Everyone has their own personal empowerment shape that they connect with more than any other- for me it is Crow Pose. I have no idea why I connected with this shape in the beginning, it’s kind of like the world giving you a Spirit Animal, you don’t really get a say it just feels right- every single time- even when you fall out of the shape or struggle to find it in the first place it is your go-to Asana for everything that ails you. In that way, it is your personal empowerment pose and provides you with the resilience you need to get through almost anything!
However, there are a few shapes in yoga that have an impact on our Mind and Soul just by how they arrange and ground our bodies.
Listed below are a few shapes that a large group of Yoga Teachers chose as shapes they felt were empowering to the majority of their students when practiced. Some will resonate with you, some won’t, but each has a clear manifestation of empowerment behind it’s muscular arrangement or philosophical story.
Tadasana, Mountain Pose
This shape was the number one mentioned shape by the group of teachers asked. As grounded as you may feel just standing up, there is nothing quite like spending some definitive moments layering in all the cues for a truly yummy Mountain Pose.
This shape is not just standing there waiting for the next shape. It’s a highly active pose.
Tadasana requires rooting into your two feet, lifting up through your legs and grounding your pelvis and core. Then focusing on dropping any tension down your back and lengthening your spine by lifting the back of your neck and leveling off your chin. It will start to feel like a string is pulling you from the top of your head upwards.
Tadasana is about steadying your entire body in its natural human shape, moving your breath easily in and out of your very open lungs, and fixing your sight evenly so you can clarify and focus on what is important to you.
Virabhadrasana, Warrior II.
Looking over your finger tips in Warrior II builds such intent that it is hard not to feel empowered by the focus cultivated in this shape.
In the Bhagavad Gita, a yoga text that describes the basis of yoga philosophy, the metaphor of a battlefield is used. Amongst many other themes in the text, the Warriors leader needs to stay focused on the reason for which he fights, the good for which he wants for his people, otherwise they all fall into a pit of anxious dispare. We liken this battle to life itself and the confidence in our decisions is what we need to stay focused on in order to procure that which is important to us- our happiness and the happiness of the ones we love.
Of course staying focused on this means staying present; Leaning too far back in Warrior II represents lingering in the past, leaning too far forward over your knee in the shape represents an anxiety to run into the future without discernment. Stay grounded in this moment, this choice, this shape.
There is a very centered anatomical feeling in this shape as the legs are pressing towards each other to create an uplifting sensation into the ribs, the chest is lifting the ribcage in and up, and the shoulders are cascading down the back with the weight of the hip bones anchoring the body in place. Your center is avidly clear and your gaze is pointed directly forward.
This sure-footed shape is not one to be messed with!
Garudasana, Eagle Pose.
Tangling your limbs up in Eagle Pose may not sound empowering, (it may actually sound quite wobbly!), but the story, or character behind this shape, makes it overtly empowering.
Garudasana, Eagle Pose, is a representation of Vishnu’s Eagle. Vishnu is the deity of maintaining and preserving life and he rides this sharply focused Eagle as he watches over every being in the Universe, insuring that they are taken care of.
This being the case, holding Eagle Pose represents the mode by which Vishnu travels therefore it carries with it the responsibility of watching over your flock. The shape empowers you to be in charge of preservation, like a parent watching over their child. It gives you the clear-cut and confident focus of someone with a job to do.
Natarajasana, Dancer Pose
This shape doesn’t just feel powerful and spectacular to be because of its anatomical lay out but also because of what it represents. As a symbol of Shiva’s Dance this shape symbolizes creation and destruction, and how they are so very interwoven.
Shiva, the deity of destruction, is a representation of how death cannot come without birth, and birth means there will be death. A being cannot die unless it has lived, and it cannot live without the certainty of death being around the corner. When a plant dies it goes back into the Earth and creates more life in the soil where it was. And so one thing always leads to another- including creation and destruction.
Once we understand this and work through our anxiety surrounding it we can move forward, get on with living, thriving and enjoying the magic of the moments we have. What is more empowering than that?!
Physically this shape grows from the center out, and the ground up- just like a tree. This gives Dancer Pose a strong and rambunctious feeling of growth. Filling the chest alone, feels confident and powerful, but allowing your standing leg to be a tree trunk that holds this luminous circle above it is simply breathtakingly, both to be in and to witness.
Yoga is a deep and vast philosophy that spans far beyond the physical shapes, yet somehow the shapes really do depict the philosophy without a word having to be said!
The confidence that any yoga practice brings to its students is Mind blowing, Soul opening and definitely Body shaping in more ways than one!
Hopefully this inspires you to seek out your most empowering pose, know what it is already? Do share!!