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When sattva predominates, the light of wisdom shines through every gate of the body. When rajas dominates, a person runs about pursuing selfish and greedy ends, driven by restlessness and desire. When tamas is dominant a person lives in darkness-slothful, confused and easily infatuated.
Bhagavad Gita Chapter 14, Verses 11-13
There is a special practice known as “the practice of Giving and Taking.” This is especially designed to enhance your power of compassion and love toward other sentient beings. It basically involves visualizing taking upon yourself all the suffering, pain, negativity, and undesirable experiences of other sentient beings. You imagine taking these upon yourself and then giving away or sharing with others your own positive qualities, such as your virtuous states of mind, your positive energy, your wealth, your happiness and so forth.
H.H. The Dalai Lama
The Four States of Mind
Our human experience can be viewed in terms of three basic states of mind. These are tamas, rajas and sattva. These are known as the gunas.
The quality of sattva is goodness, purity, light, harmony and balance. We feel light, free, positive and happy. We can think of sattva as “big-heart, big-mind”.
The quality of rajas is energy and passion but it can be expressed in either positive or negative ways. We feel energized but unfocussed and self-centered. The positive expression is motivation to do good actions, and the negative expression is anger, hatred and greed. Rajas is acting from our egos with selfish intentions.
The quality of tamas is ignorance, density, darkness, insensitivity and inertia. We feel heavy, depressed and dark.
However, our mental states are not exclusively sattva, rajas or tamas. The gunas arise in combinations and are constantly changing. For example, when we are in the “yoga zone” we may be full of sattva with just a small amount of rajas and no tamas. When we are depressed and being couch potatoes, then tamas is dominant.
There is a fourth state of mind known as turiya. At very high states of spiritual accomplishment, the three gunas are transcended. In the state of turiya we are united with the divine.
Our practice of yoga is evolutionary- we want to evolve from tamas and rajas to sattva. Our practice of the eight limbs of yoga is designed to move us from tamas and rajas upward into sattva. We want our mental state and our actions to be full of sattva.
The Four Types of Gifts
We can examine our practice of gift giving in the holidays through the lens of the four states of mind. With the knowledge gained from our examination, we can bring our yoga practice into our gift giving.
A Tamasic Gift
A tamasic gift is an inconsiderate or foolish gift. It may be offered with no consideration of the well-being of the recipient and it may even be a harmful gift. We are indifferent to the time and place that we give the gift, and do not care about the quality of the gift or the attitude that we project when we offer the gift. Our feeling is more like paying an irritating bill than giving a gift.
The action behind the gift is thoughtless and mechanical. It may be careless, perfunctory or simply wrong.
A Rajasic Gift
A rajasic gift is offered with regret and unwillingness to part with the gift in the first place. We may hope for personal gain from the gift or use it as a way to expand our ego. We may hope to gain more in return for the gift than what the gift cost. A rajasic gift is frequently given out of an obligation rather than a heartfelt desire to benefit the recipient.
The action behind the gift is egocentric, for personal gain and may be to impose our will upon another person. It may look like a gift on the outside, but on the inside the motivations are selfish and negative.
A Sattvic Gift
A sattvic gift is offered with no desire for personal gain. It is egoless. It is offered with heartfelt compassion for the recipient. It is selfless rather than selfish. A sattvic gift is offered in the pure spirit of giving and is mindfully chosen and given.
The action behind the gift is pure and without ego. It is full of compassion and with no desire to gain any “fruits” of the action.
A Turiya Gift
A turiya gift is an offering to the divine. It is the highest expression of action and of giving. It is full of compassion and is often given with a view toward helping humanity. There is no desire to attain any personal gain from the action.
A beautiful expression of a turiya gift is the Tibetan practice of tonglen. This is the practice of “Giving and Taking” that is described in the Dalai Lama’s quote at the beginning of this article. In this practice we take on the suffering of someone we know is hurting. The core of the practice is to breathe in the suffering of another person and then, breathing out, to send them our peace, happiness, calmness and relaxation.
