Yoga and Cult Dynamics

Someone came into Heartwood Yoga Institute the other day for a tour and to get information on our yoga teacher training program. After the interview she heaved a big sigh and said, “You know, I went to another school and came close to signing up, but it just didn’t feel right. I felt like I was being encouraged to join the “Cult of Anna” (name changed out of respect to other schools and their directors). This potential student said the school she had visited adamantly proclaimed that only Anna could teach her authentic yoga as she happened to be the only true teacher in the area and beyond. Anna was made out to have almost superhuman powers with credentials that were so embellished they seemed impossible for her age.  Everyone who met or worked with Anna was in awe, not the least of whom was Anna herself. Anna was publishing books (self-published and promoted) and podcasting and healing the hearts and souls of all those who signed up for her programs. The student was told that if she signed up for training, Anna would also teach her important subjects beyond yoga, including life coaching and nutrition and other holistic concepts that could be integrated with yoga to make her an amazing teacher and therapist too.

Something about the self-proclaimed greatness and intensity of Anna’s followers didn’t sit right with this woman. “Isn’t it true that a yoga program should be teaching yoga and not all that other stuff? Isn’t it true that yoga does the healing, and not the leader of a course? And isn’t there more to becoming a yoga therapist than taking a basic yoga training course?”

My office staff just smiled at her inquiries, noncommittedly, and offered the woman information regarding our philosophy and program focus. Not only is the office staff at Heartwood trained in yoga and therefore careful not to pass judgement or try to influence people with a hard sell, but they have also attended the Heartwood Yoga for Mental Health concentrations, where cult dynamics is explored, and they understand the intricacies and varied levels of delusion this kind of adoration for a teacher or program can develop. Shifting the beliefs of anyone under the influence of cult dynamics wasn’t going to happen by blowing a big raspberry or naysaying, and it certainly wouldn’t help to proclaim you are the better solution to their quest.

Where does this loyalty to a yoga teacher begin? Often, a guru or yoga teacher begins their work with humility and best intentions, following their dharma to teach. But something happens when results are progressively positive and students start attributing their changed lives to the wisdom of the leader. Flattery and devotion develops, which certainly makes a teacher feel good at their job. As the teacher is giving lessons about non-attachment to identity and how healing comes from within, they are, at the same time, starting to believe their own story of just how good they are at helping people understand and embrace the power of yoga.  They start to identity with the exalted teacher identity thrust upon them by circumstance. Combine the expanding ego with the fact that a reputation for profound teaching does in fact increase revenue and reputation, and all the seeds of a cult dynamic have been planted. It is only a matter of time until this belief that you are more special than others takes root and blooms.

The yoga sutras warn us of this – how we must practice nonattachment to the fruits of our actions as well as nonattachment to our own desire to be more enlightened. But what we know theoretically, and what we recognize is happening in our subconscious, are very different realities.

The history of yoga in the West is filled with evidence of cult dynamics.  The very definition of a cult is a small group of very devoted supporters or fans for a person or non-mainstream ideology. Studies have revealed common denominators of why certain leaders are successful in rising to the top in all manner of groups, from political or cultural cults that we may not consider traditional cults (Check out articles on the cult of Trump or how the Ku Klux Clan is considered a cult) to religious or spiritual cults (examples to follow). The question to ask is, “What causes people to surrender themselves to others’ beliefs, suggestions and guidance unconditionally?”

People join cults because they’re looking for love and acceptance and because they want answers to the personal problems in their lives. When a magnetic person comes along with problem-solving strategies who also creates an environment of caring and community, many people are ready to give unto them whatever it takes to be included in their sphere. There is, of course, more to cult dynamics than that, but certain elements of cult mentality can be pinpointed.

  • Cults provide a feeling of comfort and inclusion for those who are uncomfortable and feel excluded from life or others.
  • People with low self-esteem are usually easily persuaded by someone with confidence who seems in charge. They want to turn over the challenge of changing their lives to anyone else.
  • New recruits are “love bombed” – meaning they are showered with acceptance and promises of how life will be so much better once they are in the community and are taught to adapt their thinking to align with the taught mentality.
  • Most people susceptible to cults are women (as studies show) and they are often people who have become disillusioned with traditional religion and therefore they are open to a new spiritual path or leader. They’ve tried other paths and are open to anything new they think might be the answer to their dissatisfaction.
  • The leader or community sells a certain logic that seems to make sense. The attitude is, “we know what you need and how the world works, and if you think like us, you too will have insight and find the answers you need.”  And this is followed by testimonials or evidence of their success.

