Yoga is Not a Commodity, Nor a Shortcut

By Fabio Milioni

In this time of degeneration and decay, the Kaliyuga, we are witnessing a progressive expansion of ignorance which manifests itself under the variegated forms of erroneous knowledge (avidya).

Wrong knowledge removes harmony with universal laws (dharma), feeds the profane passions of the ego that justify and exalt vices while mocking the Virtues (adharma). Avidya and adharma generate behaviors (rajas) linked to the worst instincts, which push downwards, towards coarseness, dark thickness (tamas).

The imbalance that generates disharmony expands like wildfire, not even sparing the sacred ground of Tradition, the sanctuary of Harmony (sattva).

It is therefore necessary, on the part of all sincere searchers (jijnasa) who have undertaken the path (sadhana) towards liberation-Enlightenment (moksa), to strengthen with determination (abhyasa), detachment (vairagya) and the attention capacity (vitarka) discriminating (vicara) between true knowledge (vidya) and false knowledge (avidya).

First of all in oneself, remaining firmly anchored to the crystalline sources of Tradition (sanatana dharma) and its sacred texts (sruti and smrti).

Yoga, in this purifying action (kriya), is and remains a powerful tool, a method of great efficacy. The architecture of Yoga rests on solid foundations: Yama and Niyama clearly establish the Duties and Observances to be put into practice in every moment of existence.

Yoga is transformation, transmutation, purification; otherwise is not Yoga.

Its principles are a-temporal and a-spatial. They have already been established and consolidated. It is up to us only to make them our own, make them alive, implement them, becoming a visible manifestation of them.

In compliance with the rules of initiatory Transmission, through the uninterrupted Master-disciple chain (guru sisya parampara). Particular vigilance, along the whole path (sadhana), must be exercised towards the manifestations of erroneous knowledge (avidya) that in the Kali-yuga spread and take hold on weak and weakened spirits, victims of the lowest impulses and slaves of the profane desires of the ego.

These manifestations of erroneous knowledge, even if well disguised under fascinating and attractive envelopes, are easily identifiable thanks to their common characteristic: the dominance of the ego.

Yoga is Yoga. It does not need any further specification. There is nothing to add and nothing to take away: it simply needs to be experienced and realized.

The fashion of always inventing new 'yoga' is systematically associated with profit: Yoga is debased and smuggled as an 'original' commodity, preferably associated with an alleged 'intellectual property' covered by copyright. Any sincere seeker can, at best, aspire to the role of being a good servant of Yoga; always keeping the temperamental horses of the ego well in check.

Any sincere researcher who follows the route of Wisdom (jñana vidya) will avoid showing off and passing off the truths that are part of the traditional heritage (sruti e smrti) as his original thoughts. At the most, limited to the part of the path already completed positively, he will be able to try to understand and share his experience of transformation, the obstacles he has had to face and the tools of Tradition that he has used to overcome them.

Making the distinction between Wisdom (vidya) and wrong knowledge (avidya) is a welcome Duty. An action of non-action that helps to restore balance and Harmony (dharma). Remember every moment that Yoga has only one owner: Tradition (sanatana dharma). Which must be respected and respected.

Therefore, rejecting as non-yoga everything that is proposed in the form of a commodity linked to profit and well rooted in the widespread commodification of existence in Kali Yuga.

Yoga is Wisdom (jñana) of correct knowledge (vidya), any claim of intellectual property and copyright on Yoga (under the pretext of being 'original' only because associated with more or less imaginative adjectives) is no longer yoga, it is false-knowledge (avidya); false knowledge that is then spread by packaging tempting products that promise unlikely realizations in a short time, without particular commitment and above all by evading the essential preconditions to be able to undertake the journey: duties and observances (yama and niyama). Evasion of Yama and Niyama, or even worse the theory of their non-necessity, is a factor closely linked to the time of Kali-Yuga, where the Virtues are systematically derided and neglected as an obstacle to the free expression of the lowest ego drives, new idols of a society based on commodification, consumption, the narrow superficiality of the lowest instincts.

For this reason, at this time, it is particularly important to reaffirm the fundamental importance of Yama and Niyama. Duties and Observances which, if made vital and used as tools of individual transmutation, represent the most effective antidote to avoid falling into the sticky swamps of the ego and its impulses (desire for profit, desire for power, desire for fame). Without ever forgetting that the path is long, full of obstacles, and it is impossible without carrying out a transmutation (parinama) of one's being. In the luminous wake of the one Tradition, under the wise and loving guidance of a Master (guru) who has already completed this journey successfully.

Without ever forgetting that the sacred language of Yoga is not English or any other language ....... it is only and exclusively Sanskrit (samskrtam).

Launch of Yogacharya Alliance

We are pleased to announce the establishment of world’s first alliance of yoga practitioners who have already completed a 200 Hour Teacher Training Program and are now seeking to expand their practice beyond Asanas.


Indic Academy recently established a Center for Consciousness Studies and Inner Transformation (CCSIT) with a focus on developing and offering four advanced courses in Entrepreneurship, Executive coaching, Yoga and Vedanta.

At CCSIT we believe practice of Hatha Yoga is an important first step towards Well-being & Liberation. In addition to Asanas, one’s practice has to include other steps such as Mantras to Mindfulness, Sanskrit to Shastras etc. Such a holistic practice and study undertaken as a residential programme, combining the science of Ayurveda with the wisdom of Vedanta will bring about a complete inner transformation. A true Yogacharya – an authentic Yoga teacher, a scholar-practitioner of the science of well-being and a qualified seeker of liberation will then emerge.

As a prelude to launching our residential Yogacharya programme later this year, we are pleased to announce the launch of “Yogacharya Alliance” (YA) a global network of yoga practitioners, teachers, scholars and institutions who hold the ideal of a Yogacharya as a higher aspiration than a regular teacher training course. Membership of this alliance is only open who those who believe in

  • Honouring the roots and cultural context of the origins of Yoga
  • Upholding the physical, psychological, ethical, intellectual and spiritual integrity of Yoga practice and teaching
  • Offering authentic, immersive and transformative Yoga, training, products, services and experiences


We bring together vast resources and experience through our global network of dedicated teachers, mentors, professionals, scholars and experts from multiple domains including Yoga shastra, Veda & Vedantic studies, Ayurveda, Wellness & Mindfulness, Therapy & Counselling etc.

As a first step to establishing the Yogacharya Alliance we extend an open invitation to all qualified yoga teachers who share the above vision and values to become members of this alliance.

As the membership of this Alliance reaches a critical mass it is envisaged a separate trust will be established with a seed capital contribution by Indic Academy. The said trust will be run independently and have its own governance structure. A few venerable members of the Yoga fraternity will initially be designated as honorary Yogacharyas and under their guidance a standard for evaluation and certification for a Yogacharya will be established. It is envisioned that this body will become a premier certification agency in the field of Yoga for the highest level of proficiency. All the students of Indic Academy’s CCSITs proposed Yogacharya programme will also have to be certified by this body.

Practitioners who seek to become members of this alliance may please write to us at Applicants will be informed of their admission as members of this Alliance after a review by our internal panel.

(Image courtesy

YOGA – What it is and what it is not

In Sanskrit, the primary definition of the term Yoga is the state of union with the Divine or the experience of oneness with the great Reality. Yoga, therefore, represents the experience of Truth, the consciousness of Reality, the union with the Divine. There are also secondary meanings of the term Yoga. Yoga is also a set of scientifically evolved and intelligently formulated practical techniques enabling man to shed himself of all the impurities imposed upon him by the nature of his body, mind and senses, and aiding him to concentrate his thoughts entirely upon the Supreme. Thus Yoga means anything that man may do to purify his lower nature, to restrain his senses, to direct his mind towards God, to come into a deep interior level of worship of the Divine and finally to realise his eternal oneness with the Divine Consciousness.

The application of yoga is universal. It may be applied within the religious framework. Yet it clearly transcends religion. It is supra-religious, far beyond any dogma or doctrine. The extent and duration of its applicability is commensurate with the whole of humanity for all time. I shall attempt to show you the significance that Yoga holds for everyone in this great and eventful twentieth century.

First and foremost, Yoga is not mere acrobatics. Some people suppose that Yoga is primarily concerned with the manipulation of the body into various queer positions, standing on the head, for instance, or twisting about the spine, or assuming any of the numerous odd poses which are demonstrated in the text-books on Yoga. These techniques are correctly employed in one distinct type of Yoga practice, but they do not form an integral part of the most essential type. Physical posture serves at best as an auxiliary, or a minor form of Yoga.

Secondly, Yoga is not the performance of magical feats. I mention this especially because among the many misconceptions that abound about Yoga, this one is due to certain pretensions which have been made by fake Yogins—pseudo-Yogins. Anything that is good is all too easily corrupted by perverted people. At all times in the history of the world this has happened. Behind the deliberate mystification of things pertaining to Yoga there lies a selfish motive. Unfortunately, the distortion of this true science is the consequence. It will not be out of place, therefore, for me to tell you frankly and clearly that not all that has been put across as Yoga is really Yoga. Yoga is certainly not magic, nor is it the performance of any extraordinary or unusual mystical feat.

Neither is Yoga 'Fakirism', the impression that is obtained by many tourists and travellers, especially by news-people who, with a strong preference for the sensational and the fantastic, have managed to create the fantastic idea that Yoga is some form of self-torture—lying on a bed of nails, burying oneself underground, chewing or swallowing pieces of glass, drinking acid, swallowing nails or piercing oneself with pins and needles. This has nothing to do with Yoga, and real Yogins have nothing to do with all this.

Neither is Yoga any weird ceremonial or peculiar rite. It is not hedonism. It is not paganism. It is not palmistry. It is not prophesying. It is not astrology. It is not thought-reading, nor is it the dispensing of charms to ward off evil spirits or 'possessions'. None of these is Yoga. If people call themselves Yogins and then explain their Yoga by exhibiting any of these unusual feats, then they are misusing the term Yoga. Yoga is not auto-hypnotism or self-hypnosis. It is not doing of incantations or by the monotonous performance of gestures. Yoga is not experiences like those obtained by taking lysergic acid or mescalin or peyote (of Mexican origin) or divine mushrooms. These experiences are not Yoga, nor are they products of Yoga.

Neither is Yoga a religious cult. Certain Eastern concepts do lie behind it. This is true. But these concepts do not have anything to do with the evolution of the science Proper. Yoga is comprised of highly evolved and practical techniques which may be applied by persons of any race, nation, caste, creed, church or sect. As philosophical definitions were being formed and as religious concepts of the Hindus were being formulated, the science of Yoga was evolved. Certain metaphysical concepts are peculiarly Hindu and Eastern, but Yoga which is separable from its philosophical and metaphysical background, is a science of universal and practical value. Yoga is essentially a spiritual matter concerning spiritual methods. It is an intensely practical approach towards the realisation of the supreme Reality, the very Centre of all life—God. And it is the heritage of all humanity.

Worshipful Gurudev Sri Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj used to tell a beautiful parable regarding the importance and truth about Yoga: There was a big tree in a jungle. On the top of a branch there was a very big honey-comb. But the ascent to the top of the tree was difficult. One had to cut steps on the trunk of the tree and ascend; but that demanded great patience and intelligent work.

A slender creeper entwined that tree and reached up to a great part of the height. It appeared to be strong, though it perilously dangled in the air.
A greedy man, desirous of possessing honey, without much effort, began to ascend the tree with the sole help of the creeper. He was too lazy to cut steps on the trunk of the tree and thought that the creeper was strong enough to take him to the top. When he was a few feet above the ground, a violent wind broke the creeper and the man fell down and fractured his limbs.

Similar is the case with those who try to ascend the tree of Yoga (Divinity), in order to drink the honey of Moksha, with the help of the creeper of Kamya Karmas (actions with selfish motives and desires) through short-cut paths. The path of Yoga lies along the trunk of the tree of Divinity. You have to improvise steps on it, with some effort, which is Sadhana (spiritual practices). You have to ascend step by step, starting with Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana and then reach the pinnacle of Samadhi. There is no short-cut to this. You cannot evade this responsibility. If, on the other hand, you climb with the help of Kamya-Karmas,—though they, too, appear to be strong,—they will not take you to the heights of Yoga. When the wind of selfish desires, greed for the things of this world and the pleasures of heaven, blows, this creeper of Karma will break and you will have a terrible fall.

O man! Selfish works will not lead you to the Goal of Yoga. Only unselfish works will help you. Sadhana means something much sterner. You have to ascend the top through the hard way. But once you reach the top, you will drink the nectar of Immortality and Eternal Bliss.

There are various systems of Yoga which I shall now briefly describe. The first is the intellectual system in which man employs his human faculties in a supreme exercise: the realisation of the Truth. This is known as Jnana Yoga or the Yoga of Intellect. One listens to the expositions of the nature of God, acquires an understanding of the Reality, then by reflecting upon it again and again, ultimately, one penetrates into it through the power of reason in the depths of meditation.
The second system is known as Bhakti Yoga or the Yoga of Devotion or Love. This is a very sweet path, one which is peculiarly suited and easily adapted to the emotional temperament. One grows into close relationship with the Supreme Being by constantly thinking about Him, praying to Him, worshipping Him, feeling Him close, so close that one naturally walks with Him, talks with Him, lives, moves and has one's being in Him. A link is set up whereby pure love is directed to God. In this exercise, the human being becomes totally integrated.

In the third system, all phases of life's activities are dedicated to God. On an unselfish basis, man's duties are thus integrated. This is known as Karma Yoga or the Yoga of selfless service. The prime and crucial act in this system is the shedding of the ego. When the personal ego is completely abnegated, all creatures upon earth are clearly apprehended as visible manifestations of God, as moving temples in which the Divine is enshrined. The service of others then becomes natural and easy, and every act is performed not as a secular act, but as an act of worship. Engaged in the transmutation of dynamism into divine realisation, one may do his worship everywhere. The teacher in the school, the doctor in the hospital, the farmer in the field, the businessman in the stock-exchange, everyone engaged in professional activity, can transmute his dynamism into pure devotion by adopting a humble and worshipful inner attitude.