This is a very deep and profound practice and awakens our inherent compassion. I have included an article by Pema Chodron which discusses the practice of tonglen.
The action behind the turiya gift is divine. It expresses our unity with the divine. It is pure and compassionate. Tonglen is an example of a turiya gift.
The Reason Why This Matters
Yoga is fundamentally about purification. We practice yoga to purify ourselves. Asana (movement) purifies our bodies, pranayama (breath work) purifies our energy, the yamas and niyamas (the moral codes) purify our thoughts and actions, and meditation purifies our minds. It is only after we have purified ourselves through practice that we can unify body, spirit and mind.
Our yoga practice is expressed though our actions and, as yoga practitioners, we want to practice “right action”. How do we know the difference between “right action” and “wrong action?” What is right action in a given situation?
By becoming aware of the four types of actions, we have the tools to identify and understand the types of actions that we are expressing. If we know that our actions are tamasic, with that awareness perhaps we can change our actions to ones that are more rajasic or sattvic. If our actions are rajasic, perhaps we can make them more sattvic. Our awareness of the quality of our minds and our actions helps us purify our intentions and actions. We no longer act blindly.
Our goal is to make our actions sattvic. As we become more and more sattvic we begin to access yogic wisdom. We may receive the guidance of our inner teacher who is an expression of our divine selves. It is our inner teacher that helps us make right decisions and act out of right intentions so that our actions are pure and sattvic.
An important characteristic of the three gunas is that we tend to stay in the guna where we happen to be. Each guna has its own momentum. For example, if we are in a tamasic state, we tend to stay in a tamasic state. We dig ourselves in a rut and it can be very hard to break free. We all know how hard it can be to start a new exercise program when we have been inactive for a long period of time. This is tamas. But, after we get going, then it is much easier to practice each day and we feel that we have really missed something important if we have to skip a day!
If we give tamasic gifts, it reinforces our mental darkness and we tend to become stuck in tamas. If we give rajasic gifts it reinforces our egos and selfishness, and we can become stuck in rajas. Importantly, if we give sattvic gifts, it will tend to place us in a state of lightness, harmony, balance and peacefulness. Sattvic gifts will help pull us out of tamasic and rajastic states of mind. If we are in a sattvic state, giving tamasic or rajasic gifts may drag us down.
The end result is that the quality of our gifts very directly affects the quality of our minds. We want our mental state to be sattvic-light, pure and joyful and should consider giving our gifts in the spirit of sattva.
How can we put this into practice? The easiest way to make our gift giving sattvic is to practice karma yoga as we make a gift. Karma yoga is one of the great practices of yoga and it means doing the action without any thought of enjoying the fruits of the action.
The Bhagavad Gita says:
Strive constantly to serve the welfare of the world; by devotion to selfless work one attains the supreme goal of life. Do you work with the welfare of others always in mind.
The Bhagavad Gita, Chapter Three, Verse 19-20
So, regardless of how we feel about our obligation to make a gift and its recipient, our yoga practice is to base our actions out of compassion and without thought of reaping any personal gain out of the gift.
If we can make our gift giving with this intention firmly in mind, we can make all of our gift giving an expression of karma yoga.
1. E. Easwaran, The Bhagavad Gita (Nilgiri Press 1985)
2. H.H. Dalai Lama, The Art of Living (Thorsons 2001)
3. Pema Chodron-The Practice of Tonglen
4. My book on the Yoga Sutras:
G. Kissiah, The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali: Illuminations Through Image, Commentary and Design (Lilalabs Publishing 2011)
5. Resources on the Yoga Sutras
The latest study published by Yoga Journal shows that over 16 million Americans now practice yoga and spend almost $6 billion a year on yoga classes and products. As yoga has grown into a big business, it has entered the mainstream media and injuries, regulation, taxation and ethics are being openly discussed. As a result, the legal risks to studio owners and teachers have dramatically increased. This workshop will provide an inviting forum to discuss the legal issues now affecting owners and teachers, and strategies to help you build a thriving yoga business and avoid becoming ensnared in legal problems.
