Written by: Nancy Goodfellow
If you have been in the Yoga world for some amount of time then you have probably heard the words Shiva and Shakti. Often tossed around without much explanation to what they actually refer to, or even mean. In the bigger picture of things, Shiva/Shakti comes to us from the cosmology of the Tantric tradition. Terms, or concepts, to help us understand the origin of the Universe and how it developed.
I have always been drawn to the “big LIFE questions”
*How did we get here?
*What is the purpose of Life?
*Where did it all begin and where does it end?
I remember the first time I ever saw an image of Shiva. I had just begun taking private yoga lessons in hopes to heal my neck after a car accident that left me in chronic pain. In my teacher’s house were framed colorful paintings of a wild, naked ascetic sitting in perfect meditation on the top of a giant Himalayan mountain. My eyes got big as I focused in and felt intuitively drawn to this mythical creature with long flowing dreadlocks and a delicate crescent moon in his hair. My heart started beating a little faster in my chest as I excitedly asked my teacher, “WHO IS THAT?”
Shiva is often translated as “peace or blessing”, but takes on the deeper meaning of Supreme Consciousness: the transcendent aspect of the Divine; non-personal, utterly limitless, and beyond the reach of senses, speech and mind. He is personified as the male divinity (hello God) and takes on various forms and characteristics.
Shakti, the immanent aspect of the divine personified as the Goddess, means “power, potency, energy and capability”. She is the power and energy of Shiva, and they are never separate but described as two interdependent aspects of reality. Both are necessary to fully know the Divine, and it is said that a harmonious balance between them leads to true spiritual liberation (See Tantra Illuminated by Christopher Wallis).
So on the grand scale of things, we are all Shakti… manifesting, creating and destroying. And we are all Shiva, the ground of stillness and peace within. But as individuals we begin to embody Shiva as inherently masculine qualities, and Shakti as the feminine (not talking about gender here). Of course we all have both, but most of us will identify more with one or the other of these complimentary forces.
When Kadri Kurgun (my mentor, friend & YTT partner) and I first met I felt an immediate inner knowing that this man was going to play an important role in my life. He embodied the masculine energy so elegantly and powerfully, and so intuitively knew how to hold the space for those around him. His huge compassionate heart and strong supportive manner was like coming home for my naturally feminine spirit. It is apparent when you are near him that he has “done the work” needed to command your full attention, while guiding you passionately to your own inner voice.
Kadri is a meditation master (as well as acro-yoga teacher and photographer) and when guiding his students through the meditation process, one is able to slip so effortlessly into the deep, still inner silence. I could feel my natural feminine essence dropping into a place that felt safe and secure in his presence. The divine masculine offers a beautiful home for the feminine to do her dance, to sing her song, and to create her magic.
Over time, as Kadri and I developed a friendship based on mutual respect, admiration and the desire to play and practice, we realized we felt a common goal of working in community to share our wisdom with others. It became apparent that we were meant to work together. Our combined perspective and life experiences blending harmoniously. Our teachings and viewpoint on life and Yoga are totally in alignment, and our respective feminine and masculine energies compliment each other sweetly.
When we decided to create our own Yoga & Meditation Teacher Training course we knew that we were embarking on a potent and powerful journey that would empower our students and guide them into their own authentic voice. I had always envisioned offering students the opportunity to fully understand their own potential. To inspire them to step beyond their mental and physical limitations in an atmosphere that was both deeply sacred and extremely grounding. I feel immensely proud of the Yoga training program that Kadri and I, along with our Luminous Heart team, have created. It is a delicate balance of Shakti’s dynamic playfulness and power, coupled with a spaciousness that allows for immense inner transformation and healing on all levels.