Snake Yoga: Sacred Feminine Wisdom. Le’ema Kathleen Graham; Goddess Work. DVD and booklet . 2008. http://www.snakeyoga.com/
Having been at home for the past 5 years, with my family and doing a Master’s degree online has really been conducive to the lazy lifestyle I like to maintain. But, it has also meant I’ve “let myself go”. I have never been an especially athletic person but developed a love of yoga. I was exposed during my high school years through an alternative high school I attended; and by that, I mean a “continuation” school for teen pregnancies, drop outs, and troubled youth. One of our teachers was a hippie and introduced meditation, yoga, drumming and many other skills I have actually used in my life. Staying flexible and disciplined, I continued this practice into my college years. It was low impact and deep but something I carried on even throughout my pregnancy. But after the c-section, it was hard to get back into a routine soon. One thing led to another, yadda and yadda…I needed to reconnect with my body again. The Hatha yoga I had learned as a young woman didn’t work the same in my 30s. The heat and sweat aggrivates my I.B.S. , living in my head through grad school has kept me disconnected from my body in many ways. There are so many excuses and reasons why I can use. But in all honesty, it is my spiritual life which has become more physically demanding than it used to be. Practicing true asanas, making the body strong, and conscious of what goes in it seems so much more important than it used to be.
So you can imagine my surprise when Priestess Le’ema sent me a copy of her “Snake Yoga” dvd…with tattooes for my daughter (snakes of course!). Gentle, the movements and stretches were definately not what I expected. My pre-natal yoga was extremely soft and how I thought this practice would be…but the stretches go very deep, deeper than my new mishappened body was used to. But I tried it anyway, on the floor with the air conditioning on full blast. Many of the poses were old friends with new twists on them, to compliment the serpent theme of our practice; the “Serpent on the Tree of Life” (Vṛkṣāsana) and “Cobra” (Bhujaṅgāsana) are two old favourites. I never once felt ‘hot’ as our breathing was not the warm, open AUM of firey movements, but a sinewy “HSS” that was cool and controlled. As a devotee of Hekate, I resonated most with the “Medusa” pose: a deep squat, tongue out and hair writhing with hands in a prayer position. I couldn’t help but feel the power coming up from Brimo…the serpent of the Earth rising up and causing my legs to shake, thighs to quiver and eyes to naturally roll until the energy shot out through my third eye. It was very, very intense.
The DVD is very well produced, with an atmosphere of sacred motion that does not seem artificial or forced. The music was soft and something I did not pay much attention to until the second viewing, as the practice was new to me and I focused more on it. A nice fusion of ambience and tech, it didn’t overwhelm with volume but complimented the practice. The booklet which came with the DVD was an extra bonus, with beautiful illustrations by Hrana Janto, of Le’ema in the different poses with the serpent beings superimposed upon her…like a picture taken of her ethreal body as she shapeshifts into these poses, not just doing yoga. The animated chakra feature was an interesting bonus, which I think is especially helpful for women who are new to this kind of deep, internal practice. Another great feature is being able to turn the words off completely during “play”, so there is only the movement of your own body and the serpentine music. The closed-caption makes it especially accessible for those who are hearing impaired, and like me have a toddler sometimes playing nearby.
I would love to do yoga with this woman in real life some day and feel after a few weeks of doing this practice, several times a week… I will be ready for that bicycling machine I have placed below Babalon in my bedroom: because movement through sex, dance and yoga are all ways of allowing that shakti energy, that dormant wild and angry woman inside a place to let it ALL go, safely.