Kriya Yoga: Tapas, Svadhyaya and Ishvara Pranidhana

Group of Yoga Joes doing postures

Group of Yoga Joes doing postures

Kriya Yoga* (or kriyayoga) is yoga in action. The “action figures” of yoga are the last three Niyamas: Tapas, Svadhyaya, and Ishvara Pranidhana. They make up the perfect how-to formula of doing yoga. Kriya Yoga can be practiced along the more modernized, Westernized version of yoga (i.e, primarily doing Asana postures). The three parts to Kriya Yoga separate the do-ers of yoga from the posers of yoga.

Yoga in Action off the Mat

Yoga Joe doing Warrior I

Kriya Yoga is active, rather than passive. The strengths of Tapas (spiritual discipline), Svadhyaya (self-study), and Ishvara Pranidhana (the ultimate surrender to the divine) make for a solid, yogic action plan. I find it interesting that Kriya Yoga, one of the most “active forms” of yoga, takes place off the yoga mat!

It may be that Kriya Yoga is more difficult than many of the Asana (yogic postures) in a yoga practice. Let’s see . . . hold Warrior I for three minutes, or stay fast to practicing the yoga of Tapas, Svadhyaya, and Ishvara Pranidhana everyday? Yep, Kriya Yoga is definitely harder!

Kriya Yoga kicks off the second of four Padas or “chapters” of the Yoga Sutras, the Sadhana Pada. Yoga Sutra 2.1 (YS 2.1) is tapaḥsvādhyāyeśvarapraṇidhānāni kriyāyogaḥ. This first sutra of the second pada spells out the three Niyamas of Tapas, Svadhyaya, and Ishvara Pranidhana. It is about needing the three main qualities of Kriya Yoga: enthusiasm, intelligence and humility.

Summary of these three Niyamas

  1. Tapas – “fire” of spiritual discipline, burning away impurities at all levels (body, senses, and mind) to bring transformation. The heat and energy brings to the surface the limiting beliefs, feelings and thoughts of the personality. Tapas brings a burning enthusiasm and passion for the practice of yoga.
  2. Svadhyaya – “self-study” to begin to see our true being. The inner witness observes our body, thoughts, emotions, and beliefs. This process helps us to release over-identification with a lifetime of conditioning. The practice of self-study points out the helpful and the unhelpful ways of being that we have cultivated.
  3. Ishvara Pranidhana – surrender to the intelligence that is in all of creation. With honor and humility for all of creation, we begin to see the divine in everything. This reverence helps us to recognize life as a gift and a blessing, even in challenging times.

The practice of “yoga in action” is how we take our yogic practice off the mat and into our daily lives. It is about having the passion to transform, the will to look closely at ourselves, and wisdom to yield to something greater than the everyday world we think we have created. Namaste!

*Kriya Yoga is also a named tradition of style of yoga meditation described by Paramhansa Yogananda and the Ananda organization focused on his teachings. Like many traditional styles or types of yoga, it too follows the philosophical precepts of the Kriya Yoga discussed in this post.

 

New Yoga Classes for September – stop waiting

Tampa Yoga Therapy has New Yoga Classes

Got COVID-19 burnout? Waiting around for things to “get back to normal?” Me too. Then I realized that all I was really doing was JUST waiting. It’s been a generic type of waiting. Waiting for the unknown, or waiting for the unknowable. It’s time to stop waiting and start NEW Yoga Classes!

When COVID-19 hit as a real event I immediately closed down the studio and moved to virtually teach yoga via Zoom. That was back in March of 2020 (you know, 2020, the year when nothing happened?). Well, now it is coming on September 2020. The start of school, of fall, and of memories of all the symbology surrounding autumn. Reap the harvest, cornucopias, and the impending Autumnal Equinox happening on September 22, 2020.

It is time for me to stop waiting and start new Yoga Classes that I had been planning before COVID-19 hit. I’ve been waiting to see what would happen. As it has turned out, I’ve just been waiting. Pure and simple, generic, run-of-the-mill waiting. No special waiting. No profound waiting. That is not to say I’ve been sitting around doing nothing! Some of my work has been sort of special, and kind of profound. Now it is time to be NOVEL, as in new, not previously seen. Novel COVID-19 is insisting that all of us take a novel, new approach to change and transformation.

Here’s what I have decided to stop waiting for: NEW Yoga Classes! I’m starting them now.

These are four new yoga classes that begin Tuesday, September 1st and will continue every Tuesday:

NEW, Live, Online Yoga Classes via ZOOM:
Go to Schedule Now at TampaYogaTherapy.com to choose class, date and time you’d like to attend, and pay online
Tuesday 10-11:00 am EST Somatics & Yoga – Zoom ID 841 0083 4265 (passcode to be sent via email)
Tuesday 12 Noon EST Chair Yoga – Zoom ID 830 2208 9332 (passcode to be sent via email)
Tuesday 2:00-3:15 pm EST Calm Mind Yoga – Zoom ID 822 4493 0750
Tuesday 4:00-5:15 pm EST Healthy Heart Yoga – Zoom ID 815 8636 9880
Once you schedule and pay online ZOOM ID and passcode will be emailed to you.

Life on earth is definitely heading into a new “season.” Every year the world turns and winds us through the seasons. When our great, big earth changes the way the sun hits our planet, seasons change, and Earthlings change with it. Use this seasonal shift to help roll you forward. Stop waiting for something else to make the change for you. Stop waiting. Take a novel, new approach, and make the changes you’ve been waiting for.

Change your energy, change your perception, change your mind, change your body. Join me on Tuesday for a variety of Yoga Classes, or try out my FREE Yoga Classes offered on Wednesday’s:

FREE, Live, Online Yoga Classes via ZOOM:
Sign up for email class reminders and news to receive passcode for these Zoom classes:
Wednesday 10-11:00 am EST FREE Chair Yoga
– Zoom ID 172 034 007
Wednesday 6-7:15 pm EST FREE Hatha Yoga in the Kripalu style
– Zoom ID 197 662 299 

#tampayoga #zoomyoga #september #seminoleheightsyoga #autumnalequinox #tampayogatherapy #takemetotheriveryoga #stopwaiting #bemorenotless

Aparigraha: learning to let go

Aparigraha is the idea of non-grasping. We’re talking about the synonyms of grasp, not the antonyms of grasp! I promise this is not an English lesson on the proper use of terms. Bear with me. Here are a few synonyms for grasp: hold, grip, clinch, clench, clasp, grapple, clamp, and lug. In yoga, Aparigraha asks us not to (fill in the synonym of your choice) thoughts, emotions, actions, ideas, people, things, situations, memories . . . that no longer serve. Translation: let go of anything that keeps you from realizing your own true nature. Learn to let go. Move forward to realizing your own true nature. Learn self-awareness to find your true nature.

Number 5 Aparigraha caps off the list of the five Yamas with an interesting twist. After we consider all the nuance around the other four Yamas, we come to Aparigraha. The Yamas ask us to study our thoughts, words and actions, that we might be more self-aware. And then, Aparigraha reminds us to not hold too tightly to what we perceive. Not to cling, even to our own self-awareness. Does this remind you of the odd phrase, “moderation, even in moderation?”

The five Yamas

  1. Ahimsa – non-violence
  2. Satya – truthfulness
  3. Asteya – non-stealing
  4. Brahmacharya – non-excess
  5. Aparigraha – non-possessiveness

Each Yama can be taken as literally as the Sanskrit translations allow. But a study into the Yamas, as a group, reveals that each Yama is more complicated than its direct translation. Aparigraha is equally vexing. When we are working on living a yogic life and trying to move forward on our spiritual path, “letting go” seems risky. We cling to our yoga practice, we hold tight to our need to be better practitioners of yoga. Easing up, letting go, and softening are all a hard sell to a dedicated yogi.

