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5 Yoga Classes to Develop Strength in Body and Mind

Obstacles may be placed along our path to challenge our capacity to persevere and consciously evolve. Confronting our pains and overcoming conflict presents the potential for an alchemical transformation process.   

Change is inevitable; transformation is a choice. Every interaction can be an occasion to reveal a more compassionate and courageous heart. 

Evolution requires that we examine how to grow past our individual and collective limitations. To do this, we rely on our mental, physical, and emotional strengths to persist through such times of lack, loss, and uncertainty. 

To counter the fear and shift the body’s prime response, focusing on practices to strengthen may assist in shifting the mindset and attitude to one that’s more receptive to change. Clara’s advice to new yoga teachers is to keep showing up and practicing. We can transform. Over time, we can master our actions and evolve our skills through consistency and repetition. Mistakes may be a great teacher if reflected upon and perhaps present a way to grow past initial limitations and fears.

A 2014 article published in Harvard Medical School illustrates how regular exercise benefits the brain’s memory and cognition. 

“In a study done at the University of British Columbia, researchers found that regular aerobic exercise, the kind that gets your heart and your sweat glands pumping, appears to boost the size of the hippocampus, the brain area involved in verbal memory and learning.” — Source

When we strengthen our bodies, we also support the mind. Another study from the University of Michigan points to the invaluable association between the mind-body connection in how our thoughts, feelings, emotions, digestion, and activity control stress levels. 

To decrease stress, anxiety, depression and aid in relaxation, the article promotes yoga, deep breathing, mindfulness, and visualization practices

When we go outside of our comfort zone and experience the discomfort of physical challenges, we develop new neural pathways in the brain that aid in evolving the ways we think, feel, and act.

A study from 2019 found that when we engage in new experiences, the brain establishes a new set of neural pathways. More pathways mean the neurons can better communicate with each other as the signals travel with more ease and efficiency. This research points at physical activity as a means to improve structural and foundational elements of learning and memory. 

Meditation profoundly affects the way the brain creates stories, associates ideas, and perceives the world, thereby affecting the body’s neurotransmitters and hormone release. Cortisol, otherwise known as the stress hormone, is released whenever we’re feeling sensations of fear and causes depreciating states of anxiety and sadness. When we practice focusing our awareness through activities such as yoga, visualization, or mindfulness techniques, we train our brain and body to adapt to new circumstances and shift the physiological response to change. 

The effect of mindfulness meditation was shown to lower cortisol levels in the blood—thereby decreasing stress and the risk of disease. 

Be it physical activity or meditation, the many ways to strengthen your resolve and excite the capacity for change. The initial step is choosing how you wish to move forward and defining the practices that will guide you along the way. 

Strength in Body and Mind

5 classes themed for Durga to encourage longevity, health, and strength.
  1. Durga Mythology Lecture.
    A 50-minute lecture on Durga’s origin story with a mantra, visualization, and questions for reflection. 
  2. Durga Flow Vinyasa.
    An intermediate vinyasa practice, this 60-minute class asks you to step into your strength with courage. Expect a strong leg and core-centric class. 
  3. Durga Mantra + Meditation.
    A 10-minute meditation and mantra class to Durga. We chant to her when we want to connect to our courage, strength, and discipline.
  4. Durga Mudra. 
    Short, 5-minute meditation with Durga’s mudra. Durga meditation asks you to focus on your courageous heart and inner strength. Use this meditation to connect to your inner warrior.
  5. The Fire of Kali Maa.
    A 60-minute vinyasa practice to honour Kali, Goddess of the Revolution. In this class themed for the Hindu Deity, Kali Maa, you’ll move through mantra, heating pranayamas with Khapalbhati breath, and leg balancing poses to build towards the peak pose with Baddha Parivrtta Hasta Padangusthasana (revolved hand to big toes pose).

Build Strength Through Maa Durga

Durga is the Warrior Goddess and protector of the universe. As a physical form of the feminine energy Shakti, she appears to battle the world’s evils. The Mother goddess, Durga, means ‘fortress’ or ‘a protected place.’ To call upon Durga is to enter the stronghold where humanity is protected from evil forces, including selfishness, greed, hatred, arrogance, anger, prejudice, and jealousy. She wears red to symbolize action and rides astride a tiger or lion carrying various weaponry in her eight hands. 

Invoke Durga for:
  • Physical, mental and emotional strength.
  • Personal empowerment.
  • Starting or completing a project.
  • Help in challenging situations.
  • Facing the negative side of your ego.
  • Protecting other people or yourself. 

The Durga Yoga Collection 

This collection is accredited by Yoga Alliance and counts toward 3.0 CE (Continuing Education) credited hours.

Durga’s Origin Story

Durga was summoned by the Gods who could not slay the evil demon who threatened to destroy the world. Mahishasura, the evil buffalo demon, received a great gift from the God Brahma, who said that man or God could never kill the demon. Mahishasura conquered the world and was poised to claim the heavens when the Gods called upon the feminine divine forces in the world- Shakti- for the legend did not say anything of the evil buffalo demon being triumphed over by the Goddess. Durga arrives as an incarnate form of Shakti, blazing forward and piercing Mahishasura with her trident, one of the many weapons she brandishes in her.

Kali appears as an avatar of Durga. In one of the legends, Kali appears from a single point on Durga’s forehead when Durga is enraged and seeks support to banish evil. 

“Durga’s transformative power carries a conviction that comes from deep inside the body, and with it often comes a sense of ‘Now!’–meaning the time is now. When that knowing is strong enough, it is followed by an action. You will willingly put your body and your speech on the line to change the situation–whether it is an internal or external one.” — Sally Kempton, Awakening Shakti.

Durga’s Mantra

Bija Mantra = Om Dum Durgayei Namaha
Meaning = Salutation to the force that brings us liberation through challenges.
“Dum” is the seed mantra for Shakti as pure strength. 

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