Jacob Kyle interviews leaders, elders, and teachers from the yoga and wider wisdom community on subjects ranging from eastern philosophies and practices, to consciousness studies, social justice, and the human spiritual condition.
Hari-kirtana das: A lifelong student of yoga, meditation, and Eastern spiritual philosophies, Hari-kirtana das lived full-time in devotional yoga ashrams and intentional spiritual communities from 1977 to 1981 and again from 1995 to 1998. He was formally initiated into the Gaudiya Vaisnava lineage of Bhakti Yoga in 1978. Hari-kirtana is an E-RYT 500 registered yoga teacher and received an 800-hour training certification from the Jivamukti Yoga School. He began teaching contemporary yoga classes in 2009 and has since gone on to develop Yoga Teacher Training courses and is a sought-after guest teacher for numerous Yoga Teacher Training programs. He leads yoga workshops, offers presentations for personal and professional development, and regularly takes students on yoga adventures to India. He currently lives and teaches in Washington, D.C. You can learn more about Hari-kirtana by visiting his website: hari-kirtana.com. You can also find his new book on CreateSpace.com
Kelly Brogan, M.D. is a Manhattan-based holistic women’s health psychiatrist, author of the book, A Mind of Your Own and co-editor of the landmark textbook, Integrative Therapies for Depression. She completed her psychiatric training and fellowship at NYU Medical Center after graduating from Cornell University Medical College, and has a B.S. from MIT in Systems Neuroscience. She is board certified in psychiatry, psychosomatic medicine, and integrative holistic medicine, and is specialized in a root-cause resolution approach to psychiatric syndromes and symptoms. She is on the board of GreenMedInfo, Functional Medicine University, Pathways to Family Wellness, NYS Perinatal Association, Price-Pottenger Nutrition Foundation, Mindd Foundation, the peer-reviewed, indexed journal Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, and the Nicholas Gonzalez Foundation. She is Medical Director for Fearless Parent and a founding member of Health Freedom Action. She is a mother of two.
Steve Peterson started Taoist Alchemy and Chi Kung on the recommendation of his family doctor. The practices both had a dramatic effect on his health and set him on a new spiritual path. He now teaches it to anyone and everyone who wants to learn. In his day job, he manages software projects. He lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina with his wife and family.
Richard Smoley has over thirty-five years’ experience studying and practicing mystical spirituality and philosophy. His latest book is The Deal: A Guide to Radical and Complete Forgiveness. Other works of his are Inner Christianity: A Guide to the Esoteric Tradition; The Dice Game of Shiva: How Consciousness Creates the Universe; Conscious Love: Insights from Mystical Christianity; Forbidden Faith: The Secret History of Gnosticism; The Essential Nostradamus; and Hidden Wisdom: A Guide to the Western Inner Traditions (with Jay Kinney). Richard is the former editor of Gnosis: A Journal of the Western Inner Traditions. Currently he is editor of Quest: Journal of the Theosophical Society in America. His Web site is innerchristianity.com. Richard’s latest book, How God Became God: What Scholars Are Really Saying about God and the Bible, was published in June 2016.
Spring Washam is a well known meditation and dharma teacher based in Oakland, California. She has studied numerous meditation practices and Buddhist philosophy since 1997. She is a founding member and core teacher at the East Bay Meditation Center located in downtown Oakland. She has practiced and studied under some of the most preeminent meditation masters in both the Theravada and Tibetan schools of Buddhism. She has completed a 6 year teacher training program under the guidance of Jack Kornfield and is now on the teacher’s council at Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Woodacre, California. Spring is considered a pioneer in bringing mindfulness based healing practices to diverse communities and is committed to creating opportunities for disenfranchised people everywhere. She is also the founder of Lotus Vine Journeys, a Retreat company that connects Ancient Medicine to Buddhist wisdom.
