Today's Durga: How to Look Fear in the (Third) Eye

Our palms sweat. Our voices shake. Ping pong balls bounce around in our stomachs. We just want to run and hide and avoid all human contact.

No, it’s not the flu. These physical and emotional symptoms can only lead to one diagnosis: fear.

I have spoken with numerous yoga teachers (myself included) who get a few butterflies before leading a class. Many professionals experience bouts of anxiety before giving a presentation at work. Adele has said she still gets nervous right before she goes on stage. Hello…even Adele!

How can we let our ego, not to mention our nervous system, sit in the back seat while we take the wheel and get things done? 

To learn how to look fear in the eyes and confidently stride in our own path, we look to the story of the Supreme Goddess, Durga.

Make My Day

Narcissistic dictators are not a modern-day occurrence. They’ve been around since the beginning of mythic time, including a band of particularly evil demon-brothers who once tricked the gods into ruling the universe. 

The gods knew the best man to defeat the demons was a woman, so they called upon the warrior goddess Durga.

Like a medieval king feasting while his people starve, the brothers too were selfish, egotistic, and arrogant. They took what didn’t belong to them, accumulating wealth and power while everyone else suffered. 

The gods knew the best man to defeat the demons was a woman, so they called upon the warrior goddess Durga.

Durga, moved to act by something greater than her own fear, entered the kingdom to take on the brothers. Her beauty distracted them at first, but once they knew what a formidable opponent she would be, they summoned all of their warriors and all of their tricks. 

But Durga had confidence, as well as eight weapons in each of her eight arms. She unleashed a torrent of firepower against the demons (including manifesting the unrelenting Kali from her forehead, who quickly did away with their heads). 

When the battle was over Durga had rid the world of the demon brothers’ reign of terror.

Today’s Warriors

Modern-day Durga warriors are women who follow their own path regardless of any foes, internal or external. 

Emma Watson has stood before the United Nations to advocate for the rights of women worldwide. Angela Merkel opened Germany’s borders to refugees despite vociferous opposition within her country. And of course, Hillary Clinton continues her campaign to be President of the United States in the face of bullying and mansplaining from her political opponent.

On the Mat 

Today we think of Durga as a representation of creation, preservation, and when needed, destruction.

Practice Warrior II when you need to channel your inner Durga to summon the courage to start something new, to maintain your strength in the face of difficulty, or when you need to destroy—a belief, a behavior, anything that isn’t working—and start from scratch. 

Stand with your feet apart lengthwise on your mat. Turn your right foot out and bend your knee 90 degrees (keep your knee just above the center of your ankle). Keep your left leg straight. Lift your arms shoulder height with your palms down and extend energy through all 10 fingers. Let your pelvis descend toward the mat while the muscles in both legs strengthen all the way up from your toes to your hips. 

Gaze over your right hand and contemplate what you are called to do. What is bigger than you? What is bigger than your fear? Stay for up to a minute and then switch sides. 

Photo: Lyle Hawthorne


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Top three reasons to follow Kathy Baum at kathybaumyoga.com: 1) You can find out when and where she teaches in Denver. If you are brand new to yoga, come to her class. If you have been practicing for-ever, come to her class. Everyone will move, breathe, and have fun. 2) She is a RYT-500. What does that mean? She...READ MORE