(Eligible as Continuing Education for the Yoga Alliance 500 certification program)
We will explore the key agreements among studio owners, teachers and students, strategies for protecting studios and teachers from liability, how to trademark and protect your brand and website, how to copyright and protect your teacher training materials, work for hire agreements for yoga designs, agreements for workshops, retreats and studio rentals, bartering and trading services, the new law that imposes fines of up to $15,000 if you misclassify a teacher as an independent contractor, the top five tax issues, how to use lawyers and ethical considerations.
Key points covered in this workshop:
• The three key agreements
• Protecting yourself from liability
• Independent contractors and employees
• Trademarks, branding and websites
• Top five tax issues
This workshop will be informal and interactive. We will provide a safe, open and fun environment to explore your legal questions. As a student of the Yoga Sutras, Gary weaves Patanjali’s wisdom into the conversation as much as possible! We invite you to submit your legal questions in advance so that we can respond to the issues that are most important to you. Please send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gary Kissiah has practiced corporate and business law for over twenty years. He has been a partner in the corporate and technology practice group of Akin Gump which is a global law firm. Gary then became a Senior Attorney with Microsoft where he practiced corporate and technology law and served on the Microsoft Ethics Committee. Gary has been practicing yoga since 2000, and has a Certificate of Yoga Philosophy from the California Institute of Integral Studies. He has also studied at Esalen Institute, Parmarth Niketan Ashram and Satchidananda Ashram-Yogaville. Gary has taken inspiration from the workshops and writings of such teachers as Sri Swami Satchidananda, Sally Kempton, Ana Forrest, Dharma Mittra, Eric Schiffman, Gary Kraftsow and Thich Nhat Hanh. Gary recently published his first book entitled: “The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali- Illuminations Through Image, Commentary and Design.”
“Because I have the somewhat unusual combination of legal expertise and a yoga practice, I hope to serve the yoga community by bringing a unique perspective to this workshop. My experience will enable me to discuss the legal and business issues that are important to the yoga community in a way that is sensitive and responsive to the participants in the workshop.” Gary Kissiah
Date: July 1, 2012
Location: Yoga Tree Stanyan Studio (780 Stanyan Street San Francisco CA)
Schedule: 1 – 4pm
$35 in advance, $40 at the door
Here is the link to the Yoga Tree Website for signup:
The Joy of Yoga Philosophy (June 2, 2012)
Introduction to Patanjali’s Eight Limbs of Yoga
“The seven blunders that human society commits and cause all the violence: wealth without work, pleasure without conscience, knowledge without character, commerce without morality, science without humanity, worship without sacrifice, and politics without principles. A satyagrahi must ceaselessly strive to realize and live truth. And he must never contemplate hurting anyone by thought, word or deed.”
Brahman, OM, Vishnu and Patanjali
Brahman literally means growth, evolution and expansion. Brahman is the universal impersonal spirit. The ground of all being. It is the primal source from which all things emanate and return.
Brahman and the universe is like a spider and a cobweb. The cobweb is different from the spider but it comes from the spider.
Brahman manifests in three faces of divinity: Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. Brahma creates the universe, Vishnu preserves the universe and Shiva destroys the universe. Vishnu sends avatars to earth to prevent evil, despair and suffering. Avatars provide wisdom and inspiration to help guide mankind through dark ages of violence and despair. Krishna, Buddha and Rama are all avatars of Vishnu.
Patanjali is an incarnation of Vishnu and wrote the Yoga Sutras to provide wisdom to mankind, to save it from a descent into darkness and to remove suffering. The purpose of yoga is to remove suffering. The Yoga Sutras were written between 200-300 AD by Sage Patanjali. It and the Bhagavad Gita are the two most popular and greatest books on yoga.
