What Is Shakti Yoga?

Three young women in yoga pose
Three women are practicing yoga. (Image: Motoyuki Kobayashi/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

Yoga embraces several components of health and fitness, including flexibility, breathing techniques, core training, balance and strength. Shakti refers to divine energy and a Hindu goddess. The practice of Shakti yoga centers on the sun salutation pose, or Surya Namaskar. During Shakti yoga, you work with your inner energy and power while doing various poses and breathing exercises.

Shakti

In Hinduism, Shakti is the word for divine energy, specifically female energy. Shakti is the energy and power that lives in all beings and flows through the universe. Shakti is synonymous with empowerment, creativity and movement. The goddess Shakti personifies this energy. She is believed to give men and women the ability and energy to move through the universe. Although Shakti represents feminine energy and Shiva represents male energy, they both reside in each individual.

Shakti Yoga

Shakti yoga emphasizes smooth movement and flowing transitions between poses. Breathing exercises and mantras, which are sounds or words you chant continuously, are integrated with the yoga poses. The purpose of Shakti yoga is to increase your energy, vitality and spirituality. Mindfulness is also part of the practice as the instructor encourages you to focus on your energy and your mantras. Although Shakti yoga encompasses many yoga poses, the sun salutation, or Surya Namaskar, is the fundamental sequence.

The Sun Pose

The sun pose portrays the worship of Surya, the Hindu sun god. It is a sequence of 12 body positions, alternately stretching and flexing the spine. You start in a standing pose. The first six positions take you through two forward bends and two backward bends. The next six moves occur on the floor. You move through a series of planks, downward-facing dog poses and upward-facing dog poses. Finish the sun salutation sequence in the same standing position in which you started.

Considerations

Shakti yoga integrates principles and poses from other styles of yoga. If you are already a yoga practitioner, you will be able to integrate some past teachings into your Shakti practice. Each Shakti instructor may teach this form of yoga slightly differently. Try several studios to find an environment and instructor that complements your personality, fitness level and goals. As with any type of exercise, consult a physician before starting any new fitness routine.

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