A nourishing yoga sequence for the divine feminine within
Do you feel wonder? Does your soul feel nourished in the soil of life? Can you hear nature’s prayer for your divine communion? Becoming familiar with and awakening to the Goddess as Divine Feminine can assist in healing Mother Nature, your relationship with her and your own femininity (for both men and women) and infuse your being in sacred ways. Could the Goddess be the divine answer for sustainable, sacred living on the planet?
Bhudevi: the Earth goddess
In the Vedic tradition, the Earth is so sacred she is Bhudevi, the goddess. Revering Mother Earth as goddess “hones our intuitive powers to read the subtle messages of the divine through the flow of grace”, explains yogacharya yogini Shambhavi Devi (vedanet.com). Applying Vedic knowledge offers you the experience of nature as part of yourself, where you can become the Goddess. Shambhavi explains goddess worship as “uniting with the Divine Being or power as one’s own inmost nature”. Dr David Frawley in Tantric Yoga and the Wisdom Goddesses says becoming the Goddess “contains all of life and all of the universe as flowing through our own nervous system. It is perhaps the ultimate of all experiences, as though experience itself is dissolved into the transcendent.”
Acknowledging the Goddess will change the way you relate to the Earth and hence your daily actions, promoting a more sustainable, eco-conscious lifestyle. Frawley explains, “The Goddess represents what is hidden, secret, subtle and sensitive … She is the mystery and allure of the higher knowledge … taking us into the secrets of eternity-infinity.”
Go deep into natural spaces often and connect from your heart. Here begins the intimate ways of the Divine Feminine.
The Divine Feminine
In the Tantric yoga tradition, the first reference to the Goddess appeared in ancient Vedic mythology during a battle with the demon Durgama over the Vedas (ancient, sacred texts). In battle, the Dasha Mahavidyas — Ten Wisdom Goddesses — arose out of the body of the Goddess. They are the personification of the Divine Feminine.
As the Dasha Mahavidya, the Goddess can appear as incredibly beautiful, gentle and serene; elsewhere, horrific: drinking blood from her own severed head and dancing on lovers or corpses.
The Dasha Mahavidyas
The Goddess is supreme speech, higher knowledge, wisdom, the Vedas, sound, breath, time, birth, death and space. The Goddess embodies love, compassion, pure perception, Beauty, peace, suffering, the power of destruction, transcendence, the void, silence and consciousness.
Various forms of the Goddess are useful to transcend difficulties and merge with the One. Honouring her image directly personalises her.
The following brief introductions are sourced from Frawley’s Tantric Yoga and the Wisdom Goddesses. More detailed explanations and practices are available in his wonderful book.
- Kali is the beauty of terror and the embodiment of Time. Frawley advises to empty the mind each day before sleep, as if each day were your last. To honour her, chant “krim” or her name, practise pranayama (yogic breathing) and so’ham meditation with the breath.
- Tara is the power of unmanifest Sound. She is the saviour to call during emergencies or life’s crossroads. In meditation while chanting om, “call upon divine grace to save and deliver all beings, and thereby become Tara oneself”, suggests Frawley.
- Tripura Sundari is the beautiful, blissful, divine love of the universe, a path to connect with divine beauty and the delight of nature. For her, chant “hrim” or “aim klim sauh” (wisdom, beauty/delight, transformation/transcendence).
- Bhuvaneshvari is the Queen of the Universe, Mother Nature personified. She represents the directions, the power of love, space and freedom. Her mantra is “hrim”. As Divine Mother, the mantra “ma” is also used.
- Bhairavi means “terrifying”. She is divine anger and wrath “directed towards the impurities within us, as well as to the negative forces that may try to interfere with our spiritual growth”, explains Frawley. Bhairavi is the powerful woman warrior, not to be aroused unless ready. Meditate on the inner light through the Third Eye. Sacrifice your attachments, desires and pleasures to her.
- Chhinnamasta is the Goddess with the Severed Head. She represents the joy of transcending the body. “In her ecstasy as the Eternal … she can absorb all the experiences of time, including disappointment and suffering, without forgetting her true nature,” says Frawley. Meditate on the seer, not the object, and merge your mind into the state of seeing, forgetting both the object and the subject, he suggests.