In the fourth system, man is employed in a very special process in which all thought is made to merge in God. One becomes more and more aware of God as the Centre of being. This is a very beautiful path also. It is known as Raja Yoga or the Yoga of Concentration and Meditation. Thought is movement of the mind-stuff. Movement of the mind-stuff is produced by motion of the vital-life, force within called Prana and by movement of the body. Thus, thought, Prana and the body are all interconnected. Total subdual and control of the body may be brought about by keeping it in a fixed and steady posture. Subdual and control of the inner psychic energy may be obtained by practising techniques of breath-control. And ultimately, all the scattered rays of the mind may be withdrawn from the multifarious universe and made to concentrate solely upon the one idea of God. In this culminating process, man is raised above the level of the mind, taken into a state of super consciousness in which the experience of oneness with God is realised, and he is released forever from the bondage to the body and from death itself. There are many heartening signs that this Yoga is being considered by many seekers in the West to be the most suitable method for the solution of the perplexing problems of their civilisation.

Foundation of Yoga

This article is sourced from teachings of Swami Sivananda, founder of The Divine Life Society, Rishikesh

Develop virtues like generosity, forgiveness and love. Mere Yogic Kriyas alone will not help you much. Do self-analysis daily and eradicate your faults and evil, slavish habits. Rectify your defects such as selfishness, pride, jealousy and hatred. You must cultivate a compassionate and loving heart first. At all times you must share what you have with others and practice selfless service. Then only will you get purity of heart.

Yoga is unity, identity, homogeneity, oneness and sameness with God.

Many aspirants neglect these preliminaries and jump, out of curiosity, to Yogic Kriyas for getting psychic powers. It is really a serious blunder. They will have a hopeless downfall. Therefore, be careful. Mere Yogic Kriyas cannot bring about the desired results. The purification of the heart is of paramount importance. The aspirant must free himself from lust, anger, greed, jealousy, hatred, egoism, vanity, attachment, pride and delusion. This is more difficult than control of breath or the practice of Yoga Asanas.

Virtuous qualities such as mercy, tolerance, adaptability, courage, patience, balance state of mind and cosmic love should be assiduously cultivated. Sages have always laid great stress on selfless service, generous charity, purity and simple living.

With firm faith, application, perseverance, careful attention to even small details, and fortitude in trials, you must set foot and proceed on the path of Sadhana.

Yoga is not hidden in caves, not sequestered in thick Himalayan forests. It is not in taking mountain herbs. God is not a coward to run away from towns, cities and villages. Practice Yoga in your own home. When the desire to practice Yoga comes, it means that liberation is near at hand. Now, take the plunge.

It is a blessing to be a Yogi. Practice Yoga and preach. Hatha Yoga ensures good physical and mental health. You must utilize this to the best advantage by deep meditation on the Atman or inner Self. Self-realization should be your goal. This should be achieved by the constant remembrance of God, by righteousness, by a life of virtue and by the practice of Yoga.

Becoming a Yogi does not involve the abandonment of anyone or neglect of any duties. It means switching over from a life of purpose-lessness to the path of God. It entails a change of your attitude towards life and in the methods pursued for liberating yourself. True and lasting renunciation is, after all, a matter of the attitude of the mind.

There is only one institution for you which can train you to evolve into a full-bloom Yogi, and that is where Providence has placed you-your own home. Mind is indeed the cause of bondage and liberation; a restless mind will find rest nowhere except in its own annihilation. The mind should be attacked on all sides with every possible type of weapon-with the repetition of God’s Name, study of religious scriptures, devotion, practice of silence, service. Pranayama, Japa, prayer, Kirtan and meditation. All these should be combined.

Do not look upon Yoga as something beyond you or as calling for any extraordinary efforts. You can remain in your station of life, carry on your work and at the same time embark on the Yogic path. Do Japa, prayer, Kirtan, meditation and Asanas regularly.

Any effort in the direction of Yoga never goes in vain. You will realize thereby the fruits of even a little Yogic practice.

Yes, there is a popular notion that Yoga is only for the intelligentsia. It is not so. Yoga is for all. Everyone can and should practice Yoga from his own station in life.

I can impart to your noble self-training in one of the most ancient Hindu medicine - the great miracle panacea for all ills-Yoga. Become a Yogi from this moment.

The aim and end of Yoga is Self-realization. Yogic methods should not be applied for mere material gains.

Yoga does not consist in just reading books and discussion at a club table. It consists in practicing what you already know.

Every activity - from the rearing of children to the management of the home - can be readily converted into Yoga. Kindly study the first six chapters of the Gita again and again. Merely running away from crowds is not a sign of Yoga. The performance of all actions as an instrument in His hands, and with the consciousness that this world is pervaded by Him, the Supreme Spirit, is called Yoga.

Upcoming Course titled YOGA-360 by Nrithya Jagannathan


In Association With

Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram


A 2-Credit Certified Course titled

Yoga-360:  An in-depth immersion into the philosophy, practice & application of Yoga’

from 13thJanuary, 2021 to 14th April, 2021.


Indica Yoga is platform that offers diverse and inclusive Yoga that is authentic, immersive and transformative. We believe practice of Hatha Yoga is an important first step towards Well-being & Liberation. In addition to Asanas one's practice has to include Mantras & Mindfulness, Sanskrit & Shastras. Such a practice when combined with the science of Ayurveda and the wisdom of Vedanta brings about a complete transformation. We call this approach Asana+. Our Asana+ programs include talks, workshops, courses, retreats and festivals.

About KYM

Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram (ISO 9001:2015) is a world renowned centre for Yoga Therapy and Yoga Studies founded in 1976 by Sri TKV Desikachar, son and student of legendary Yogi Sri T Krishnamacharya. Recognized as a Leading Yoga Institute by the Yoga Certification Board (under MDNIY), the Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram is known for its one-on-one Yoga therapy interventions in the management of many illnesses. The KYM also offers intensive yoga teacher and yoga therapist training coursesapart from short-term programmes on a range of topics as well as options for personalized learning. The integration of the key teachings of the Yogasutra into the KYM teaching methodology is a unique hallmark of the KYM approach. The course conducted by the KYM is known for the high standards of teaching as well as for their adherence to authenticity of the tradition.

About the Course

Yoga is today a hugely popular discipline that has caught the fancy of millions across the world. While including practices of movements (asana-s) that are known to confer a wide range of health benefits, Yoga is more than just asana.

As a philosophy, Yoga holds its own with the ancient darsana-s, offering serious practitioners a viable pathway towards meditation and eventually, the means to kaivalyam. As a science of the mind, Yoga philosophy offers extremely insightful methods to understand both the limitations and the immense potentials of the human mind and also, shows us in a very pragmatic manner how to overcome these limitations in order to empower oneself from within. As a practice, Yoga integrates asana, pranayama, bandha, mudra, nyasam, mantra, bhavana, dhyanam and more, giving practitioners an array of powerful tools that address all the dimensions of the human system. From the perspective of a working professional, Yoga also offers powerful approaches to improve concentration, attention span and memory, thereby enhancing both efficiency and effectiveness.

This 30-hour course will offer a 360-degree perspective of multiple facets of Yoga as a philosophy, as a practice, as a system of health and healing and also as a science of the mind. Further, this course will explore the core principles behind the practice of Yoga. At the same time, it would provide a broad overview of the content covered at Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram's teacher training courses. The course is primarily designed to integrate the philosophy of the Patanjali's 'Yogasutra with practical lived experiences and correlate how and why the tools of Yoga are relevant in this day and time.

For Whom?

It is open to all who seek to deepen their knowledge and understanding of the Yoga tradition. It is specially designed for the benefit of:

  • Yoga Teachers & Students
  • Yoga Therapists
  • All Yoga enthusiasts

Curriculum outline

Core areas covered will include:

  • The history and evolution of Yoga and why Yoga continues to be relevant
  • An overview of the fundamental Vedic principles underlying the study and practice of Yoga
  • An overview of core teachings of the Yoga sutra (covering essential aspects of all four chapters of the text)
  • Fundamental principles behind the practice of asana, pranayama and dhyanam
  • Fundamentals of yoga practice design (course planning)
  • Application of the tools of Yoga
  • Guided practices of asana, pranayama and dhyanam

Students of this course will

  • Acquire a broad understanding of all four chapters of the Yogasutra and its core teachings, with specific emphasis on the insights given by Sri T Krishnamacharya and Sri TKV Desikachar.
  • Acquire a broader perspective of Yoga beyond asanas.
  • Understand the KYM approach to integrating the philosophy and practice of Yoga.
  • Understand the fundamentals of course planning and the application of the tools of Yoga
  • Learn about significant contributions of Sri T Krishnamacharya and Sri TKV Desikachar in adapting the practice of yoga to suit individual needs
  • Learn to integrate these teachings in their day to day living

Course Includes

  • 14 Live, Interactive Zoom Sessions
  • 2 additional dedicated QA Sessions
  • Access to recorded sessions
  • Suggested Course Readings
  • 30 Yoga Alliance CE Credits
  • Certificate upon successful completion

Duration: A 2-credit (30 hrs) programme delivered over 1 Trimester from January 2021 to April, 2021.

Session details:

  • 1hr 30 mins Live session with faculty every Wednesday between 6.30 to 8.00 PM IST (one session per week)
  • 2 QA sessions

Course Dates:

  • January dates: 13*, 20, 27
  • February dates:03, 10, 17, 24
  • March dates:03, 10, 17, 24, 31
  • April dates: 7, 14

* Orientation Session

Session Recordings: Access to the recordings of all sessions will be provided

Platform: Zoom Webinar

Medium of Instruction: English

Assessment& Certification: Essay to be submitted at the end of the course for successful completion and certification.

CE with Yoga Alliance: This is a bonus for all Registered Yoga Teachers (RYTs) with Yoga Alliance as this course is eligible for 30 (non-contact) CE hours of Yoga Alliance.

Course Fee: Rs 7,500/- For Indian Residents & USD 125/- for International Students

Early Bird Offer: Rs 6,000/- & USD 110 (respectively) for registrations up to 25th December

Last Date for Registration: 03January, 2021. Prior registration compulsory to attend the course.


Payment Link: Will be sent to all registered participants.

Course Instructors

Smt. Nrithya Jagannathan, Chief Faculty

This course will be conducted by Nrithya Jagannathan, Director, KYM Institute of Yoga Studies, Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram, a student of Sri TKV Desikachar with over 18 years of experience. Nrithya Jagannathan is also the Editor-in-chief of KYM’s quarterly e-journal on Yoga and Yoga Cikitsa. A life member of the Indian Yoga Association, Nrithya is a member of the Standing Academic Accreditation committee of the Indian Yoga Association as well. She has traveled extensively representing the KYM at numerous events/seminars/workshops across the world.

Nrithya is trained in Vedic chanting as well. She is C-IAYT as well as ERYT-500 and YACEP. She is also Bharatanatyam dancer, teacher and choreographer, with many awards to her credit.

Dr. Vinayachandra Banavathy

Dr. Vinayachandra is the Director of Indica Yoga, a platform that offers authentic, immersive and transformative yoga experiences across the world. He holds a PhD on psychological insights in the Vedas from Pondicherry University, besides Masters’ in Sanskrit, English, Yogic Science and Applied Psychology. Vinayachandra is a dedicated teacher who travels across the world conducting courses, lectures and workshops on a unique blend of Yoga, Psychology and Sanskrit. His publications include a report on Standardization of Yoga Terminologies for WHO; a book co-edited with Dr. Anuradha Choudry titled ‘Perspectives on Indian Psychology’, published by Jain University Press, another book co-authored titled ‘Happiness: Indic Perspectives’, published by Development Foundation, besides a few articles, papers, booklets on Yoga, Indian Psychology, Culture and Spirituality.

Dr. Anuradha Choudry

Dr. Anuradha is a guest faculty at Indica Yoga. She is currently working as a joint Faculty at the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences and at the Rekhi Centre of Excellence for the Science of Happiness at the Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur. A multilingual Sanskritist, she works in the areas of Indian/Yoga Psychology, Philosophy and Culture and travels across the world to deliver lectures and conduct workshops on these topics for national and international organisations and events including the Annual Yoga Congress organised by the European Union of Yoga in Zinal, Switzerland. She has published in various journals and has co-edited and co-authored books titled 'Perspectives on Indian Psychology;' and 'Happiness: Indian Perspectives'; respectively along with Dr. Vinayachandra B. K. Last year, she was the recipient of the Excellent Young Teacher Award at IIT Kharagpur.

For more details and early bird offer please write to us at with the course code ‘Yoga 360’ in the subject line.


Yoga Therapy and Ayurveda: The Meaning of Chikitsa by Pandit Vamadeva Shastri

[ This article is sourced from Dr. David Frawley's website:]


The Sanskrit term for therapy throughout its medical literature is Chikitsa, which literally refers to the application of consciousness (chit) or caring. Yoga Therapy is called Yoga Chikitsa.

Yet chikitsa as a specific term occurs rarely in traditional yogic texts. Yoga texts do mention disease as one of the main obstacles in Yoga practice, but do not make addressing disease in the ordinary sense of a medical system as the purpose of Yoga practice, which aims more at spiritual development.


Yoga Sutras is divided into four sections or padas, which each has a name. These are Samadhi PadaSadhana PadaVibhuti Pada and Kaivalya Pada.

