Podcast

#39: Yoga Mind, Yoga Body with Gernot Huber

This week I speak with Gernot Hubert, a yoga teacher and fellow expat in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Gernot goes in depth on yoga anatomy & physiology, along with the following other topics:

  • What draws people to practice yoga
  • How yoga can either disrupt or reinforce habitual patterns
  • Managing stress
  • Alignment issues
  • How to practice safely
  • How to create more balance in your practice and your life
  • Strengthening the mind body connection

Guest Bio:

Gernot Hubert has been practicing and studying yoga since 1996. His yoga background includes Anusara, Iyengar, Forrest, Kripalu, and Ashtanga Yoga, and he holds a 200-hour yoga teacher training certificate from a Yoga-Alliance-registered teacher training program. Born in South Africa and raised in Germany, Gernot has spent 20 years in the United States as well as significant amounts of time in Argentina and Thailand. Gernot speaks English, German, and Spanish, as well as some French and Thai. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Modern Thought and Literature from Stanford University and a master’s degree in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from Cornell University.

In his teachings, Gernot draws on a broad range of life experiences that includes working in Silicon Valley, traveling extensively in Asia and South America, volunteering for antiglobalization and alternative-transit non-profits, conducting biological fieldwork in California’s Sierra Nevada and Argentina’s Pampa, and teaching wildlife monitoring to inner city youth. He also loves bicycling and wilderness travel, and practices Vipasana meditation. His varied life experiences help Gernot relate to yoga students from all walks of life, and help him transmit the essential teachings of yoga in a way that makes them come alive on and off the mat.

Links:

Yoga Mind, Yoga Body

#38: Yoga Synergy with Simon Borg Olivier

This week I speak with Simon Borg Olivier, co-founder of Yoga Synergy in Sydney, Australia. Simon and I discuss the unique approach style of yoga that he and his business partner, Bianca Machliss, have developed: Yoga Synergy, which they describe as an adaptation of traditional hatha yoga for the modern Western body.
As someone who has completed a 200 hour yoga teacher training with Simon, I can personally attest to the quality of Simon’s gift for the craft of teaching, as well as his genuine warm and kindness. He is a wealth of knowledge and a rare combination of talents: a former lecturer in Molecular Biology at the University of Sydney who went back to do another degree in physiotherapy after discovering his passion for yoga. Simon brings a keen scientific mind to his discussion of how best to practice yoga, and also integrates his more recent love of Qi Gong and Traditional Chinese Medicine into his practice.
I hope you enjoy our conversation.
Guest Bio:
Simon Borg-Olivier MScBAppSc (Physiotherapy) is a Co-Director, with Bianca Machliss BScBAppSc (Physiotherapy) of Yoga Synergy, one of Australia’s oldest and most respected yoga schools. The Yoga Synergy style is based on a deep understanding of yoga anatomy, yoga physiology and traditional Hatha Yoga. Simon has been teaching since 1982. He is a registered physiotherapist, a research scientist and a university lecturer. Simon has been regularly invited to teach at special workshops and conferences interstate and overseas since 1990.
Simon and Bianca run international Yoga Synergy Teacher Training Courses both internationally (yearly in Goa, India) and also in their home town of Sydney Australia. The next Yoga Synergy 200 hour Teacher Training Courses will be running in (1) Sydney from May 8th 2015 to November, (2) Sydney from September 2015 to August 2016, and (3) Goa, India from March to April 2016.
Shownotes:
Coming soon.
Links:

#37: The Science of Self Mastery with Dr. Judson Brewer

Guest Bio:

Judson Brewer MD PhD is a thought leader in the field of habit change and the “science of self-mastery”, combining nearly 20 years of experience with mindfulness training with his scientific research. He is the Director of Research at the Center for Mindfulness and associate professor in Medicine and Psychiatry at UMass Medical School and a research affiliate at MIT.

He has published numerous peer-reviewed articles and book chapters, trained US Olympic coaches, and his work has been featured on 60 Minutes, TEDMED, Time, Forbes, BBC, NPR, Businessweek and others.

A psychiatrist and internationally known expert in mindfulness training for addictions, Brewer has developed and tested novel mindfulness programs for habit change, including both in-person and app-based treatments (Eat Right Now, Unwinding Anxiety and Craving to Quit).

