History & Origins
Origins of Yoga
At House of the Gathering Yoga School (HGYS), our practice on the mat and cushion is connected to the way we live and move in the world. In this sense, having a clear understanding of history and context are key. Half of our faculty have practiced and studied yoga in India, and all have studied with lineages that have roots in India. This aids in the understanding the culture from which yoga emerged and the context of how we can bring it into practice within our Western cultures.
Our curriculum is based on The Eight Limbs of Yoga in the Yoga Sutra. Understanding the history of Yoga, and the context of Yoga as it shows up in the West today, are core values at House of the Gathering Yoga School. We are deeply curious about how Yoga can further our insights into the human condition in modern day, where we find ourselves dealing with tangled social and global issues.
The mental and physical practices of Yoga originated roughly 5,000 years ago in India. India’s spiritual heritage is rich and vast, and steeped in traditions that can move us beyond our individual human lives and the confines of our limited awareness. While there are a multitude of branches and schools of Yoga, they all share the primary concern with consciousness.
For our puposes, Yoga stands for the classical system of Yoga codified by Patanjali that includes the practice and study of ethics, postures, meditation, and breath work. In the Yoga Sutra, Patanjali shared a pathway of knowledge, wisdom, and disciplined practice to achieve what many yoga practitioners refer to as enlightenment or samadhi. The Yoga Sutra can be thought of as an instruction manual for healthy and whole living, complete with practices, traditions, and training that lead the student on the path of Yoga. In this systematized practice there are eight limbs, often called Ashtanga Yoga, that lead the student through a balanced exploration of the internal and external worlds. These limbs are: Yama (ethics), Niyama (observances), Asana (physical posture practice), Pranayama (breath work), Pratyahara (sense withdrawal), Dharana (concentration), Dhyana (meditation and contemplation), and Samadhi (freedom and fulfillment). This path of Yoga is often called The Eight Limbs of Yoga.
At HGYS we use the practices of Yoga to become more skillful in how we respond to the complexity of living this human life, on an interdependent planet. The Yoga Sutra then, offers a road map, a way in which to get know ourselves better, a process through which we can approach all aspects of our lives through the point of contact between our inner and outer worlds. As our bodies become more strong and flexible, as our minds become more settled, as we become more consistent in thought and action, our path becomes clearer, and our way of being in the world becomes more connected. What no longer serves us begins to fall away, opening the doorway for something new to emerge, infiltrating all aspects of our lives.
Origins of Depth Psychology
Consider for a moment, that every day we make choices and assumptions that drive our lives, all which come from an unconscious place within. This can show up as habits or patterns, such as taking the same route to work everyday, or putting on the right sock before the left sock. These unconscious drives can also look like strong emotions spilling over onto the wrong person, choosing the same kind of romantic relationships, or even personality difficulties and disorders. Where do these actions and behaviors originate? Where do these emotions come from? Why do we do the things we do? In the face of our daily struggles, why do we often feel powerless to change course or direction?
Depth Psychology seeks to address some of these questions. In Depth Psychology we deal with the inner life; the subtle, unconscious, and transpersonal aspects of the human experience. There is much about being human that remains hidden or unknown to us. Depth Psychology seeks to delve into the invisible, the secret, and the unseen, to gain understanding and insight into our motivations, drives, instincts, and our unconscious ways of being in the world. A Depth Psychological approach uses dream work, mythology, archetypes, shadow, art, literature, film, as pathways for integration, and for understanding the psyche.
Our approach at House of the Gathering Yoga School is based on the theories of psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, Carl Jung. We focus on the psyche, human development, and individuation, coupled with the practices of yoga and meditation. Individuation being a term coined by Jung to denote the process of integrating our unconscious into our conscious lived experience as a path to wholeness.
At HGYS we explore the intersection of Jung’s work with Yoga. These two disciplines can inform and complement each other, offering practices that can endeavor to reach the whole person, on a multitude of levels, rather than just the head or just the body. The intersection of Depth Psychology and Yoga speaks to the need for a modality that addresses what it means to be a human being, in a human body, with a vast uncharted inner world in the 21st Century.
We cannot escape being human, but we can become more knowledgeable and skillful in regards to navigating our minds, our inner worlds, and our physical bodies in a synergistic way. The integration of Depth Psychological practices and the ancient practice of Yoga is just beginning, and the potentials are endless. Join us at HGYS as we endeavor to build a bridge between body, psyche and spirit.