Introduction to the Yamas and Niyamas

 It strikes me as a kind of grace when time, which can be so ruthless, seems instead to align and perfect something beautiful.  Wines grow richer in the cask, eons make a river stone smooth, my father was sweeter and … Continue reading

Not Stealing

As a kid I once pocketed the change and bills I saw on the tables in a restaurant.  I thought the world inexplicably kind that day, and I didn’t think to ask whether the money belonged to someone.  If I … Continue reading


Non-harming is the first practice on the list, a sign at the outer perimeter of the territory of the first ten practices of yoga.  “Entering Non-harming Population: TBD” The countryside is initially familiar, with little to distinguish it from the … Continue reading

Having Fiery Energy

I prefer not to define this principle in the conventional way as zeal or discipline, mainly because I don’t aspire to be a zealot or disciplinarian.  I like the term “fiery energy”; it is close to the Sanskrit roots and … Continue reading


Last year I studied a book containing a dozen side-by-side translations of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, looking for differences and common threads. Among the scores of verses I studied in this way, the one on devotion had the most diverse translations. … Continue reading

Self Study

When I was a young man I had the recurring feeling of being dissociated from my body.  Everything around me had a sense of unreality; I felt as though my Self was the only thing that truly existed.  This was … Continue reading


To a fault, it has always come more or less naturally to me to tell the truth.  Earlier in my career I nearly lost my job by guilelessly telling the truth in a delicate political situation.  My friends called this … Continue reading

Self Restraint

Brahmacharya is traditionally translated as “sexual continence” or “abstinence.” The word also refers to adolescence – in the culture where the ten practices originated, it was traditional for people to enter school and undertake religious studies during the period of … Continue reading

Letting Go

When my sons were young one of my favorite recreations was to go indoor rock-climbing with them.  We went to a reconditioned warehouse where climbers  had looped ropes over the rafters and fitted the walls with a system of rock-like … Continue reading

Being Content

Like many of the Sanskrit terms of yoga, the word for contentment has a sound that embodies its meaning. Santosha.   It is like the calming sound of ocean, resting between sand and air. This also is its position among the … Continue reading