  1. Samadhi Pada deals with the definition of Yoga as Samadhi or unity consciousness and how to achieve it. The definition of Yoga (YS.I.2) as chitta-vritti-nirodha or mastery of the movements of the mind, is traditionally regarded in the commentaries as a definition of Samadhi (note books of Swami Veda Bharati). Yoga is Samadhi. That is its first and foremost definition. This nirodha of the mind results in tada drashtuh svarupe avasthanam, or abidance in the Self-nature of the Seer (YS.I.3), referring to the Purusha or Atman. Yoga is control of the mind for the purpose of Self-realization or the liberation of Consciousness which occurs through samadhi. This is its subject matter.
  2. Sadhana Pada deals with the practice of Yoga, which is called sadhana or a way of realizing something. It begins with the three principles of Kriya Yoga or the Yoga of Action as tapas, svadhyaya and Ishvara pranidhana. Later it introduces the eight limbs of Yoga or Ashtanga, yamas, niyamas, asana, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, dhyana and samadhi. These are stages to purify the mind to lead us to samadhi as the transforming power of consciousness.
  3. Vibhuti Pada deals with the powers and insights that arise from Samadhi in the broader sense of Samyama (combined dharana, dhyana and samadhi), including occult , healing and psychic powers as well as higher wisdom.
  4. Kaivalya Pada relates to Kaivalya, the natural Samadhi state of the Purusha beyond body and mind, Prakriti and the gunas, which is the goal of Yoga practices. It ends with defining Kaivalya much like the first pada describes the Seer. It says (YS.IV.34), svarupa pratishtha chiti-shakti, when the power (shakti) of Consciousness rests in its own nature. This is much like the statement of abidance in the Self-nature of the Seer, only the emphasize is on the power of the Seer, not simply the Seer.

The second section or Sadhana Pada also introduces the theory of the five kleshas or factors of suffering for the mind, which can be related to psychological and emotional pathologies in general and forms the basis for Yoga psychology one could say. Here we must remember that Yoga Sutras is more a text of meditation or Raja Yoga than one of physical practices or asana, so this psychological orientation makes sense here.


The term chikitsa, h is very common in Ayurveda and occurs prominently in Ayurvedic texts, which contain a Chikitsa Sthana or section relating to therapy or treatment. Chikitsa usually goes along with a Nidana section or section relating to diagnosis, which in turn follows from the Ayurvedic view of body, mind, pathology and the disease process. Medical systems require a diagnosis as the basis for therapy and cannot work without them. Ayurvedic chikitsa is broad based and includes diet, herbs, massage, Pancha Karma, rejuvenation, even Yoga and meditation, extending from lifestyle factors to clinical treatment.

Traditional Ayurveda includes Yoga as a therapy  as part of its Sattavajaya Chikitsa or therapy for increasing sattva guna, which is its main psychological therapy, reducing the psychological doshas of rajas and tamas, where the theories and practices of the Yoga Sutras fit in quite well. It regards Yoga as the means of eliminating spiritual suffering, not just physical or psychological suffering.

Chikitsa therefore is a primary term in Ayurveda and a secondary term in Yoga, which is more of a sadhana or spiritual practice. Ayurveda mentions Yoga as a therapy particularly in the context of yamas and niyamas as behavioral therapy for the mind. Yet Ayurvedic texts also mention the importance of mantras and honor deities of Ayurveda like Dhanvantari and also Lord Shiva, the Lord of Yoga.


For a Yoga Chikitsa or Yoga Therapy, the question arises as to what is the Nidana or diagnosis it is based upon? Modern Yoga Therapy rests more on modern medicine and is usually an adjunct physical therapy for diseases as diagnosed and treated by modern medicine. There is nothing wrong with that but it can obscure the traditional connection of Yoga therapy and Vedic chikitsa with Ayurveda. There is no traditional Nidana or yogic diagnosis apart from Ayurveda, which employs all methods of observation, touch, pulse and patient examination according to Vedic principles of three doshas, three gunas, five elements, five pranas, agni and Atman.

 For the best results in Yoga therapy we recommend not only a modern medical diagnosis of the conditions it is treating but also an Ayurvedic diagnosis. This connects Yoga Therapy with the broader group of Ayurvedic therapies, from diet and herbs to massage and Ayurvedic clinical methods. It adds considerations of the condition of body and mind according to the three doshas (Vata, Pitta and Kapha) and three gunas (sattva, rajas and tamas) of Vedic thought. It can also bring in Ayurvedic disease theories and stages of disease but also that of the Klesha theory of the Yoga Sutras.

This is what we are seeing in the new Yoga Therapy that is arising in India today that emphasizes treating all five koshas (body, prana, mind, intelligence and bliss), not just a physical or even psychological approach to Yoga and Ayurveda but threefold as body, mind and consciousness. Doshas and gunas are part of this examination.

 Such an integration of Yoga and Ayurveda is what we recommend in our books and courses on Yoga and Ayurveda, extending to integrating other Vedic approaches like Vedic counseling, Jyotish and Vastu into both Yoga and Ayurveda.

Living Yoga by Sowmya Ayyar

[ Sowmya Ayyar is the founder of Prafull Oorja, an NGO which trains yoga therapists to work with a variety of under-resourced communities. The Sangha has touched the lives of 500+ individuals in Bangalore every week since 2013. Sowmya is also a Karnataka Yoga Council Member for Women's International Chamber of Commerce, India (WICCI). In this write up, Sowmya shares her personal journey into Yoga and in the course explores how our family, our upbringing etc. offer us a tremendous opportunity to practice and live yoga.]

Running my NGO, Prafull Oorja, being on the WICCI Karnataka Yoga Council, and supporting Indica Yoga, all give me the opportunity to engage with individuals whose focus is in the Yoga Field or Yoga Industry. And if its not with a yoga teacher, guru, intern, trainee, or friend, its with people eager to know more about yoga. In general, Im always involved in something yoga connected.

A big topic in the field is how to get our families and friends to do yoga. Especially when raising children, those of us who have been touched profoundly by yoga, enough to get certified and teach, want to bring our families and friends into the same path.

The moment someone finds out I am a yoga teacher, the first question is, Do you do a lot of Yoga? Do you practice Yoga? Inherently, they are asking if I practice asanas to keep a fit body.

Sure, I do. Most days, I either engage in homework from Atmadarshan Yoga, the Bangalore Branch of Bihar School of Yoga; or my exercises from Yogoda Satsanga Society, the Indian arm of Paramahansa Yoganandas Self-Realisation Fellowship based in Encinitas, California. Or I might opt for attending an online class of Hormone or Yin Yoga to help with my own emotional and hormonal balancing, or call a friend to jointly practice Trataka to support eye strength. Maybe a friend is leading a session of Surya Namaskar or other practices where I am engaged at the Annamaya and Pranamaya Kosha levels, sometimes also the Manomaya Kosha if Im doing a Yoga Nidra or mental awareness of my physical and emotional states. Im really blessed that I can spend this time in my own contemplation, reflection, and growth towards a spiritual goal of Samadhi. However, my yoga practices are more than what you might see on my mat-- which takes a maximum of 45 minutes, even on the days when I really practice. (My seated with eyes closed meditation practices might be longer.)

Most of us who have done any sort of Yoga Teacher Training have also understood, accepted, and realized through the teachings of Yoga (be it Patanjalis Yoga Sutras, or Hatha Yoga Pradipika, or even the Srimad Bhagavad Gita). Some of the Yoga Schools weve attended have included Karma Yoga, focusing on seva, or selfless service. We all hail the First two limbs of the Ashtanga Yoga Path, Yamas and Niyamas, and in our TTCs, we discuss how to bring these characteristics of satya (truth), ahimsa (non-violence), asteya (non-stealing/ appropriation), brahmacharya (restraint and conservation of resources and energies), and aparigraha (non-hoarding), and saucha (purity and cleanliness), santosha (contentment), tapas (discipline), swadhyaya (self study), and Ishwara Pranidhana (surrender and acceptance). We talk about vairagya, abhyasa, and everything else in the Yoga Sutras, Bhagavad Gita, and Hatha Yoga Pradipika.

We go beyond that and recognize the greatness of the Bhakti Movement saints, such as Soordas, Tulsidas, Adi Sankara, Kanakadas, and Meera bai. We bow to them, who devoted their lives to loving their God. We find the beauty of Yoga in connection with Nature, and herald the great environmentalists of various periods, including the modern times. We find passion in making yoga the great equalizer, using it with all social justice topics.

Even as yoga teachers, most of us dont sit on our mats for hours every day. Rather, we wake up and do our daily activities, and spend some time in meditation, asana, and pranayama practices. Some of it is regular tapas. Even still, we are all human, and our bodies are only as much as they are, though we keep trying to maintain our flexibility and our stability, hopefully in the aim of being able to sit with sthiram and sukham in an asana for dhyanam!

We also need change once in a while, so we mix it up a bit, with perhaps attending an online satsang or video meeting with our fellow teachers and friends; or we choose to take a day off and just relax; or we have to change our timings because its a festival day and we want to celebrate (especially in the Covid Times when we dont want to buy sweets and snacks, and instead choose to make things at home). Sometimes we choose to walk or run, dance or exercise, rather than an asana practice. For us, its all part of yoga, as long as we are aware of ourselves, our bodies, minds, spirits, and how each thought and action impacts us and the universe around us.

After that, its life as usual for yoga teachers too. We spend some time in developing our class curriculums, some time marketing, and some time teaching. We have our house work, our family time, and our personal time; we might even have a regular paying job. Our earnings go into a great yoga retreat, with any luck, in Mysore or Rishikesh. We get a detoxification from the general world and take the time to go deeper within. For us, this is yoga.


So what are we trying to get our families and friends to do? If its asana, Ill agree that many of our family members and friends show a lack of interest, or are even wary. Children (especially teens and young adults) might ask why? Why do I need to do yoga?

A yogi may be one who is able to sit bare chested on a mountaintop. Still, we all know that we yoga teachers are not that. We are normal human beings, in a field or industry that puts yoga and its knowledge systems first, and all else (teaching qualifications, marketing skills, financial planning and skills) second, sometimes third!

Perhaps we put our jobs first, and find in our jobs, a way to build bridges and unify our team members. We might become peace-keepers and resolve conflicts. We try not to take stress on the job, and when we go home, we take some time for restorative asana and pranayama practices, yoga nidra, or other healing techniques. We might find a way to teach a corporate yoga class to our office mates once a month or even weekly; we might find a way to host a Yoga Day event; we might even find a way to teach or practice asana for a minute here or there throughout the day.

Perhaps we put our families first, and take care of elders, children, spouses, partners, and relatives, ensuring they have things to give them a sense of security, a feeling of empathy, a note of love. We might remind our elderly parents and grandparents to move their bodies, even in lockdown or quarantine. We might urge our children to join us in (early) morning asana practice, at least on weekends.

Perhaps we put our homes first, make sure we keep the house clean (saucha) and neat (without being obsessive-compulsive or having too much tapas).

Whatever we do, we try to be mindful and aware.

And whether we recognize it or not, our families and friends are impacted and deep down in their sub-atomic levels, they love it. They may not take up yoga as a career or a job. They may not practice on the mat. They may not even preach it to others.

I'll bet our family members are quite great Yogis in their own ways.

Anyone who knows my family or my story, will know that my life has been greatly influenced by (3+) generations of yogic women. My great-grandmothers were devotees of Sri Ramana and even were photographed at His Samadhi, weeping the loss of the Saint who taught us to question Who am I? and look within for answers.

They raised my grandmother (and my aunt, to some extent). And it shows, in the way my aunt and grandmother have lived their lives. My aunt, for example, is always ready to help, ever ready to support, ever prepared to be present.

My grandmother moved to Lucknow with my grandfather, and immediately took to visiting and living with Swami Sivananda in Rishikesh during summers or holidays. She was loved like a daughter by the Great Guru of Yoga, and he even awarded her a Music Certificate for her beautiful, bhakti-filled songs.

(Swami Sivananda with authors grandmother, left, and a family friend, right; circa 1960)

Years later, in the US, running from one Guru to the next, in the search of Enlightenment. Eager to pass on such a valuable lifestyle to her children, we often tagged along, and later even went to see our Guru, Ammachi, on our own. I remember vividly sitting on Swami Chinmayanandas lap as a small child, whilst he was teaching Gita or giving a topical satsang to enlighten the families present. I also remember the numerous opportunities to be in the presence of the Divine Mother, Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi, or other Gurus such as Karunamayi Ma, Ganapati Sacchidananda Swami, or Mathioli Sarawsati Amma. While I may not remember exactly what they said on a particular day, I know the love, empathy, and compassion they showered on me has penetrated deep within me, touching all my cells, intercellular spaces, and subatomic particles within. I remember their ability to actively listen to each of our problems, especially as teens and young adults, to inspire and motivate us to be better family members towards each other. Thanks to my mother, I had such a beautiful childhood exposure to Yoga, not as asana, but as a way of life, and a samadhi.

(Author, baby in back, & family with Swami Chinmayananda, circa 1981)

Ive got a long lineage of strong, inspiring women to look upto while on my journey of living Yoga.

Perhaps, though, the men in my life and lineage are also Yogis. My grandmother used to regale us with stories of her father in Kumbakonam, Tamil Nadu. Natesh Iyer was the Police Superintendent, a position of power and prestige. He could have, like many others, used that in a corrupt manner. Instead, Natesh Iyer chose to stand for Ahimsa: when he found his late wife's sister in an abusive marriage, he helped her to get a divorce (and alimony, in the early 1920s). Another sister in law was asked to sit in a room for her entire life after becoming a widow. He got her out and welcomed her into his humble home to help raise his last two children (my grandmother and her elder sister) and live a full life.

My grandmother later married my grandfather, and found in him a Gandhian (and a yogi?). Ramani was adamant to spin his own cloth and went to Gandhiji's meetings when possible. For him, it was a matter of brahmacharya and the conservation of energy. Ramani practiced Satya: he was the only accountant not to take bribes, even at the expense of not being able to afford his family's needs such as education for his daughters. Ramani also started asana practices including Sirsasana in his 40s and 50s. In his 70s onwards, I remember my grandfather sitting quietly, in self-study (swadhyaya) and self-awareness. He followed a strict schedule, a tapas including mantra japa, pranayama, walking, intake and output, and always, always holding a book of Srimad Bhagavad Gita in his hand. By this time, he had stopped the asana practices completely. Ramani also practiced a number of other alternative therapies such as water and magnet, verily, just an aspect of Yoga-- to unite the various physiological and physical parts of the body to make them prepared for meditation. He slowly started speaking less, in order to conserve more energy in practicing brahmacharya, ultimately for his spiritual development towards samadhi.

