Tag Archives: Patanjali

How to Give Advice to a Bobble Head

BGKrishnaBobbleheadHere’s an idea: find an object that has some personal significance for you, something that represents you or some aspect of yourself; something you can use as a proxy for ‘you’. Personally, I find that Bobble Head dolls work best. Put the object ‘you’ on a table or desk and sit with it. Then think of the biggest challenge you currently face in your life or a challenge that you know you will have to face soon. Now, imagine that you are the Supreme Being and you are looking at the proxy ‘you’ in full knowledge of the challenge ‘you’ face and the difficulty associated with facing it.

What would you, in your role as the Supreme Being, do? Continue reading

In The Beginning

OmGong_Mantra_200As is sometimes the case for those of us who become yoga teachers, my first few classes were a little rough. Fortunately my classes were so small that my early missteps were endured only by an unfortunate few. And, since some of my fellow Teacher Training alumni as well as friends with years of teaching experience mercifully subjected themselves to my classes, I got valuable feedback to help me improve. On one such occasion it was brought to my attention that I was so anxious to get everyone moving on their mats that I had forgotten the first order of business: I had forgotten to chant “Om”.

Of course, not every yoga teacher chants “Om” to begin a class. And some yoga students are just as happy to get centered and focused by other means. But as a general rule, at least in most yoga studios, we begin and end a yoga class by chanting “Om”. Continue reading

Culture of Violence

McDonaldsGun_USEAfter the shock wears off what remains is a desire for understanding; we long for something that will explain the inexplicable. Convenient rationalizations like “it was God’s will” or “it was just their karma” top the list of platitudes that no one wants to hear. And with good reason: such banal consolations trivialize unfathomable depths of grief and anger by decorating God with causeless cruelty or blaming victims who are entitled to a presumption of innocence.

This most recent and particularly horrific tragedy has, predictably, been blamed on the ease by which ordinary citizens can acquire military-grade armaments, a collective indifference to the scourge of mental illness, and the glorification of violence in everything from video games to news coverage that relentlessly sensationalizes the very events from which we wish to be spared. Continue reading

The Hermeneutics of Confusion

“Anyone who isn’t confused really doesn’t understand the situation.” – Edward R. Murrow

At the conclusion of my previous blog post I asked a not so rhetorical question: where does the popular association of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra with non-dualistic philosophy come from? A good example of how this happens played out a few months ago: A respected teacher of yoga philosophy spoke about the Yoga Sutras at a local yoga studio. He gave an insightful overview of the Sutras from Patanjali’s definition of yoga all the way to asamprajnata samadhi; the stage at which the yogi relinquishes the mind altogether and experiences the fully liberated self by direct perception.

Elaborating on this final stage of self-realization, the speaker matter of factly stated that, according to Patanjali, all sense of our individuality, along with the apprehension of a multiplicity of beings, disappears as we experience the absolute oneness of pure awareness. Continue reading

Love or Confusion

Most people who’ve spent a significant amount of time hanging around the yoga-sphere have heard at least one yoga teacher put forward the proposition that, according to the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, when one attains stillness of the mind then not only is the true nature of the self revealed but one simultaneously merges into an Absolute Oneness of Being beyond all form, qualities, names, and relativity, constituting an ever-present reality of pure consciousness, exquisite peace, complete knowledge, immeasurable happiness, and unconditional love.

Wow, that sounds great, but… uh, love for who?

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Beyond ‘Scampi’: Q & A with Dan K, Part 1

My thanks once again to my friends who commented on my last blog post, particularly Dan K, whose thoughtful and challenging questions have given me a launching pad for the next few entries. I’ll approach the broad, underlying issues that Dan’s comments raise by addressing his specific questions in reverse order:

… if self-realization is the goal (of yoga), why does it even matter to you how other people are living? Continue reading

Why ‘Om Scampi’ is Full of Baloney

Some time ago I was out to eat with a fellow yoga teacher. The restaurant, naturally, had both vegetarian and non-vegetarian options. As we discussed the menu, my companion, a teacher of far greater experience with the goings on inside the yoga community than I, shared some surprising insights. Thereafter ensued an illuminating discussion about what many yoga teachers eat when other yogis, particularly those from the vegan-activist sector of the yoga world, aren’t looking. Last year, one such yoga teacher came out of the meat-eating closet with a vengeance.
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The Meaning of Surrender, Part 2

Picking up where we left off, once we have surrendered to the idea of a Supreme Being to whom we surrender, the next question is ‘how do we express our surrender’. One of my teachers tells a story of meditating on the idea of surrender and, having accepted in principle the idea that he must surrender to to the Supreme Being, closed his eyes and, directing his thoughts to the person to whom he wished to surrender with all the sincerity at his command, said ‘I surrender’.

Nothing happened. Continue reading