First encounter with Ram Dass

Baba Ram Dass first appeared on my radar in 1971. I am remembering him now after learning he reached the other shore on December 23, 2019. Back in the summer of ’71, I had just turned 15 and was spending a few boiling hot summer weeks at my grandparent’s house in Nashville. Many a summer was spent alone with my grandparents for a few weeks. In hindsight I realize I was sent there to reduce summer trouble/fun with my friends. That strategy unraveled quickly within the mix of my grandma, the Nashville scene, access to a new set of FM radio frequencies, and the explosive, culture movements happening all over the country at that time.

The real undoing began when Grandma took me to a local bookstore that summer. She was a strong supporter of reading and collecting books. Her shelves were stocked full with my two aunt’s complete collections of Nancy Drew books, classics from Tolstoy and Salinger, the Firefox set, and a whole lot more. I think I read them all. Then there was the bookstore, with its large table stacked about two feet high and from edge to edge with Ram Dass’ new book Be Here Now. Grandma breezed right past the display and off to the history section, or some other area of her interest. And I stood there frozen in my tracks wondering, what IS this?

There are several visceral and tactile things that happened that first time I picked up a copy of Be Here Now. First, the format is square, the cover art is “stareable” for long periods of time, and some of the pages are printed on a darker brown, Kraft-style paper. I picked it up, flipped through it, and looked at all the unusual drawings and handwritten passages. I read the captions under the pictures of the exotic people, pondered the images of the long hairs, and wondered at all the religious imagery and messaging. Bink! A light inside switched on. This book would be mine. Oh yes, it would be mine!

I met Grandma at the cash register and handed over my copy of Be Here Now, she gave it a quick glance and put it on the counter. Whew. She must have been focused on her own purchase because if she had opened it and looked through it, I would have been dispatched immediately back to the display table to return it!

My grandparents were loving and affectionate. Their love of family was matched with a passion for God-fearing, Southern conservative values. They went to great lengths to preserve the minds and views of all our family members, and they worked hard to save us all from any hint of impropriety. Thinking about this now, I am sure Ram Dass would not factor into their idea of great literature for young minds.

It was an unusual time. By the next summer I had read and re-read Be Here Now many times and had somehow lucked into a copy of the book Monday Night Class by the late Stephen Gaskins. Imagine my surprise when I realized that Stephen Gaskins and other members of The Farm were in Summertown, Tennessee! At the time it seemed odd that Tennessee, that state of civil war division, was the center of the universe for my 16 year old awakening. But there it was. Tennessee, home to a long line of my maternal ancestors. 

So it was with some crazy thinking that I considered asking my grandparents to take me to The Farm in Summertown. Ah, to be so young and so optimistic! It just seemed like an amazing place that I really needed to experience. But Grandpa proved to be on top of the goings-on in Summertown. He worked for the Tennessee division of highways and knew every highway, and county road in the state. When I asked him where Summertown was, he looked down his nose at me with one of his most serious expressions and said, “you don’t need to know anything about Summertown.” Gulp. End of discussion. 

But then, there was the miracle of how I talked them into letting me go see Leon Russell and Poco at the Nashville speedway in 1972 with the nice young ice cream man who discovered me on his route through their neighborhood. My own parents would have never approved. What? A rock concert? With who? That long haired ice cream boy, who we don’t even know? No way. Grandparent’s are great, aren’t they? But I digress. Again.

Every summer in the early 70s proved to have different parts of mind-expanding periods in my life. Ram Dass’ book Be Here Now had a profound impact on how I would see the world differently. I didn’t entirely understand what he was talking about, but I was drawn to Be Here Now with its odd poetic rambling, spiritual vibe, and the feeling of a journey into consciousness. It would be much later that I would hear the sound of his voice and come to love the recordings of his lectures.

Born Richard Alpert on April 6, 1931, Ram Dass was many things: son of the founder of both Brandeis University and the New Haven Railroad, psychology and education professor at Harvard alongside contemporary Timothy Leary, and LSD experimenter before LSD became illegal in 1968. I’ll remember him most fondly for his great laugh, intellectual gymnastics, spiritual insightfulness, and (alongside Alan Watts) one of the best distillers of eastern thought for the western mind. He was brilliant. Profane. And one of my first teachers.

