Mind, Body & Spirit

Embracing the Feminine in our Yoga Practice

“It is important to restore the essential balance in the world between the masculine and feminine energies. The bird of humanity cannot fly with one wing” Vivekananda

A lot of the world we live in is masculine and this is also reflected in the yoga on offer, which traditionally has a strong masculine slant.

There is a growing movement for balance – both internally and in the world around us. Integrating a feminine yoga practice is a way of redressing this balance through the mind, body, spirit and then through our inner and outer worlds.

My classes combine a masculine and feminine approach to yoga asana and pranayama to help redress that balance in all areas of your life.

Yoga is more than just exercise, it impacts all areas of our lives and so the benefit of having a balanced masculine and feminine yoga practice can also be seen in our everyday and working lives, bringing this balance off our yoga mats and into these areas – which is great news for the world of work for example, which has traditionally been more masculine.

A little more depth about the Feminine Style of Yoga

The concept of feminine yoga may seem unusual or unfamiliar, especially to those who do quite a bit of yoga. Why? Because largely speaking, yoga asana (asana being the poses we do) has a very masculine slant, the most simplistic reason for this being that the yogis who devised the path of yoga where men, designing it for the spiritual evolvement of men. It’s not that women were not welcome in the yoga world, they just weren’t at its hub in its time of creation in many ways.

A little nugget for those who enjoy history… Krishnamacharya, was one of the first Indians (in modern times) to teach women yoga, due to his fear that yoga would die out if left to the men who had business on their minds more than the practice of yoga (1888-1989).

These days, women are very much in the world of yoga – in fact you could say the vast majority of yogi’s in the west are women. And so, it makes sense that it was only a matter of time before a more feminine style of yoga came through, to honour all the women practicing yoga asana, as well as to create more of a balance of yin and yang, masculine and feminine.

It is interesting to see the rise of more feminine approaches to yoga as well as teachers looking to incorporate a balance of both the masculine and feminine / yin and yang, my sense is that this trend will only continue to rise.

So how do you spot feminine yoga VS masculine yoga?

The main thing to remember is that whether man or women, boy or girl, we all need both of these styles of yoga to maintain a healthy yoga practice, just as we need both the masculine and feminine in all areas of our lives to remain balanced.

Feminine Approach to Yoga

• Creative
• Explorative: enjoying the journey (instead of end goal/ final asana/pose).
• Softer movements e.g. soft bent elbows.
• Pulsing, moving with the ebb and flow of breath, body and inner fluids
• Breath intuitively guiding the bodies movement
• Dynamic flow in and out of asanas
• Intuitive spontaneous movement
• Circular, spiralling movements, hip circles – keeping the pelvis active.
• Spinal focus, through spinal rocking, shaking and vibrating movements
• Practicing for the fun of it

Masculine Approach to Yoga

• Precision and focus on alignment
• Structured practice
• Logical class structure
• Goal-oriented – want to be able to achieve certain pose, increase flexibility etc
• Linear-thinking – and linear movement e.g. straight arms and movement
• Bandhas – locks in which you keep the breath / prana, within the body
• Strong breathing (pranayama) practices for a specific means
• Holding a pose in a strong static way
• Power, control and strength

Feminine Styles of Yoga

• Scaravelli
• Angela Farmer
• Mark Whitwell
• Shiva Rea
• Yin Yoga
• Shakti Yoga
• Kundalini Yoga

Masculine Styles of Yoga

• Bikram
• Iyengar
• Ashtanga
• Power Yoga

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