This Website aims to offer inspirations and informations about Vedic Yoga, particularly the teachings of Vamadeva Shastri (Dr. David Frawley) & Yogini Shambhavi from the American Institute of Vedic Studies in the U.S. and in a broader sense further informations about the vedic field in general and how to begin the studies in this great field.
Yoga has become very popular in the West, particularly in the past few years. With the informations and inspirations provided on this Homepage the aim is to inspire to move on beyond the mere physical side of Yoga with its various names of Asana Styles which really are not different Yoga Styles but simply names for different styles of Asana practices. Yoga is much more than Asana. In fact, although Asana does have its important and absolutely necessary role in the practice of Yoga, Asana still holds a very small part relative to the great Yoga System altogether. The main and largest part of Yoga is Mantra. This is not so well known in the West although the Patanjali Yoga Sutras - which are but a compilation of the much older Vedas - are quite familiar to many and in these almost two hundred Sutras only two Sutras are dealing with Asana. Anyone who has started with the physical approach of Yoga may understand this statement as an invitation to take the asana practice to a deeper level, transcending both body and mind.
Yoga is first mentioned in the Vedas, a heritage given to us from the Rishis, going back to the beginnings of human existence. Much has been translated, interpreted, taken from and added to the Vedas. When we study the Vedas today we either need someone who is able to transfer these ancient texts from another age into this time without loosing the beauty and grace of the texts or we may even study the vedic sanscrit language ourselves. There are several teachers who hold the deeper wisdom in their hearts and do share it quite liberally with us. You may want to check the page "books" on this homepage in that regard.
Sanskrit goes beyond the limits of our modern languages; first of all Sanskrit is a spoken language and not a written language. This is an important factor as a language based on the spoken word as opposed to the written word changes the effect, quality and meaning on the whole. Another important key is to understand that in the vedic thought the terms spirit and mind refer to different states than what we are used to from our relatively modern interpretation from modern philosophy and psychology.
Modern Philosophy and Psychology mainly deals with the mind as a physical phenomena, not going beyond the material world. On that level it is impossible to be receptive for the deeper wisdom the Vedas bring to us. If we try to understand the Vedas with a state of mind which is a somewhat conditioned memory-storage-place in the body, being able to differentiate from what it has consumed, a rational entity where everything can be memorized, stored, judged, prooved and understood etc., we may be inclined to degrade the Vedas to some sort of ancient romantic lyrics which have no meaning and value for us today at all.
Many vedic terms cannot be translated into modern languages which is the reason why the translations seem to be somewhat odd and antique. We highly recommend to best read translations from teachers who refer to their own experiences with the Vedas and maybe not to read the translations from scholars which are reducing the Vedas to an important literature era that has to be preserved as some old, antique material heritage of human history. Unfortunately there are many translations which reduce the vedic sanskrit language to a linguistic, grammatical, almost mathematical level which do not deliver the beauty and grace of the scriptures at all.
The key is to understand that the Vedas address our spiritual heart which can only be experienced when we draw our awareness from the physical mind into the spiritual heart which is located slightly to the right of our physical heart. With a little practice it will be very easy to withdraw into this space: simply let go of the exhausting attachments to the outer worlds and draw your attention into the heart.
In the beginning of the practice, the easiest way is to find a relaxed sitting pose, preferably with a straight but relaxed spine, and combine the ingoing breath with ´So` and the outgoing breath with ´Ham`. Once this is done several times one may notice a shift in awareness, almost as if an inner power would draw the senses back to its origin: the spiritual heart. Best is not to do anything in particular, almost to ignore sensations, thoughts, impressive images and inner voices just like one shows disinterest in a cookie that is being offered because one is satisfied without the cookie for the moment; a neutral, almost friendly but firm resignment from the outer world.
Silence is the language of the heart, meaning that both the motor organs and the inner movements are still. One cannot fight the thoughts and the ego - we would like to suggest that one does not give them any particular role or special attention - one should not get trapped in attraction or repulsion - and to just let them be what they are - movements, just like clouds in the sky. Over time, the interest in the thoughts and sensations become less and less until they almost appear irrelevant. This is the time when the power of concentration may grow to a certain level where it may get easier to be in a meditational state wherever and whenever one wishes. From this state the receptivity for the vedic wisdom becomes almost a natural flow of the inner path of the heart, as being open to the deeper teachings life unfolds, new pespectives, dimensions and qualities of life itself unfold before us in a gentle and natural way. All we have to do is to trust and to be open, that is to say to be receptive.
Yoga is one of the six classical schools of Vedic thought; Samkhya-Yoga being one of the six. The way to achieve meditation is Yoga. The way to achieve meditation is described in the Vedas and in much later texts such as the Yoga Sutras which all have there origin in the Vedas.
