Category Archives: swami

“Must Read” Yoga Book Review: Yoga and Long Life, by Yogi Gupta


Katherine Labonte

The book Yoga and Long Life by Yogi Gupta is an absolute gem. It is one of my favorite yoga books. It is amazing how simple and yet in-depth it is at the same time. I am not sure I know any other yoga ‘manual’ that covers so much in such little space.
Yogi Gupta was obviously an intelligent man, and well learned. He starts out with such a clear message right on the cover page, with the symbol of Om and jnana mudra – symbolically representing the purpose, path, and result of yoga all in one.
The following topics are covered in the text: the definition of Yoga, Yoga and Christianity, philosophy of Yoga, types of Yoga, principles of relativity and duality, effects of Yoga, Yoga and Ayurveda, Yoga and Longevity, Yoga postures (asanas), breathing techniques, meditation, importance of Yoga, the necessity for a teacher, food and health, color and health, relaxation, and practice courses. Throughout the book, one can see that Yogi Gupta was familiar with all the main yogic texts. He refers to the following texts and authors: Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, Goraksha Samhita, Hatha Yoga Pradipika, Rig Veda, Bhagavad Gita, Swami Vivekananda, Aldous Huxley, Gerald Heard, Christopher Isherwood, and Dr. Henry R. Zimmer to name just some.
What is a Yogic text, without a definition of Yoga? He defines Yoga as “a science of living.” What a beautiful definition. It is all-encompassing. He also states: “Yoga is a system of philosophic meditation and asceticism designed to affect the reunion of the soul with the universal spirit.” He makes it clear that it is not just for the body or mind, but for the spirit.
I love that he included a chapter on Yoga and Christianity, as, in my experience, so many Christians have been misled about Yoga being a cult or a religion, or “opening one’s mind to the devil.” He talks about Ghandi and Patanjali, and compares their teachings to Christ’s teachings. One example given of this is the yamas, or ethical rules. “Through Yoga a Hindu becomes a better Hindu, a Christian a better Christian, a Mohammedan a better Mohammedan, and a Jew a better Jew!”
Yogi Gupta refers to this text as a “handbook,” but I feel it is so much more. He says that we need to “transcend, as did the saints, the limits of the ‘gross’ physical self,” hence needing the techniques of yoga to bring us there. His explanation and diagram of the Ida and Pingala nadis and their purpose is very thorough. “It is by achieving a perfect equilibrium between these negative and positive influences in the body that the Hatha yogi reaches his goal.”
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There are a variety of places in the book where he refers to such things as the importance of a guru, the yamas and niyamas, the eight limbs, maya, karma (or, with every action there is an equal and opposite reaction), but ultimately he says, “in the highest forms of yoga (like Raja-yoga), he [the yogi] transcends it [maya] in Samadhi when he becomes part of the Primal Force.” All yogis (and non-yogis alike) should read such a book so that it becomes clear how inter-related the entire body is. He portrays this message through his discussion on the glands, Ayurveda, and the Chakras.
To me, the main value of the book is to very clearly show the interconnectedness within the body-mind-spirit complex; and Yogi Gupta demonstrates that through diet, concentration/meditation exercises, asana, and pranayama, one can have a positive effect on the state of one’s mind, spirit, and physical health. So, if one is not yet deeply connected spiritually, the “hook” will be on the physical health.  He says, “prevention is better than cure.” He also says, “One should try to restore one’s health while remaining in one’s normal place of residence and continuing one’s work. One does not achieve a healthy body merely by fleeing to the Himalayas, California, Florida or other health resorts.” He is showing that it is accessible to anyone who puts forth the effort, finally stating, “it [health] cannot be bought.”
Today, we think of such things as color therapy and raw foods as “new age”. But, Yogi Gupta lived on raw foods for more than twenty years and says, “I feel much better for it.” It is amazing how much he knew about the increased nutrient value of food, long before there was much publicized on that. I can see why green juices are so valuable! The color green “influences the heart, blood pressure and the emotions, and vitalizes the nerves. It also imparts wisdom, peace, harmony, sympathy and generosity.” He connected the concepts of our raw food with the color of the food, and their vibrational qualities.
I am grateful for Yogi Gupta’s work in the Americas, with Sri Dharma Mittra, and now, God willing, through me.

