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Author Topic: Yoga and Paganism  (Read 7364 times)
Allstar
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« Topic Start: October 07, 2007, 11:13:51 am »

Do any of you incorporate yoga into your religious/spiritual practices?  If so, how do you go about this?  Just doing it, or taking some other approach to it?
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« Reply #1: October 07, 2007, 03:00:34 pm »

Do any of you incorporate yoga into your religious/spiritual practices?  If so, how do you go about this?  Just doing it, or taking some other approach to it?

Well, I don't do it for the religious/spiritual practice, but I have found that it helps me stay balanced, so that helps in my meditations.  The strengthening and stretching, of the body helps me become more connected to myself, which in turn makes me feel more connected to my deities, the energies around me and the world. LOL that sounds soooo new age, but it's true.

I do it for health, but a nice 'side-effect' of it is it helps strengthen me spiritually.
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« Reply #2: October 07, 2007, 06:31:17 pm »

Do any of you incorporate yoga into your religious/spiritual practices?  If so, how do you go about this?  Just doing it, or taking some other approach to it?

I do Yoga more for my health than anything else. It's done wonders for me physically and mentally.
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rose
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« Reply #3: October 07, 2007, 07:11:45 pm »

Do any of you incorporate yoga into your religious/spiritual practices?  If so, how do you go about this?  Just doing it, or taking some other approach to it?

Having a regular yoga practice is what brought me back to accepting myself as a pagan. So in a sense, yes, I do incorporate it into my spiritual practice, b/c it centers and grounds me, as well as making me strong and flexible. A lot of information from Divine sources and my guides comes through as well, although how and when is totally unpredictable, I have no ability to control it and no interest in trying to do so. But I think it is directly related to my body being in alignment with my mind and spirit, and the the intensity of my concentration, and whatever I am ready to a receive on a given day.
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Goddess grant me:
  The power of Water,
  to accept with ease & grace what I cannot change.

  The power of Fire,
  for the energy & courage to change the things I can.

  The power of Air,
  for the ability and wisdom to know the difference.

  And the power of Earth,
  for the strength to continue my path.

http://rosejayadal.blogspot.com/
joshuatenpenny
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« Reply #4: October 09, 2007, 03:34:06 am »

Do any of you incorporate yoga into your religious/spiritual practices?  If so, how do you go about this?  Just doing it, or taking some other approach to it?

I think that a lot of people don't realize that asana practice - the poses - are just one part of "yoga" which is a fairly general term that can be applied to any discipline which promotes spiritual growth. (I've heard Hindus call psychoanalysis the only great yoga of the West.) Prayer and giving offerings to the gods is a yoga, no matter which gods they are. Theological study is a yoga, when it is a way of bringing you into a deeper understanding of the divine. Living your life rightly according to your spiritual and ethical code is a yoga. So, for instance, I find that the ethical/spiritual guidelines for behavior in Ashtanga Yoga (the yamas & niyamas) are a fair match with the spiritual guidelines for behavior in my own (pagan) tradition, depending on whose interpretation you follow, but living rightly according the codes of my tradition is a yoga.

Regardless, I find the asana practice to be a wonderful part of my overall spiritual practice. The poses and breathwork are a powerful and effective spiritual technology. I'm a very strongly body-centered person. My body is my strongest tool in spiritual connection. Iyengar says that on your spiritual journey, your body will either be the vehicle which carries you along the road, or you will drag it like a millstone around your neck. The physical practice is a good way for me to work on spiritual discipline, which is most emphatically not my strong suit. I see it as small offering to Shiva, who I honor and respect very much.

-- Joshua
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« Reply #5: October 10, 2007, 04:00:16 am »

Do any of you incorporate yoga into your religious/spiritual practices?  If so, how do you go about this?  Just doing it, or taking some other approach to it?

I've been interested in yoga, but wary of how much bending my back will have to do. :\
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« Reply #6: October 10, 2007, 05:18:09 am »

I've been interested in yoga, but wary of how much bending my back will have to do. :\

Your back only has to bend as far as is ok with it. That is one of the beautiful things about yoga, it is for everyone at every level of fitness and ability. Just make sure you get a good teacher who understands backs, if you have problems with yours. My yoga practice has actually fixed my back and hip problems completely.
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Goddess grant me:
  The power of Water,
  to accept with ease & grace what I cannot change.

  The power of Fire,
  for the energy & courage to change the things I can.

  The power of Air,
  for the ability and wisdom to know the difference.

  And the power of Earth,
  for the strength to continue my path.

http://rosejayadal.blogspot.com/
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« Reply #7: October 12, 2007, 03:42:37 pm »

Do any of you incorporate yoga into your religious/spiritual practices?  If so, how do you go about this?  Just doing it, or taking some other approach to it?

I do! :-D
I'm actually thinking about becoming a yoga teacher eventually, but that's beside the point.
I have found that yoga can be a great method for shifting my energy levels. If i need to focus for a ritual, certain poses or breathing exercises can help me contain my energy and reign it in. Or if I need to raise a lot of energy, several rounds of Sun Salutation can do the trick. I also occasionally incorporate asana as an offering.

One thing people often say about yoga is that they don't want to try it because they're not very flexible. But what they don't understand is that in yoga, the point is never to push your body in a way that could result in pain or injury. The first and most important lesson of physical practice is that you must know your own boundaries. If you're exercising for your health, then it only makes sense that you treat your body as a friend or partner, not as an adversary that must be forced into one painful position after another. I often think of it as a conversation with my body. When I get into a pose where I'm uncomfortable, I need to slow down and have a talk with my body and find out what it needs. :-D
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« Reply #8: October 12, 2007, 05:07:16 pm »

One thing people often say about yoga is that they don't want to try it because they're not very flexible.

