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

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.

Kleshas and the Yoga Sutras

Chapter Two of the Yoga Sutras, the Sadhana Pada are instructions to our practice. They give us the road map to liberation. The mental practices of the Sadhana Pada are used to remove kleshas (the mental obstacles) that hold us back.

The explanations of the kleshas begins in Book Two, or Chapter Two, the Sadhana Pada. In this part of the Yoga Sutras the actual practice of yoga is spelled out clearly. Section 2.1 tells us the practice of yoga includes plans to purify, study spiritual books, and surrender to God. In Section 2.2 we learn why yoga should be practiced: to remove obstacles and attain Samadhi.

“The goal of yoga is not to obtain something that is lacking: it is a realization of an already present reality.”

The practice of asana and pranayama (yoga postures and yogic breathing) are the physical practices that we use to teach the body self awareness and control. Asana like backbends can be used in overcoming kleshas.

Understanding mental practices, such as removing kleshas is the cornerstone to yogic philosophy. Removing kleshas, or obstacles to liberation, peace and freedom is the start of the practice outlined in Book Two of the Yoga Sutras.

In 2.3 of the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali lays out the five Kleshas:

    1. Ignorance
    2. Egotism
    3. Attachment
    4. Hatred or Aversion
    5. Clinging to Life

The kleshas are described as obstacles at the root of human suffering. Following 2.3 in the Yoga Sutras are a description of each of the five kleshas in detail.  Sri Swami Satchidananda in The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali explains the significance of the order. He points out that each klesha tends to build on the next. With ignorance of the self comes egotism. Because of egotism there is attachment to things enjoyed by the ego. When the things we are attached to are taken away, or if they do not get something we become angry and experience hatred or aversion for those who get in our way.

The following are three different translations of the 2.3 Sutra:

Avidyasmita raga dvesabhinivesah klesah

  • Ignorance, egotism, attachment, hatred and clinging to bodily life are the five obstacles. -translation Satchidananda in The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali
  • The causes of suffering are not seeing things as they are, the sense of “I,” attachment, aversion, and clinging to life. -translation Chip Hartranft in The Wisdom of Yoga, Stephen Cope, Appendix B The Yoga-Sutra in English
  • These are ignorance (avidya), ego or pride, which acts as an imposter of the seer (ahamkara-asmita), attachment (rarga), aversion (dvesa), and anxiety or fear of death (abhinivesa), as if life were eternal. -translation B.K.S. Iyengar in Core of the Yoga Sutras

B.K.S. Iyengar’s statement that ego or pride acts as “an imposter of the seer” speaks to the idea that the ego is a mirror to the seer. It is a copy of the real thing. The ego and the seer and separate. The ego is related to an identity that we choose for ourselves. The seer looks on with dispassion and detachment, being unidentified with the self or ego. We are not who we think we are. Our true nature is not the same as the identity we have taken on as a representation of ourselves. The difference here between seer or true self and the ego is an important distinction.

Chip Hartranft makes the point that ignorance is “not seeing things as they are.” This suggests the true self might know the difference! How do we discern how things truly are? How does ignorance development a faulty sense of “I”? How does egotism promote our ignorance? How does egotism blind us to what is true and real?

Sri Swami Satchadananda breaks down the Sanskrit for us:

Avidya = ignorance; asmita = ego sense, egoism, I-ness;

raga = attachment; dvesa = hatred

abhinivesah = clinging to bodily life; klesah = obstacles, afflictions

Kleshas are referred to as obstacles. They are also considered “afflictions” or what we might call character flaws. The Yoga Sutras explain that kleshas keep us from experiencing peace and enlightenment, Samadhi. Without yoga we cannot overcome the kleshas.

we are all ONE

We are all ONE. Why not start acting like we are all ONE? Why not practice like we are all ONE? Come to any Take Me To The River Yoga studio class, bring up to 3 of your friends and pay for just ONE. What’s better than BOGO? FBO: Four becomes ONE. Practicing yoga with your friends is relaxing, enjoyable and can bring your posse together in a meaningful way. Like eating dinner out, doing a friends weekend, or throwing a pajama –yoga brings you and your friends together as ONE. Your group of friends will enjoy moving your bodies with asanas, deeply breathing in and breathing out in the practice of pranayama, and mindfully sitting in meditation for the shared experience of yoga.

