Yoga Garden SF  |  Core Philosophy  |  Summer 2016

August Immersion: Aug 16-21, 2016
Summer Extended: Jul 9-10, Aug 6-7, Sep 10-11

Welcome to Core Philosophy! This course focuses on the integration of embodied practice with self-inquiry and the study of the core texts of the yoga traditions. In this philosophy and practice intensive, we’ll look closely at two primary root texts of modern yoga: Patañjali’s Yoga Sutra and Svatmarama’s Haṭha Yoga Pradīpika. We will weave between historical context, close reading and discussion, and embodied practice.

These two texts teach a full range of yoga practice, including ethics, meditation, mindfulness, and personal inquiry; āsanaprānāyāma, energetic cultivation, and the awakening of the feminine embodied force called kuṇḍalinī. Exploring the roots of Haṭha Yoga in Tantra, we will also look briefly at an accessible tantric source text, Kṣemarāja’s Pratyabhijña-hṛdāyam.

This webpage is where I will link to handouts, slides, notes, and other materials we use, as well as the audio recordings I make of classes.

To register for either course, use the links above.

  • The path of Classical Yoga, including meditation and embodied inquiry.
  • In-depth engagement with Patañjali’s 8-Limb model.
  • The Tantric roots of Haṭha Yoga, with emphasis on the beautiful Śaiva Tantra tradition.
  • Understanding Haṭha Yoga’s subtle anatomy of nādi, cakra, and kuṇḍalinī.
  • Working with energy: āsana, prānāyāma, and bandha as an integrated practice.
  • Nervous system and trauma physiology, working safely with energy and attention.
Required texts

Hartranft, The Yoga Sūtra of Patañjali (PYS), Shambhala
Feuerstein, Tantra: the Path of Ecstasy, Shambhala
Akers, Hatha Yoga Pradipika (HYP), Yoga Vidya
Rosen, Original Yoga, Shambhala
Kṣemarāja/Wallis, Pratyabhijña-hṛdāyam (PBH), [unpublished, handout]

(Books may need to be ordered — be sure to do so asap.)

Readings & writings are to be completed by the date they are listed. For the intensive, please get started on reading all the books now, since there’s not much extra time for reading during the week. The sequence is:

Days 1-2: Patanjali YS (Read Hartranft)
Days 3-4: Hatha Yoga (Read Rosen & Akers)
Days 5-6: Tantra (Read Feuerstein)
We’ll learn practices in each class, you’ll be invited to keep a practice journal, and you’ll be asked to write a couple meditations to teach to the class.

Please read at least the intro and chapters 1 & 2 of the PYS before the first session.

Some of the readings are dense & technical, others easier. Be sure to give adequate time for reading, taking into consideration your own comfort with text study. Take notes & come prepared with questions.

“Reflections” are offered for your personal practice between sessions. Write 1-2+ pages in  your practice journal about the questions (not to turn in — just for yourself) & come prepared to discuss.

Practices will be expanded upon in class & maintained in your home practice.

Please practice the full range of each section’s practices at least twice a week outside of our class, & meditate (using any of the meditation techniques we discuss that appeal to you) every day for at least 15 minutes through the duration of the module.


Course Syllabus

Day 1-2: Patañjali’s Yoga Sutra & the Power of Awareness

  • View & meditation in Classical Yoga. Basic history/timeline.
  • The 8 Limbs as meditation instructions.
  • The 8 Limbs as life instructions: ethics in practice.

Read: Hartranft, The Yoga Sūtra of Patañjali, whole book

Memorize: (Sanskrit & English) Patañjali’s 8 Limbs, including the 5 Yama & Niyama.
PYS 1.2 in Sanskrit & English (on “PYS notes” handout)
(Sanskrit & English) the 5 kleśa (PYS 2.3 & handout)

Write: 1 breath meditation and 1 mindfulness of the body meditation
– practice these meditations alone & be prepared to lead them in the group

Reflections: How do you relate to suffering and liberation?
What is your intention for your own yoga practice? For your teaching practice?
For your life in relationships & community?