To release or to restrain

The root of Aparigraha is in the term “Parigraha.” Parigraha is greediness and possessiveness. The “A” in Aparigraha indicates it is the opposite of Parigraha. That points to Aparigraha as a form of self-restraint. We release excessive internal and external attachments. We restrain from achieving anything by way of harm or destruction to other sentient beings. We release the need to take possession. Aparigraha asks us to hold the reins lightly.

To reach or to grasp

The poet Robert Browning wrote a 267 line poem titled “Andrea del Sarto.” Fortunately for him, part of one line is recognized by millions with no interest in (or knowledge of) poetry. It is this:

Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp,
Unfortunately the rest of his sentence didn’t make the same famous cut. “Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, Or what’s a heaven for?” Exactly. What IS heaven for, but to remind us of the infinite? We stop ending some pursuit with a grasp, and are freed to reach for our infinite being. Our own true nature. Free from limiting beliefs, free from grasping onto the borders of our limited personality.

The end of suffering

The letting go of Aparigraha is an end to a type of suffering. Similar ideas exist within other spiritual traditions. Buddha taught the four noble truths and the path that frees us from suffering (abandoning our expectation on the way things must be). Christianity commands us not to covet in a whopping two of ten commandments. All manner of suffering is in store for adherents not sticking to these spiritual paths. Psychologists have even described insatiable greed and its inherent grasping as an addiction. This grasping stuff is widely recognized as a real sore spot!

Five mindful ways to practice Aparigraha

  1. Watch your internal dialog for words like: always, never, all, nothing, must, should
  2. Be aware of feelings of envy and jealousy
  3. Make a gratitude list. Include people, things, gifts, and accomplishments.
  4. Examine your goals with an eye for the purpose behind your striving
  5. Adopt a short breath practice: inhale and say to yourself “I am,” exhale saying “enough”

Five ways to develop this discipline – the Niyamas

  1. Saucha – purity
  2. Santosha – contentment
  3. Tapas – disciplined use of our energy
  4. Svadhyaya – self-study
  5. Ishvara-Pranidhana – surrender and devotion to a force higher than yourself

As the first of the 8 Limbs of Yoga, the Yamas set forth a challenging list of social and ethical restraints. With the second of the 8 Limbs of Yoga, we are presented with the help guide: the Niyamas. The Niyamas assist us with needed personal discipline and self-study. It is through the Niyamas that Aparigraha can be recognized. Then, with our complete yogic practice we are able to compare and contrast what is real with what is the conditioning of our personality. We come to realize we are able to reach for our own true nature, our own limitlessness, Or what’s a heaven for?

 

Brahmacharya: Conservation of Life Force Energy

List of the Yamas

Working with our life force energy is a primary, physical yogic practice. We “stretch the muscles” of that life force with the body and our breath. The philosophical and spiritual aspects of yogic practice are also primary to working with life force energy. Brahmacharya falls into this latter category of working with “mind stuff.” Brahamacharya is one of the Yamas, the first of the Eight Limbs of Yoga. Brahmacharya is the mindful practice of conserving life force energy, making it more available for our spiritual journey.

To focus our life force energy we can start with Asana, the physical body postures of yoga. Asana is probably the most recognizable form of yoga. Most people understand that yoga involves body postures such as downward facing dog, sitting in Lotus posture, or holding some variation of the Warrior postures. And from Asana, we move into the breath practices of Pranayama. Asana and Pranayama are practiced together. Our gateway to generating and directing life force energy is through the body. We move, we breathe. We focus, we transform.

Brahmacharya is the fourth Yama. The Yamas are a listing of ethical guidelines, although not necessarily worked through in a particular order! The 5 Yamas are as follows:

Ahimsa – non-harming
Satya – truthfulness
Asteya – non-stealing
Brahmacharya – non-excess
Aparigraha – non-grasping

Taken together, the Yamas give us a way to recognize how we are directing our life force energy with our words, actions, thoughts, and intentions. By examining ourselves in meditation and contemplation, we begin to recognize where we are sending our energy. Another term for life force energy is Prana. And as the saying goes, “Where the mind goes, the prana flows.”

Brahmacharya asks us not to waste our life force energy in excessive behavior. If we become too heavily invested in something (you name it: fame, fortune, sex, money, rock and roll, and so on . . . ) we pour all our life force energy in a single focused direction. Sometimes single focus is needed to achieve goals and to accomplish things. A sign of single focus overload, and imbalance is when we describe ourselves as burned out, wrung out, or stressed out. The ability to bring our energy back in balance allows the life force energy to flow with comfort and ease.

A yoga practice gives a full range of tools to achieve balance. We prime the body for balance by moving the limbs, stretching, holding, centering, and breathing. Breathing deeply and thoroughly. Breathing into the posture, visualizing the breath as it rises up through the body and moves gently downward in a easeful and grounding direction. We engage the muscles and experience the sensations of that muscle activation. The body moves and is stimulated. The nervous system is queued by the breath for either action or to reach a calm state. The mind becomes focused on every experience of the body, and the monkey mind is tamed by being given the task of total awareness. And then we step off the mat!

Yoga has both “on mat” and “off mat” components. Both require yoga practices to develop a keen awareness to our own personal experience of body, mind and emotion. Brahamacharya and the other Yamas of Ahimsa, Satya, Asteya, and Aparigrapha are off the mat yoga practices. By watching our thinking and questioning our intentions, we may become aware of a mind/spirit imbalance. Here are a few subtle examples of how Yamas may give us opportunities for more balance:

Ahimsa (non-harming, or doing no harm) – we realize we are making judgement calls about a complete stranger. Rather than looking away or avoiding them, we decide to smile and offer a few words of friendly conversation. We do this because we realize others may sense they are being judged and rather than continuing to perpetuate that harm, we choose differently.

Satya (truthfulness) – we notice one day that something we have believed in is a “truism.” It turns out to be fully formed by our personality, upbringing and culture. We may have been believing something simply because “it’s always been done that way.” We realize it isn’t really true, after all. We experience the difference between our distorted thoughts and our own true nature.

Asteya (non-stealing) – after realizing our constant tardiness is an irritation to our family and friends, we decide to stop wasting their precious time. Rather than “stealing” their time by making them wait, we decide to return that valuable item! We show more patience, we offer to do a favor or a task that will lighten their load. We begin to understand we should not take that which is not offered (someone’s time, their energy, their self-respect, etc.).

Brahmacharya (conservation of life force energy, non-excess) – after reading some old journal entries we notice a pattern of negativity. Granted, the journaling project has helped us clarify our feelings. But in this hindsight we realize how much energy we have expended on worry, doubt, and agitation. We decide to start a gratitude journal!

Aparigraha (non-grasping, attachment) – We begin to question why we are hanging on to this idea of the perfect relationship. It’s caused us to “unfriend” people and disengage from others who seem to care for us. We wonder why we are so attached to having some need met, why we keep grasping for some great prize. It’s making us tired and depressed. We decide to give it a name. We call out its name when we see it working its way into our thoughts. Here’s a great story about that very thing: “I see you Mara!”

Brahmacharya helps us consider how we are spending our energy. A practice of Brahmacharya may be one where we take time to watch thought forms in the mind. This can be done on the mat, such as during seated meditation or during Asana. Or off the mat, by developing a “radar system” to detect patterns of excess. Patterns of thought, particularly reoccurring themes may clue you into places where you may want to consider conservation of energy. Developing awareness to sensation in the physical body, emotional activation in the nervous system, and awareness to thought forms are all tools to be sharpened through yoga practice. Through a regular (non-excessive!) yoga practice, a greater sense of balance will be achieved.