For their "honeymoon" in Hawaii in 2001 (after 56 years of marriage), my grandparents were garlanded by Sivaya Subramuniyaswami, the "Hawaii Swami", to recognize their purity: a sort of saucha, you might say, for they lived with joy and simplicity throughout their lives.

In a more contemporary time, my uncle, Sekar, is a knowledge seeker, a retired professor of Engineering, and perhaps now a teacher of life. A consummate walker, he keeps up his health through daily morning or evening rounds of the neighborhood. Professor Sekar does his own pranayama and japa. With age, his physical flexibility has reduced. His physiological aspects, in the indriyas such as his hearing, are also diminished. He recognizes this, and adjusts the inputs to the body, from small and less meals, to few phone calls.

That is just the body, though. Ever the professor, my uncle is keen to study, study, study, and learn, learn, learn. He wants to inspire others, just as he has always done with his students. Over 80 now, Professor Sekar hopes to form a Sanskrit Study Group, to understand and go deep into the meanings of various Sanskrit texts. Sekar preaches on what Sanskrit means, how it should be used and studied, and also on the Indian education system and guru-sishya relationships. He also has a very staunch method of consumption and conservation (a form of brahmacharya), living with little, and practices his own tapas (disciplines) with a daily routine. He talks of olden times with respect for and union with all living beings and living with less. What can be more yogic?

Only perhaps one person who is staunchly against yoga. My father came from a line of strong Hindu believers, and converted to atheism somewhere along the way. A man of his mind, he lives with little expectations-- just like the Gita instructs us to, again and again (maybe, with the exception that he wants his daughter to learn personal finance and have a steady job). Further, he gives Daana in a most Satwic system, again, just doing his part and leaving the rest to any NGO or individual he supports (EVEN when he supports his daughter or her NGO). My father is an exercise buff and (touch wood) healthy as a horse. While he can do hundreds of push ups, sit ups, jumping jacks, squats, and exercise endlessly, he is against any yoga classes, especially the asana practices.

I don't have children of my own. I just have memories of my godson, Joey Jagadjambu: of teaching him Pranava and Gayathri mantras as the first sounds he heard from my whispering during his days in NICU. A few months ago he started chanting Om, his first utterance. Joey will learn to live simply, without expectations, like his father before him, my best friend and Founding Managing Trustee of my NGO, Prafull Oorja, Kishore Kaushal.

Kishore may not have wanted to be in the yoga world, but the yoga world wanted him. As a young student in Deoghar's St. Francis Xavier, Kishore was nominated to garland Swami Satyananda during the Guru's only visit to a school after coming to Rikhiapeeth for the final stage of his human body. Later, Kishore and I literally ran into each other on the streets of Bangalore. After becoming friends, he and I, along with a few others, founded Prafull Oorja on the idea that Yoga should be available for all the children with Autism and other Special Needs. Even if he wasn't going to do any asana or pranayama practices, they should!

If yoga is asana practice, then my dear loving grandmother is a zero. My grandfather became a zero in his later life. My uncle is a zero. My best friend is a zero. My father is below zero. If yoga is about asana and pranayama, even if I am not perfect in this, how can I ask the same of others? I can only lead by example.

If yoga is about understanding the universe and living in a manner that connects us to all beings and to the Supreme Being, living in harmony with those other beings and with the universe, giving each its due respect and consuming only what is needed for living, then I am happy to say that the members of the male side of my lineage, as well as the female side, are all truly Yogis.

Our families conserve energy and resources, live without expectations, and serve the world in their own ways. We are indebted to them for raising us with yogic values (the yamas and niyamas), just as we will instill the same to the future generations of our family yogis.

Our children, parents, and partners may not practice asana as regularly as we do (remembering that we all take off Sundays, and some holidays). I'm sure that they practice yoga in their own ways, and that they ensure their bodies are fit to meditate, again in their own ways (perhaps through knitting, cooking, or carpentry and woodworking; or as children, through being present when their friends and siblings need them, through slowly studying the world and themselves, understanding more and more, and of course, through focusing on their studies).

Our families and friends are the ones who have shaped us and helped us to join the path of yoga, because they too, are on their own path to their own self-realization. Through the experiences with them, they shape our minds and goals, help us on our paths, just as we help them. Because of them, we are living yoga, and because of us, they are living yoga.

Inner Work Through Yoga – Part 2

[Inner Work Through Yoga (IWTY) is one of the Yoga-based offerings developed by Raghu Anantanarayan, founder, Ritambhara that brings the wisdom of Yoga Sutra in a contemporary and contemplative way. It invites participants to engage with the Yoga Sutra of Patanjali in a self-reflective manner and see how it applies to ones own life, actions, relationships and choices. Participants are encouraged to look at each sutra as a mirror to show something deeper about oneself, thereby making the sutra relevant to them. This ensures that the sutra does not become an injunction (rule) to follow, but instead opens up an enquiry for oneself. Here is the second and final part of the article, continued from last week - Part 1]

The process in a nutshell

The identity of the person or 'asmita' can thus be experienced at two levels. One at the manifest action level, and the other as a quintessential 'code' that is held deep within. The code is like the seed and the action patterns are the various possible branches that the unfolding action can choose to manifest through. Abhinivesha is the energy or Prana that is trapped within these patterns. It acts to preserve these patterns and codes. These patterns and codes are thus a pre-conditioned form that the abhnivesha energises. Any danger / threat to these forms is experienced as a threat to the self, the drk shakti. Abhinivesha keeps the asmita alive and active. Thus the darshana shakti which is the concretised matter (comprising of the mind, senses and body patterns) seems to have life and action.

A graphic representation of four typical stances that emerged during the group explorations are given below :

Identities and role stances held by other participants in the group were of "The helpless victim", "The privileged" and "The gifted". The processes by which the identities and role stances are formed and gel into a pattern can be viewed in the same way as the one detailed above.

The resolution

Sutras IV 3/4/6 of the Yoga Sutra says that a new movement, one that is not locked into these patterns can be obtained. The process is neither an external imposition nor is it through more external inputs. These can only cause temporary change.

The analogy given is that of a tree. The farmer gets sweet fruit not by pouring sugar and honey in the roots but through proper nourishment. The seed contains the quality of the tree and its fruit. This can be helped to grow to its fullest potential at best. Barriers to its realising its greater potential can be removed. A mind that is caught up in an identity and in set patterns of action alternatives is not free to develop to its fullest potential. This then becomes a barrier. The sutras therefore state that change at the levels of these deeply held identities leads to lasting change in the mind and behaviour of the person. When tendencies and patterns of the mind are carefully observed, the mind can be freed from the tyranny of the patterns. The identity is unlocked. The person does not see himself in terms such as "I am blind" or "I am handicapped". He experiences his personhood; the somatic components of the concretised mind also loosen their hold on the person. Psychosomatic stress is relieved. With this balance between the enquiry into the pressures of the psyche and a sensitivity and ability to work with the soma, the individual's development will have a flow.

The Sankhya Framework

The Sankya Karika provides a model that describes this phenomenon with great clarity. Sankhya states that man is a composite of the visible, the invisible and the 'seer' or the 'experiencer'. The ability to understand deeply the influence of each of these on ones actions, perceptions or modes of living helps one to end the imprisonment in these patterns of samskaara.

Man is like an ice berg. A very small part of him is visible, graspable and tangible. His feelings, the particular meanings he gives to an experience, the assumptions he holds about himself and the world are all invisible, unarticulated, disowned. He associates himself with the visible tangible part. He is therefore able to easily see that he is deprived or gifted in some way. Sankhya says that there are two important causes that converge to manifest an event, namely the external or nimitta kaarana and the unmanifest and withheld matrix the upaadaana kaarana. Relating an experience to the nimitta Kaarana is obvious and immediate. Thus it is easy to form the link: I am deprived therefore the environment hurts me. This concretises into I am blind therefore I am! The means has now become the cause.

A unitary meaning is given to the experience of hurt and pain. Though the environment changes the meaning given is held unchanged.

The upadana karana or the unmanifest matrix is the source of the experience and the tangible only a means. This matrix is the unchanging part of the experience. Gradually a whole lot of assumptions grow around this conclusion. Unless the person can look into this matrix, re examine the assumptions and meanings he holds the patterns will not change, there is no release from sorrow this is the fundamental thesis of Sankhya. The environment cannot be predicted or controlled. The ability of the person to experience his wholeness i.e., the manifest tangible differences, the commonness and universality of feelings and the meanings he has chosen to give to the experience (some of which he shares with others, some his own) is the key to be free of an endless repetition of the patterns. The source of this concretised mind can be looked at and changed. The external causes are beyond one's control.

The Yoga Methods for ending sorrow

Many methods have been suggested in the Yoga Sutras to attempt such enquiry. The conditions necessary for such an enquiry were created in the ancient times through the Gurukula system and the sagacity of the teacher. The Sutras describe the ambience in which such enquiry can take place as non-judgemental and motiveless. This is reminiscent of the mirror Brahma offered to Indira and Virochana in answer to their question "Who am I?"

Let us proceed to look at some of the suggestions described in the Yoga Sutra. A mind that is permeated with avidya is called a vishipta chitta: a mind that is unsteady, incapable of deep sustained enquiry. A person who acts from such a vishipta chitta manifests some of the following conditions:

  1. Vyaadhi illness, disease, lack of physical wellbeing.
  2. Styaana lack of motivation, stagnation, apathy, laziness
  3. Samshaya doubt, uncertainty, inability to take decision
  4. Pramaada carelessness, lack of foresight
  5. Aalasya fatigue, listlessness, enervation
  6. Avirathi high excitability, craving for sensuous stimulation
  7. Bhranti Darshana lack of reality orientation, misunderstanding, distorted understanding
  8. Alabdha Bhumikatva inability to priest, unable to lay a foundation.
  9. Anavasthitatva regression, inability to consolidate.

These conditions also result in clearly recognisable symptoms:

  1. Dukha psychological discomfort, feelings of misery
  2. Daurmanasya helplessness, inability to start from oneself
  3. Angamejayatva weakness of the body
  4. Shvasaprashvasa unhealthy breathing patterns

The most clearly illustrated example of person in this state of mind is Arjuna at Kurukshetra. The Yoga Sutras go on to suggest several strategies to arrest these negative tendencies from snow balling and overcoming the person. The central idea in all these alternatives is Dhyaana- deep and persistent attentiveness to the arising and manifestation of action: how one perceives, makes meaning and chooses action. The common idea that runs through the many alternative courses of action suggested is that they aim to help one find from within himself an energy to start a new and positive movement. This positive action and the samskaara created will weaken and eventually remove the factors that sustain and nourish the negative. Thus the seeds of avidya are rendered inactive and are replaced by a new flowering. There is no dogma in the methods suggested. They must be used selectively and appropriately. Each suggestion is an alternative choice.

The first suggestion given is to take up an enquiry that will lead to an understanding of what is. The important consideration is that one takes up and sustains one line of thinking and explore it. Engaging repeatedly in this questioning would help the person quieten the mind and thus be able to understand himself from a greater depth.

The sutras then suggest that the person takes up a practice of Aasana and Praanaayaama. The effect of negative samskaara pervade the body as much as they do the psyche. It is, therefore, necessary to work with ones body and release from it the tensions and negative patterns. The person is thus capable of dealing with his situation in a more energetic manner, bodily and sensory distortions don't worsen the situation. The reduction of irritability achieved through these practices would also enable the person to be a little more considered in his responses.

Reflecting upon the quality of ones relatedness with others helps one to bring order in the mind. One is often caught in patterns of interaction with other people that

reinforce the distortions in oneself. Being able to link and establish friendship with people who create positive feelings in oneself; responding with the compassion that is evoked when one sees another in distress; experiencing and sharing joy in other people's happiness; being able to draw boundaries and de-link from associations that evoke negative patterns in oneself are the various suggestion made. Thus feelings of antagonism with other people, self centred behaviour, competitiveness and other such patterns that kindle the asmita, raaga, dvesha and abhinivesha in the person must be examined and ended. In the cases presented here the person with the identity of deprivation is helped to recognise that this attitude of servility to one who patronise him reinforces his negative identity. This recognition and a consequent ending of such a pattern also de-links him from an attitude and set of hopes and actions that sustain his lack of self-worth.

Gaining insight and understanding into the relationship between ones senses and the processes by which it links with objects leads to tranquillity. The experiencing of the world that goes on continually from the point of birth is mediated by the senses; such experiencing leads to an understanding of the world but also conditions and limits the senses. By getting in touch with ones inner processes one can gradually end conditioned patterns of response, craving, aversions and the like. The senses thus become finely tuned and sensitive instruments that can now perceive the true nature of the world. Let us look into the action of hearing to illustrate this. The sound, the meanings, ideas, associations and the reality of the object all impinge together in the mind when one hears a word). The understanding of the process of listening would imply that one can have an insight into each of the following :

  1. The nature of sound
  2. The processes of the mind and how memory and past residue, associations inferences, conclusions etc., that are held in the upadana arise as a response to the word
  3. The nature and quality of the object as is

This understanding then releases one from a limited recognition of the word. One is not mortgaged to ones particular meanings. One has reduced the force of possession of ones ideas and their defence. One can now look at ones own experiences from many new perspectives, listen to and give space for other meanings. Without this inner release one gets locked into an unitary experience of the world and becomes prisoner to crystallised response patterns.

One experiences the force and movement of life within oneself only indirectly through the action of the senses and body. It is, therefore, only natural that ones asmita is formed through these experiences. Through a process of questioning this idea of ones being one can experience the flow of life without limiting it to the

objects both gross and subtle that evoke responses from within the person. This experience knocks holes into the bottom of the "asmita". The life force having been touched or experienced without the mediating form or image ends the source of threat. Death and survival are not linked to the survival of the image nor is living seen as strengthening and projecting of the asmita. When the blind person experiences intensely other peoples interactions with him or his interactions with the world in their directness and simplicity shorn of all motives (both from himself and others) he experiences this flow and vibrancy of life. The hold that his deprivation and its consequences have on him gets diminished.