The best way to begin with the vedic studies is to study Ayurveda and to get familiar with the biological humors (Doshas) Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Ayurveda suggests a lifestyle which goes beyond psychological or energetic aspects. Psychology and energetic methods do have their position in our societies from today; however, it is important to return into our spiritual heart as this is the only place where true healing and self-realization unfolds. Ayurveda aims at creating balance and a sattvic lifestyle. Sattvic is a vedic term meaning also to be at peace on all levels of life. There cannot be much use of an Asana based Yoga Practice when we go back to our life routine with destructive masks and patterns as soon as we finish the practice. Ayurveda therefore is not a practice but a lifestyle: every aspect of our life needs to be transformed for the sake of health, harmony, peace and bliss for all beings.
Once we have established a balanced lifestyle on an individual level on a day-to-day-business, we can move on to relate these Doshas to the vedic deities Indra, Agni and Soma. From there we can establish an energetic Yoga Practice such as Hatha Yoga.
The foundation of the Vedic Yoga is Mantra which can be practiced via mental recitation along with the breath and through meditation on the Mantra itself. If the Mantra is recited from a rational level which tries to proof its value not much is likely to happen. The Vedas address the spiritual heart which means if one denies the existence of a spiritual heart it might not make sense to practice Mantra at all as it will not have any other effect than to lull the lower mind or even put the lower mind into some sort of trance or dull sleep, mistaking yogic noctambulism with a relaxed state of awareness - wide awake, yet calm and neutral. Mantra Practice is the most powerful Yoga Practice and requires some faith to begin with the practice. We may approach the study of Mantras similar to a small child who simply trusts the Mothers hand as it makes its first own step. As we let go of external addictions and trust our own intuition we may enter a whole new dimension of life: A Vedic Lifestyle.
From this state of deeper awareness naturally evolves a longing to make reverances and offerigs to Mother Earth, to the great forces Sun and Moon, to the great forces of Mother Nature - Wind, Fire and Water, to our ancestors, to fellow human beings and animals. As this becomes a natural way of life to synchronize both inner and outer life, we are naturally drawn into own hearts where the vedic deities reside. As this continues as a natural flow of grace along with the deepening of the practice, everything unfolds naturally and in the right time and the right place: the right teacher, the right text, the right people to share the experiences with. As such this Webpage aims to provide each one with some rays of the vedic light, be it an inspiring article, book recommendation, program or course recommendation or teachers we highly honor as guides on this quest into our own hearts.
Vedic Yoga inspires each one to find ones own way into the heart. Self-realization is the goal of Yoga. From the Vedic Point of View, The Self resides in the Heart. May you always be protected. May you find Peace. Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti!
If you wish to go deeper on this yogic path you may be interested in the teachings Vamadeva Shastri (Dr. David Frawley) and Yogini Shambhavi offer. They visit Europe on a regular basis and also provide a large variety on books, online courses and programs worldwide. You may contact us directly through the contact form if you have any questions.
Dr. David Frawley D. Litt. (Pandit Vamadeva Shastri) is the founder and director of the American Institute of Vedic Studies which serves as a vehicle for his work and offers on-line access to go along with his many published writings. The institute works with associated organizations throughout the world. It encourages a deeper study of the Vedic teachings in all forms and branches and is interdisciplinary in approach.
Pandit Vamadeva Shastri is a western born teacher and has been awarded by the Indian government with the rare award "Padma Bushan", one of the highest civilian award, honoring his work and writings as a vedic teacher. He has a rare and prestigious D.Litt. (Doctor of Letters), the highest educational title possible in the field of Yoga and Vedic Sciences from the Swami Vivekanana Yoga Anusandhana Samsthana (SVYASA), the only deemed Yoga University recognized by the Government of India.
Vamadeva Shastri is an authentic teacher based on his own personal quest and experience, deep dwellling into the texts and oral learning received from many authentic teachers who are experts in their areas of knowledge.
Sri Vamadeva Shastri has done and is doing great service to many that he has offered and is offering access into knowledge that was often hitherto inaccessible to an average western seeker.
Yogini Shambhavi Devi, the Co-Director of the American Institute of Vedic Studies, is one of the most important and dynamic women teachers of the deeper aspects of Yoga. Her teachings are rooted in the ancient teachings and traditions of Yoga, yet she transfers these teachings into this time, touching the core of the heart through her authenticity, honesty, depth and love. Shambhavi has been honored with the Jyotisha Visharada by CVA. She is currently offering the Yoga Shakti Training, the next training will begin August 2015.