 

 

 

 

 

Universal Loving Kindness Meditation

Universal Loving Kindness Meditation comes from the Buddhist practice of Mindfulness. It is one of the mindfulness exercises used to clear the mind and focus the attention. It is often referred to as Metta (Poly) or Maitri (Sanskrit), the practice of loving kindness. There are many variations on the general theme of this meditation. The basic approach is to recite statements asking for loving kindness for ourselves, for those we love, for those we do not know personally, for those who we may dislike, and for all sentient beings.

Book Cover Mindfulness In Plain EnglishMy favorite version of the Universal Loving Kindness Meditation can be found in the book Mindfulness In Plain English by the Venerable H. Gunaratana Mahathera. The book was copyrighted in 1991 with several statements in the opening pages offering it as free for distribution. “Permisssion to reprint for free distribution has been kindly granted by the author.” “Reprinted for free distribution.” “This book is strictly for free distribution, it is not to be sold.” At 185 pages, this slim volume gives practical, straight-forward direction on how to practice mindfulness meditation.

In Chapter 9, Set Up Exercises (numbered pages 89-98) Universal Loving Kindness Meditation is explained in as plain English as one could hope. The text goes through a discussion on the importance of reciting certain passages within the Mindfulness practice. Simple and clear:

“They are not prayers, and they are not mantras. They are not magical incantations. They are psychological cleansing devices which require mental participation in order to be effective. Mumbled words without intention are useless.”

The “psychological cleansing device” is actually the mind viewing itself in deep concentration. Through this close examination of our thoughts, we begin to eliminate harmful thoughts that no longer support us on our path. Instead, we replace them with the more useful thoughts of loving kindness toward ourselves and others. Replacing a negative thought with a positive thought is not a new psychological construct. And using repetition we begin to encode to memory, and indeed encode to a new way of thinking.

As in most skillful development, we make progress when we repeatedly work and practice. Mindfulness is a skill and Universal Loving Kindness Meditation is one of its practices. As mentioned, there are many versions of Metta. Take a look at a few of the ones listed below and see if one of them will work for you. At the end of this post is the version given in the book Mindfulness In Plain English.

Links to the book Mindfulness In Plain English:
In print, a pdf file from the Buddha Educational Foundation: http://ftp.budaedu.org/ebooks/pdf/EN036.pdf
In audio, via YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sLbflbaj_1A

Basic instructions for a similar practice from The Metta Institute.

Issue at Hand by Gil Fronsdal, free from The Insight Meditation Center

 

The following is a direct excerpt from the text of Mindfulness In Plain English. It contains the recitation phrases for Universal Loving Kindness, along with the general instructions given along with the practice.

______________

At the beginning of each meditation session, say the following sentences to yourself. Really feel the intention:

1. May I be well, happy and peaceful. May no harm come to me. May no difficulties come to me. May no problems come to me. May I always meet with success.

May I also have patience, courage, understanding, and determination to meet and overcome inevitable difficulties, problems, and failures in life.

2. May my parents be well, happy and peaceful. May no harm come to them. May no difficulties come to them. May no problems come to them. May they always meet with success.

May they also have patience, courage, under-standing, and determination to meet and overcome inevitable difficulties, problems, and failures in life.

3. May my teachers be well, happy and peaceful. May no harm come to them. May no difficulties come to them. May no problems come to them. May they always meet with success.

May they also have patience, courage, under-standing, and determination to meet and overcome inevitable difficulties, problems, and failures in life.

4. May my relatives be well, happy and peaceful. May no harm come to them. May no difficulties come to them. May no problems come to them. May they always meet with success.

May they also have patience, courage, under-standing, and determination to meet and overcome inevitable difficulties, problems, and failures in life.

5. May my friends be well, happy and peaceful. May no harm come to them. May no difficulties come to them. May no problems come to them. May they always meet with success.

May they also have patience, courage, under-standing, and determination to meet and overcome inevitable difficulties, problems, and failures in life.

6. May all indifferent persons be well, happy and peaceful. May no harm come to them. May no difficulties come to them. May no problems come to them. May they always meet with success.

May they also have patience, courage, under-standing, and determination to meet and overcome inevitable difficulties, problems, and failures in life.

7. May my enemies be well, happy and peaceful. May no harm come to them. May no difficulties come to them. May no problems come to them. May they always meet with success.

May they also have patience, courage, under-standing, and determination to meet and overcome inevitable difficulties, problems, and failures in life.

8. May all living beings be well, happy and peaceful. May no harm come to them. May no difficulties come to them. May no problems come to them. May they always meet with success.

May they also have patience, courage, under-standing, and determination to meet and overcome inevitable difficulties, problems, and failures in life.

Once you have completed these recitations, lay aside all your troubles and conflicts for the period of practice. Just drop the whole bundle. If they come back into your meditation later, just treat them as what they are, distractions. The practice of Universal Loving Kindness is also recommended for bedtime and just after arising. It is said to help you sleep well and to prevent nightmares. It also makes it easier to get up in the morning. And it makes you more friendly and open toward everybody, friend or foe, human or otherwise.

______________

 

Online Yoga at Take Me To The River Yoga

Online Yoga Classes At TampaYogaTherapy.comThere’s no excuse NOW for practicing yoga! You can’t argue with the comfort of your home and on your own schedule. Online yoga classes are here and popping up all over. And who cares if you don’t have the latest sleek and awesome stretchy yoga pants? No need for the best, supportive specialty yoga bra and top either. Come as you are, literally and figuratively!

Social distancing may be our new normal for awhile. It requires a physical barrier of space between us at this time. And we are leaning heavily on technology to keep us connected. Online yoga classes taught live and pre-recorded are not a new thing. They’ve been going on since the early days of the internet on platforms like Facebook and YouTube. Now we have Vimeo, FaceTime, Instagram stories, GoToMeeting, ZOOM, BlueJeans, and many more. Bandwidth may end up being an issue, but that’s a topic for another time.

I posted my first online yoga classes on March 4, 2020 in preparation for my trip to the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health in Massachusetts. My online yoga classes were set up for my regular students to practice yoga while I was away at yoga therapy certification training. As it turned out, online yoga classes are needed by a much larger audience now. COVID-19, the corona virus seems to be changing everything in our lives. And online yoga classes are just one more yogic “adjustment” we need to make.

Online Yoga Classes from Take Me To The River Yoga & Tampa Yoga Therapy

My online yoga classes can be found on my yoga therapy website, TampaYogaTherapy.com under the “online courses” tab. I plan to add to the following courses and add different courses in the coming weeks. Here is a sampling of the online yoga courses now on the Tampa Yoga Therapy site:

Online Chair Yoga – Practice yoga in a chair. If you’ve done yoga before you’ll recognize many of the movements in this class. If you’ve never done yoga before you may find this to be one of the most accessible forms of yoga. Make no mistake, chair yoga is STILL yoga.
Pranayama – this course features short videos demonstrating breathing practices such as Dirgha (the three part breath), Nadi Shodhana (alternate nostril breathing), Kaki Mudra (the beak breath), Kapalabhati (the skull polishing breath), and others.
Basic Yoga Practices – which includes a free “preview” video titled, “Please Watch This First,” where I explain a general approach to yoga asana practice. The lessons within this course are for practices like the Sun Salutations sequence, a basic yoga practice.
Live Yoga via ZOOM – This is where you’ll find the current week’s regularly scheduled, live yoga classes where I will be teaching class from the Take Me To The River Yoga studio.

My plan is to improve my technical expertise. I have a lot to learn with regard to streaming on the internet, like how to improve sound quality, and other aspects of yoga online delivery. I’m practicing! And I am practicing yoga online too. Please join me in either a live class via ZOOM or through a pre-recorded online yoga class. It’s easy. Try it today at www.TampaYogaTherapy.com/courses.

#yogaonline #tampayoga #yogatherapy #tampayogatherapy #yoga #cabinfever #yogaintampa #onlineyogaclass

 

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.