A very simple alternative suggested by the sutras is to seek contact with person or objects or environments that evoke quietness and tranquillity in oneself: music, nature, great saints, the writings of great teachers and their life experiences. The teaching stories of the Sufi and Zen masters are some examples. One often hears of great scientists having made startling discoveries not when they were pre- occupied with finding solutions but when they were playing music or taking a quiet morning walk in the woods.

The quality of one's sleep, the images of a dream, symbols and association that holds special significance to a person can be the windows to deep introspection. They often point a deeply held samskaaras, raaga or dvesha that one experiences without consciously acting them out in wakefulness. Being able to deeply explore the underlying web of feelings and impressions leads to great insights and understanding.

The next sutra takes this as a step further and recommends deep contemplation on any issue or process that appeals to the person. The word Dhyaana as used in the Yoga Sutra can be translated into the words contemplation or meditation if one is careful to understand the English words in their original sense. Contemplation, comes from the root word temple (Greek) which means a space in which to observe. Meditation means to get the true measure of. Dhyaana is defined in the sutras as the deepening of the process of Dhaarana. It is staying with or sustaining an enquiry for a long period of time without distractions. The true measure of the self is observed directly. Such an intense enquiry into the nature of ones inner space is said to "burn the seeds" of avidya. Thus the memories and impressions held in the mind loose the potential to distort perception or create pressures of raga, dvesha or abhinivesha.

These methods listed are not exhaustive but give a fair indication of the range and depth of the strategies used to change a vishipta chitta into a mind capable of ekaagrata or distortion free, one pointed enquiry.

Learning Yoga today

Today it is clearly impossible for many of us to go back to the Gurukula or retire into seclusion and pursue such enquiry for extended periods of time with the help of a teacher. Nor is it necessary. The experiential learning component of the process can be learnt through reflection and enquiry that are initiated in identity groups. The understanding of the patterns of the mind and identities held within comes about through a deep sustained exploration. The models presented here emerged through a 12-day group process (8 to 10 hours per day) with 13 participants. The hidden contents of the mind are uncovered slowly and layer-by- layer. An atmosphere of trust, acceptance and working together is created in the group. The emphasis is on the understanding and exploration of the participant into his own processes.

Looking into some of the deeply held patterns, assumptions and conclusions is often painful and threatening. The resistance to re-examine and re-experience the hurt or fear is the force that keeps one locked in old patterns. The person first discovers the patterns that he is locked into. His ability to examine other possible perceptions and perspectives, very much like turning a kaleidoscope around, helps him take the first step towards becoming free of old patterns. Understanding the resistance and finding within oneself the ability to break free of them is the next major step. Trying out alternative action stances and perspectives can be considered a fair indication of the persons discovery of freedom.

In my experience, this enquiry into oneself when linked with the practice of Asana and Pranayama helps a great deal in managing the somatic components of the mind set. With this balance between the enquiry into the pressures of the psyche and a sensitive ability to work with the soma, the individuals development will have a flow and an integration.

Inner Work Through Yoga – Part 1

[Inner Work Through Yoga (IWTY) is one of the Yoga-based offerings developed by Raghu Anantanarayan, founder, Ritambhara that brings the wisdom of Yoga Sutra in a contemporary and contemplative way. It invites participants to engage with the Yoga Sutra of Patanjali in a self-reflective manner and see how it applies to ones own life, actions, relationships and choices. Participants are encouraged to look at each sutra as a mirror to show something deeper about oneself, thereby making the sutra relevant to them. This ensures that the sutra does not become an injunction (rule) to follow, but instead opens up an enquiry for oneself. Here is a brief outline of the process involved presented in two parts.]


In the last few decades, there has been a great increase in Business activity in India leading to the emergence of large and Global Organisations. The demand for skills in organising and managing large groups of men has resulted in a need for scientific management. One of the areas of management that have gained a lot of prominence of late has been organisation behaviour. The lab method of working with small groups of people has been introduced in India as a basic tool in understanding group behaviour and individual group interaction. Some of the pioneers in this field have been Dr Nitesh De, Prof. Pulin K. Garg and Prof. Gauranga Chattopadhyay among others. The group methods, that originated in the National Training Labs, Tavistock institute, Encounter groups, Gestalt therapy., found their way into India through their work.

The need to work with culture specific ideas and contextually relevant modes promoted much experimentation in India. Prof. Pulin Garg and Prof. Gauranga Chattopadhyay in particular have done a great deal of work in delving into the Indian tradition and drawing insights and understanding from these sources. They founded the Indian Society of Individual and Social Development (ISISD) toinstitutionalise this learning and carry it further. This institution has trained several professionals and equipped them with behavioural and group process skills. It has given birth to Sumedhas, Academy of Human Context ( and Astha. While ISISD has ceased to exist its theory and practice have been taken forward by these Institutions founded by people who played a significant part in the growth of ISID. My understanding of this mode of working is based on a long and sustained relationship and working together with Prof. Pulin Garg and my co-founders in Sumedhas.

The immersion in Yoga

I came to know of ISISD when I was involved in a study of Yoga with Shri. T.K.V. Desikachar and his father Yogacharya T. Krishnamacharya. The insights into human processes that were contained in the Yoga Sutras, the Sankya Karika, the Upanishadas and the Gita fascinated me. The unique way in which my teachers interpreted Yoga and used this understanding in treating people through Aasana, Praanaayaama, Adhyayana and specific use of Bhaavana was a great learning for me. It has been my experience that individual processes and dynamics of group interaction can be understood based on these insights from the Indian tradition. It has also been my conviction that one has to reelevate the cultural positives and re- define the traditions in a modern context in order to find meaningful ways of understanding behaviour, especially in our country. The use of frameworks and theories that are not anchored in our traditions can be very damaging to ones psyche.

In this paper I have tried to articulate the similarities that I see in the processes of Identity formation, the prosesses of role taking and the Yogic texts as I understand them. The interpretation of the Yoga Sutras and Sankhya Karika that I have used in this paper are drawn from the oral tradition of Yogacharya T. Krishnamacharya. They are an English rendition of his expressions in Tamil. The teaching was carried on over a period of about 10 years mostly through individual classes.

The database for this paper also includes my experience of working with hundreds of small groups of 8 to 12 persons in learning laboratories, as well as many decades of conducting Leadership Workshops and Leadership coaching sessions. The methodology of work in these groups is based on the Identity Group Process work developed in ISISD. This paper focuses on the processes that emerged in a particular group I worked with as part of Training Teachers for the Blind at White field (Divine Light School) for the blind. The group consisted of 10 women trainees, one blind (male) instructor and the co-ordinator of programme (also a male) and a trainee facilitator (a woman). However, the underlying personal and group dynamics that emerged in that lab are not unique to that lab.

Defining key terms in Yoga

With the decline of study into indigenous traditions many ideas that are found in Yoga have either lost currency or been relegated to the realms of the esoteric and spiritual. I would, therefore, like to define some of the terminology I am using from the Yoga Sutras. These ideas are better understood through discussions but, I will risk the written mode. Also, since the Sanskrit terms are being translated into English, there is a loss of meaning. Sanskrit words are explained through a reference to the root words they come from which are mostly verbs. English words that are used for the translation are mostly noun based and this is a huge problem in getting close to the nuances of the Sanskrit meanings.

  1. Drk shakti The life in a person is called the seer, experiencer, doer etc. in Yoga. Without this force one is just a dead body. The word I use in this paper is seer.
  2. Darshana Shakti All Matter is encompassed in this word. External objects, the body, the senses and the mind are all included in this word.
  3. Avidya Mistaken conclusions taken as right knowledge: they become the basis of action. This base of incorrect conclusions and assumptions is avidya.
  4. Asmita This is an outcome of Avidya. The experience of being / living (drk shakti) when superimposed with the experiencing of the environment (darshana shakti) creates the feeling I am this, Asmita is very similar to Identity.
  5. Raga and Dvesha In ones interaction with the world one experiences pain and pleasures. Retaining these experiences in the mind and having either a craving (for pleasure) or an antagonism (to pain) is called Raga and Dvesha respectively.
  6. Abhiniveshah Fear of death (the ending of asmita) is called abhiniveshah. Mans actions that spring from this fear can be looked at as an expression of this force.
  7. Vaasana The residue of an experience left with the person causes a colouring of ones psyche and soma. This essence of the aggregate of a persons experiences is Vaasana.
  8. Samskaara The actions a person does has a conditioning effect on him. This potential for repeating old action modes is called samskaara.

None of these are either negative or positive in of themselves. These are potentials or forms of action in man. They bear negative or positive results depending upon the complex interactions that characterise man in a context.

In the First Chapter the Yoga Sutra describes symptoms that obtain in a person who is caught in the web of negative patterns. The symptoms enumerated include lack of physical well being, disease lack of psychological well being in various manifestations and lack of strength both inwardly in being able to sustain ones efforts and bring them to fruition.10 The question of whether the processes of ones life and actions are positive or negative can best be answered by each person for himself after deliberate consideration.

Applying the frame work

Let us now look at the experience of the blind person interacting with in the group from this structure of the ideas from yoga sutras. The primary experience of himself that the disabled person spoke about was based on his experience of deprivation. His linking up with the environment of other people creates this inner experience of "I am deprived". This difference is made the cause of both special attention on the one hand and non-inclusion on the other. His identity as a person different from the normal and deficient in comparison is repeatedly brought out.

This distilled conclusion of one's experience I would like to compare with the idea of Vaasana: the essence of the individual that pervades the psyche and the soma. This Vaasana would affect the perceptions of the person, the matrix of meaning he gives to his experience, his body, his behaviour and response. This ground is the Avidya Kshetram11: the person's individual conclusions and assumptions about the nature of the world and himself. The conclusion "blindness means deprivation" is a product of this ground.

Vyasa's commentary on the sutra II.12 discusses the form in which the Vaasana builds up in a person. 12 The process described is very similar to the process by which a crystal is grown in a solution. A few crystals of the required chemical are hung in a solution of that chemical and it slowly collects and grows. In man, the seed of a deeply felt experience continues to reside within the mind. This acts like the seed crystal and collects experiences that reinforce this seed and therefore grows in size. This crystal creates different patterns in different environments / different stages in a person's growth all of which retain and reinforce the essential character of the crystal.

The Sutra IV.9 talks about the persistence of the action patterns and deep memories.13 It states that even across changes in environment and time these residues of memory and potential / conditioned patterns of behaviour (Vaasana) remain unaltered.

The experience of being, of living when superimposed with the experiencing of the environment creates what is called the Asmita or identity of the person. One, therefore, says 'I am blind' or 'I am handicapped' as an essential description of himself. The face of 'I am' called the drk shakti is experienced through thephysical fact of one's psychosomatic system (blindness and its inevitable consequnces) and its interaction with the environment. The impressions of this experience are treated as the self.

This conclusion is then extended to explain the hurt and pain of living. 'I am hurt/ pained because I am deprived'. This conclusion or assumption born out of the stigmatised identity leads to intense feelings of desperation. "No action can remove my deprivation, my source of pain". The means of an experience has been viewed mistakenly as the source, the cause of the pain / hurt.

In the case of this blind person it led to an intense self hate. Two types of action alternatives arise from this. One a violence directed at others / the environment. Two a self-destructive / suicidal tendency. These being the potential / pressures behind emergent actions are the first forms of Samskaara. Deeply conditioned action patterns. The Samskaara in turn reinforce the Vaasana.

The next levels of conclusions that seem to emerge is the statement : "I will overcome this hurt / pain". (This is called Abhinivesha in the sutras the force to live. The force that fights death). Paradoxically, this commitment reinforces Asmita. The action alternatives of this seem to be persistent hard work to overcome the deprivation / stigma, or a "dependency". One says "I will work and gain my own strength". The other says "I am so unable please help me": one the stance of a warrior the other the stance of a beggar. This resolve leads to the setting of objectives and goals. "I am blind I will develop my memory"

"I am dependant

I will develop skills, learning and excel", I am deprived, I will use my deprivationto manipulate.

External measure and means of overcoming the disability are postulated and set up. The person often sets up ideals, giants to emulate or conquer. It can also lead to a search for protection, patrons, social work agencies, exclusive environments etc.

Several role stances seem to emerge from this. "The warrior looking for a kingdom", "The giant killer", "Faithful dog", "The willing servant", "The lamenting beggar", "The count of Monte Cristo", "The snail / tortoise", "The untouchable" etc.

Individuals who hold this stigmatised identity end up creating many secondary goals and aims. "The snail" type of behaviour would lead to setting up enemies, and therefore developing an armour against all potential hurt through words referring to the disability. "The untouchable" does not risk any involvement, relatedness with others. "The count of Monte Cristo" seeks power and uses cunning to wreak vengeance. "The faithful dog", "The willing servant" is the gullible favourite of the patrons, saviours and God peddlers. "The Giant Killer" is the exceptionally talented person looking for worthy opponents to defeat and destroy thus proving to oneself ones worthiness, again and again. "Warrior looking for hisLord" is the talented person unable to deeply accept himself as he is with his positives and his hurt. He works to be independent and capable but nevertheless craves for protection. These role stances are the forms that the Samskaara takes. When these action stances emerge and the person starts gets positive reinforcement that affirms the starting point, namely, ones Asmita, the mind starts to gel and concretises the whole cycle: The physical stigma is experienced as the cause of the hurt. The chosen goals and role stances are the means to overcome them. A one to one relationship is established in the mind and the processes by which this set is held together remain invisible.

........ will be continued next week..


Yoga in Daily Life

Yoga in Daily Life

[Excerpted from Spiritual Roots of Yoga by Ravi Ravindra]

Renouncing all actions on Me,

Mindful of your inner self,

Without expectation and selfishness,

Struggle without agitation. (Bhagavad Gita 3.30)

Krishna invites us and enjoins us to make our daily life into a spiritual practice, a yoga. No one can be without action. Even if we simply lie down, doing nothing visible, we are still engaged in action. Because no one can remain actionless even for a moment. Everyone is driven to action, helplessly indeed, by the forces of nature (BG 3.05). Even if the body is still, the mind is in action, associating this with that, dreaming, desiring something, fearing something else. The question is not whether to act but how to act. Similarly, no one can avoid daily life; the question is not whether we should participate in daily life, but rather how to participate in this life we live daily.

