How Yoga Empowers us as Women
by: Kelsey Norten
For many, yoga is not simply a form of physical exercise or an activity that gets checked off the list solely for the purpose of breaking a sweat. For a true practitioner, our yoga mat is where we seek refuge, the place we come to get quiet, be still and connect with our greater purpose. For many women, it’s also the place where we feel most empowered.
This International Women’s Day, women all over the world are thinking about what it means to feel empowered. For a lot of us, it means speaking your truth, without fear of consequence. It may also mean unapologetically taking time for yourself, aka “self-care," which doesn’t always feel easy for those who are mothers, partners, sisters, daughters, business owners or friends. Lastly, empowerment for many women looks like going after what you want in life, and not falling subject to the suggestions or “shoulds” women so often hear from external sources.
Lots of us have discovered the strength to go after these things and own our empowerment through the practice of yoga. This unique practice encourages us to come to our mats as we are – beginner, expert or anywhere in-between. There’s no expectation to be the most flexible in the room, or nail a perfect arm balance. And while the practice can often be physical and challenging, we’re simply told to breathe. To breathe through whatever uncomfortableness arises while twisting ourselves into a pretzel-like posture, knowing that it will only last for a few short moments. And it’s this practice of breathing through challenges on our mats that teaches us how to do the same off our mats and in our daily lives. And when we know we can handle anything that comes our way through the power of the mind and breath – that's true empowerment.
We’re grateful to have a team of amazing female Gaiambassadors who continually inspire us to be empowered and to be the best versions of ourselves possible. Below a few of them shared their thoughts on this subject of yoga and female empowerment in honor of International Women’s Day – take a look!
“Yoga was a critical stepping stone in the journey toward reconnecting my body, mind, and soul. As I grew older, I grew more disconnected from myself: more self-conscious of my body, more judgmental of my thoughts. On my mat, I began to practice intuitive listening - "how do I feel, emotionally and physically right now?" - and had a safe container to honor that inner dialogue”
- Amanda Huggins aka @anxietytoempowerment
“As a nurse and caretaker by nature, yoga has empowered me to take care of ME. I can't count the number of times I've felt like my mat was a safe haven of rest away from the craziness that is the world of healthcare. When it's been easy to focus on sickness, death and so much hurt, my yoga practice has brought me back to my breath and most importantly my soul. Yoga and prioritizing my own health and wellness has been empowering and truly the greatest gift I can give myself and in turn the people I am lucky enough to serve. I have never regretted any time spent on my own well-being.”
- Cat Golden aka @nineliveshealth
“I love practicing yoga because it challenges my body in new ways and allows me moments to connect with myself and what's going on with my body. A lot of people may be intimidated by yoga, especially if they are new to fitness or worry about being flexible or strong, but it's such an empowering accessible workout that anyone can benefit from. I encourage everyone to give it a try, you will fall in love with the workout and the positive impact it will have on your mind, body, and spirit!”
- Malikah Kelly aka @malikahkelly
“Yoga has been crucial in my journey towards gaining more clarity surrounding my life's mission. Through consistent practice, I've been able to develop inner discipline and a grounded focus which has allowed me to remain rooted in my "Why" in times of chaos and uncertainty. Yoga also brought me to discover my Sankalpa (in Sanskrit, a solemn vow or intention): "I empower all beings to live their Dharma." The grounded transformation I've experienced through yoga has sparked this innermost desire in myself to help others get clear in their "Why" and to pursue their goals with an open heart and mind.”
- Adrianna Naomi aka @adriannanaomi
Also in Blog
From the moment we’re born and take our first breath, we’re being socialized or learning what it means to be a member of the culture we were born into. We begin learning through both subtle and overt cues, messages, observations and images what the values and norms of that culture are in that time and place. We learn what is acceptable, desirable, worthy, valuable… and what isn’t.
Micha Shaw, former pro swimmer, walks us through five yoga poses that help athletes who perform repeated movements day in and day out, to not only increase flexibility, mobility and strength, but also bring awareness to movement patterns, enhance performance and stay injury-free.
Amanda Huggins, anxiety coach and Gaiam influencer, tells the story of how she transformed her anxiety into empowerment and offers journaling prompts to begin the process of understanding your relationship with anxiety.