The fundamental problem of the human condition is suffering. We suffer spiritually, emotionally and physically. The root cause of all suffering is ignorance of our true Self.
This condition is known as avidya. Avidya in its simplest form is regarding the non-self as the true Self.
We forget our true nature which is divine and ever peaceful and joyful. We identify with our minds and our bodies and our stuff. We think that is who we are and we become attached.
This creates suffering because, unlike our true Self, the body and the mind and our stuff are impermanent. They are constantly changing, and we suffer because we want to hold on to those things that make us happy.
Yoga is the path of removing suffering. By practicing yoga we destroy spiritual ignorance, attain yogic wisdom
and realize the happiness inherent in our true Self. How do we get yogic wisdom?
Yoga Sutra 2.28
“By the dedicated practice of the limbs of Yoga, the impurities are removed, the light of wisdom dawns, and discriminative discernment is realized.”
We obtain yogic wisdom practicing astanga yoga.
Astanga yoga means the eight limbs of Yoga.
The eight limbs of yoga
The eight limbs of yoga are:
Yama: The great vows
Niyama: The observances
Pranayama: Control of the exhalation and inhalation of the breath
Pratyahara: Withdrawal of the senses
Dharana: Concentration of the mind
Samadhi: Deep absorption on an object
The first four limbs-yama, niyama, asana and pranayama are known as the external practices.
The second four limbs-pratyahara, dharana, dhyana and samadhi are known as the internal practices.
The yamas and the niyamas
Our spiritual life in Yoga is built upon the moral code embodied in the yamas and niyamas. They establish the foundation of our practice as we follow the eight limbed path.
The yamas are known as the great moral vows. The yamas are concerned with how we relate to other people and the world. The yamas provide guidance in situations that involve moral or ethical issues or dilemmas.
In Sutra 2.31 Patanjali teaches us that these vows are universal and are not limited by class, place, time or circumstances. They are our guiding principles regardless of our situation, our culture or our status in life.
Patanjali makes it clear that there are no exceptions to the yamas and they may not be broken under any circumstances. He sets an extraordinarily high standard of conduct for us to meet, and we should be prepared to follow the right path even though we anticipate it may be difficult.
“Even as education in the primary school level is important, since it paves the way for one’s further mental build, the Yamas and Niyamas are the rock-bottom of Yoga. The student enters the practical field of meditation after being built up by the tonic of Yamas and Niyamas, which provide the power and courage needed to face all obstacles. Meditation is not difficult to achieve if the necessary preparations are made earlier.”
Sri Swami Krishnananda
The niyamas are the personal observances. In contrast to the yamas which regulate social life, the niyamas are concerned with self-discipline. The yamas are directed at establishing a strong moral and ethical foundation for yogic life, whereas the niyamas are concerned with preparing the way for the discipline that is necessary to follow our yoga practice and the eight limbed path. The niyamas are practices that should be followed on a daily basis.
The yamas are:
Asteya: Not stealing
Aparigrahah: Not coveting or grasping
The niyamas are:
Svadhyaya: Study of wisdom and the true Self
Isvara Pranidhanani: Devotion to the Supreme Being
Interpretation of scriptures
In the traditional method of interpreting scriptures, the first statement carries more weight than the other statements. The yamas are the first limb of astanga yoga and ahimsa is the first yama.
Therefore, ahimsa is the most important vow!
Ahimsa means non-violence in thought, word and deed. It is considered the root of the other yamas. The goal of the other yamas is to achieve ahimsa. One should strive not to harm even an insect. This is the Jain example of complete dedication to ahimsa. Yogis cannot harm animals because all living beings contain an atman and are considered spiritually equal. You must be a vegetarian to follow ahimsa.