Tired of feeling separate and separated? Worn out by divisiveness? Nauseous from all the quibbling? Flattened by explosive news? Transfixed by evil? Paralyzed by general ugliness? Confused by who you really are? Unsure of your identity? Here’s a little secret . . . that’s not really so secret. It is something you should know. It is something you DO know. It is something the person who you think you are DOESN’T know. I’ll whisper it now, “we are all ONE.”

An Eclipse: Hatha Yoga, Sun & Moon

Hatha means sun and moon.
Photo credit: August 21, 2017, original eclipse photo by Lindsey Blum, Farmington, Missouri, as profiled by SkyandTelescope.com

The Great American Eclipse viewable from Oregon to South Carolina happened on Monday, August 21, 2017. I was fortunate to view the path of totality in Madisonville, TN. The sun caught up with the moon and became eclipsed. I was reminded of “Hatha” and the sanskrit meaning of Hatha Yoga.

Several interpretations exist for the word Hatha. Yoganand (Michael Carroll) the dean of the Kripalu School of Yoga explains that the ancient meaning had a forceful or violent connotation. Not the act of yoga, but the effect of yoga. In ancient India where yoga originated, the sun and moon represented a cycle. The hot, dry season of the sun withered the plants. The lunar cycle of the moon ushered in the monsoon season.The belief was the moon brought the rain, a replenishing and rejuvenation force.

Here in Tampa we’ve definitely felt the effects of THA in Hatha. Rain falls daily. And therefore we yearn for cool, dry days in fall. It’s been very HA HA HOT! Like watching the weather, we often watch for signs of change. Change comes with the lunar cycle of a full moon and a new moon, and planetary cycles such as Mercury in retrograde.

The 2017 eclipse was a reminder of traditional Hatha yoga. Hatha is the balance of earth and moon. Yoga “yokes” sun and moon together. The eclipse was a dramatic example of the sun and moon cycle. We are “yoked” in a universe of social, political and psychological cycles. Hatha Yoga asks us to stand in balance of opposing forces.

As for Hatha Yoga, Yoganand speaks of the other interpretation of yoga. The other sanskrit translation describes the forceful nature of yoga. Yoganand asks what kind of force would it take to pull the sun and the moon apart? In this interpretation Hatha is used to define a process so radical, so forceful, and so profound. Hatha Yoga is a force of nature known to balance the obstacles of the past with building blocks for the future. It is the sun and the moon, and the powerful relationship with us here on earth.

In this season between HA and THA, it is time to examine the cycles of our own lives. The cycles that we create for ourselves and others, and those we get drawn into. The eight limbs of yoga provide the powerful force needed to correct that trajectory. Practicing Hatha Yoga is a journey around the sun, under the watchful eye of the moon. The eight limbs of yoga are the roadmap and the road, the direction and the destination. Namaste.

 

Ahimsa in an aggressive world

The Yamas are five moral codes and the first guides of the 8 Limbs of Yoga. Ahimsa is the first of the five Yamas. The word Himsa is translated as violence. The addition of an “A” changes himsa (violence) to no violence or non-violence. So the short meaning of Ahimsa is non-violence, an instruction to live in a non-violent manner.

Ahimsa may be the most important of the Yamas. This is because the other four Yamas hinge on this first guide. After all, if we practice Ahimsa the result is a smoother journey with the other Yamas. It may make us more truthful (Satya), avoid stealing (Asetya), reduce excess (Brahmacharya), and be less possessive (Aparigraha).

Ahimsa is never Going all Jack Nicholson on your fellow driver
Is “going all Jack Nicholson” with a golf club in a road rage more violent than other harmful actions?

Today we live in a very aggressive world. Being a little forceful here or acting out a little road rage there probably would not be seen as violent. It is easy to claim that we are not violent and that we practice Ahimsa because violence is such a strong word. Laying on the horn because someone cut us off doesn’t seem as “violent” as going all Jack Nicholson on someone’s windshield in a road rage with a golf club.

The lines become more blurred when we examine the concept of Ahimsa. What our society considers a “normal reaction to stress” becomes indistinguishable from true anger, violence and aversion. Anger, rudeness, disrespect and personal attacks become commonplace. Our harmful words and actions become normalized.