I keep Be Here Now on my everyday book shelf. I take it down from time to time to remember that summer in 1971 when I first encountered Ram Dass and his book Be Here Now.  I try to have moments of clarity when I am actually here, now. And I can hear his voice in my head, as he might deliver the following list of his quotes:

“What you meet in another being is the projection of your own level of evolution.”

“Treat everyone you meet like God in drag.”

“As long as you have certain desires about how it ought to be you can’t see how it is.”

“If you think you’re free, there’s no escape possible.”

“Only that in you, which is me can hear what I’m saying.”

“A feeling of aversion or attachment toward something is your clue that there’s work to be done.”

And, of course, one of the most quoted, “We’re all just walking each other home.”

Namaste to you Ram Dass.

Yoga Therapy: Kripalu’s reading list

The following is the recommended reading list for the Integrative Yoga Therapy 800-hour Certified Yoga Therapist program at Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health in Stockbridge, MA. I am working toward becoming a C-IAYT, a Certified Yoga Therapist as designated by the International Association of Yoga Therapists (IAYT). There are SO many good books on Yoga and Yoga Therapy! The information on the physical, psychological, emotional and spiritual benefits of Yoga and Yoga Therapy ranges far and wide. The following is a good starting point for anyone interested in Yoga Therapy. If you are considering becoming a Yoga Therapist, these books will likely become some the most “go-to” books on your shelf.

The program at Kripalu is set up as eight modules. The following lists the recommended reading for the topics covered in the modules. The links below are to places to buy the books. Most go to links to Amazon, but a few will lead to other websites when the books are not available from Amazon or are only available from specific websites.

Module 1: Foundations of Yoga Therapy, Part 1

 Anatomy of Movement, by Blandine Calais-Germain

Mudras for Healing and Transformation, by Joseph and Lilian Le Page
Also available is the companion set of Mudra Cards, highly recommended!

Pranayama, by Allison Gemmel LaFramboise with Yoganand Michael Carroll

The Everyday Ayurveda Cookbook: A Seasonal Guide to Eating and Living Well, by Kate O’Donnell

The Principles and Practice of Yoga Therapy in Health Care, by Sat Bir S. Khalsa, et al.

Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers, by Robert Sapolsky

Yoga Toolbox for Teachers and Students, by Joseph and Lilian Le Page

Module 2: Foundations of Yoga Therapy, Part 2

Every Bite Is Divine: The Balanced Approach to Enjoying Eating, Feeling Healthy and Happy, and Getting to a Weight That’s Natural For You, by Annie B. Kay

Yoga and Diabetes, by Annie B Kay, MS, RDN, C-IAYT, and Lisa B. Nelson, MD

The Inside Tract: Your Good Gut Guide to Great Digestive Health, by Gerard Mullin and Kathie Madonna Swift

Yamas and Niyamas, by Deborah Adele

Yoga for Depression, by Amy Weintraub

Yoga for Emotional Balance, by Bo Forbes

Yoga Toolbox for Teachers and Students, by Joseph and Lilian Le Page

Module 3: Practicum

No specific recommended or required resources

Module 4: Yoga Therapy Applied in Medical Settings

(Reading list to be expanded. Module 4 to be held in 2020)

Yoga Chikitsa, by Yogacharya Dr. Ananda Balayogi Bhavanani

Yoga Therapy and Integrative Medicine, by Larry Payne, Terra Gold, and Eden Goldman

Module 5: Yoga Therapy Applications Within the Mental-Health Field

Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers, by Robert Sapolsky

Shadows of the Sacred: Seeing through Spiritual Illusions, by Frances Vaughan

Yoga and Psychotherapy, by Swami Rama et al

Yoga for Depression, by Amy Weintraub

Yoga for Emotional Balance, by Bo Forbes

Yoga for Emotional Trauma, by Mary NurrieStearns

The iRest Program for Healing PTSD, by Richard Miller

Yoga Nidra: A Meditative Practice for Deep Relaxation and Healing PTSD, by Richard Miller

Module 6: In-Depth Anatomy of Asana

Recommended in 2018:

Anatomy of Movement, by Blandine Calais-Germain

Anatomy Trains: Myofascial Meridians for Manual Movement Therapists, by Thomas W. Myer

Recommended in 2019:

Science of Yoga by Ann Swanson

The Anatomy of Yoga, Marlysa Sullivan

Mudras for Healing and Transformation, by Joseph and Lilian Le Page
Also available is the companion set of Mudra Cards, highly recommended!

