According to a study conducted in the U.S. in 2016, women account for a clear majority of 72% of yoga practitioners in the U.S. However, 48% of yoga teachers are male with the percentage of male yoga teachers in training even amounting to 57%. How come that the vast majority of practitioners is female, while teaching is likely to soon be dominated by men?
This is a phenomenon we see quite often in society: In professional life, women seem to stand back behind man. Think about it: How many famous female chefs do you know? But who is most likely to cook at home? The same goes for hairdressers, designers etc.: Industrial sectors mainly aimed at women are dominated by men.
But there's hope: More and more women are courageous enough to face the obstacles our still patriarchal world presents them. Yoga in particular is a great way to let women discover the warriors inside of them, to build courage, strength and confidence while at the same time relying on their strengths: compassion, intuition and tenderheartedness.
"As warrior women we embrace the warrior and yogic spirit within us. We are the fierce embodiment of courage, strength, confidence and empowerment. We are the divine feminine, tenderhearted, sensual, compassionate and intuitive. In the union, we find our truth. In doing our personal work of self-investigation, we liberate ourselves and set free our complete being"
– Melayne Shayne
1. Female Empowerment: What Does It Mean?
If you look up the word 'empowerment' in a dictionary, you find that it's defined as granting, or having, the power, right, or authority to perform various acts or duties. It's the ability to enjoy the right to control your own life and to take the necessary decisions that enable you to succeed on both a personal and professional level.
Although women in large parts of the world nowadays have the finances and the ability to improve their wellbeing and to choose the lifestyle they want, there's still something within many women that's holding them back and prevents them from claiming what's available to them.
Female empowerment aims to create a society in which all women can make their own choices and are able to act with confidence. In other words: It's about enabling women to live as equals to men in every aspect of life.
In our society 'female empowerment' means that women have to take on a number of different roles throughout their lives: good daughter, loving wife, caring mother, dedicated homemaker, loyal friend, and – not to forget – successful professional. This puts women under pressure to be perfect all the time and to juggle all their responsibilities with a smile (and an impeccable appearance, of course!). When this pressure builds up, it leaves many women feeling overwhelmed and exhausted. The result often is anxiety, low self-confidence, lack of self-worth, and the feeling of being inadequate.
However, being a woman is so much more than playing a predetermined role life has imposed on her. A woman can be many things. Besides, we are all human and no one has to be perfect all the time. Sometimes, it's a good idea to back out a little and to take time to care for ourselves and practice self-love.
It's self-love, confidence, and inner peace that lead to strength, courage, and vitality, paving the way for women to become strong and self-empowered warrior woman. Being a warrior doesn’t mean that a woman has to do everything all the time by herself, nor does she have to carry the weight of the world on her shoulders. Strength also means asking for help and support when needed. It's important to know when to rest and conserve energy.
Empowering women helps them to recognize their self-worth and gives them the opportunity to change their lives for the better. Yoga can be a powerful tool on the journey to more self-esteem and it's one that’s becoming increasingly popular, too.
2. The Role of Yoga in Empowering Women
Not only in America is the majority of yoga practitioners female. The same is true in almost every country where yoga is practiced. It's one of the few physical activities that tells practitioners to relax and invites them to turn inwards rather than focusing on the outside world. Practicing yoga provides them the opportunity to embrace the good within themselves instead of pushing harder and harder to overcome any feeling of not being good enough.
Yoga has always been considered a holistic approach. Several studies show the physical, mental, and emotional benefits a regular yoga practice can have. Yoga is a fantastic means to decrease stress, relieve anxiety, improve flexibility and balance, increase strength, and improve quality of life in general. However, yoga also plays an important role in the context of empowering women, due to different aspects:
Yoga does not only improve mental and physical fitness, it can also lay the foundation for self-love and ultimately lead to self-realization. Practicing yoga allows women to discover and recognize their inner capabilities by focusing on themselves from the inside out. This can help them to define their core values and discover what they really need to flourish, enabling them to eventually let go of the ideal image set by society. This finally allows women to accept themselves the way they are and to feel empowered to grow as humans.
