I must begin with a statement: I love practicing yoga with men, teaching men, and learning from men, but ... there is a special energy to a women only yoga practice. As I mature as a person and get to know myself in a real and honest way, I am increasing interested (especially since becoming a mother) in developing my own personal 'power' as a woman. This power is subtle, soft, gentle, kind, cooperative, loving, nurturing, and empowered because it does not come from the outside (my culture, my family of origin, my place in human history, how I "should" behave), but from within. Approaching our asana practice with this internal focus is an essential element of practicing in such a way that honors the Feminine (for both women and men). My first inclination here is to give a something like "8 things for women to consider when practice yoga" (you could read this article by Angela Farmer if you want that), but that is too linear. Instead, let me share in a circular way my experience of practicing with a eye for the Feminine. For me, I wish to cultivate a deep and intuitive connection to my deeper Self. My essential nature that is neither masculine or feminine but a symbiotic and fluid relationship of the two. But, beyond that, I have been given a feminine form and with that comes unique feminine powers and responsibilities of which I am both proud of (mama-hood) and challenged by (damn that chocolate need or wayward emotional outbursts) and I desire to live in harmony with myself as an ever changing and often unpredictable being. In the early stages of my relationship with my husband, Nate Bettger, we would say (and we still do) that he was the shore to my ocean. He being solid, consistent, reliable and me being mutable, changing, sometimes calm and sometimes stormy. What we like about this metaphor is the place where we meet, the shore. The ocean pulls into her sand, stones, and stability from the shore and changes the shore with her tides. I love this. When I step onto the mat, there is always a moment of surrender, like slipping into a pool or water or diving under the waves. Then there is slow and steady pulsation where I infuse the rhythmic flow of my breath with into the rhythmic flow of my body and connect. Then I find myself beginning to get lost in this rhythm and I must pause to find stillness and composure so as not to get swept out to sea, and stay within the waves of breath. I work, and 'paddle' as the waves begin to build and build, and then there is a peak, and my body, breath, and mind surrender back into the unhindered and circulating flow of Prana as I slip into savasana. For the previous hour or two I am in my own power, experiencing my own Beauty (not a surface or pladitudial beauty, but a true, almost holy beauty that comes from deep recognition), and I am free. I am free to experience the Shakti, the creative force, that I hold and to witness how that Shakti is manifest in my practice and I watch it begin to ripple more and more into my daily life. My sense of lack, unworthiness, or disappointment with myself is replaced with a sense of clarity, peace and sincere reverence for myself and all that lies dormant and ready to awaken within me. Hips opening helps this, but its the nurturing, kind, loving, and energizing that comes from a deep recognition that brings about beautiful and lasting changes that allow me to more fully step into my own power.