June 21 is International Day of Yoga

The International Day of Yoga (and the summer solstice!) is on Friday June 21. Many yoga studios have special events planned around this auspicious day. We do not have classes on Friday at the studio but will celebrate in classes on June 18 & 19, and 25 & 26. In honor of this June event, Take Me To The River Yoga will donate all the proceeds from all classes in these last two weeks of the month of June to The Spring.

Headquartered in Tampa, The Spring was established in 1977 and is the Department of Children and Families (DCF) certified Domestic Violence Center for Hillsborough County.

The Spring’s mission is to prevent domestic violence, protect victims, and promote change in lives, families and communities.

The Spring’s mission aligns with the Eight Limbs of Yoga and we are happy to support their efforts as we practice yoga at the studio. Our number one “branch” among the Eight Limbs of Yoga is Ahimsa, the concept of non-violence and of doing no harm. Join us in support of The Spring in this season of celebration for the International Day of Yoga.

Check the class schedule, come to yoga class and have your class fee sent as a donation to The Spring. If you’d like to bring gently worn clothes, or would like to make a larger donation to The Spring (by cash or checks) drop them off when you come to class.

Thank you in advance for your generosity. Namaste!

Dharana is concentration

Going out on the 6th limb

Dharana (pronounced DAR-ah-nah) is one of the 8 Limbs of Yoga. It is described as a type of focused attention, or concentration. One has to wonder why this important yogic practice is relegated to the sixth limb position! Our ability to concentrate and to focus is at the heart of both our meditation and asana practices.

Let’s look at the order of the 8 Limbs of Yoga, starting with the first five. Right thought, speech and action as described in the first two limbs (the Yamas and the Niyamas), posture and breathing in the third and fourth limbs (Asana and Pranayama), deep awareness and the ability to withdraw from sensory input with the 5th limb (Pratyahara). At the sixth limb we arrive at the practice of single pointed attention on an object of focus (Dharana). Maybe the discipline of the first five limbs helps us to develop the serious intention required to practice Dharana. And the other thought is that the 8 Limbs of Yoga aren’t necessarily practiced in any particular order!

To practice Dharana we concentrate deeply to lock consciousness in on a single point. The importance of Dharana is probably evident to our practice of yoga. It’s made even more clear in the opening of the third chapter of the Yoga Sutras. Chapter three starts with a complete description of Dharana. By the fourth and fifth verses we learn that it is a key to wisdom.

4. Concentration, absorption, and integration regarding a single object compose the perfect discipline of consciousness.

5. Once the perfect discipline of consciousness is mastered, wisdom dawns.1,2

The steps to single pointed focus is similar to many of our yogic practices. It starts with watching the mind, and bringing it back to the practice when it wanders. The following Dharana information is largely based on teachings from one of my teachers, Freedom Cole3. Here are the steps, science, benefits, and practice of Dharana:

Practice steps for Dharana

  1. Sustain attention on a selected object of focus
  2. Self monitor
  3. Detect wandering thoughts
  4. Return attention from wandering thoughts to the object of focus
  5. Disengage from distractions
  6. Practice 3-5 minutes. Work up to longer periods of time
  7. More experienced Dharana would include Pratyahara

Dharana and the science of EEG

Research using EEG (electroencephalogram), scientists are able to view activity in the brain during meditation. It is through the practice of Dharana that  to focus the mind.

    1. Increased Gamma waves in the frontal lobes
    2. Increased activity in the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex

Therapeutic benefits of Dharana

Science is coming online to help us understand the yoga therapy benefits of Dharana. Measurements such EEG, heart rate, heart rate variability are quantifying the results of meditation and the deep focus that Dharana plays.

Dharana may benefit:

    1. Research indicates that it may benefit depression by reducing active brooding on negativity
    2. May reduce distractibility and cognitive decline
    3. Strengthen self-monitoring, mental stability, and memory
    4. May be beneficial for trauma and addiction by strengthening the prefrontal cortex
    5. May improve Mindfulness meditation practice (without concentration skills, mindfulness may turn attention to anxious or traumatic stimuli). Dharana may help keep the mind from turning in a negative direction

How to practice Dharana with Asana

Dharana is an embodied practice. There is no need to engage the mind in all sorts of rational thought forms. Focus on the body. Focus with the body. A few examples of basic Dharana practices, going from simple to a more complex approach:

  1. Focus on a body part (i.e., the big toe in a forward bend)
  2. Focus on a specific muscle or a specific repetitive movement (i.e, vinyasa flow)
  3. Focus on combined integration of asana, pranayama, and pratyahara (i.e., sun salutations as a “meditation in motion”)

Dharana, the sixth limb of yoga, is the development of skill to consciously control attention. It is at this point that the 8 Limbs of Yoga do tend to work in a linear fashion. The seventh limb is Dhyana, the state of meditation. And finally, what we all are waiting for: Samadhi, the eighth limb, the state of Yoga.

 

1The Wisdom of Yoga, by Stephen Cope, Appendix B – Yoga-Sutra in English translated by Chip Hartranft

2Online pdf of the Yoga-Sutra in English by Chip Hartranft. Includes Sanskrit pronunciation guide, Sanskrit-English translations, and Sanskrit-English glossary

3Freedom Cole, Integrated Yoga Therapy Training, Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, Stockbridge, MA, 2019

Home Yoga Practice

Do you have a home yoga practice? Have you developed a regular yoga practice for yourself? Maybe your regular practice is to go to your favorite yoga classes every week as consistently as possible. And your home yoga practice might be to take a few minutes to move and stretch each day.

I started thinking about home yoga practices for my students. Sometimes I have to cancel a class. When I’m away from our classes together, I hope my continued encouragement to do yoga at home gains traction. As a yoga teacher, I want students to learn yoga and eventually develop their own home yoga practice. A person makes the most progress when yoga becomes a part of their everyday lives. So, let’s consider the merits of both a yoga studio practice and a home yoga practice.

Home Yoga Practice vs Yoga Studio Practice

Most of us would agree that practicing yoga with others helps to keep us in class, and on the mat from start to finish. It may make us more motivated to put in a strong yoga practice. We stay with each pose, attempt each move, and participate more actively. Yoga is not a competitive sport but it can feel like a team sport. A “team of yogis” moving through asanas and breathing together in pranayama can inspire you go that extra mile. It is uplifting to watch as others move together with you in a yoga studio class.

The home yoga practice can make yoga easy. For starters, you’re at home! You don’t have to find a class, get dressed, comb your hair, drive your car, or go online to schedule or pay for class. The downside is you don’t have to commit to… well, anything. The home yoga practice can make yoga hard, because it is easy to get distracted with home tasks. Like some many areas of our life, we bemoan: “The mind is wonderful servant but a terrible master.” But let’s decide that your heart is in it. You know it will be a good and positive habit to develop. Even the servants of your logical mind must yield to the obvious pros and cons.

