Balancing Aspiration & Acceptance: Three Valuable Suggestions from the Yogic Tradition

Unquestionably, one of the greatest challenges in life is finding harmony between striving to change what we can, including external circumstances as well as ourselves, while also finding peace with the things we cannot “fix.”  Both the Buddhist and the Yogic tradition acknowledge the complexity of this issue while offering some very simple but powerful […]

Dealing with Tragedies & Fear for Loved Ones

In response to yet another tragic shooting here in the States, a friend & student writes: “I was having a moment of despair thinking about moving my family back to the States after yet another violent mass shooting.  May I ask (when you have time) how do you or how might you suggest processing these awful things that […]

Questions During Yoga Class: Deepening Your Practice While Honoring  Others

 We all know what it’s like to have questions come up during a yoga class, and yet most students are hesitant to bring them up — either out of concern for interrupting the experience of others or simply hesitancy to disrupt the flow of class.  Sometimes these questions are minor — “Should I be feeling this stretch in my hamstrings or my hips?”  Sometimes they are more involved — “Is it better to have a […]

Pain & Suffering on the Spiritual Path, Part One

The Yogic Perspective on Suffering, Part One: Why We Suffer & the Crucial Distinction Between Suffering & Pain   Throughout human history, a few key questions have occupied our thoughts, two of which, unquestionably, being: “Why do we suffer?” and “What can we do to better navigate the pain inherent in life?”  In our next three articles […]

Creating a “Spiritually-Balanced” Diet: Four Valuable Guidelines from the Yoga Tradition

We all know that balanced nutrition is crucial for our health, but we often don’t realize that both what and how we eat can have an equally-important impact on our emotional and spiritual well-being.  In today’s article here at “The Living Yoga Blog” we’ll explore four simple but powerful principles from one of the central […]

Pratipaksha Bhavana – Another Valuable Tool from the Cognitive Branch of Yoga

In today’s article here at “The Living Yoga Blog,” we explore another valuable tool from the Yoga tradition for making better choices and experiencing greater peace.  Known in Sanskrit as pratipaksha bhavana, or “mindfulness of opposites,” and it actually offers two powerful approaches that we can use any time we find ourselves contemplating non-constructive behavior – […]

Building a Personal Yoga Practice: The Integral Yoga Hatha Sequence

What Is Integral Yoga? We all know the physical postures of yoga are just one part of a tradition that addresses not only the body, but also the mind, our social self, and our sense of spirit.  In India, the term for this inclusive approach is “Raja” or “Royal Yoga.”  When the Raja Yogi Swami […]

Yoga & Faith, Part 2: Building Healthy Faith & Skepticism 

In our previous article, we explored why the Yogis considered both faith and skepticism to be essential for healthy development on the spiritual path.  We also discussed the fact that most of us find that one comes more readily for us than the other.  For this reason, in today’s article, we’ll explore some concrete ways […]

Yoga & Faith, Part 1: Is Yoga a Faith-Based Tradition?

Today’s topic here at “The Living Yoga Blog” comes from our current philosophy program, in which a student asked the important question: “Is Yoga a faith-based tradition?”  This is actually such a significant topic that we will be exploring it over the course of two articles.  In today’s segment, we’ll begin with a look at why the Yogis considered both […]

The Meaning of Hatha Yoga (and No, It’s Not “Sun & Moon”) 

  As you’re probably familiar with, the term “hatha yoga” is used to refer to the physical branch of Yoga. Curiously, one of the most common misunderstandings in today’s yoga world – and in turn, one of the most commonly-transmitted errors – is the mistaken idea that the word hatha is made of the roots ha, meaning “sun,” […]

The Yogic View of Intuition: Pros, Cons & Considerations

A common belief in modern yoga is that yoga helps us to get in touch with our intuition.  This is absolutely true, and certainly one of the many benefits of regular practice, but there are also some clarifications the Yogis found it can be helpful for us to understand in terms of the different forms […]

Attachment vs. Commitment on the Yogic Path

One of the key principles of both Yoga and Buddhism is the idea of non-attachment – learning to free ourselves from dependence upon our possessions, our occupations, and even our ideas.  While this concept can definitely be a liberating one, it can also bring up several challenges. When they first encounter the principle, people often […]

Sutra Studies: “The Locks & Keys,” Yoga Sutras 1.33

In our earlier articles on The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, we discussed its general background and some of its primary teachings.  In today’s article at “The Living Yoga Blog,” we’re going to explore a specific sutra that addresses common social challenges and how to respond to them in a constructive way. The passage (1.33) is known as the “Locks & Keys,” because it describes four difficult social circumstances (“the locks”) and the four responses (“the keys”) that can help us deal with them in a positive fashion – both for […]

Why I Never Use Music & Why You Might Consider the Same (Especially if You Teach…)

A friend was surprised to hear that I never play music during yoga classes or in my own practice.  She went on to mention the fact that she had never been to a yoga class where music wasn’t played, and had assumed that it was somehow essential.  However, when she contemplated what it would be like to practice without music in the background, she realized that she would very much prefer it that way. Of course, there are many people who enjoy music as part of […]

Svadharma: Balancing Our Unique Nature with Our Role in Society

We’re all aware that we live in an age that places great emphasis on individuality – one that stresses the importance of finding our own unique path in life.  At the same time, we also know what it’s like to ask how we can honor that individuality while also remaining true to our obligations to family, friends, and to the world as a whole. For that reason, in today’s article here at “The Living Yoga Blog,” we’re going to explore another valuable concept from Yoga philosophy, […]

Namaste: What It Really Means….