He has also studied the underlying neural mechanisms of mindfulness using standard and real-time fMRI.

His work has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, American Heart Association, Fetzer Trust among others. Dr. Brewer founded Claritas MindSciences to move his discoveries of clinical evidence behind mindfulness for eating, smoking and other behavior change into the marketplace.

Shownotes:

Coming soon.

Links:

Personal Website of Judson Brewer

#36: Radical Dharma with Lama Rod Owens

This week I sit down with Lama Rod Owens to discuss the intersection of Buddhist Dharma and American culture and politics. Lama Rod articulates his vision for Radical Dharma: a call to make the teachings of Buddhism relevant for tending to the suffering in the United States in this day and age, starting with addressing issues of race, gender and sexuality in American Buddhist communities.
Shownotes:Coming soon.

Guest Bio:

Considered one of the leaders of the next generation of Dharma teachers, Lama Rod Owens has a blend of formal Buddhist training and life experience that gives him a unique ability to understand, relate and engage with those around him in a way that’s spacious and sincere. His gentle, laid-back demeanor and willingness to bare his heart and soul makes others want to do the same. Even when seated in front of a room, he’s next to you, sharing his stories and struggles with an openness vulnerability and gentle humor that makes you genuinely feel good about who you are, with all your flaws and foibles, you’re lovable and deserving of happiness and joy. He invites you into the cross sections of his life as a Black, queer male, born and raised in the South, and heavily influenced by the church and its community.

Through his lens you catch glimpses of your own often conflicting identities. Through it all he weaves in time-tested, traditional Buddhist principles and practices that give listeners real tools for healing and evolution.

With grace and humility, he doesn’t claim to have answers, and merely poses questions and encourages conversation so that others may find their own truth.

Lama Rod delivers his knowledge in a way that says, I’m just like you, no better and no worse. He reminds you that he too is human and a work in progress. He asks audiences to call him out if he says anything that is perpetuating misogyny, racism or anything divisive. Lama Rod has done and continues to do his own work, every day, and it’s palpable.

Lama Rod also speaks and leads workshops across the country for organizations such as Summit and Dharma Ocean, check his latest schedule here. He also officiates wedding ceremonies. Contact him to learn more!

Links:

Lama Rod

Radical Dharma

Books:

Radical Dharma: Talking Race, Love & Liberation

Tags:

#35: Revisiting Yoga Philosophy with Jason Birch

This week I speak with Jason Birch, PhD about the history of yoga and yoga philosophy. Jason is a scholar of classical Indian religions and philosophies at the School of Oriental Studies (SOAS), University of London. He is a Sanskritist and a scholar of the yoga tradition. He is also a practitioner who does a great service in bridging the divide between scholars and practitioners.

Shownotes:

Coming soon.

Guest Bio:

After completing a first class honours degree in Sanskrit and Hindi at the University of Sydney under Dr Peter Oldmeadow, Jason was awarded a Clarendon scholarship to undertake a DPhil in Oriental Studies at Balliol College, University of Oxford, under the supervision of Prof. Alexis Sanderson, All Souls College. Jason was a student of Prof. Sanderson for six years. His dissertation (submitted 2013) focused on the earliest known Rājayoga text called the Amanaska and included a critical edition and annotated translation of this Sanskrit work along with a monographic introduction which examines the influence of earlier Śaiva tantric traditions on the Amanaska as well as the significance of the Amanaska in more recent yoga traditions.

In 2014 Jason was a research fellow at the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies and a visiting associate professor at Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles. In 2015 he was invited to research the histories of yoga, āyurveda and rasaśāstra as a visiting post-doctoral fellow on a project called Ayuryog at the University of Vienna. He is currently a post-doctoral research fellow at SOAS University of London on the Haṭha Yoga Project, which has been funded for five years by the ERC. His area of research is the history of physical yoga on the eve of colonialism. He is editing and translating six texts on Haṭha and Rājayoga, which are outputs of the project, and supervising the work of two research assistants at the Ecole française d’ Extrême-Orient, Pondicherry.

