I have never ceased to be amazed by how well yoga pairs up with absolutely any religious or spiritual path. Whether you’re Hindu, Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, or even a witch, yoga has something to contribute to your personal journey. It adds so much, and yet it makes no substantive changes to your own faith. It gives without taking anything in return.
It’s a beautiful paradox, and, as witches, we do love a paradox.
In addition to its potentially unifying capabilities, yoga is also extremely useful in the “real world.” In the West, we tend to use it purely for its physical benefits–of which there are many. Yoga is one of my favorite ways to exercise. It’s primary purpose, however, was to aid in preparing your body and mind for meditation.
In my book, Garbed In Green, I talk extensively about the value of meditation for the witch. Unfortunately, so many witches struggle with meditation, especially when they are just starting out on the path. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard, “I just can’t meditate,” like it is some sort of chronic medical condition that the person in question just has to adjust to dealing with.
If you happen to be one of the people who “can’t meditate,” the struggle you experience isn’t entirely your fault. We live in a fast-paced world where everything is supposed to happen instantaneously. Social media, online shopping, even our jobs all require us to move at break-neck speed. Is it any wonder that so many of us have adapted to that condition by abandoning skills that focus on a slower pace of life, like meditating?
Unfortunately, the sad truth is that even though it’s not entirely your fault, you still have to be the one to take responsibility for fixing the situation. If you want to be successful as a witch, you will have to overcome your modern conditioning and re-develop your powers of concentration.
In my humble opinion, the best way to begin approaching this challenge (because that’s all it really is: a challenge) is to begin doing yoga. As I said above, yoga was originally intended to help people prepare their bodies and minds for meditation. By stretching out the muscles and correcting any issues with alignment and posture, yoga ensures that your body won’t scream out in pain or discomfort while you are trying to focus. By paying attention to the breath, yoga calms the mind and allows its fast-paced frenzy to be quieted.
It’s another paradox, but, like yoga, this strategy just seems to work: If you can’t manage to achieve peace and calm through stillness, achieve peace and calm through movement, instead. Start a simple 15 minute yoga practice, which uses just Sun Salutation A. Focus on moving with the breath and gradually extend the length and intensity of your practice until you are practicing a full hour roughly 2-3 times a week. End each yoga practice session with a few brief moments of relaxation, laying flat on your back (the pose is called savasana or corpse pose), and extend that up to 5-10 minutes over time. You’ll be surprised how quickly you begin to meditate without struggle or effort.