While both witchcraft and yoga are independent practices, they can provide an excellent complement to each other. By practicing yoga, witches can become better at their Craft. In fact, there are quite a few articles on this topic that have popped up recently, but there are very few articles that talk about how witchcraft can also provide value for the yoga student. Many core concepts within traditional yoga are quite difficult for people to wrap their heads around when they are just starting out. By studying witchcraft and maintaining a yoga practice, the yogi has an easier time engaging with the more esoteric elements that turn yoga from a simple workout into a holistic or spiritual practice.
- Both Practices Enhance Each Other
It's common for new witches to ask how some psychic skill is done when they are learning. TikTok is filled with seekers looking for answers to these types of questions. Whereas witchcraft can complicate the topic with esoteric methods or flowery language, yoga answers these types of questions quite plainly. Conversely, many people new to yoga struggle with meditation and calming the mind. The traditional yoga method for dealing with this struggle is patience and perseverance, which is absolutely valid. Unfortunately, many new yogis get frustrated and give up "before the magick happens." Witchcraft, on the other hand, offers a plethora of options for overcoming that frustration. Many of those solutions help to improve a person's powers of concentration in a way that are directly aligned with yoga. Those options range from simply lighting a candle to elaborate spell work and rituals designed to focus the witch's mind.
- Mind and Body Benefits
It's no secret that yoga involves both mind and body. However, those same holistic elements often get lost in the witch's mad rush to develop psychic powers and embrace the more Dionysian elements of the Craft. That said, the elements of a mind-body connection exist within witchcraft, because witchcraft honors all of nature, and that also has to include the witch's physical body. Practicing yoga at the same time as witchcraft helps the witch connect with this truth on a deeper level.
Whether you're talking about maintaining physical health, or you're talking about raising energy, the importance of the physical body in witchcraft cannot be overstated. Unfortunately, many witches today ignore this component of the Craft and struggle with many other aspects of their psychic or magickal development as a result. Gerald Gardner talked candidly about how the physical body is a key component of the witch's ability to raise energy. In Witchcraft Today, he said, "Witches are taught and believe that the power resides within their bodies …."1 Yoga helps the witch learn how to access that power more effectively, which is one of the many reasons why yoga is such a boon for witches who are struggling to develop their psychic powers.
- Improved Health
We all know that yoga is good for our health. That's not news to anyone, but did you know that health and healing are central practices of witchcraft as well? In fact, a great deal of witchcraft is focused on helping the witch to lead a healthier life.
At first blush, it looks like yoga and witchcraft approach the topic of healing differently. Yoga seems to deal almost exclusively with the physical body (rather, the yoga that we are familiar with in the West seems to focus almost exclusively on the physical body), whereas witchcraft seems to be all about spells and incantations. Just looking at these two approaches there seems to be very little overlap, but for the practitioner who dives deeper into each practice, the similarities between them become more apparent.
Some of the most effective healing methods within the yoga tradition involve pranayama. While there are various translations of this Sanskrit word, one of the more common translations says that it is composed of two other words: prana and ayama. The root word prana is often translated as life force, and the root word ayama indicates expansion. So, when put together, it's easy to see how a pranayama practice is all about expanding life force or generating health.
What's most interesting (at least to me) is that, once you get beyond the initial spells, witchcraft is very similar to yoga in its approach.
- Both yoga and witchcraft utilize the breath to direct the flow of energy.
- Both yoga and witchcraft teach practitioners how to accumulate energy within the body using breath and different breathing techniques.
Though the language used to discuss the various practices and techniques is different (yoga talks about prana or life force and witchcraft talks about magnetism), the spirit behind the two approaches is the same. By studying both philosophies simultaneously, practitioners can better understand the different approaches and begin to heal their minds and bodies much faster than they would be able by practicing one without the other.
- Yoga Helps Witches Raise Energy
While yoga poses (called asanas) and pranayama techniques can certainly be used to raise energy during a spell or ritual, those aren't the only ways that yoga can help witches raise energy. On a more practical level, yoga can actually help witches to practice their witchcraft more consistently over time.
How many Full Moons have come and gone without you doing a ritual? Maybe you just didn't have the "get-up-and-go" to perform your chosen spell when the time came? Maybe you were too scattered, or your mind was in another place, and you couldn't focus your intent. We all have bills to pay. Our jobs demand so much of our free time. Our families, friends, and partners have expectations of us that can stress us out. Even something as simple as the domestic chores of daily life, like making dinner or doing the laundry, can become so overwhelming that we put the magick on hold.
These are all common hurdles that witches face at one time or another as they dive deeper into their magickal practice, and, surprisingly, the addition of a regular yoga practice to a witch's already-busy schedule can fix them all. Child's Pose, Cat-Cow Pose, any of the twisting poses, even laying on your back with your legs up the wall–all these beginner level yoga poses help to fight off lethargy and fatigue. By incorporating them into a daily routine, witches become better equipped to deal with life's many stressors.
- Develop Focus & Clarify Intent
Witchcraft is all about focus and intent. Whether casting a spell, doing "shadow work," or simply meditating, the witch's work requires an iron will and complete control of the mind. Unfortunately, witchcraft doesn't have a universally agreed upon method for developing that iron will or mastering the practitioner's mind. Yoga, on the other hand, does. In fact, the ancient texts that influenced yoga's development talk a great deal about the process of developing focus and clarifying intent along the journey to gain freedom from the conscious mind.
- Spells Make Meditation Easier
Quieting the "monkey mind" can be one of the most infuriating aspects of any spiritual practice. While yoga is certainly a wonderful way to accomplish that august goal, there is very little comfort for yogis who are struggling at the beginning of their paths toward spiritual enlightenment. As far as yoga is concerned, you just do it. You sit there. You grapple with the frustration. You put it aside, and you keep "just doing it" until you eventually succeed.
For many people, that level of frustration can be a deal breaker. Witchcraft can help the new yogi here. Unlike traditional yoga training, witchcraft does not expect the practitioner to struggle through the beginning phases of learning how to meditate. Rather, witchcraft distracts practitioners from the struggle by giving them something else to focus on (for example, chants, spells, rituals, etc.) as they develop their powers of concentration. Ultimately, both yoga and witchcraft help practitioners to control their minds. The process of getting there may look different, but the end results are the same.
The truth is that witchcraft and yoga have many remarkable parallels that enhance each other. The points mentioned in this article are only a small handful of reasons why witches and yogis should consider combining these two wonderful practices as part of their daily schedules. In Magick From the Mat, I talk a great deal about many more places where these two traditions are in sympathy with each other.
1Gardner, Gerald: Witchcraft Today (New York: Citadel Press, 2004), 20.