If you want to achieve spiritual awakening, doing yoga is one of the best ways to do so. Not only is it good for your body and mind – but it’s also good for your spirit.
With yoga, you can fully understand your existence and return home to your ‘original spirit’ (as Taoists call it.)
But how, you ask? Through these 11 ways, say experts.
1) Yoga helps you ‘detach’
Humans are naturally egotistic.
“The ego adopts things you like and don’t like, as well as convictions that separate what’s good and what’s evil.
Instead of going beyond your ego, your Spirit becomes trapped and dormant as the ego takes the reins,” explains Lachlan Brown, HackSpirit founder.
And while your spirit often has no choice but to coexist with your ego, yoga can help you detach and achieve enlightenment.
After all, one of its core principles is vairagya – or the silencing of the ego and the mind.
With the help of vairagya, you’ll find it easier to let go of your pride, fears, and even your material desires.
Simply put, spiritual awakening is impossible without the vairagya, for it brings you one step closer to self-realization and actualization.
‘Detaching’ with the Padmasana
The best way to achieve vairagya is to do the Padmasana, also known as the lotus pose.
Similar to how lotus petals repel water, doing the Padmasana can help you stay away from material attachments.
And while the lotus thrives in muddy water, only its beautiful flowers can be seen above the surface.
The same can be said of the Padmasana practitioner. While you may have been engaged in ‘muddy’ worldly pleasures, detaching yourself can help you see the beauty of the divine.
And in order to achieve this, all you need to do is:
- Sit on the floor with your knees extended.
- Bend your right knee towards your chest.
- Bend your left knee. Make sure that both soles face the sky.
- Rest your hands on your knees.
- Do the gyan mudra by creating a circle with your thumb and index finger.
- Hold the pose for up to one minute or longer as needed.
2) Yoga helps cure spiritual ignorance
Spiritual ignorance – or avidya – is just one of the reasons why many people fail to reach enlightenment. After all, this ignorance of the divine (or the spirit) prevents you from taking an immersive spiritual journey.
Vanquishing spiritual ignorance with the Virabhadrasana
Also known as the warrior pose, the Virabhadrasana can help you overcome ignorance by improving your focus and determination.
Think of it this way: a spiritual warrior fights the ignorance that gets in the way of truth. And, with this pose, you get to look deep within yourself and unlock your true nature.
Furthermore, you get to develop the strength to go forth with your spiritual journey.
To be this type of spiritual warrior, you have to:
- Step your right foot forward, keeping your toes in line with your fingertips.
- Bend your front knee 90 degrees. This should keep your thigh parallel to the floor and your knee above your ankle.
- Align your left heel with the right heel.
- Press your left thigh bone to keep your left knee straight.
- Inhale and reach up with your arms.
- Hold for 5-10 breaths before releasing your hands to the floor.
3) Yoga helps you ‘surrender’
Spiritual awakening is all about surrendering yourself and saying no to your selfish desires. By doing so, you’ll enjoy a broader perspective in life that’ll help you achieve enlightenment quickly.
The good news is that with yoga, you learn (among many other things) the beauty of surrender. And this doesn’t necessarily mean giving in to external forces, for it could be as simple as acknowledging your own divinity and spirituality.
Surrendering with the Balasana
The child’s pose or Balasana is the best way to learn the beauty of surrender.
True to its name, it can make you feel reassured – even if you’re not doing anything – just like a child! After all, it helps you rest and relax – thus allowing your mind and body to integrate.
To do the Balasana, you need to:
- Kneel on the floor and sit on your heels.
- Bend forward, ensuring your torso is between your thighs as you exhale.
- Stretch your tailbone as you lift the base of your head away from your neck.
- Stretch your arms while keeping them aligned with your knees.
- Stay in this pose for 30 seconds to a few minutes, if you want.
4) Yoga helps you concentrate
If your mind is all over the place, you’ll find it harder to achieve enlightenment. That’s because you’re thinking of too many things instead of just focusing on your path towards spiritual awakening.
The beauty of yoga is that it can help you concentrate – and focus on your spirit more. In fact, a report has shown that “yoga can shift attention, allowing you to better focus on purposeful tasks.”
More importantly, it can help you concentrate quickly.
“In just 10 minutes of meditation via yoga, researchers found that stress levels were reduced and focus was drastically increased in anxious individuals,” adds the report.
