Monthly Archives: July 2014

the business side of yoga with maty ezraty

Maty Ezraty joins the Wanderlust Festival Speakeasy Lecture Series to discuss the business side of yoga — she shares tips on opening a studio, keeping it vibrant, how to keep your teachers and students engaged, and more.

Maty Ezraty was the original founder of Yoga Works in Santa Monica California and directed the Teacher Training Program there for over 16 years. She has studied with Sri K. Pattabhi Jois 5 times in India , and during 5 of his American tours as well as once in France. Teaching since 1985 Maty has been a student of many senior Iyengar teachers which reflects in her practice and how she teaches.

You can learn more about her work and her upcoming schedule at




Pratyahara is derived from two Sanskrit words: prati and ahara, with ahara meaning food, or anything taken into ourselves, and prati, a preposition meaning away or against.

Pratyahara or the ‘withdrawal of the senses’ is the fifth element among the Eight stages of Patanjali’s Ashtanga Yoga, as mentioned in his classical work, Yoga Sutras of Patanjali composed in the 2nd century BCE. It is also the first stage of the six-branch yoga (ṣaḍaṅgayoga) of the Buddhist Kālacakra tantra, where it refers to the withdrawal of the five senses from external objects to be replaced by the mentally created senses of an enlightened deity. This phase is roughly analogous to the physical isolation phase of Guhyasamāja tantra.

For Patanjali, it is a bridge between the bahiranga (external) aspects of yoga namely, yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, and the antaranga (internal) yoga. Having actualized the pratyahara stage, a practitioner is able to effectively engage into the practice of Samyama. At the stage of pratyahara, the consciousness of the individual is internalized in order that the sensations from the senses of taste, touch, sight, hearing and smell don’t reach their respective centers in the brain and takes the sadhaka (practitioner) to next stages of Yoga, namely Dharana (concentration) and Dhyana (meditation), and Samadhi (mystical absorption), being the aim of all Yogic practices.

From Wikipedia Article Pratyahara

Isolation Tank

An isolation tank is a lightless, soundproof tank inside which subjects float in salt water at skin temperature. They were first used by John C. Lilly in 1954 to test the effects of sensory deprivation. Such tanks are now also used for meditation and relaxation and in alternative medicine. The isolation tank was originally called the sensory deprivation tank. Other names for the isolation tank include flotation tank, float tank, John C. Lilly tank,REST tank, and sensory attenuation tank.

The flotation tank was developed in 1954 by John C. Lilly, a medical practitioner and neuro-psychiatrist. During his training in psychoanalysis at the US National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), Lilly commenced experiments with sensory deprivation. In neurophysiology, there had been an open question as to what keeps the brain going and the origin of its energy sources. One hypothesis was that the energy sources are biological and internal and do not depend upon the outside environment. It was argued that if all stimuli are cut off to the brain then the brain would go to sleep. Lilly decided to test this hypothesis and, with this in mind, created an environment which totally isolated an individual from external stimulation. From here, he studied the origin of consciousness and its relation to the brain.

Peter Suedfeld and Roderick Borrie of the University of British Columbia began experimenting on the therapeutic benefits of flotation tank usage in the late 1970s. They named their technique “Restricted Environmental Stimulation Therapy” (REST).

From Wikipedia Article Isolation Tank

Further Reading

John C. Lilly and E.J. Gold’s Tanks for the Memories: Flotation Tank Talks
The chapter “Altered States” from Richard Feynman’s Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!

yoga in practice


“I realized that there are a lot of other ways to read these yoga texts and combine them. And there’s not a right and wrong. It’s a chaos of traditions. There’s just no way to make them all fit together nicely, because they never did.” (David Gordon White)

Built out of the vitality of yoga’s fractured, hybrid history, Yoga in Practice gathers a diverse collection of texts from India, greater Asia and the West into a jumbling whole. And in the process of reading its chapters, you’re reminded just how fluid yoga’s history is, shapeshifting with colossal dexterity over the yugas. With solid contributions from twenty-six yoga scholars, and sources that span four major religious traditions (Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Jainism)…

In his own words, David Gordon White’s loyalty is to history. But calling him an historian, and thereby anchoring him to history alone, somehow overlooks the enormous scope of his work with mythology and folklore. What’s behind the love of a story and are its moorings the same as historical narrative? What allows an historian to grapple with yoga’s fragmented, discontinuous story without the “normative” paralysis of the researcher/observer?

And to that end, David Gordon White has made endless contributions to the history of yoga, revealing the inaccuracies that are inevitably woven into the fabric of contemporary practice…making it clear that our yoga practice contains preferences. And if he seems occasionally worried, maybe he’s got good reason.

Occasional preferences are benign enough, but sustained historical preferences are hard to locate and treat. And left unchecked…well, they can turn ugly. You all know this. Surely, you’ve strained or pulled a muscle somewhere somehow. Ultimately, it’s not the strain you treat, it’s the habit that got you there. Neutralizing yoga’s history seems at least as difficult as getting one’s body into a state of balance.

