This workshop is for yoga teachers who want to learn a simple, systematic approach to sharing your personal understanding and experience of yoga philosophy with your students. Through group discussion and experiential exercises, you’ll learn
- How to choose a philosophical theme for your class or workshop
- How to deliver a great “dharma talk” in just 5 minutes
- How to design an asana sequence around your theme
- How to speak effectively and authentically in your own voice
PLUS: Tips and tricks to getting more out of your study of traditional yoga wisdom texts.
This workshop includes writing and practice teaching exercises that will give you an opportunity to share with and get feedback from your colleagues. You’ll come away from this workshop feeling confident in your ability to share your experience of yoga philosophy with your students through a practical approach to integrating the transcendental wisdom of yoga into your classes and workshops.
This workshop qualifies for CE credits with Yoga Alliance.
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.
Yoga is both a process of turning inward and a process of engaging with the world. As such, yoga offers us a set of principles for both personal and social action. The defense of dharma– truth, justice, and harmony with nature – is entirely in keeping with the tradition of yoga.
Spiritualizing our activism elevates our response to injustice to a level that harmonizes the fight for righteousness with the spiritual conception of equality upon which the American conception of justice is actually based. It also links the advancement of progressive values to the advancement of spiritual consciousness.
A satsang is a gathering of seekers of the truth who come together to discuss the nature of the truth and the means by which one makes progress in spiritual life. In this satsang I’ll offer thoughts and ideas, based on the teachings of traditional yoga wisdom texts, about why spiritualizing our response to adharma– injustice and disharmony – is so important, how the values of yoga philosophy provide a solid foundation for progressive social action, and what we can do to imbue our actions with spiritual power.
We’ll also address a false dichotomy that creates obstacles for spiritualizing our activism and participate in brainstorming about how we can spiritualize both individual and a specific collective social activism project. Participants will acquire new insights into the nature spiritual activism, learn how their spiritual practice can energize their participation in progressive activism, and feel inspired to take their activism to a higher spiritual level.
6:00 – 8:00 pm Satsang & kirtan (devotional singing)
10:00 am – 12:30 pm Workshop 1: The Bhagavad Gita & Bhakti Yoga
1:30 – 3:00 pm Workshop 2: Spiritual Activism
INVESTMENT: $80 for all 3; or $30 per session
The Bhagavad-gita describes three paths of yoga – the yoga of action, the yoga of mystic perfection, and the yoga of knowledge – that are informed by and find their ultimate fulfillment in a fourth path: the path of devotional service. This workshop combines lecture, discussion, and experiential learning exercises that will illuminate the teachings of this foremost of ancient yoga wisdom texts. Suitable for both yoga teachers who want to integrate the wisdom of the yoga tradition into their classes and serious yoga students who want to deepen their understanding of and appreciation for the philosophical foundations of their physical practice.
After a couple of weeks of watching the competing narratives coming out of the impeachment inquiry, I felt inspired to sit with the question: how do we know what’s true?
Conventional wisdom tells us that we live in a post-truth world where up can mean down, forward means backward, and left and right mean really left and right.
Separating fact from fiction has probably never been harder. And technology isn’t helping; it hasn’t the means and its handlers, for the most part, don’t have the will to be helpful when fake news is as profitable as real news.
So who or what do we accept as an authority on what’s true and what’s false?
There’s no question as to whether or not we accept an authority on any given topic; it’s just a matter of whose authority we accept: our own or someone else’s.
Personally, I don’t consider myself an authority on anything, at least not enough of an authority to rely on my own opinion alone. Instead, I rely on yoga’s theory of knowledge to help me separate fact from fiction.
The yogic theory of knowledge – pramāṇa in Sanskrit – has three parts: direct perception (pratyakṣa), logic (anumāna), and verbal testimony (āgamaḥ or parokṣa).
Since my senses are limited by imperfections such as the potential to be mistaken, to be influenced by illusion, or to interpret information according my personal biases, I start with the last item, verbal testimony, and work my way back.
‘Verbal testimony’ is also divided into three categories: guru (one’s teacher), śastra (scripture), and sadhu (exemplary practitioners). We hear from a teacher and, rather than accept what they say on blind faith, we look to authoritative yoga wisdom texts such as the Yoga-sūtra or the Bhagavad-gītā to see if what the teacher says is reflected in the traditional literature.
If it is, the next step is to look to those upon whom history has conferred a reputation for exceptional spiritual achievement to see if their teachings match those of our teacher and what we’ve read in yoga wisdom texts.
If all three – teacher, scripture, and exemplar – are saying the same thing then we can accept the teaching as legitimate, at least in the context of the tradition from which the teaching arises.
But does the teaching make sense?
There are four reasons why we might not understand something: we might not be smart enough, we might not be pure enough, we might not have heard a proper explanation, or it might just be that thing we’re trying to understand doesn’t make sense.
We shouldn’t be too quick to accept something just because it sounds authoritative or sell ourselves short on brains and purity if we don’t fully understand what we’ve heard. There’s plenty of ‘wisdom’ floating around the yoga-verse that doesn’t make sense once you think it all the way through, to say nothing of the flotilla of nonsense sailing across the ocean media-driven misinformation.
So the second step is to think about what the implications of the teaching are. This is where the practice of active contemplation comes into play: we have to ask ourselves if what we’ve heard makes sense when taken to its logical conclusion.
If a teaching passes the logic test, then the last step is to put the teaching into practice. The acquisition of knowledge in yoga is a scientific process: you take a reasonable theory into the laboratory of your life and do an experiment to see if the theory is true. The experiment validates the theory when we experience the truth of the theory by direct perception.
This is the practice of turning jñāna – theoretical knowledge – into vijñāna: experiential knowledge.
And experiential knowledge, acted upon repeatedly over time, eventually evolves into wisdom.
In a polarized world where convictions about right and wrong are intensifying toward the opposite ends of the spectrum, it’s increasingly important to have a way to distinguish between real news and fake news, between authentic, sensible, and beneficial teachings and speculative nonsense that’s bereft of any practical value.
In one sense, the news is always changing and, in another, it’s always the same: conflicts come and go, disasters arrive and subside, losers become winners and winners become losers. All of these little pictures fly by within the context of a bigger picture. Seeing the ephemeral events of the material world in the context of a changeless spiritual reality can help us find a peaceful center in the midst of all the breathless whirligig news cycles.
To ride the roller coaster of current events without getting queasy, we need to be anchored by the bigger picture. Yoga wisdom tells us that there’s a permanent spiritual reality beneath the paroxysms of material insanity. We can apply yoga’s theory of knowledge to both in order to know what’s true and what’s True.
What does yoga philosophy have to do with what we do on our yoga mats? Is ‘reality’ really an illusion? What does ‘karma’ actually mean? Are there ‘correct’ interpretations of Sanskrit scriptures? In this workshop we’ll look the origin and historical development of yoga philosophy, de-mystify its terminology, and explore some of classical yoga’s more challenging propositions. Participants will gain a frame of reference for recognizing different schools of yoga philosophy, learn techniques for accessing the essential messages of classical yoga wisdom texts, and have the opportunity to consider whether the traditional ideas of yoga philosophy are still relevant to life in the 21st century. This workshop is for anyone who wants to gain a deeper understanding of the philosophy that forms the foundation for our yoga practice. Discussion and experiential exercises - recommended for both teachers and practitioners who want to deepen their experience of yoga.