Merits of a Home Yoga Practice

  • Developing intentional awareness – many yoga studio teachers (like me!) will give the queue to become more aware, to notice sensation, to scan the body, to go inside and check in with how you are feeling. The teacher may be talking through this at just the moment when you need quiet and stillness! In a home yoga practice, develop a keener awareness by suggesting these queues to yourself by yourself. You set the intention when you say to yourself, “now, go deep inside and feel your body from the inside out.” 
  • Giving your body exactly what it needs – you’re the expert on your own body! You know the difference between a twist that feels oh-so-good versus one that is unpleasant and is moving in the direction of painfulness. Ask your body what it needs. Offer yourself movement suggestions, “how does this feel? oh, well, how about this, then?” Move in ways that help you release and relax, and strengthen and balance.
  • Working on advanced poses – So you want to do headstands? Gear your home yoga practice to poses that prepare your body for headstands. For example, warm up and spend the rest of your time going up and coming down (gracefully! and against a wall!) from headstand and child’s pose with strength and control.
  • Choosing more meditation or more pranayama – Have you ever been in a studio yoga class doing alternate nostril breathing and reluctantly had to stop before you were ready? I have! Several more rounds would have been oh-so delicious. A few minutes more (or less!) of mindfulness meditation or savasana would have been just right. Experiment with yourself. You choose!
  • Working with personal preferences – In a home yoga practice you may find yourself doing the same poses and sequences every session. What’s up with that? A home yoga practice gives you the opportunity, indeed the intention to examine your own choices. Like eating habits, what we most avoid doing in yoga class may be exactly the thing we need most! Working with personal preferences help us to notice and choose a practice (a habit, a meal, a pose) that creates more balance in our lives.
  • Going long or going short – What’s the ideal yoga practice time. An hour? An hour and 15 minutes? Ninety minutes? Two hours? With a home yoga practice you decide. Some days it may be exactly 23 minutes using your phone timer. Other days it may be outside, in the park, in between walking, skipping or running. Go long or go short. Just go and do it!

Planning a Home Yoga Practice

Deciding to develop a home yoga practice is the first step. Once you set the intention to begin, you’ve already started! Yoga Journal offers a few keys to a successful home practice:

  • Make a date with your mat – use the time you have, even if that means 15 minutes
  • Find inspiration – books, videos, or using your favorite sequence from your studio class
  • Choose a focus – standing poses, inversions, twists, forward folds
  • Beginning and ending – develop quiet and calm for the start and the finish
  • Just do it – get past your mind stuff and “experience yourself more clearly”

Beginning a Home Yoga Practice

There are all sorts of videos online for yoga, pranayama, meditation, mudras, chanting, and yoga philosophy. The following are links that give me inspiration in teaching yoga and in doing my own home yoga practice. You may recognize some of the postures, queues, and language that I use when I teach classes at Take Me To The River Yoga studio. You can always come to Take Me To The River yoga studio to practice these same styles in a studio yoga class with me. I encourage you to also try a few of these online classes, get inspired and develop your own most meaningful home yoga practice. 

Somatics and Yoga – James Knight’s youtube channel “Gentle Somatic Yoga” lays out several different somatic practices by topic. For variety and for addressing specific issues, this is a good primer on the topic of Somatics and Yoga.

Mindful Hatha Yoga – Mindful Hatha Yoga tends to be a more gentle practice with focus on slow movement and concentration on the breath. Yoga with Adrienne is a popular yoga channel with different styles. I like Adrienne because she’s approachable, has a sense of humor, and gives great direction and options. This is her Gentle Yoga – 25 Minute Gentle Yoga Sequence

Chair Yoga – The Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa has posted several chair yoga videos. This “Gentle Yoga in the Chair” is one of the best I have found.

Kripalu Vinyasa Flow – One of my teachers at Kripalu, Coby Kozlowski teaches this Moderate Kripalu Vinyasa Flow class. 

Mindfulness Meditation – Tara Brach is my go-to meditation teacher. Her videos and podcasts are so inspiring! Here’s her youtube channel. Most all her talks begin with a discussion and end with a short, guided meditation. She is easy to relate to, offering poignant, compassionate quotes from Rumi, Rilke, and telling stories to give texture and deep meaning.

Kirtan Kriya – The Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation explains the steps, benefits and results they’ve seen with the practice of Kirtan Kriya. Read up on the technique using the fingers, then go to this link to practice with music and timing. The youtube video has are no words or instruction but just provides the framework of music, chanting and timing for this practice. I’ve written on Mudras and Homunculus Man to explore the physiology behind the effectiveness of hand gesture practices.

 

Yoga and Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)

Chronic Kidney Disease: How Big is BIG?

Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) is big. It’s as big as the globe, and it affects 1 in 10 people worldwide. One in TEN! That’s big. And in the United States that statistic balloons out to a whopping 1 in 7. In addition to the astounding rates of CKD, adults in the US have two or more chronic diseases. Consider that it is often paired with other chronic diseases. That makes CKD even bigger.

The yogic lifestyle addresses the main risk factors that contribute to CDK and other chronic diseases: lack of physical activity, poor nutrition, tobacco use and excessive alcohol. These four main risk factors are big when you consider how many people participate in these four risky behaviors. A yogic lifestyle reinforces discernment and discipline. Practicing a yogic lifestyle brings awareness to thought and action. With yoga practice we learn to listen to the body and choose wisely.

What in the world can we do?

World Kidney DayWorld Kidney Day, a global awareness campaign launches their big annual events to bring awareness of preventive behaviors for addressing kidney disease worldwide. March 14, 2019 is World Kidney Day. The theme is, “Kidney Health for Everyone Everywhere.” Everyone, everywhere? Sounds really big.

The World Kidney Day campaign urges several concrete measures to improve kidney care. Starting with, “Encourage and adopt healthy lifestyles (access to clean water, exercise, healthy diet, tobacco control. Many types of kidney diseases can be prevented, delayed and / or kept under control when appropriate prevention measures are in place.”

Yoga and the “sister” practice of Ayurveda have direct application to promoting kidney health. The ancient practices of Yoga and Ayurveda offer teachings of movement, breath work, healthy diet, and meditation – all contributing to stress reduction and an overall healthy lifestyle.

National Kidney FoundationThe main functions of the kidneys are to clean the blood, support healthy bones and tissue, and to keep the blood pressure normal. The National Kidney Foundation points out this symbiotic relationship of the kidneys and the heart: hypertension causes CKD and CKD causes hypertension. Heart disease in the number one cause of death in people with the CKD. Family history, hypertension, and diabetes are all risk factors to chronic kidney disease.

Stress is another BIG risk factor

Stress has a negative impact on every type of disease. Chronic stress puts your health at risk. And every risk factor of Chronic Kidney Disease is aggravated by stress. Stress raises your heart rate and elevates your blood pressure. Anything from an anxious thought to a life-threatening event can trigger the body’s stress response. The body releases adrenaline and cortisol to enable us to think quickly and act even quicker. This super human reaction is great when it’s really needed. The problem comes when we fall into a pattern of reacting to every day events as if they are a major challenge. And sometimes they can feel that way!

Fear of losing your job is distracting and creates constant worry. An argument with a loved one can sour your mood for the rest of the day. Even stressing out over the latest political rant can seem like a threat to world peace. Our lives are filled with every day events that cause the mind to worry, fear, and to stress out. When the mind is not at peace, the body remains ready to react. This state of readiness is the stress response. Great when it’s needed, harmful when it keeps us on constant alert to the next threat looming around the corner.

Yoga is BIG at stress reduction

The first two “guidelines” in yoga, the yoga sutras in English and Sanskrit are:

1.1 Now, the teachings of yoga (atha yoga anusasanam)
1.2 Yoga is the stilling of the fluctuations of the mind (yogas chitta vritti nirodha)

The first two sutras sum up yoga’s big picture. The teachings of yoga are for calming the mind! We use yogic movements of the body (asanas, the postures), yogic breathing techniques (pranayama) and concentration (dhyana) to help ourselves bring calmness to the disturbing thoughts in our mind. Yoga is a stress reduction practice!

When we breath slowly and deeply, and focus our thoughts on how our body is feeling we create the “relaxation response.” The relaxation response was coined by Dr. Herbert Benson, Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. (His relaxation response technique is a close replication of the centuries old approach to several different forms of meditation). The relaxation response sends millions of messages to the body and the brain – in that order! It confirms to all systems that we are calming down. It informs the nervous system that everything is fine. 

And everything is OK

  • Breathing relaxes the body
  • Adrenaline stops flowing
  • Heart rate returns to normal, or slows down further
  • Blood pressure normalizes or comes down
  • Mind returns to the next task at hand

Sample one hour practice*

(1) Physical postures done with awareness (many of these postures may be more effective with variations that involve twists and rotations at the waist). Search for the following pose descriptions on Yoga Journal’s site.