You’ve probably seen the very funny video from “College Humor” showing what it might be like if Gandhi were to take a contemporary yoga class.  The hilarious (and highly-accurate) skit shows his steadily-growing frustration with teacher and fellow students, until he finally loses all composure and departs with a (very non-Yogic) expletive.  The unruffled students […]

Yoga & Relationships, Part 2

Last week at “The Living Yoga Blog,” we began our exploration of another often-overlooked aspect of the Yogic path, which is how relationships contribute to our spiritual growth.  In today’s article, we’ll continue our discussion, offering further examples of why the Yogis considered conscious relationships to be such powerful avenues for self-awareness and why the role of householder was considered to be every bit as “spiritually valid” as the […]

Yoga & Relationships, Part 1

If you’ve studied the major texts of Yoga, you’ve probably noticed there isn’t a great deal of guidance when it comes to relationships.  This actually makes considerable sense when we take into account the audience for which these works were written, but it can lead us to a mistaken view that relationships aren’t an important part of the Yogic […]

Sadhana: The Power of Personal Practice, Part 2

Last week at “The Living Yoga Blog,” we examined the importance of having a regular spiritual routine, or sadhana, as well as some of the key elements you might wish to consider in building your own.  In today’s article, we’ll continue our discussion by looking at some of the most effective ways to combine our practices, as well as some helpful tips on building […]

Sadhana: The Power of Personal Practice, Part 1

The start of a new year is often a time for new goals – whether healthier diet, more frequent trips to the gym, or better financial planning.  And yet, when it comes to our spiritual growth, the idea of a formal personal program may seem unusual. In fact, even for those of us on the […]

What is Karma? – Foundation, Elements & Misconceptions, Part 2

In our previous article, here at “The Living Yoga Blog,” we began our exploration of one of the most important and also most frequently misunderstood concepts in Yoga, karma. Today we’ll continue our discussion of how it works, as well as why a better understanding of karma is so important for our spiritual growth. Correcting […]

What is Karma? – Foundation, Elements & Misconceptions, Part 1

In spite of its central role in many spiritual traditions, karma remains a concept that is surrounded by misunderstanding, even among dedicated students of Eastern thought. For that reason, in today’s article at “The Living Yoga Blog,” we’re going to take a more detailed look at this important topic, including what karma is, how it […]

Yoga & Qigong: Contrasts & Complementarity, Part Two

In our previous article we began an exploration of the relationship between yoga and qigong with an overview of the basic philosophy and practices behind qigong.  Today, we’ll continue our discussion with a deeper look at where the two traditions differ, as well as how they can be seen to complement and enhance one another. Even a brief look at its elements shows many parallels between qigong and yoga: for example, […]

Yoga & Qigong: Contrasts & Complementarity, Part One

Today’s topic at “The Living Yoga Blog” comes from one of our readers, who asks:  “Along with yoga, I see that you also practice and teach qigong.  Could you share a bit about how the two compare for you, as well as the benefits you experience from practicing both?”   As you may know, qigong and yoga have a great deal in common – they are both powerful traditions for improving health, and they both place great emphasis on the mind-body […]

The Four Ashramas: The Yogic Stages of Life & What They Can Teach Us

Of the many challenges in today’s world, one that is often overlooked is the lack of clear flow we can experience as we move between the various stages of our lives.  From childhood to our final years, we often feel unsettled or unfulfilled, in part because we are unsure of our responsibilities as they relate to our current stage of life and our role relative to those around us. For example, we know that today’s children are required to deal with increasingly adult issues, including highly-charged subjects such as sexuality, […]

Enlightenment: What It Is & Why You Really Should Think About It (Part Two)

In our previous article, we explored some of the ways enlightenment has been described in order to help those of us on the Yogic path better understand the goal toward which we are heading.  In today’s article, I’d like to share some thoughts on why this understanding is so valuable – even for those of […]

Enlightenment: What It Is & Why You Really Should Think About It… (Part 1)

If you’re like most practitioners of yoga, you probably think of enlightenment as a distant ideal that only applies to advanced practitioners. And yet, numerous Yoga masters have encouraged their students – even novices and those with worldly responsibilities – to understand enlightenment and to keep it before them, as distant as it might seem. […]

Understanding What Yoga Isn’t: Clarifications from Classic Texts & Modern Sages

Throughout its history, there has been a fair amount of confusion as to what yoga is.  It can be helpful for modern students to know this confusion is far from new, and that yoga has often been misunderstood both in the West and the East, and by outsiders as well as practitioners.  In today’s article, […]

The Koshas: Understanding the Yogic View of the Mind-Body Connection – Part 2

In last week’s article, we began our exploration of the koshas, or the layers of the human body and consciousness.  In today’s article, we’ll take a look at each of the five layers in more detail, including how they impact one another and how a deeper understanding of each can lead to greater health, peace, […]

The Koshas: Understanding the Yogic View of the Mind-Body Connection – Part 1

Most regular students of yoga are already familiar with concept of prana, or the vital energy of the body, but may notunderstand exactly how it relates to the other elements of our bodies, as well as our thoughts and feelings.  In today’s article, we’ll take a closer look at what the Yogis referred to as […]