- Dhumavati is the Grandmother Spirit, the ancestral guide. She obscures the known to reveal the unmanifest, and represents life’s misfortunes that reveal the inner reality. Her mantra “dhum” is to obscure you from negativity. Meditate on the Void as Supreme Reality, on the transient nature of all things.
- Bagalamukhi is the hypnotic power of the Goddess. She destroys negativity and grants the ability to overcome negative thoughts and emotions. Pause and reflect during life’s busy moments or difficulties to silence the mind. Practise ahimsa: non-violence in speech to all living things.
- Matangi governs ideas and thinking processes. She is the manifest form of Song. Matangi rules over the extraordinary and represents the great powers of nature, wherein the Divine word is embodied. She is worshipped with the mantra “aim”, the seed-syllable of wisdom, learning and teaching, and is the voice of the inner guru or guide. Recite and reflect upon sacred texts and chant the Sanskrit alphabet for her.
- Kamalatmika is the Goddess of Delight. She relates to the Earth and, through devotion, helps you to realise that outer beauty is a mere reflection of that which is within. Offer flowers, scents, incense, lights and food to her image regularly.
Study and reflect upon each of the Ten Wisdom Goddesses, devoting your life to Her energies. Feel awe in nature, and contemplate how the teachings apply to your own life. Allow the Goddess to take you beyond suffering to transcendence, to reveal the secrets of the universe for your divine communion. Feel one with nature as your divine mother, chant to her, breathe and give thanks to the divine feminine within. Become the Goddess, find divinity within eco-consciousness, be moved to live a more sacred, sustainable lifestyle and enter into her natural state of bliss from within.
Hrim Ma (Divine Mother).
The divine goddess sequence
This hip-opening sequence offers reverence to many forms of the Goddess. It works on the root chakra in order to ground you physically with the Earth and honours the feminine qualities of your nature, encouraging receptivity, purification, creativity and nurturance to come forth. It brings you in touch with the natural beauty of Mother Earth, Bhudevi as part of your own nature and allows the energy of the Goddess to inspire and heal. Practise outdoors in a place that naturally uplifts.
Seated, set an intention for devotion, for a doorway and opening made accessible by the Goddess into higher knowledge. Be open to receiving, and surrender to all that is available to you. Draw on Goddess Kamala to help increase your ojas (juice of life) and increase soma (bliss-nectar) within you. Tripura Sundari allows soma to flow down from your crown chakra. Bring your thoughts to these Goddesses in your intentions for a sacred practice.
Chanting in accomplishment pose (siddhasana)
To begin, sit, one ankle in front of the other, hands lightly resting on knees. Become the Goddess Tara with the chant of “om”, asking for deliverance for all. Then, chant “hrim”, the main mantra of the Goddess. Hrim honours Sundari and her expressions of wonder in nature.
Next, further revere the Divine Mother as Bhuvaneshvari. On the inhalation, bring your arms out to the sides at shoulder height. With each exhalation, chant the cooling “ma” while simultaneously drawing hands to rest one on top of the other at the heart centre. Evoke her energies. Feel for the infinite space or void. Breathe. Feel the Divine Mother as an inner embrace, her offering of love and peace to you as her child. Chant to her “ma” as your prayer of love.
Mountain pose (tadasana)
Standing feet together, engage thighs. Engage your bhandas, or energy locks, by lifting pelvic floor, moving floating ribs away from hips and front of throat to back of throat, extending back of neck. As taught in Tantric Yoga and the Wisdom Goddesses, take your time to allow your life-force to expand into the whole of nature. When ready, on each inhalation, extend your arms out to the sides and concentrate on absorbing nature’s prana (life force) through all your senses, particularly the eyes, with the in-breath. On the exhalation, allow yourself to feel enclosed in nature’s prana by wrapping your arms around yourself. Continue for at least six rounds.
Half lotus tree (ardha padmasana vrksasana)
Ask to receive Kamala’s energies in this pose. The lotus symbolises inner unfoldment and water is the symbol of spiritual grace, love and communion. Standing, lift your left foot and place in half lotus on front of top right thigh, sole of left foot facing up. Turn left knee out to side. Engage the right leg, imagining tree roots grounding you deep into the Earth. Lift the pelvic floor, move ribs back and up, away from hips, place hands in prayer at your heart centre, square hips to centre. Breathe. After a few moments, release and repeat on other side.