Eddie Stern is the co-founder of Ashtanga Yoga New York, the Brooklyn Yoga Club and the Broome Street Ganesha Temple. He studied Ashtanga Yoga under Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, of Mysore, South India, for 18 years. Eddie has published several books on Pattabhi Jois and Astanga Yoga, including a translation of Pattabhi Jois’s 1960 treatise, Yoga Mala. He co-founded the Urban Yogi program along with Deepak Chopra and Erica Ford, which introduces inner-city youth to yoga and meditation, teaching them powerful transformative tools that they can bring back into their communities, with some of the youth becoming teachers themselves. Eddie also leads a team that writes health and wellness curriculums, based on yoga and mindfulness, for under-served public school districts, which has been implemented in over 100 schools. His school wellness protocols have been studied by the University of San Diego, Long Island University and Stanford University, showing increases in GPA, attendance and physical fitness.
Jeffery D. Long is Professor of Religion and Asian Studies at Elizabethtown College, in Pennsylvania. He is associated with the Vedanta Society, DĀNAM (the Dharma Academy of North America) and the Hindu American Foundation. A major theme of Long's work is religious pluralism, a topic he approaches from a perspective informed by the process philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead and which he refers to as a "Hindu process theology." Dr. Long has authored three books, A Vision for Hinduism: Beyond Hindu Nationalism, Jainism: An Introduction, and The Historical Dictionary of Hinduism. He has published and presented a number of articles and papers in various forums including the Association for Asian Studies, the Society for Asian and Comparative Philosophy, and the American Academy of Religion. He is currently working on three manuscripts: Indian Philosophy: An Introduction, a book on Hinduism in America, and another on Swami Vivekenanda and his teachings.
Sally Kempton is a master of meditation, yoga philosophy, and practical tantric philosophy. Her retreats and workshops are known for creating breakthroughs, born of her ability to help people turn sublime truths into lived, and life-shifting, experience. Sally spent 20 years as a swami in a Vedic order, and has been studying and teaching spiritual wisdom for 40 years. She is the author of Awakening Shakti: The Transformative Power of the Goddesses of Yoga and Meditation for the Love of It, a seminal book on basic meditation practice, and writes the popular Yoga Journal column, Wisdom. Learn more at sallykempton.com.
Rod Stryker (also known as Yogarupa) is widely considered one of the West's leading authorities on yoga, tantra and meditation. He has taught for more than thirty-five years, is the founder of ParaYoga® and author of The Four Desires: Creating a Life of Purpose, Happiness, Prosperity, and Freedom. Rod has contributed to countless wellness publications and recently launched one of the most comprehensive online yoga teacher trainings in the world. At the forefront of integrating ancient yogic wisdom into a broad array of modern-day applications, he is a thought leader and mentor to thousands of ParaYoga practitioners and hundreds of teachers throughout the world. Rod lives in Colorado with his wife and four children.
Our guest in this episode is Shambhavi Sarasvati. Shambhavi is the spiritual director of Jaya Kula. Her principle training is in the View and practices of Trika Shaivism, the classical Tantrik tradition of Kashmir, and the Dzogchen tradition of Tibet. She has been fortunate to have trained with several great teachers in these and other nondual traditions. Shambhavi is a householder sannyasini and a devotee of Anandamayi Ma. She hopes to bring more people to an understanding of the breadth and depth of Ma’s teachings. Read more about Anandamayi Ma. Shambhavi has studied Ayurveda for self-care for the past 15 years. She is also a Vedic astrologer and expert diviner. She is the author of Tantra: the Play of Awakening (2012), Pilgrims to Opennness: Direct Realization Tantra in Everyday Life (2009), Returning (2015), and No Retreat: Poems on the Way to Waking Up (2016). In addition, she published an academic book, Avatar Bodies: a Tantra for Posthumanism. She holds an MFA in Fiction from Mills College and a Ph.D. in Modern Thought and Literature from Stanford University. Shambhavi left academia in 2004 in order to devote herself to practice, writing and teaching in her spiritual tradition.