When we examine the aggressive nature of our culture it is harder to parse out simple ugliness and full blown violence. The “I win and you lose” is a tenet of everything from sports to capitalism. We end up in the danger zone of harm to others, as well harm to ourselves.

Ahimsa in a larger, social context asks us to do no harm. That automatically broadens the definition to include others, ourselves, and everything in our world. Non-violence becomes less tolerant of all harm. Ahimsa asks us to consider others and ourselves before taking any action that might cause harm. Ahimsa sheds light on how we individually create an increasingly violent, aggressive world. Practicing Ahimsa helps us change it.

Asteya and the many ways to steal

Do you steal? If you don’t steal, what does stealing mean to you? If you do steal, is there any difference between stealing something big and valuable (like a car) versus stealing something small and seemingly inconsequential (like paperclips at work)? What is ownership and are there moral rights around ownership? What can be “owned?”

Let’s explore the idea of taking something that does not belong to you from the perspective of yoga and the yogic path. Asteya, or non-stealing is the third of five Yamas. The Yamas are the moral codes set down as part of the yogic path. The path of yoga is spelled out in the Eight Limbs of Yoga.

Asteya, or the idea that you should not steal from others is a moral cornerstone found in many major religions. For Christians it shows up as either the 7th or the 8th commandment, appropriately sandwiched between adultery and bearing false witness.

Asteya or steal this bookThere are many cultural examples of rule making among humans for defining socially acceptable, honorable ways of living. Rules for right living often address a specific need that is tied to a social context within a historical time and place. For example many Jewish traditions around food selection and food preparation have a rich historical context for healthy living.

Asteya is not bound by time and place. It is a direct, clearly translated order that can be found in cultures the world over. Do not take something that does not belong to you. And, of course there is a flip side. Here’s a discussion around acceptable and even honorable stealing to accomplish diversity, peace and other social goals.

The idea of stealing also shares wide and nebulous boundaries with i’s closely related cousin: lying. Ask a group of people to discuss what constitutes stealing or to debate the merits of lying to help someone versus telling the honest-to-God-truth, and you’re guaranteed to generate a heated discussion! Stealing and lying fall into the foggy zone of “it depends.”

Back to Asteya! Asteya, non-stealing. Or defined further as “the abstinence, in one’s deeds or words or thoughts, from unauthorized appropriation of things of value from another human being”. From the depths of the foggy zone of “it depends,” arises a broad definition to include the idea of value. Value might be in the eye of the beholder or in the eye of the possessor. How do we decide what has value enough for the individual?

What do you find valuable? Is it your possessions? Your home? Your time? Knowledge you have gained that others may “spirit away” in a manner that makes you feel cheated, violated or stolen from? Maybe Asteya should be viewed from the other person’s perspective. Stealing might be decided as the taking of something that another person perceives as valuable. It may not be something that you perceive as valuable. The recognition of how someone else feels could be a guiding factor.

Maybe we should be “unauthorized” to appropriate things of value from another person. This idea certainly takes the “me” out of the equation. Stealing is not about “me.” Stealing is about the other person’s value system. Stealing is about taking something viewed as valuable from someone else. Otherwise, we could just ask permission . . . could I please have a cutting off your beautiful plumeria plant?

Many of the Yama’s pose important questions of morality that we can use as a starting point of inquiry.

Svadhyaya and Swami Kripalu 

The first time I heard the word “Svadhyaya” I immediately thought of “The Divine Secrets of the YaYa Sisterhood,” the 1996 book by Rebecca Wells that was turned into a movie in 2002. It seemed a natural leap, a reasonable thought progression . . . Svad-h-ya-ya. It was that YaYa part that swept over me like a wild banshee cry.

But of course, Svadhyaya has next to nothing to do with the YaYa Sisterhood. Unless you consider the book’s plot line that “the tangled beauty of imperfect love, and the fact that forgiveness, more than understanding, is often what the heart longs for,”  ties into the self-study that is Svahyaya. That’s a lot of self-examination for a southern tale, and may not be that far off for the YaYa Sisterhood!

In yoga, Svadhyaya is one of the five Niyamas (there’s a YA in there!), along with Saucha, Santosha, Tapas and Ishvara-Pranidhana. And the Niyamas are one of the eight limbs of yoga. I hope you’re keeping count of all these numbered items for which yoga and many oral traditions are famous! A lot of YAs being laid down too.