One thing I found out in a hurry is that Yoga did/does wonders for my flexibility! Cheesy
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« Reply #9: October 21, 2007, 01:07:20 pm »

One thing I found out in a hurry is that Yoga did/does wonders for my flexibility! Cheesy

I've been considering taking up yoga for just that reason, not for spiritual development. I do plenty of strength and aerobics training, but the "third leg" of the fitness triangle--flexibility training--gets short shrift in my health regimen, if only for lack of time. I'm thinking that if I start flexibility training now, it might help keep me more active in my old age.
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« Reply #10: October 22, 2007, 10:25:35 am »

I've been considering taking up yoga for just that reason, not for spiritual development. I do plenty of strength and aerobics training, but the "third leg" of the fitness triangle--flexibility training--gets short shrift in my health regimen, if only for lack of time. I'm thinking that if I start flexibility training now, it might help keep me more active in my old age.

I think that's a good idea, and also, if you pick the right "kind" of yoga (some are more physically strenuous while others are more meditative), you can get a nice balance of strength and flexibility training, which might save you some time in what sounds like a very fully exercise routine. If you go to a local yoga studio, they may offer several different types of classes, and you can always call or visit to explain what you want from your practice and find the right class.
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joshuatenpenny
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« Reply #11: October 22, 2007, 11:57:11 am »

One thing people often say about yoga is that they don't want to try it because they're not very flexible. But what they don't understand is that in yoga, the point is never to push your body in a way that could result in pain or injury. The first and most important lesson of physical practice is that you must know your own boundaries. If you're exercising for your health, then it only makes sense that you treat your body as a friend or partner, not as an adversary that must be forced into one painful position after another. I often think of it as a conversation with my body. When I get into a pose where I'm uncomfortable, I need to slow down and have a talk with my body and find out what it needs. :-D
There is a famous yoga teacher named Iyengar who says that when the mind says, "I can do this pose! I will do this pose!" and the knee says, "No no! I cannot do this pose! I will not do this pose!" the wise man listens to the knee. As a young man he did himself a lot of harm by forcing his body into poses he was not prepared for, and it is counterproductive in all ways.

Besides, asana practice isn't about getting your body in to increasingly bizarre contortions. It is about being fully present in your body and bringing it into mindful and precise alignment. The "stretches" themselves can be quite simple. The advanced stretches exist to give the very flexible folks something to challenge themselves with. The goal of asana practice is not to put your feet behind your head. It is the process of challenging your body, disciplining your body, and bringing your body into precise mindful alignment that is where the real benefits of asana practice come in. Iyengar talked about having two students who were professional ballerinas. They could get their bodies into whatever position he requested without challenging themselves, so they learned nothing from it. It was a real challenge for him as the instructor to show them how to find that edge in themselves.

My teacher, Diane Featherstone, says, "If you are breathing, and you have a body, you can do yoga."

-- Joshua

EDIT: spelling
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« Reply #12: October 22, 2007, 01:20:20 pm »

The advanced stretches exist to give the very flexible folks something to challenge themselves with.

When I read that, I immediately thought of my current favorite challenge. I'm trying arm balances these day. It's going very slowly, but it's FUN, and the feeling I get when I can get into a balance even for just a second is rewarding. Through my practice, I have learned that it's ok to try something I can't do *yet* with the intention of being able to do it eventually.

I'm not sure if most people think of yoga as fun, but for me it is. I LOVE standing balances of all kinds (hence my current effort to balance things out by working on my arms), and I love using inversions to literally shift my point of view. There have been times when I felt stuck in one way or another, and I will use headstand or even down dog to physically act out what I want my mind to do: find a new perspective, a new angle, maybe look at this "problem" as an opportunity, etc. For me, yoga works on many levels. Sometimes I just need the exercise, sometimes I use it to raise energy, sometimes it's a meditation or offering to Kali. The list goes on.  Cheesy
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« Reply #13: October 22, 2007, 01:36:08 pm »

I'm not sure if most people think of yoga as fun, but for me it is. I LOVE standing balances of all kinds (hence my current effort to balance things out by working on my arms)

The standing balances have helped me quite a bit. I was carried full breech before birth and delivered such - doctor didn't even try to turn me around - so I have a slight hip displacement that causes my right leg to be a quarter of an inch shorter than the left. I've had trouble with balance my entire life. But Yoga poses - I can do those without even thinking about it.
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« Reply #14: October 22, 2007, 08:32:34 pm »

Through my practice, I have learned that it's ok to try something I can't do *yet* with the intention of being able to do it eventually.

I try them even if don't have any intention of being to do them eventually. I have been doing yoga off and on since I was ten years old, and I still can't do Crow, let alone a full headstand. But it doesn't matter. I try them from time to time, and I may never do them, or eventually my body will decide it just can-this has happened with other poses I didn't think I would ever do. To me it is a constant practice of staying in the exact moment I am in, regardless of what I was able to do yesterday or last year, or might be able to do next year. This is why yoga is so magical to me.
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Goddess grant me:
  The power of Water,
  to accept with ease & grace what I cannot change.

  The power of Fire,
  for the energy & courage to change the things I can.

  The power of Air,
  for the ability and wisdom to know the difference.

  And the power of Earth,
  for the strength to continue my path.

http://rosejayadal.blogspot.com/

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