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.
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.
FlowJam Universal Healing Arts festival is a 3 day experience that fuses healing vibes, music, dance and stimulating arts on a private farm at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains, just an hour outside of Washington, D.C. FlowJam brings talented local musicians, artists, healers, yoga teachers, educators, and environmental activists together in community at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains to bring awareness to the importance of the healing arts through creative classes, and workshops, embracing nature and through good local music that feeds the soul.
I will be offering guided meditations, talks on yoga philosophy, and leading kirtans with DC Supersonic Kirtan throughout the weekend.
Details coming soon – please join us!
Get your tickets HERE!
This weekend intensive for yoga teachers includes an overview of the Vedic tradition from which yoga originates, essential concepts, terminology, and categories of knowledge in the Vedic tradition, a comparison of different schools of Vedanta, Vedic epistemology, hermeneutics, and cosmology, and practical applications of traditional yoga philosophy in the modern world.
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 Mahabharata – 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.
**This is a component of Faith Hunter’s 300hr Yoga Teacher Training Program.**
Investment: $525 or $475 (early bird)
A live, 90-minute online class on the ethical guidelines and personal observances that form the foundation of a yoga lifestyle. This seminar is for practitioners who are eager to deepen their knowledge of yoga and teachers who seek meaningful continuing education opportunities that will expand the range of their teaching.
Ethical imperatives and personal observances form the foundation of the yoga system described by Patanjali in his Yoga Sutras. What is the underlying philosophy upon which they are based? Why are they an essential element of a complete yoga practice? How can we abide by them in a practical way? In this seminar we’ll take a close look at the yamas and niyamas in the traditional context of the 8 limbs of yoga (ashtanga yoga) and how they remain relevant for modern yoga practitioners. We’ll connect the dots between the philosophy and values that inform yogic moral decision-making in response to contemporary social and political issues, look at how the social and personal disciplines connect to yoga asanas, and examine how the personal observances provide power for the inward turn of our meditation practice.
This class will be recorded and available as a part of Embodied Philosophy’s ‘The Yoga Seminar’, a great series of over 60 lectures and counting. CLICK HERE to get complete information and register.
I don’t know why I’m so surprised when I meet young people who have no interest in voting. After all, I didn’t vote the first few times I could have. Watching the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights Movement play out on the nightly news inspired my youthful interest in politics. But by the time I graduated from high school the war was winding down, it seemed as if Dr. King’s dream might come true, and Nixon was letting the door hit him on the way out. I thought that the world would get along just fine without my participating in its affairs. Politics faded into the background as my interests gravitated towards spirituality and music instead.
As I became more and more focused on my spiritual life I became less and less focused on “material life”… including politics. I was blissfully unaware of the fact that my indifference was a privilege: as a straight white man living in New York City I wasn’t subjected to the kinds of injustices that motivated others to be politically active.
In my spiritual immaturity, I also failed to realize that my primary source of spiritual inspiration, the Bhagavad-gita, was a book about how a yogi should respond to the most extreme kind of political problem: armed conflict. The response the Gita advocated wasn’t to walk off the battlefield and go do yoga in the forest; it was to step up to the call of duty and fight the good fight.
Yoga is, among other things, a moral philosophy that calls us not just to refrain from harming others but to act for the benefit of others as well:
“One who finds happiness within, relishes delight from within, and whose light shines from within, is a perfect mystic who is liberated from the forest fire of material existence… This supreme liberation is attained by those for whom impiety has been destroyed, for whom dualities arising from doubts have been severed, whose minds are engaged in self-realization, and who live for the welfare of all living beings.” – Bhagavad-gita 5.24-25
According to the Bhagavad-gita, there’s no contradiction between cultivating an inner life of personal spiritual development and an outer life of active social engagement as long as that engagement is dedicated toward “the welfare of all living beings.
From the standpoint of yoga, the ultimate welfare work is to give the gift of transcendental knowledge. Forgetfulness of our shared spiritual nature is the root cause of all suffering. Therefore, the objective of spiritual activism is to create a social setting that’s conducive to everyone’s spiritual upliftment.
The Gita’s criteria for spiritual activism are principles of universal morality collectively known as dharma. In the Vedic yoga tradition, dharma is composed of four values: austerity, purity, mercy, and truthfulness.
Austerity means to simplify our lives by letting go of the desire to acquire wealth and possessions beyond what we need to be comfortable.
Purity means to maintain cleanliness of one’s body and mind, to refrain from polluting the environment, and to be honest and virtuous in our relationships.
Mercy means to be kind, generous, and compassionate to everyone, to both refrain from harming others and to give protection to those in harm’s way.
Truthfulness means to acknowledge and abide by objective reality, to speak truthfully and to act in accordance with the truth.
A society that is obsessed with economic development, that fetishizes material wealth, that disregards environmental protection, that glorifies mean-spirited selfishness, and treats the truth as an enemy, is a society moving in opposition to dharma. Politicians who move society in opposition to dharma invite the opposition of yogis who are committed to defending dharma.
For a yogi, defending dharma is an integral part of a complete yoga practice. And in America, one of the easiest things that we can do in defense of dharma is to vote.
You may not be excited about any of the candidates on the ballot. You may believe that none of them exemplify dharmic values. You may be right.
But guess what? One of them is going to win. So you should ask yourself, ‘which candidate will do the least harm, be the least dishonest, and move society in a more dharmic direction?’
You may think that it doesn’t matter which candidate wins because your life won’t change either way. You may be content to let politics fade into the background because you’re not subjected to the kinds of injustices that motivate others to be politically active. You may think that the world will get along fine without your participating in its affairs.
And perhaps it will get along fine without my participation. If I vote or if I don’t, it won’t change anything for me. I could sit out this election on the plea of enlightened disinterest and go off to the forest to meditate.
But voting is not just about me. And it’s more than just a civic duty: voting is a service. And service is an integral part of our eternal nature: everything we do is a service to someone or something. There is no question of serving or not serving, only of how we serve.
On Election Day, A yogi serves by defending dharma, by taking a stand for simplicity, virtue, generosity, and truthfulness. Our local polling station is the battlefield and a ballot is our weapon. On Election Day, yogis are called upon to fight for the welfare of all living beings.
On Election Day, yogis vote.