A prayer
May we gather in the space of clarity where the truth of all ways converge
May the Great Spirit guide us to see beyond the veil
Just as the roots of the forest join all the species into one eco-system
May compassionate understanding be felt as the roots that join our highest consciousness in unity
May peace prevail in our hearts, our minds, our relationships, environments and on earth forever

Authors note: While there are positive accounts of people who have consecutively used Kundalini Yoga and
Shamanic Plant Medicine, nonetheless, in the balance of things, it is the view of the author that
the simultaneous regular use of plant medicine and Kundalini Yoga is not to be recommended.

This is to be considered as the opinion and observation, of the author only, and not a scientifically researched or proven fact. It is however based on over 40 years of personal practice, along with teaching, training teachers, and counselling casualties of poorly mixed cocktails. Plus a decade prior to that of personal experience and experimentation with a wide variety of substances. Still, none of that automatically confers any authority upon the author or these words. It may be mentioned none the less, that there are also sufficient, serious and fatal first-hand testimonials that back the author’s view.

In case of further misunderstanding, evidenced by social media reactions to first editions of this article. I, the author, claim no moral authority, nor status of title, to state what I state. Neither I am a master yogi nor a master shaman. It is drawn from my own varied experience and observation, along with hearing (being a personal and professional witness to) wonderful and tragic accounts of others experience and the wisdom of timeless teachings found in different paths. All combined with my limited level of applied intelligence and spiritual common sense.

The reader is reminded that they are responsible for their own understanding, their own choices, and the consequences that follow. Do not assume that anything written in this article has any scientific or other supposedly solid source or basis of validation and verification.

The result being that I am not intending to tell anyone what to do or not to do. Nor in any way do I wish to exercise control over anyone’s life; their choices and their experience.

Any recommendation here is my own. (Take it as an expression of freedom of speech) take these words as food for thought but take responsibility for your own decisions and actions. If I would advise anything it would be to follow your heart more than your head (mind), more than the animal impulse from your lower chakras and more than the trends that influence social pressure.

This does not in any way imply that one may not enjoy, and benefit from, the simultaneous practice of Kundalini Yoga and some elements of Shamanic practices, in the broadest sense of the term.
Shamanic path and the use of plant medicines in relation to Kundalini Yoga

On the one hand your experience is your greatest teacher and many things have to be discovered on a ‘try it and see’ basis. On the other hand there are many examples in life where people have misinterpreted their experience. Resulting in either blocking off from enjoying a rich life. Or pushing their boundaries too far and either losing their life or being left with some combination of physical, emotional and mental trauma and instability that remains with them for the rest of their life.

  • Purpose of this document and some questions being addressed
  • Acknowledge and respect the common ground between the shamanic path and Kundalini Yoga. What is the relationship between yoga and shamanic practices and beliefs? How and where do these paths meet, or at least agree with each other, in a healthy manner?
  • Confirm that they are not antagonistic to one another. But also, not necessarily complimentary, or compatible, at every level. i.e. the mix can have its dangers. Can we walk the two paths in harmony? If so, then how? Is a yogi a shaman? Is a shaman a yogi? If so, then how is it so?
  • Identify the distinctions, or differences, and portray the contrast between the two paths. Where do these two paths differ and what is the implications?
  • Indicating the problems that arise in both paths when taken out of context. How misunderstanding and naïve enthusiasm of the heart and soul can lead to alienation and disharmony. What are the benefits and what are the cautions?
  • Clarify why the Regular use of addictive substances (drugs) and specifically plant medicines may not be compatible with the regular practice of Kundalini Yoga (KY).
  • Provide reference from Yogi Bhajan’s (YB) teachings to confirm the position that a KY practitioner and teacher should take on the above questions.
  • Conclude by briefly highlighting the place of Community and the ‘possible human’ as the true meeting ground of all ways.


To answer some of the above questions, we must define shamanism and Yoga clearly as possible. What we will find is that both paths have natural wisdom, beauty, essence, spirit and integrity in them.

Yet, in these times of change and spiritual awakening, there is equally much confusion and false representation of the two ways and their interaction with each other.

Definition of shaman- dictionary
1: a priest or priestess who uses magic for the purpose of curing the sick, divining the hidden, and controlling events.

First Known Use of shaman (Siberia)
1698, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Definition of shamanism
: a religion practiced by indigenous peoples of far northern Europe and Siberia that is characterized by belief in an unseen world of gods, demons, and ancestral spirits responsive only to the shamans.

These definitions can be transferred to practices of the witch doctors, magicians, and healers of indigenous communities all over the world. For example in South America, Aborigines, as well as the animism and voodoo of Africa.

