FEMININE BASED SPIRITUALITY
Usha Anandi. 22 | JANUARY | 2020
One of the most common reactions of yoga teachers, embodiment guides, and transformational facilitators have when they come to study with me is ‘WOAH, I had no idea that breathing, moving, and existing like this was even POSSIBLE… so why does it feel so RIGHT?!”
If moving in a more feminine, instinctual, slow, and intuitive way feels right, it’s because it is.
In our Wise Womban Way Professional Facilitator Training, we share the keys to unlocking a more embodied, fulfilling, and feminine-based way of living – and we also give you the tools to help others do the same.
We have only 5 spaces left in our next March 1 – 14 training in Bali. If you feel the call to join us, click the button below.
I am no stranger to orthodox practices. In fact, I’ve spent a large part of my spiritual journey in the Himalayas, waking up at 4 am to meditate while swathed in white clothes repeating thousand-year old mantras.
I am deeply grateful for the experiences I have had, exploring more traditional, patriarchal practices…. but deep down inside, something never felt right.
Something always felt repressed, some part of me always felt unworthy to be seen, shown, or even recognized. Without realizing it, for a long time I was unconsciously compartmentalizing different aspects of myself, especially the ones that I deemed too human, too wild, too unruly to be shown.
I was walking two paths at the same time, cultivating two different aspects of my spiritual personality.
One side was a barefoot, braless apprentice of an indigenous medicine woman. She could often be found immersed in a sea of vegetation, singing to plants, and supporting women during conception, birth, and postpartum.
Another one was a white-laden yogini who woke up at 4 am and breathed, moved, and meditated her way to inner peace and contentment.
For some reason, it felt like these two worlds could never unite – until one day, they did.
We as humans have many aspects of ourselves, to love, accept, and express these different aspects at any given time is a spiritual practice within itself.
As I deepened into my apprenticeship with my teacher, Doña Maria Carmen of México and started to tap into the instinct, intuition, and power within my womb – it felt like the patriarchal practice of yoga which I had once dedicated myself fully to was no longer working, in fact – it felt suffocating.
And here’s a little secret, coming to terms with this terrified me. And yet, after deepening my understanding of the history of the practice, I learned why.
For my yoga practitioners out there – did you know that the physical practice of asana (posture) was created to bring health and alignment for prepubescent male pelvises? That’s right.
The way we are guided to move our bodies in most Yoga classes is based on cues that have been created for male bodies.
The female pelvis and the male pelvis are anatomically different. The female pelvis is wider in comparison to the taller, less wide male pelvis.
This means that cues like “stand at the front of your mat with feet together” will not only be uncomfortable for most women but may also feel destabilizing. When we don’t feel stable, our body moves out of optimal alignment which in turn affects our breath, blood flow, energetic pathways, and basic movement patterns.
Beyond just the asana, many of the intensive cleansing practices (kriyas) and rigorous sequences of the classical practice of Yoga aren’t always suitable for a person who has a menstrual cycle, is currently bleeding, pregnant, or healing during postpartum.
What we practice is what we become.
We need to return to a more feminine way of moving, breathing, and being, and we need a practice to support us in that.
Please note, you don’t need to identify as female to practice a more feminine-based spirituality. You simply have to desire to return to a more cyclical, fluid, nurturing way of being.
So whether you’re new to this whole world of spirituality or whether you’re a seasoned practitioner, this article has something for you.
If we want to take part in the revolution, we have to observe, dissect, and dismantle ways of being that exist within the practices that we hold most sacred and dear. Asking ourselves tough questions and constantly seeking is part of the process of moving closer to truth with every breath.
Here are my top three tips for turning ANY practice into a more feminine-based, womb-centered practice.
1. Stop Bypassing
Focusing on transcending the physical body and the material world before understanding how to fully inhabit the world is the perfect formula for spiritual bypassing.