What Is Daily Life?

All the actions we do routinelysleeping, eating, washing, walking, sitting, standing, talkingare included in our daily life. And so are all the activities we engage in as a part of our jobs, professions, household routines and the like. These are not without their importance, but our inquiry here has less to do with the various kinds of activities and much more to do with the quality of the actor engaged in these activities willingly or unwillingly, driven by nature or driven by the spirit because our daily activities reflect the quality of our being.

When Krishna speaks to Arjuna about a person of steady wisdom (sthitapraja), Arjuna does not ask what sort of wonderful ideas such a person has or what the theology or philosophy of a person of steady wisdom is. He asks: How does a person of steady wisdom, who is established in samadhi,
speak? How does he sit? How does he walk? (BG 2:54).

Krishnas answer is quite unambiguous: A person of steady wisdom is one who has become free of all desires that prey upon the mind, and who is content and at peace. When unpleasant things do not disturb, nor pleasures beguile, when craving, fear, and anger have left, such a one is a sage of steady wisdom (BG 2:5556).

There is a Hasidic story, which is also echoed in Zen circles, that tells of a pupil who goes to the master not as much to hear a learned discourse than to see how the master ties his shoe laces, to see how the master lives. And in our daily life we walk, talk, sit, and tie our shoe laces. We express our understanding and we search for steady wisdom in the midst of these very activities.

When we hope to move away from daily life, what do we expect to escape from? Do we hope to escape from the ordinariness, the repeatability, and the predictability of our daily life? Do we wish for adventure, for something unexpected, for something that will surprise usperhaps an unexpected gift or a guest or an event? There is much to be said for new impressions that can bring our mechanical routine into question. There is value in going to new places, meeting new people and new ideas. We are refreshed by the unexpected; something other than the usual comes alive in us, and we feel reinvigorated and rejuvenated. But many things are still the same. Even on the final ascent to Mount Everest there are elements of daily life. Certainly, in the monastery which for some might seem like a release from daily life into a realm of spiritualitythe activities of daily life are required. Many requirements, mostly to do with the general maintenance of our bodies and of our places of shelter, are the same or very similar everywhere.

I once met a monk in a Buddhist monastery in Thailand. He had the venerable traditional name of Nagasena. At that time, he had been a monk for nearly thirty years, as long as I had been a professor. We were instantly drawn to each other, and spent practically the whole night speaking together. He said to me, You know, being a monk is a profession like any other. It has its ups and downs, its routine, its excitement, and its dullness. It is just like daily life.

When we think of daily life as a dull affair, consisting of ordinary activities, we are referring to a level of the mind, to a level of awareness and of engagement, which is dull and humdrum. When we wish to be released from daily life, it is this level of life and engagement that we wish to escape. We wish to live with another level of engagementone in which we are not bored, or dispersed; in which we are more alive to ourselves and to everything around us. Those who are freshly in love have no complaints about daily life. It is the lack of a love affair with life that makes everything stale and dull and uninteresting. We can be connected with the same quality of engagement while washing dishes in a kitchen or praying in a monastery on Mount Athos.

Another aspect of life that mitigates against our sense of freedom is that of reward and punishment. What we call daily lifeespecially as contrasted with a holiday, or with retired lifeis the feeling of being constrained by reward and punishment, by the hope of gain or the fear of loss. So, we dream of another lifeperhaps in a monastery or perhaps at a resortwhere we will not be driven by gain or loss, or reward and punishment, or ambition and fear, at least not in the ordinary sense of gain or loss. In this dream, we seek a satisfaction of some subtler kind, a reward of heaven perhaps, or a gain for our soul, but nothing crass or materialistic.

The subtler part of ourselves feels overwhelmed by the excessive demands of worldly life or is disenchanted by the crudity of this life. However, what we wish to escape from in our ordinary life resides not as much in what we actually do as in the quality of engagement with it and the motivations underlying the activities. The dullness or ordinariness of daily life is not as much characterized by a particular type of activity as by an attitude toward it. In the midst of the most sacred presence or activity, we can be driven by fear or competitiveness.

It comes as a surprise to find in the gospels that in the very presence of the Christ, the disciples were competing as to who would sit on the right side of Christ in heaven and who would be farther away! The low level of daily life can intrude even when we are in the presence of the Sacred. In the very holy of holies we can think of self-advancement and self-importance.

What Is Our Life For?

However, we live our lifein a dull or an excited manner, or in some extraordinary waythe question as to why we live is always there. The three famous sights which Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha-to-be, sawnamely, an old person, a diseased person, and a dead bodyare not so strange to most of us. There is hardly a person who has not seen all of these three sights. But for most of us, it does not create the sort of psychological revolution it did for Siddhartha Gautama. We are not deeply engaged by these sights. I saw the dead body of my older brother who died when he was much younger than I am now, and I was deeply moved. But it cannot be said that it left a permanent
revolution in my thinking or behavior or general engagement with life. We see people die, even loved ones, but we do not behave as if we too are going to die. We live in the body as if the body were permanent, not subject to death and decay, mistaking the vehicle for the passenger.

There is a story in the Mahabharata in which a celestial being, a Yaksha, asks the five Pandava brothers in turn, What is the greatest mystery in the world? The stakes are high. If they give an unacceptable answer and still attempt to take water from the lake, they will die. All the four younger brothers die and finally it is the oldest brother, Yudhishtra, the son of Dharma, whose response is found acceptable by the yaksha, who then revives all the dead brothers. The greatest mystery, according to the wise Yudhishtra as well as the yaksha, is that even when I see everyone around me die, I do not really believe that I myself am going to die.

There is nothing that Siddhartha saw and experienced that could not be experienced in our daily life. But we lack a vital engagement, a certain kind of intensity, and the sort of passion that he brought to his experience. For our daily life to be a practice leading to the Real, for it to be yoga, an intensity of
engagement is needed. There is no recipe for this, but there are stages. We will not seek to be engaged differently unless we become aware of the lack of intensity, of passion, and of meaning in our lives. This is the first requirement. With this recognition, I may begin to blame others or to expect that a change of the situation will make the difference I yearn for, but I need to realize that it is my own relationship with the world and my activities that need to change.

My life is not going to be lived by someone else; I must live it myselfit is my opportunity and my challenge.

Gradually, we can begin to recognize that everything is the way it is because there are large-scale forcesto which we subscribe, or which also operate as much inside ourselves as outsideand that these forces have brought us to where we now are. These forces, which are the forces of the status quo, are very large. We begin to understand not only that a radical transformation of our being is necessary but also that such a transformation is not easy, and that we are deeply addicted to the status quo even though we occasionally see the need to be otherwise. St. Paul speaks for all of us, I cannot even understand my own actions. I do not do what I want to do but what I hate. What happens is that I do, not the good I will to do, but the evil I do not intend (Romans 7:15, 19). Arjuna asks, Krishna, what makes a person commit evil, against his own will, as if compelled by force? (BG 3.36).

When we see the force that causes us to repeat ourselves mechanically, we are ready to turn to the part that yearns to be free of this and to undertake a practice. We become aware that deep down in ourselves there is a contradiction: there is a part that searches for the truth and wishes to emerge
into the light, but there is also a part which is quite willingusually out of fear and ambitionto subscribe to the status quo and to stay in the dark. In Indian mythology, there is a story of the churning of the milky ocean for obtaining amrita, the elixir of Eternal Life. The antigods (daityas) and the gods (adityas) are always in conflict. Both of them wish to live forever and have supremacy. They both wish to obtain amrita. The daityas are children of Kashyapa (literally meaning vision) and Diti (meaning limited). The adityas have the same father, Kashyapa, but their mother is Aditi (unlimited, vast). Naturally, the beings of limited vision fight against the beings of vaster vision. Both of these types of being are also within each one of us, representing and strengthening our own downward and upward tendencies. As the myth goes on to say, Vishnu, the highest God, advises the adityas to undertake the churning of the milky ocean for the purpose of obtaining amrita, but he also tells them that they cannot succeed in this churning without involving their unruly cousins, the daityas. Daityas may not have the right vision, but they have enormous energy, and their force is needed for the difficult task of churning.

Both aspects of myself are needed for the requisite effort and striving required for churning the sea of consciousness to find what can lead to freedom from the ravages of time.

When we see our situation and we see the need for transformation, we see that we need the support of a practice of yoga, a way to become free of our usual and ordinary limited habits of mind, feeling, and body. Whatever else we might say about it, yoga involves the whole of ourselvesbody, mind, and heart. In order to bring about a change, a merciless self-knowledge is necessary, a recognition of all our contradictions, fears, and wishes. For a true self-knowledge, we need to see ourselves in the midst of daily life. It is precisely where we are and where we can begin from. All our life is like a hologram: any little piece of it contains the whole and can reveal the whole. Our gestures, postures, tone of voice, behavior to animals or to neighboursany of these is a fit subject for investigation and can reveal a great deal about our inner self.

In the shloka (verse) of the Bhagavad Gita that was quoted in the very beginning of this essay, we are advised to renounce all our actions to Krishna while being mindful of our deepest self. What is Krishna for us? One of the roots of the word Krishna in Sanskrit is karshati which means that which draws. Krishna is what ultimately draws us. So, each one of us must ask of ourselves, What is my Krishna? What is my Ultimate Attractor? What do I love deep down, more than anything else? We will discover a lack of unity in ourselves; there are at least two of me, in me: one attracted by Krishna and the other attracted by self-importance.

I came out alone on my way to my tryst.

But who is this that follows me in the silent dark?

I move aside to avoid his presence but I escape him not.

He makes the dust rise from the earth with his swagger;

He adds his loud voice to every word that I utter.

He is my own little self, my Lord, he knows no shame;

But I am ashamed to come to thy door in his company.

Rabindranath Tagore, Gitanjali, poem 30

Only when we see the two in us can we see the need to struggle with the undisciplined parts of ourselves, so that they can be gradually brought to submit to those parts which have a vaster vision and which see clearly. When we can engage in the struggle willingly and mindfully, we can embark on a journey in which more and more of ourselves becomes integrated in yoga and
by yoga.

Thus, our ordinary daily life can become a spiritual practice, a true sanyasa, not by renouncing the world, but by renouncing worldliness. It is a form of dying to the world, which in effect is a form of dying to our self, to the usual self which is thoroughly entangled in the forces ruling the world, forces of reward and punishment, of fear and self- importance.

The question How to live with a centered self, integrated by yoga, but at the same time without being self-centered? becomes more and more interesting, more and more important. It has often been said by the sages that only when we are willing and able to die to our old self can we be born into a new vision and a new life.

There is a profound saying of an ancient Sufi master, echoed in much of sacred literature, which says, If you die before you die, then you do not die when you die. Krishnamurti in a conversation about life after death said, The real question is Can I die while I am living? Can I die to all my collectionsmaterial, psychological, religious? If you can die to all that, then youll find out what is there after death. Either there is nothing; absolutely nothing. Or there is something. But you cannot find out until you actually die while living.

St. Paul had said I die daily. Dying daily is a spiritual practicea regaining of a sort of innocence, which is quite different from ignorance, akin to openness and humility, an active unknowing. If I allow myself the luxury of not knowing, and if I am not completely full of myself, I can hear the subtle whispers under the noises of the world outside and inside myself. A contemporary sage in India, Sri Anirvan, remarked that the whole world is like a big bazaar in which everyone is shouting at the top of their voice wanting to make their little bargain. A recognition of this can invite us to true metanoia, a turning around, to a new way of being. Otherwise, the momentum of the status quo, abhinivesha in the terminology of Yoga Sutra of Patan?jali, persists. Only in moments of real seeing can an action of true vairagya, a disenchantment with the hold of the unreal on our heart, take place. Otherwise, as Wordsworth put it, Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers.

When the Real calls us, we realize that our attention fluctuates and that we cannot stay attuned to the call for a long time. We begin to understand that we cannot aspire to the steady wisdom of which Krishna speaks without acquiring steady attention, free of all movements of the mind. Then the opening sutra in Patan?jalis Yoga Sutra acquires a practical importance for us: Yoga is stopping all movements of the mind or Yoga is cultivating steadiness of attention (YS 1:2). Now we can begin the practice of yoga, as if for the first time.

All Action Is Yoga

All these stages are a progressive movement, not away from our ordinary daily life but toward an awakening to and a transformation of that daily life. In the usual situation, we live in a dreamy state of nishkarma kama, actionless desiring. The practice of yoga, as it is strongly emphasized by Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita, is for the sake of nishkama karma, purposive action without selfish desire. Then the ordinary daily life itself is transformed, because the person who is living it is different. The same cooking and dishwashing, the same lecturing or writing or putting the garbage out is now extraordinary.

All action, all life is yoga. Yoga is relevant here and now, whoever I am, and wherever I am. What I am will change, and I will occupy different places. Yoga is not one specific action, or one particular exercise, or a fixed point of view. Every action, thought or situation can be yoga if it helps to bring about an integration. Each chapter in the Bhagavad Gita ends with a colophon declaring it to be a yoga, including the first chapter, which is called the yoga of Arjunas crisis. In the moment of a crisis of conscience, in the midst of despair and a decision not to act resulting from his recognition of the conflict of dharmas at various levels, Arjuna turns to Krishna, who is seated in his heart, as his own highest self. Thus, begins Arjunas apprenticeship in yoga.

Krishna is also seated in our heart, and we too can begin our practice of yoga. Krishna enumerates many definitions of yoga and many characteristics of a yogi, both as a beginner as well as an accomplished practitioner, appropriate to the stage of development of the aspirant. A yogi renounces inaction, then renounces the fruits of action, and then is gradually able to abandon all action except that which is the fulfillment of the will of Krishna, the Highest Being. Yogis are progressively free of dualities such as like-dislike, attachment-revulsion, success-failure, sorrow-pleasure. They are freer and freer of partiality, of desire, fear and anger, selfishness and pride. A yogi takes recourse to buddhi, mindfulness, and more and more acquires a stability of attention which is not unhinged by whatever the theologians, philosophers, or scientists have said or what they will say (BG 2.4954).