The reasons people turn to yoga often, unfortunately, align with these bullet points. While we can all see the danger of cult dynamics in extreme ashrams and communities that slip into measurable abuse, such as sexual misconduct, controlling the money or personal choices of members and in some cases, even death pacts, we are less inclined to see behavior as “cult-like” when we are in the glow of acceptance and feel positive changes in our lives. When the manipulation of our thinking grows over time hidden behind a veil of habits that we perceive as healthy (like yoga) we fail to make a distinction between the leadership and the practice. And even if all these definitions of cult align, is it bad if it works and makes us healthier and happier? Isn’t a negative definition of the word “cult” the problem rather than the reality?

Yoga does teach us that “modification of the mind is yoga (1.2)”, and cult dynamics certainly is a modification of the mind, good or bad. But yoga also teaches us to shed our false identities and our cultural conditioning, to listen to our inner voice, and to surrender to our challenges and accept them as a karmic lesson rather than something we need outside help to conquer. This means that seeking external answers to our problems, answers that can only come through the guru or cult leader’s blessing, wisdom or attention, is the antithesis of an authentic yoga practice. The only real threat is when a yoga teacher passing on knowledge does so with inference that results can be attributed to their superiority as a mentor, rather than from the system of wholeness that is yoga. Yoga teaches us that a teacher is needed but not the answer.

Sometimes, cult dynamics form when interpretation of the teachings hint that we must trust the process (rather than our instincts) and that suffering is a part of purification. This leads a student to accept that abuse from a leader is a test of our discipline or devotion rather than what it is, abuse. When a student assumes the leader is further along the path than the student and therefore their methods have some purpose we can’t see or understand and should never question, we can develop a mindset that invites the potential for ego and opportunity to skew the healthy dynamic between a student and leader.

A little research reveals a common pattern of abuse and cult dynamics from spiritual leaders and all of us who love yoga should take note and learn from history. Netflix documentaries, such as Bikram, Yogi, Guru, Predator,  or Wild, Wild Country, about Indian guru Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh point out huge abuses that seemed to develop with power.

A few insightful books I have found fascinating about yoga and cult dynamics that I encourage anyone who is inclined to adore certain yoga star teachers to read, includes:

Practice and All is Coming, Abuse, Cult Dynamics and Healing in Yoga and Beyond by Mathew Remski, an expose about Patabi Jois and Ashtanga Yoga.

Premka, White Bird in a Golden Cage. My Life with Yoga Bhajan by Pamela Saharah Dyson, a memoir about abuse and delusion in becoming the 2nd hand man to the leader of Kundalini in the West.

Into the Heart of Yoga, One Woman’s Journey by Danna Faulds, a memoir of the rise and fall of Kripalu as an ashram under the leadership of Amarit Desai and the school’s transformation to a more corporate yoga institution without a guru in the interest of following the teachings of yoga without hypocrisy.

But do these extreme cases have anything to teach us about a local yoga teacher who has a huge ego and likes to sell their services by pushing a story that they are the one and only brilliant mentor who will be highly effective at the job of teaching them self-awareness? What harm is there is loving your yoga teacher? What about all those lovely video clips on Facebook where people insist that their lives were changed thanks to this wonderful teacher so we should sign up today? Are we being naive and susceptible to marketing if we feel inspired by success stories designed to encourage us to sign up if we benefit from the experience?

I believe the best way to avoid slipping into a cult mentality and falling for a leader’s personification or a story rather than reality is to see things clearly, and the best way to do that is to educate yourself – both in what yoga actually teaches and by learning what a cult dynamic looks and feels like. (Reading the books recommended here is a great start to understanding how yoga training can sometimes fall into unhealthy patterns.)

Having a charismatic leader is wonderful. Such a person keeps us engaged and inspired and holds our attention when we might otherwise wander off the path. But when your healing or your education is attributed to the person teaching rather than the process of yoga, it is time to pause and take a step back. We just need to keep things in perspective – both our potential for healing and the importance of whomever is leading the way.

No one can take credit for your spiritual growth or enlightenment. That is a personal journey. A good teacher can help you see the path, but you must walk it yourself. The true meaning of the wisdom teachings of yoga will vary depending on each individual’s interpretation and a strong mentor knows this and invites you to question their interpretations and world view  as you form your own. Those trying to convince you that they are going to be the solution to your problems and that they have the answers you need to be whole, are likely not as far along the spiritual path as they make out.  After all, humility is the first and strongest sign of someone who understands the deepest dimensions of yoga.

