The intention of yoga is to create balance, and the physical practice of yoga can bring this about in many different ways. One way, which can often be so subtle as to go unnoticed, is by interacting with the constant dance between the masculine and feminine energies within each of us.
When these energies are in harmony, we’re able to draw on the best qualities of each — characteristics including strength and assertiveness from the masculine, as well as fortitude and grace from the feminine.
Yet inevitably, there are times when we embody more of one or the other energy, and this imbalance tends to reveal itself in all aspects of life.
Bringing ourselves back to a place of balance means cultivating more of the qualities of the opposing energy, and our physical yoga practice can influence this.
Dynamic movement, such as a vigorous vinyasa style that requires strength and power, influences the masculine, whereas gentle, introspective, and passive approaches, such as slow, restorative, or Yin Yoga, channel the feminine.
Yet these are not mutually exclusive qualities. We can cultivate strength in asanas that also bring awareness to the sacral chakra (swadisthana) and the heart chakra (anahata), energy centers that tend to be more representative of the feminine and that exist within each of us.
Simply being aware of how we’re holding our bodies in any pose or moment is part of the balancing experience. Understanding the energies of various poses is another aspect of bringing things back into harmony.
A sequence to bring you back to your feminine energy
Before practicing these poses that support feminine energies, come into Sukhasana (Easy Seat) and take a few deep breaths to center yourself. Then engage in some gentle seated or kneeling stretching.
You can lean your head slowly toward one shoulder and then the other for lateral flexion of the cervical spine; circle your arms, wrists, and ankles; and engage in straightening and bending your knees.
Inhale and reach your arms alongside your head with your elbows bent as you open through your chest, and as you exhale, bring your arms forward and straighten them to bring your palms together as you round the spine and repeat for a few breaths, then finish the warm-up with a gentle seated spinal twist of your choice on each side.
You can choose to remain in each of the following poses for 3–5 breaths, depending on what feels good for you.
How the pose channels feminine energy: As a standing asana, High Lunge helps us feel grounded and balanced. But the primary function of this posture is to open the inner thighs and hip flexors, which can be attributed to the sacral chakra.
At the same time, bringing the arms above the head helps us open the chest and shoulder area, which is the space of the heart chakra. High Lunge also helps us develop lower body strength, giving us a firm foundation in our practice and our life.
How to: Come into Tadasana (Mountain Pose) and take a few moments to ground yourself. Inhale and lift your arms above your head as you step your left leg back, keeping your back heel lifted and your arms alongside your ears to open your chest and shoulders. Breathe here.
Utkata Konasana (Goddess Pose)
How the pose channels feminine energy: A strong asana, Utkata Konasa can help us feel empowered and inspire openness to simply be as we are. It helps to open the hip adductors (inner thighs) and strengthens the leg muscles and the hips.
How to: From High Lunge, turn to face the long side of the mat and angle your feet outward, toward the corners of the mat. Bend your knees, keeping them tracking in the direction of your toes, to come into Goddess.
You can keep your arms raised above your head, as shown in the photo, or bring your hands to Anjali Mudra (prayer hands) at your chest. Take 3 breaths here.
Turn to face the back of the mat and repeat High Lunge on your left leg, followed by Goddess facing the long side of the mat. Repeat one more time, if you wish, before continuing.
How the pose channels feminine energy: This pose is another hip-opening asana, which corresponds to the sacral chakra and the corresponding water element, which flows with whatever our current situation presents.
The posture also invites us to pause for a moment so we can release tension from the hips and come back to quietly observing our breath.
How to: From High Lunge on your left side, bring your right foot forward and hip distance apart. Bend your knees to squat down to Malasana.
If you would like to introduce a spinal twist, practice Praivrtta Malasana, or Revolved Squat, by extending your right arm outside of your right foot, lifting your left arm, and turning your upper body to the left.
Stay here or bend your left elbow, reach your left arm behind your back, and clasp your left wrist or fingertips with your right hand to take a bind.
How the pose channels feminine energy: Eka Pada Rajakapotasana is a beautiful asana to open the hips and remind ourselves that we can simply observe all the tension being released without any reaction or dynamic movement. Slow, soft, and powerful, all together in one posture.
How to: From Malasana, place your hands on the mat beneath your shoulders and turn your toes straight forward. Step your left leg foot straight behind you into Low Lunge and lower your left knee to the mat.