At SOAS Jason has taught two courses for the MA in Traditions of Yoga and Meditation and a Sanskrit reading course for fourth-year undergraduates. He has given seminars on the history of yoga for MA programs at the Università Ca’ Foscari in Venice, Italy and Won Kwang University in Iksan, South Korea. He also collaborates with Jacqueline Hargreaves on The Luminescent.

Links:

Jason Birch’s SOAS page, including research interests

The Luminescent

Tags:
Hatha Yoga
Yoga Philosophy
Patanjali

#34: A Tantric Approach to Meditation with Sally Kempton

This week I speak with Sally Kempton, a master of Tantric meditation who shares her decades worth of Tantric meditation experience with us. Sally served as a Swami for over two decades in the Siddhi Yoga organization, after being ordained by her primary teacher, Swami Muktananda. As the mindfulness movement sweeps across the West, Sally offers an alternative approach to meditation. While grounded in the traditions of Nondual Shaiva Tantra, Sally has an ability to skilfully weave together the various strands of Indian religious and philosophical thought into a clear, accessible style for her students.

Guest Bio:

One evening in the early 1970s, while sitting in her Manhattan living room, Sally Kempton was overcome by a feeling of all-encompassing, unconditional love that seemed to come out of nowhere. She had never known that love like this was possible. The experience lasted for 24 hours, and turned her life around.

At the time, Kempton had a flourishing career as a New York journalist, writing on popular culture, the arts, and feminist issues for Esquire, the New York Times, New York magazine, and The Village Voice. An early voice in the second- wave feminist movement, spirituality was the last thing on her agenda. But her experience that night affected her so powerfully that within a year she had given up her career to immerse herself fully as a student and teacher of spiritual awareness.

Two years later, she encountered her Guru, the enlightened Siddha master, Swami Muktananda, and became his full time student.

An enlightened master in the Indian yoga tradition, Muktananda (1908-1982) was known for his ability to ignite the latent meditation energy (kundalini) in others through a look or a touch. When Kempton met him, he was traveling in the United States, where he awakened thousands of people to their spiritual potential.

Kempton studied and traveled with Muktananda from 1974 until his passing in 1982. She edited many of his books, received intensive training in the texts of Vedanta, yoga and the north Indian tantric tradition of Kashmir Shaivism, and taught courses around the world. In 1982, Muktananda initiated her into the traditional Saraswati order of Indian swamis, or monks, and gave her the name Swami Durgananda. For the next twenty years, she served as a teacher in the Siddha Yoga meditation community. She created and taught workshops, courses and trainings in meditation and spiritual wisdom, served for a time as editor of the spiritual magazine Darshan, and wrote extensively on all aspects of spiritual life.

In 2002, Sally was inspired to put aside her monastic identity to create a teaching path that could help students deal directly with the challenges of 21st century life. Her current work interprets the wisdom of the tantras for mature contemporary aspirants, drawing on depth psychology and neuroscience as well as the insights of Integral philosopher Ken Wilber. From her home base in California, she travels extensively, and offers monthly telecourses as well as workshops and retreats that integrate meditation, yoga philosophy, and spiritual life-skills.

Though Sally offers many courses for beginning meditation students, she is also regarded as a ‘teacher’s teacher’, whose approach inspires long-time practitioners to free themselves from routine meditation practice, and move deeper.

She teaches meditation as a process of inner exploration, in which we learn to integrate heart, mind and body in order to experience our natural state of wisdom and love. Sally also offers a wide variety of classes on yogic wisdom texts, as well as hands-on, contemplative practices for moving through psychological obstructions, understanding the intricacies of inner life, and how to apply spiritual principles to relationships, work, and life in our time. Students say that her classes create an atmosphere of support and joy that allows deep exploration.

