Body Spells: Yoga & Ritual

Louise Dahl-Wolfe for Harper’s Bazaar, 1944


I just recently started teaching public yoga classes again. And, god I missed it so much. I had forgotten how nourishing it is to guide practitioners through pranayama, asana, and intention. I’ve realized why it feels so juicy, like I’m being fed, and then I had a “Duh, obviously,” moment. It’s an iteration of what I do in workshops and in my online offerings: Ritual in Action.

We all have to tools to create ritual–sometimes it’s just a matter of being reminded. So many times we think we need a huge production for our ritual: the hand-dipped candles, the organic dried sage, the right moon phase, a friggin’ robe. Spoiler alert: You don’t need any of it.

Or, more interestingly, people are put off by the word “ritual.” “What this?” They think. “Is that like The Craft? How spiritual do I have to be? Call in the Whats? Are you a witch or something? I’m not into this, am I?”

If you are the tiniest bit “woke,” if you see that intention creates reality, if you see the correlation between staying positive and how your life looks, if you desire to connect with something somewhere ever, then you’re already a player, Player. We just talk about it using different words.

The yoga practice is a perfect example of how simple powerful ritual can be. At this point, most people have been to a yoga class of some kind. Hell, most people have taken a YTT at some point in their lives. (Maybe not. This is clearly reflects the crews I roll with.)

A holistic and integrated yoga class is carefully constructed with setting space, intention-setting, a slow-building crescendo then descension of poses, some element of meditation or silence, and gratitude.

Uhhh, sounds a lot like Ritual to me.

And it’s ritual performed with the one tool that we always have on us: That luscious bod.

I love that everywhere, people in yoga classes all over the place are performing group ceremony and they don’t even know. 

Insert witchy cackle.

Yoga Class: It’s like you’re the blondes, and I’m the Cow Man. (Spellbound by Steve Meisel)

If you’re in a class of mine, I have already set the space via smudge or medicine plants. And probably called the Directions. You’ll be practicing with some serious backup for your intentions. The troops are at the ready, if you know what I mean.

The theme has been set. I guide my classes so that, if you choose, you can really manifest what it is you crave most deeply that will serve your highest purpose.

We perform ritual to change our worlds: Our inner world, our physical being, and in turn, our outer world. We create our intention: It is what we will change in our world to direct the energy (in this case, physical movement of our bodies into poses), cultivate the energy (through holds) and release while holding our intention in mind. We are directing all that cultivated energy that we can physically FEEL in our bodies toward the intention that we set. One more time, with feeling.

Now, I will not tell you all this in class. If I did, I’d lose half my students. But it’s there if you choose to work with it. We may call it different things, but it’s all there, baby.

Every daily act, not limited to your yoga class or movement practice, can be transformed into a powerful act of manifestation. Set the space,  set the intention, energy cultivation, release/direction, gratitude. There are a million, trillion ways to do this. The trick is finding your way.

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