At first glance, it may seem as though Yoga and the Holy Medicine of the Holy and Divine Mother Ayahuasca could not be more different. Most people think of Yoga as a series of body movements, whilst many have participated in a Sacred Ceremony to consume the Holy Medicine in the Amazons.
Yet, those who have a broader understanding of Yoga and have experienced with the Holy and Divine Mother Ayahuasca often find a relationship, as the resultant experiences from both the processes often result in opening up your energy centers in the body and lead to realisation of the ‘Divine’ realms.
Although seemingly obscure, the two different processes from ancient cultures, from two different parts of the world, guide seekers towards same goal. Even, the Vedantic scriptures often related with the Yog Process also refer to a Holy Medicine referred to as “Soma” in the Ancient Indian Subcontinent, also known as the ‘drink of the Gods’, mentioned in the Rig Veda.
Although the two different processes have different approach, but as someone explores deeply, it becomes quite obvious that both of their processes share a common goal – i.e. liberation of the consciousness from the body, and attain harmony with nature and everything through experiencing the Divine.
What is Yoga?
Yoga is much more than postures or bodily exercises; on a deeper level, Yoga is the ‘Science of Union’. The yogic system is one of the most organized and advanced sources of wisdom which teaches individuals to attain an unity with everything – i.e. the ‘Universe’, by working through mental, physical, and energetic bodies.
Every aspect of Yoga is carefully designed to gradually merge the individual consciousness with the ‘Divine Consciousness’ or the ‘Consciousness of the Universe’, i.e. attain ‘Samadhi’.
Integration with the Universe with the Holy Medicine
On the other hand, shamans work with the Holy Medicine for centuries to access the spirit world; and gain knowledge and wisdom of the spirit to connect and merge with the ‘Source’ or ‘Divine Consciousness’ of the Universe. From the experiences with the Holy Medicine, it is evident that the Holy and Divine Mother Ayahuasca provides ‘Healing’ and enables individuals to attain unification with Nature and Universe.
Gaining popularity and interest
Far from its Indian roots, Yoga has clearly been established as a worldwide phenomenon and one of the most important practices for physical and mental health.
Likewise, more and more scientific studies and researches of shamanism with the Holy Medicine of the Holy and Divine Mother Ayahuasca, known popularly to originate from the South America, has recently found huge international recognition and is drawing record numbers of travellers to Sacred Ceremonies in their quest for ‘self- healing and spirituality’.
The ‘Energy body’ from Yogic Drishtikoun, or perspective
The Yogic Vidya or wisdom holds that beyond the physical body – built and nourished by earthly foods where diseases can often manifest – there are subtler layers of the ‘subtle body’ referred to as ‘Kosha’. This energy body is subtler than the physical body, where prana or life-force flows through the energy channels, referred to Nadis (rivers).
There are two main Nadis, which are known as ‘Ida’ and ‘Pingala’, starting from the root of the spine, running along the spine, forming interconnections at the seven main points where most of the Nadis intersect and remain entangled; these entangled energy centers are known as the Chakra points. It is believed that there are 72,000 Nadis in the energetic body.
It is believed in Yogic wisdom that, often due to unresolved traumas of present and past life the Chakras can become chokepoints which prevents prana or life-force to flow freely and prevent the upward movement of the coiled-up Kundalini energy from the root of the spine, resulting in manifestation through diseases.
The ‘energetic body’ from shamanic perceptive
According to Shipibo shamans, the Holy and Divine Mother Ayahuasca ‘Heals’ and enables heightened senses which facilitates awareness of spiritual realms, enabling shamans to see spirits or individuals imparting ‘dirty,’ ‘calcified,’ or ‘diseased’ energies. In Shipibo language such energies are called “Mahua yoshin”, which means energies/spirits of the dead. Such energies are understood as blockages to health and are identified by dark or muddy colors with other visionary signifiers, at four different levels of human beings:
- Nete (the world of the individual)
- Shinan (thoughts/beliefs/mental contents)
- Winti (heart/emotions/desires), and
- Yora (dense physical body; e.g., blood, mucus, bones, flesh)
The shaman’s Holy Icaros are prayers regarded to have originated from the Holy Plants, and believed to facilitate opening up ‘spiritual portals’ which guide positive spirits to extract and remove Mahua yoshin from Sacred Ceremony participants. For Shipibo shamans, health may be characterized by a connection with oneself, community, and the larger world.
Besides, there are emotional, spiritual, and moral aspects in Shipibo understanding of optimal health which have obvious similarity with the ‘eight limbs of Yoga’ or ‘ashtanga yoga’.
Serpentine energy and the vibrational understanding of existence
One of the goals of the Yogic tradition is to unify the divine masculine energy with the divine feminine energy through several effective techniques designed to raise the coiled-up energy from the root chakra to the crown third-eye chakra. This coiled-up energy is seen as a coiled-up Snake, sleeping in the base of the spine; and when one is ready to have a ‘union’ with the ‘Divine’, this coiled-up snake wakes up and rises from the root of the spine to climb up to transfer the energy to the pineal gland referred to as the third-eye. Through the third-eye, the Kundalini connects one with the Divine Consciousness. This whole process of waking up and climbing up through the chakras, the Kundalini energy, cleanses and refines the mental, physical, and spiritual bodies.
