This is a huge book. Huge in size, huge in scope, and huge in terms of the content. My review here will not do justice to all c.650 pages of Yoni Shakti: a woman’s guide to power and freedom through yoga and tantra.
Having finished reading it almost a year ago, in my mind it falls into three areas: the first section focuses on the history of women in yoga, and particularly in tantra; the second section links female Indian godesses to different life stages in modern women’s lives and provides relevant yoga practices; and the other main section expands the practical aspects of womb yoga for various circumstances, with lots of exercises and things to do. But the crux of the book is about female empowerment, female wisdom, and female spirituality. And about yoga things that are Uma believes are more appropriate for women, and some yoga things that she things are less helpful for women or certain conditions.
On picking up the book again, I see my memory is mostly right, although there is also so much more to it than history and practical exercises. Uma has developed a ‘womb friendly yoga manifesto’ with simple advice about some key yoga techniques and the effects on the womb at different times of the month or during specific times of life e.g. pregnancy. Every chapter ends with questions and reflections for the reader and extensive recommended readings and references to all her source materials. Uma provides personal commentaries, real life stories and quotes from women she’s worked with with in classes, on retreats etc, about their life experiences in relation to the specific condition or life stage being discussed e.g. menstruation. This keeps the text grounded in reality.
As well as the 29 chapters there is also an appendix with 10 yantras (geometical images) for contemplation and meditation, drawn by Uma’s husband and linked to the goddesses Uma discusses earlier in the book. She also links chapters to her yoga nidra practices which are available to download from her website.
For women looking for specific yoga practices which can help with different conditions or for appropriate yoga at different times of the month there are lots of illustrated practices, sequences and tips. People interested in the history of yoga will also learn a huge amount from the book.
Uma is unafraid to say what she thinks, and Yoni Shakti is open, honest, direct, feminist and bold in its discussions of women, yoga, sexuality and health.
It’s a fascinating book with so much information. If you want to experience some of it in the flesh, I recommend attending one of her weekend events or courses. Find out more from the Yoni Shakti Faceboook page or the Yoni Shakti website.