Yoga is work well done (BG 2.50); it is the breaking of an attachment to past suffering (BG 6.23), and it is everything that leads us to our Krishna, our Highest Attractor, the sole signifier of significance in our life. Whatever you do, whatever you eat, whatever sacrifice you undertake, whatever charity you give, whatever efforts you make, do all that as an offering unto Me (BG 9.27).

And Yoga Is No Action

After much searching, striving, effort, responsibilities, and action, there is the call to abandon all doing, a complete surrender to the Highest Being (BG 18.66). In this state of total attention, of pure awareness, a yogi does not decide to do this or that. Right and compassionate action is a natural outcome of this state. It is not a state of inaction, but of non-egoistic action. I do not do it, but it is done through me or in me. As the Tao te Ching says, The sage does nothing, but nothing is left undone. This recognition is expressed in another tradition, where Christ says, I am not myself the source of the words I speak: it is the Father who dwells in me doing His own work (John 14:10). Meister Eckhart: What we receive in contemplation, we give out in love. Reverting to the Bhagavad Gita, seeing that gunas act upon gunas, a yogi realizes that he does nothing at all (13.29).

There is a mystery here. Not the kind of mystery that can be solved by the discovery of a missing clue by some clever sleuthing. It is a mystery not because something is missing, but more because it is overfull. It cannot be solved by our usual rational mind, but we can contact a level of beingof body, mind, and heartwhere it is dissolved. Solving this mystery, much as responding to a koan in Zen, is not a matter of articulating a published solution. In a breakthrough of consciousness another level of being is contacted. This other being is naturally reflected in the way we talk, stand, or walk. Uday Shankar, the greatest Indian dancer in the twentieth century, felt hesitant even toward the end of his life to perform the dance he called the walk of the Buddha after his enlightenment. Finally, he did dance it, as an offering, a summation of his entire lifes practice and understanding of dance, the yoga of his life.

The solution to the mystery of acting while doing nothing, or of doing nothing while engaged in vigorous action, is not to be found in this or that description. The solution is inherent in a fundamental transformation of consciousness. Daily life is not only the place of spiritual practice, it is the goal of all spiritual practice. We may understand something in a monastery or in a cave or behind a tree, but we must return to where the ordinary forces are at play and where we must have our action for the sake of the world. Even after he had seen the great form of the Godhead, a vision not vouchsafed to many in the history of the universe, Arjuna had to fight in the battle that ensued. Krishna said in the Mahabharata that the choice a person faces is not between war and lack of war, or struggle and lack of struggle. The only choice is between struggle at one level or at another. We need to struggle in our world, in our daily life, against our own egos. If we are free at our present level of existence, then we shall have to struggle at other levels. After all, even the angels or the devas have egos, and they too have to struggle. A real practice of yoga will not take us away from the battle in the world, from daily life. It will lead us to an understanding of how to be engaged in the battle and yet still be above it. This is what Krishna says about such yogis:

Engaged, but not identified,

Various forces of nature do not disturb them.

They know that this is all a play of forces.

They are firm, unshaken. (BG 14.23)

A Brief Report of the 41-day-long Global Festival of Yoga: Celebrating Wellness from 21st June to 31st July, 2020

Indica Yoga, a platform of Indic Academy, offers inclusive and diverse forms of Yoga training and experiences that are authentic, immersive and transformative. It had recently organized the worlds first online Global Festival of Yoga: Celebrating Wellness for 41 days starting from 21st June up to 31st July, 2020. This soulful immersion included interactions and practice with several Yoga Experts consisting of leading Scholars, Practitioners, Researchers and Artists from around the globe.

The global festival was organized and delivered in collaboration with national and international associations including Indian Yoga Association (IYA), European Union of Yoga (EUY), Global Peace Initiate of Women (GPIW) and Center for Soft Power (CSP) as major partners and a few other organizations like Ritambhara Ashram, Ritambhara Wellness, Vyasa Houston and Vyasa Singapore.

The primary purpose of the festival was to celebrate the ancient yet timeless spirit of Yoga to rediscover and celebrate wellness. This global festival was also curated to serve as a platform for connecting with authentic teachings that will explore different facets of Wellness through a convergence of Spirituality and Science; Philosophy and Practice. The other objectives included

  • Celebrating yogic wisdom, traditions and practices on a global scale
  • Building synergies between Science and Spirituality, Philosophy and Practices that enhance human wellness and happiness
  • Exploring techniques, technologies and practices of Yoga for promoting individual, social and collective well-being
  • Connecting the global communities committed to a conscious living

In this backdrop a series of talks, panel discussions, philosophical and scientific presentations, practice & experiential sessions on varied dimensions of Yoga were planned three times a day i.e. Morning (7.00-8.30 AM IST), Noon (11.30 AM 01.00 PM IST) and Evening (7.00 8.30 PM IST). These sessions catered to different time zones including the Far East, Indian, European, Eastern & Western (American) time zones.

To summarize the global celebration of Wellness, the Festival hosted 112 sessions in total featuring about 124 experts, teachers, artists, doctors, scientists and researchers representing diverse traditions and practices of Yoga. About a third of them were purely practical sessions including asana, pranayama, meditation, yoga nidra, bhajan & kirtans etc. which were offered by leading practitioners bringing many forms of yoga practices on one platform. Further, the presenters, the best of the Yoga community across the world were from 25 different countries from the Bahamas to Turkey; from Ireland to Singapore. The high powered list of eminent speakers and practitioners included Ravi Ravindra, Sraddhalu Ranade, R. Nagarathna, Gabi Gillessen, Dena Merriam, Francois Lorin, Rudolphe Milliat, Andre Reihl, Eddie Stern, Raghu Anantanarayan, Acharya Mangalananda, Ramakanth Gundecha, Frederick Travis, Sampadananda Mishra, Krishna Das, Stephen Parker (Stoma), Subhash Kak, Matthijs Cornelissen, James Boag, N. V. Raghuram, Naveen K. Visveswaraiah, K. Ramasubramanian, Jozef Keikens (Narayana), Ganesh Mohan, Saraswati Vasudevan, Bina Mirchandani, Nrithya Jagannathan, Krishnaphani Kesiraju, Lorenzo Cohen, Ananda Balayogi Bhavanani, P. P. Chakrabarti, Anuradha Choudry, Vinayachandra Banavathy, Zoltan Cser, Smitha Mallaiah, Yogi Maheshwara, Geza Timcak, Ravi Mantha, Rajiv Vasudevan, Chanchalapathi Dasa, Chef Manjith Sigh Gill, Zolatan Cser, Gauranga Das, Alan Wallace, Jacques Vignes and may more. For the whole list of resource persons please refer to (

The Festival also included about 12 panels of conversations and dialogues on significant themes like Yoga & Human Unity; Yoga & Mystical traditions of the world; Dharma, Yoga & Economic Well-being and Yoga & Unity with Nature: Perspectives from Indigenous Environmentalism, that were specially curated by GPIW for event with a special panel on Wellness in workplace by experts from the Rekhi Centre of Excellence for the Science of Happiness, Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur.

This, first of its kind, online Global Festival of Yoga witnessed the participation of about 10,000 active seekers who had registered for the event while each session was well attended by about 150 to 250 enthusiastic participants. The recordings of the lectures that were delivered on this occasion, available on the Indica Yoga YouTube Channel (, form part of an invaluable repository of rich archival material on Yoga to enlighten any genuine seeker on the yogic way.

The Global Festival of Yoga was curated by Dr. Anuradha Choudry and Dr. Vinayachandra Banavathy.

Prevention & Control of Cancer – Looking East to the Ancient Yogic Sciences: Dr Lorenzo Cohen, MD Anderson Cancer Center

Dr Lorenzo Cohen, Professor and Director of the Integrative Medicine Program at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, and Distinguished Clinical Professor, Fudan University Cancer Hospital, Shanghai, China, conducts experiments to show how Yoga and meditation can help in the treatment of cancer.

He will be presenting a talk as part ofGlobal Festival of Yoga 2020 on 13th, July 2020 between 7 pm and 8 pm. Please register using this link:


Dr Cohen is conducting research to demonstrate that lifestyle changes can influence cancer outcomes. His Mix of Six theory propounded along with co-author Allison Jefferies, points out that while most people believe that cancer attacks people randomly and that one cannot explain why someone gets it and others dont, there are six factors which are part of the mix of cancer prevention and care.

A synergy in cancer care requires changing your lifestyle in a number of areas makes each change more effective than it would be on its own. These same lifestyle factors interact with and reinforce each other in both positive and negative ways. The mix of six includes love and support, stress avoidance, sleep, exercise, diet and environment, says the authors of the book Anti-cancer Living.

For those who need evidence of the impact of traditional medicine and Yoga to deal with cancer, one does not need to look further than Dr Cohens work. He conducts research examining the bio-behavioral effects of integrative medicine practices aimed at reducing the negative aspects of cancer treatment and improving quality of life including studies of meditation, Tibetan yoga, Patanjali-based yoga, Tai chi/Qigong, and other strategies such as stress management, emotional writing, neurofeedback, and acupuncture.

He is interested in examining different types of complementary programs that can be easily incorporated into conventional treatment to decrease the psychophysiological consequences associated with treatment and improve outcomes.

Dr Cohen is the grandson of the late Vanda Scaravelli, author of Awakening the Spine and yoga teacher of many, herself a disciple of J Krishnamurti and Shri BKS Iyengar and Shri TKV Desikachar.In this interview, Dr Cohen speaks about his work and inspiration.


Could you share the influence of your grandmother on your choice of career?

My grandmother, Vanda Scaravelli (author of Awakening the Spine), was a big influence in my life. She started her own yoga practice in her 50s when she was spending time with J Krishnamurti and taking lessons from BKS Iyengar and TKV Desikachar. I spent every summer with her in Italy and then for a full year between undergraduate and graduate school. During this extend time with Vanda, I took daily yoga lessons learning the power and depth of this ancient practice. It was inspiring to see how she led a true yogic life. I later realized that this yogic way of life is what our cancer patients needed to reduce suffering and improve longevity. Developing strategies to educate our patients on healthful living to prevent and control cancer has been the focus of my career and a yogic way of life is the answer.

What is the role of Yoga in your personal life?

I try to have a daily formal practice that includes meditation, asana, and pranayama. But more importantly, I try and follow the tenets of a yogic life beyond the mat with a focus on what in our book Anticancer Living we call the Mix of Six - 1) harnessing the power of love, support, connection and purpose; 2) seeking to foster calm; 3) creating healthy sleep habits; 4) ensuring our bodies stay in motion; 5) consuming only foods and beverages that sustain health; and 6) decreasing exposures to environmental toxins and pollutants. By following the Mix and Six and fostering a yogic lifestyle we will improve ourselves and in time the rest of the world.

What sparked your research interests in integrated therapy for cancer?

My graduate degrees, Masters and PhD, were in medical psychology with an emphasis on the negative psychosocial and biobehavioral effects of stress on humans. Once I started to focus in cancer, it became clear I could not just study stress but needed to relieve stress. This is when I started to turn to conventional psychotherapy-based programs and integrative modalities such as yoga, meditation, expressive writing, and more. My initial focus was on the mind-body side of integrative medicine, but I quickly started to explore other modalities such as acupuncture, massage, preclinical and clinical research of natural products, and energy medicine as a way to reduce suffering and improve clinical outcomes.

What does your research show in terms of the impact of Yoga in women with breast cancer?

There are many benefits that cancer patients derive from practicing yoga. My research and that of others shows that yoga improves multiple aspects of quality of life including sleep, fatigue, pain, stress, and mental health as well as physical function, cognitive abilities, and more. We also see improved stress hormone regulation and immune function. And all of these benefits are from studies that just focus on yoga from an asana, pranayama, and meditation perspective. Imagine the outcomes when people adopt a full yogic lifestyle transforming how they eat and interact with themselves and the rest of the world.

Is it being used concurrently with radiotherapy anywhere in the US?

Many cancer centers have onsite yoga therapists or yoga teachers. However, yoga still remains something that is up to the patients to seek out for themselves and integrate into their cancer care. However, with the expanded evidence base, more and more physicians are recommending patients engage in some kind of mind-body practice. For the patients who come to our Integrative Medicine Center we recommend yoga and other mind-body practices. We look forward to the day when yoga and other mind-body practices are systematically provided to patients alongside conventional medicine and become part of the clinical pathways.

[Image credits : Dr. Lorenzo Cohen]

You have researched different Yoga practices and traditional medicines. Can you describe what importance is being given to them in modern medical research in the US?

I believe we have reached a tipping point on the evidence for the utility of traditional medicines alongside conventional care. This is clearly seen in the area of mind-body practices and also in the use of some traditional herbal medicine with the WHO adopting the use of Artemisinin, a traditional Chinese medicine, for the treatment of malaria for which Dr.Youyou Tu won the Nobel Prize. There is clearly more to discover and document in this area and it is good to finally see some recognition and financial investment. However, funding for integrative medicine research is still a fraction of what is invested in more conventional areas, where the return on investment is focused more on the shareholder and less on the population as a whole. However, the evidence is clear on how to prevent the majority of chronic illnesses in our world and the solution is not in a pill or made in a factory.

Is it possible to evaluate the impact and delivery of traditional medicines and practices through Western lenses and systems? What are the pitfalls?

It is important to evaluate all medical interventions using standardized techniques. The gold standard is to use the randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled trial. However, the RCT is just one level of evidence and valuable information can be gleamed from other scientific designs including case reports, epidemiological studies, case series, and more. The pure RCT can be a challenge and will often miss some of the subtler benefits attributed to a particular modality.

