The universe throws events our way to challenge our capacity to persevere and evolve. When we choose to confront our pains, the transformative process we undergo can reveal a courage and compassion that prevails in spite of obstacles and conflicts. Strength comes from a deep space within. Whenever we feel the pressures of the world on our shoulders, we may call upon our inner strength to triumph and endure. Evolution requires that we examine the ways to grow past our individual and collective limitations, that we harness our energy to create a better future for the next generation. To do this, we rely on our mental, physical, and emotional strengths to persist through such times of lack, loss, and uncertainty.
In a previous discussion in one of the #PracticeWithClara Podcasts, Clara shared some of her growing pains as a new yoga teacher as she transitioned from teaching in New York City to Vancouver, BC. In the process, Clara accepted the challenges she faced and further developed her skills as a teacher. In order to thrive, strength in body and mind are required. The relationship between the body and mind affects how we interact and associate with our environment. Succumbing to fear that grips us when we’re uncomfortable, unsure, or insecure, is to give-in to the body’s immediate physiological response to stress, initiated by the onset of the stress hormone, cortisol.
To counter the fear and shift the body’s prime response, focusing on and developing a practice for strength 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 practice, for we have the capacity to transform new actions into mastered skills through consistency and repetition over time. Mistakes may be a great teacher if reflected upon and perhaps present a way to grow past initial limitations and fears.
In this article are tools to cultivate courage to persevere through difficult times, with courses in meditation, mantra, and yoga that develop strength in body and mind.
Call Upon the Strength of Durga Maa
Durga is the Warrior Goddess and protector of the universe. As an incarnate form of the feminine energy Shakti, she appears to battle the evils of the world. The Mother goddess, Durga means fortress or a protected place. To call upon Durga is to enter the fortress; a stronghold where mankind is protected from evil forces including selfishness, greed, hatred, arrogance, anger, prejudice, and jealousy. Durga wears red to symbolize action, and rides astride a tiger or lion carrying various weaponry in her eight hands.
Durga’s Origin Story:
Durga was summoned by the Gods who were unable to 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 the demon could never be killed by man or God. 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
Harness the power of Durga:
Durga Flow (60-mins)
This strong vinyasa practice leads a strong leg and core-centric class, with balancing poses to challenge and test your stability.
Durga Mantra (10-mins)
Chant to Durga and connect to inner courage and discipline.
Durga Meditation (5-mins)
Focus on your courageous heart and inner strength.
“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
Get Strong Classes & Playlists ⚡️ 🎧
Whenever we go outside of our comfort zone and experience the discomfort of physical challenge, we develop new neural pathways in the brain that aid in evolving the ways we think, feel, and act. Physical activity isn’t the only means of testing oneself and developing new pathways in the brain. Any new action repeated over time will eventually form a behavior that transforms into a skill and develops the associated neural pathway.
Cortisol, otherwise known as the stress hormone, is released whenever we feel sensations of fear, potentially causing depreciating states of anxiety and sadness. When we practice focusing our awareness on Durga or other energies that express the fearlessness of the warrior, we train our brain and body to adapt to new circumstances and shift the physiological response to change. Meditation has a profound effect on the way the brain creates stories, associates ideas, and perceives the world, thereby affecting the neurotransmitters and hormones released. Strengthening the mind through meditation, focusing on the breath, and focusing on positive language or imagery that invites a state of courage, calm, and compassion, may create resilience in body and mind.
Be it physical activity or meditation, the means to strengthen your resolve and invite the capacity for change are many. The initial step is choosing how you wish to move forward and allowing a positive energy to guide the way.
A short vinyasa flow sequence that gets your blood flowing and heat building right off the gates!
Handstand play and preparation from downward dog progresses to a fiery flow of twists, upper back strengthening, and backbends.
Standing Backbends & Balancing
Connect to your body with this fluid vinyasa practice inspired by a poem by Hafiz.
This vinyasa flow sequence includes a little bit of everything, with twists, hip openers, inversions, backbends and standing leg balances. This class features standing backbends and a focus on the process versus a peak pose.
Flying Pigeon (Galavasana)
Get fired up with a series of arm balances and inversion play in a sequence that builds towards a peak pose.
Including deep hip openers, twists, and handstands, you’ll build toward flying pigeon pose in a sequence designed to test your stability and strength.
Prep for Tripod Headstand
A slower paced vinyasa practice with an emphasis on mandala/circular shapes. Open the inner leg line and strengthening the back of the pelvis as you prepare for tripod headstand.
**If you’re dealing with any neck/shoulders issues, refrain from doing the peak pose.**
Pincha Mayurasana Practice
Join Clara in a vinyasa practice focused on Pincha Mayurasana, feathered peacock pose. Regardless of whether or not you get the peak pose, all the shoulder and back body opening is beneficial. Along with core cultivation work based off Forrest Yoga, you’ll finish your practice feeling stronger.
Peacocks represent patience, kindness and luck in Indian thought. With inversions, the more patience and kindness you practice with your body, the lighter you can become!
Resilience in Body and Mind
When we strengthen our body we also strengthen the mind. Whenever we go outside of our comfort zone and experience the discomfort of physical challenge, we develop new neural pathways in the brain that aid in evolving the ways we think, feel, and act. Physical activity isn’t the only means of testing oneself and developing new pathways in the brain. Any new action repeated over time will eventually form a behavior that transforms into a skill and develops the associated neural pathway. Confronting your discomfort and moving toward the places where you feel physically, emotionally, or mentally challenged may develop virtues such as patience, humility, and courage.
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 on Durga or other energies that express the fearlessness of the warrior, we train our brain and body to adapt to new circumstances and shift the physiological response to change. Meditation has a profound affect on the way the brain creates stories, associates ideas, and perceives the world, thereby affecting the body’s neurotransmitters and hormone release. Strengthening the mind through meditation, focusing on the breath, and focusing on positive language or imagery that invites a state of courage, calm, and compassion, will ultimately create resilience in the body and mind.
Be it physical activity or meditation, the means to strengthen your resolve and excite the capacity for change are many. The initial step is choosing how you wish to move forward and defining the energy that will guide you along the way.
Teacher of Yoga, Mantra & Meditation
Seeker of the Sacred.
Facilitator of conscious movement.