What about situations where you follow one yama but it conflicts with ahimsa?
A traditional example is the story of a man who is asked by robbers if the merchants they were chasing had passed that way. Must he tell the truth or can he tell a lie? Since to tell the truth would result in violence to the merchants, the man properly told a lie and misled the robbers.
If there is a conflict between following different yamas, ahimsa always prevails.
Recommended Books on the Yoga Sutras
Nischala Joy Devi, The Secret Power of Yoga- A Woman’s Guide to the Heart and Spirit of the Yoga Sutras (Three Rivers Press 2007)
Sri Swami Satchidananda, The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali (Integral Yoga Publications 1978)
Reverend Jaganath Carrera, Inside the Yoga Sutras: A Comprehensive Sourcebook for the Study and Practice of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras (Integral Yoga Publications 2006)
Steven Cope, The Wisdom of Yoga-A Seeker’s Guide to Extraordinary Living (Bantam Books 2006)
And of course, my humble offering:
Gary Kissiah, The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali-Illuminations Through Image Commentary and Design (Lilalabs Publishing 2011)
What is OM?
OM is the beginning of the universe
In the beginning there was only Brahman.
Brahman is infinite.
Brahman is the absolute.
Brahman is the Supreme Self.
Brahman is beyond space, time and causation.
Brahman is satchidananda: being, consciousness and bliss.
Brahman is our individual true Self.
All is Brahman.
Brahman brought forth the universe and everything in it.
From Brahman came the many.
This is beautifully described in the words of the Chandogya Upanishad:
“In the beginning was only Being, One without a second. Out of himself he brought forth the cosmos and entered into everything in it. There is nothing that does not come from him. Of everything he is the inmost Self. He is the truth; he is the Self Supreme. You are that, Svetaketu, you are that.”
OM is the sound of the beginning of creation.
OM is the first vibration that came from Brahman.
OM is the primal sound.
With OM Brahman created the universe and everything in it.
The name of Brahman and everything in creation is OM.
We do not create OM by chanting the name, but our chants produce a vibration that is in harmony with the cosmic sound that has been vibrating from the beginning. That is the secret of the power of OM.
Our chanting of OM resonates with the eternal vibration of Brahman. Om is like a divine tuning fork vibrating into eternity.
Why do we chant OM?
We chant OM to connect with our true Self. Since our true Self is the same as the Supreme Self, when we connect with our true Self we connect with the Supreme Self.
When we chant OM it produces a vibration in us which resonates with the universal vibration of OM, and we are elevated from our everyday minds to relationship with our true Self. We chant OM to be in tune with the true Self.
When we chant OM it puts us in a meditative mood. When we chant OM our minds become calm and we can rest in our true Self.
OM is the supreme mantra
All mantras begin with OM. OM is the supreme mantra.
Chanting OM calms and purifies our minds and helps us rest in our true Self.
If we chant OM we become filled with divine energy. It is like taking divine medicine.
In Yoga Sutra 1.28, Patanjali said “Let there by chanting of OM with meditation on its meaning.” By chanting OM our minds become still, and our true Self shines forth.
Chanting OM is the path of bhakti yoga or the path of devotion. Chanting OM helps us unite with the Supreme Being.
OM is a trilogy of meaning meanings
OM is comprised of three sounds: “A”, “U” and “M”. There is also a fourth sound which is a universal vibration and is the essence of all other sounds. This fourth sound is known as the un-struck sound.
OM is comprised of three letters and represents many trilogies of meanings.
Here are some examples:
A U M
Brahma Vishnu Shiva
Creation Preservation Destruction
Body Mind Soul
Rajas Sattva Tamas
Sat Chit Ananda
Past Present Future
Birth Life Death
Jagrat Svapna Sushupti
Father Mother Sun
Fire Sun Wind
OM is consciousness
OM is the four states of consciousness.
OM is the waking state or jagrat.
