Connecting with the Universal Life Force and Creative Energy of Shakti
The Goddess Shakti
The word Shakti in Sanskrit means ‘Universal Life Force’. It relates to the energy, life and vibrancy that pulses through each and every one of us. The goddess Shakti embodies this. She is a powerful goddess who represents femininity, energy and balance. Through yoga, meditation, mantra and awareness, we can connect with the energy of Shakti and indeed, with our own universal life force.
Similar to the contrasting energies of Lakshmi and Vishnu, Shakti is often defined as being the opposite of her partner god, Shiva. Shiva represents the masculine energy and Shakti, the feminine, known as the ‘Mother of the Goddesses’. She embodies creative female energy and empowerment. Every time you do something creative, you embrace your femininity or you are empowered over your life, then you are connecting with the spirit of Shakti. Shakti exists alongside Shiva, who is often referred to as the ‘Father Energy’. The two are opposites, yet work together. All people have elements of both energies, whether male or female and the two balance each other out, in a yin/yang manner.
The area around what is modern day India has always had a strong tradition in honoring female deities and was a matriarchal society, which worshipped mother Earth and divine female energy. As early as the pre-Aryan days, over 2500 years ago, this was the cultural norm. Conflict arose when the more patriarchal Aryan society migrated into the area. The compromise between the two societies is believed to form the basis for the interplay between Shakti or female energy and Shiva, or masculine energy. Since then, these two intertwined energies have been prevalent in Hindu philosophy. Shakti has been found in many different sacred Hindu texts and in many different goddess forms and names, but always representing femininity and creative spirit and energy.
Shakti in Yoga: How to Connect with Goddess Energy
There are a variety of ways in which you can connect and harness the energy of Shakti in yoga. This can include meditation, asana, pranayama and chanting mantras.
There are many different Shakti meditations or guided visualizations. These usually begin with an intention to connect with the energy of Shakti, the divine goddess and life force power. Often a Shakti meditation will also involve a body scan and the deliberate letting go of any tension or stress in the body, to allow the life force and energy to flow more freely. Try including these elements in your regular (or even your irregular) meditation practice to connect with your Shakti.
Asana and Pranayama
Shakti can be invoked through the practice of asana, the yogic postures. Specifically, we can connect with this powerful goddess through a Kundalini yoga practice, as Kundalini energy is linked with the energy of Shakti. Kundalini yoga has a strong focus on connecting with feminine energy through poses, pranayama (specific work with the breath) and mantras. Taking a Kundalini yoga class, or including some Kundalini in your regular practice can help you connect with the energy of Shakti.
To connect with Shakti, try adding these into your regular practice:
- Goddess Pose: This is a beautiful pose to connect with strong female energy. It requires strength of the hips, thighs and leg muscles. Stand with feet wider than hip width apart, toes facing out and bend the knees to at least a 90° angle. Bring hand prayer at heart’s centre, or raise the hands in cactus arms, also at a 90° angle.
- Lotus Pose: This is a great way to connect with Shakti, as it helps align the chakras, is a pivotal pose in Kundalini yoga and opens the hips to connect with feminine energy. It is similar to a cross legged seated pose, with the feet resting on opposite thighs. You can try half lotus, with just one leg on the opposite thigh, or both, for the full expression of the pose.
- Sun Salutations (Surya Namaskar): This series of poses connects with the divine energy of Shakti, building strength in body and flowing with the breath. It forms the basis of many yoga practices.
- Alternate nostril breathing: This is a very simple, yet incredibly effective breathing technique, where you exhale then inhale through one nostril, then switch, and exhale then inhale through the other. It’s said to stimulate the third eye chakra and relax the mind.
Shakti energy is synonymous with feminine energy. By connecting with all feminine goddesses, you can invoke the power of Shakti.
Some specific mantras include:
Adi Shakti: This is one of the most common Shakti mantras, which called on the divine and protective power of the Goddess Shakti.
Seed Mantras: Many single syllable mantras are considered to be Shakti mantras, and involve repeating a single sound to invoke the energy of it. Examples include, Shreem (lunar energy), Hreem (solar energy) and Kleem (magnetic energy).
Om Shreem Maha Lakshmiyei Swaha: This is the Lakshmi mantra, which literally translates to, ‘Salutations to the goddess Lakshmi, we worship you.’ This is traditionally chanted 108 times a day, for 40 days straight. It will connect you with the feminine energy and beauty of Lakshmi. (opportunity to link to the Lakshmi article here)
Sarva Mangala Maangalye, Shive Sarvaartha Saadhike, Sharanye Tryambake Gaurii, Naaraayanii Namostute: This is the Parvati mantra, which translates to ‘Goddess Parvati is the auspiciousness of all that is auspicious. Partner of Lord Shiva, who grants every desire of one's heart. I adore such the Goddess Parvati, who loves all her children. I bow to the great mother’.
Sa, Ta, Na, Ma: This is a powerful Kundalini meditation, which has strong links with the energy of Shakti. It consists of the five sounds of the universe.
How to Connect with the Power of Shakti Every Day
The best way to connect with the divine energy of Shakti is to increase your awareness of her. Read widely about Shakti, the myths and legends that surround her as a way of connecting with her. Surround yourself with images of her through statues, paintings, posters, and hang her image close to your body, through the use of hanging pendants and jewelry, or having the image of this beautiful goddess on clothing, keeping it close to your body. These daily reminders can help you to better understand her energy and connect with it every single day.
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Stephanie Johnson, CYI, Yogini Soul Staff Writer, is an elementary school teacher, yoga teacher, meditation student and writer. She is looking for ways to explore this beautiful, crazy life that we have been gifted and to live it with meaning. Stephanie fell in love with yoga as a teenager and has since traveled across the globe in search of gaining knowledge and experiences to deepen her understanding of yoga, from her home country of Australia, to India and across Asia, to Chile, in South America, where she now lives with her partner and two sons. Connect with her on Instagram.