The Matrix of Yoga: Teachings, Principles and Questions

The Matrix of Yoga: Teachings, Principles and Questions


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This book offers novice Yoga practitioners a solid foundation on which to begin or build their personal practice. Written by two highly-respected Yoga teachers and scholars in the West-Georg Feuerstein and his wife Brenda Feuerstein-the book will also augment Yoga teacher trainings, and provide current Yoga teachers with an invaluable text to use with or recommend to their new students.
Yoga stands for spiritual discipline, as it was developed in India over thousands of years. This is the focus and purpose of The Matrix of Yoga: to provide as simple an introduction to the authentic teachings of Yoga as possible. While Yoga traditionally included physical postures, this was just one aspect of practice. Mental discipline was counted as far more important. Above all, Yoga was wrapped into an overall spiritual framework. Every single discipline had the purpose of helping the practitioner to grow toward inner (or spiritual) freedom.
This reader-friendly handbook is divided into two sections. In Part 1 the authors establish the substructure of Yoga, with short essays that cover basic principles: the meaning of Yoga, the practice, the types, the deeper commitment and levels. They go on to explain practical applications of Yogic philosophy to all aspects of life, including: diet, working with the mind, livelihood, and the transcendence of ego.
In Part 2, presented in a unique question and answer format, they address 30 of the most important and widely-asked questions by newcomers to this path. Their straightforward and highly-authoritative responses will give any practitioner a more direct understanding of the issues involved in adopting Yoga as a practice, a lifestyle, a spiritual philosophy. Rather than requiring research through numerous and complicated texts to find answers, newcomers will appreciate having wise elders to guide them along the way. Some of the relevant issues include: Can one be a Christian and still practice Yoga? Does Yoga require the need for a guru, and if so how to find one? Is the market appeal of Yoga today an asset or a detriment to the serious practitioner?
Without denying that modern practitioners of the physical postures of Yoga are significantly helped by them, the Feuersteins emphasize the "so much more!” The core power of Yoga-which is in its spiritual and ethical wisdom-remains untapped in so many contemporary approaches. This book seeks to address that lack.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781935387473
Publisher: Hohm Press
Publication date: 10/01/2013
Pages: 128
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.50(d)

About the Author

Georg Feuerstein, Ph.D. (1947-2012), was one of the leading voices in East-West dialogue since the 1960s and one of the foremost writers and teachers on the topics of Yoga and Indian philosophy. He has authored over 50 books, distance learning courses, and a hugely successful Yoga Philosophy Teacher Training Manual. He founded the educational foundation Traditional Yogi Studies to promote the tradition of Yoga based in solid scholarship, and scriptural and oral transmission.

Brenda Feuerstein, Georg's wife, studied Yoga, meditation, Buddhism and Sanskrit, and now serves as the educational and spiritual director of Traditional Yoga Studies, founded by Georg. She is a tutor and mentor for Yoga courses, and also conducts Yoga classes, workshops, retreats and trainings worldwide. She coauthored Green Yoga and Green Dharma with Georg Feuerstein and contributed to his book entitled The Bhagavad-Gita: A New Translation. She is the author of The Yoga-Sutra from a Woman's Perspective.

Read an Excerpt

Yoga evolved on the Indian subcontinent over the course of several millennia. Its physical exercises continue to be developed today, partly in response to the physical limitations and also the mental challenges (notably the lack of concentration) of modern people. The difference between now and then is this: In the past, Yoga was developed by accomplished masters, who had a spiritual interest first and foremost. Today, imaginative Yoga instructors invent physical postures and styles that they think will benefit or excite their students. It is fair to say that by no means all of these new-fangled approaches would have passed the critical eye and wisdom of a master from long ago. What, one wonders, would they have made of Hiphop Yoga, Disco Yoga, Nude Yoga, Nude Hot Yoga, Ganja (Marijuana) Yoga, and so on? Our brains reel.

