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Purna Yoga: A Comprehensive Approach to Teaching

Teaching yoga requires learning more than the physical practices of asana. This basic primer highlights some of the major philosophical systems--including Ayurveda, Vastu, Living Yoga, and more--that can help you round out your education.

By Aadil Palkhivala

Living Yoga (Yogic Philosophy Applied to Daily Life)

From the ages gone by, yoga has developed a profound philosophy that we should apply in day-to-day life. Patanjali explained this in the ashtanga, or eight-limbed path. This path includes the yamas and niyamas, precepts that are the foundations of day-to-day living in a harmonious society. To live yoga means understanding the importance of finding our dharma, or life purpose. It applies to the creation and distribution of wealth. It means becoming aware of the flows of energy between people, particularly in our relationships with our spouses, friends, children, and parents. "Living yoga" clarifies our relationship to material objects and to our own spirit.

Yoga and Sound (Chanting and Mantra)

Just as sound is a grosser vibration of light, the body is a grosser vibration of sound. Sound affects us profoundly. We must teach our students by example to use only words that inform, empower, and connect us with our light.

The next level is to chant sacred words, such as Om or the Gayatri Mantra. These sounds, when taught and practiced correctly, vibrate through the body and align the nervous system with the mantra. Certain mantras cool and soften the nervous system, while others awaken it. In general, awakening mantras such as the Gayatri should be done prior to a practice, and soothing mantras (such as the repeated Om) should be done after a practice. However, Om is neutral and can be done at any time of the day or night.

Transformative Spirituality (Meditation)

Teaching students to be still and to quiet the mind and emotions is the first step toward meditation. Meditation is the process by which we connect with the heart center (the psychic being) and receive guidance from within.

My wife Mirra teaches Transformative Spirituality, taking this process to another level. We learn how to move the mental energy down into the heart chakra and the emotional/pelvic energy up into the heart chakra. We learn to live as much as possible from the dictates of the heart chakra, our connection with our soul.

Purna Yoga strives to encompass the vastness of yoga as envisioned by Sri Aurobindo. In his Integral Yoga, he synthesized gnyana, bhakti, and karma yoga, developing a whole new system of yoga. As you expand your horizons learning Purna Yoga, may your teaching, your practice, and your life become more and more fulfilling.

Recognized as one of the world's top yoga teachers, Aadil Palkhivala began studying yoga at the age of seven with B.K.S. Iyengar and was introduced to Sri Aurobindo's yoga three years later. He received the Advanced Yoga Teacher's Certificate at the age of 22 and is the founder-director of internationally renowned Yoga Centers™ in Bellevue, Washington. Aadil is also a federally certified Naturopath, a certified Ayurvedic Health Science Practitioner, a clinical hypnotherapist, a certified Shiatsu and Swedish bodywork therapist, a lawyer, and an internationally sponsored public speaker on the mind-body-energy connection.

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Reader Comments

Jessie Mercay, PhD, PhDmst

The information you provide in Yoga Journal on vastu and vaastu has very little to do with vastu and the scriptures that guid its application. The authors you cite do not understand the field in any way. I hold a doctorate in the field and I have studied for a number of years with the aknowledge (by the gov't of India) only living Master of Vastu - Shilpi Guru Dr. V. Ganapati Sthapati who comes from thousands of years of tradition and is a living treasure of India. I can veriufy from Vaastu Shastras that these articles you print are nonsense. Vastu has nothing to do with where you face your head when you sleep or putting up yantras or crystals or the color you paint your kitchen. It is NOT like modern Feng Shui. That is pure foolishness. Why not print an article on the real thing? You are misleading your readers.

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