We're always looking for great yoga resources to share—especially those that are a little off the beaten path. The Yoga Hour: Living the Eternal Way is a free, weekly, online yoga radio show or podcast that airs Thursdays on Unity Radio (an online radio network that offers programs for spiritual discussions). It was developed by the director of the nonprofit organization the Center for Spiritual Enlightenment, Yogacharya Ellen O’Brien, in 2010, to share conversations with respected teachers about topics related to yoga philosophy and spiritual practice. The show has aired more than 100 episodes and has included guests such as Rod Stryker and Sally Kempton. After 100 shows, you can imagine O'Brien has gathered some interesting and inspiring stories. We asked her to share some of them with us and tell us more about the show.
What inspired the idea for the show?
Yoga is so much more than physical postures. The Yoga Hour is a way to educate and inspire people with the universal teachings of yoga philosophy and spiritual practice. It’s also a way for people from other spiritual backgrounds to see that they share common interests and to build bridges of understanding for an awakening world.
There are so many yoga resources out there. What role does a radio show like this serve in the greater context of all of the yoga offerings available these days?
The Yoga Hour airs live, and listeners are treated to a real, unrehearsed conversation with guests. Being able to listen to world-renowned yoga teachers and spiritual leaders engaged in an informal conversation provides a unique insight into their presence, expertise, and knowledge. Hearing them speak in this way is different from reading their books. It has a warmer feel because the personalities and anecdotal wisdom of the guests comes out.
As a podcast, The Yoga Hour has the huge advantage of being a program listeners can download onto an iPod or other device and then listen to at their convenience, whenever and wherever they like. The shows are archived and available free to anyone, anywhere, anytime on Unity Online Radio, CSE’s website, and iTunes. So these conversations can easily reach anyone who has an interest in yoga and a computer available to them. Right now the network is reaching 122 countries.
Tell us about your background in yoga.
I was ordained by my guru, Roy Eugene Davis, to teach Kriya Yoga in 1982. Today I am the spiritual director of the Center for Spiritual Enlightenment (CSE), a meditation center in the Kriya Yoga tradition located in San Jose, California. I have written several books on meditation and spiritual practice, including Living the Eternal Way: Spiritual Meaning and Practice in Daily Life, which is focused on the eight limbs of yoga practice. I have also published several CD commentaries on classic spiritual works, including the Bhagavad Gita and Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra. After over 30 years of teaching yoga nationally and internationally, and training and ordaining others to teach Kriya Yoga, my guru gave me the title Yogacharya, which literally means “teacher of yoga” and is a title of respect.
Can you give us an idea of the range of guests and topics on the show?
The guests on the program are authors and renowned teachers of yoga and other spiritual traditions. Among those we’ve interviewed are Rod Stryker, Sally Kempton, Judith Hanson Lasater, Richard Rosen, Kelly McGonigal, Christopher Key Chapple, Laura Cornell, Philip Goldberg, Nicolai Bachman, Michael Nagler, Roy Eugene Davis, Pandit Rajmani Tigunait, and Zoketsu Norman Fisher. We’ve had shows on everything from healthy living, ecology, the divine feminine, Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra, and the Bhagavad Gita to spiritual practices such as meditation, compassion, patience, ahimsa (nonviolence) and gratitude.
What have been one or two of the most memorable moments you’ve had so far on the show?
One of the most memorable moments was during the series on the teachings of yoga found in the Bhagavad Gita in the conversation with Ela Gandhi, the granddaughter of Mahatma Gandhi. First, it was simply a joy to speak with her. Second, how delightful that technology made it possible for me to be in California, speaking with her from her home in South Africa, all coordinated by the sound engineer at Unity studio in Missouri. But the most memorable part of the conversation was hearing her speak about her grandfather’s love for the teachings and how that permeated their family life. His favorite chapter of the Gita, was Chapter Two, which she told us they read every day as a family.
Also especially memorable to me was when I had the opportunity to talk with my guru, Roy Eugene Davis, about his time with the great yoga master, Paramahansa Yogananda. To hear his personal stories firsthand, and to think about how that conversation is now archived, is a great gift.