A. Standing asanas (1 minute each): Mountain pose with arms stretched and with bound hands (Urdhva-Hastasana), Backward bending, from waist (Ardha Chakrasana), and Half-waist-rotation pose (Ardha Kati Chakrasana).

B. Sitting asanas (1 minute each): Extension of the front body (Purvottanasana), Cobra (Bhujangasana), Hare pose (Shashankasana), Seated twist (Bharadvajasana/Vakrasana), Butterfly (Baddha Konasana)

C. Supine asanas (those in reclined position, 1 minute each): Reclining bound angle posture (Supta Baddhakonasana), Reclining cross legged posture (Supta Svastikasana), Bridge pose (Setubandhasana), Shoulder stand on a chair (Salamba Sarvangasana), Inverted lake pose (ViparitaKarani), Air releasing pose (pavanmuktasana), Corpse posture (Savasana) with bolster support under chest.

(2) Breathing techniques (Pranayama, a 10-15 minute session): Hands in and out breathing (10 rounds in 2 minutes), hand stretch breathing (10 rounds in 2 minutes), tiger breathing (10 rounds in 2 minutes), alternate nostril breathing (Nadisuddhi; in 5 minutes), left nostril breathing (Chandra AnulomaViloma; 27 rounds in 5 minutes, 4 times per day), humming bee breath (Bhramari; in 2 minutes), Cooling pranayama (Sitali; 9 rounds) and abdominal breathing in lying-down position in 2 minutes.

(3) Yogic relaxation at the end of asana and pranayama (Savasana, a 20 minute session): Techniques with imagery or mindfulness based stress reduction meditation. (Mindfulness Meditation, Yoga Nidra, or a rotation of consciousness practice).

*Practices to be avoided are pranayama and asana that may raise heart rate (i.e., Bhastrika, Kapalabhati, and inverted poses like headstand).

References

Role of Yoga in Chronic Kidney Disease: A Hypothetical Review, Kashinath GM, Hemant B, Praerna C, Nagarathna R and Nagendra HR, Division of Yoga and life sciences, Swami Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana Samsthana (S-VYASA University), Banglore, India, https://www.omicsonline.org/open-access/role-of-yoga-in-chronic-kidney-disease-a-hypothetical-review-2161-0959.1000167.php?aid=26109

Keep your kidneys healthier with yoga, The Art of Living, organization founded by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, https://www.artofliving.org/in-en/yoga/health-and-wellness/yoga-for-stronger-kidneys

Yoga Therapy Kidney Disorders, Asana International Yoga Journal, https://www.asanajournal.com/yoga-therapy-kidney-disorders/

Chronic stress puts your health at risk, Chronic stress can wreak havoc on your mind and body. Take steps to control your stress, Mayo Clinic staff, https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress/art-20046037

 

 

 

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

International Day of Yoga – IDY 2018

IDY International Day of Yoga in Tampa, FL
Celebrate International Day of Yoga in Tampa, FL

Celebrate IDY with FREE Yoga Classes

The “official” International Day of Yoga (IDY) happens every year on June 21. Take Me To The River Yoga studio in Tampa will be celebrating International Yoga Day 2018 with FREE YOGA CLASSES. The regularly scheduled Tuesday and Wednesday classes on June 19 and June 20, 2018 will be free. Anyone who has paid for a series of classes will get a free pass for any of these classes.

Yoga classes are held every Tuesday and Wednesday at 10 am and 7 pm at Take Me To The River Yoga. Surya Namaskar, the Sun Salutation is a traditional series of yoga poses taught in most forms of yoga asana. I will be leading a series of Sun Salutations in the regular classes and a version of the Sun Salutation in the Chair Yoga classes. Check the schedule and sign up online to make class a breeze.

Started in 2015, June 21st is the International Day of Yoga

This year marks the third year for the IDY. The date was originally declared by the United Nations General Assembly in 2015. Celebrate IDY and your yoga practice by attending yoga classes in your area. Consider doing a personal practice of (10) sun salutations every day during this week. Celebrate yoga in your life. Start every day greeting the rising sun with Surya Namaskar, the Sun Salutation. Warm up, wake up and enliven the whole body at the beginning of your day.

Celebrating Yoga around the globe

Watch this video “Sun Never Sets On Yoga – A 24-hour Journey of Sun Salutations Around the Globe” published by the Art of Living, Sri Sri School of Yoga in 2015. People all over the world were doing yoga Sun Salutations for IDY. Tracking yogis from 100 cities around the world doing Sun Salutations celebrated the days leading up to the International Day of Yoga. It’s beautiful to see all the different people moving through the poses. Surya Namaskar is a salute to the sun. It honors the day and celebrates the international yoga community.

Yoga is an N-of-1 Clinical Trial

N-of-1 is the term used to describe one person as the sole participant in a clinical trial. Clinical trials are used to test new pharmaceuticals, medical devices, and innovative health-related techniques. The practice of yoga with a trained yoga professional can be akin to an N-of-1 clinical trial. The proof of efficacy is measured by how yoga makes the individual feel.

Yoga treats the person, not the disease. Large clinical trials are looking at the macrocosm of a disease or illness, which is great. It is important to know how large groups of people respond within a clinical trial. If an individual gets the placebo or the treatment and doesn’t respond positively however, they become a segment of a statistic. Yoga approaches health at the N-of-1 level. Yoga can address the microcosm (and super microcosm) of dis-ease in a person.

The N-of-1 idea is gaining some traction in a world where clinical trials may involve hundreds or thousands of participants. Large trials are designed to learn how groups of people will respond to certain treatments. New drugs and medical techniques are developed using the scientific method in these case studies. Clinical trials also inform the direction of the next generation of study and research. And big data in clinical trial research has become another technology tool for analyzing all kinds of detailed bits of information. Gathering huge amounts of data on individuals is the N-of-all method.

The N-of-1 experience is something we all do when we practice body awareness in yoga. We are trying to figure out how we feel and what makes us feel better. Body awareness is being aided by technology, biofeedback, and groups like The Quantified Self. Check out their podcasts and read about their conferences where they put out a call for N-of-1 papers.

For individualized medicine, the greatest measure of success is STILL how people feel after receiving the trial drug or treatment. Enter the N-of-1 experience. When you go to a doctor you’d like her to “practice medicine” in the N-of-1 model. That is, tailored to your particular sex, weight, age, anatomy, family history, medical history, etc. N of 1 = you, the real person.

One or a thousand, what the diff in a clinical trial? Clinical trials are typically designed to select participants based on specific criteria. For example, a clinical trial involving the effects of a treatment on people with COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) might begin with selecting an even mix of men and women, smokers and non-smokers, people diagnosed with COPD or limited respiratory capacity, and individuals with no breathing problems. There might be a control group and the trial might be designed as a double blind study. The larger the sample size, the more compelling the results . . . sort of.

What if you’re not in the P < 0.05 club? That’s the golden line of 5%, the true test of statistical significance. In yoga we look for a wider golden line in our practice. Yoga is a “clinical trial” where the focus is an N-of-1 study where the true passing grade is closer to 100%.

Methods and resources for N-of-1 and N-of-All:

Design and Implementation of N-of-1 Trials: A User’s Guide. https://effectivehealthcare.ahrq.gov/topics/n-1-trials/research-2014-5/. Published February 12, 2014.

Gibson B. An N of One and an N of All: Personalized Medicine and Personalized Yoga. Yoga for Healthy Aging. https://yogaforhealthyaging.blogspot.com/2014/05/an-n-of-one-and-n-of-all-personalized.html. Published May 27, 2014.

