On the Om Front: Oh my goddess

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If you’re a goddess or know one, this is your week. Not because the presidential debate on Tuesday night revolved around (devolved into?) a two-ring circus of male presidential candidates each trying to out-woman the other. That was just comedy. I’m talking about Navaratri.

Navaratri is an Indian holiday that worships the divine feminine. The nine-night holiday actually happens several times a year, but the one that occurs in autumn is known as Maha Navaratri. (“Maha” means “great” or “the biggest, baddest one.”) It’s a Hindu holiday, but it’s celebrated by yogis everywhere—because, let’s face it: There are few better ways to spend nine days than worshipping goddesses.

We’re all about girl power in San Francisco, but what does it really mean to celebrate the divine feminine? It doesn’t mean we all get our nails done and read People magazine for 9 days straight (though if that’s your thing, no judgment). The divine feminine is neither flighty nor fanciful. Rather, it’s fickle, fabulous, and fierce.

Yogis often refer to female energy as shakti (named after the goddess, Shakti, herself). If you’re getting in touch with shakti, you’re getting in touch with the parts of yourself that are creative, dreamy, mystical, receptive, and a little wild. So the next time someone tells you to be more regimented, put that neon hula hoop down, or stop glitter-sticking the carpet, you can just tell them that you’re letting your shakti flow. Like most of the women I know, shakti does not like to be confined.

There are three specific goddesses that come out for Navaratri, and since we just started the holiday on Tuesday, you can spend some time at your altar, or on Muni, contemplating each one. The first three days are devoted to Durga (also known as Kali), the goddess of destruction who beheads people; we worship her so that we can destroy that which we don’t need to move forward. The second three days are focused on Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth. She helps us gain abundance in both the material and non-material realm. The final three days worship Saraswati, the goddess of knowledge, because all of the destruction and abundance in the world won’t mean a whole lot unless you know what to do with it.

You don’t have to be a woman to get in touch with your inner goddess. No matter your gender, you have feminine energy. It comes out when you create art, or listen intently to someone, or use your compassion—or fire—to dissolve an old system or thought pattern that no longer works. Shakti dances, so you’ll also find her anytime you shake your thang.

The masculine (make-a-plan, get-stuff-done, be-efficient) energy often dominates our very productive society, which makes it especially important to get down with your goddess self from time to time. Even if you’re in politics. And especially if you have a binder full of women.

Navaratri Celebrations and Other Awesome Upcoming Events

Navaratri Celebration at Sivananda Yoga

For an opportunity to dive more deeply into Navaratri, head to the Haight. The Sivananda Center will have early morning text readings from Devi Mahatmyam at 6am on October 18-20, 22-23. There are also three pujas, or fire ceremonies: October 21 at 6pm, October 24 at 7pm (this one will have a Tantrik priest who will bless your work tools like a hammer or a computer, as is traditional custom!), and Oct. 25 at 6am.
Through October 25, various times, by donation, Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Center, SF. www.sfyoga.com or call for more info: (415) 681-2731)

Navaratri Celebration at Integral Yoga
Another option for celebrating Navaratri is at this special place in the Mission. There will be a satsang (community yogi gathering) and Lakshmi puja (fire ceremony) on Saturday, October 20 at 6pm and a Saraswati puja on Monday, October 22 at 11:30am. The room has a beautiful fire pit in the center that really needs to be experienced in person.
Through October 24, various times, by donation, Integral Yoga, SF. www.integralyogasf.org/events

Living Tantric Yoga
One of the yoga world’s favorite scholars, Christopher Tompkins, is back in town to offer some jewels from newly translated Tantrik yoga texts, along with profound meditation, pranayama, and mudra practices. Tantra is a practice that celebrates the divine feminine, so it’s a good way to celebrate the holiday.
10/19-20, $135 for the weekend, $30-$35 for individual sessions, Yoga Tree Telegraph, Berk. www.yogatreesf.com

Sweat and Study: Bhagavad Gita
Join Sean Feit for a journey through one of the most important texts for yoga: The Bhagavad Gita. It’s got all the makings of a great modern-day war story: faith, fighting, passion, and poetry.
10/28-11/18, Sundays from 2:30-5:30, $65 for the series, $20 drop-in, Yoga Tree Telegraph, Berk. www.yogatreesf.com

Strong Yogini: A Workshop for Women on Building Inner and Outer Strength

Trouble rockin’ those chatturangas or inversions? Not sure how to access your physical (or emotional) core? In this playful, strength-building workshop for women (taught by your truly!), we’ll learn ways to build muscle and confidence through yoga. Rock your inner goddess! 
10/27, $35 by Oct. 20, $40 after, Yoga Garden, SF. www.yogagardensf.com

Karen Macklin is a yoga teacher and multi-genre writer in San Francisco. She's been up-dogging her way down the yogic path for over a decade, and is a lifelong lover of the word. To learn more about her teaching schedule and writing life, visit her site at www.karenmacklin.com. Follow On the Om Front on Facebook: www.facebook.com/ontheomfront

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