Maui Yoga Teacher Training

"The Real Yoga is Bhakti Yoga" : The Practice of “Heartcore” Yoga


~  Omraam Mikhaël Aïvanhov

~ Namaste’ Beloved One ~

There’s a really nice documentary on yoga that we show at each of our yoga teacher trainings — it’s funny, hip, sexy, and is also able to get deep into the heart of this thing that we call yoga. If you’re really into yoga, you’ve probably already seen it. The film is called “Enlighten Up!” and if you haven’t had the opportunity yet, it’s definitely worth a couple hours of your time. Here’s a link to the Official Website.

I bring this up because towards the end of the film, which up until that point had mainly focused on “Hatha Yoga” (the more physical form of yoga most seen in the West), we get thrown a ringer: The real yoga for most yogis in India (and for most Indians, as well), we are told, is not Hatha Yoga at all, it’s Bhakti Yoga. This bit of news comes from Shyamdas, a Western-born yogi who has lived in India off and on for something like 30+ years. Here is the clip from the movie to get a better feel for what I’m about to talk about:

So what is Bhakti Yoga, and why is it the “real” yoga?

     Bhakti is the Yoga of “Love, Devotion, and Surrender” (see Santana-McGlaughlin : ), and it is the real yoga because it is the foundation of all the other forms/paths of yoga. The essential idea is that when we love something, we give it our attention. We become attracted to whatever it is, and our heart is in it — we consciously choose to explore that thing more deeply, to enter into relationship with it. For example, many of us yogis get into yoga because we initially are just following our bliss, our heart, and decide that we really want to spend more time getting to know this Yoga thing, and ourselves, more intimately. Then we give it our love, our attention, and go about devotedly and intently practicing and learning it to our heart’s content.

That’s Bhakti.

And you see how by definition it lies at the base of all other paths of yoga, and really can be seen to be the foundation of all that we do in life: We tend to tend and attend to what we love to do — whether it’s Hatha, Tantra, Jnana, Karma, Raja, or any other form or path or style of yoga. In this sense we might say that all yoga is real yoga, because ALL Yoga is Bhakti Yoga.

That said, Bhakti Yoga is its own path, too, and it is much more than that. Because we can practice the other forms of yoga and miss the “heart,” the juicy heart of it all. Indeed, we can miss the point, the essence, the rasa (juice). For Bhakti Yoga is the path of Love, and if Bhakti lies at the foundation of everything else, it is because Love does. And so if our Yoga is not working on our heart and somehow helping to remove all the armoring and blockages around the heart that has served to keep us from truly loving ourSelf and an “other” as ourSelf, then it is not true yoga. No, it is yoga that is actually only serving to reinforce the ego’s boundaries, and leading us away from Yoga, which is no different from Love, from Unity, from the Divine.

Not that there is anything necessarily wrong with a strong ego, as it all depends where we are on our life’s journey.  As Ram Das, one of the great Western Bhaktas (Bhakti Yogis), and one of my greatest inspirations, has often put it:

“You have to be somebody before you can be nobody.”

For me, this means that we truly have to be very strong within ourselves to fully face and even embrace the reality of our non-existence. Put another way: Our ego is also what drives us forward on the path, and it is through it that we feel more empowered to live a full human life in the body-temple we have been gifted, which affords the chance to “slowly, slowly” prepare for our inevitable demise. So if there were no ego, there would be no game to play here — we would be dissolved back into the Godhead/heart (or GoddessHeart, if you will ; ) — and that’s not so bad, either, it seems to be what we’re all secretly seeking!!! A strong, healthy ego also will have the ability to look death in the face (or our greatest fear(s)), and say, “yes, bring it on.” And a strong, healthy ego will also be able to fully look at our shadow, and if not fully enlighten the darkness, then at least keep it in check.

Now, I bring all of this up because this is all truly fundamental & foundational for all that we do in yoga. And it also feels so essential for the current 2012 and beyond time period that we are navigating. It does now feel to be time for the Shadow work to be done, where we stop stuffing our stuff — the horrific damage we’ve been doing to our bodies, each other, the planet — and actually fully face it all and deal with it (by first not being in denial anymore). Yes, it’s time to truly Be the One that we’ve been waiting for, to be our own Hero/Savior/Beloved, individually and collectively.

