Sunday, January 11, 2009

Working out with the Orishas

Well, it’s the New Year which means our gym is once again flooded with out of shape people who have made their New Year’s resolution to lose weight or get into shape. We’ve been going to our gym for several years now and we’ve gotten used to the “newbie season.” Most (but not all) of these folks will come to the gym for a few weeks and then we won’t see them again until next year. It’s a shame that not more folks stick with it. As I was sitting in my gym yesterday watching the newbie show, I got to thinking about exercise and spiritual paths.

I’ve read several books that talked about how a person on a spiritual path should spend at least a year taking some sort of martial art or yoga. I am a big fan of physical activity. I also believe that our bodies are physical channels to the spiritual plane and if your channel is clogged from junk food, drugs/alcohol, lack of exercise, etc., it makes it much harder for that channel to operate. However, making a blanket statement that only martial arts or yoga has a spiritual value is kinda stupid.

My husband is a child of Ogoun, the Orisha of iron. My husband loves to pump iron. He loves the feel and smell of the iron weights. The free weight section of our gym has become a sort of temple of worship for him. He’s not really interested in taking martial arts and I got a real dirty look when I invited him to my yoga class but he’s almost giddy sometimes when he heads to his free weight room.

My point here is this, the Orishas are going to respond to different forms of exercise. When I am in my yoga class I can feel Oya with me. I believe she also likes aerobics and the kickboxing classes. Oshun likes those exercise/dance classes. Our gym has one that’s based on some very sexy form of dancing and that is so up Oshun’s alley. Both Oshun and Yemaya like the pool. I would expect to find Yemaya in the water aerobics classes. My gym, like many others, have special classes for seniors. Nana Buruku can probably be found in one of those.

I personally have also caught site of Chango at our gym. He will spend time in the free weight room (especially in front of the mirror) but I have also spotted him following the ladies around on the machines. I would almost bet a paycheck that the best place to find Ellegua in the gym is the ladies locker room! Ellegua is very fast so he’s probably a runner.

Not all of the Orishas are going to be comfortable in the gym. As a general rule, all of the Orishas love the great outdoors but Obatala and Ochosi are going to be much at home in the wilderness than the gym. Obatala loves to hike in nature. He prefers the woods but the desert is good also. Ochosi is quite shy and likes to run so I picture him as one of those long distance runners or bicyclists.

I think sticking to a physical fitness routine (whatever it is) for a year (or hopefully longer) is a great personal goal regardless of whether or not it has spiritual implications for you. If you are spiritually minded, adding physical exercise that enriches your body and soul will add even more benefit to your life. If you are on a tight budget and paying for a gym is out of the question, just getting some quality time outdoors will be a huge benefit to you and perhaps give you a peaceful moment to commune with the higher powers.