The Danger of More in Modern Yoga

(As published on Elephant Journal)

Even as Yoga explodes in popularity, its essence is being lost.

In recently performing an internet search for “Yoga in America,” I was saddened to see the latest of the slew of scandals related to Yoga (that happen not just in America, but throughout the world) appear at the top of my search results. Yoga, an ancient eight-fold practice originally designed to assist sincere spiritual seekers to access deep inner states of meditation and contemplation, seems to have become connected with a pervasive myth that more is better.

There is more music played in Yoga classes, more asanas (physical poses), more competition, more heat, more intensity, more challenging poses, more sexy clothing, more scantily clad students and teachers, more scandals.  Continue reading

The Awakening of Waking Up Early

(As published on Elephant Journal as a “Featured Wellness” and “Featured Yoga” Article and in the “Popular Lately” section)

One of the greatest gifts I have received from the great art and science of Ayurveda is connecting with the abundant blessings of nature early each morning. Ayurveda is all about restoring our harmony with nature. In Ayurveda, we understand “nature” as both the macrocosm (the wider world we inhabit), and the microcosm (our internal world of thoughts, emotions and physical sensations). Ayurveda teaches us that we are eternally connected to one another and to our universe at large. Therefore, in understanding our innermost nature, we can gain a deeper understanding of the nature of the world around us. Continue reading

On Solitude and Renunciation

I think this Wednesday’s passage on “The Fallacy of Togetherness” really required some deeper reflection on the meaning of solitude and renunciation and their role in spirituality to have true value. There is, on the one hand, something so beautiful the Swamiji, for example, from the Sivananda Ashram in Kerala, South India, who renounced his wife and career to move to India to pursue a path of deep solitude and spiritual growth. He couldn’t speak a single word of the local dialect in India. At that time, nothing was written in English the way the language has become widespread these days. So this Swamiji befriended the birds, the monkeys and the trees of the jungle in Kerala. I think it is wonderful to have that kind of opportunity to be that close and connected to Mother Nature.

In our culture, both the western and Indian ones, as well as the European, and, I imagine, Middle Eastern and Latin American ones, we are inclined to feel great regard for those who walk a path of renunciation, by becoming Swamis or monks, priests or imams. Because we imagine that we could never live without the things these people have given up, it is natural to feel a lot of respect for renunciates. There, is however, at the same time, a darker side to renunciation of the traditional sense (as there is for all things in the dualistic world we inhabit). Continue reading