Why are we doing this? Why have I created this course, why are you taking it?
In Vedic wisdom (the ancient wisdom systems from India of which Yoga, Ayurveda and Mantra are derived) we refer to the Feminine energy that controls all nature, all natural balance and the wildness of both our world and women - as Shakti.
Our modern world is now removed from previous cultural systems that were matriarchal, in which women were powerful and possessing strong psychic qualities. through the industrial age, our current patriarchal structures and our disconnection from nature we have severed our awareness of Shakti. It is as if we’ve put our innate power into our back pockets or locked it away in a drawer, in the furthest corner of our minds.
Vedic wisdom tells us that this is the reason for the degradation of our planet, that the systemic removal of Shakti energy is stopping us from being able to heal our mother earth.
So know that while you are doing this for your own abundance, radiance and growth in completing this work, on some energetic level you are helping to heal our planet.
* I also hope and believe that the more conscious, considered and connected to nature we are the better we are inclined to treat our environment.
We will begin the course with a journaling practice - in each of these I invite you to set a timer for 5-10 minutes give yourself a few pages and a few deep breaths to respond from the space that you’re currently in.
How are you feeling now?
How do you want to feel? Script your perfect day within this perfect feeling
Envision yourself feeling this way and in your perfect day with the perfect home, partner, job, dreams, aspirations, appearance, family make sure you list how you will feel using as many descriptive words that you can. Ie. beautiful, light, clear, grounded, sweet, pretty, smart, wealthy, happy, in love, powerful.
Once you’ve filled a few pages take your time to glance over the page and circle the three most stand out or energetically charged words.
from those words boil down the one that is the most electric, most emotionally charged and most aspirational.
This word shapes your Sankalpa for the rest of the course.
* your Sankalpa doesn’t need to be lofty or for world peace or benefitting anyone but you - it can be as “shallow” as being wealthy or being thin or having a particular car or holiday - this is for you and no one else, it should reflect what you truly want.
What is a Sankalpa?
It is sometimes used in Yoga classes interchangeably with the term ‘intention’ but this is a specific Sanksrit (the ancient mystic Indian language) word to describe an embodied desire. As in, something that we hope to attain but something that we specifically work for, we make actionable lifestyle changes to develop and achieve.
It is also something that we work with in specific practices throughout the course, it is the reason that you’re committing to these changes and we use it always, in a present tense.
Some examples from my students are:
I am light.
I am beautiful.
I am in a loving relationship.
I am living in a bright home beside the ocean.
I have a circle of loving friends.
I am wild.
I am radiant.
~ Take some time to get acquainted with your Sankalpa - repeating, outlining and writing out three times tends to be traditional.
* this is not an affirmation or something that goes on a post-it on your mirror. This is not something that changes
you work with one Sankalpa until you achieve it
The magic time for achieving a Sankalpa I’ve seen to be between 6 and 9 months. You’re working simultaneously with the Yogic concept of Dharana - the contemplation and concentration of one specific thing as in total absorption.
So, now that we have our intention we need to start making it an embodied desire.
But what is embodiment? From my perspective it’s what most of us are missing being within our bodies, being present within our conversations, being aware of our environments, our circumstance and enacting all of our ideals - in our every move.
It is living with true awareness. Walking the talk, undertaking all of the ideas, taking action on your desires, being grounded in and inhabiting your sense of what is ideal.
It is magnetic, influential and attractive.
The simplest way to begin to embody your Sankalpa is physically anchor it with practice.
Our first two practices are:
2 x 22 minute Mantra meditations per day.
I suggest doing the first one in bed, as soon as you wake up. I use a timer like Insight Timer and wake up earlier to ensure I have enough time. Your second meditation should be before 8pm, as it can wake you up a little bit, ideally it’s in your lunch or afternoon break. allow 1 minute at the beginning to settle in and 1 minute at the end to integrate, the practice is 20 minutes long.
Settle in for your first Mantra meditation with me now:
Twice daily simple Feminine Yoga practice
You don’t need a studio membership or fancy yoga pants to move your body in a way that is nourishing and grounding.
AM (under 10 minute session)
2-3 minutes of Sufi Grinds
Gentle seated side bends
Fluid cat cow movements
PM (15 minute session)
5 minute hold firelog pose (both sides)
5 minute hold Viprita Karani
It’s that simple!
The vital essences
A simple and often not talked about element within Yogic thought is the notion of Vital Essences. There are many of these within nature - Soma for instance is the energy that helps specific herbs to be metabolised medicinally. We also have Vital Essences that move and function within our physical being and mind .
This course, all (properly practiced ie. not Bikram or heated yoga) yoga and all Ayurvedic ritual is focussed on either preserving or cultivating more of these.
Throughout the course I will ask you to focus on these three main essences:
Master life force, animates, governs higher consciousness. Helped with pranayama breathwork, movement, joyfulness and nourishing, healthy, natural whole foods.
The simplest way to think about Prana is thinking of boiling broccoli - there is a brief moment when the broccoli is just cooked and it releases a brighter green colour, this is the cultivation of prana And this should be when you eat it too!
Prana is hindered by stress, stagnation, disease, depression, lack of movement.
Intellectual digestive fire - relates to discipline, determination, the unfolding of higher consciousness states, interrelated to the Yama Tapas (which we will learn about later in the course).
A way to think of Tejas is when you’re very clear, determined and on-point with your work. You feel so healthy and aware that your ideas are all brilliant and you have excellent decision making/problem solving ability. I think of Tejas as intellectual capacity.
We reduce Tejas when we become sluggish with engaging with our intellect, when we stop wanting to learn or grow. A couch potato is a good image of someone really lacking in Tejas.
Interrelated to the traditional chinese medicine idea of Jing, it is our vibrance, juiciness, radiance, can be seen in chubby cherub faces, we’re born with 8 golden drops and these are depleted over lifestyle and responsibilities (we give 1 to each baby that we have as women).
Ojas is the ultimate sweetness, its that feeling of being well lubricated, strong, young, bright and radiant. Ojas is a master force and the most important thing to be aware of (that most Yoga teachers do not know) is that Prana REQUIRES Ojas in order to move within the body and the Koshas (aka. The aura).
Holy foods like honey, ghee, along with other particular foods like dates, almonds, water chestnuts promote Ojas. And like Jing rest, proper relaxation, time away from screens, routine, calmness and balancing your hormones will help to preserve Ojas. In contrast to this overworking, unrealistic expectations of yourself and your time, spending your energy on things you don’t enjoy, pushing, hustling and over stretching energetically, late nights, alcohol, drugs will all deplete Ojas.
spend some time sensing your reaction to these vital essences. are they easy for you to grasp? do you understand them or do they seem difficult? Can you sense how these are present in your everyday or do you feel depleted in any of them?
journal on how you feel each essence is currently present in your life and if you feel any of them need particular attention - this is an effort for you to focus on throughout the course and the first week of practices.