The short description for the yogic practice of Svadhyaya is that of self-study. A book that is better suited to the “YaYa’s” of yoga, and one that is all about self-study is “Pilgrim of Love, The Life and Teachings of Swami Kripalu,” compiled and edited by Atma Jo Ann Levitt. It begins with the epigraph, “To pilgrims of every path, and especially those willing to be fools for love.” This path to love is very serious and is far from foolish.

Pilgrim of Love. The Life and Teachings of Swami KripaluPilgrim of Love teaches us much about Swami Kripalu, whose name was given to the Kripalu Ashrams in Pennyslvania where he taught yoga from 1977 to 1981. (In 1983 the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health continued the legacy in Stockbridge, MA, its current location). Swami Kripalu followed the path of Kundalini yoga, a branch of yoga sometimes referred to as the yoga of awareness.

In this book’s deep dive into the life and teaching of Swami Kripalu, there are many lessons for the study of yoga and yogic philosophy. The chapter on “My Guidance to Disciples,” he shares the message given to him by his teacher Gurudev. It is a series of 14 guidelines meant as a summary for yoga Sadhana. As with many of Swami Kripalu’s teachings, the guidelines are not for casual yoga participants, is intended for serious yoga practitioners, and goes well beyond the yoga postures that dominate western yoga.

The guidelines start with something common to most spiritual practices, “#1. Love all living beings, do not hate anyone.” And end with #14. Read this guide every Thursday. Guides 2-13 range from the pleasant to extremely difficult. Like #7. If possible, take cold baths three times a day (… to maintain purity and piety of the body. Never sleep during the day, and so on), to the much more difficult #5. Initiates should have one pure and moderate meal a day with milk in the morning and evening. Do not eat meat. Do note use liquor, marijuana, tobacco, coffee, tea, or other stimulants. Ok. Cold shower. No coffee. I got this. Not. Even. Close.

One must stand in complete deference to a gifted teacher guiding us to “cross the ocean of samskaras and attain the supreme love of God.” We should not expect that a commodified life of sloth and torpor to usher us to the gates of Heaven, or to send us into immediate Samadhi!

Swami Kripalu’s guide relating to Svadhyaya is #12. As a source of self-study, contemplate the meaning of Shri Gnaneshvar’s Bhagavad Gita. Memorize lines 54 to 72 of the second chapter of the Bhagavad Gita. Chapters 12, 15, and 16 should also be memorized and recited every day. Recite Brahmacharya Bhavani (treatise on celibacy) every morning. Practice bhajans, and read and contemplate good books everyday. Never stop listening to the messages of pious saints.”

The second chapter of the Bhagavad Gita is about the Practice of Yoga and lines 54-72 are all about giving up attachments and investments in both craving and aversion. And the other Chapters 12, 15 and 16 respectively are titled in various translations as The Yoga of Devotion, The Ultimate Person, and Three Kinds of Faith. Memorizing and reading these passages everyday would certainly give one food for thought. Turning the spotlight inward with these passages is a lesson in self-study to examine our behavior in greater detail.

For all you Yogic YaYas out there, the following are a few links to other blogs discussing the Niyamas and Svadhyaya!

https://kripalu.org/resources/yoga-s-ethical-guide-living-yamas-and-niyamas
https://www.ekhartyoga.com/articles/the-niyamas-svadhyaya-or-self-study
http://www.expressionsofspirit.com/yoga/eight-limbs.htm

 

International Day of Yoga – Wednesday, June 21

June 21
International Day of Yoga, June 21

What will you be doing on Wednesday, June 21, 2017?
Since June 21 is the International Day of Yoga, take a yoga class. Or participate in a yoga-inspired event. It seems like the best idea is to check out the local yoga studios in Tampa. So that definitely includes yoga classes at Take Me To The River Yoga Studio! Celebrate International Day of Yoga with us. We will have our regular Wednesday classes (10:00-11:15 am and 7:00-8:15 pm).

