Heart of Yoga Notes

Okay, it is official, this “Book Club” is actually a deep delving into the concepts of the beautiful book, Heart of Yoga by TKV Desikachar.  It’s not the completion but the experience and process!  The yogins who came are in for the long hall.  If you were present today–bless you for your clarity and courage to step into this in depth study of yoga.  If you are planning to come, COME!  We are creating a community of “like minded folks” based on this incredible pithy book.

One of the topics was, what is yoga:

“Sustained Joy for Me”

“Breath centered”


“Another path to God and Truth…Another way up the mountain”

“Fidelity to the self”

Juicy Huh?

We wallowed in the quotes from page 6 and 7.  Check them out.

We have homework:

1)  Read the introduction through to page 17.

2)  Come up with a real example for each of the following.

a)  Raga

b)  Dvesa

c)  Abhinivaesa

d)  Asmita

(Sorry, I don’t know how to put in the sanskrit diacritical marks on the words)

Look, we are learning some Sanskrit too.

I am so grateful for this opportunity to experience this book another time.  Wisdom is so amazing.

7 replies
  1. alyson
    alyson says:

    Can you make it tomorrow Maureen? Please come. One of our yogini’s this morning mentioned that Friday was not good for her. If you have a suggestion of another day and time we do for July, we’d love to hear!

  2. Monica
    Monica says:

    We have 3 new folks who just jumped into this Friday afternoon amazingness. We checked in and saw yoga in all our discussions! This week we came up with examples of raga, dvesa, abhinivesa, and asmita. The examples included why a family cut the end of their holiday ham off every year…great story–worth repeating! We also touched on the 7 yajna model (how it saved my daughter’s life) and how to approach bhavana. These lovely tools are helping one member to manifest a boyfriend!
    Our homework this week will be to read through Chapter 6 to page 69. We will be discussing Purusa and Prakriti. Boy did our time fly. All you yogins rock! This is an open forum. Come check out the true “Heart of Yoga”

  3. Monica
    Monica says:

    June 21st, Yoga Friday was the “mother and father” of yoga days! Summer Solstice 2013 and Sri TKV Desikachar’s 75th birthday and Heart of Yoga book club converged…to be followed by a special Sun Salutations class taught by our lovely Clare. Some of us started at 6AM with a lovely Gayatri Mantra theme sadhana (practice) and chanted this powerful mantra for enlightenment and clarity, 108 times. What a way to start the day. I believe the yogins in the room agreed that this was our first annual morning Summer Solstice tradition. Oh yes, next year will be even more special with practicing it outside in the morning sun (just like the NYC Timesquare yoga extravaganza).

    With all this clarity and enlightenment, then Pam, one of our lovely book club members, shared with us essential oils, Transformation and Clarity with us. After annointing ourselves and chanting the Gayatri Mantra off we went. Thanks Pam!

    Asked which quotes from our reading that touched us most this week, these lit our open minds and hearts to discussion. I recommend that you read them again for reminders of the lively discussions that followed each. If you are a “highlighter type”, you may even want to do your number on these–they are juicy!:

    1) Page 26 “Yoga…positive…negative”
    2) Page 27 “…be able to come down…be able to come back…”
    3) Chapter 5 on counterposes…”vary your practice…”
    4) Page 40 “…rest…transition…feel the effects…if you need a rest, take it…” Wow, permission to rest without guilt! (FYI, it’s Restorative Yoga week next week–Come practice this profound and subtle tool)
    5) Page 26 “Vinyasa Krama…” This is an important concept in yoga and in life.

    We touched on Samkhya philosophy. This is an essential model in yoga. This discussion provoked thought in the differences between Purusa and Prakriti. It led into the ksema (review) of avidya and how our mind is the lense. If our lense is “avidya-ized”, will we be able to see and act clearly? Purusa is the seer and only sees through the lense of the mind. Are you following all this? This is good stuff!

    So…Patanjali’s Sutras describes tools to help us to see more clearly. This whole system is Kriya Yoga. (“kr” = to do) This is the essence of the human endeavor. Our homework this next week is to understand the conquest of avidya. There are 3 sanskrit words: tapas, svadhyaya, and isvarapranidhana. Get to know these words and see if you can relate them to your life–choose an example you would feel comfortable sharing. One of the loveliness’ of this Sangha, is that we explore how yoga applies to our everyday life. How profound to know that the yoga on our mat translates and is the sadhana of life! This shibbity is so juicy and luscious and good. I eat this stuff up!

    Come join us next week!