And as for David’s question about why it is that we settle with a hodge-podge of philosophies? Or more particularly, why we insist on the Yoga Sutras as a primary text of sorts?…

Still, it seems wonderful and amazing that our yoga practice made of inaccurate, ill-conceived historical fragments and shambles can have such ritual power. It would seem then that an inaccurate practice is not an entirely ineffectual one…

I suppose I’d like to have another chat with David…maybe when the next book comes out. In the meantime I’m curious to see what would happen if people like David White (who like swimming more than yoga), were to design a new yoga. Would it gently bend to either historical or physical preference? Perhaps in David White’s masterful hands, the ubiquitous “downward dog” would become the liminal “downward dog-man”, a new canine shape with an ancient folkloric history?? I’d not mind that. Wouldn’t you like to see scholarship in the flesh…where the plot is messy and mutable?

Yoga in Practice: In and Out of the Labyrinth with Historian David Gordon White, Phd  Excerpts from Article and Intereview By Priya Thomas

ways of thinking – richard feynman

Physicist Richard Feynman wonders about the different ways in which different people think about things.

From the BBC TV series ‘Fun to Imagine’ (1983).

surya namaskar with mantra – shiva rea

essays on the gita – sri aurobindo


“The thought of the Gita is not pure Monism although it sees in one unchanging, pure, eternal Self the foundation of all cosmic existence, nor Mayavada although it speaks of the Maya of the three modes of Prakriti omnipresent in the created world; nor is it qualified Monism although it places in the One his eternal supreme Prakriti manifested in the form of the Jiva and lays most stress on dwelling in God rather than dissolution as the supreme state of spiritual consciousness; nor is it Sankhya although it explains the created world by the double principle of Purusha and Prakriti; nor is it Vaishnava Theism although it presents to us Krishna, who is the Avatara of Vishnu according to the Puranas, as the supreme Deity and allows no essential difference nor any actual superiority of the status of the indefinable relationless Brahman over that of this Lord of beings who is the Master of the universe and the Friend of all creatures. Like the earlier spiritual synthesis of the Upanishads this later synthesis at once spiritual and intellectual avoids naturally every such rigid determination as would injure its universal comprehensiveness. Its aim is precisely the opposite to that of the polemist commentators who found this Scripture established as one of the three highest Vedantic authorities and attempted to turn it into a weapon of offence and defence against other schools and systems. The Gita is not a weapon for dialectical warfare; it is a gate opening on the whole world of spiritual truth and experience and the view it gives us embraces all the provinces of that supreme region. It maps out, but it does not cut up or build walls or hedges to confine our vision.”
― Sri AurobindoEssays on the Gita

vrschikasana with kino macgregor

yoga sutras 1.30-1.32: obstacles and solutions

Obstacles are to be expected: There are a number of predictable obstacles that arise on the inner journey, along with several consequences that grow out of them. While these can be a challenge, there is a certain comfort in knowing that they are a natural, predictable part of the process.

These predictable obstacles are 1) illness, 2) dullness, 3) doubt, 4) negligence, 5) laziness, 6) cravings, 7) misperceptions, 8) failure and 9) instability.

From these obstacles, there are four other consequences that also arise, and these are: 1) mental or physical pain, 2) sadness or dejection, 3) restlessness, shakiness, or anxiety, and 4) irregularities in the exhalation and inhalation of breath.

These four arise because of the other nine. In one sense, it seems that all thirteen of these could be grouped together in one sutra. However, it’s useful in practice to see that these four come as a result of the other nine. If you look at these four closely, you’ll see that these are relatively easy to notice in yourself, compared to the other nine. When you see one of these four, it is a clue to you that something is going on at a subtler level. Then it is easier to see, and to adjust.

These four are good indicators of the subtler obstacles: If you think of these in terms of other people, notice how easy it is to observe when someone is experiencing pain, dejection, restlessness of body, or irregularities of breath. You may not know the underlying reason, but you can sure spot the symptom on the surface. Similarly, we may not know that something is going on inside with ourselves, at the subtler level. Yet, if we observe our own gestures, body language, general level of pain and mood, we can more easily see that something is going on at the subtler level.

Seeing can lead to making changes: Once those surface four lead you to awareness of the subtler obstacles, then it is much easier to take corrective action, to get back on track. At first, this can sound like a lot of intellectual analysis, but it is actually quite simple and extremely useful. You may discover that a simple refocusing back to your practices, your personally chosen philosophy of life, or useful attitudes will weaken those obstacles. Most importantly, it can be a reminder that you have temporarily lost your focus, and to return to one-pointedness.

Excerpts from Article on Yoga Sutras 1.30-1.32 at

manjula’s kitchen

Manjula’s Kitchen has over 250 recipes and counting. Manjula shows you simple, easy steps to cooking authentic Indian Vegetarian Food.


Meditation, an ancient practice of calming the mind, would seem to be incompatible with modern technology, with its emphasis on speed and connectivity. But as more and more Americans have embraced meditation as an antidote to hyper-connected lives, the world of technology has joined the movement. The result is a growing field of meditation tools — from apps and podcasts to timers and online classes — and a growing acknowledgment that, paradoxically, technology can help us to turn inward, still our minds, and shut out the many distractions around us.

You can meditate while sitting in front of your computer on, the website that uses soothing music, meditation timers and video recordings of nature. Watch waves crashing, brooks babbling, snow falling and the sun setting while you enjoy a short, timed meditation — without ever leaving your desk. now also comes in app form so that you can enjoy a little zen on your iPhone.

Available for free on and download for iPhone from the App Store.

Excerpts from article, These Digital Meditation Tools Can Be Your Gateway To A Calmer, More Effective Life By Carolyn Gregoire