āsana: flow through postures with the intention for ease, relaxation, clarity, & steadiness
– know your strengths & weaknesses in āsana practice
– know your intentions in āsana, both for individual poses & your full practice
– tracking movement, breath & sensation in āsana
– tracking pleasant & unpleasant charge in sensation & emotions

prānāyāma: natural breath in reclining & sitting postures; full breath cycles
– exploring your relationship to your breath, effort, and relaxation

meditation: comfortable posture, mindfulness of breath (naming), awareness of senses
– finding a comfortable & stable 30 minute meditation posture
– preliminaries: grounding, orientation, present moment awareness
– practices: mindfulness of breathing, body scan
– understand & use Patañjali’s 8 Limb sequence as meditation instructions


Day 3-4: Yoga & Energy

  • Subtle body anatomy, cakra bīja practice, sensing energy.
  • prānāyāma, bandha, & the nervous system.
  • integrating energy work into yoga practice, nervous system physiology, trauma.

Memorize: Sanskrit names, colors, elements, & bīja syllables for 7 cakra (handout)
5 kośa, 5 prāna/vāyu, 3 nadi, 3 bandha, 3 granthi (Sanskrit & English) (handout)

Read: Akers, Hatha Yoga Pradipika, whole book
Feuerstein, Tantra (ch. 10-11)
Rosen, Original Yoga, whole book [mostly for reference: skimming is fine]


āsana: flow through postures guided by inner impulse & intuition
– awareness of mind state (emotion & thought) in āsana
– awareness of pleasant, unpleasant, & neutral sensations, feelings, thoughts
– shaping your practice to encourage wholesome states & discourage unwholesome

prānāyāma: breath in the whole body; śakti calana; breath & bīja in cakras; “sun-moon” uccāra
– understand & practice 3 bandha in some depth
antar & bahir kumbhaka; brahmana & langhana; intuitive prānāyāma

meditation: practicing with mantra & other supports for gathering & settling attention
– recognizing & diminishing the hindrances to stillness & clarity
nāda yoga: meditation on sound
– The 4 Divine Abidings: heart practices (love, compassion, joy, equanimity)


Day 5-6: Nonduality & Integration

  • View & orientation of non-dual Tantra.
  • Understanding Tantra as a root of modern yoga.
  • Integration, visions of Liberation, practicing in relationship & work.

Read: Feuerstein, Tantra (intro & ch. 1-6, 14-15)
Kṣemarāja, Pratyabhijñahṛdayam (handout)

Write: 1 heart meditation & 1 Open Awareness meditation
– practice these meditations alone & be prepared to lead them in the group


āsana: leading & practicing postures with attention to energy & mind
– including subtle body & dharma cues in your instructions
– working with emotion, energy & trauma in āsana
– understanding scope of practice

prānāyāma: leading & deepening in breath work
– indications & contraindications for prānāyāma
– working with emotion, energy & trauma in prānāyāma

meditation: how meditation & spiritual practice deepens
– cultivating wholesome qualities
– How Open Awareness practices differ from concentration meditations
– how to approach tantric texts & instructions



Patañjali Yoga Sutra notes
Meditation practice based on Patañjali Yoga Sutra
Patañjali Yoga Sutra full Sanskrit-English (Hartranft)
Haṭha Yoga Pradīpika notes
Energetic anatomy notes
Heart of Recognition translation (Wallis) & notes
Mantras & verses for chanting

Optional reading

Swami Lakshmanjoo, Practice and Discipline in Kashmir Śaivism

Swami Laksmanjoo was one of the last teachers to be ritually initiated into Śaiva practice in Kashmir, and is a grandfather guru to most contemporary Śaiva teachers. This short book discusses meditation practice in a way that merges Śaiva understanding with the familiar 8-Limb path of Patañjali’s Yoga Sūtra.


As the classes progress, especially the 3-month version, I will post additional readings & links here as things come up in class.