Mary Reilly Nichols holds a B.A. in Anthropology from Harvard University and completed five years of residency in meditation ashrams in India and the US. A devoted student of Muktananda, she has taught yoga and meditation in New York City for over thirty years. Her teaching combines Iyengar, Integral and Anusara styles of Hatha Yoga with the Upanishadic tradition of the wisdom and experience of non-duality. She offers frequent workshops on classical yoga philosophy and psychology, including Advaita Non-Dualism and the Tantric methods of Kashmiri Shaivism. Currently, Ms. Nichols teaches stress management in psychiatric settings and is involved in ongoing research on the mind/body benefits of yoga and meditation.
Our guest in this episode is Professor Jay Garfield, who has been at the forefront of highlighting the Western bias in Academic philosophy departments. We talk at length about the political reasons for this and how longstanding prejudices have contributed to the wider philosophical landscape. We talk about how any non-Western philosophy is a "marked case", the difference between comparative and cross-cultural philosophy, and how the latter can enrich our philosophical conversations. We also discussed some ways in which Buddhist philosophy contributes to the conversation around certain philosophical issues, including the question of "essences", identity, and ethics.
For those interested in the more scholarly questions around philosophy and how it is practiced, be sure to check out this fascinating episode.
In this episode, I had the pleasure of interviewing author and cultural critic Matthew Remski, who has previously participated in our Radical Practice Conference, offering two talks on the Yoga Sutras and the Bhagavad Gita. During our 3rd attempt (!!) at an interview, we discussed many juicy topics: eroticism and freudian dynamics in yogic relationships, authority structures in yoga institutions and what the future might look like. We also discussed his experience involved with two cults and what he has learned from those experiences.
My guest in this episode is Dr. Joe Loizzo, who was a recent guest speaker at our conference on Buddhism. The organization Joe founded, the Nalanda Institute of Contemplative Science, was also our sponsor for this conference. It was an honor to talk to Joe about his life story, the latest meditation research, how the academy and the hospital are not comfortable homes for integrated contemplative work, a reappropriated approach to ethics, and how an internal experience of the chakras in personal practice relates to the science of the nervous system.
In this episode, I was honored to have the opportunity to interview Buddhist meditation teacher Sharon Salzberg, who offered incredible practical tools to begin living ethically and mindfully. We also discussed the role of faith in our practice, different forms of meditation, and the perceived difference between Theravada and Mahayana forms of Buddhism. We closed this insightful interview with Sharon offering a short meditation.
Leslie Kaminoff is a yoga educator inspired by the tradition of T.K.V. Desikachar. He is an internationally recognized specialist with thirty seven years’ experience in the fields of yoga and breath anatomy. He leads anatomy and yoga methodology workshops for many of the leading yoga associations, schools and training programs in the world. Leslie’s book Yoga Anatomy, (co-authored with Amy Matthews), has been printed more than 12 times and has sold over 500,000 copies.
Leslie is the founder of The Breathing Project, a non-profit educational corporation dedicated to the teaching of individualized, breath-centered yoga practice and education. The Breathing Project currently teaches classes and advanced training programs out of its studio in New York City. From October to June, Leslie can be found teaching his highly respected year-long courses in Yoga Anatomy at The Breathing Project in NYC. His courses are also available online to a worldwide audience at yogaanatomy.net.
Anneke Lucas founded Liberation Prison Yoga in 2014. Aside from her duties as executive director , Anneke trains new volunteer instructors on site. She also teaches regularly at several of the eight facilities where LPY has weekly programs. She conducts trainings and workshops for yoga instructors, mental health professionals and NYC DOC and DOP employees, to bring yoga and mindfulness into work with traumatized populations. Anneke is regularly invited to speak at conferences and universities about the subject of trauma, incarceration, and sex-trafficking. In 2013, Anneke started two groups at the Woman’s Jail at Rikers Island for survivors of sex-trafficking.