Respect is one thing. Adoration and unwavering devotion for a teacher is another. Like all things in yoga, we must maintain a healthy balance.

Ginny Shaddock is an IAYT Yoga therapist and ERYT-500 Yoga teacher. She teaches Yoga for Mental Health as well as Cult Dynamics and Yoga in the 800 hour Yoga Therapy Certification Program at Heartwood Yoga Institute.

The Dilemma of Poor Yoga Training

Recently, I’ve had several students join Heartwood to repeat their 200-hour training after taking a certification program elsewhere. Repeating a program and paying tuition to a second school is an expensive choice to make, but one they felt was necessary. A few students have also signed up for our advanced 300-hour training, but not without first voicing concerns and expressing worry that their prerequisite foundational education (200-hour training) was inadequate.

“I just didn’t learn anything,” or “I didn’t know enough at the end to teach anyone anything,” they lament.  They claim they wasted time and money; sorry they didn’t seek out a more comprehensive program with qualified mentors from the beginning. Often the problem was that they selected a program because it was convenient or inexpensive or they couldn’t resist a hard sell from their local yoga school. They began the journey unaware of just how involved the subject of yoga would turn out to be or what other options they could have pursued. The pandemic provided new provisions to the rules of certification that opened the doorway to many fly-by-night programs flooding the ranks with “certified” yoga teachers who are inadequately prepared to mentor others. These programs, sometimes only consisting of prerecorded content and/or huge numbers of participants with little supervision and little or no actual mentorship, were a disservice to individuals who wanted to learn yoga, but also a disservice to yoga itself. It will take years for the ripple effect of unqualified teachers misrepresenting yoga to subside, if ever.

That said, the more you know about yoga, the more you realize you don’t know, and awareness of how expansive yoga is can be overwhelming. The students who came to me participated in a 200-hour program with best intentions, not expecting to be left with a nagging sensation that there had to be more to the practice than what was offered. This left them feeling inauthentic, but luckily their desire to learn more about yoga was still intact.

I can’t help but admire a student who is repeating their training or coming in with humility admitting they have a bit of catching up to do. Such is the act of someone who cares and wants to be the best yogi and teacher they can be. The student’s willingness to take a step backwards and start over is the best sign I know that a remarkable yogi is in the making, because their journey is not about ego or career goals.

In cases like this I always want to acknowledge the students’ earnest desire to learn, reminding them that moving forward is much more important than looking backwards. No good comes from criticizing or being frustrated with whatever program didn’t prepare you as you had hoped. Yes, it is annoying when people take your money for a quick sell and it can be disheartening to see so many people enter programs, do the work, and come out with a watered down, superficial understanding of the practice. But yoga teaches us that no effort is really wasted, and process is far more important than measurable achievement, so perhaps the long, winding journey they took, which included the cumbersome detour of participation in a less authentic program, will be important to their deeper understanding of yoga in the end.

One thing is for sure: these disappointed students became aware of what yoga isn’t, and that can be valuable information. One of the yoga sutras (1:14 – Sa Tu Dirgha Kala Nairantary Satkarasevito Drdhabhumih) says that yoga takes a long time, over many years, in small incremental doses, (practice with all earnestness) to work. Nowhere in the yoga sutras does it say that in 200 hours you will be enlightened and know everything you need to know. Our arrogance in believing that we will be qualified to lead others and have all the information we might need about yoga after an RYS-200 program, even a wonderfully comprehensive one, is rather silly.

Many people with inadequate training don’t care about the deeper dimensions of yoga as long as they can claim to be certified and can begin the work of teaching or “selling yoga classes.” People don’t know what they don’t know, and sadly, their evolution halts due to false confidence, misinformation, or the assumption that they have achieved their goal of becoming a yoga teacher because they have the credential to prove it. They then pass on this innocent ignorance to their students with claims that all that other stuff they don’t know or teach is unnecessary for practitioners today. They’ve done fine without the additional information and yoga works for them, so their students will do fine too.

Yoga has evolved and developed over thousands of years, and the system of wholeness which is the real yoga is carefully outlined in both the Bhagavad Gita and the yoga sutras. Asana, the physical practice, is only mentioned in 2% of the 196 Patanjali sutra teachings. So, when a program puts postures in a position of such importance, or a teacher claims that classic yoga is outdated and the practice is overdue to evolve and change to better conform to the needs of contemporary society, they are, in effect, claiming that one can omit 98% of yoga’s core to make the practice more palatable for our fast-paced, goal-oriented society. That huge an adjustment isn’t evolution so much as a total reinvention, one where everything that defines authentic yoga is being ignored or tossed out to make the practice appealing to instant gratification-oriented people today. One can argue that old school yoga is exactly what our contemporary practitioners need most, and that our desire to make the practice more commercially appealing and “Westernized” is proof of how desperately we need the personal discipline and patience that classical yoga delivers.

