The combined set of both volumes 1 and 2 of 'Yoga As Therapy' provides an integrated approach to therapeutic applications of yoga that covers anatomical and functional understanding of structural therapeutic problems and how they arise.
This includes principles of postural and movement assessment, tools for understanding structural and myofascial roots of chronic pain problems, and practical approaches through contemporary alignment-based hatha yoga postural practice aimed at addressing them.
The set is a resource that is useful and accessible to yoga teachers as well as practitioners. Both books are heavily illustrated with anatomical details as well illustrations of applications of these insights in the poses.
Volume 1 provides the 'Foundations' or 'Big Picture' for our therapeutic approach, in terms of both an anatomical overview utilizing Tom Myer's myofascial meridians from his book 'Anatomy Trains' as well as delving into 'Movement Impairment Syndromes' at the root of chronic pain from movement, based on Shirley Sahrmann's book 'Diagnosis and Treatment of Movement Impairment Syndromes.
This volume focuses principally on assessment principles for chronic pain problems, and is especially useful for yoga teachers working with clients or students. The section on the shoulders is especially detailed, to provide an in-depth understanding of rotator cuff problems.
A more detailed description is given below.
Volume 2 'zooms in' on specific problem areas of the body, and the therapeutic problems that commonly arise in these areas — such as feet, knees, hip pain, sacral issues, rotator cuff injury, and so on. This volume is of great practical use to yoga practitioners wishing to understand the roots of their own injuries and pain problems in specific areas of the body, and how asanas can be practiced in a way that addresses, relieves, and also prevents these pain problems from arising.
Remedial exercises as well as applications in and through hatha yoga poses are covered, and there is an extensive section on scoliosis at the end of the book.
A more detailed description is given below.
Volume 1 provides the 'Foundations' or 'Big Picture' for our therapeutic approach, in terms of both an anatomical overview utilizing Tom Myer's myofascial meridians from his book 'Anatomy Trains' as well as delving into 'Movement Impairment Syndromes' at the root of chronic pain from movement, based on Shirley Sahrmann's book 'Diagnosis and Treatment of Movement Impairment Syndromes. Insights into a myofascial understanding of the roots of pain problems from other sources such as Schultz and Feitis' book, 'The Myofascial Web' are also included as part of this vision.
The overall approach is based on the understanding that it is not the role of the practitioner of yoga as therapy to 'diagnose' — since neither the tools nor the training are there to legitimately give a prognosis of tissue damage or disease. But we can nevertheless assess structural factors and movement patterns that likely give rise to pain. A large part of contemporary yoga practice is about movement — and it is through an empowered and informed yoga practice that we learn to move better in the unique context of our own body. Asana practice can teach us about how we move, and can help us to replace inefficient and even potentially harmful movement patterns with ones that help us to maintain healthy functioning of all organs of the body, as well as maintaining our overall myofascial 'fitness' — which is something more than mere flexibility!
The tools of assessment — for 'seeing' the story of the body and our relationship to body, emotionally as well as in our degree of 'interoception' or connectedness — are vital, as well as a framework for understanding the roots of pain problems and a path to practice that will relieve them.
In doing so, I draw upon sources from the contemporary fields of body work — referring especially and directly to Tom Myer's myofascial meridians from his book 'Anatomy Trains' to provide a basic framework for 'seeing' myofascial connections in posture and movement. While this is a starting point, an understanding of movement is vital as well, and so I draw upon assessment techniques for recognizing Movement Impairment Syndromes from Shirley Sahrmann's work, as well as from the works of Schultz and Feitis, Diane Lee, Leon Chaitow, Dr. Ben Benjamin and Pete Egoscue as well as others.
These tools fit quite well with principles of asana practice, and the task at hand is to 'translate' these insights from a realm in which they are applied directly 'to' a client by a body worker, to the realm of yoga in which the 'therapy' takes place from the inside out, through the student's own informed practice.
In light of this act of 'translation,' which also incorporates concepts specific to asana practice, I describe in a more simplified and asana-oriented way Mr. Myer's myofascial lines or 'meridians' in terms of 'sutras.' I clearly acknowledge the basis for this in Mr. Myer's findings in his 'Anatomy Trains;' at the same time I am not claiming that I am fully representing his principles, which are attuned to the field of Rolfing and of body work. Yoga is a different field, and a different field of practice — and so the terms I use are meant to indicate that, in connection specifically with asana practice. This is mean to help yoga practitioners more easily relate the work upon these lines or sutras to postural practice (for instance, the 'Paschima Sutra' involves precisely the muscles stretched in the pose 'Paschimottanasana.')
