What is shamanic yoga and why have these two ideas joined together? What does shamanism bring to yoga that yoga does not already have, and vice-versa? Why complicate things even more? Isn’t yoga already complicated enough?
I have a few thoughts on this subject that may help your understanding and possibly even pull your interest forward.
If you consider the aims of yoga and shamanism, you will find them highly coincident in general terms: spiritual experiences, physical and energetic body healing, living a life worthy of yourself and helping others do the same. The means of achieving these aims is quite different between yoga and shamanism, however there are some very important similarities in the states of mind that lead to achieving these aims.
Here are a few examples of these similarities of states of mind. Relative to spiritual experiences, in both yoga and shamanism one withdraws the senses inward to connect one’s inner self with the pervasive universal spirit. For healing, yoga brings the body into a state of rest through breath, movement and concentration to unlock and balance the energetic centers of the body. In shamanic practice, one also uses concentration in order to focus on the healing process and to request assistance from spiritual entities that work through the practitioner to heal someone else – a process known as “journeying”. In so doing, these entities act directly to heal mental, emotional, energetic or spiritual aspects of the person needing to heal and indirectly on the healer. And then, of course, there are the ethical and moral aspects of shamanism and yoga that require one to be self-aware of your thoughts and actions towards others, act compassionately and lovingly towards all life forms and to seek ways to be of help to others.
Both yoga and shamanism have been practiced for many thousands of years – from time prior to recorded history. In both of these practices, we find reverence for the natural world, for ourselves as spiritual and energetic beings who inhabit a physical presence and for the presence of spiritual entities that can assist us. In each of these practices, we also journey inside to connect with the essence of life, peace and a creator. In addition, in each of these practices, yogis and shamans can manifest powers – “siddhis” or abilities – that normally defy rational interpretation. Examples of these powers are: remote viewing, clairvoyance, miraculous healing, bi-location, and non-sourced knowledge acquisition, to name a few.
Clearly there are many similarities between these practices in their aims, in the mental and spiritual levels, and in the approach to life – the moral, ethical and reverential aspects. But what do these two practices, when joined together, produce that is not already produced by the practice of either one alone? After all, each practice by itself is already an incredibly powerful set of ideas and learning that can require a lifetime of study to master. So then, what is the benefit of shamanic yoga?
Simply put, the benefit of bringing shamanism and yoga together is that together they facilitate the rapid dissolution of the ego and the expansion of consciousness into Samadhi-like experiences. Why is it more rapid to do both together instead of pursuing one or the other alone? In shamanism one specifically and repeatedly, through journeying, acquires a state of mind that replaces the ego-centric thinking with a “watching, listening and sensing” of spiritual messages and a heightened sensitivity to the external environment. When this occurs, the shamanic practitioner experiences a profound union, communication and oneness – and an expanded consciousness that can reach other spiritual entities within the animate and inanimate world. In yoga, one specifically and repeatedly, uses the breath, body positioning and relaxed state to facilitate concentration, withdrawal of the senses and energy flow in order to eliminate the ego-centrism and enter into a “oneness” communion state. When practiced together, the aim of both (ego by-pass) is facilitated more quickly than either alone. There are other benefits as well, but I believe these are better left for coverage in a follow-up topic.
Om Namah Shivaya,
Narayan (Doug), 2013
For more information on Shamanism see Anne Le Floch’s website: