For yoga teachers who want to gain a higher level of knowledge about the original wisdom texts of yoga, acquire a deeper understanding of why these teachings still matter, and learn simple techniques for bringing these teachings into classes and workshops. This short course includes an overview of essential concepts, Sanskrit terminology, and categories of knowledge in the Vedic tradition.
Here’s how the course is organized:
Yoga-sutras, Part 1: Conceptions of Identity in Yoga Philosophy – covers the psychology of yoga in terms of spiritual identity and material mis-identity. Includes a detailed description of the three qualities of material nature, impressions on the mind, and the essential tension between modern western culture and traditional yoga philosophy.
Yoga-sutras, Part 2: Yoga as a Moral Philosophy – covers the values, ethical imperatives, and moral actions associated with living a yogic lifestyle as well as the relationship of morality to the acquisition of knowledge.
Keys to Understanding the Bhagavad-gita – includes a summary of the back-story of the Gita, the literary structure of the Gita, the five topics of the Gita, an overview of the four systems of yoga described in the Gita (karma-yoga, astanga-yoga, bhakti-yoga, and jnana-yoga), and the Gita’s hierarchical conception of reality.
Life Lessons from the Bhagavad-gita – Includes key verses and passages that offer specific insights into Arjuna’s moral dilemma, our own personal challenges, applying yogic values to social issues, how navigate relationships, and living a purpose-driven life.
The Perfection of Yoga – Covers the central position of devotion in both the Yoga-sutras and the Bhagavad-gita, why devotion is the indispensable element for the success of any system of yoga, and how Bhakti-yoga incorporates and subsumes all of the other methods of yoga. Includes discussions on the definition and attributes of Isvara, the concept of Krishna, spiritual plurality and inclusion, and the intersection of yoga and religion.
Participants will gain a comprehensive understanding of the ancient philosophical foundation upon which modern yoga stands.
**This is a component of Faith Hunter’s 300hr Yoga Teacher Training Program.**
Investment: $525 or $475 (early bird by June 28)
But the Gita is more than just philosophy: it’s a non-sectarian blend of science and spirituality that can help guide us through the tricky intersection of yoga and religion as well as a treatise on spiritual sociology that offers a practical guide for engaging with the world as a way to transcend the world.
This workshop is for both yoga teachers and practitioners who want to learn how to enter into the mysteries of the Gita’s teachings. You’ll learn:
- How to recognize the over-arching theme of the Bhagavad-gita and how this theme provides a context for understanding the Gita as a whole.
- How to recognize the three key relationships in the Bhagavad-gita and why understanding these relationships is essential to understanding the Gita’s philosophical conclusion
- How to recognize the three hierarchical levels of reality that the Gita describes and how to follow the dialog as it moves from one level to another
- How to resolve the apparent contradiction between Krishna’s advocacy of non-violence and his insistence that Arjuna should fight.
- How entering into the worldview of the Gita differs from looking at the Gita through the lens of the modern world.
PLUS: tools for getting more out of your own Gita studies
Participants will gain a deeper understanding of the basic principles of traditional yoga philosophy, a deeper appreciation for the relevance of the Gita’s ancient wisdom to life in the modern world, and a higher level of confidence in your ability to access and articulate the secrets of yoga that the Gita contains.
Yoga Alliance CE credits are available for yoga teachers.
Two things differentiate yogic meditation from mindfulness meditation: an emphasis on a transcendental object of meditation, such as a mantra, that has the power to elevate consciousness and a systematic approach to concentration and contemplation on objects of meditation that brings one to the state of spontaneous absorption in a trance of self-realization. This workshop is an experiential presentation of techniques of yogic meditation for yoga teachers who want to introduce both individual and guided meditation (Yoga Nidra) into their classes and workshops and for serious practitioners who want to expand their knowledge of yogic meditation and deepen their experience of meditation as an integral part of their yoga practice.
Well, that was intense… and scary and strange and tragic and wonderful – so long, 2019!
It’s natural to look back at the end of the year and reflect on what we’ve done before we look ahead to what we hope to do.
Personally, my tendency is to think more about what remains to be done rather than about what I’ve accomplished. I find it easy to forget that each step before the final step is what makes the final step possible.
But when I looked back at my 2019 calendar it showed me how many steps I’d taken: how many classes I’d taught, things I’d learned, milestones I’d reached, people I had a positive influence on, and people who positively influenced me.
Have you looked back through your 2019 calendar yet? If not, check it out – you might be amazed at what you accomplished, what you survived, whom you helped, and who helped you.
So now that I feel a little better about how last year went I’m ready to look ahead to 2020. And whatever intention I set or goals I have, if I can remember three things throughout the year then there’s a good chance I’ll be able to feel good about how things go.
The first thing I want to remember is that I am very small and my time is very short so I should use the time that I have to cultivate a sense of humility in recognition of my actual position as an infinitesimal part of an infinite reality.
The second thing I want to remember is that commitment to the process without attachment to the results is the real key to success. In yoga, the endeavor is the perfection.
The third thing I want to remember is that I’m not doing anything.
The Sanskrit word ‘ahaṅkāra,’ usually translated as ‘ego’, is more accurately understood to mean a ‘false ego’ in juxtaposition to one’s ‘true ego.’
Ahaṅkāra is the element of material nature that binds us to a conception of identity that’s based on what kind of body we have or what our karmic circumstances are. You could say that my ahaṅkāra is my conception of myself as a white, middle-aged American man. This, of course, is a temporary material condition and therefore ‘false’ in the sense that it’s not my eternal spiritual condition.
The word ahaṅkāra is actually a compound word that we can gain an even deeper appreciation of when we look at the two words that form it: aham, meaning ‘I,’ and kāra, meaning ‘doing.’ Together, they form a word that’s most accurately translated as ‘I am doing’ or ‘I, the doer.’
The false ego is the condition of thinking ‘I am the one who is making things happen.’ And this certainly appears to be the case; it looks to me as if I’m the one who’s thinking these thoughts, typing these words, scheduling this email; that I’m the doer who hits ‘send.’
And yet, however it may appear to us, yoga philosophy tells us otherwise:
prakṛteḥ kriyamāṇāni – guṇaiḥ karmāṇi sarvaśaḥ /
ahaṅkāra-vimūḍhātmā – kartāham iti manyate //
“One who is bewildered by the influence of false ego thinks, ‘I am the doer of activities.’ In actuality, all activities are carried out by the three qualities of material nature.” – Bhagavad-gita 3.27
If all of my efforts to move the universe into alignment with my desires are illusory then I have to say that it’s a pretty convincing illusion. I’d certainly like to believe that I’m making things happen, that I’m the doer, that I have some control over my destiny.
The Sanskrit word for ‘controller’ is Īśvara, which is also defined as ‘Lord, master, or ruler; one having the potency to perform actions.’ The compound word yogeśvarā means ‘the masterful performer of yoga.’
We would like to think that we have the potency to perform actions that will move the universe into alignment with our desires. It looks like that’s what we’re doing. But we’re very small and the universe is very big and what we’re really doing is responding to the universe as best we can within the limitations of the qualities of material nature that bind us to a conception of identity that’s based on what kind of body we have or what our karmic circumstances are.
In other words, our true identity is that of one who is controlled, not the one who controls.
This can be a little disconcerting at first.
So if we’re not the controllers of material nature then who is?
ajo ’pi sann avyayātmā – bhūtānām īśvaro ’pi san /
prakṛtiṁ svām adhiṣṭhāya – sambhavāmy ātma-māyayā //
“Although I am, by my very nature, unborn, imperishable, and the Lord of all living entities, I appear in every millennium by my own inner power, standing within and yet presiding over my material energy.” – Bhagavad-gita 4.6
Krishna, the speaker of the Bhagavad-gita (who is also known as Yogeśvarā) seems to be claiming dibs on being the controller of the material energy that’s controlling us.
How does this information help me? It’s totally liberating! It takes a huge burden off of my shoulders because I can stop trying to move the universe into alignment with my desires!
And you can, too!
yadṛcchā-lābha-santuṣṭo – dvandvātīto vimatsaraḥ /
samaḥ siddhāv asiddhau ca – kṛtvāpi na nibadhyate //
“Content with gain that comes of its own accord, unperturbed by duality or envy, accepting both success and failure with a steady mind – such a person is never entangled by reactions to the actions they perform.” – Bhagavad-gita 4.22
So the pressure’s off: I can go about my business fully invested in the process without attachment to the results. And since fine-tuning and focusing on my process is one of my New Year’s resolutions, this looks like a total win-win for me.
How about you? What are the principles that will guide you in 2020? It’s not a rhetorical question: please leave a comment and let me know.
Happy New Year,
Set in a narrative framework of a dialogue between the warrior, Arjuna, and his friend and charioteer Krishna, the Bhagavad-gita is the most essential wisdom text of yoga. The objective of this weekend immersion is to provide yoga teachers and serious students with insights into how to hear the Gita’s message and recreate Arjuna’s revelatory experience in our own lives.