Anneke herself experienced and witnessed some of the worst atrocities known to humankind – before she reached the age of 12. Her background, the obstacles she overcame, and the insights she received into the nature of the human psyche on her journey to health are an inspiration to students inside and outside of prisons, and audiences around the world. The continued healing she receives from her work reminds her that human connection is the agent for change, in teacher and student, provider and client. In 2008, Anneke created a 500 Hour Yoga Alliance RYT program for a New York City based yoga studio. From 2011 to 2014 Anneke was director of Prison Yoga Project New York. She graduated from the Screenwrting program at AFI in 1993, published a novel in her home country, Belgium, and wrote many articles about yoga and trauma. She has been working on a book about her childhood, previewed in an article about her work in the prisons.
Dana Slamp is the Founder of Prema Yoga Therapeutics, an IAYT member school and the leading training facility for yoga therapists in NYC. She leads advanced teacher trainings at Pure Yoga in uptown New York, Yoga Vida in downtown New York, Three Sisters Yoga in Portland, OR, and the upcoming Ayurvedic Yoga Training at Pure Yoga July 13 - 31. Dana's presented at Columbia Medical University, the Telluride Yoga Festival, and several times at the Yoga Journal Conference.
Dana's unique upbringing in a family of ministers and teachers led to a lifelong pursuit of spiritual truth, first in the arts through classical acting and writing, through her legal writing as paralegal, and through the teachings of yoga over the past two decades. Prema Yoga Therapeutics' training for yoga teachers and medical health care professionals can be found at prema-yoga.org. For a list of local classes as well as national courses and international retreats, please check our her personal teaching site at danaslamp.com.
Ramesh Bjonnes is a writer, yogi and workshop leader. Currently residing in the United States, he lived in India and Nepal in the 1980s learning directly from an enigmatic master of Tantra. He has practiced yoga and meditation for over 30 years and lectured on Tantra, yoga and meditation in many countries. The co-founder of the Prama Institute, a holistic retreat center, he is also the Director of the Prama Wellness Center, where yoga therapy, meditation, juice fasting and Ayurveda is used to rejuvenate people’s health and wellbeing. He lives and practices in an eco-village in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, USA. His is the author of two books on Tantra, Sacred Body, Sacred Spirit (Innerworld, 2013) and Tantra: The Yoga of Love and Awakening (Hay House India, 2014).
Dr. Miles Neale lives in NYC and operates a private practice as a Buddhist psychotherapist. He is the Assistant Director of the Nalanda Institute for Contemplative Science, as well as a Clinical Instructor of Psychology at Weill Cornell Medical College and contributing expert on mindfulness meditation for the BBC World Service. CHITHEADS' host Jacob Kyle sat down with Miles to talk about his approach to personal healing and transformation through the rigorous study of Indo-Tibetan Buddhist psychology and the meditative arts.
Jacob Kyle and CHITHEADS sat down with wellness consultant and Ashtanga teacher, Kiki Flynn, in this episode. They discussed topics relating to the early NYC Yoga Scene, Ashtanga, and the many pitfalls of using plastic.
Kiki is a renowned Ashtanga Yoga teacher, wellness consultant, and personal coach. With 34-years experience, she has pioneered a career at the strategic intersection of Wellness, Natural Lifestyle, Yoga, Inspired Living, and Organic Beauty. Kiki is a spokesperson and community builder with a dedicated YouTube and Blogging audience.
Kiki facilitates and implements transformational programs for individuals and organizations. Her clients include Hollywood and Fortune 500 leaders as well as adults and children with therapeutic needs. She develops and executes Yoga and Wellness Programs for Spinal Cord Injury at The Axis Project as well as Independence Care Systems, providing Yoga for communities with disability.
Based in New York City, Kiki also consults remotely with clients around the world. A Yoga educator, she teaches workshops locally and worldwide.
