The Pagan Yoga Connection
I am currently working on getting my yoga teacher certificate, so it is only fitting to write this month’s column about yoga. I guess you could say I got yoga on the brain. The longer I do yoga the more Pagan connections I see in it and the more I believe that yoga is the perfect practice for Pagans and witches. The eight limbs of yoga can easily be applied to our craft practice. In fact, most of them are already used regularly by witches and they just might not know it. Here’s what I mean:
Yoga Limb #1: Yama(s)-One’s ethical standards and how we treat ourselves and other. Principles yamas include: ahimsa (the practice of non-violence), satya (truthfulness), asteya (non-stealing), brahmacharya (continence), and aparigraha (non-covetousness).
Pagan Correlation(s): Okay so maybe most Pagans aren’t down for sexual continence, but we do try our best to practice some form of ahimsa through the Wiccan Rede “And ye harm none.” As witches we strive to use our magick and skills to heal the earth, to help others, and to bring about positive change. We also take our word and oaths very seriously. Witches should be honest and should be practicing some form of ethical standards, which is exactly what yoga teaches as well.
Yoga Limb #2: Niyama(s)-self-discipline and spiritual observances.
Pagan Correlation(s): It takes a lot of self-discipline and practice to be a witch. Even if we are born with natural spiritual abilities, we must take the time to practice them. We also regularly have spiritual observances through our rituals, and other magickal work.
Yoga Limb #3: Asana(s)-postures practiced in yoga.
Pagan Correlation(s): The many different yoga postures are great for flexibility, circulation, muscle building, detoxing, healing, and overall health. As witches we need to keep ourselves healthy in order to have the strength to practice our magick. We also believe in using things in both the physical and spiritual planes to bring about healing, which is also a belief and practice in yoga. We honor the Divine and honor the Divine in each of us through our spiritual practices. Having an asana practice will help keep our physical temples healthy.
Yoga Limb #4: Pranayama-breath control
Pagan Correlation(s): Many Pagans already use breathing exercises as a way to create energy for magickal work. Using our breath and connecting it the element of air can be a great way to enhance our magickal work! It also keeps us healthy!
Yoga Limb #5: Pratyahara-withdrawal and sensory transcendence
Pagan Correlation(s): Witches withdraw from the physical plane all the time. We use all of our senses for magickal work, so this is something we are used to. It takes some withdrawal from the physical plane and presence in the spiritual place to complete most magickal work. Pratyahara is not a new concept to witches.
Yoga Limb #6: Dharana-concentration
Pagan Correlation(s): Again concentration is not a new concept to witches. It takes lots of concentration to complete spells and to practice divination. Witches are already great concentrators.
Yoga Limb #7: Meditation and contemplation
Pagan Correlation(s): Witches already use meditation and contemplation to connect to their deities and to practice magick (like spell work).
Yoga Limb #8: Samadhi-enlightenment and connection to the universe
Pagan Correlation(s): Pagans do not necessarily believe in the traditional concept of heaven. Some believe in the Summerland, or a place our souls dwell in the afterlife. Some believe in reincarnation. No matter what you believe about life after death, spiritual enlightenment is a great end goal. As witches grow and learn we become more and more connected to this world, to our deities, to energy, to others, and to the spiritual plane. Basically we become enlightened. I think the Buddha would approve of the spiritual practices witches generally observe. We are already a pretty enlightened group overall.
It has been great getting to see both my yoga practice and my craft practice improve because of these types of connections (and correlations)! In fact sometimes the two collide and it can be a fun ride when they do. I feel lucky as a witch practicing yoga. I am already used to doing energy work and am pretty tapped into my mind, body, and soul connections. My personal craft practice allows me to experience my yoga practice better and more intensely. I would strongly recommend a yoga practice for all Pagans and witches! Trust me you won’t regret it!