Shownotes:

0:00-13:40: Opening Remarks

13:40-22:36: Sally’s background on the spiritual path

22:36-30:36: What Tantra is and what Tantra is not

30:36-35:52: Overview of Tantric principles

35:52-49:40: Mindfulness vs. Tantra; Overview of Tantric Principles (continued)

49:40: Tantric approaches to working with anger

1:01:31-1:09:50: Transforming difficult emotions through Tantric practices

1:09:50-1:14:48: Expanding Our View of Grief; Tonglen Practices

1:14:48-1:26:33: Working with mantra and meditating on deities

1:26:33-1:29:50: Mindsets central to spiritual life

1:29:50-1:32:00: Closing Remarks

Links:

Sally’s Personal Website

Sally’s Books:

Meditation for the Love of It

Awakening Shakti: The Transformative Power of the Goddesses of Yoga

#33: Tantra Yoga with Mark Shveima

Mark Shveima and I discuss the rich world of Tantra Yoga, specifically through the collections of lineages that has come to be known as Nondual Shaiva Tantra. Through studying Anusara Yoga with founder John Friend, Mark encountered the teachings of Tantra Yoga. It was through the Anusara scene that Mark met the man who came to be his primary meditation and yoga philosophy teacher, Tantrik scholar Paul Muller-Ortega. Mark’s journey is one familiar to many others on the path of yoga: that postural yoga can serve as an entry point into the vast richness of what the yoga tradition has to offer.
Shownotes:

0:00-14:10: Opening Remarks

14:10-18:35: Mark’s initial entry point into yoga

18:35-24:48: How Anusara Yoga introduced Mark to Tantra and to Paul Muller-Ortega

24:48-31:12: What is Nondual Shaiva Tantra? What distinguishes it from the Classical Yoga of

                       Patanjali?         

31:12-34:21: The relationship between the Bhagavad Gita and later Tantric traditions

34:21-43:05: Expansion & Contraction of Consciousness in the Shaiva Tantra Viewpoint

43:05-51:05: Practical Ways for working with the contractions of consciousness to step into a

                       Patanjali?  

51:05-1:00:00: Committing to and prioritizing your practice.

1:01:50-1:07:57: Travel abroad as practice; Mark’s reflections on life as an expat  in Japan.

1:07:57-1:14:53: Myth of the Churning of the Milky Ocean

1:14:53-1:19:16: Importance of Lineage. Integrating various traditions into a coherent path in

                            today’s globalized marketplace of ideas.

1:19:16-1:37:15: Benefits of Qi Gong vs Hatha Yoga

1:37:15-1:42:28: Role of Initiation in Tantra

1:42:28-1:46:00: Closing Remarks

Guest Bio:
Mark Shveima is currently the Yoga Director of studio BiNDU, nestled within the quiet back streets of Kyoto, Japan, where he landed after making a Hanuman leap from San Francisco in 2008. He has been immersed in the study, practice and teaching of Yoga for over two decades. Mark is an Authorized Teacher of Neelakantha Meditation, as taught by Paul Muller-Ortega, the founder of Blue Throat Yoga, a school of non-dual Shaiva Tantra practice and study.
Mark has been a dedicated and assiduous student of this path for over a decade. He is a tireless presenter of courses, intensives and workshops throughout Japan, where he is widely regarded as a deeply knowledgeable and highly experienced teacher and practitioner of asana, meditation, and Indian philosophy.
Recently, he has entered into an immersive study of Qigong and Taoism, which has opened him to new vistas of communication of the workings of the subtleties of the body, mind and emotional center.
Mark`s practice and teaching have become an ever-evolving organic expression of his heart intention to assist people in re-discovering ease in their body, stillness in their mind, and the inherent creative power and beauty of their awakened heart.
Links:
(Blue Throat Yoga is directed by Mark’s principal teacher, Paul Muller-Orega. Mark is a teacher in the Blue Throat Yoga community).

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#32: The Life of Yogananda with Philip Goldberg