I know, easier said than done! Because in truth, this heart work is hard work, perhaps the hardest we will ever do. It takes great courage (from the French word for heart, “coeur“) to get to the core of things, to look unblinkingly at the truth about ourselves… For truth hurts, and the truth can even kill us (or the ego, at least). Many of us are not yet prepared to handle such truth, and so we live our lives on the surface of things, judging and blaming others instead of pointing the finger back at ourselves in the realization that we have our own inner demons to confront. The good news is that the practice of yoga, in its fullest sense (that is practiced integrally, holistically), is one of the greatest systems ever devised to prepare ourselves for such intense revelations, empowering us also to then make the necessary changes in our lives so that we may truly be beacons of light in this world.

I happen to be writing this on Easter morning, 2012. I have no strong opinion whether Jesus truly lived and died for our sins, or not, though I do feel it’s possible, certainly. At the very least, if he truly said all or most of what we find in the Gospels (including the non-canonical ones like The Gospel of Thomas) — much of which we find in Eastern wisdom, too — then Jesus was indeed a great yoga master, an avatar (incarnation of God on earth), if there ever was one. And if Jesus really is Love, then hell (or heaven) yeah I believe in Jesus, because I know the Power of Love. I don’t believe in a Second Coming, except in the sense that we are each responsible for our own resurrection in Love, and that we are all the Messiah, and that it will be something of a “team effort” here to truly bring Heaven to Earth. And it is happening.

Omni Vincit Amor

Love is and has always been the ever and only lasting answer. It does truly conquer — or perhaps better, contain — ALL. There is no force in the universe greater than Love. A great yogi (Yogi Berra ; ) once said:

If life were perfect, it wouldn’t be.”

Well, the same is true for us: We are all perfectly imperfect — perfect in our imperfectness. Even our desire to be saved from our imperfections is perfect, too. And perhaps the only salvation for our imperfection, for our “Fallen” nature, if you will, is to Fall In Love, to fall deeply In Love.


I want to close by sharing two things which have been brought to my attention this past week, and you will note also speak to what I have been sharing here. The first is a piece by Marianne Williamson on why the phenomenon of “falling in love,” is not an illusion at all, but a taste of enlightenment. I actually first saw this in Natural Awakenings magazine, and then found it here on the web: Marianne Williamson on Love

The other is a song that we all know, one of the most beautiful and profound love songs I have ever heard:


Thanks for Listening!

Love, Allowah











Omraam Mikhael Aivanhov

Master Omraam Mikhaël Aïvanhov, Co-creating Heaven on Earth

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This is my very first blog entry here! Tuning in this past week to what would be most helpful to write to get things going, I felt it would be best to tell you about one of my favorite and most inspirational spiritual teachers, Master Mikhaël Aïvanhov, and why we will be specifically delving into his life and work during our upcoming yoga immersion at the Spirit of Aloha…

A very interesting synchronicity happened when we were in the initial planning stages of our yoga retreat…I met a beautiful, wise, and otherwise altogether remarkable young woman from Haiti, Naïma Audant, who expressed interest in doing her yoga teacher training this year, and — she lives on Maui and was willing to help us get the program together and spread the word. This felt like a goddessend to me ; ) , so I was already feeling very blessed to have our connection.

Then I went back to Florida, only to return just a couple of weeks later to attend the Mystic Island Festival (which was amazing!) where I offered Ecstatic Breath & Flying Yoga sessions (with Meenakshi Angel Honig). After the festival, Naïma and I got back together at her place, and it was there that I saw her bookshelves full of Master Omraam’s books! As it turns out, Naïma’s father is a very serious student of Omraam’s work, and he brought Naïma up with his teachings.