Yoga Toolbox for Teachers and Students, by Joseph and Lilian Le Page

Module 7: Pranayama, Mudra, and Subtle Anatomy Applied in Yoga Therapy

Mudras for Healing and Transformation, by Joseph and Lilian Le Page
Also available is the companion set of Mudra Cards, highly recommended!

Pranayama, by Allison Gemmel LaFramboise with Yoganand Michael Carroll

Module 8: Embodying the Principles of Ayurveda in Yoga Therapy

(Reading list to be expanded. Module 8 to be held in 2020)

Yoga & Ayurveda, by Dr. David Frawley

Ayurveda and the Mind, by Dr. David Frawley

Yoga Therapy: a reading list

The following reading lists are part of the Module A and Module B Yoga Teacher training programs at Aum Home Shala in Miami, Florida as of March 20, 2018. They cover traditional and modern Yoga and Yoga Therapy topics, compiled by the Shala and its knowledgeable and skilled faculty.

Aum Home Shala is located in Coconut Grove and offers many types of yoga classes. Of particular interest are their generous offering to the community in the form of clinics that provide yoga therapy for a wide range of physical “dis-eases.”

The links on the book titles below go to Amazon where you can quickly and easily purchase these books. The Amazon prices listed on this page may vary according to the format of the book, Kindle versions, or audio versions that may be available.

Aum Home Shala’s Module A Reading List:

Blaine, S. Yoga for Healthy Knees: What You Need to Know for Pain Prevention and Rehabilitation. Berkeley, CA: Rodmell. 2005. $9.95

Desikachar, T. K., & Desikachar, K. The Viniyoga of Yoga. India: Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram. 2007. $125.00

Fishman, L., & Saltonstall, E. Yoga for Arthritis: The Complete Guide. New York: W.W. Norton. 2008. $19.95

Fishman, L., & Saltonstall, E. Yoga for Osteoporosis: The Complete Guide. New York: W. W. Norton & Co. 2010. $19.95

Goldberg, Michelle The Goddess Pose: The Audacious Life of Indra Devi, the Woman Who Helped Bring Yoga to the West New York: Alfred Knopf 2015. $16.00

Gorman, D. The Body Moveable: Blueprints of the Human Musculoskeletal System : Its Structure, Mechanics, Locomotor and Postural Functions. Guelph, Ont.: Ampersand Press. 1989. $150.00

Kaminoff, L., & Matthews, A. Yoga Anatomy-2nd Edition. New York: Human Kinetics Publishers. 2011. $19.95

Lad, V. Ayurveda: The Science of Self-Healing. Twin Lakes, WI: Lotus Press. 2004. $10.95

McCall, T. B. Yoga as Medicine: The Yogic Prescription for Health & Healing: A Yoga Journal Book. New York: Bantam Books. 2007. $15.00

Mohan, A. G., & Mohan, I. Yoga Therapy: A Guide to the Therapeutic use of Yoga and Ayurveda for Health and Fitness. Boston: Shambhala Publications. 2004. $24.95

Payne, L. The Business of Teaching Yoga. Los Angeles, CA: Samata International. 2000. Price unknown

Payne, L., Usatine, R., & Aronson, M. Yoga Rx: A Step-by-Step Program to Promote Health, Wellness, and Healing for Common Ailments. New York: Broadway Books. 2002. $6.00

Satchidananda, S. The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali: Commentary on the Raja Yoga Sutras by Sri. Swami Satchidananda. Yogaville: Integral Yoga Publications. 1997. $9.99

Satchidananda, S. The Living Gita: the Complete Bhagavad Gita : A Commentary for Modern Readers, Yogaville: Integral Yoga Publications. 1988. $17.95

Singleton, M. Yoga Body: The Origins of Modern Posture Practice. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2010. $17.95

Sullivan, M. The Anatomy of Yoga and Creating a Healthy Back with Pranakriya Yoga. Atlanta, GA: Marlysa Sullivan. 2008. Audio CD $14.95

Nalan, P. (Director). Aryuveda-The Art of Being (Motion Picture). India: Pan Nalan. 2004. Full length movie available on YouTube.