Cirone M. How Glenn Sabin’s Book – n of 1 – is Helping to Change the Face of Cancer Care. Integrative Cancer Review. http://integrativecancer.org/why-glenn-sabins-book-n-of-1-is-changing-the-face-of-cancer-care-a-book-review/. Published February 6, 2017.

 

Chair Yoga is still YOGA

Chair yoga at Take Me To The River Yoga
Getting ready for Chair Yoga at Take Me To The River Yoga

Chair Yoga is still YOGA. Still, meaning in the future, as in the past (an adverb). I’m not talking about “still” as an adjective (not moving)! It’s the real deal. When you do yoga in a chair you are STILL doing yoga. You do yoga with all the benefits of movement, breath, and mindfulness. Even if you swear by your uber-active Ashtanga or your hot flow Vinyasa, Chair Yoga may STILL have something to offer you.

We’re still doing Chair Yoga at Take Me To The River Yoga studio in the Wednesday morning 10 am class. It started out with one of my students needing a few more options to the poses in our regular Hatha Yoga practice. She was uncomfortable in our reclined poses. So I combined our favorite yoga poses with Chair Yoga for seated poses, and several options for standing variations using the chair.

As an aside here… people often ask what its like in a typical studio class. My usual response is that it depends on who shows up! My classes do have brief descriptions and titles like Kripalu Yoga, Kripalu Vinyasa Flow, Mindful Yoga, HRV Yoga, Energy Body Yoga, etc. But “It is all Hatha to Me” (I need a t-shirt with this slogan). Hatha Tantric Yoga. Traditional Yoga. Classic Yoga. I teach YOGA to the class. I check in with the students who show up, and adjust the class accordingly. That often means offering several options to the poses, depending on the ease and preference to the anatomy and the energy in the room!

Chair Yoga combines all the elements of a typical Yoga class using the chair as a “prop.” Props like blankets, blocks and straps will be familiar to those students who have practiced yoga. The chair is just another prop. The special prop-erties of the chair are support and comfort for weight, balance and mobility.

Students wary of sitting on the floor, or getting up off the floor come to appreciate the support of a chair in their yoga practice. People with conditions such as ankle, knee or hip pain, low back pain, lack of flexibility, fatigue, shortness of breath may find greater ease by practicing yoga in a chair.

One of the first Chair Yoga practices I experienced was in a 2012 youtube video posted by the Moffitt Cancer Center here in Tampa, Florida. It’s called Gentle Yoga in the Chair. The practice is wonderful and the comments below the video post tell the true story of what this kind of practice can mean for many, many people. I have gone to Chair Yoga school on this video and with many online Chair Yoga videos. Even with a long running personal practice, I find Chair Yoga is still YOGA!

If you relate to the popular yoga meme, “I just came for the Savasana,” you simply must experience Savasana in Chair Yoga. It’s still Savasana!

Saturday Yoga in the Garden

Yoga in the Garden - Saturdays 9:30 - 10 am - Seminole Heights Community Garden
Photo credit: Ellen Leedy Photography

Yoga in the Garden every Saturday 9:30-10 am at the Seminole Heights Community Gardens (SHCG) at 6114 River Terrace in Tampa, FL. That’s just two doors east of Take Me To The River Yoga studio! Every Saturday, Take Me To The River Yoga studio is hosting YOGA in the GARDEN from 9:30-10 am. It’s a real short class, no mats needed, standing poses only, but shoes are recommended.

This is a donation class with proceeds going to the garden, and it’s open to everyone! What a good way to get warmed up and well-stretched for the day, and also to get acquainted with the full organic fabulousness that is the Seminole Heights Community Gardens! The weed pulling pose will change your quads for the better (just kidding!) Come do yoga in the garden and LIKE the Seminole Heights Community Gardens on Facebook, too. #seminoleheightsyoga #tampayoga #takemetotheriveryoga

Mudra and Homunculus Man

Hand positions used in the practice of yoga are called mudras. Like the breathing practices of pranayama, there are many different mudras for evoking certain physiological responses. The mudras have wide ranging effects on the sensory functions within the body. What is behind this experience?

Homunculus Sculpture by Sharon Price-Jame
Homunculus Sculpture by Sharon Price-James

 

Enter Homunculus man! Images of the “little man” or homunculus show body parts scaled to their relative sensory function in the brain. The sculpture pictured above is a graphic representation by Sharon Price-James. It is one of three of her Homunculus man sculptures (the other two are motor and sexual versions). This is the sensory version showing those parts that make the greatest contribution in our cortical functioning. Look at those hands! Hmm… could this be a scientific basis for mudra effectiveness?

Let’s continue. The fastest and most detailed information we can gather for our nervous system is through the rate of our breathing and our sense of touch with the hands. In yoga our controlled connection to that nervous system is through the breath in pranayama and with the hands in mudra. These two yogic practices are our direct connection between the relationship between the body and the mind, in their combined relationship to our environment.

The concept of mudras has its detractors and its supporters. Some discount mudras as simply ritualistic or symbolic. The experiential evidence (that’s real people doing real activity) shows a number of related techniques using the hands and fingers as having similar effectiveness. Think tapping, Super Brain Yoga, Kirtan kriya yoga advocated by the Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation using SA-TA- NA-MA mantra with finger movements. Other yogic techniques such as meditation and mediation of the body have been studied using technology to measure and evaluate the mystery of the practice. Don’t get me started.

So back to Homunculus man and mudra. How does a topographical map of the body’s sensory areas inform our practice? Would that we could ask Dr. Wilder Graves Penefield, a pioneer in mapping the regions of the brain. Not a guy satisfied with the amazing feat of describing the cortical homunculus, he really was interested in the science behind consciousness and the soul. Wow. His early work on brain stimulation gives us many threads to follow. After all, he branched out into the study of hallucination, out-of-body-experience, deja vu – seamlessly and without hesitation. We should be such doubters.

Bottomline. Hands are innervated in a way that has huge significance to dedicated brain activity (can we call that activation?). Hand gestures and mudras communicate outwardly and inwardly. The brain and body has developed in a way to collect loads of data from the hands. Find a mudra that works for you.

Now, how about the lips and tongue on Homunculus man? Kiss someone today and let me know if its love or pseudoscience!

Yoga Therapy Sanskrit Terms

You say you want to learn some Yoga Therapy Sanskrit Terms? If not, I’d turn back if I were you!

I was trying to find more definitions for the Sanskrit terms used in yoga/yoga therapy required by IAYT (International Association of Yoga Therapists) for yoga therapy training. When you do a google search on any of the terms what is returned are pages from different yoga therapy program sites that are posting this same IAYT list! The list of these Yoga Therapy Sanskrit terms come from the IAYT Educational Standards for Yoga Therapists document. Finding something more than the short IAYT definitions, or finding more detailed information takes some real deep diving on the internet.

I’ve created this post to add more context and background around some of the terms on the list. The IAYT short definition is great but I was looking for greater understanding. I’ll continue to revise this post as I find more articles or references around the terms or their context, as it relates to yoga therapy.

The full IAYT Educational Standards for Yoga Therapists document is on the IAYT.org website. There is a ton of info in this document, and even a section titled, “Definition of Yoga Therapy.” Good to know! The document outlines the requirements for becoming a certified yoga therapist for the designation of C-IAYT (Certified International Association of Yoga Therapist).

Wondering why Sanskrit words have so many meanings? Me too! Maybe you’ve heard the story of the mind being like the surface of a calm lake? Then, when a particular disturbance comes along it creates a ripple in the surface of that calm, serene lake? The first pass through this list was like having Jack Black do a cannon ball in the pool at The Bellagio in Las Vegas, while trying to calmly read Sri Swami Sachidananda’s Yoga Sutras. My Las Vagal nerve went haywire!