Yoga is also a great way to build self-confidence, which is another essential aspect of empowerment. Self-confident woman have more awareness for their inner talents, skills, and powers. They are not afraid of embracing these qualities and are thus more likely to make their own choices and trust those choices. So, yoga can empower women by helping them to discover their true potential.
3. Personal Growth
Yoga encourages practitioners to develop a regular practice, which can help to feel more grounded and stable. A regular yoga practice also gives them the opportunity to identify potential areas of growth within themselves – both physical and emotional. As soon as women start to discover these inner aspects and choose how to improve, they become empowered.
Apart from easing stress and promoting relaxation, a regular yoga practice can boost feelings of contentment and inner peace. This helps those practicing to accept everyday life’s challenges and to embrace happiness, thereby increasing their sense of self-reliance. By providing a place of stillness, yoga makes the ups and downs of life easier to manage and empowers women by teaching them that they can deal with any challenge life puts in their way.
5. Physical Strength
Some of the evidence-based benefits of yoga include its ability to increase physical strength and improve balance and flexibility. Yoga helps to discover and experience the capabilities and limitations of the own body. With regular practice, it becomes possible to achieve poses that seemed impossible to accomplish at first. This can be an empowering experience.
6. Mind-Body Connection
One of the greatest benefits yoga has to offer is that it helps to develop a better understanding of the wonderful interplay of body and mind. Yoga reveals what impact thoughts and emotions have on the body and how this can affect overall wellbeing. Understanding and accepting this mind-body connection is an empowering tool for life.
Yoga is a journey to reveal the unique talents everybody has and enables practitioners to take them off the mat and into the world. This is why embracing yoga as a tool for unleashing the inner superpowers is an effective way for women to feel empowered.
Yoginis – as female practitioners of yoga are often called – are warriors and, as such, stand for strength, self-confidence, and willpower, but also for compassion, intuition, and love. They strive to express themselves and live a life that is meaningful, fulfilled, and full of love.
3. Women And Yoga: A Portrait of Melayne Shayne
An inspiring example of an empowered female yoga warrior is Melayne Shayne. She's not only committed to practicing yoga, but also enjoys martial & living arts, animal locomotion and calisthenics. She has been fascinated by the human body, its form and expressive qualities through movement from the young age of 3.
Melayne Shayne is a Budokon Mixed Movement Athlete and founder of the Warrior Women Tribe. She is the VP of the Mixed Movement Arts System Budokon and Director of the Budokon Yoga Program and Teacher Training.
For her, moving is more than creating forms and shapes with the body: It's a lifelong commitment to self-reflection and personal development.
Before finding a fully-authentic expression through the empowering practice of martial arts in Budokon, Melayne sought to practice and learn from teachers around the globe within various lineages and styles as Shiva Rea’s Prana Flow, and ballet.
Melayne’s love for practicing and sharing mixed-movement and living her philosophy is reflected in her grounded teaching style, commitment to her Budokon black belt and most notably, in the passion she has for bringing women together through her Warrior Women events and global network. Always a student before a teacher, she seeks to be inspired and inspire others; challenge herself and challenge others.
"I am inspired by movement with regard to my body or other people’s bodies. Moving for me is essential, it is freedom, it is creativity and expression."
– Melayne Shayne
Melayne’s Warrior Women experiences create and hold a space of empowerment, accountability and leadership for women who are on this journey as well. Her events, workshops and retreats create a unique opportunity for women to discover themselves and hold space for real, honest, yet connected and co-creative growth all around the globe connecting women from a diversity of ethnicities, ages, cultures, belief systems and orientation.
Her Melayne Shayne Apparel line has been thoughtfully designed to support you through each of your everyday movements. Throughout her wide variety of exotic animal prints, Melayne has created the perfect athleisure to mirror and express the warrior woman within.
Budokon University is a professional-level educational institute committed to the advancement of mixed movement arts sciences, which is headquartered in Miami, Florida and was created in 2001.