Yoga is not a religion, exercise, or means of entertainment. Yoga is a system to open one’s heart and mind to bring us back to wholeness and connect with our spirituality. The yoga sutras teach us how to explore our way of thinking and interacting with the world to get past our obstacles, which are defined as Kleshas: ego, attachment, diversions, fears, and ignorance. The pursuit of pleasure and desire for quick satisfaction can be powerful motivation for wanting to make yoga more palatable and contemporary. Teachers who have not taken time to contemplate and understand the teachings lead the charge in professing how and why old school yoga studies are obsolete, which contributes to a classic case of the blind leading the blind.

Let me point out that I see the value of making the practice palatable and fun, for that is a great way to bring new practitioners to the altar of yoga. But when spiritual entertainment is the goal, rather than the means to invite people to move beyond initial entertainment to awaken one’s spiritual core, then the potential of yoga falls short.

“1.1 -Atha Yoganusasanam” means now the exposition of yoga is being made.

This, the first sutra, reminds us that every day, every hour, every moment we must begin again, leaving behind our attachments, our assumptions, what we think we know, our conditioning and our expectations. We must nurture our beginner’s mind and be open to new personal insight and deeper understanding as we explore our own interpretation of the teachings as they relate to our ever-expanding life experience. Yoga has withstood thousands of years of people either honoring or questioning the teachings as well as the practice. It has been a mainstay spiritual endeavor not just for Vedic cultures and our contemporary society, but for many, many generations in between, in India and on different continents. 

Some say, “people change and so too must yoga,” but most historians and philosophers will point out that people really don’t change. The environment we live in may change, but we are all, at the core, still creatures of instinct, conditioning, and karma, motivated by a drive to be loved, to love and to live our purpose. Contemporary practitioners aren’t the only ones who’ve been impatient with the teachings. Mankind has always balked at the hard work involved with true spiritual growth. There is even a sutra referencing this, (2.1 Tapah Svadhyayesvara Pranidhanani Kriya Yogah) that warns us that purification is going to be difficult and painful, so this path is not for the lazy or weak of heart.

Yoga’s classic teachings help us connect to our best nature, teaching us step by step how to awaken the witness and see life more honestly.  Self-love, healing, compassion, and tolerance is an inevitable result. These outcomes are what everyone is trying to sell today, so perhaps instead of trying to reinvent the wheel, we should all go back to Yoga’s roots and start our yoga education over from the beginning, just as those brave students have done by registering for our 200-hour YTT program, despite the fact that they have a piece of paper claiming they are certified from an online program already.

What would be easier, of course, would be for students to do research before taking an RYS-200 program to be sure that all 8 limbs will be addressed with equal importance and a sense of the sacred. One on one interaction with a teacher is not just nice, but vital. The discussions, questions and answers, and connections formed through personal interaction with a mentor is the only way to develop a heart knowing, rather than an intellectual understanding. The sutra (1:26 Sa Purvesam Api guruh Kalenanavacchedat) tells us we all need a teacher or guru for guidance, and the role of this teacher is to build our relationship with the ultimate teacher; the transcendent essence within us.   

At Heartwood, we try to make graduations from our 200-hour program special, as we believe completing the program is a wonderful, personal achievement. But being certified is not the crowning glory of yoga education. Formal training, be it a 200, 300 or yoga therapy program, is just the doorway into a lifetime of more poignant, insightful understanding about life, self and yoga.  

Yoga is so much more than physical practices we can memorize and then regurgitate to others, and any quality program will make that ultimately clear. So, if your yoga education so far hasn’t gone deep enough, chalk it up to a karmic test of your fortitude as a student. Put ego aside, proceed with humility and beginner’s mind, and do what it takes to get on the right path.  