Since we will use the word spiritual often in this book, let us explain what we mean by it up front. Spiritual suggests a quality that relates to the luminous core of our being, however you may understand it or whatever you may call it. That core goes beyond language and the mind. Yet, it is not religious as commonly understood. Yoga as a whole also ought not to be equated with religion. It developed by trial and error on the part of thousands of practitioners. Its goal is inner freedom-which is freedom from the compulsions of our limited personality; above all, freedom from the habit of self-centeredness. Yoga wants us to become as transparent as glass, or as clear as a mountain lake on a windless day, so that we can be present in the world with wisdom and compassion.

Yoga's goal does not contradict the highest aspirations that a deeply religious and mystically inclined person has. Yet, as we said before, Yoga is not a religion. It is not merely a philosophy either. It is a discipline. This is not a popular word in our time, because we have become accustomed to doing "our own thing” at our own leisure. But Yoga is not someone else's discipline that we have to which we have to conform rigidly. It is essentially self-discipline.

Yoga comes wrapped in certain philosophical ideas or ideals. These may have a Hindu, Buddhist, or Jain flavor. Perhaps, one day, the West will have its own form of spiritual Yoga, which then can be expected to have its own distinct philosophical coloring. Whatever form Yoga will take, it will most certainly not be materialistic.

Table of Contents

Foreword Judith Hanson Lasater ix

Preface xiii

Part 1 Exploring the Tradition of Yoga 1

1 Introducing Yoga 3

2 The Secret of Change 6

3 The Mind: Agent of Change 8

4 Traditional Yoga Today 10

5 The Twelve Steps of Spiritual Recovery 12

6 Suffering Beyond Pain 15

7 Raja-Yoga: The Path of Contemplation 18

8 Hatha-Yoga: The Path of Physical Transformation 24

9 Jnana-Yoga: The Path of Knowledge 27

10 Karma-Yoga: The Path of Ego-Free Action 30

11 Bhakti-Yoga: The Path of the Heart 32

12 Mantra-Yoga: The Path of Potent Sound 34

13 Tantra-Yoga: The Path of Continuity 36

14 The Teacher: Helper on the Threshold 38

15 The Disciple: Pilgrim to Reality 41

16 The Path: The Way to, Spiritual Freedom 43

17 Predictable Obstacles 45

18 Self-Discipline: Necessary Restraint 48

19 Community: Strength in Numbers 51

20 Ego-Transcendence: Beyond I, Me, and Mine 53

21 Wisdom 56

22 Proper Livelihood: Integrity in All Matters 59

23 Diet: You are What You Eat 61

24 Liberation: Spiritual Freedom 63

Part 2 Questions and Answers 65

Prelude 67

1 I am a Christian 67

2 I am strongly drawn to Hinduism 68

3 Where can I find a guru? 69

4 Why do you write Yoga with a capital Y? 69

5 My partner has no interest in Yoga 70

6 I have a very busy life 70

7 I like meat 70

8 When I read Yoga texts 71

9 Sometimes I just don t have the time, which makes me feel very guilty 71

10 My mind is racing 72

11 I think that Yoga is self-hypnosis 72

12 My problem is: I easily fall of the wagon 73

13 There are many things I don't like about my guru 73

14 I am an atheist 75

15 Do I really need a guru? 75

16 I find living liberation difficult to understand 76

17 Some forms of Yoga seem to accept a belief in God 77

18 If the yogis are so realistic 78

19 Is it okay to charge for Yoga instruction? 78

20 I was shocked to see women dressed in rather skimpy and provocative outfits 79

21 The Yoga studio that I normally go to is forever marketing Yoga products 80

22 I find it disturbing that so many studios play music during class 80

23 I used to enjoy Partner Yoga 81

24 Where can I find spiritually based Yoga classes? 81

25 Where in India should I go to learn Yoga properly? 82

26 Have you any additional comments about Yoga's role in creating a healthier environment? 83

27 I heard in a seminar that the ego must be killed before enlightenment can happen. Is this true? 84

28 Why is it that we hear a lot about male Yoga teachers 84

29 How can I make posture practice a spiritual affair? 85

30 I have a Buddhist meditation practice and also do Hatha-Yoga postures occasionally 85

Appendixes 87

Appendix A A Guide to Sanskrit Pronunciation 89

Appendix B What to Read and Study Next? 90

Select Bibliography 95

Essential Sanskrit Glossary 99

Index 109

About the Authors 127

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