Bring your right knee between your hands, and rest the outside of your leg on the mat with your foot closer to the left side in a comfortable position.
You can press your palms into the mat and keep your upper body raised to open your chest and shoulders or you can fold forward with the upper body to soften into the pose. Stay here for 5 breaths.
Revolved High Lunge
How the pose channels feminine energy: This asana combines all the benefits of the High Lunge and increases the flexibility of the spine. Twists are generally associated with manipura (solar plexus or navel chakra), which is typically considered masculine energy; however, the flexibility we gain from twists teaches us to be adaptable and more open in our daily life, which reflects feminine attributes.
How to: From Eka Pada Rajakapotasana on the right leg, come onto your left toes, lift your left knee, and bring your right foot onto the mat by your right wrist in Low Lunge. Move your left hand beneath your left shoulder and press it firmly on the mat.
With an inhalation, twist your upper body to the right and raise your right arm. You can instead place your right hand on your right hip if it feels more comfortable. Stay here for 3 breaths, then come into a kneeling position. Take your right leg back and bring your left knee in between your hands at the front of the mat.
Practice Eka Pada Rajakapotasana and Revolved High Lunge on the left side.
How the pose channels feminine energy: Dhanurasana is a lovely chest opener that brings awareness to the heart chakra — our seat of compassion, kindness, and unconditional love.
Practicing Dhanurasana invites us to open our hearts to our practice, to ourselves, and to love. It can also be a challenging asana, reminding us that being open and sometimes vulnerable are strong and empowering qualities.
How to: From Revolved High Lunge on the left side, lower your hand to the mat, come to Plank, and lower onto your belly. Bend your knees and bring your hands to your outer ankles.
As you inhale, open and raise your chest off the mat, and as you exhale raise the thighs, with the legs parallel to one another, pulling away from the body, to deepen the shoulder extension.
How the pose channels feminine energy: Child’s Pose gives us the opportunity for quiet introspection; to observe our breath, body, and mind; and to relax for a moment.
How to: From Bow Pose, gently release your legs, bring your knees wide and your big toes to touch, and rest your upper body on the mat. Your arms can be straight or you can bend your elbows and place your forehead on the forearms. Stay here for 5 breaths.
How the pose channels feminine energy: While most inversions energize the mind and create heat in the body, Sarvangasana activates ida nadi, the lunar energy of calm and coolness. It is known as the queen of all asanas, making it an ideal pose for channeling our feminine energy.
As its name suggests, we are steadying ourselves on our shoulders with the legs, hips, pelvis, and upper back raised in a straight line, which requires core strength. It’s important to support your lower back and raise your lower body and hips only as high as it feels comfortable for you.
How to: From Child’s Pose, slowly lift your chest, come onto your back, and draw your knees into your chest. Start to lift your legs and hips as you bend your elbows and bring your hands to your lower back, fingers pointing up, as support. Begin to lift your legs and hips and straighten through the middle of your back.
Always ensure that there is no pressure on your neck and that your chest is moving toward your chin and not the reverse. This way you avoid overexerting the cervical spine, which is already in deep flexion.
How the pose channels feminine energy: This asana brings awareness to the higher chakras, which help us understand that regardless of our physical form, beneath all of these superficial layers, we are all one essence. There is no gender differential in this space.
The pose does, however, open our chest and shoulders, which relates to Anahata and the more feminine qualities of trust and receptiveness. This is a strong end-of-practice counterpose to Sarvangasana.
How to: From Sarvangasana, bend your knees, draw your knees into your chest, and slowly lower your back onto the mat, one vertebra at a time. With your next inhalation, press your shoulders onto the mat, lift your chest, and bring the area just above the crown of your head to the mat.
A supportive and effective variation is to use a block under your shoulder blades to help with the thoracic spine extension and opening of the chest.
As you release from Matsyasana, take a few moments to bring the cervical spine back into balance by placing your hands together at the back of your head to help raise it and look forward at your toes.
How the pose channels feminine energy: Finally, it is time to relax, unwind and give your body enough time to feel all the beautiful benefits of this practice. Savasana teaches us to be still, effortless, and patient and allows our body and mind to simply be.
How to: Release entirely onto your back, letting your legs straighten and your arms relax alongside your body, palms facing up. Stay here for as long as you need to, focusing on softening your breath and allowing each body part to release any need for effort.