Desai, G (Director). Yoga Unveiled (Documentary). United States: Gita Desai. 2004. Two DVD set $31.00

 

Aum Home Shala’s Module B Reading List:

Davidson, R. J., & Begley, S. The Emotional Life of Your Brain: How its Unique Patterns Affect the Way You Think, Feel, and Live–and how you can change them. New York: Viking. 2012. $15.00

Doidge, N. The Brain that Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science. New York: Viking. 2007.

Ma Jaya Sati Bhagavati. The 11 Karmic Spaces: Choosing Freedom from the Patterns that Bind you. Sebastian, FL: Kashi Publishing. 2012.

Lerner, M. Choices in Healing: Integrating the Best of Conventional and Complementary Approaches to Cancer. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press. 1994. $26.66

McCreadie, K., & Hill, N. Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich a 52 brilliant ideas Interpretation. Oxford: Infinite Ideas. 2008. $11.94

Muktibodhananda, S. Hatha Yoga Pradipika = Light on Hatha Yoga: Including the Original Sanskrit Text of the Hatha Yoga Pradipika with translation in English (3rd ed.). Munger, Bihar, India: Yoga Publications. 2003. $30.00

Ornish, D. Dr. Dean Ornish’s Program for Reversing Heart Disease: The Only System Scientifically Proven to Reverse Heart Disease without Drugs or Surgery. New York: Random House. 1990. $8.99

Ram, B. Warrior Pose: How Yoga (literally) Saved My Life. Dallas: BenBella Books. 2013. $14.95

Sacks, O. W. Awakenings. New York: Harper Perennial. 1990. $16.95

Satchidananda, S. The Living Gita: The Complete Bhagavad Gita : A Commentary for Modern Readers. Yogaville: Integral Yoga Publications. 1988. $17.95

Satchidananda, S. The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali: Commentary on the Raja Yoga Sutras by Sri. Swami SatchidanandaYogaville: Integral Yoga Publications. 1976. $9.99

Shahar, T. Happier. London, Eng.: McGraw-Hill. 2008. $23.00

Trungpa, Chogyam. Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism Boston: Shambhala Classics. 1973. $15.95

White, D. G. Kiss of the Yoginī “Tantric sex” in its South Asian contexts. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 2003. $38.00

Sadhakas. Yoga Therapy in Asthma, Diabetes and Heart Disease: (principles, practice, scientific results). Santa Cruz, Bombay: Yoga Institute. 1987.

Yoga & Psychotherapy – a book review

The Yoga Therapy program offered at Kripalu Yoga Center for Yoga and Health suggests a number of books as both required and suggested reading in preparation for advanced training in yoga therapy. I poured through the course descriptions and scooped up a list of those reading materials, thinking that I may need a considerable amount of reading time to complete the program. I offer up a summary of one of those books from the list.

Yoga and Psychotherapy: The Evolution of Consciousness is written by Swami Rama, Rudolph Ballentine, MD, and Swami Ajaya, PhD. It was published in 2014 by Himalayan International Institute of Yoga Science and Philosophy of the U.S.A.® and weights in at just over 225 pages, with additional pages for Preface, Appendix, and References and Notes.

My copy will be unsuitable for re-sale now because of the excessive underlining of passages throughout the text! I felt compelled to draw little symbols and pictures in the margins and circle the many names of experts mentioned. At several points in the reading, I found myself re-reading several sections while doing a combination of day dreaming, soul searching, and contemplation. The introspection that is prompted by reading any kind of psychology reduces my reading speed to slower than half time. And even more so than in astrology, I find myself looking to see if I can diagnose either my own psychosis or relax in the recognition of normal behavior.

The common theme throughout is the comparison of Western Psychology and Eastern Yogic Psychology. The authors use extensive references to many of the major players in traditional psychology from the west, such as Freud, Maslow, Erikson, James, and most extensively quotes and references to the work of Carl Jung.

The text continues a very light compare and contrast approach that seemed to work hard to provide a balanced discussion. At times the book gives such deference to western psychology that it makes yogic psychology seem less than a serious science.

