Tantra, Shamanism and Yoga?
I live in a very interesting community and I am not claiming that this is representative of the Yoga community in general. But of course, we are not living in a bubble and what is happening here is spreading or is created in places like Bali, Maui or maybe Byron Bay, Australia, where we used to live.
These days Yoga often in itself is not enough and it needs to be added with something else, a bit more dramatic in order for it to be more attractive to people. We have now Yoga Tantra sessions, Shamanic Yoga or lets throw it all together: "Shamanic, Tantric, Yoga Healing".
We had a renowned Tantric professor here on our Island, Christopher Wallis, who explained to us in no uncertain terms, that Tantra is mostly unsexual. It is in fact a very highly academical as well as ritual path, that needs study, devotion and commitment in order to remove the ignorance of our true nature. And one of the "holy grails" of modern sex-based Tantra, the control of your sexual ejaculation as a man, has nothing to do with Indian Tantra. It is Taoist form of Tantra.
But if you read Tantra these days on a poster in combination with Yoga, what comes to your mind?
Some physical contacts maybe, nice music or more likely you have no idea. Tantra is a very ancient path and so is Hatha Yoga. Mixing both by mostly untrained people gives a hotchpotch and watered down version of both traditions.
I want to suggest, that they both can stand alone and need to be studied separately in order to get the benefit from both. Of course, most of the so-called "Tantra Teachers" have not studied Tantric Traditions but rather a mix of new age therapeutic processes and some sexual arousing techniques.
I have no problem with sexual liberating workshops, I myself over 25 years ago was facilitating them, but just don't call them Tantra. Don't make them spiritual, when in fact they are more therapeutic and physical liberating… and don't bring Yoga into it.
It is even more strange with "Shamanic Yoga" or "Shamanic Tantra”
A shaman was somebody who was trained under a teacher for many, many years. He or she was then in service to the community. They acted sometimes as future tellers, therapist, healers and were valued as a force of community cohesion.
These days it might be easy to take some Amazon "medicine" or maybe doing a workshop to find your totem animal, but that does not make them a shaman. And again, combining this with Yoga does not make sense.
Even when we say Yoga, what do we mean?
"Yoga is the merging of the body, mind and soul” I often hear.
It is the merging of Atman and Brahman. The realization that you are not separate from existence, that the individual self IS the universal self. And then we read a lot about healing. Who does not want to be healed?
But Yoga is NOT about healing, it is about transcendence.
When we say Yoga in the West, we associate this with Hatha Yoga, a form of Karma Yoga that uses the physical form through asanas, kriyas and will power to prepare the mind for realization.
There are of course three other Yogas that form the foundation of Indian Yoga, Raja Yoga, Bhakti Yoga and Jnana Yoga.
If you don't mean that, or you not aiming towards that, just don't call it Yoga.
Keep it simple. That's all.
Hari Om Tat Sat