Sunday, 24 May 2015

To Sum it Up: University of Alberta Lecture

Namaste to Deanna and all the students of Spring Term 2015, PAC 156 Introduction to Yoga Basics at the University of Alberta!

Thank you for inviting me to your class to share a sampling of the origin, history and basic philosophy of Yoga with you!

I've organized some links to previous posts here on Kali's Kitchen that you may find helpful as you go over your notes from last Thursday.

I hope our time together whet your appetite to find out more about the roots of Yoga and How Yoga Really Works!

One of the first things we talked about was the sound and Meaning of Om.  We chanted it along with my Shruti Box in a very meditative way, but there is also a popular form of devotional chanting known as Kirtan.

Check out this video featuring one of my Guru brothers from the Sivananda Ashram in the Bahamas and the mantra Om: Hari Om Kirtan with Narayan Jyoti.

We chanted The Teacher/Student Chant in Sanskrit.  Not easy, but it sounded great!

Regarding the history of yoga and its journey to the West, I mentioned two of the early ambassadors of Yoga who introduced the ancient, mystical teachings of India to North America:  Swami Vivekananda and Paramahansa Yogananda.

The Seven Chakras
I also mentioned a few of the westerners who significantly contributed to popularizing Yoga in the mid 1900's:

Swami Vishnudevananda and The Beatles

Bhagavan DasKali Kirtan with Bhagavan Das and Richard Alpert/RamDassRam Dass on Giving and ReceivingRam Dass Gives Maharaji "The Yogi Medicine"

Yoga was traditionally taught in ashrams or retreat centres with monastic teachers known as swamis.  

University of Alberta professor Neil Dalal recently released a film called Gurukulam that gives a beautiful "insider's view" of a modern ashram.  Don't worry if you didn't catch it at the premiere in March, it turns out they're offering an encore screening on May 31st!

Image Source
I gave you two classical definitions of Yoga:

The first was from the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali,  Sutra 1.2, "Yoga is the cessation of the mental waves."

For more about Patanjali and Raja/Asht-anga Yoga see:  Legends of Yoga: The Birth of Patanjali, and Yoga Sutras, Free Online Resources

The second came from the Bhagavad Gita,  Shloka 2.50, "Yoga is skill in action."

For an easy way to relate to the main characters, Krishna and Arjuna, check out this cute tribute to the original text: Love in the Bhagavad Gita.  It's part of a series of cartoons originally published in Ascent magazine that depict the entire text!

I mentioned several of the main Paths of Yoga:  Raja YogaBhakti YogaJnana Yoga, Karma Yoga and of course, Hatha Yoga the most widely practiced path of Yoga in the West.

We ended with the Chant for Enlightenment and wishes for Shanti or Peace.

May you all enjoy your studies and benefit the world with your wisdom!


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