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iHanuman

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Greetings!
The original Piedmont Yoga Studio was located about two blocks east of our current home on Piedmont Avenue. On the first story of an old two-story house that had long been used commercially, the classroom had about 900 square feet of floor space, a little more than a third the size of our current Studio 2. The Grand Opening was scheduled for Monday, March 16, 1987. "Come and enjoy the opening of your mind and body," the promotional flier read, "with the opening of The Piedmont Yoga Studio." To get the place warmed up we offered a Free Class on both the Saturday and Sunday prior to the Big Day. People turned out in droves, packing the room to the rafters, and the three co-directors, me, Rod Yee, and Clare Finn, each took turns as the lead teacher.
So it was with great excitement, not to mention anxiety, that I approached the first official public class that Monday night 25 years ago. Taking into account that it was a workday evening, and that the high attendance on the previous two days was at least partly due to the classes being on a weekend...

posted: 10 years 3 months ago
posted: 6/11/12
I recently was out on Long Island in New York state to participate in a teacher training. Two of the students in that training are starting a website titled Breath Repeat (www.breatherepeat.com) and asked me to contribute. Here's what I had to say. What is consciousness? We obviously can't answer a question about which many books have been written in a few hundred words. Nonetheless, yoga students should know a little something about the subject, since it's the focus of the earliest and still one of the most widely studied yoga manuals, the Yoga Sutra, attributed to Patanjali...
posted: 6/11/12
My original intention for this month was to write about one of the pioneers of modern yoga, Shri Yogendra. But just this morning I received a newsletter from a yoga school-here unnamed-where I found a short essay, "About Yoga," that begins with: "Yoga is an ancient science practiced for thousands of years." Friends, as Joan Rivers says, can we talk? Let's start with "thousands of years." The Sanskrit word sanatva means "ancientness," it's an idea that's found everywhere in Hinduism. The underlying belief is that the older something is the...
posted: 6/11/12
It was a late lunch/early dinner (linner? Or lunner?) with a good friend, and after addressing and quickly solving a number of thorny issues that have troubled humankind for millennia, our attention wandered from swerve of shore to bend of bay and settled on the strange case of the Yoga Sutra. No one knows much of anything concrete about the origins and authorship of this little curiosity of about 1200 words, maybe 100 fewer than the Declaration of Independence. Estimates of its date of composition range anywhere from 200 BCE to 200 CE, its authorship, or more precisely compilation attributed...
posted: 6/11/12
Greetings! Well, as you may know, the residents of Yoga Land have been in high dudgeon over the past week about that William Broad article (adapted from his book, The Science of Yoga: The Risks and Rewards, coming to a bookstore near you in February) published in the New York Times Magazine, "How Yoga Can Wreck Your Body." Broad, a senior science writer at the Times, may just want to watch his back for awhile in his weekly asana class, if he has one, a class that is. Presently, among the members of the yoga teaching profession, and probably its camp followers too-the peddlers of...
posted: 6/11/12
We in the West think of historical time as running along a track, an arrow moving in one direction only, and each of us having, as the TV soap opera reminds us, one life to live. But in India, historical time is cyclical, running round and round like a Ferris wheel, each of us passing through many hundreds, even thousands of lives. Each turn of the wheel is called a kalpa, a period of time estimated at 4,320,000 human years. This may seem like an eternity to us, but to Brahma, the creator god, it's only one "day" and "night" in his life. It's estimated that...
posted: 6/11/12
This link to an online Newsweek article, dated May 13, 2010, came from a friend through my email the other day. Titled "The Clash of the Yogis: Do the Hindu Roots of Yoga Matter?," author Lisa Miller, the magazine's religion editor, raises several issues that beg responses, though because of space limits I'll only be able to deal with the question asked in the piece's sub-title. First of all let's ask: Is yoga truly rooted in Hinduism? This is a difficult question to answer, unless of course you're already convinced that it is. There are two stumbling blocks...
posted: 6/11/12
My formal Sanskrit education recently passed the one year mark, so I suppose it's time to share a bit of What I've Learned So Far. First let me say that before starting this weekly class last Fall, I spent 20 frustrating years trying on and (mostly) off to teach myself Sanskrit. I went through maybe three or four "teach-yourself-Sanskrit" primers, which for the most part were about as readable as Finnegans Wake. So if you have an irresistible urge to humble yourself with Sanskrit, take my advice and find a good tutor. Unless you're unusually adept at imbibing overly...
posted: 6/11/12
Whenever you practice or read about Yoga, you'll inevitably run across Sanskrit. Sanskrit is the classical language of India, much like Latin is the classical language of medieval Europe. Nowadays Sanskrit is pretty much a dead language, and though it's still one of a dozen or so official languages of India, even in its heyday Sanskrit was spoken only by a relatively small circle of academics and priests. One tradition holds that Sanskrit evolved over a thousand years out of vernacular or everyday languages, known collectively as the Prakrits. Another tradition turns the former on...
posted: 6/11/12
I'm just back from my third annual Yoga workshop in Hailey, Idaho. When I asked the folks up in Hailey what they wanted to work on this year they set me an interesting task: a weekend workshop based on poses named after Hindu gods. After digging through Iyengar's Light on Yoga (200 asanas), Yogeshvara Paramahamsa's First Steps to Higher Yoga (300 asanas), and the Lonavla Institute's Encyclopedia of Traditional Asanas (900 asanas), I decided to open things up and include in the workshop poses named after Hindu sages and one famous monster. And so we had a Virabhadra Class (...
posted: 9/27/10
The first attempt at an English translation of Patanjali's Yoga Sutra ("Threads of Yoga") was made by James Robert Ballantyne (1813-1864), a Scottish Orientalist and linguist. From 1846 to 1861 he was the principal of the prestigious Sanskrit College in Benares, established in 1791 by the British East India Company. Ballantyne, an adherent of a movement known as the Scottish Enlightenment (which also claimed as members poet Robert Burns, novelist Walter Scott, philosopher David Hume, and inventor James Watt), was also a prolific translator and writer. Along with the Yoga Sutra...

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