Wednesday was my husband and I’s three year wedding anniversary. He surprised me with private dance lessons. One of the grudges I have held against him since this date was that he didn’t dance with me at our wedding, and so he surprised me with this gift. (Yes, I cried.)
The dance lesson was so fun. The instructor was incredible, and, as it turns out, Keith has quite a bit of rhythm, just not a lot of confidence. And I have a lot of rhythm, but my posture sucks and it means I’m easily thrown off balance. (Umm, hello metaphors for life?)
Actually, the entire thing was metaphorical. Hello Keith lacking confidence. Hello me being thrown in many directions and easily getting off balance. Keith needs more ooomph; I need more steadiness.
But the metaphors went deeper than that. The man - the lead - needs to provide direction. His job is to push and pull and create constant tension as a means of communication. His body is his communication tool, and he needs to do so with confidence, fluidity, and without planning too far ahead of time. He uses his intuition and makes split second decisions without second guessing.
It is the job of the woman to be lead with grace and ease. It is her job to not be pushed over, pulled too far in - she needs to maintain her composure, or her “diva stance,” as our instructor called it. And it is also imperative that she trusts his direction, and when he throws her into a dip she needs to not fight it or get scared, but just relax into it.
What does this have to do with yoga, you ask?
Lately, I’ve been studying the divine masculine and divine feminine, as a part of my yoga practice and as a part of my personal healing process. One of the things I have uncovered through many sources is that my masculine energy is overly dominant.
We all each of us have masculine and feminine energies within us. Estrogen and testosterone, intuition and logic, receptivity and directionality. The male energy - called Shiva - is the steadiness, the ground, the direction. It is the right side of the body, the left hemisphere of the brain, and it controls our logic and our ability to actively progress towards a goal. Our education system and our corporate world (for the most part) are masculine dominated systems. (And not just because the men make the money - because of the structure of how it’s set up.)
The feminine energy - the Shakti - is the wild, creative powers. It’s the intuition and the excitement and focuses primarily on the state of being, not doing. The feminine is unconcerned with progression - the feminine just wants to enjoy. (“Girls Just Want to Have Fun” had it right.) She is the left side of our bodies, the right hemisphere of our brain, and she is fun.
Both of these things work together to make us independent individuals - and it is imperative that we have both within us. Shiva without Shakti - the masculine without the feminine - is but a corpse. There’s no dynamism, no activity, no power. Shakti without Shiva is out of control. My teacher explains it like this: Shiva is the container that holds Shakti, so that she can dance her wild dance without straying too far from center.
Growing up in a patriarchal society, it’s so easy to allow the masculine tendencies to take over. Couple that with shame about the body that we’ve been taught to have as women, the determination for success, and our culture that values goal crushing over being any day, and I think probably most women have some sort of complex going on.
In my marriage, this means I’ve been overly controlling. In my work, it means I’m overly ambitious. In my heart, it means I have some serious walls to hack down.
Dancing is a good therapy. It’s a way to embody the characteristics of the divine masculine and feminine and put them into practice. It’s a way to learn to communicate without words but with action - and isn’t that what we’re all seeking?
So, tell me about you. What qualities are more prevalent? Which do you let shine, and which do you hide? How can you invite yourself into greater balance this month?
And, if you want to get a dose of this in a physical embodied form, I’m teaching hanumanasana, or the splits pose, in all of my yoga classes for the month of September. Right leg forward, our masculine leads - left leg forward, our feminine leads. Check my schedule and come join me in class soon.