This was all so fascinating to me because I have for the past 12 years looked to Omraam as one of my greatest sources of spiritual inspiration, ever since I first heard about him from an Ammachi devotee in Philadelphia, and read Georg Feuerstein’s biography of him, The Mystery of Light, a book I very highly recommend. I immediately said to my lovely new friend Naïma that this felt like a strong sign that we would want to really focus on Omraam’s teachings during our training, and that would be a fulfillment for me as I have known for a long time that I needed to bring this great master’s teachings into our yoga teacher training programs. I hesitated until now because not only did I feel that his teachings might be too intense for some, but to be honest, I didn’t really feel that I was truly living up to the high ideals that Omraam stressed in his life, and there was certainly a part of myself, too, that was resistant to following anyone’s teachings, no matter how holy or wise they seemed.

In any case, and to make a long process short, I do feel that I/we are ready now, and that in fact,there’s no better time or place to bring Master Aïvanhov’s teachings to light. There are elements that Aivanhov emphasized in his teachings which we will also inform our yoga program. I will list these as 3 foundational principles.

First, as I mentioned, Aivanhov spoke of the great importance of having a “High Ideal” (“Le Haute Ideal,” in French), and that he expressed in the following words (gifted him by his teacher, Peter Deunov):

May your heart be as pure as crystal,

Your intellect as luminous as the sun,

Your soul, as vast as the Universe,

and your Spirit, as powerful as, and united with God.

Pretty tall order, right? And yet, no doubt, like anything we can imagine, it is possible. I do feel that great living masters like Omraam did attain to such a high ideal, and in my heart of hearts, know that I am called to this, too. Perhaps if you are still reading this, you are feeling the same call…

Another key element of Omraam’s teachings was what he called “Solar Yoga” (or, Surya Yoga, “surya” meaning “sun” in Sanskrit) the practice of consciously absorbing the sun’s immense prana, meditating upon it, and “becoming a human sun,” as one recent teacher has put it. Omraam stressed the sun and light so much in his teachings that there are whole websites dedicated to this aspect of his work, check out THIS ONE.

One final element of Omraam’s teachings that I would like to highlight is his emphasis on the ancient ideal of bringing heaven to earth. For him, this did not mean denying the earth element — almost more that the two would be meeting halfway, so there would be a balance of the two. For example, in regard to sexuality, the master did not recommend either suppression of the sexual impulse, nor its abuse through overuse. He taught, rather, that if we could bring our intimacy to a higher and deeper space of meeting first and foremost at the heart and soul level (what we in yoga call “namaste'”), then we could truly divinize our love.

So what does all of this have to do with a Yoga Teacher Training Program, isn’t this guy long since passed on, and what value could these teachings have for us now in our current postmodern, 2012, Quantum-Shift era — some questions you might rightfully be wondering, I certainly am. And so the answer is, I don’t know, really, I just feel that at the very least, Aïvanhov’s teachings will be a good starting place for our discussions and satsangs, helping us to ground us more in the wisdom of the past spiritual teachers of humankind, as we do the continual work of translating cosmic principles and eternal spiritual truths into our current 2012 reality, co-creating heaven on earth as we do.


There’s one last really interesting connection I feel is important to mention here, and that is Omraam’s connection with India and yoga. Without going into a lot of details (I may in a subsequent blog), it appears that Omraam went through quite a transformation in the year 1959-1960 when he visited India. Not much is known of what happened to him there, but it is documented that he lived as a sadhu (wandering yogi) and was welcomed as a great sage from another land by many of the great Indian masters of the day there, including Swami Sivananda (who apparently shouted in delight when he showed up at his ashram), Sri Ramana Maharishi, the great master Babaji, and Neem Karoli Baba. From my understanding, it was the latter that gave him the name “Omraam.” When I first learned this, I found it very interesting because ever since the beginning of my yoga journey, I have felt a strong resonance with Ram Dass and the Neem Karoli Baba path. Part of the draw of coming to Hawaii for me was to meet Ram Dass (who lives on Maui), and I finally did, as fate would have it, at the Mystic Island Festival this year on my 42nd birthday, how cool is that?

So anyway, in a nutshell, I feel good about all of this, I feel like this is a fulfillment of something and like I said, it’s time…

In the Spirit of Aloha…One Love ❤ Allowah

Official Omraam Website

wikipedia entry on Omraam

“GOD IS 1, LOVE IS 1…GOD IS LOVE.” ~ Master Omraam