Note: If you are unable to perform half lotus, practise vrksasana, tree pose, bringing sole of left foot against inner right upper thigh, taking hands together in prayer above head. Repeat on other side.
Fiery angle: the goddess (utkata konasana)
Step feet one leg-length apart on mat, turning feet out to a 45-degree angle. Deeply bend the knees, lining knee height toward with hips if possible. Lift and straighten torso, lift pelvic floor. Bend elbows to shoulder height, turn forearms up, palms facing out. Draw shoulder blades towards each other, shoulders down.
Breathe, focusing on the beauty, abundance and splendour of nature; revere Kamala. Chant “shrim” as you hold the pose. Draw on the divine grace of Bagalamukhi to maintain the hold as you breathe. Slowly release.
Bowed half moon (ardha chandrasana chapasana)
Step left leg back, lining right heel with inner arch of left foot. Bend right knee, place fingertips of right hand on ground, 10cm away from little toe. Lift left leg off floor to slightly above hip height, straightening both legs. Energise left leg, flex toes. Rotate torso towards sky. Raise left arm up until wrist is in line with shoulder joint. If comfortable, look up to sky. Chant “shrim” internally as you hold the pose.
Next, bend left leg, reach for left ankle with left hand. Move knee back so thigh returns to a similar position as above. Turn left thigh out, continue rotating torso to sky. Breathe in the support of nature and the Earth underneath you. Feel the bold opening of this pose as the transforming Goddess. Embrace the lunar, cooling, feminine aspects of your nature as you surrender within the pose. Slowly release with grace, and repeat on other side.
Standing on right foot, bend left leg behind you, reach and hold left foot with left hand. Stretch right arm up, energise right leg, lift spine up, abdomen back. Begin to move your left leg up and back directly behind you for a deep stretch. Breathe and hold the balance for 3–6 slow breaths. Become the dancer of Bhuvaneshvari, whose seer is the Lord of Dance, which is the universe. David Frawley says Bhuvaneshvari’s dance “becomes all creation”. Become Bhuvaneshvari through natarajasana; embody her energies. Breathe. Slowly release and repeat on other leg.
Bound angle (baddha konasana)
Seated on a three-fold blanket, bring soles of feet together toward groin, gently work knees toward ground. Hold feet, lift spine, breathe. Silently call to Matangi through the chant “aim” as you hold the pose, then listen to the sounds of nature available to you: the bird’s songs, the breeze through the rustling leaves, the whisper along the grass. Matangi is the goddess of musicians, and here the music is in nature. Allow for inner silence of your self-nature as part of your worship of her endless, musical poetry.
Seated angle (upavista konasana)
Seated, take straightened legs wide to the sides. Flex feet towards you, energise legs and press knees down. Inhale, pivot from hips to come forward with a straight spine, resting hands in front. If possible, hold big toes of each foot, maintaining a straightened spine. Breathe. Meditate on the rays of the sun as powers of divine light, life and love pouring into you. “Seeing the spiritual power of the solar radiance sets in motion the process of inner unfoldment, which is Kamala,” explains Frawley.
Gently come back to centre, lift spine, then twist from hips to the right, placing hands on either side of right leg. Honour Bagala in this pose by silencing the mind with the breath. Exhale and increase the twist. Continue to work with the breath and mind, come back to centre and repeat on left side.
Womb/source hand gesture in resting (yoni mudra in savasana)
The downward-facing triangle is the feminine in yantras (sacred geometry). Place your hands in this shape at the pelvic centre, thumbs at navel, and allow your attention to rest on the creative power of the womb, the nourishing aspect of the female form. With legs together and elbows supported under blankets, breathe into the triangular space of the yoni pose, activating gentle and relaxed awareness of the Divine Feminine within.
After a few moments, remove blankets and move into savasana by resting hands alongside the body, palms facing up, legs gently falling out to sides. Worship the Goddess as Kali. With each inhalation, breathe in sa, meaning “to take in”, and, with every exhalation, ha, meaning “to leave behind”. Embrace Kali as your prana, life force. Feel yourself one with the Earth, one with all in eternity, as Divine Feminine, as Goddess, as Om.
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