How to Learn the Yoga Sutras

In my early years as a Western born and bred yoga teacher, I felt somewhat intimidated by what I viewed as the mystical, unfamiliar, Indian philosophy element of yoga. I sincerely wanted to understand the teachings and so I read a multitude of books, sat through lectures, and pursued the spiritual view of yoga with best intent. Still, my understanding was surface level at best. I believed Eastern philosophy was a “big subject” and therefore assumed someone more advanced than I was necessary to capture and explain the wisdom, and so I hired others who claimed to have a grasp on the concepts to teach the philosophy portion of yoga teacher training at my school. The problem was, while I hired several different individuals to cover this competency, there still wasn’t clarification for me or my students, and we were often left more confused than when we began. These philosophy teachers did indeed explain the meaning of certain concepts, such as the Yamas and Niyamas, but something was definitely missing. Memorization and definitions just failed to transfer the feeling of spirituality that I believed would be a part of deeper knowledge. I knew the teachings were meant to aid transformation and spiritual development, but the way they were being presented continued to portray the meaning in a theoretical way rather than something more sacred. Yes, the conversations about the Yamas and Niyamas were impactful, but I couldn’t help but be aware that our humanity kept us slipping backwards when we weren’t in that yoga frame of mind. The philosophy teachers I employed delivered a cohesive lecture on how a yogi should interact with the world, but I would occasionally look at their Facebook posts and couldn’t help but wonder if they knew this stuff so well, why they didn’t seem to “live” the philosophy in ways that honored one’s true potential as a yogi.  

I have always believed that sometimes, if you want something done right, you just may have to do it yourself. So, I determined that if I wanted this subject taught differently, I would have to be the philosophy teacher at Heartwood. The fact that I was still quite unsure of how all the information integrated was a moot point. I would figure it out, not just for my benefit, but for all the students yet to come. So, I plunged into yoga philosophy for a period of five years or so before I felt even the initial inklings of competency. I continued to teach what I knew, but I also knew I needed to know more.  I read books, listened to famous gurus, and took online classes with schools I admired and trusted. I gained an academic view from college level courses that combined historical & cultural explanations with intended meaning and tried to combine that with spiritual approaches that included meditating on the teachings and humbly listening to older, more experienced teachers with authentic ties to Indian culture in some odd hope that just being in a guru’s presence would bring insight because being Indian makes a teacher more authentic. (Unfortunately, that isn’t the case.)

All this seeking certainly gave me information to share. I knew the yoga sutras by number, could share the story and themes of the Bhagavad Gita, and had broken down the important concepts of the 13 primary Upanishads. But what forced me to deepen my understanding was less my studies and more a result of teaching yoga philosophy to others. To teach is to learn and each time I sat with a circle of students, their inquiries forced me to question the meaning and intention of each sutra. As I struggled to find the words to explain what was really a felt sense of meaning, I progressively deepened my relationship with a worldview that provided a new understanding of life, the mind, and our place in the world. Devotion to the teachings doesn’t come from blind faith or being enamored with the idea of Eastern studies. That is more infatuation with Indian concepts. I found real life application and questioning the yoga sutras, only to find their wisdom impossible to deny, set the stage for embracing them earnestly.

Still, I found it impossible to transfer a sense of the sacred to newer yoga students in the 40 hours allocated to philosophy and history in a yoga teacher training course. I did my best to set a great foundation for my students and many have proclaimed that the philosophy portions of YTT have changed their worlds. But I also was aware that my lectures, however well-intentioned and heartfelt, had only opened the doorway to each individual’s relationship with these teachings. The possibility that my mostly-American yoga students would walk through that yoga door and go on their own intimate journey with the teachings seemed remote. People are just too busy in modern society to wander into the forest for 14 years to meditate and contemplate the teachings as they did in ancient times. In the modern world, our short attention span and determination to have measurable outcomes to validate our investment of time and energy into anything has us wanting to quickly mark a subject as complete so we can move on to learning more stuff.

How could I possibly teach my yoga students, (all of whom I respect and believe to be well intentioned seekers) to do more than sit and listen to my lectures as one more necessary endeavor or “assignment” they had to do to become certified so they could lead others along the path? How could I awaken their humility, so they understood that what they believe they had grasped wasn’t true knowledge, but only intellectual understanding? Were my students worthy of teaching others if their relationship with the yoga sutras was little more than memorizing the meaning to package up and pass the information on, just as they planned to apply the information about alignment or sequencing to future classes?

I don’t mean to sound sarcastic, but I know what a barrier the practical mindset creates for new yogis. I commonly get asked, “How do I use this when I’m teaching?” as if all the information they receive in YTT is designed to be utilitarian in their career. I thought the same way when I was a newer yoga teacher, dreaming of a fulfilling career helping others as I aspired to share the amazing practice that I loved.

