Shamanic Yoga Institute

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The Nature of Shamanic Yoga – A Practice

It snowed continuously for two nights and the powder covering the trails of Legacy Park are well-passed my knees. By the early morning light of an equinox sunrise, I roll out my yoga mat and sit down to sing. I gaze around at our circle of participants and am met by some not-so-sure expressions. Padded by an oversized Cowichan sweater, a Stanfield, a plethora of pants and socks, I begin our practice of Shamanic Yoga on the final day of the West.   

As we begin to move, it doesn’t take long for the layers to peel off–puffy jackets and resistance–fall by the wayside. A rhythm takes hold of the group, breaths drop into a cadence that we have chosen together, unorchestrated by our analytical minds. We find fluidity in our bodies and allow ourselves to be inspired by the waking forest around us.   

I trust the practice as it unfolds. Each one of us are learning how to be in right relationship with our embodiment, perhaps even tasting the liberation that is ours to claim. Connecting and responding to the visible face of Spirit, we move as animals and water currents, become bridges, and stand within a council of mountains. We offer the bodying forth of our devotion to the ascending light rising through the treeline. In the end, we lay down to our little death blanketed in silent awareness like the forest by the snow.   

To participate fully in life is the promise of Shamanic Yoga. In our own way, and in our own time, we rise with eyes and hearts wide open, ready to serve the day.   

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One of the aspects that makes Shamanic Yoga unique is its nature-informed, organic approach. When I first came to the practice, the language of the land, the natural metaphors of my teachers captivated me. They spoke of the life-giving waters, the wisdom-keeping mountains, the tall medicine keepers of the forests and our connection to the animistic world. I conceptualized how the sacred geometry of yoga could build a bridge between me and Earth that I felt so estranged from. I would spend my practice in my mind, trying to remember the insights and how to articulate comparisons that made me feel linked to the natural sphere, using my body, like a tool, to replicate Her forms.   

As time when on, this acute listening was directed towards my own body as teacher. I became a student of the flesh and bone, and a creatrix of beauty in my practice. The gestures and shapes of yoga became infused with the wilderness within me, harvested from the inner landscapes of power and belonging. I experienced a growing connection to the Earth that required no articulation: because within this relationship I felt seen and understood. Each time that I arrive to my practice, I am grateful for those who held space for this unfolding. And regardless of where I roll out my mat, I acknowledge that it is a privilege in my own work to do the same. 

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