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)
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.
This introduction to the original language of yoga is designed to provide yoga instructors with a solid foundation of Sanskrit knowledge that will enable you to offer a higher level of insight into the intention of yoga poses, make chanting mantras an authentic and inclusive part of your classes, and deliver a deeper experience of the teachings of yoga to your students experience teaching yoga on a deeper and more rewarding level.
In this workshop, you’ll learn:
- What Sanskrit is and why it matters
- How to make the sounds of the Sanskrit alphabet
- How to read and pronounce words written in transliterated Sanskrit
- How to chant mantras and lead call and response chanting in your classes
- How to chant Sanskrit sutras and verses from yoga wisdom texts
- How to explain basic concepts of yoga philosophy by explaining the meaning of the Sanskrit words that describe them
Participants will gain confidence in using Sanskrit terminology in classes and acquire new insights into the theory and practice of yoga.
This workshop qualifies for CE credits with Yoga Alliance.
How are you doing?
Usually, at least where I come from, ‘how are you doing?’ – or, to be more accurate, ‘howya doin’?’ – is a greeting, not a question.
But this time I’m really asking. Things have been rough for the last few weeks and it will probably get worse before it gets better.
So please tell me how you’re doing and what you’re doing to keep you and yours safe and sane.
For myself, I’ve been wondering how, aside from staying home, I can be of service to those for whom the coronavirus pandemic has become an all too reasonable source of dread.
Jess, a good friend and fellow yoga teacher who’s been studying the Bhagavad-gita with me for a long time, recently asked me about this very thing. She has a sister who’s a front line health care provider and the rest of her family is understandably terrified about what might happen to her.
Jess has taken the essence of the Gita’s teachings to heart. And by integrating those teachings into her daily practice, Jess is riding out the storm of this pandemic from a safe inner space.
Out of love and compassion, she quite naturally would like to share her spiritual insights with members of her family in the hope that they, too, can experience the same kind spiritual equanimity she’s experiencing.
But this can actually be quite a challenge. The obstacles to sharing our spiritual perspectives with the people we care about the most can not only be frustrating; they can give rise to doubts about the impact our spiritual lives have on our most important relationships. As Jess put it to me:
“Śaraṇaṁ is the lovely experience of surrender to Krishna. It allows one to experience connection to all beings because it lets us fully see and feel Krishna all around us.
It’s also been my experience that śaraṇaṁ brings freedom from fear. And right now, I’m looking at the world and seeing Krishna in all of his energies and not experiencing much fear or anxiety.
However, many of my loved ones who are not on this spiritual path are fearful and anxious. I can’t just tell my anxious family “hey, chill out and surrender to Krishna!”
For the first time ever I feel like my connection to Krishna is not facilitating a connection to others and their suffering.
So my question is: how do we support and connect with others and their suffering when we see the world through a very different lens? How can we actually talk about reducing fear when our personal experience of śaraṇaṁ will look kinda crazy to those people?”
I thought this was a great and timely question.
Krishna’s conclusive instruction in the Bhagavad-gita (18.66) is to let go of all secondary principles of spiritual practice and simply look to him, Krishna, for shelter. He specifically uses the Sanskrit word śaraṇaṁ, which means ‘surrender to’ or ‘take shelter of.’ And he adds the phrase ‘do not fear’ to emphatically indicate that confidence in his protection is the key to genuine fearlessness.
It’s natural to want to help our friends and family become fearless. But Jess is right: we won’t comfort anyone who’s distraught about the coronavirus by saying, ‘don’t worry: you’re not your body and Krishna’s in control so just see how the material energy is working under Krishna’s direction and look to him for shelter and everything will be okay.’
Such attempted reassurances will only cause confusion and anxiety rather than clarity and relief for those who have no information, to say nothing of realization, about how the Gita advises us to respond to such catastrophic events. This is why Krishna advises us not to disturb the minds of those who aren’t seeking spiritual solutions to material problems (Bg 3.25-30).
But Krishna also tells us that kindness and compassion for all beings are the natural symptoms of someone who is blessed with a saintly character (Bg 16.1-3). So, in times of crisis, how do we constructively and compassionately offer spiritual insights to friends and family who don’t share the same frame of reference for them that we have?
In the fourth chapter of the Bhagavad-gita (Bg 4.11), Krishna says, “However one approaches me, I reciprocate with them in precisely that way.” Therefore, we can follow Krishna’s example and lovingly reciprocate with our friends and family members according to the way that they approach us.
In the course of our loving reciprocation with them, they may notice how events that are throwing the whole world for a loop aren’t knocking us off balance. And if they notice, then they might ask, ‘how can you stay so calm in a situation like this?’ That’s our cue to share the gift of spiritual wisdom with them.
If what we do isn’t perceived as being helpful then it’s not helpful. So this is a case where taking the initiative can backfire. The trick is to inspire people by our personal example of consistent kindness and equanimity and wait for them to ask us how we manage to keep our cool when all around us are loosing theirs.
So, in addition to how you’re taking care of yourself, how are you staying spiritually connected to others? Please let me know how you’re maintaining your spiritual relationships at a time when we’re all obliged to keep a safe distance from one another.
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.
Conventional wisdom tells us that the paradoxical language of yoga’s ancient spiritual literature signifies Absolute Oneness; that despite any appearance to the contrary, we’re all One.
The speculative metaphysics of Neuroscience suggest that human psychology is just an autonomic meme machine with no one at the controls; that despite any appearance to the contrary, we’re all none.
Western religious traditions claim that an all-powerful, all-knowing, and ever-present God created the world and us along with it; that despite any appearance to the contrary, we’re all loved.
Contemporary seekers looking for a coherent resolution to these conflicting messages need look no further than Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s radical concept of acintya-abheddābeddha-tattva: the truth of inconceivable simultaneous oneness and difference.
At the dawn of the 16th century, the Bengali saint and spiritual activist Śrī Caitanya introduced a profound insight that brings clarity to the paradoxical verses of the Upaniṣads, persuasively refutes the notion of ‘no-self,’ and firmly establishes the philosophical basis for bhakti-yoga as a comprehensive science of self-realization. In this talk, I’ll unpack Caitanya’s revolutionary thesis, give his revelation some historical context, and explain its enduring significance for contemporary spiritual seekers.
This is a free 60-minute talk preceded by a joyful kirtan and followed by a sumptuous and equally free vegetarian lunch (donations of any amount gratefully accepted).