September 20, 2021
Embracing Sacred Feminine Yin Energy
I am the sovereign queen, the treasury of all treasures, whose breathing forth gives birth to all the worlds and yet extends beyond them – so vast am I in greatness.
– DEVI SUKTA (praise hymn of the Goddess from the Rg Veda)
The Rg Veda is one of the foundational spiritual texts in Hinduism. Though yoga is not a religion, nor does it need to promote any specific religious ideology, the path of yoga and its lineage is interwoven with Indian culture and Hinduism. These spiritual texts offer us a vehicle for taking our yoga practice into our outer reality, which is the primary aim of any spiritual methodology. We do not come to yoga to be good at yoga, we come to the practice to refine and expand our lived experience.
The verse chosen to open this exploration hails the Goddess, which has many names and forms. Bhakti yoga, is a form of yoga that chants and sings to various deities, who are said to represent energies that are very much available inside of each of us. When we chant the Sanskrit mantras during yoga, we are invoking these energies inside of our cells through the vibration of sound.
The Goddess, who sometimes goes by Durga, Lakshmi, Kali, Parvati, Saraswati, and others, is ultimately a representation of the powerful feminine energy that circulates through all living things. This feminine energy is as dynamic, dimensional, and complex as the modern woman, and the exploration of the sacred feminine is endless.
In the West, we are used to looking at power as a masculine element. We often regard the feminine as passive and inferior to the dominating masculine. And yet, the masculine could not exist without the feminine, for it is the feminine, according to the yogic sages, that is said to activate the masculine. Without the feminine, the masculine would remain inert. The feminine energy that animates all life is known as Shakti. It is said to be the energy of creation and destruction, and this energy can be nurturing as well as chaotic.
We are in a time in the world that is asking us to embrace, uplift, and celebrate the aspects of the feminine that have been denied, prosecuted, and oppressed by dominant patriarchal culture. This rising of feminine energy is not only for females or those who identify as a woman, it is also about males and those who identify as a man embracing their feminine energy. Most cultures have created conditioned understandings of what is “feminine” and what is “masculine”, and if we understand that everything in the universe operates with these energies, that ultimately do not have to do with gender, then we can open up to embrace all aspects of ourselves and each other. Like the enlivening myths of the Hindu deities, we can come to honor our personal inner pantheon and allow all the aspects of our being to shine through in the highest frequency that they can.
Perhaps one of the reasons that feminine energy has been deemed passive or inferior is because of the yin essence associated with it. Yin and Yang are said to be the two energies of the universe, Yin being associated with the feminine and Yang with the masculine. Yet, we have to remember that within Yin there is Yang, and within Yang there is Yin, they cannot be separated. We can think about Yin as an aspect of sacred feminine energy that plays an important role in the balancing act of the universe and every living thing.
Yin is the energy of spaciousness, softness, patience, slowing down, restoration, and ease. Yin is the energy that we invoke during Yin Yoga, when we hold postures for longer, lengthen the breath, and allow ourselves to drop into deeper spaces. Yin is about depth – deep waters, inner exploration, and the capacity to open our palms to what we find. Yin energy, allows us to hold space for multiple feeling states at once. It is Yin that energy that helps us to slow down and nurture what matters to us. Yin, is the wise aspect that pushes no feeling away, but welcomes all experiences in with the open palms of compass.
Yin is the energy that the world is longing for. The modern technological moment has utilized Yang time and again. Many of us humans are addicted to Yang – to productivity, fast pace, heat, sensation, and consumption. When we exist only in Yang energy such as when we consistently have full calendars, are engaging in hot and fast-moving practices, and over-caffeinating, it is inevitable that we experience burnout. Burnout can look like disease in the body, lowered immunity, anxiety or depression, and other forms of suffering.
Our beings, just like everything else in nature, utilize the balance of Yang and Yin, the effort and the grace, the masculine and the feminine, the activation and the restoration. It is a sign of spiritual maturity to devote time and space to cultivating Yin energy when we become aware that we have compromised our inner harmony by existing too much in Yang.
By taking time to turn towards our Yin, we revitalize our energy so that we can be active in the world. We bring ourselves into sacred balance by respecting our need to rest, slow down, and tend to our being. We honor the Yin innate in all living things. We honor the aspect of the sacred feminine that holds the key to peace, well-being, and contentment.
The outdated perception that the feminine energy is weak, complacent, or inferior is falling away. Embracing the feminine, means embracing all aspects of our being, and being able to hold space for multiple perspectives, experiences, feelings, and possibilities at once. It means softening when Yin is needed, and speaking up or taking right action when Yang is called for. Embracing the feminine means welcoming in the many-armed Goddess that dances through Hindu mythology, unapologetically owning all aspects of her being and all the while keeping her compassionate hands open to a world that so needs us to remember her.
Below are some recommended practices to help you embrace this sacred feminine energy of yin: