Feminism, Yoga & Changing the World!

Feminine energy is severely lacking worldwide and has been since the dawn of civilisation. ‘Feminism’ to me is a movement which seeks to bring this energy back into balance. This is not ‘just’ a woman’s problem this is a deficiency that is causing the entire population pain and if we don’t sort it out our beautiful green and blue speck of a planet will wither and eventually it will die. The more stories I read and history I learn the more grief I feel for past generations and fear for those to come. Change is happening, I hope you will be a part of it.


When talking about ‘femininity’ gender and sexuality come up. It has become more widely accepted that we don’t live in a world of clear cut masculine men and feminine women in heterosexual relationships, instead we have a sliding scale. Sheri Winston explains the link between gender and sexuality wonderfully using the Chinese idea of yin and yang. All of us have varying amounts of yin and yang qualities. Yin is regarded as feminine and yang as masculine.

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Most commonly men have a yang core and women have a yin core. However whatever your core quality you need a dash of the opposite to be balanced. So we can see in the beautifully elegant yin yang symbol an image of two healthy people in a fulfilling relationship – yin with a dash of yang attracted to yang with a dash of yin.

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Sexuality usually works on the basis of attraction of opposites, like two poles of a magnet. We seek balance, so a hugely yang male will often be attracted to a very yin woman, we can imagine a ‘macho’ man with a ‘girly’ girl. A yang woman will look for a yin energy, most commonly found in another woman. Those people who are equally balanced between yin and yang may class themselves as bi-sexual.

The concept of yin and yang can be expanded out beyond human relationships into the world we live in. We undoubtedly live in a culture that supports yang energy – just check the yin yang table again. The problem is that yin energies are being suppressed and are seen as weak, foolish and/or pointless. This attitude has led to destructive behaviour against nature and amongst people. Not only this, we are also deeply suppressing half the population who are core yin, most of whom are women.

This has been the case throughout history since civilisation began (apart from the ancient Egyptians). In ancient Greece Aristotle wrote and reinforced the idea that women were in fact a sub species to men. This confirmed the belief that women were incapable of reason and needed to be controlled in a similar way as property. In some parts of the world there has never been a better time to be a woman but we still have a long way to go. Domestic violence, sexual assault, unequal pay and misrepresentation in positions of power are shockingly high.

This is why I am drawn to amplify the feminine. I want to spread the word that women are still treated as a sub-species in many parts of the world and it is as wrong now as it always has been. I want to break taboos such as menstruality and menopause which try to contain women and their yin energy in a prison of shame. We should be proud and step into our power as women.

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As a yoga teacher I have been fascinated to learn that traditional hatha yoga is hugely masculine and yang. Even ‘Yin Yoga’ which is growing in popularity is really just a slow version of a yang style of yoga. This may seem counter-intuitive since yoga has become a woman dominated scene. However people forget or are unaware that yoga has been practiced exclusively by men for thousands of years. Yoga has therefore been developed for male bodies and yang core energy. Traditional yoga is strict, linear and focuses on an upward energy towards the heavens instead of connecting down into the earth. Now that more women are doing yoga than ever before it is important to address whether all the ancient asanas, pranayama exercises and other practices are suitable, safe and bringing women maximum enjoyment and spiritual progression.

I have had the privilege of training with the incredible Uma Dinsmore-Tuli in Portugal this summer. Uma is world renowned for her truly feminine approach to yoga. It takes into account yin energy wanting to move, to be creative, to be gentle and nourishing and to ground down into the earth. People with core yin have different needs when it comes to a spiritual practice than yang people. Consistent yang practices or ways of life when imposed on a yin core can damage women’s fertility, psyche and general wellbeing,

Importantly, not only are many women being oppressed, but many men are unable to express or develop their feminine side. Our culture perpetuates the idea that men need to be manly and not show emotion or any yin qualities that are seen as weak. This type of overly yang imbalance can lead to ‘toxic masculinity’ – aggressive behaviour, exploitation and domination.

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These are desperate times, the world needs more feminine energy if we want to be balanced within ourselves, happy in our relationships and if our species is going to survive on a dying planet. You have a voice to make change happen. Let’s start a conversation, spread the word that all of us are equal no matter our sex, gender or sexuality. Instead of nodding on the sidelines we need to stand up for what is right. That doesn’t necessarily mean shouting in the street with aggression but being able to form your own opinion (not mine) and voice it with confidence. We don’t need more aggression, we do need to be courageous. Courage isn’t the same as fearlessness, it is witnessing your fear and doing it anyway. I will end on a fantastic quote by Albus Dumbledore – “We must all face the choice of what is right and what is easy”.

 

 

 

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Resources:

Uma Dinsmore-Tuli has written ‘Yoni Shakti – a woman’s guide to power and freedom through yoga and tantra’ which I highly recommend checking out. To attend a ‘Womb Yoga’ (soon to be Shakti Yoga) class go online and search for a teacher near you or ask me – I met some wonderful women on my course in the summer.

Sheri Winston’s book “The Anatomy of Female Arousal” is so much more than the title lets on. She is a hugely inspiring woman and her book is suitable for both men and women in all stages of life.

BBC documentary ‘The Ascent of Woman’ revisits the trials of women through the ages around the world looking at history to see why the patriarchy has held strong throughout millennia.

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