The second key theme to the book is the idea of the yogic path as being a “growth” process. In western psychology this is usually referred to as a process to “cure” an illness, or address some negative expression of the personality. With exception of true psychosis, eastern psychology looks at the individual’s personality as a work in progress or a move to growing in spiritual awareness. By describing the yogi as either growing or not growing we are able to realize that the path is not always a linear move toward pure consciousness. The psychology of being human can be related as normal, natural and growing toward the constant goal of awareness from the gross to the subtle.

To grow or to move toward consciousness from a yogic perspective, involves following a path that follows what the ancient texts describe as sheaths, or koshas. The book is divided in to chapters that discuss the five sheaths, each describing an aspect of what it means to live within the human existence (the physical body, the energy within the body, the sense organs, the intellect, and the true soul). In the deepest depths of the five sheaths is pure consciousness. The sheaths provide a framework for exploration and discussion of the whole being, and a complete system of therapy.

The “causes of misery,” or the situations in life that prevent growth and cause us mental anguish are the five categories referred to as “kleshas” in the yogic tradition. In Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras these are the causes of fear, anxiety and depression. The kleshas keep us from realizing our capacity for higher consciousness. They are:

  1. Ignorance
  2. Limited self concept
  3. Attachment
  4. Aversion
  5. Fear of death

After an interesting exploration into the body, breath and energy, the mind (manas, chitta and ahankara), consciousness, sleep (my favorite chapter!), the last sections of the book deal with psychosis, mysticism and the centers of consciousness. In the final analysis the authors are making a very strong case that “yoga offers to modern psychology the possibility of integration.” They explain that modern western psychology has done a superb job of scientific and laboratory study of behavior but that it remains fragmented, and has not pulled together the theories and techniques needed for real health and growth. Calling psychotherapy “uncoordinated and scattered” as compared to the benefits to be learned from a different culture working on the same areas of humanness. The book closes with an analogy as to how Arabic numerals provided a path to Western mathematics in a way that Roman numerals never could have made possible.

Yoga Therapy Reading List

A yoga therapy reading list will stretch your brain muscles! Start here to learn the healing and the health benefits of yoga. The following reading list comes from the 800-hour professional yoga therapist program offered at the Kripalu Yoga for Center and Health. It is part of the Integrative Yoga Therapy teaching program now at Kripalu. The IYT teaching program is a time-honored yoga therapy training program developed by Joseph and Lilian LePage. The LePage’s have  teamed up with Kripalu to offer their outstanding yoga therapy teaching curriculum. Get a head start and learn with others who will complete this yoga therapy program.

Kripalu’s Reading List

The Yoga Therapy program at Kripalu has eight modules. The reading list is broken down by required and suggested reading for the modules.

Module 4 – Yoga Therapy Applied in Medical Settings

Required Reading:

Larry Payne Ph.D., Terra Gold M.A.LAc., Eden Goldman D.C., Yoga Therapy and Integrative Medicine: Where Ancient Science Meets Modern Medicine

Recommended Reading:

Swami Shankardevananda, The Effects of Yoga on Hypertension
Swami Yogapratap, Exploring Yoga & Cancer
Swami Muktananda, Nawa Yogini Tantra: Yoga for Women
Swami Shankardevananda, Practices of Yoga for the Digestive System
Swami Satyananada Saraswati and Swami Karmananda Saraswati, Yoga and Cardiovascular Management
Swami Shankardevananda, Yogic Management of Asthma and Diabetes
Swami Nirmalananda, Yogic Management Of Cancer

Module 5 – Yoga Therapy Applications Within the Mental Health Field

Required Reading:

Robert Sapolsky, Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers

Recommended Reading:

Frances Vaughan, Shadows of the Sacred: Seeing Through Spiritual Illusions
Swami Rama et al, Yoga and Psychotherapy: The Evolution of Consciousness
Amy Weintraub, Yoga for Depression: A Compassionate Guide to Relieve Suffering Through Yoga
Bo Forbes, Yoga for Emotional Balance
Richard Miller, Yoga Nidra: A Meditative Practice for Deep Relaxation and Healing

Module 7 – Pranayama, Mudra, Bandha and Kriya applied in Yoga Therapy

Required Reading:

Joseph and Lilian Page, Mudras for Healing and Transformation