Which Mudra for this day?
On International Yoga Day we will be practicing Prithivi Mudra, gesture of the Earth. There are several reasons for the choice for this mudra, aside from the obvious! Prithivi means “Earth.” This mudra directs our breath and awareness down through the body for a feeling of being more grounded. Grounding to our Earth in yoga and mudra practice helps us feel stable, secure and safe. It sends the message to our body that we are grounded.

When we are grounded we are better able to inhabit our bodies and connect with our natural world. It is important to love, honor and ground into the Earth right now. It is important to remember how our beautiful Earth supports us. We thrive because our Earth creates a most awesome experience for all Earthlings. We must protect our Earth and tie ourselves closer to its power. We must share in protecting our planet to preserve our own existence. It’s that important!

More about I Day of Yoga
The UN General Assembly declared June 21st as the International Day of Yoga in 2014. The idea began at the suggestion of the Honorable Prime Minister of India, Mr. Narendra Modi. He addressed the assembly saying, “Yoga is an invaluable gift of India’s ancient tradition. It embodies unity of mind and body; thought and action; restraint and fulfillment; harmony between man and nature; a holistic approach to health and well-being. It is not about exercise but to discover the sense of oneness with yourself, the world and the nature.”

 

Two Beautiful Candle Poses

Candle PoseThis is a strange yoga alignment story. The image above may seem like an odd conjunction. But for me, it seemed a perfect match. Two candles. Both posing. Maybe I should back up and explain!

Earlier this week I was walking my dog and came upon a Night Blooming Cactus in a pose of full expression. I’ve seen these flowers many times. They grow on the large oak tree trunks in my Tampa neighborhood in Florida. Curious and wanting to know more that day, I looked it up. Listen to this: it blooms once a year on one night only! Its botanical name is Selenicereus Grandiflora. Let’s break down that Latin like Sanskrit: Greek Moon Goddess (Selene), Latin word for candle (Cereus), large flower (Grandiflora). My mind takes a yogic leap. It’s a Candle. A Candle Pose.

Maybe I’ve found my edge and this Grandiflora alignment is really over stretching! Who would would expect to answer this analogy correctly on an exam: Iyengar in candle pose is to Night Blooming Cactus as down dog is to cat stretch. Anyway, the idea was sticky as a yoga mat to me!

Now, when I go into shoulder stand, I’ll start thinking about candles. Then as I lower down into plow I’ll begin to feel some odd resemblance to a melting candle. Some moments later I’ll realize that my mind has started to wander. I’ll bring myself back to the present moment, focus on my breathing, inhale deeply and exhale slowly …. as I blow the candle out!

 

Prithivi mudra – Gesture of the Earth

Prithivi MudraThe word Prithivi (or Prithvi) means “Earth.” And Prithivi mudra is related to the Earth elements. When we work with the Earth elements it helps us to reduce the influence of Agni, the Fire elements. More balanced energies restore equilibrium to the physical body. Prithivi mudra supports this balance and promotes a sense of being more grounded.

When we are grounded we calm down and can begin to feel more in touch with our bodies. Being grounded allows us to feel safe, secure, and stable. The Prithivi mudra is practiced to bring us into a greater connection with our physical bodies. So, in seated postures for Prithivi Mudra we send attention to our breath and to our seat. Grounding into the Earth, sending attention to our breath and root chakra, gives us the experience of greater harmony. With this harmony comes strong support to the physical structure of the body.

There are many claims made about the benefits of Prithivi mudra. Probably the best way to prove this out is to DO Prithivi mudra. Suggestions vary as to how long and how frequently one should practice a mudra. Like most things, it depends! And it depends on you. When practiced regularly, this mudra can reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and improve eliminatory health.

Here’s how

Like meditation, mudras are best practiced for several minutes every day in a comfortable seated position. In fact, mudras and meditation go together like a hand in a glove! Find a comfortable seated position. Position your hands in Prithivi mudra. Sit up tall. Roll your shoulders back and down. Begin to focus on your breath, inhaling deeply, exhaling slowly. Bring your attention to the base of your spine. Visual rooting yourself into the Earth. If your mind wanders bring its attention back to how your body is breathing. Quiet down. Go inside.

Practice in class and at home

In yoga class at Take Me To The River Yoga Studio we practice different types of mudras. Unfortunately most yoga classes are not long enough to give special attention to any one mudra. So the best approach is to come to class and learn different mudras. Then, go home and try them out!

 

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