Definition of yogi
1: a person who practices yoga
2 capitalized : an adherent of Yoga philosophy
3: a markedly reflective or mystical person

Definition of yoga
1 capitalized : a Hindu theistic philosophy
teaching the suppression of all activity of body, mind, and will in order that the self may realize its distinction from them and attain liberation
2: a system of physical postures, breathing
techniques, and sometimes meditation derived from Yoga but often practiced independently especially in Western cultures to promote physical and emotional well-being 



In the simplistic table that follows it will seem that the contrast is between yoga and shamanism.

In some aspects it is also a contrast between the orientation towards the higher world of non-incarnate spirit/s and the orientation towards the world of spirit/s inhabiting the natural world.

Some of the rows below will show some common ground while other rows show the difference.

The table further indicates some of the traps that can manifest on either pathway.

Shaman Yoga / Re-ligion
Prakirti. Kudrat. Shakti.
The Creation
Mother nature. Feminine.
Gaia. Pancha Mama
SPursha, Brahm. Shiva.
The Creator
Father sky. Masculine. Gobind
Sargun. All matter. Creator is in Creation
Nirgun. Formless Spirit. Creator beyond Creation.
Using the world. Calling on the Earth spirits Calling on The Spirit. Sky, heavens
Uses law of cause and effect for medicine or
Law of coming and going – dharma vehicle
Cause and effect can be karma – be careful
I am one with the Earth  I am a spirit passing through the earth

Shaman oriented to the world
The spirits which are nearby, animating

Relating to the world for healing, guidance,
health, balance, wisdom.
Learn from and obey the laws of nature.

Yoga oriented towards the heavens, the afterlife.
Dying to the world. Non-attachment. Unaffected
by the world and its polarities.

Relates to scripture for guidance.
Through KY to walk in the world as spirit. Bring
spirit to the world

Organic, plants
Shamans immersed in nature
Knowledge of the spirits of things
Yogis immersed in nature.
Knowledge of elements. Tattwas, gunas,
Devoted and acquainted with nature.
Skilled in use of natural outer world
Devoted and acquainted with The Spirit
Skilled in controlling inner world; tattwas, etc.
Communicate with spirits
Tends to be from lower/earthly realms
i.e. of animals and plants
Communicating with spirits
Of higher realms. Deities, angels, saints,
Playful, seductive
Merged with Creation
Free, independent, austere
Merging with the Creator
Sickness as an imbalance with nature and its
Sickness as an imbalance within. The doshas,
tattwas/elements, chakras, 10 spiritual bodies
Practiced by the shaman for the community.
Shaman as priest, healer, magician.
Administered to others by the shaman
on essential occasions (as needed)
Not a daily practice
Needs to be held is a sacred space
And under guidance of the shaman
Yoga can be practiced by all
Daily practice is recommended
Can be practiced at home without a guide
You are your own healer
– you must practice daily
The shaman lives apart from society KY is for the householder
Spirit all around – may forget self as spirit
attached to seeking spiritual experience
I am the spirit – forget the spirit all around
May generate dependence on the world
Identification and attachments
intensive farming….
Danger of disconnect from surroundings
Detached rather than non-attached
Taking plant medicines out of context
Without true guidance and lineage
Without full immersion with nature.
Without the lifestyle. Out of locality.
Plant medicine parties and holidays.
The medicine grows where it belongs.
Yoga in yoga studios – then where is nature?
Danger of seeing the world as something to avoid.
KY is not meant to be an abstraction from world.
KY is the yoga of crystallization not sublimation
KY is for the householder;
We are here to bring spirit into the world
Reliance on specific external and remote
substances to feel good, (even when natural) is
to admit defeat, e.g. sugar, coffee, tobacco,
ayahuasca, marijuana.
Attached to transcendent experience
Spiritual is to be out there, spaced out,
Shamanic traditions associated with a place
(space), ecosystem, lineage, harmony, culture.
Some teachings can be extracted and adapted to
other environments but something will be lost,
specially the safety, integrity, sacredness of the
Lost in making pilgrimages
cleansing baths and rituals
projecting God up in sky/heaven
or in deities (and no longer in self)
Buy a drum, a rattle, collect some feathers, burn
some herbs and make noises while dancing
round a fire….
Buy a yoga mat, nice music, incense, candle and
follow the DVD…

The soul is not sick but the body-mind goes out of balance within itself and in relation to the natural physical,
emotional, social, psycho-magnetic and spiritual environment. Therefore, there is medicine of multiple types
to address the imbalances. The Shamans and the yogis both propose to offer natural and magical ways to
resolve the disharmony and to reharmonize, with the earth, nature, the spirits, the gods and God.
Shamans and Yogis study, learn from, and obey the laws and wisdom of nature.