Moreover, there are elements of yoga practice that are key to making these principles work from the 'inside-out' — particularly the development of the 'Core' to provide stability and integrity, and which are really the essence of the actions of the 'bandhas' practiced in yoga. This puts the application of the myofascial meridians — or 'sutras' of practice — in a very different context; and the understanding and application of the 'Core' as the body's inherent system for integrity in movement is actually prior to an effective application of an understanding of the myofascial meridians in the field of yoga.
Thus a significant part of the book is devoted to the 'Core' and the related 'bandhas,' and I relate this especially to the health of the sacrum and low back, as well as to providing the stability necessary for the health of the neck and shoulders. The section on the anatomy and function of the shoulders is also quite extensive in this volume, with additional practical exercises for the shoulders provided in volume 2.
Volume 2 is intentionally designed to be of immediate practical use even to practitioners for whom the anatomical and technical information in Volume 1 is a bit 'too much.'
Volume 2 'zooms in' to describe the roots of specific problems with the feet, knees, hips, low back, neck and shoulders and so on, and how to address them in our practice — and through remedial exercises that are accessible even to those who are limited in the possibilities for movement, or not very familiar with yoga practice. Volume 2 provides specific and practical guidance in sequencing a manageable program of yoga stretches and exercises for healing, which are appropriate and applicable on many levels of practice and ability.
The book does assume some familiarity with basic yoga postures and how to do them: and it provides insightful guidance meant to help you realize their full benefit.
The last chapter provides guidance specific to working with scoliosis.
Yogic breathing is an essential practice of hatha yoga that not only brings relaxation, clarity, focus and renewed energy; it is the doorway from asana (the practice of yoga postures) into meditation.
'Refining the Breath' takes you step-by-step into the yoga of the breath. It is ideal for both beginning and intermediate yoga students, explaining the basics of breath both anatomically and energetically (as described within the yoga tradition). it includes principles of posture for pranayama, the role of the bandhas and gives simple and straight-forward instructions for practicing the many forms of pranayama. This includes not only the practical details, but the benefits and purpose for doing pranayama, as well as the subtler energetics of the prana and its relationship to spiritual progress. The book is primarily a guide for practice, but also informs as to the health benefits as well as spiritual purpose of the practice as a yoga.
'Refining the Breath' is an in-depth but accessible treatment of the practice which sets pranayama in the context of the spiritual philosophy of yoga.
Yoga philosophy is richer and more varied than it is given credit for being. Its terms and concepts are the product of a rich evolution of meaning, from the very meaning of 'yoga' as 'union' onward. The philosophy of yoga is inseparable from its practice — but what exactly does the philosophy of yoga 'teach?' The richness of what yoga philosophy has to offer lies in exploring this very question.
This book follows the development of thought in yogic philosophy from its beginnings in the Vedas to the relatively recent forms of tantra. Its aim is to bring a greater and more balanced understanding of the philosophical landscape of yoga and spiritual purpose of yogic practice. The book has a special interest in introducing the reader to the Tantric philosophy of Kashmir Shaivism, which might be regarded as a culmination of the best of the philosophical insights that came before it.
The contributions of each school to the organic growth and development of spiritual understanding through the ages are highlighted, with examples and explanations that make these ideas relevant to your own interest in spirituality and yogic practice. The latter part of the book includes essays based on my own experiences as a teacher and practitioner.
This double audio CD provides you with tools for meditation practice: how to begin with a traditional invocation, and how to use Vedic and tantric meditation mantras - the Gayatri, Hamsa and Panchakshari Mantras.
The greater part of the CD is a series of guided meditations drawn from the Vijnanabhairava, with insights into the spiritual purpose of yoga practice.
This audio CD begins with the simple practices of the full yogic breath and Ujjayi breath, and then guides the listener through variations on Viloma pranayama. Viloma is practiced while reclining: it expands your capacity for the breath, and is an effective technique for relaxation.
Guided meditation is also included, using the simple 'Hamsa' mantra of the breath.
A recent talk on the relationship between the ideas of dharma and yoga; their meaning as these ideas developed from the earliest times, and the conflict that can arise between them as a conflict between 'duty' (one's responsibilities in society — dharma) and conscience (discovered through personal exploration through the practices of yoga).