Improving your concentration with the Natrajasana
The dance pose can help you concentrate – so that you can focus on the spiritual path right ahead of you.
Best done during early mornings – on an empty stomach – it can help improve your endurance (as well as your blood circulation.)
To do the Natrajasana, you first need to start with the Tadasana or mountain pose. Next, put your right leg on the ground.
Bend your left leg, making sure it’s pushed towards the back.
Meanwhile, make sure to hold your left foot with your left hand.
Slowly extend your right arm, holding the pose and balancing yourself for at least 15-30 seconds.
5) Yoga strengthens your willpower
Achieving spiritual awakening is virtually impossible if you don’t have the willpower. According to Gyandev McCord, author of Spiritual Yoga, Awakening to Higher Awareness, this is simply your “ability to direct energy to achieve a desired goal.”
In other words, if you don’t have the intention (will) and the action (power) to undergo a spiritual awakening, it wouldn’t happen.
Strengthening your willpower with a semi-squat
To help boost your willpower, McCord recommends a semi-squatting pose. It’s not unlike any simple pose, though, for you need to:
- Stand up and rest your weight on the balls of your feet.
- Extend your arms horizontally in front of you. Keep the palms facing up.
- Bend your knees and assume a semi-squatting position (it’s as if you’re sitting on a stool.)
- Make sure your torso is vertical and tilted from the hips.
- Hold this position and breathe naturally.
So how does this help build your willpower? According to McCord, it’s a matter of practicing ‘willingness.’ Whenever you feel tired in this position, you must tune your mind to be incredibly enthusiastic about what you’re doing.
Perhaps, you may end up holding the position for longer than you intended!
6) Yoga helps you visualize
Visualization is crucial for spiritual enlightenment. In a nutshell, it allows you to imagine what you want to achieve – as if you have the power to do it today.
It can help enlighten your spirit because it “directs your subconscious to be aware of the end goal you have in mind” consistently.
Visualizing better with Yoga Nidra
While you can visualize with every yoga pose, Dr. Timothy McCall of the Yoga Journal strongly recommends Yoga Nidra.
“In this technique, a teacher (or the recorded voice of one) takes you through a wide range of images while you lie supine in Savasana (Corpse Pose).”
Best of all, “Adding a few visualizations during final relaxation can help keep you from getting lost in your thoughts.”
7) Yoga keeps you devoted
Devotion is defined as enthusiasm for a specific activity or cause. Without this, your journey towards spiritual awakening is likely to fail.
Yoga can help you achieve this spiritual devotion, for it is the aim – and the very end – of yoga.
As McCord explains it:
“Devotion is not sentiment or wishful thinking; it’s your hunger for truth, your heartfelt commitment to your highest aspirations, the vital fuel for your inner growth. Devotion is your spiritual want-power, and like all desire, it’s centered in the heart. Devotion will sweeten your spiritual life and help your energy and awareness rise naturally.”
Cultivating devotion with Bhakti yoga
Bhakti yoga is the path of devotion, which, unsurprisingly, will help you build your spiritual commitment. According to popular beliefs, this can help you achieve moksha or salvation in Hinduism.
Unlike the other practices in this list, Bhakti yoga doesn’t require you to do poses. Instead, it asks you to cultivate a ‘spirit of unconditional love.’
You can do this through devotional chanting, reciting mantras, or directing ‘unconditional love’ to all creation. At the end of the day, it can make you feel more love, gratitude, and an overwhelming sense of bliss.
8) Yoga makes you more intuitive
Intuition is a gut feeling, an instinct, if you will. And although it seems to be drawn from thin air, it’s something that helps awaken your spirit.
“Your intuition holds the key to discovering this purpose within you… As you follow your intuition you eventually come to realize that you are a spiritual being having an experience of being human and living in a body.” explains medium Angela Artemis.
That’s because “Your intuition is guidance that comes directly from your higher self or as some prefer to call it the Soul. It speaks to you constantly whether you hear it or not. It is always trying to move you in the direction of your highest good by pushing you toward growth so that you can live the bigger life you dream of.”
Enhancing your intuition with the Eka Pada Rajakapotasana
The Eka Pada Rajakapotasana is a hip-opening forward bend commonly known as the pigeon pose. It helps stretch your thighs, groin, and back, among many other places.