    Oh, BTW, if you are feeling “gosh, I missed this whole month!” Have no fear we are continuing on Fridays at 4 (sorry Jeanne and Denise, we haven’t figured out another day yet <3). We will be skipping the first 2 Fridays in July because Mon had previous plans (right?) We will resume in July on the 19th after next week. There will be homework! ;)


  4. Monica
    Monica says:

    It’s a sweltering day–a perfect day to take off our shoes and settle into our bolsters either sitting or lying with our books. Another day of lovely discussions and life stories of human endeavors–each situation unique.
    “…that which was impossible becomes possible; that which was unattainable become attainable; that which was invisible can be seen.” Is this not HOPE and gives FAITH?
    Yoga is practicing kindness, honesty and fairness…this led to a discussion of a great read MOLECULES OF EMOTION by Candace Pert. How emotions can change the molecular structure of our very being. Remember the movie, WHAT THE BLEEP? Yoga is everywhere!

    We then reviewed and gave luscious examples of Avidya Fests and how Kriya Yoga, the yoga of action, works. Do something different, reflect, and then let go of the results and let the magic happen–you do not have to make the results–the magic happens when you do your work–at the speed of nature. Then the term “punctuated equilibrium” came up (thanks Mollie) as another term for the evolution of man. This is the one-step-at-a-time-and-then practice model. Simple words for an incredible powerful process.

    Our next meeting day is Friday, July 19th, from 4:10-5:00. Read through Chapter 8, “The Things That Darken the Heart”. ooooh, the dark stuff. Come with 2 concepts or quotes that really speak to you.

    Enjoy the read and become aware of the Avidya Fests around you.

  5. Monica
    Monica says:

    Friday was wonderful. Nancy and Pam and I were sharing experiences and seeing Bhavana results happening. We again talked Kriya Yoga–the yoga of change. “Yoga is both the movement toward and the arrival at a point”. We take the step of doing something different that is healthy for us…an inner cleansing is tapas. We then reflect on our actions, svadyaya. It is learning more of who we are, where we are… and then we practice ishvarapranidhana ( “to yield humbly to God” is the literal translation–staying out of the results). Pam has watched the complete cycle of Kriya Yoga in her last vacation. Quite a story!

    Yoga also contends that everything is in flux. The only thing that is not in flux or changing is PURUSA. “We will not see things tomorrow in the same way that we saw them today. This concept is called PARINAMAVADA.” Something that we may think is wonderful and beautiful may seem different tomorrow. This concept encourages me to do my daily practice to avoid the continued accumulation of avidya. The clearer that I can see, the closer I can communicate with my PURUSA. How about you?

    See you next Friday!
    As you can see, we got through one page into Chapter 8! We want to continue the discussion on this rich chapter next Friday.

    Next Friday will be our last book club meeting on HOY. We are far from finishing the book! The original plan was to meet for one month and here we are almost 2 months into it. This is exciting. This reaffirms that this book is a reference and a joy that keeps on giving.

    I encourage you all to savor each sentence. We will be doing book reports on Heart of Yoga for the Yoga Teacher Training–Fertile Ground if you would like to continue this discussion with your Sangha. How was that for a plug for the YTT?

  6. Monica
    Monica says:

    Hey Yogins,
    Friday, the 26th was our last HOY meeting–not because we are finished with the book (we will never be finished!) it is time for Monica to prepare for the Yoga Teacher Training that is starting in September! The 6 of us are still focusing on Chapter 8–the “dark” chapter.
    We discussed the Samkhya philosophy’s never changing Purusa and how it is free of judgment. In Prakriti, sometimes it whirs us into an energetic blender. We know we are making headway when we can actually admit there is a blender– finding ourselves outside the blender is the first step to staying out of it.

    We had discussions about the following statements as well:

    page 87 “…someone who is searching for clarity becomes sensitive because the eyes must be open, even if what they see is sometimes very unpleasant”

    page 87 “A little flexibility always reduces dukha.” physically, mentally, and emotionally.

    Last but not least, the discussion of “isvarapranidhana”, the letting go of the desire for the fruits of the actions. If we do something different with all of our intent, the outcome is what it is and it may be better than what we had ever imagined.

    These “light” discussions were meaty and satisfying. To be able to share them in each one of you was spreading and multiplying the moments of positive resonance. Thank you all. I so look forward to continuance and meaning in future studies. Please join me for 9 months in the “Yoga Teacher Training”–this is an in depth study if you want to teach or not–yogins’ choice. Breathe.


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