Yoga Teacher Training India 12 - Why do yoga and shamanism fit together?

Why do yoga and shamanism fit together?

We often hear this question from our students. When they leave us, the answer is crystal clear to them: yoga and shamanism complement each other perfectly, because they have the same roots and the same goal.

Shamanism is the oldest of the three great traditions of transformational practices of humankind. People have always practiced mental healing. Shamanism has been used since the Palaeolithic and has been preserved till today in some indigenous cultures. Yoga and alchemy, the two other great transformational traditions, can be viewed as eastern and western extensions of shamanism. In this article, we focus on the interplay of yoga and shamanism.

Similarities of yoga and shamanism:

Yog Temple Be a warrior 1 300x200 - Why do yoga and shamanism fit together?

• Concentration on mental healing or psychological problem solving

• Guidance for managing your own life
• Search for spiritual knowledge, enlightenment and liberation
• world view (animism or panpsychism)
• Systematic technologies to gain high consciousness


Both traditions focus on mental healing or at least on solving psychological problems. With shamanic journeying we search for to solve a problem. Yoga focuses on improving and directing the prana (qi or life energy) with pranayama (breathing exercises) in order to dissolve blockages and connect body and mind.


Furthermore, shamanism and also yoga provide guidance on how to live one's life. Both traditions are not leisure time activities or even a sport, but a way of life. You cannot just practice yoga or shamanism once a week. These traditions will fulfill your whole life and you should integrate them into your daily life.


The goal of the two traditions is also almost the same. It is about the search for spiritual knowledge, the enlightenment and the liberation from human suffering. Shamanism achieves that through shamanic journeying and working on the own topics. In yoga it is similar. Through Asanas the body is made flexible, to sit as long as possible in meditation. In meditation, you try to stop your own thoughts and look inside.

World view

Both traditions also follow the same world view, animism. Everything we see is animated. Everything is permeated with mental or spiritual energy and consciousness: organic (plants, animals, humans), inorganic (rocks, mountains, rivers, winds), terrestrial (our planet earth) and cosmic (other planets, stars, galaxies, universe). In shamanism as well as in yoga, a cornerstone is the immortality of the soul as well as the possibility of being freed from the fetters of illusion and attachment.


Shamanism has many traditions and directions, but the core is the same. Through ecstasy ("being outside the ordinary state") one enters into the non-ordinary shamanic world, which is also called the Otherworld. This shift in consciousness represents the core of shamanism. With this method as base, other methods such as soul retrieval, extraction of foreign energy, shadow work, etc. are opened up. Shamanism offers a selection of methods and techniques that expand the consciousness. Thus, different methods are used in Yoga to gain high consciousness: Asanas, Pranayama, Meditation, Kriyas, etc.


Shamanism and yoga aim at self-transformation, self-healing and understanding the inner self. They are, so to speak, tradition brothers (or sisters) who help us to find ourselves. Hundreds of years ago, people had not yet known both ways at the same place, but today we can combine the benefits of yoga and shamanism and make use of it. This is exactly what we do in our Yoga school and healing center in Austria. In our yoga teacher training courses, shamanism courses and healing retreats, we combine yoga and shamanism to achieve the best results.

When can we use shamanism and yoga:

Restlessness, insomnia, anxiety, lack of energy, inner dissatisfaction, changes in life, physical dissatisfaction, fluctuating self-awareness, stress, performance pressure, difficult situations, physical pain, chronic suffering ...

Book recommendation:

More information about Shamanism, yoga and alchemy can be found in the books of the well-known religious historians Mircea Eliade.

Eliade, Mircea: Shamanism. Archaic techniques.

Eliade, Mircea: Yoga. Immortality and Freedom

Eliade, Mircea: Alchemy and the Hermetic Tradition.

Metzner, Ralph: Alchemical Divination. Accessing your spiritual intelligence for healing and guidance. The Ecology of Consciousness.


Metzner, Ralph: Alchemical Divination. Accessing your spiritual intelligence for healing and guidance. The Ecology of Consciousness.

Iyengar, B. K. S.: Light on Yoga.

Harner, Michael:  The Way of the Shaman

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