Together with her husband and father of Mixed Movement Arts, Cameron Shayne, Melayne Shayne travels the world educating and inspiring students through Budokon teacher trainings, international festivals and conferences. Their students develop mastery in yoga asana, quadrupedal locomotion, calisthenics, stand-up striking and living arts on the road to earning a black belt in Brazilian-Jiu Jitsu.
If you're now eager to try Budokon but can't make it to one of Melayne's events or Budokon teacher trainings, you can join the Budokon Calisthenics 10-Day Transformational Program on TINT or take your movements to the next level with Mobility for Movers. Maybe you're even courageous enough to have a try at Budokon Handstand for Beginners.
4. 8 Yoga Poses to Empower You As a Woman
Practitioners of yoga have always been aware of the empowering benefits of yoga. In a fascinating study, researchers investigated the effects of yoga poses on the personal sense of energy and self-esteem. The results showed that yoga poses increased self-esteem and also demonstrated that the positive effects of yoga practice can occur after performing yoga poses for only 2 minutes. So, could there be any better way to feel empowered than by rolling out the yoga mat and flowing through some of the following poses?
1. Mountain Pose (Tadasana)
Mountain pose may look simple, but it's an essential pose to master since it's the foundation for all standing yoga poses. Tadasana is a great pose to start your yoga practice and gives you the opportunity to breathe and set your intention. Apart from that, it’s a great resting pose in between flowing yoga sequences. Since this pose is all about grounding and stability, it can help you develop focus and steadiness – which are important aspects of empowerment.
2. Warrior 2 (Virabhadrasana 2)
Warrior poses (i.e. Warrior 1, Warrior 2, and Warrior 3) in general are very empowering since they require you to activate every part of the body. They mirror the stable foundation you need in life to reach your full potential. Warrior 2 combines strength and grace and therefore is the perfect pose to boost your confidence and empower you.
3. Reverse Warrior (Viparita Virabhadrasana)
Reverse Warrior is a great yoga pose to strengthen and stretch the whole body. Not only does this asana help you build strength in the legs, shoulders, and arms, it can also improve the flexibility in the spine. As Reverse Warrior promotes blood flow through the body, you may experience that your mind is clearer after practicing this pose, leaving you restored and empowered.
4. Full Wheel (Urdhva Dhanurasana)
Wheel pose certainly is an advanced backbend, but is invigorating and strengthening. Wheel is an empowering pose for a few reasons: It requires a lot of stamina and the deep backward extension opens up the chest and heart center. Therefore, practicing Wheel pose will empower you by bringing vitality into your life.
5. Dancer's Pose (Natarajasana)
Balancing poses like Dancer's pose are a great possibility to clear and calm the mind. Since it’s difficult to balance when the mind flutters, you have to be mindful and totally present to succeed in this pose. This is an empowering feeling that you can take off the mat into your life. Dancer’s pose combines strength, flexibility, and meditation, which makes it a challenging but graceful pose.
6. Headstand (Sirsasana)
Headstand is a wonderful yoga pose to explore a brand new perspective, gain mental clarity, and experience peace and strength. It's THE ultimate inversion pose and will leave you totally revitalized and prepares you to take on the challenges life presents you. Sirsasana is empowering in that it facilitates the flow of blood to the brain and therefore is a great remedy that helps release daily stress.
7. Crow (Bakasana)
Crow pose is a perfect way to overcome your fears since it teaches you how to rise even after falling a few times. It encourages you to never give up and always keep believing in yourself. Even though you may fall a few times while making repetitive efforts to find balance on your palms, Bakasana urges you to remain confident and keep trying until you overcome your fear and anxiety. What can be more empowering than finally accomplishing this pose?
8. Child's Pose (Balasana)
Child's pose provides you a beautiful opportunity to feel like a child again. All you have to do is surrender yourself and and let go of any your tension, stress, or anxieties. When you come out of the pose after a few breaths, you will feel refreshed and invigorated. Let the feeling of being grounded empower you!
Let your yoga mat be your place of self-expression, to restore your energy and gain self-esteem. Let these nourishing feelings empower you for your everyday life and embrace the warrior and the yogic spirit within you.