The dialogue of the Bhagavad-Gita presents this conflict in stark terms as the conflict of conscience faced by the warrior Arjuna. The question of conscience and the purpose of practice in a difficult and uncertain world remains just as to us relevant today as it was to the yogis of its time.
The meditation mantra 'Om Namah Shivaya' is known as the 'Panchakshari' or 'Five Syllabled' mantra, which resonates with each of the five elements of the body as it is chanted, bringing mind and body into a state of balance and peace. It is also an invocation and honoring ('namah') of the purity of our own spiritual nature.
This musical rendition by Doug Keller is an aid to meditation. The melody and rhythm is steady, sweet and unvarying — and thus supports rather than distracts from your meditation. In keeping with the benevolent nature of the mantra, all proceeds from the sale of this CD are donated to Oxfam.
Duration: 67 minutes
The key to understanding the evolution of yoga lies in the whole idea of freedom: the earliest ideas centered around 'Moksha' and freedom FROM suffering (and liberation from repeated incarnation), while the tantric idea of 'Swatantrya' evolved to include a healthy 'this-worldly' sense of self. Freedom as Swatantrya centers around 'one's own' ('swa') expansion ('tan') — working from within one's own limited sense of self through various forms of spiritual practice to soften that sense of boundaries and place one's individuality within the expanded experience of our essential Truth as Self — as Truth, Awareness and Bliss.
This conception opened the possibility of many approaches to spiritual practice appropriate to our own individual nature — which is a liberating perception of spirituality in and of itself! Join in listening to this lecture and discussion of our evolving sense of freedom in yoga.
Duration: 67 minutes
The history of yogic philosophy, from the Vedas through Classical and Tantric thought, is explored in this talk with special emphasis on each era's understanding of the soul, God and the nature and purpose of spirituality.
The talk, given in the summer of 2008 in Michigan, is accessible and to the point, helping the listener come to his or her own understanding of the relevance of yoga philosophy to one's own spiritual life.
Contains 3 audio cds; the third CD gives a guided 30 minute Savasana relaxation and meditation.
This talk speaks directly to anyone who has ever wondered about the compatibility of yoga with Christian spirituality. In this talk, Doug delves into the basic assumptions behind classical yoga and christianity, both of which have shaped thought for centuries.
Tantra as well as the Christian mysticism of the middle ages — with Meister Eckhart as its greatest spokesman — were rebellions against these classical assumptions. They issued a call to let go of deeply engrained ideas of the fall of the soul, and embrace the presence of the Divine within.
In June of 2006 Doug Keller gave a workshop on the power of the Kundalini as it is experienced in the forms of yogic practice.
The Kundalini is the force of awakening at the heart of hatha yoga practice as it was originally conceived. The Kundalini is often mentioned in contemporary yoga, but rarely explained with any depth. Although many have had an experience of this, rarely is a context given for understanding the experience, even in yoga.
Through lecture and guided practices of pranayama and meditation, he draws upon his own personal experience of this awakening, as well as from a number of tantric texts and respected works, including Sir John Woodroffe's 'The Serpent Power,' Harish Johari's 'Chakras,' and the classic work, 'Devatma Shakti.'
Yoga is as 'new' as it is ancient — evolving through the ages as it is embraced by different groups in different eras. The thread of the practice and heart shines through — and yet its expression takes the shape of the interests and needs of the age that embraces it. This is the quality that makes yoga ever-alive, and yet ever so hard to pin down!
'Modern' or Contemporary yoga took shape in the last century, bringing to yoga an emphasis not only upon physical practice, but social consciousness. Moreover, its evolution became a world phenomenon, through the dialogue that opened between East and West at the dawn of a new era, from the time of the American Revolution onward. The story of the introduction of yoga to the world — and its consequent evolution in India as well as the West — is a fascinating story involving characters both known and unknown to us who (whether we realize it or not) have shaped our own thinking with regard to yoga and spirituality.
The story of yoga in our present age is both illuminating and one worth knowing — giving us insight into how we practice (and feel) about our practice. Just as importantly, it gives us insight into why and how certain texts have been interpreted for us as the key to understanding yoga (even when that leads to confusion), while others have been late arrivals on the scene, shaping our concepts of yoga in just the last couple of decades.