OM is the dreaming state or svapna
OM is the deep sleep state or sushupti.
Om is the transcendental state or turiya.
The three curves of the OM symbol represent jagrat, svapna and sushupti.
The large curve at the bottom represents jagrat. It is the largest curve because we spend most of our time in the waking state.
The smaller curve above it represents the deep, dreamless state or sushupti.
The curve in the middle represents the dreaming state or svapna because it is an intermediate state between the waking state and the dreamless state.
The dot (or bindu) signifies the fourth state of consciousness or turiya. In this state consciousness looks neither outward nor inward. This peaceful and blissful state is the ultimate aim of all spiritual activity. This state illuminates the other three states.
Finally, the semi-circle symbolizes maya and separates the dot from the other three curves. It is the illusion of maya that prevents us from the realization of this highest state of bliss. The semi-circle is open at the top and does not touch the dot. This means that this highest state is not affected by maya. Maya only affects the manifested phenomenon.
Chanting OM causes our mind to become still, sets up harmonious vibrations in our mind and subtle body, elevates our mind to divinity, and raises our consciousness to the transcendental state of turiya. We unite with the Supreme Self.
One of the best resources on OM is the Mandukya Upanishad. It is quite short- only 12 stanzas- but is considered one of the deepest and most important of the Upanishads. Swami Krishnananda has published a free book in PDF form which contains the Mandukya Upanishad and his commentary. Here is the link to the book:
The Yoga Sutras contain two Sutras on OM: Sutra 1.27 and Sutra 1.28.
Sutra 1.27 states that the sacred word representing Isvara (the Supreme Being) is OM (pranava).
In Sutra 1.28 Patanjali gives us an important teaching for our practice: “Let there be the chanting of OM with meditation on its meaning.” If we read the two together we learn that meditation on the Supreme Being is an important path to realizing our true Self. It is the path of bhakti yoga or the yoga of devotion.
I sat alone on a block of stone
On the banks of the Ganges.
Mother Ganges blessed me.
I meditated on OM and its meaning–
The Word that is the symbol of Brahman.
The little personality was lost.
The mortal limit of the self was loosened.
But there was infinite extension.
I entered into the Nameless beyond;
I realized the unity of bliss.
No words can describe the thrill of joy,
The mystic experiences,
The supreme and divine height of felicity!
The little “I” fused into the incandescent brilliance.
Two become one now,
It was all Tejomaya Ananda–
One mass of transcendental light bliss.
So you understand what is meant by citta. It is the mind-stuff, and vrttis are the waves and ripples rising in it when external causes impinge on it. These vrttis are our whole universe. The bottom of the lake we cannot see, because its surface is covered with ripples. It is only possible when the ripples have subsided, and the water is calm, for us to catch a glimpse of the bottom. If the water is muddy, the bottom will not be seen; if the water is agitated all the time, the bottom will not be seen. If the water is clear, and there are no waves, we shall see the bottom. That bottom of the lake is our own true Self, the lake is the citta, and the waves are the vrttis. Then, at last, when the waves cease, and the water of the lake becomes clear, there is the state called sattva, serenity, and calmness. This citta is always trying to get back to its natural pure state, but the organs draw it out. To restrain it, and to check this outward tendency, and to start it on the return journey to that essence of intelligence is the first step in Yoga, because only in this way can the citta get into its proper course.
Sri Swami Vivekananda
Yoga Sutra 1.12
Restriction of the fluctuations is achieved by practice and non-attachment.
(Abhyasa vairagyabhyam tan nirodhah)
In Yoga Sutra 1.2 Patanjali defines yoga as the cessation of the misidentification with the modifications of the mind. When our minds are still, we can then rest in our true Self. This state of being or resting in our true Self is the ultimate goal of yoga.
Patanjali takes an open and inclusive approach to Yoga practice and describes over twenty separate practices within the Yoga Sutras. One of the most important pathways to attain our true Self is described in Sutra 1.12: through consistent, devotional practice (abhyasa) and detachment from the results of that practice (vairagya) we can still our minds.