I speak with American Veda author Philip Goldberg to discuss his new book on the life of famed yogi and spiritual teacher, Paramahansa Yogananda, titled The Life of Yogananda: The Story of the Yogi Who Became the First Modern Guru. 
Guest Bio:
Philip Goldberg is the author or co-author of numerous books; a public speaker and workshop leader; a spiritual counselor, meditation teacher and ordained Interfaith Minister.  A Los Angeles resident, he cohosts the Spirit Matters podcast, leads American Veda Tours and blogs regularly on Elephant Journal and Spirituality & Health.
Philip Goldberg is the author of the now classic American Veda: From Emerson and The Beatles to Yoga and Meditation: How Indian Spirituality Changed the West. His latest work is on the life of Paramahansa Yogananda, famed guru and author of the classic Autobiography of a Yogi, which is a spiritual classic cherished by many, including Steve Jobs, who decreed that the book be given out to attendees at his funeral. Yogananda was a fascinating and inspiring character and Philip Goldberg takes us through the life of this great man. For anyone who enjoys learning more about yoga, meditation and how Indian religion and philosophy has impacted Western culture I’m sure that you’ll enjoy this conversation with Philip Goldberg.
Shownotes:
0:00-10:40: Opening Remarks
10:40-18:20: Phil’s background
18:20-29:50: How India Spirituality Changed the West
29:50-34:14: Why Phil decide to write his new book on Yogananda
34:14-37:33: Yogananda’s early years in America
37:33-41:37: the message that Yogananda brought to the West
41:37-52:10: Yogic Science & Pragmatic Mysticism
52:10: The Various Paths of Yoga. Yogananda’s Bhakti Bent.
1:00:30-1:10:30: Monastic vs lay orders. How Yogananda was ahead of his time.
1:10:30-1:20:27: Common misconceptions of Eastern religious concepts among Westerners
1:20:27-1:23:45: Yogananda’s later years
1:23:45-1:30:15: What Philip learned from researching the life of Yogananda
1:30:15-1:32:03: Closing Remarks. Where to find about more about Philip and his work.
Links:

#31: The Unexplainable Importance of Yoga with J Brown

This week is a special week on the Hacking the Self podcast as I get to speak with one of my favorite podcasters: J Brown, yoga teacher and host of the popular podcast “J Brown’s Yoga Talks.”

Guest Bio:

J. Brown is a yoga teacher, writer, and podcaster. He is at the forefront of a quiet yoga revolution, based in healing, that seeks to change the dialogue and direction  of yoga practice in the west. His writing has been featured in Yoga Therapy Today, the International Journal of Yoga Therapy, and across the yoga blogosphere. His podcast is internationally renowned for raising the level of conversation.

Shownotes:

0:00-17:00: Opening Remarks: How I came to yoga. Background on J.

17:00-24:00: The personal crisis that drove J to yoga

24:00-34:35: J’s early yoga injuries and a life changing trip to India

34:35-51:40: The Philosophical Underpinnings of Modern Yoga

51:40-58:20: Reconsidering our intentions for yoga & conventional wisdom

58:20-1:03:00: Yoga’s impact on the nervous system

1:03:00-1:08:00: Yoga as Science vs Yoga as Alchemy

1:08:00-1:17:40: Yoga as relationship: to our beliefs, politics & culture

Rest of shownotes to follow soon…

Links:

J Brown Yoga

“The Unexplainable Importance of Yoga”

*This is a great blog post by J that I referenced in our conversation and that I’d highly recommend reading.

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#30: Spiritual Evolution from an Indigenous Reality with Mary Porter

In this conversation I speak wth Mary Porter, founder of the Looking Glass Peyote Church of Oregon, about a number of topics:
  • Nature & Spirituality
  • What we can learn from working with plant medicines like peyote, san pedro and mushrooms
  • Why psychedelics are not for everyone
  • Differences between a conventional Western worldview and indigenous perspective
  • Reconnecting to Nature
  • Spiritual maturity & personal responsibility
Guest Bio:
Mary Porter is the co-founder and director of the Looking Glass Peyote Church in Oregon. Mary is a descendant of the Nez Perce; Yakama, Wasco tribes, and is the co-founder of Looking Glass Peyote Church of Oregon. Mary is a Chaplin and former Sergeant at Arms for Northwest Veterans Motorcycle Association. Recognized by the Peyote People in Texas as a non Tribal-4/4th, full blood American Indian with intact knowledge of her ancestral descendancy that spans 50,000 years, a history that has been maintained orally and recently verified scientifically.  
Looking Glass Church is a bona fide 501c Church. They are connected with the good faith practice of the religious belief that the Earth is our Mother and we are all part of nature, therefore, we are all subject to Natural Law and the unchanging moral principals regarded as a basis for all human conduct.
Links:

Please help to make Hacking the Self a sustainable project by:

  • Making a donation at https://www.patreon.com/hackingtheself

You can also help us to get the word out by:

  • Sharing this interview with friends and on your social media platforms
  • Writing a review for the podcast on iTunes, Sticher or the Google Music Store