Then, I read this article by Dr. Kausthub Desikachar. That was after ten minutes of Nadi Shodhana pranayama to calm down. At about the fifth paragraph he starts to riff on the many meanings behind the word “yoga.” Sanskrit words have more than one meaning and more than one layer of significance. Start counting. In yoga there are always 3 of this, 5 of that, and 8 of those!

The list below loosely follows the italicized terms in the IAYT Competencies Profile document for Category I: Yoga Foundations, and Category III: Yoga Therapy Tools and Yoga Therapy Skills.

Needing to have more fun? Check out my “Flashcard-style” learning game on Quizlet.com. Well, it is kind of fun if you want to just learn the short definitions: https://quizlet.com/_4dckmu

Yoga Teachings and Philosophy

Tanmatra – subtle element

Bhuta – gross element

Indriya – senses

Purusha – consciousness

Prakriti – material world

Pancamaya kosha – dimensions of the human system

Gunas – fundamental forces of nature (sattya, rajas, tamas)

Sattva – point of balance between rajas and tamas

Rajas – energy of activity, change, evolution, and development

Tamas – inertia, or a lack of movement

Duhkha – suffering/discomfort

Yoga and the Mind
Structure,states, functioning, and conditions

Drashtr – seer

Drashya – seen

Antahkarana citta – consciousness

Buddhi – intellect

Ahamkara – ego

Manas – mind

Citta Vritti – activities of the mind

Citta Pariama – structural changes in the mind

Vyutthana – mind’s potential for distraction

Nirodha – focus enveloped/held/restrained

Artha – cognition

Bhava – mood

Svabhava – inborn nature

Vasana – residue of experience

Samskara – conditioned pattern of thinking and behavior

Mudha – stupefied/dull

Kshipta – disturbed

Vikshipta – alternating between distraction and focus

Ekagrata – one-pointed

Vaishvanara – waking

Taijasa – dream

Prajna – deep sleep

Turiya – beyond

Distracted and disturbed conditions of mind, and their expressions

Klesha – affliction

Lobha – greed

Krodha – anger

Moha – attachment

Duhkha – suffering/discomfort

Daurmanasya – negative attitude/thinking

Sarupyam – identification with the contents of the mind or seer taking the same form as the mind

Antaraya – obstacles to progress in yoga

Framework for health and disease

Doshas – (vata, pitta, kapha, relating to the five elements earth, water, fire, air, space)

Vata – A dosha, relating to air, and space

Pitta – A dosha, relating to fire, and some water

Kapha – A dosha relating to earth, and water

Prakriti – constitution at birth (Prakriti as considered as dosha)

Vikriti – imbalance of the dosha currently expressed in the body

Ama – undigested food, emotions, etc. accumulated in the body

Agni – internal fire(s) and other contributions to health

Prana vayu – (as in the 5 Vayus of Prana: Prana, Apana, Vyana, Udana, Samana vayus) the Prana vayus are the “winds” of prana, the universal energy and the energy that circulates through the body

Prana vayu – (as one of the Prana vayus) centered in the heart, the upward movement of energy

Apana vayu – centered below the navel, the downward flowing movement of energy

Vyana vayu – moves prana from the core of the body out to the extremities

Udana vayu – centered in the throat and head, a circular energy moving clockwise

Samana vayu – centered in the abdomen, associated with Agni, or digestive fire

Prana prakopa – disturbance of the vayu

Surya – sun

Chandra – moon

Brmhana – expansion

Langhana – contraction

Heya – the symptoms (as in vyuha model)

Hetu – the causes (as in vyuha model)

Hana – the goal (as in vyuha model)

Upaya – the tools (as in vyuha model)

Categorizing illnesses

Samprapti – pathogenesis, development/evolution of the disease, including but not limited to direction, intensity, onset, and duration and their influence on the ease or difficulty of healing and disease management

Samprapti – the Stages of a Disease

Shamana – short term; setting priorities: symptoms/pacification and purification/strengthening

Shodhana – long term; setting priorities: symptoms/pacification and purification/strengthening

Range of yoga practices

Asana – yogic postures of the body

Pranayama – yogic breathing practices, regulated breathing

Bhavana – visualization (meditation and relaxation technique)

Mantra – recitation (meditation and relaxation technique)

Nyasa – placing hands on various part of the body, combined with mantra (meditation and relaxation technique, ritualized)

Mudra – hand gestures (meditation and relaxation technique, ritualized)

Vihara – lifestyle modifications

Tish Ganey offers Advanced Therapeutic Yoga at Take Me To The River Yoga studio. The yoga therapy components of Tish’s practice are based on her enrollment in the Kripalu Integrated Yoga Therapy program at Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health in Stockbridge, MA., and are not derived from her status as an RYT® (Registered Yoga Teacher) with Yoga Alliance Registry. She intends to be conferred with IAYT Yoga Therapist certification in 2020 and offers Advanced Therapeutic Yoga as part of the practical portion of her 800-hour Professional Yoga Therapist training at Kripalu.

Running energy and the inner sound current in meditation

I was listening to the Duncan Trussell Family Hour podcast and heard DT interview Laraaji (starts at about the 16:20 spot on the podcast). The musician formerly known, and sometimes still known as Edward Larry Gordon is Laraaji. He plays an interesting style of ambient, inner sound current music that incorporates zither, mbira, and piano.

The Laraaji interview with Duncan Trussell is over an hour long. It includes comedian DT’s hilarious opening monologue on Christmas, his ads for his podcast sponsors, and other Trussell-esque outtakes.

Ambient 3: Day of Radiance by Laraaji
Ambient 3: Day of Radiance

The interview covered so much philosophical ground, with Laraaji interjecting spiritual nuggets at a rate too fast to take notes! Part of their discussion centered on the start of Laraaji’s musical career, and how he was “discovered” by Brian Eno. With Eno he made the amazing album Ambient 3: Day of Radiance, the third installment of Brian Eno’s ambient music series (Ambient 1-4), of which you must take a listen!

Laraaji spoke about his music as being ambient, field music or having a vertical sound presence. He expressed that with his music he is “running energy.” He used the example of being physically in a place (like Washington Park) but being able to shift awareness into a cosmic place by running cosmic energy. The description was one of being in a unified field, a trance state where the nervous system functions differently.

His expression of what it feels like to play music, while being in a meditative state was well-defined. Often times artists and musicians either cannot or will not verbalize their creative process. For Laraaji, making music is like having electrodes on your body, tapping into a cosmic field, a cosmic time, a cosmic space.

One of the many take-homes from this discussion is when Laraaji starts talking about being tightly identified with labels, categories and titles (about 24:11). He starts describing a meditative practice that starts with a series of suggestions, “I am not the body, I am not a husband, I am not a son, I am not a father . . .” After naming all the titles he’s been given, and taking off all the titles, he sits with what is left.

With this practice he began to realize that each title is associated with a certain samskara of identity of someone he is not. Things like anger, jealousy, and worry don’t belong to him, they belong to the titles! Through this method he explains that he began to make real progress with his meditation practice.

Laraaji mentions many spiritual paths he has taken that have impacted his life and music. One influence was with “New Thought Religion.” The  idea is to try another way. To constantly break out of patterns. “If you can think new thoughts, you can change your life. Choosing new things, choosing new ways. Or hearing new sounds that can unlock memory.”

Duncan Trussell asks Laraaji several BIG questions like, “Are we in heaven? What is cosmic time? Can you talk a little about the Sun? What method do you use to tune into cosmic time? Is there another universe overlaying this universe? Do you currently have a guru? Why is sculpting the field like clay? Are you a teacher? Do you think music is alive?”

I recommend listening to the interview, then finding some of Laraaji’s music. You may want to stay with some of the longer youtube videos that feature him, to hear him speak. He’s been doing music yoga and sound meditation for a long time and has tapped into a higher frequency.

See more about Laraaji on this video “Eternity or Bust – A Short film about Laraaji.”

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.