Tag Archives: Veda

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

Reality, Illusion, and Vedanta

In my last post I offered reasons to believe that reality was greater than illusion and suggested that there’s a popular brand of yoga philosophy that asserts just the opposite: that illusion is greater than reality. In order to identify this philosophy we’ll have to venture outside the confines of ‘Yoga’ proper and into the realm of Vedanta.

Like Yoga, Vedanta is one of the six darshans, or schools of Indian philosophy. Veda means ‘knowledge’ and anta means ‘end’, so vedanta means ‘the end of knowledge’ and refers to a summary understanding of the Upanishads, which are the grand finale of the ancient collection of knowledge texts known as the Vedas. Yoga makes its first historical appearance in the Vedas and there is an important relationship between Yoga and Vedanta.

The essence of Vedanta philosophy is expressed in the Vedanta Sutras; a collection of terse aphorisms that, like a coded data file, needs to be de-coded by informed interpretation and commentary in order to be comprehensible. Also known as the Brahma Sutras, the Vedanta Sutras begin with a declaration that the great imperative for those gifted with a human birth is to pursue knowledge of the ultimate reality, which is subsequently defined as the source of everything. In Sanskrit the first two sutras read:  Continue reading