Kiki Graduated with Honors from NYU with a BFA in Drama, and it is here she was introduced to Yoga. As an actress, she starred and co-starred in Hollywood, New York, and Independent projects in film, television, and theater. Kiki continued her Yoga studies traveling to India more than a dozen times studying closely with Ashtanga Yoga with founder Sri. K. Pattabhi Jois in Yoga Therapeutics, Wellness Traditions, Sanskrit and Philosophy.
In 1996, Kiki opened her first yoga school in Los Angeles, where she taught for 10 years. Here she was honored to host her teacher Pattabhi Jois as well as celebrated Kirtan singer Krishna Das in his first California appearances. She also worked as a Yoga Consultant in film and television, notably on The Next Best Thing, starring Madonna.
Philip Goldberg is the author and co-author of various books, including and most notably, American Veda. CHITHEADS and Jacob Kyle sat down with Philip to talk about his journey as a public speaker, spiritual counselor, workshop leader, and transcendental meditation teacher from his beginnings in the counterculture movement of the sixties and seventies. Philip lives in Los Angeles and writes often for Huffington Post. Considering himself a pragmatic mystic, he also leads Vedic tours in India, exploring the origin of the main gurus that visited the West, and is the co-host of the podcast, "Spirit Masters". Currently, Philip is working on a biography on Yogananda, set for release in 2018.
Blending body work, yoga and anatomy, Zachery Dacuk coined the practice of Conscious Embodiment. Chitheads and Jacob Kyle had the opportunity to sit down with Zach to talk with him about his 15-year journey into holistic healing where he developed an experiential practice that integrated postural analysis and fascia movement. Based in New York City, Zach provides an anatomy curriculum to students and renowned teachers all over the United States. Zach is a registered yoga teacher, licensed massage therapist, and since 2002 has built a successful and innovation bodywork practice that applies the teachings of yoga, Shiatsu, fascial manipulation and Kinesis Myofascial Integration.
Matthew Thomas Lombardo is a popular yoga teacher and teacher of teachers in New York City and Brooklyn. Besides his well attended public classes, he has a wide range of experience teaching asana and meditation to celebrities, senior citizens, kids, and is trained to teach yoga in prison. He has also worked with reinvigorating men who are returning to the workplace at Career Gear. He has been interviewed by the New York Times and Haute Living. In the Spring of 2016, he will be on a teaching tour through Prague, Bratislava, Munich and other European cities.
We sat down to have a candid conversation in my Harlem apartment to discuss his teaching style, his thoughts on what constitutes a cult and his own take on the recent Jivamukti Yoga School scandals.
In this episode, I had the pleasure of interviewing Christopher Wallis, whose work I discovered through my own research into the Tantrik tradition. Christopher, also known as Hareesh, was introduced to Indian spirituality at the age of seven and initiated into the practice of yogic meditation at sixteen. His degrees include a B.A. in Religion and Classics from the University of Rochester, an M.A. in Sanskrit from U.C. Berkeley, an M.Phil. in Classical Indian Religions from Oxford, and a Ph.D. on the traditions of Śaiva Tantra from Berkeley. He received traditional education at yoga āshrams in upstate New York and India in meditation, kīrtan, mantra-science, āsana, karma-yoga, and more. He currently teaches meditation, yoga darśana (philosophy), Tantrik philosophy, Sanskrit, mantra-science, and offers spiritual counseling.
Hareesh is the Founder and Head Faculty of the Mattamayura Institute. His teachers, mentors, and gurus, in chronological order, include: Gurumayī Chidvilāsānandā, Paul Muller-Ortega; Alexis Sanderson; Marshall Rosenberg; Somadeva Vasudeva, Dharmabodhi Sarasvati; and Adyashanti. Hareesh is the author of Tantra Illuminated: The Philosophy, History, and Practice of a Timeless Tradition.
