Our newsfeeds are littered with personality quizzes that promise to reveal our inner selves.
If there were a quiz to identify which yoga goddess you are, most of us would want to be the beautiful Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and prosperity. Or Saraswati, the goddess of knowledge, music, arts, wisdom, and learning.
“These quizzes are always so spot on!” you post and share with your friends.
The goddess with wild eyes and blood dripping from her mouth, wearing a necklace of skulls, holding a severed head in one hand and a sword in another?
“These quizzes are always wrong,” you sigh, scrolling down to the next post.
Why would we want to cultivate the qualities of a woman who appears to have a serious case of hangry?
As legend goes, the goddess Durga was in an epic battle trying to get rid of two evil demons, with no luck.
Durga became so exasperated and angry she couldn’t get anything done (I imagine this is what Durga would feel like if she were a member of the U.S. Congress) that she channeled all of her frustration and passion into the creation of a she-ro goddess, Kali.
“Keep calm. I got this,” said Kali.
Kali went wild, slaying the demons and making a pretty mala of their skulls in the process. Oh, and while she was at it, she severed the head of the ego and prevented the ruin of the universe.
Not too shabby.
When we see images of Kali today, her skin is dark blue or black, acknowledging the dark frustration and anger from which she was born. Her disheveled hair shows us that she is unconventional, not focused on the trappings of beauty and ego, but on the beauty found in the wildness of nature (more Seane Corn, less Kim Kardashian).
In her two left arms, she holds a sword and a severed head, representing the destruction of the ego by knowledge. Her two right hands are in the abhya varada mudra, representing both fearlessness and blessings.
Like a baby evergreen growing from the scorched earth after a fire, Kali signifies the cycle of destruction and creation; a change brought about by unrelenting power.
Whether it is salvaging a relationship, surviving a break-up, moving through grief, or simply dealing with a problem at work, summoning the dedication and energy of Kali can help us work through these issues with persistence and strength.
Each time we get on our yoga mat, breathing, moving, sweat dripping like waterfalls, the spirit of Kali within us slays the demons and the ego that say, “I can’t do this,” “I’m not strong enough,” or “I am afraid.”
We all have cycles in our life where some beliefs or behaviors need to be destroyed, and others need to be created. To build the determination and endurance needed to tackle a challenge, practice Kali Asana (also known as Birth or Goddess Pose).
Stand with the feet apart, wider than the hips and rotate your toes and knees outward. Lower your hips down toward the mat into a wide squat (as low as it feels appropriate for your joints).
In the pose, take several rounds of Lion’s Breath. Open your mouth and stick out your tongue. With each strong exhale through the mouth, shake your head from side to side. It looks a little wild, and it is meant to be!
In your daily meditation, chant Om Klim Kalika-Yei Namaha (Om Kleem Kah-lee-kah-yea Nahm-ah-hah). For added energy, place your hands in the abhaya varada mudra. Hold your left hand just below your navel, palm facing up, slightly cupped. Hold the right hand (also slightly cupped) just beside your right shoulder, palm facing forward.
As you sit and repeat the mantra 108 times, feel both the strength and power of Kali, as well as her intention of protection and dissolution of the ego.