What is Shakti Yoga? [Poses, Benefits and More]
Shakti Yoga is a culmination of dynamic movements paired with traditional postures.
This makes shakti yoga almost fun to practice, and to add to that, shakti yoga also offers amazing benefits!
Our ancestors have practiced yoga for thousands of years. It is believed to have been developed by the Indus Sarasvati civilization in Northern India over 5000 years ago.
Yoga was first mentioned in one of our sacred texts, the Rig Veda. Our ancestors’ chief aim in practicing yoga was to unite the human spirit with the divine spirit.
Has Yoga evolved as a form of art?
Yes! With time, yoga has grown, evolved, and now holds different meanings for different people. One could be practicing yoga as a part of their fitness routine; another could be practicing it for a sense of peace, and so on.
There are different forms and several benefits of practicing yoga. However, the main goal remains the same; to cultivate discernment, awareness, self-regulation, and higher consciousness in the individual; in simple terms, it means to stay in touch with your inner self and find balance within your mental and physical being.
Several factors such as breathing, stretching, mind, and body strengthening contribute to this.
Achieving mental equilibrium takes time and perseverance.
Shakti yoga can help us achieve this. The term shakti refers to refreshing the power within us.
It is about the continuation of asanas coupled with a pattern of consistent breathing. This practice stimulates the mind and body.
Shakti Yoga and its poses
Shakti Yoga finds its roots with some of the basic yoga practices. It is a culmination of dynamic movements along with traditional yoga postures. It does not have any strict rules since a single individual did not create it.
Shakti yoga can mean different things for different people. However, one practice that remains the same throughout is the act of inhaling and exhaling multiple times, followed by a consistent breathing pattern.
The following are some yoga poses you could put into practice.
The extremely popular “Surya Namaskara” or Sun Salutation is a part of Shakti Yoga. It defines asanas performed in a cyclic manner which revitalizes every muscle in the body.
Shakti Yoga specifies the idea of Surya Namaskara to be performed in the morning. It spreads positive energy through the mind and body.
It includes a series of 12 asanas:
- Hasta Uttanasana
- Hasta Padasana
- Ashwa Sanchalanasana
- Ashtanga Namaskara
- Ashwa Sanchalanasana
- Hasta Padasana
- Hasta Uttanasana
Related Article: Top 5 Ashtanga Yoga Poses With Health Benefits
The Surya Namaskara was designed to provide flexibility to the
Performing Surya Namaskar helps a person improve his overall fitness, flexibility, and self-control.
This asana is also a part of Shakti Yoga which mainly focuses on breathing. You should perform it under the guidance of a yoga expert.
Improper practices of Kapala Bhati lead to negative consequences.
It is the act of inhaling and exhaling at an intensity. Kapala Bhati is repeated multiple times, on the count of 5 for a beginner.
The counts can go as high as 50 in an iterative manner for someone who has practiced it for years.
The procedure is simple. Sit in Sukhasana(cross-legged) or Padmasana(lotus-pose) or Vajrasana(hem pose). It strengthens your lungs and improves your endurance.
Anuloma Viloma Pranayama
It is a breathing method that,
- Improves blood circulation to the brain
- Reduces anxiety
- Aids the functioning of the Respiratory System
- Improves cardiovascular health, and
- Improves your overall well-being.
The procedure is similar to Kapaal Baati.
- Sit comfortably in a preferable meditative posture, either Sukhasana, Padmasana, or other similar postures. Ensure the spine is upright or perpendicular to the ground
- Block the right nostril using the right thumb.
- Keep the left nostril blocked and release the right nostril.
- Start the cycle again, this time inhaling from the right nostril.
The pawanmuktasana, also known as the wind-relieving pose, is a reclined pose. The word Pawan in Sanskrit means air, and the word mukta means to relieve.
Performing this asana is said to help release gas from the gastrointestinal tract and relieve indigestion, constipation, and acidity.
To practice this pose,
- Start by exhaling, and as you inhale, raise your legs 90° off the floor.
- As you exhale, bend both knees towards your chest and place your thighs on your stomach while keeping your knees and ankles in line.
- Hold your knees or your thigh with both hands and keep them close to your abdomen.
- Breathe in again, and as you exhale, slowly lift your head and chest off the floor and touch your chin to your knees.
- Hold this position for as long as possible while you take deep breaths.
- After, inhale and lift your leg up straight along the knee, then exhale and bring your legs back to the floor.
This asana should not be performed if you experience specific health issues like high blood pressure, heart problems, hyperacidity, hernia, slipped disc, testicle disorder, and neck and back pain. It should also be avoided if you happen to be menstruating.
Shalabhasana, also known as the locust pose, is practiced for the backward bending of the spine. The final pose is said to resemble that of a locust, commonly known as a grasshopper.
The benefits of practicing this pose are:
- A strong lower back, pelvic organs, legs, hip joints, and arms.
- Toned sciatic nerves
- Relief from diseases of the stomach and bowels
- Enhanced circulation to the spine and the whole upper body.
To practice this asana,
- Start by lying face down on your yoga mat.
- Slowly raise the right leg as you inhale while making sure not to bend or rotate the knee.
- Hold this pose for 10 to 20 seconds before slowly lowering your leg while exhaling.
- Repeat the same steps with your left leg.
- After lowering the left leg, proceed to lift both legs at once while also controlling your breathing.
Only avoid practicing this pose if you have any heart ailments, are pregnant, experience hypertension, or have a hernia.
Vakrasana is a simplified version of the Ardhamatsyendrasana, both being a pose to twist or half twist the spinal cord.
Practicing this asana can help,
- Tone the abdominal muscles, spinal nerves, and certain organs.
- Increase the elasticity of the spine
- Stretch your muscles
- Relieve stiffness in joints
- Stimulate the Navel chakra
To practice this asana,
- Start by sitting on your mat with your legs stretched out.
- Bend your left leg while placing your foot beside your right knee.
- Keeping your spine straight, slowly rotate your upper body to the left as you exhale.
- Place your right hand beside your left foot in such a way that it touches the outside of your left leg.
- Keep your torso straight as you use your right hand to further turn to your right while your left hand is behind your back and palm facing down.
- Repeat the same steps on your left side. Once completed, you would’ve finished one round.
- Practice this in at least 2-3 rounds.
4 Benefits of Shakti Yoga
Shakti Yoga practitioners focus more on endurance than strength. Regular Surya namaskara practice improves the flexibility of muscles and helps you develop muscle strength.
Breath control helps in keeping the lungs in good shape. Various asanas also have an impact on the digestive system. It strengthens the mind and body and alleviates stress at all pressure points such as the back, knees, spine, and lower abdomen.
Shakti Yoga helps in finding a balance between mind and body. It provides a good sense of wellness.
Intensity makes Shakti Yoga different from other forms of yoga. It emphasizes breathing and helps you control your mind and body. People who practice this at high intensities have higher mental endurance and good cardiovascular health.
Yoga, as an art form, has evolved through the years and now has more advanced types. One of them being Shakti Yoga.
Shakti Yoga is one of the many ways to stay fit. If you are wondering whether or not to start this practice, go for it. It does not use any equipment or machinery. Instead, you use your own body and mind to achieve the results.
What next? You can always experiment with different types of yoga. Here are a few other yoga forms that could interest you.