Many modern practitioners of spiritual practices arrive without a real sense of who they are, who their ancestors were, or what land their DNA comes from. This sense of knowing oneself comes from lower energetic centers (like the root + the womb) that function in harmony, creating a stable foundation for spiritual growth.
When we focus on expanding our centers of intuition, spiritual guidance, and connection to the whole BEFORE we have a solid connection with our physical body, the results can be overwhelming. When our lower energetic centers aren’t fully developed due to trauma, whether it’s developmental, sexual, or ancestral, we don’t have the emotional or energetic capacity to process higher spiritual energies in a healthy way.
When I first arrived to the practice of Yoga, I felt numb, disconnected, and totally out of my body. After experiencing developmental trauma, I often had a hard time moving my body in the way I desired to, couldn’t actually connect with what was going on within me, and was unaware of how to release patterns of chronic tension that had plagued me for most of my adolescent and adult life.
Instead of focusing on ways to feel my body more, I was instructed to focus on my third eye (located about an inch above the center of your eyebrows, deep inside the brain).
When I went there, I noticed a sense of peace and calm I had never been able to access before. So I practiced this, for years – until I realized that the chronic tension, the trauma, and the numbness in my body was actually still there.
What’s more, is my intuition began to expand in a way that I didn’t understand – leaving me totally overwhelmed and at times feeling unsafe in this new and uncharted cosmic universe I was now traveling.
It wasn’t until I found my teacher, Doña Maria Carmen and began to study Feldenkrais Somatic Education that I actually started to come back into my body. Not by bypassing it – but by actually creating time to live in it.
Bypassing teaches us to hide from our humanness. Feminine-based spirituality teaches us how to celebrate it.
The pain, suffering, joy, and triumphs you have experienced are all worthy to be seen, accepted, and honored.
So when you feel an emotion arise that seems uncomfortable for you, try and notice it instead of immediately rationalizing it and going to a place that feels more ‘spiritual’, aka just bypassing what you’re feeling.
The only way out is through.
Practice to Stop Bypassing
- When an uncomfortable emotion arises, notice it and consider if you have the capacity to sit with it.
- If the answer is yes, explore what it feels like to close your eyes.
- Begin to deepen the breath as you trace the thought, feeling, or emotion to its origin within your body.
- Notice as you breathe, what effect is it having on your body?
- Ask yourself questions like… how is my breathing affected right now? Where do I feel sensation?
- Be curious to the quality of your sensation, does it have a temperature? Does it feel like expansion? Contraction? How many details can you use to describe what you’re feeling?
- If it feels comfortable, spend ten rounds of breath being with your sensation. If at any time you feel as though you need more support, consider placing a hand on the area where you located the sensation. Always know that if needed, you can open your eyes.
- Notice that as you sit and breathe with yourself, the sensation may change.
- After you’ve finished ten rounds of breath, slowly open your eyes.
- Place your hands on the Earth and feel the weight of your body on the ground.
- Take a few moments to notice your environment.
- What do you see? What do you smell? What do you feel touching your skin?
- Allow the full absorption in your senses to guide you back to the present moment.
2. Unsubscribe from Spiritual Hierarchy
The teacher-student relationship is central to many different spiritual paths. In these traditions, the student is nurtured on their spiritual journey by an experienced teacher who has both faced and overcome common challenges one may face while walking the path.
This relationship is both sacred and essential to not only spiritual practices, but our health within society as a whole.
But this is not the hierarchy I’m talking about.
The spiritual hierarchy that we need to watch out for is the hierarchy that places a person, Guru, Master, or whatever you call them on a pedestal.
In this type of hierarchy, the teacher is thought to know all and because of that, is often exempt from normal scrutiny that other people would be subject to due to their ‘enlightened’ status. If the teacher is questioned, the disciple is commonly privately or publicly shamed and invited to ‘go inside’ to figure it out, as if their healthy discretion is a sign of egoism.
This kind of voluntary submission and sacrifice of autonomy is both detrimental to the spiritual process and often, dangerous.
