YOGA-ARTICLE: Ritual in yoga

Most of a person’s life consists of various unconscious actions. When we embark on the path of Yoga, on the path of knowledge of ourselves and the Universe, we gradually begin to act more consciously. However, we often encounter obstacles on the path. To overcome them, we use various methods and techniques, including rituals. What is meant by a ritual in Yoga? What are the types of rituals? How do they help us in Yoga practice?

General ideas or myth about the ritual

When people hear the word “ritual”, many of them have a rather gloomy and mystical picture:

  • a cruel ceremony that involves violence and bloodshed;
  • witchcraft that cannot be explained;
  • secret practices for the chosen.

Such ideas exist because of the substitution of concepts. Often, immoral and illogical actions were committed under the concept of “ritual”, which in fact had nothing to do with it.

What is ritual in yoga?

Yoga is a very kind and logical system of self-exploration. It helps to make our life conscious, as a result of which we gain the ability to control all our manifestations: the body, thoughts and emotions. Yoga begins with the observance of three main principles. The first principle of non-violence teaches us to be kind and remember our duty. The second principle of efficiency teaches us to be consistent and remain as conscious as possible in our actions. The third principle of Yoga encourages us to take an active position, to change ourselves and the world for the better by giving up suffering.

Any Yoga practice is based on these three principles, including ritual. Therefore, a technique or ritual in Yoga is a conscious action or a sequential series of actions that allow you to create the right mood for practice and increase involvement in the process in the kindest and safest way.

Rituals in everyday life

If we strive for a conscious life, then we probably used special techniques to tune in to do something. Moreover, in most cases, this is a purely personal series of actions that helps to calm thoughts and switch to the upcoming work or rest. For some, it may be listening to music or walking, for others, counting to themselves will be enough to collect thoughts.

Variety of rituals

Techniques do not have to be accompanied by a colorful atmosphere. There are quite simple, but effective rituals. For example, washing ritual before practice, when the practitioner takes water procedures before the start of the practice. It’s no secret that after a shower we feel more energized and clearer, even if it was a hard day before. Such a simple technique will help create the right mind and body mood before practice.

There are rituals that, using various attributes: incense, certain music and images, create the right atmosphere and involve as much of our sensations as possible in order to completely immerse us in the practice. Such rituals require more preparatory effort and time. A person living in society is unlikely to be able to do them often.

Rituals can be performed with like-minded people or one-on-one with the Universe, they may or may not have attributes. The main thing is that the ritual helps us to create the right mindset and get better involved in the practice.

The positive effects of the ritual

  • Time limits for practice are clearly defined

This is especially important for yoga beginners who are not yet established in practice. Each practice should have three stages: the beginning of the practice, the practice itself and the end of the practice. If the boundaries between these three stages are blurred, we can transfer part of our ordinary life to yoga practice and vice versa, creating confusion. This will be an extra obstacle on the way. 

  • Appropriate associative links are strengthened and inappropriate ones are weakened

We all have ideas about ourselves and the world. Performing the ritual will help redirect our attention from outdated and unnecessary ideas and imbue with the necessary associative links that will help us in the process of self-knowledge.

  • Increasing involvement in the practice

A good mindset will help us focus better on our inner feelings during practice, making it more effective.

How to choose a ritual?

  • Intuition

It is important that the ritual itself and the images or attributes used in it do not cause feelings of rejection in us. Some people like certain things, others may dislike the same things. Therefore, everyone chooses a ritual intuitively for themselves.

  • Time

Here we are talking about both the time spent on the ritual, and the time of the day, month or year suitable for performing the ritual. In the first case, it is good to ask yourself the question: “Do I have enough time to perform a particular ritual?” In the second case, the question to yourself may sound like this: “Is now the right time to perform this particular ritual?”

  • Place

It is necessary to choose a place where we will not disturb anyone and where no one will disturb us. Some rituals are easy and simple to perform at home while some other rituals are better performed in nature. If the ritual involves the use of fire, all precautions must be observed.

  • Environment

If we want to perform the ritual with someone else, then it is important that these are like-minded people, but not some random people. Any involvement of random Consciousness in practice may not affect it in the best way. In addition, if we want to perform a ritual with a person who has nothing to do with Yoga, the person may perceive something wrong. All responsibility for the consequences of untimely knowledge received by the person will be on us.

Responsible implementation of instructions 

If you decide to perform a technique that already has instructions, then it is necessary to strictly follow it. It is advisable to familiarize yourself with all the instructions in advance so that you can carefully prepare for the ritual.

Understanding a ritual as a cruel, magical and illogical act, in fact, has nothing to do with it. It should be remembered that the techniques or rituals in Yoga are an auxiliary tool that helps us remove obstacles on the path of self-knowledge. There are many different rituals. We can use them in everyday life in order to tune in to doing something. Intuitively choose the ritual that suits you. Consider time, place and environment. Follow the instructions. It does not matter whether the ritual is complex or very simple. The main thing is that the ritual helps us to get involved in the practice as much as possible.

Be mindful in all areas of life! 

Author: Yulia Valevskaya

Editors: Eva Rati, Mirra, Olga Belous, Inna Shakti

Project curator: Kerigona

Translated by: Ekaterina Daya, Avlaada