Yoga and Long Life can be purchased at the Dharma Yoga NY Center boutique or through the online store.       

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As a young woman, Katherine was a high school mathematics teacher about to embark on a Masters of Mathematics program. However, at the age of 28, Katherine recovered from a life-threatening and debilitating illness through Yoga and Colon Therapy. Ever since, she has been on a mission to share the profundity of both modalities, and to motivate others to delve deeper – both physically and mentally/ emotionally. Healing is found in the not so obvious ‘nooks and crannies’ of the body and the mind. She teaches private yoga, is a colon therapist, nutritionist, and instructor of colon therapy. She is eternally grateful for finding Sri Dharma Mittra and his complete Raja Yoga methods of healing, and hopes to spend the rest of her life sharing this with others.

Day Eight: The Beginning


The Life of a Yogi
          I’m pretty reluctant to even write this blog entry right now, because that will make it feel like this whole experience is actually over… Last module, the last day was so much easier, just knowing that we’d all be back in two short months. I was saying to somebody the other day how I wish I could do this eight-day intensive experience every two months for the rest of my life; it’s just what I need to ground me and remind me of all the reasons why I aspire to be a Dharma Yoga teacher.
          Today was a perfect ending to the training. We started with pranayama and dhyana with Sri Dharma, followed by spiritual discourse. It’s sort of hard to explain the things covered in spiritual discourse, because somehow, every single lecture, Sri Dharma gives us the very essence of yoga, and at the same time gives each of us exactly the thing we need to hear at that moment. I am more amazed as I watch it over time, because it never fails.
          We had a partner yoga workshop after discourse (lots of fun pictures below), and then Dharma IV with Yoshio – the last asana practice of the training. I felt like I was just giving everything in that class. It’s sort of interesting how hard you work when you know you’re coming to the end of something!
          After lunch we had an oral final exam, which was not nearly as stressful as it might sound. We did it in our small groups, and we just had a few general knowledge questions, some asana demos, and some assisting and adjusting situations to work out. Then we went over the internship guidelines with Adam… I think if I hadn’t already done the 200-hour that discussion would have stressed me out a little bit, because it looks like so much on paper. I mean, it IS so much, in real life as well as on paper, but I know from experience that it is manageable, and it will happen in time.
          Then we had the closing satsang and received our completion certificates for the contact hours of the training. We opened the ceremony with some kirtan, of course, and I have never felt more joyful. I feel like this week has sort of just washed over me, and it hasn’t hit me yet that everything is finished… Because I think it sort of isn’tfinished, you know?
          It doesn’t sound like much, reading over what I’ve written here. But this teacher training has changed my life, and will continue to influence my choices and my path probably for the rest of my life. Throughout my college years, when I was studying dance (which feels like a whole other lifetime now), I used to go to intensive summer programs where I’d get very close with other people… And of course we’d all be sad when they were done, but that was just nothing compared to this. The people I’ve met here are just beyond compare; the level of resonance and familiarity was astounding even from the very beginning. Dharma Yoga teacher trainings are pure bliss – there’s just no way to put it into words.
I could go on and on about how wonderful the whole thing has been, but I think Sri Dharma said it best (as always): You learn about something, and then “you have to check it out for yourself”.
~Danielle

Kim and Yoshio demonstrate some GORGEOUS partner yoga.
My yoga partner, Ana Cecilia, and I

More shots of Kim and Yoshio
A fellow trainee and her partner
We’ve been told several times this week that we look like sisters. Spiritual sisters, maybe?
My small group peeps!
The faculty organizes for a group shot
Sri Dharma sets up his camera
The final product

Me and my roomie, Lisa