In behavioral research it is also more challenging to conduct double-blind studies. However, it is also important to evaluate the safety profile of a particular treatment against the possible benefits. For example, there would be more concerns for a patient taking a potent natural product versus trying a new yoga asana series. In order to expand the acceptance of integrative medicine alongside conventional care it is important to use western research strategies and include creative assessment techniques to reveal all the benefits.

Clinical trials in cancer are happening at great costs. Do any of them involve Yoga and Ayurveda?

Although interest and investment has increased, research funding for integrative medicine, including yoga and Ayurveda, lags far behind conventional medicines. This is partly due to the lack of clear financial return on investment. However, we are starting to slowly see changes in this area as more of society seek out these practices.

What is your perception of international forums like WHO in determining the course of health care?

Having organizations like the WHO endorse and advocate for specific medicines, programs, and interventions, as well as develop practice guidelines (e.g., reduce global sugar consumption) is an important step. However, decisions are typically made at the local level, down to specific institutions, and increased efforts are needed at all levels of decision making, especially to increase reimbursement for lifestyle programs.

Yoga and the Emptying of The Self: Francois Lorin

Francois Lorin, one of the co-founders of the Federation de yoga Viniyoga, France, made his first trip to India in 1963 by land, a journey which took him 12 months. It was the year he met the intellectuals philosopher J Krishnamurti and after that never missed a chance to attend his talks both in Europe and in France till the latters passing.

In the years 1966 to 1987, at a time when the baton of Yoga was being passed on to a new generation of practitioners who saw Yoga as a means of dealing with a fast changing world, Lorin studied under traditional guru Sri T K V Desikachar, son of the legendary T Krishnamacharya, in Madras. He imbibed asanas, pranayama, the Bhagavad Gita, the Hatha Yoga Pradipika and much more.

He will be presenting a talk as part of Global Festival of Yoga 2020 on 2nd, July 2020 between 7 pm and 8 pm. Please register using this link:

Lorin says Yoga practice changed his life very deeply, with time and dedication. Sri TKV Desikachar was at the time teaching only through individual classes, both for practice and for the study of yogastra-s of Patanjali. He didn't try to teach me some wisdom, since he knew my inklings for Krishnamurti's vision but, as any good teacher should do, it helped me to grow and to become myself both in the physical and psychological planes.

In one post, Lorin mentions that there were two times in his life when he had a sense of the non-reality of the self and a notions he believed in. Asked by Indica Yoga about this, he says, The first time I felt the absence of me or 'mine' was after an intense listening to a lecture given in Saanen, Switzerland by Krishnamurti. Nothing special happened, the appearance of the world and of people remained the same but I was emptied of the feeling of being a separate, limited, individual and fear and personal desires disappeared.

The second incidence he says was a few years later, when I went to an intensive conducted in a disused chapel by Svmi Muktnanda, the guru of the Siddha Yoga movement. As he slowly came to the place I was seated, transferring his shakti through the touch of a peacock feather, to so many people going crazy (or so it looked to me), I actually felt nothing when it became my turn and I was so disappointed since I considered myself as a very serious student of yoga, spending so much time each year in the south of India to practice and study yoga! A few minutes later the Svmi started telling us the story of the king who wanted to know what detachment was and almost die, wanting to detach himself from his physical body. Fortunately the Maharan, who was enlightened taught him better; don't make violence to the innocent body but get rid of the sense of personal identity. Hearing these words I felt an inner tear which opened my trunk and I could feel, right in the center, the citadel of the ego fighting against disappearance! Then, for about 7 to 10 days, all sense of me had disappeared and I could listen and talk to the trees around me when I stopped for rest on the highway back home and my wife and children were seen as they actually were: not mine but not separated...

There were many who were drawn to J Krishnamurti. He himself would practice yoga for an hour in the morning. In one instance he narrates an incident in which a monkey was watching him do his asanas from a window. When he reached out, the monkey held his hand and continued to do so till he finished his practice.
Asked what attracted him to Krishnamurti, Lorins narrates his connect to India. My first visit to India was because I started practice at home with books, since at the time there were few yoga classes and I used to live in the countryside. As I came driving to Madras (it was an overland journey from France to India which took 12 months). I visited the Theosophical Society in Adyar. I saw an announcement about Krishnaji's next talk in New Delhi and, since it fitted my agenda when driving back to France I stopped and went to listen to him. I was not fluent in English and could not understand much about what was said but I was deeply impressed by the passion and the energy of this man. So much so I postponed my return and drove down to Varanasi where he was giving his next talk in Rajghat. There I bought a few of his books and, driving back with a British hitchhiker I both learned English and started understanding his teachings.

Asked if yogis need to be reclusive as they were in the past, he says: A recluse is one who has understood the poisonous nature of me and mine and more broadly of the rational mind left as the boss of our lives and it applies even more so today! Both TKV Desikachar and his father T Krishnamacharya applied the motto: "ekas tapo dviradhyaya" alone during the practice, two for the studies.

Of the practice of Yoga in France, Lorins says that he did not meet the pioneers. They were few and I never met them. I was too young and they had left this world - Kerneiz was one of them, Lucien Ferrer was another one but I have met other people who were known in Europe in the field of Yoga - Roger Clerc, student of Ferrer, Andr Van Lysebeth, student of Svmi Shivnanda, Nil Hahoutoff and Mahesh.

Asked if Yoga can transform the world, Lorin says in true Krishnamurti style: The world is already a fantastic place and it shouldn't be and couldn't be changed; human beings have a lot of way to go to be as beautiful as the world and those of us who rely on sensitivity and love, will be saved, no?


Neuroscience & Vedic Sciences Explore the Same Reality, the Underlying Laws of Nature: Dr Fred Travis

Dr Fred Travis is the best person to explain to us what happens to our brains when we meditate. As laymen we all know we feel calmer, more with ourselves and the world, but as a neuroscientist, he will tell us about the electrical patterns that emerge in our brain causing this sense of peace.


Dr Travis current research includes the Physiology of enlightenment that dawns through regular meditation practice and also the effects of listening to traditional chanting of the Veda and Vedic Literature. The inevitable question that comes to ones mind is how can neuroscience explain the genius of rishis like Maharishi Mahesh Yogi who intuited much of their knowledge?

He replies, Neuroscience and Vedic science are exploring the same reality -underlying laws of nature. These are captured in modern experiments and experienced by practice of Vedic Technologies. Science and Vedic Science are two angles to look at the same reality, and so understandably would yield parallel insights.

Asked if there are things that we experience through yoga and meditation which cannot be explained through Science, he says, A limited model would give a limited picture. A full model of science that includes the idea that Consciousness is primary can explain results of Yoga and Meditation.

As a youngster, Dr Travis used to work as a stage manager in a theatre group. The troupe would perform at Massachusetts in summer and tour around the countryside in fall, winter and spring. He was in charge of props, lights and the entrances and exits. In one interview, he says that Some days it was really easy to do. Its like I walked in and the whole plan was there; I just had to go through the steps. Other days it was like walking through mud.

He tells Indica Yoga that seeing this variation in potential, he wanted a meditation practice that would ensure that there were many more good days. I noticed that some days I was more alert, creative and happy than other days. I wanted a meditation that would enliven my full mental and spiritual potential. I started Transcendental Meditation and I filled all of these desires.

What is it that makes meditation special? Are there other activities which create a similar good unlocking of potential feel? Musicians have talked about experiencing it during intense moments and so have sports persons extremely focused on goals.

Interestingly, Dr Travis graduate programme was the impact of TM on creativity. While researching a group of students, one a trial group exposed to TM and another which was not, he says in an interview to that in creative problem-solving, you really appreciate what transcending does. Without transcending it is hard to think outside of the box. The box is the problem space. Without transcending, youre stuck in the box, youre stuck in the words and concepts and problems which are there and you dont have the broad awareness to see outside of that. And when you transcend every day you step outside of that box; you step outside of time and space, outside of body sense, and you are just awake, youre alert. And when you bring that quality of the mind back to whatever you are doing, you see the world completely differently.

He adds, Every experience affects the brain. Meditations are different and so affect the brain differently. Experience of Yoga during Transcendental Meditation enlivens global alpha brain coherence. This is not seen in other meditations.

He will be speaking at the Indica Yoga's Global Festival of Yoga: Celebrating Wellness on how Transcendental Meditation is different from other kinds of meditation. Meditations involved different degrees of effort and control of the mind. Focused arousal meditations require most effort; TM requires least effort. Please check here for details of his session.

In his earlier research, he had pointed out issues with the medical tools available to assess neural activity under meditation, including the obstructive impact of the noise from MRI machines. Neural imaging has grown since 1990. You need to subtract meditation images from control images to remove effects of the loud noise on the final images, he says.

Scholars have debated whether Yoga and Meditation are an art or a science? Do they involve the right side of the brain or the left? Says Dr Travis: They activate both sides of the brain. Yoga and meditation activate deep subtle levels of mind and body. But since we are a whole being, effects of these practices can be seen with current measures.

Transcendental Meditation is a powerful tool for transformation. As to how it has changed his life, Dr Travis says, Before I started TM I looked around and saw a changing world around me. It lacked a basis and lacked any current model that would integrate the various streams of experience. Transcending during TM practice has given me the experience of the field of Being that is outside of change, and supports and guides the various streams of activity. This has simplified life and made life meaningful.

Inner Engineering, a Synthesis of Yoga and Meditation, Helps Reduce Stress: Harvard, Rutgers Study

In most parts of the world, the concept of work-life balance does not seem to exist. Work takes over life and ultimately gives rise to stress. It is thought that stress is directly proportional to hard work and success. But it is forgotten that stress is also directly proportional to health disorders - both physical and mental.

The mind has multiple thoughts running haywire every minute and is never idle. These multiple thoughts are triggers to constant physical actions. Constant physical action takes a toll on mental health. The success one achieves at work is short lived and the stress originates again to achieve the next thing. At a time like this, many are grappling with anxiety and depression. The fear of the virus, the fear of losing one who is a victim of the virus, the fear of unemployment, the fear of social isolation and many more fears that this pandemic is causing in people is on a high. Fear, stress are assumed to become a part of life, which in fact occurs when one does not know to take care of the mind.

When you talk of the mind, it is important to talk of the Self too. The mind is completely activated only when it integrates with the Self or in other words, the soul. This awareness of the Self enables one to mould their thoughts in a more amicable way- and one is able to think better and perform better. Consider a pool of muddy water- as long as it is disturbed, there is no clarity in the water. Allow it to stand still, the mud settles down and one can see the water clearly. This is what Self-awareness can do to one's muddled thoughts. Ones actions will not be impulsive and will be well thought out. There is no room for irrational behaviour. As one is in control of our own thoughts and emotions, it gives them emotional resilience.

Having the control of your own life is like a smooth running machine- no oil leaks, no strange noises- the productivity is at a high which elevates confidence and ultimately leading to elevated happinessYoga and meditation help to balance the two aspects of the mind and soul creating harmony inside. Inner engineering uses the ancient practises of Yoga and creates a positive state of mind. In other words, it is a distilled essence of Yoga and meditation. The brain is a software that can be programmed. When one programmes the inside, their thoughts and attitudes are shaped that can be presented to the outside world.

Isha foundation in collaboration with scientists from Harvard published two papers that show the benefits of Inner Engineering (IE) on physical, emotional and mental health. The IE program consists of guided meditations, discourses on the nature of the mind and practical wisdom to take care of lifes curve-balls. It also includes the Shambhavi Mahamudra Kriya that diverts all the energies to one direction and does not let it dissipate from the sensory outputs.

The first study was conducted on 60 employees from an US-based Fortune-500 where the impact of IE on (i) their well-being which includes the following factors: energy, joy, mindfulness, a sense of wholeness within oneself, and connection with colleagues, and (ii) positive organisational behaviour which included meaningful work, psychological capital, and work engagement. The program was conducted for 40 days with a survey before and after the program on the following attributes: (i) Psychological capital, (ii) Self-Efficacy, (iii) Hope, (iv) Optimism, (v) Work engagement, (vi) connection with work, (vii) Dedication, (viii) Vigour, (ix) Mindfulness, (x) Inclusiveness, (xi) Joy, and (xii) Vitality.

The study showed an increase of 13% in psychological capital, 19% increase in Self-efficacy and Joy. The employees also stated that they experienced better growth in their work and with it came a sense of pride and accomplishment.

The second study was conducted to observe the impact of IE on professional efficiency and burnout caused due to chronic workplace stress. The study was conducted at S2Tech, an IT services company. The study was conducted in two phases among two groups wherein the participants were advised to follow IE online programs as well as to read a book or journal of their own choice. At the end of the study, although the burnout levels showed no difference from before and after the study, the perceived stress score showed a 50% decrease.

Among those who had participated in the IE program were allowed to take part in the Bhava Spandana Program- a 4-day advanced yoga and meditation retreat. The study conducted a survey before and after to assess the anxiety, depression, focus, well-being, and happiness through validated psychological scales. Blood samples were collected before and after the study to measure the concentrations of the biomarkers anandamide, 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG), 1-arachidonoylglycerol (1-AG), docosahexaenoyl ethanolamide (DEA), oleoylethanolamide (OLA), and BDNF. (Anandamide is derived from the Sanskrit word Anand meaning happiness). These are the Endocannabinoids (eCBs) that indicate increased happiness and reduced anxiety or depression.

The study showed elevated levels of eCBs. They also observed that this impact lasted an entire month. Further studies are to be conducted to understand the role of eCB in mediating the positive responses of meditation and the impact of meditation on anandamide inhibitor FAAH. They also want to investigate the sustained benefits of meditation that lasts upto a month.


Inner Engineering Online Intervention for a Fortune 500 Company- Isha Foundation and Rutgers University

Inner Engineering Online Intervention for S2Tech- Isha Foundation and Harvard Medical School

Senthilkumar Sadhasivam et al., Inner Engineering Practices and Advanced 4-day Isha Yoga Retreat Are Associated with Cannabimimetic Effects with Increased Endocannabinoids and Short-Term and Sustained Improvement in Mental Health: A Prospective Observational Study of Meditators, Hindawi Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine Volume 2020

Mental Health an Emerging Crisis of COVID Pandemic- Katherine Kam