Shakti is the dynamic force animating all of creation, which gives us life and moves the planets in a cosmic dance called “lila.” This universal energy is considered feminine in nature, and is often personified as the Divine Mother or Paravati, the consort of Shiva. Shakti is extremely diverse in nature; it can both be an agent of change and destruction as well as the means to fulfill our desires and dreams. This dynamic power can be experienced both externally and internally.
There are distinctive types of Shakti inside and outside of us that are experienced in different forms and different levels. Para-Shakti is the Shakti working on a cosmic level: the light generated by the sun, the rotation of the planets, heat and other forms of gross energy. Jnana-Shakti is the Shakti of the mind: of thought, wisdom and intuition. Iccha-Shakti is the Shakti of our will, action and intention. Kriya-Shakti is the Shakti of manifestation, creativity, and inspiration. Kundalini-Shakti is the most significant form of Shakti. Seen in nature as electricity and magnetism, Kundalini-Shakti is also the internal hidden Shakti coiled at the base of our spine.
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The complementary force to Shakti is Shiva: universal consciousness. Without the animating power of Shakti, Shiva lies asleep. Internally, Shiva resides dormant at the crown chakra. Shakti is described as a coiled serpent of atomic energy at the base of the spine that only outputs the minutest of energy into the body. The path of liberation in yoga is the path of Shakti moving through the nadis (energy channels) and up the seven chakras (energy centers) to be united with Shiva.
Even if our goal is not enlightenment, conscious awareness and cultivation of Shakti can be very beneficial. As you increase the amount of Shakti in your body, your chakras and nadis adjust to contain the additional wattage of Shakti. With your energy system able to accommodate higher amounts of energy, the Kundalini-Shakti then increases its output of Shakti energy in the body. As more Shakti flows in our body, it manifests in its many forms to produce creativity, inspiration, intellect, wisdom and will.