I was lucky. The dissatisfaction I felt over the hired teachers’ outcomes and a nagging need “to know” forced me on a personal journey of yoga philosophy far beyond what I ever had use for as a teacher or YTT trainer.  I became a believer in the deeper dimensions of yoga beyond the intellect, and the quest to know became a personal practice rather than part of my career skillset. As I came to rest in the teachings and develop a richer, profound heart knowing, I began wrestling with the problem of how to teach philosophy in a way that encourages students to channel their energies and tackle the obstacles standing in the way in respect to our shorter attention spans and the belief that we must have measurable utility for anything we bother to devote time to.

Encouraging students to sit with the teachings was of foremost importance. So, I began gifting my students with a beautiful journal from India, encouraging my students to meditate on the sutras not only through sitting in stillness, but through writing. I created dozens of journaling prompts which I hoped would instigate an internal conversation with self, allowing the writer to apply the concepts of the yoga sutras to their own life experience. I next added a broken bowl project ceremony to my training where students would hopefully reflect on their lives in the breaking of a bowl, and then create art from reconstructing the shattered pieces. This was followed by intention setting (which in my YTT is always a review of the yoga philosophy teachings as they can be applied to bringing us back to wholeness) so the broken bowl art project served as a symbolic opportunity to see the sutras’ value in the complex story of our own lives.

But the technique I have loved most of all has been a project I designed for my advanced 300 students: to begin a yoga sutra art journal. While very few of them finish the project to its full potential (my art journal took over three years to complete and I’ve recently begun revisiting each page and adding to it, so my journal will never be done) my students must do at least 10 pages to graduate, which invites them to spend a bit more time with at least ten of the individual sutras as a sampling of what it is to “sit with” a teaching and be absorbed with finding the meaning for a longer period. The art journal is a way of teaching process, not production.

Art journaling is the process of layering. You begin by putting gesso on a page to make paper into a canvas. When that dries, you cover the page with color or inks. That too must dry before you add additional paint with stencils, leaves or other textured items, such as mandalas or other designs. This layer must dry before you can add markers, text, Sanskrit, pictures, or anything else. I won’t get into the details and techniques of art journaling here but to say that to complete a page in your art journal requires revisiting the page 8 or more times if you are not just rushing through the process without thought. And each time the artist returns to a page, they read and consider the meaning of the sutra to contemplate how they might visually capture the essence on the page. This quiet work, striving to capture the meaning of the sutra as per your own interpretation, is a meditation of its own.  And with each page demanding continued thought and time, it invites the artist to sit with the teaching much longer than they might without the project to keep them engaged. Even the small joy that comes from watching the visual interpretation take shape becomes inspiration to keep with the page – and as result, the sutra.

Students do have to get past any issues they have with attachment – such as the avoidance syndrome that comes from not feeling good at art or wanting perfection on the page. Detaching from any desire to create beautiful art is important if they want to actually get lost in discovery and honoring the sutra. I myself am often intimidated by art and don’t feel gifted when it comes to painting or drawing, and yet, I’ve learned that creativity can be a tantric endeavor, and working on my sutra journal isn’t about art at all and is actually about sitting with the teachings and using creativity to see the sutra in a new way. My finished art journal sparks reflection and meditation and I use it as a teaching tool as well, often putting the colorful visual pages on an altar to create ambiance and spark curiosity for sutra discussions.

Creating a yoga sutra art journal is a big commitment, and not for everyone. Doing so takes time and materials and most of all, patience. But for those who respond to a more entertaining, engaging act of study, this project can be a powerful instrument for learning and developing a deep relationship with the wisdom of yoga. Just as mantras or mudras and other forms of tantra can be an instrument for “crossing over” to deeper dimensions of spirituality, so too can the yoga sutra art journal take you to a new level of understanding.

Ginny Shaddock is the owner and spiritual teacher at Heartwood Yoga Institute. She is an ERYT-500 Yoga Teacher and C-IAYT Yoga Therapist.

Our latest podcast!

14 – The Five Koshas and Yoga Therapy Yoga Perspectives

In this episode, Denver Clark, ERYT-500 and IAYT Yoga Therapist, discusses the five Koshas and how they can be integrated into yoga classes and yoga therapy sessions. She offers theory and practice insight as well as exercises that can be integrated with asana to increase a student's awareness and open channels of understanding. 
  1. 14 – The Five Koshas and Yoga Therapy
  2. 013: Ahimsa and the Gunas
  3. 012: How to Learn the Yoga Sutras
  4. 011 – Yoga is not diet culture
  5. 010 – Setting Boundaries