Shiva Rea on Cultivating Lunar Sadhana (or Listening to Our Bodies and Slowing Down!)

Ok, so I’m in NYC right now, missing the Bay Area every minute of every day.  Which is why, when I heard about Devaa Haley Mitchell’s free online Inspiring Women with Soul event on the Shift Network, I jumped at the opportunity to connect with that NorCal yogi spirit.  My alarm went off for Shiva Rea’s talk as I was rushing through Washington Square Park.  Remembering to take time for myself, I sat down on a bench to open the link to the Shift Network, and my energy immediately began to, well, shift.  

With her talk on Lunar Sadhana, the art of learning to listen to our bodies and slowing down, Shiva Rea seemed to be talking to me at that moment along with busy women everywhere (and even some men, but since the event is about women, I'm addressing the ladies here).  In a society where doing more is considered better, and, as nurturing beings who generally prioritize others' needs over our own, we're accustomed to ignore our body when it asks us to slow down.  The more we override this signal, the quicker we lose connection with it.  

As women, creatures of the Moon, our bodies have different cycles than men and even different cycles from each other and at different times in our lives.  We need more rest, to direct energy inwards in rhythm with our bodies.  As Shiva Rea points out, the behavior of 'go, go, go' is one that is inherently masculine, pure yang.  Even the way many of us practice yoga on the mat - ie sun salutation is, by definition, a Solar Sadhana.  It's no wonder women are out of step with their female body rhythm, and increasingly suffering adrenal stress related issues and burn-out as a result...migraines, weight and hormone problems, I'm talking to you.

So how do we incorporate Lunar Sadhana into our lives?  Easy.  Tune into your body, nourish it.  Sadhana means that which gains momentum as we practice, therefore we create massive change by starting small: Do your hands feel dry? Moisturize them.  Are you thirsty? Take a sip of water.  Acknowledge when you need a rest, as women naturally do, and set a timer for 5-20 minutes just to sit and breathe. 

On the mat, we can practice Yoga Nidra, Yin and Restorative Yoga or find a class, like Shiva Rea's, which balances both Solar/outward and Lunar/inward poses (ie. prostration movements).  Most of all, don't judge your body for needing to go inward - it's a natural (and beautiful) part of being female.  Taking the time to connect with and nourish our bodies, practicing the art of Lunar Sadhana, can bring about just as much progress as 'go, go, go', if not more.

The Shift Network’s Inspiring Women with Soul event runs until Sunday, May 8th.  Other speakers include Alice Walker, Danielle Laporte, Marianne Williamson, Sharon Gannon, Geneen Roth and many more.  Rev. Dr. Devaa Haley Mitchell gave a beautiful talk on abundance and connection.  Each video is accessible for a few days after it’s recorded, so get to it!  For a complete schedule and links to their online workshops, click here.  

Photo: Julia Caesar
Post written for SFYogaMag.com