Spiritual teachers are human. To put them on a pedestal is setting ourselves up for great disappointment.
A true teacher, Guru, Master, Priest and/or guide is an embodiment of equality and never uses their spiritual status as a means to gain control, overpower, or manipulate their subjects – in any way.
No one can do the work for you on your spiritual path – there are no shortcuts.
Feminine-based spirituality is sourced from the understanding that all beings are equal. Although some humans carry unique life experiences and spiritual achievements, in feminine-based spirituality, we recognize that we all have something to learn from each other; everyone is a teacher in their own right.
In our trainings, we all sit in a circle at heart level. No one is elevated on a table, chair, or sitting on a shrine. This subtle physical notion symbolizes equality and encourages individuals to share openly, knowing that not only will their vulnerability not be taken advantage of, but it will be seen as a teaching and a symbol of strength.
Remember – the true Guru exists within. Any teacher you find on your path is here to remind you of that.
3. Stop Searching for Perfection Disguised as Enlightenment
As one of my favorite authors, Terry Tempest Williams shares – “’Who wants to be a goddess when we can be human? Perfection is a flaw disguised as control.’
The incredible balancing act of this existence is both to recognize ourselves as holy, sacred, divine, while also developing the capacity to see that divinity shine through in even the dirtiest, messiest, most uncomfortable moments of humanness.
The more we attempt to run away from our humanness, the more it will seek us out and find us.
As psychotherapist Carl Jung famously shares ‘what we resist, persists’.
I believe that it’s our true human nature that desires to understand, heal, transform, and expand to our greatest potential.
Yet, we have to be extra careful while walking a spiritual path to the ways in which, in search for this expansion, we deny ourselves the right to be human.
In our quest for perfection, we miss the point entirely. Perhaps the true fulfillment doesn’t come once we escape the grip of humanness but arises when we’re able to accept ourselves entirely in it.
So, when you arrive to your spiritual practice, ask yourself why you’re doing it.
Is it to run away from something?
Is it in pursuit of a goal that you believe you need to reach before you’re able to be fully present, blissful, and alive?
Salvation is not after, it’s right now. It’s right here.
Next time you find yourself in a very human situation, making the same mistake you always do – use this saying, which I’ve been utilizing a lot in my own (very human) life lately –
“Oh my, how human of me!”
We all know the deep sigh of relief that arises when we’re around someone who grants themself permission to just be themselves, and in turn – does the same for others.
The intention of feminine-based spirituality is to cultivate a sense of humor, a lightheartedness, and an ability to actually celebrate the present moment and the gift of this existence.
If we’re doing anything but that, I believe we’re missing the point.
Remember, feminine-based spirituality isn’t just for those who identify as women. Feminine-based spirituality is for all those who desire to find liberation in the here and now by using body-based, somatic techniques to return to a sense of wholeness and centeredness. Feminine-based spirituality is for all those that desire to strengthen their connection to their bodies, their ancestors, and the Earth. It’s about returning to a more natural, cyclical way of doing things – emulating nature and her rhythms.
If you’re ready to learn, heal, and transform in a more feminine-based way, I invite you to our Wise Womban Way Professional Facilitator Training.
This training is for yoga teachers, doulas, therapists, circle-leaders, bodyworkers, energy workers, and all those who feel the call to support their community to grow in a more feminine-based way.
Our comprehensive curriculum blends science and the sacred to provide in-depth education in the realms of womb sciences, trauma-informed care, nervous system education, menstrual cycle wisdom, somatic inquiry, plant energetics, symbolism, healing the mind, business education, ceremony, ritual, and much more.
And the best part? We not only talk the talk of embodiment, we walk the walk. Every day of the training you experience 3 – 4 hours of ceremony before we explore anatomy, methodology, and techniques, offering you the opportunity to fully taste and integrate the experiences in a body-based, feminine way before learning the ‘why’ behind what we do.