They both intend the best outcome for the human being. Health, prosperity, awakening, connection, unity,
etc. And the human being in community is the bridge/connection between all worlds.

We can even say that ceremony is a kriya and kriya is a ceremony.

Both are designed to align micro and macro systems, and the inner and outer worlds/realms.
Yet when kriya and ceremony are not well conducted and fully respected this leads to degradation of the
human being.

Many of the main shamanic traditions across the world have several factors in common. The Shaman sees
the Divine all around in the natural world and deeply interacts and relates to It, thus finding guidance and

The engagement with and the use of external forces is one of the main factors. Whether that be through
calling on spirits of animals, plants, ancestors, the elements.

The Shamanic practice therefore includes a number of supporting rituals, ceremonies, and the use of other
exterior agents such as the medicine man and the medicine plants, along with natural or man-made objects.
KY also recognises the creation as the body of the Creator and reminds us that ‘if you can’t see God in all
then you can’t see God at all.’ YB. However, its primary tool, or instrument, is the body-mind system.
Working with diet, postures, breath practices, internal focus or visualisations, and the chanting of mantras.
Modern western yogis need earthing and to relate more to the circularity of life through nature.
Modern western shamans need geometry, verticality, discipline, which yoga can offer.

Both need a broader perspective about nature, self and life in general.

Both need a lot more meditation to cultivate the possible human. (Sadhana, Sangat, Seva, Simran, Sacrifice).
If you want to experience the truth about (Kundalini) Yoga. Then you leave aside other things which will alter
your direct experience and fully immerse yourself in the practice, philosophy and associated lifestyle.
If you really want to have the shaman experience. Then leave aside practices which are not originating from
those indigenous communities and fully immerse yourself in the natural world and all the practices and
ceremonies that go with it. Go beyond being just a tourist either of the Yoga Shows or the Shaman’s forest.

Nature, Mother Nature; the medicine and poison She provides:

Human is not inadequate. Food and medicine, in the form of all parts of plants are all around the garden of
Eden where we have been placed. We are meant to know our neighbours of the different planes of
existence and enjoy their interaction with us.

Human is endowed with all god’s qualities, i.e. not a victim, limited, incapable, dependent on any one
external substance, element, or person to feel and exercise goodness and majesty.

All elements – earth, water, air, fire and ether – as in stone, rivers, weather, plants and animals can provide
information and connection. Along with the time cycles of the breath, the day and night, the moon, the
seasons, the planets, and more.
All plants are medicinal and sacred like all races and all species. Yet with the combination of urbanization,
industrialization, materialism, the oppression of women, and religions that tend to emphasize a God that is
only a transcendent and distant male being, we have lost our innate acquaintance with Nature; with the
wisdom which plants surrounding us reveal and the gifts they provide. This limitation is a handicap of our
culture and the source of feelings such as alienation and disconnection. Consequently, the results a
desperate search for connection and a wide variety of methods to either numb that longing, give it quick
fixes (temporary satisfaction), and to compensate with equally imbalanced ways to excite and stimulate. This
goes along with excesses of what is available, artificial production of what could have been natural medicine,
abuses of medication, and abuses of natural substances.

Furthermore we consume a minute percentage of what is edible around us.
In ecological, macrobiotic and ayurvedic terms (to mention just a few examples of well-known sciences)
what is local and seasonal is what will sustain the creatures (including humans) of anyone place. And every
plant there could be a medicine to one person and a poison to another.
It is a matter of identifying the right potency, method, and frequency of use of plants according to the
condition of the individual.

There is no argument or line of thinking that can become a standard prescription for all. In Ayurveda, as in
naturopathy, there is an assessment of the individual constitution and circumstance and then the
appropriate guidelines are given for diet and the use of any specific herbs.

We are not of the earth. We are passing through; guests. We are grateful to Nature and we treat It/Her with
due respect. We are spirits here for the human experience. And this is most fully realised by our engagement
with other human beings. Open, honest, present, without being distorted by the misuse of any substances.

The heart itself, and human community is the optimum bridge between heaven and earth.
It is not authentic to only call some plants medicine when in fact all plants are medicine.
It is not authentic to only call some plants sacred when in fact all plants are sacred.
It is not authentic to call some plants magical when in fact all of nature is magical.

And, being sacred, magical and medicinal, plants should be treated with respect and care.

This world, of earth, water, fire, air, and all its plant and animal species is not imaginary. To call it so is an
insult to the Creator. But it is also a temporary location of our spirit. When we die our body will return to the
earth while our spirit will return to the domain of Spirit. In other words, earth is not a place to over identity
with and thus become attached to. Simply respect and enjoy and leave the earth a better place.