In this interview, I had the pleasure of speaking with Bob Doto, who is the owner and director of Church Avenue Yoga and Bodywork Center in Brooklyn, New York City. He is a yoga instructor and massage therapist, who has been practicing Ashtanga Yoga under the guidance of Eddie Stern. Bob is a prolific writer on body-centered spirituality. He is a founding member of The Babarazzi; was the Managing Editor of internationally acclaimed journal of religious studies, Parabola; and was a founding member of the elusive post-art-punk band SPRCSS. Bob received his MFA in Writing & Poetics from Naropa University’s “Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics” in 2002, and is a graduate of the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine.
In this episode, I interview one of my own teachers: Nikki Costello. Nikki is a certified Iyengar yoga teacher. She has been teaching yoga for 22 years and was previously certified in Jivamukti Yoga and Anusara Yoga. For 8 years, she taught exclusively for the SYDA Foundation, as a hatha yoga and meditation teacher. As part of the organization she taught hatha yoga in retreats and events in North America, South America, Europe, India and China. It was during this time that she began cultivating a practice of meditation and deepened her study of yogic scriptures and philosophical texts.
She lives in Williamsburg, Brooklyn and teaches public classes at Kula Yoga in Tribeca and Williamsburg and Yoga Shanti. She maintains a well-recognized private practice in New York City, training and guiding individuals on all levels of their health and well-being.
Nikki is passionate about sharing her study and practice of yoga. She has created several unique educational opportunities for yoga students which include: The Teachers Practice, The Mentor Practice, The Sutra Practice and The Enrichment Practice. She continues to lead retreats and workshops all over the world and in 2013-2014 was a contributing editor at Yoga Journal, writing the magazine’s “Basics Column.”
My guest in the 11th episode of CHITHEADS is Professor Edwin Bryant. Edwin Bryant received his Ph.D in Indic languages and Cultures from Columbia University. He taught Hinduism at Harvard University for three years, and is presently the professor of Hinduism at Rutgers University where he teaches courses on Hindu philosophy and religion. He has received numerous awards and fellowships, published six books and authored a number of articles on Vedic history, yoga, and the Krishna tradition. In addition to his academic work for the scholarly community, Edwin's Penguin World Classics translation of the Srimad Bhagavata Purana, the traditional source for the story of Krishna's incarnation, is both for Indology specialists as well as students and those interested in Hinduism from the general reading public and the yoga community.
My guest in this episode is Manorama D'Alvia. Manorama is one of the leading teachers in Sanskrit and Yoga Philosophy. She is the founder of both the Sanskrit Studies Method™ and the Luminous Soul Method™. Manorama evokes healing through the universal arts of language and conscious living. “Happiness,” she often says, “is the free flow of energy, and communication is energy. When we use our voices authentically and confidently, we create harmony between ourselves and others.” A renowned, highly respected teacher, Manorama offers Sanskrit Studies Method programs for yoga teacher trainings, as well as Luminous Soul Method trainings and retreats. She tours the globe, training students in the Sanskrit Studies Method and the Luminous Soul Method. I got a chance to sit down with her this week at her cozy office in the West Village neighborhood of Manhattan.
My guest in this episode is Christopher Tompkins. Christopher is a Yoga practitioner and Sanskrit scholar specializing in the tradition of Tantric Shaivism. His research focuses in particular on the ritualized practices of ‘Hatha’ Yoga as originally presented in the earliest surviving (un-translated) Tantras, which pre-date the later ‘Hatha Yoga’ manuals by centuries. He holds advanced degrees in Religion and Sanskrit and presents internationally on the history, practice, and philosophy of Yoga. In 2012, he founded the ‘Kashmir Shaivism Preservation Project,’ which seeks to preserve and to freely share the literary legacy of Kashmir Shaivism. To date, he has acquired over 24,000 pages of manuscripts, most of which have never been seen in the West, which span the vast subject range of Philosophy, Ritual, and Yoga representing the medieval Tantric tradition.