B.K.S. Iyengar describes this practice as follows: “Practice is the positive aspect of Yoga; detachment or renunciation the negative. The two balance each other like day and night, inhalation and exhalation.” Iyengar also equates these principles to hatha yoga. The “ha” or “sun” aspect represents practice and the “tha” or “moon” aspect represents detachment. These principles embody the two poles of our Yoga practice.
Achieving the proper balance between a dedicated and successful practice and non-attachment to the results of that practice may be difficult because we may view these goals as paradoxical. This paradox is aggravated in Western cultures because we tend to be achievement and goal oriented.
I frequently reflect upon these twin principles in Yoga class. If I allow myself to become attached to my desire to progress up the asana ladder, I become ego-centered and try to outperform myself or other students in the class. As I become more focused on my desire to “excel”, I lose awareness of my body in the asana, I forget to breathe, I tighten my muscles and I may fall out of the pose. This happened in class this week as I fell out of my handstand because I was so proud that I finally made it upside down! However, the fall in turn, triggered a cycle of self-criticism and judgment, a focus on other students who had beautiful handstands and other distractions. This attachment to achieving the “goal” only served to agitate my mind, disrupt the flow of the practice and prevent me from obtaining its benefits.
On the other hand, if I focus too much upon non-attachment, I have a tendency to become apathetic, non-attentive and to daydream. I do not push the poses to their edge or approach them with attention and concentration. Non-attachment provides me with an excuse to avoid challenging poses and to forgo practicing with the intensity that will expand my practice. In some classes I opt out of doing poses that are difficult for me to reach such as handstand. Again, the result is that I do not reap the full benefit of the practice.
A bird cannot fly with one wing; it needs two wings to fly. To reach our spiritual goals we need both wings of yoga: practice and non-attachment. They need to be coordinated in a rhythmic flow to keep the flight path on course. If we can keep both principles firmly in mind and in balance through constant awareness, we will find that our practice will tend to be far more effective. And those of us who are challenged by handstand may find that we are able to find the pose and even hold it with elegance and stability!
The Yoga Sutras are one of the most important works on Yoga philosophy and practice in the Indian spiritual tradition. They are one of the greatest guides to spiritual practice ever written. The Sutras describe the root causes of human suffering and provide us with a path to take us from suffering to peacefulness and joy. This path is Yoga.
Because the Sutras address many of the great questions of life and are written in Sanskrit,they are often viewed as too esoteric to have practical relevance to our modern lifestyles.This problem has been aggravated because most commentaries on the Sutras are dry and academic, and students often become discouraged in their attempts to study the Sutras.
Gary brings a unique passion and enthusiasm to studying the Sutras. He has spent the last four years writing an innovative book on the Sutras as his spiritual practice. The book uses image, quotation and design to bring the teachings to life and make them approachable by teachers and students.
We will explore the basic concepts of Yoga philosophy and the framework of the Sutras to build a foundation to integrate them into our practice. To illuminate these concepts we will view images, listen to chants and have discussion. We will take a deep dive into such key areas as:
The classical meaning of “yoga”
The goal of yoga practice
The five afflictions which create human suffering
The practice of Kriya and Astanga Yoga to end the afflictions and reach the goal
the dilemma of practice and non-attachment
The obstacles to practice, including spiritual materialism.
We will also explore how to bring the Sutras into our modern lifestyles to reduce our stress, conflicts and anxieties. How can Patanjali guide us as we navigate the freeways tothe office, the demands of living in a digital world, and the economic and physical stress inherent in modern society?
This workshop is open to both teachers and students who want to explore the authentic ground of Yoga and enrich their practice through study of this timeless classic.
Breathe Yoga Studio-Los Gatos, CA
Saturday, April 14th 1:30pm-4:30pm