Dates: 08/04/2019 - 12/05/2019
Mode of Delivery: Online
Yoga philosophy is meant to bring yoga into your whole life, even outside the yoga mat!
Yoga has become a commonplace practice around the world taking on countless forms. Even though traditionally a spiritual practice, yoga’s various tools can be used to promote physical and mental health and well-being. Its spiritual benefits aside, there is no doubt of the benefits yoga offers the body and the mind
Our Yoga Philosophy course invites students to cultivate a meaningful understanding of yoga that will build a strong foundation for lifelong practice both on and OFF the mat.
Over the course of 5 weeks, we will study the ideas of traditional yoga and embark on a journey of self-discovery, unlocking a deeper inner wisdom.
Using the wisdom from classic texts such as Yoga Sutras and Bhagavad-gita we will discuss the main concepts of yoga and how to utilize these in daily life. Through this process, students will uncover obstacles that may be limiting their progress toward achieving the ultimate goal of yoga.
Week 1 - Yoga and Philosophy
The many meanings of ‘yoga’
What is the meaning of yoga? Nowadays often conflated with physical exercises, the word ‘yoga’ has traditionally meant many things. Hence, yoga refers to practices for controlling the mind and the senses, states of consciousness achieved as a result, skills to respond to life situations in a balanced and wise way, and metaphysical goals such as being united or connected to our spiritual source.
Is yoga then best seen as a form of exercise, a religious undertaking, a philosophy of life, or something else? Some of the problems of placing yoga in any of these or other categories arises from the fact that such categories are not internal to yoga. We could just as well ask, what kind of religion, exercise or philosophy is yogic. Even though modern Western categories and traditional yogic categories may not correspond 100%, it is nevertheless beneficial to try to understand how yoga views such concepts as faith, belief, theoretical knowledge, and realized knowledge.
What kind of philosophy is yoga philosophy?
Following the lead of Ninian Smart and others, we approach philosophy as a universal enterprise, involving different styles and ways of trying to understand what is true. There are Indian ways of doing philosophy, which differ from what is today considered the discipline of philosophy in the contemporary universities. Indian philosophy can be further divided into schools that accept the Vedic scriptural corpus as authoritative, and those that don’t. We are going to investigate yoga philosophy as part of the former, leaving out other approaches to yoga, such as Buddhist and Jain approaches.
We will consider what kind of philosopher a yogi is, and what is the yogic way of doing philosophy. We will learn about yoga as a specific philosophical school, but we will also learn about other schools which give us information about central ideas of yoga.
One yoga philosophy or many yoga philosophies?
We will approach yoga philosophy as a practical map for navigating our way in the world and through our life. There are many ways of doing yoga. Each map is suitable for a particular practitioner. The maps overlap to some extent, and for many practitioners it is beneficial to utilize the resources from more than one map.
Week 2 - Central concepts in yoga philosophy
Many of the central philosophical concepts are not germane only to yoga, but are accepted in other schools as well. These include concepts such as liberation, self, non-self, valid knowledge, ignorance, Ultimate reality, karma, and time.
Week 3 - Yogic psychology
Unlike in some other philosophical traditions, Indian philosophy makes a distinction between consciousness and mind, considering the latter a material phenomenon animated by the consciousness of a non-material entity, which is variously called soul, atman, purusha, or seer.
Yoga has its own theory of mind. This theory is central to understanding many of the practices and philosophical concepts of yoga. Yoga is a systematic approach to studying, understanding and transforming one’s consciousness. As such, its theory of mind is its central ingredient.
Week 4 - Paths of yoga
There are many different approaches to yoga. These are relative to the practitioner. Since we are all individuals, with specific personal histories, strengths, challenges and proclivities, yoga offers many kinds of maps with their corresponding practices and instruction manuals. Hence, there are different ways of understanding and doing yoga.
We will take a closer look at the most important approaches to yoga: the yogas of action, knowledge, meditation, devotion, and physical exercises. The maps overlap somewhat, but they also have their distinct emphases. Interestingly, some works such as some commentaries to Bhagavad-gita, treat these different approaches as different steps on the same ladder. Hence, a particular emphasis on practice is suitable for someone on a particular level of advancement.
Week 5 - Action, ethics, yoga and sound
The concept of right action is central to yoga. We can divide the study of what constitutes right, beneficial and ultimately, liberating action into four categories: intellectual action, devotional action, communal action, and ethical action. The last one can further contain the kind of physical and mental training, that is typical to yoga.
To understand the yogic theory of prescribed, forbidden, and recommended activities, we need to understand the theory of karma, or action that either binds or liberates one.
There is a lot to be said about the role of sound in yoga. Traditionally, yoga philosophy was passed on as an oral tradition. Learning the sacred texts by heart has been considered a central practice in yoga. In addition to learning, understanding and reciting passages of sacred texts, the use of sound in the form of reciting and meditating on mantras, or absorbing one’s mind on an inner sound, are central practices in much of yoga. We will learn a rudimentary understanding on the theory of sound, and how this knowledge can be utilized in practice.
By the end of the course the students will demonstrate an ability to present an overview of the six topics and their sub-themes. They will be able to understand and explain the central philosophical ideas, and the central practices that are connected to these ideas.
The topics will be assessed by essays, recorded presentations, forum participation and quizzes.
Janne Kontala, a PhD in Religious Studies, 2016, Abo Akademi and the author of the book Inner Yoga, was introduced to the ashtanga-vinyasa yoga tradition in 1992 under teachers Petri Räisänen and Derek Ireland. He did an additional five-year yoga training in ashrams in India and Finland, developing an interest in yoga philosophy and using sound in yoga (mantra meditation). He had undergone teacher training in two recognized schools (Sivananda and Iyengar). Janne currently teaches in Helsinki and Stockholm, educating both practitioners and teachers in the physical, meditational, and philosophical aspects of yoga. He lives in Sweden with his wife and children.
The tuition fee is included in the Yoga Teacher Training Course price package, otherwise €99.
By clicking “Enrol Now” you will be redirected to Bhaktivedanta College Online Campus (BCOC), where you will proceed with registration and payment for this course.