colder. Things are naturally slower, less energized. Plane fares drop, the economy generally slows at this time of year… this slow, still, darkness is all around us. This is a great time to let Shakti get to work. It makes sense – especially in our modern times with a resurgence of civil rights movements – that Shiva has gotten more attention in general. He is the process of liberation. The one that helps us get out of stuck behaviors, old patterns and habits, and helps – ahem – liberate us from our current state. When you’ve got that frustrated, oppressed, angry, stuck, how-do-I-get-outta-here feeling… liberation sounds like a fantastic thing to focus on.
As a creative mind, I like to see Shakti as that beautiful soft phase which allows us to be in the flow of creation. Before the heat and motion of liberation you get to slow down, and not just “do what you’re supposed to,”but listen to that little inner voice. Listen to the state of your body as it is today. Allow these concepts and this energy to guide your thoughts, your action, in a way that is sustainable and realistic. It’s creation at work: A little more red in the painting… nope, that’s too much. This recipe needs salt… and maybe some fresh herbs or citrus zest… lowering yourself in cobra enough to soften your stuck shoulders, and use your ribs and breath more… The process is often slower than we thought it would be to creating something new, and its often filled with side-steps (which can feel like missteps) and countless rounds of edits… but instead of seeing it all as a frustrating block to where you want to be, I like to see it as a gentle see-saw, going back and forth, slowly getting closer and closer to where it is that you want, what feels right.
Shakti is the power of consciousness. Your car is what will get you to the party, but with out fuel it has no power. Your body will carry you around all day, but if you weren’t alive, with the energy of life, you would move, well, nowhere.
Shakti is manifesting energy.
At the end of the day you’re tired, and you couldn’t do something concrete -something productive- to save your life. Your physical body – which is the physical piece of matter that you have to deal with, no matter the state its in as you exist today – is only as strong, and as capable as the energy you have to put into that matter. Your matter – your shiva – your “consciousness-in-real-time” we’ll call it, is kaput without the POWER of consciousness.
So hopefully this has given you some ideas about how you can better listen to your own inner energy, so that your inspirations and actions can take form in way that actually helps brings about the change you seek.
And while we’re at it, I’ll put in a short plug that this where my own energy built into a project I’m running this winter called The Practice Project: Nine weeks of focused practice with a small group to create support around change. If you’re curious to join in, I still have slots open for the Saturday morning slot, being held at Modus Locus in S. Minneapolis on Bloomington Ave.