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7 Great Strategies for Reading Yoga Wisdom Texts

You’ve probably had students ask you which translation of the Yoga Sutras or the Bhagavad Gita you think they should read. It’s great when our students want to explore yoga’s philosophical foundations. But it’s disheartening if we hear later that they stopped reading because they couldn’t get past the first chapter without feeling lost. Reading translations of ancient Sanskrit texts requires some guidance, determination, and persistence, especially when the translations are accompanied by lengthy commentaries, […]

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Why Does ‘Bhakti’ Mean Different Things to Different People?

Question: In the course of studying yoga and visiting different spiritual communities, I’ve come to find that there are a lot of different conceptions of what bhakti-yoga is and what bhakti is meant to teach us. Would you please explain why these differences exist and what those differences are? Answer: Bhakti does indeed play different roles in different schools of yoga, according to each school’s conception of what bhakti’s place is relative to the ultimate

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5 Keys to an Effective Dharma Talk

More and more practitioners are looking to yoga as much for sparks of inspiration, knowledge, or wisdom, as they are for a workout. And more and more yoga teachers are feeling inspired to share their personal realizations as they expand their knowledge of yoga philosophy. One way you can share the wisdom of yoga is through a short ‘Dharma Talk’ at the top of your class. I come from a bhakti-yoga tradition where daily talks

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Can ‘Yoga’ Mean Whatever We Want It To Mean?

 Question: I’m enrolled in a Yoga Teacher Training program. On the first day of the training the instructor asked us to share our idea of what ‘yoga’ meant to us. Everyone had their own idea about what ‘yoga’ is and what it means to them. At the end of the discussion the trainer said, ‘whatever yoga means to you is perfect’. We all have our own experience of yoga and every book about yoga seems

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Civility and Humility

What happened to civility? One could of course argue that the world has always been a very uncivil place – particularly for people outside the dominant power structure – but I think most of us would agree that rampant public incivility has become the new normal. Perhaps it’s because this behavior is socially contagious; if not confronted by corrective feedback or consequences, incivility tends to be repeated and spread to others. It’s a constant upping

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How to Teach ‘Svadhyaya’ – Guided Self-Inquiry

Svadhaya, usually translated as ‘self-study’, is contemplation on the true nature of the self that’s guided by scriptural wisdom. Rather than mere speculation or self-psychologizing, svadhyaya is a process that provides us with a map to guide us on our journey toward accurate knowledge of our true selves. Pramana is the Sanskrit word for the methods by which accurate information about the nature of reality may be obtained. In his Yoga-sutras, Patanjali prescribes three such

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