In the Amazonian traditions, it is believed regarding the origins of the Holy Banisteriopsis Caapi Vine, the main ingredient of the Holy Medicine, is the gift from Sun God. The Holy Banisteriopsis Caapi Vine is compared with a gigantic snake which connects heaven or spirit world with world of humans so the Gods can come down and chosen humans can visit heaven.
Similarities in Various ‘aspects’
The processes of ‘self-liberation’ in the shamanic tradition with the Holy Medicine and Yoga have clear similarity, with similar goal of enabling humans to attain ‘unity’ with the Divine and achieve ‘Healing’. The Holy and Divine Mother Ayahuasca, in the shamanic traditions, is the ‘manifested’ form of the ‘Divine’, providing ‘Healing’ to the world, hence also referred to as ‘Panchamama’ and the ‘Mother Nature’. She has been recognized by various symbolisms in various traditions worldwide.
Where there is energy, there is vibration. Vibration is one of the core languages of the Universe through which it is possible to understand various aspects of ‘existence’. The reality within the traditions of Yoga, is a very clear understanding of the vibrational frequency. As per the Ancient Vedic Scriptures, the first expressions of ‘creation’ was through the Vibrational sound of ‘AUM’ or ‘OM’, which began the process of materializing all the different elements and aspects of life and existence. There are many other aspects in the Yogic traditions, which work at a deeper level with vibrational understanding, such as mantras, nadis, asanas which refine body vibrationally.
From a ‘therapeutic’ perspective, the shamanic tradition of working with the Holy Medicine works similarly involving sound and vibrations, whether in the form of Holy Icaros, or involving instruments, or prayers, which are specifically designed according to specific vibration to work within the participants on a subtle ‘energy’ level.
The yogic tradition places significant importance on detoxification to move through physical illness, or stagnation of all kinds, and to move through different levels of conscious awareness and to attain a greater appreciation with the experience of life. Though it is not explicitly discussed in the same way as in Yoga, in the ‘therapeutic’ process with the Holy Medicine by the shamans, an important aspect of the Holy Medicine is being rooted in the body, rooted in the sematic experience of working things out in the body through the ‘detoxification’ which become the medium of refining and purifying individuals at a mental, emotional, and spiritual level. This is a definite parallel process both in the Yoga and in the shamanic tradition of ‘healing’ with the Holy Medicine as a therapeutic process. These detoxifications in a very detailed description on a close tradition with yogic tradition, known as ‘Ayurveda’.
The similarity with the Holy Medicine and the yogic chakra system
The chakra generally gets blocked off due to a lifetime of internalizing our traumas or can be blocked off at birth due to specific Karma from a prior lifetime. In order to unblock them, according to the Yogic system, the yogi, who is the practitioner of Yoga, must not only tune the physical body but must resolve traumas and learn to cultivate the precious kundalini energy to draw the ‘energy’ upward. When the chakra becomes unblocked, the kundalini energy rises up through the central channel known as the ‘Sushumna’ until such energy reaches the pineal gland, the third-eye. The third-eye then opens up, and energy begins to flow through the crown chakra on the head. In this state, the yogi achieves union with the Divine and experiences the Divine Consciousness where vast arrays of knowledge and insight are gained. The process of opening the chakra through Yoga is never easy, nor does it occur for all the yogis. Only very devoted and blessed yogis are said to attain such Divine Grace.
In the same way that Yoga opens the chakra through a variety of practices, so does working with the Holy Medicine of the Holy and Divine Mother Ayahuasca allows to find blockages in the energetic body and forces the individual to deal with them. These blockages are often revealed through visions or insights into the nature of one’s patterns or prior behaviour. Each time a prior trauma is resolved in a Sacred Ceremony, the chakra related to these traumas becomes more and more open. Though such processes can take years, gradually, the chakra opens completely such that the kundalini energy at the base of the spine rises all the way up to the third-eye, to the pineal gland. At the moment the pineal-gland awakens, connection with the ‘Divine’ is experienced, and the individual who has consumed the Holy Medicine experiences awakening to gain access to immense insight and receive incredible ‘Healing’ manifesting in the physical body and within the mind.
How can working with the Holy Medicine complement yoga practice
- Detoxification and Purification: Purification of the body and mind is an important part of the yogic system. Since the Holy Medicine provides one of the most powerful purgative effects, providing deep cleansing of the body, mind, and spirit, individuals can align with Yoga’s fundamental aspect of purification during a Sacred Ceremony.
- Spirits and Subtle Energy: During a Sacred Ceremony one experiences ‘subtle energies’ and experience how they work and interact. Having this knowledge can deepen the practice of the yogi, specifically in relation to asanas (postures), pranayama (breathwork) and attaining Samadhi.
- Meditation and transcendence: In Yoga, the practitioner engages in meditation and reflection in order to find those aspects of their personality which they otherwise do not see. Sometimes this work can be confusing and take years of practice to achieve results. With the Holy Medicine, the consumer is shown everything, including their hidden shadows. In this way, participating in a Sacred Ceremony and consuming the Holy Medicine prepares the participant for their yoga practices.
- Unity: Yoga is about ‘Unity’ with the ‘Universe’. During a Sacred Ceremony, there is an experience of ‘Union’ with the Universe by the consumer of the Holy Medicine.
- Relationships and empathy: The Holy Medicine deepens the connection with Nature and others, which is experienced in daily life, in a constant state of Yoga or ‘Union’.
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