- The backstory of the Bhagavad-gita
- How to identify the principle topics of the Bhagavad-gita
- How to follow the dialog
- Conceptions of identity and relationships
- Karma, samsara, and liberation
- The conception of the Supreme Person in the Bhagavad-gita
- Ethics and violence in the Bhagavad-gita
- Navigating translations, interpretations, and cultural frames of reference
- How to chant the Gita’s Sanskrit verses
- 8 life lessons from the Bhagavad-gita
Somehow or other, Arjuna has become entangled in a complex web of duplicity and intrigue that’s about to culminate in a devastating war. Faced with many of the emotions and problems that we encounter every day, Arjuna turns to Krishna for guidance. Through lecture, discussion, and experiential learning exercises, we’ll explore the wisdom of Krishna’s teachings in the Gita, discuss strategies for accessing transcendental knowledge, and see how we can practically apply these ancient teachings to our lives in the modern world.
This Weekend Immersion is open to both seasoned and novice teachers, serious yoga practitioners, and anyone interested in learning more about the implications and applications of traditional yoga philosophy.
$250 for weekend, $195 for Sol members and recent alumni.
**12.5 CEU’s available for yoga teachers.
During a recent visit with my in-laws down in Southern Virginia, we drove out to Poplar Forest, Thomas Jefferson’s retreat home. Built as a perfect, single-story octagon with four elongated octagons set around an almost-perfect cube, Jefferson designed this architectural and engineering masterpiece to be his getaway from the hubbub of public life.
Every year on the Fourth of July, Americans remember Jefferson and others who co-authored a document that boldly declares:
“We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
Most of us in America are familiar with this passage from the Declaration of Independence – having heard it so many times in our grade-school social studies classes. What we aren’t as familiar with is why Jefferson thought that these truths were “self-evident” and where they came from in the first place.
A ‘self-evident’ truth is a truth that proves itself without need of further validation. In other words, it’s so obviously true only a fool or someone who’s willfully ignorant would contest it.
And as far as America’s premiere expression of enlightened thinking is concerned, our equality is not just true; it’s so true as to be ‘self-evident’.
However, all varieties of objective measurement clearly demonstrate that we are not equal: some people are faster than others; some are stronger than others, some are more attractive, more artistic, better at making money, better at math, better at cooking or flower arranging and so on. The world is awash with contests and comparisons large and small that clearly demonstrate to even the most casual observer that inequality is a self-evident truth.
So how is it that America’s founding fathers thought otherwise?
It’s because the equality to which Jefferson and the other authors refer is spiritual, not material. They’re talking about a metaphysical equality; equality that’s not based on physical attributes or social constructs. This metaphysical equality is the philosophical foundation of the Declaration to which America’s founding fathers pledged their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor.
At first read, one may wonder if this be presents a conflict between church and State. As evidenced by the First Amendment, it doesn’t. While Jefferson and many of the other Founding Fathers believed in a Divine Being, they were not Christians in the way that the word has come to mean in contemporary American politics.
Rather, Jefferson and his colleagues simply recognized that for any discussion of “rights” to make philosophical sense, they must be based on the metaphysical conception of spiritual equality rather than anything in the physical world. Rights that are divinely bestowed are also ’inalienable’, which means that no human agency can infringe on them; they are intrinsic to our very being.
Of course, it’s all too evident today that Jefferson and the other Founding Fathers neglected to extend those self-evident rights to a significant part of their fledgling country’s population. Similarly, we can also see that no matter what lofty metaphysical truths it’s based upon, the American system of justice is failing to live up to its own ideals today.
From the perspective of yoga philosophy, the root cause of this failure is forgetfulness of our shared spiritual nature. Yoga is the art and science of remembering our true spiritual nature. As such, practicing yoga is an inherently political act. In fact, it’s the most radical form of political action we can take.
By “political action” I don’t mean unfurling our yoga mats on the Washington Mall and aiming a ‘Warrior Pose’ at the Capital building (however gratifying it may feel). What I mean is advocacy, service, non-cooperation, and direct action that’s in line with the values of yoga: the renunciation of gratuitous materialism, purity of thought, word and deed, kindness to all beings, and truthfulness.
Truthfulness means more than pushing back against ‘fake news’ and leaders who are obviously liars; it means defending the metaphysical truth that establishes our equality and rights, it means ringing the ‘Liberation Bell’ that will wake us from the spell of spiritual forgetfulness that’s at the core of almost all of our political conflicts.
Yoga doesn’t encourage us to adopt nationalist sentiments; it encourages us to engage in service to an all-inclusive Absolute Truth.
The Fourth of July – America’s ‘Independence Day’ – is a secular holiday with a spiritual seed. The opportunity for realizing the American ideal of liberty and justice for all lies in watering that seed.
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In Search of the Highest Truth: Adventures in Yoga Philosophy
A clear and concise guide to seeing the modern world through the lens of yoga’s ancient wisdom.
“Distills ancient yogic wisdom into modern-day practically” —Tiffany K., Kindle Customer