And while this stretching seems not to affect your intuition, it does.
“Stretch’s effects may be similar, especially when linked to breathing. The very relief of muscular tension convinces your mind that it can safely relax…When you smile or tie yourself into a yoga pose, the body is, in effect, taking control of the brain. It is now the boss, telling the mind how to feel.”
To improve your intuition through the pigeon pose, start by bringing one shin down on the mat. Make sure to keep the other back leg extended behind. Hold the pose for 10 seconds before switching sides.
9) Yoga keeps you positive
It’s always good to think positively, especially when it comes to your spirituality. As McCord explains, “It has spiritual value as another super-tool for lifting energy and consciousness, and for countering downward pulls.”
This is especially crucial for “someone who has been in the darkness of cynicism, depression, self-hatred, and so on,” affirms author Jim Tolles.
He believes positive thinking can be “a light to help see a little more of the joy of life can be exceedingly helpful.”
It can also help “a person expand their perspective beyond the narrow confines of the sick ego that only says painful things happen in life.”
Boosting your positive thoughts with the Urdhva Dhanurasana
As a backbend pose, the wheel pose can help flood your system with endorphins or feel-good chemicals.
To get this immediate boost of happy hormones, all you have to do is:
- Lie on your back and bend your knees. Bring your soles close to your buttocks.
- Bend your elbows. Bring the palms overhead and place them underneath your shoulders.
- Inhale. Press your palms and feet down while lifting your shoulders and hips.
- Place your head towards the mat while using your arms and legs for leverage.
- Straighten your arms while keeping your knees in line and your feet parallel to the floor.
- Reach your chest towards the wall and straighten your legs.
10) Yoga strengthens the mind, energy, and body
Your mind causes movements (or disruptions) of energies within your body. These, in turn, affect your body physically.
If you’re lethargic, for example, energy flows away from the brain. Physically, this may translate as a slumped body posture.
But if you’re happy, more energy flows towards the brain. This often manifests as a straight, proud posture.
It’s as if your body is saying, “I’m on cloud nine!”
And since the mind always affects your energy and body, strengthening these three aspects is crucial for your spiritual awakening.
As mentioned, positive thinking is excellent for enlightenment – especially for those feeling depression or cynicism, as well as other ‘negative’ emotions.
Nourishing the mind (and body) with the Halasana
The plow pose is not only good for the mind, but it’s beneficial for the body too.
For starters, it calms the brain and minimizes stress. On top of that, it can improve your posture by easing back strain.
To do the Halasana easily, you need to exhale as you raise both of your legs upwards beyond your head. Fashion them in a semicircular fashion, making sure your body is well-supported by your hands.
Try to maintain this pose for six seconds, with your breath suspended as you do so.
11) Yoga ‘opens’ the heart chakra
Yoga undoubtedly strengthens the mind and the body. But unbeknownst to many, it also opens the heart, which is essential to the awakening process.
As McCord explains:
“The heart is vital, for it guides the process of spiritual unfoldment from beginning to end. The heart is the source of all desire, and spiritual growth begins with the desire for true happiness. The heart is also the seat of intuitive perception, through which you will experience the final fulfillment: realization of the Self.”
Opening the heart – through yoga – is essential for “the heart also presents the biggest spiritual obstacles, for it’s the seat of emotion, attachment, and desires for self-gratification. These tendencies agitate the heart, disrupting our intuitive perception.”
And, as mentioned, intuition is just as crucial for it’ll “move you in the direction of your highest good.”
Opening the heart chakra with the Salamba Bhujangasana
The sphinx pose is one of the many asanas that best open the heart chakra. Doing this can help you give love – as well as understand and meet your spiritual needs.
At the end of the day, it can help you better accept your emotions – and fight the need to repress them.
To open your heart chakra like a ‘sphinx,’ you need to:
- Lie on your belly and bring your elbows underneath your shoulders.
- Relax your shoulders away from your ears.
- Let your shoulder blades slide down (this will make you feel some chest lift.)
- Guide your breath towards your tummy and lower back area.
Yoga is an ancient practice that is beneficial not only for the mind and the body but for the spirit as well. It can help you achieve the spiritual nirvana you’ve always dreamed of by helping you detach, surrender, and visualize, among many other things.
As with most things, repetition is vital. Doing the yoga poses above regularly may help hasten your long-winding enlightenment journey.