Yoga Education Through Imagery (YEI!) combines my lifelong passion for graphic arts with my scholarly work in the yoga traditions.
It is a program of talks that teach yoga history, philosophy and science in an easy-to-learn approach that employs compelling visual compositions and lively patterns of audience conversation.
Today’s digital slideshows are often slapdash and larded with visual cliches, but YEI imagery goes elsewhere. Compositions are carefully crafted for visual impact and the articulation of the concepts at hand. They strive to be works of art and make generous use of archival imagery. (Please see examples below.)
A lifelong passion for spirituality and scholarship supports this program.
I am profoundly grateful to my family and all my teachers in spirituality and scholarship.
I eagerly produce new lectures. Some of the presentations I’m most excited by came from topics suggested by studio owners or others who wanted to learn some hidden part of the tradition that they had a unique passion for.
If a topic you would like to see isn’t here, feel free to suggest it to me. I might have time to work up something on it–and would probably enjoy doing so!
These lectures have been offered at Yoga Journal Conferences, The Asian Yoga Conference, the Texas Yoga Conference, The Iowa City Yoga Conference, The Dallas Yoga Conference; Breathe Yoga, Los Gatos; CorePower Yoga; Yoga to the People; YogaWorks; Yoga Garden, SF; Barefoot Movement; Yoga Tree; Loyola Marymount University, University of California, Berkeley; California Institute of Integral Studies; The Anusara Grand Gathering at Estes Park; The Anusara Inspired Gathering at Wanderlust; Hom Yoga, Singapore; Radiantly Alive Yoga, Bali; Atmayaan Yoga, Bangalore, India; and for the teacher trainings of John Friend, Hemalayaa Behl, Rusty Wells, Les Leventhal, Kimber Simpkins and Pete Guinosso and many others.
“Eric Shaw not only holds of wealth of information regarding yogic philosophy but has the unique gift of the ability to share and infuse it to his students. He is able to teach to all levels of experience and knowledge and makes ancient texts significant in present day life. Eric is a great resource to integrate your asana practice with the all-encompassing philosophies of yoga. If you have the opportunity to learn with him it will be a gift of growth you give yourself.” Mary Machado, Yoga Teacher, Walnut Creek, CA
“Eric Shaw has been a wonderful asset to the yoga teacher training program that I coordinate. His extensive background is very well-rounded such that he can cover most any topic from asana to philosophy to pranayama and beyond. Eric’s classes are well thought out, clearly delivered, dynamic and interesting. His ability to connect with the students is whole is instinctual, making his teaching that much more potent and alive. The mood of his classes is both light and informative. It’s a pleasure to have him on board!” Leah Gillman, Studio Owner, Oakland, CA
“At the HEMA Wellness Program Eric Shaw gave a lecture on “The History of Dance and Yoga in India.” It was riveting. Listening to his astute insights on dance gave me the wonderful gift of strengthening my connection to my divine purpose, as an artist. Eric is brilliant, funny and completely charming.” Dawn F., Student, Richmond, VA.
For more testimonials, go here.
Charges for this work vary according to size of venue and distance to travel. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Below is a menu of teachings I have given in the past. .
A. YOGA SCIENCE
1. Why the Buddha Burns: Structures of the Yoga Subtle Body
From the earliest times, yogis explored altered states to discover anatomies hidden from normal eyes. They saw auras, subtle breaths, and energy wheels, and called them koshas, pranas, and chakras. As yogis built regimens for health and realization, they learned to transform neediness into openness and love. Leveraging the inner anatomy, they burned through desire with the agnis: the flames of an open heart. In this presentation you will discover how your inner world is structured and how it is used for transformation on the yoga path.
2. The Tantrik Tattvas: 36 Parts of Subtle Reality
Behind the Periodic Table of Elements is a “Table of Elements” that describes the subtle world. This world has also been broken down into its constituent parts and knowing this can help us understand the states of mind and insights we gain in meditation and asana. The Tantric “Tattvas” are these elements and understanding them gives us clues to how we advance in Tantrik practice.
B. YOGA HISTORY
1. Where Do Yoga Poses Come From? The 5000-year story Yoga Posture
There is a debate about which yoga postures are new or old.
Is there evidence in archeology? In ancient texts? In Indian dance or martial arts?
Aesthetics, wellness and spiritual transformation inform the making of poses. Some postures use ancient principles, some don’t. What’s “authentic” here, and what’s off the mark?
Come see amazing imagery of posture from 5000 years ago. Discover the surprising evolution of asana and the yoga of the body.
2. The Birth of Modern Yoga
Yoga was just a ritual of ragged streetwise monks at the dawn of the 20th century. Women who created Harmonial Gymnastics used the poses of yogis for forms of “flow yoga” in the early 1900s. Meanwhile, Sri T. Krishnamacharya and his student, B. K. S. Iyengar, were part of an Indian Yoga Renaissance that reshaped ancient practices to make yoga attractive to the world.
These teachers and others “cleaned up” the practice, making it align with the latest notions of beauty, physical fitness and health maintenance. This is how modern yoga was born. Learn the tale with all it heroes, colorful imagery and unanticipated transformations.
3. Women’s Re-Imagination of Yoga: A History
Discover how women have redirected the course of yoga‘s global evolution. Women were ancient Tantric gurus, early adapters of yoga in the 1890s and initial supporters of Swami Vivekananda when he brought yoga to the West.
Other female workers in the field created flow yoga in the early 20th century and made care for community a main pillar of yoga’s current philosophy. In this presentation, learn about women’s powerful imprint on yoga, from ancient to modern times.
4. Sound and Fury: The Yoga Tradition Over the last 5000 Years
Is yoga history a crapshoot collection of cascading facts and figures, or a stately progression of predictable developments all foreseeable by a properly trained eye?
In this whizzing array of faces and names and falls of yoga empires over the last 5000 years, told with compelling pictures, rousing stories and the most reliable information we know about the yoga tradition, you’ll get an golden opportunity to answer that question (under expert guidance!) for yourself.
5. The Shared history of Yoga, Dance and Martial Arts
The Great Sage Bodhidharma is said to have traveled from South India to China in the sixth century, where he taught Ch’an Buddhism and fighting arts to the monks at Shaolin. In the Kerala region he came from, they practice Kalaripayattu, a martial art that is also used by dancers to prepare for the stage.
This is only one of many connections in the historical lineage, structure and purposes of these three practices.
Come learn the complex story of their rich interweaving in Asian history from ancient days to our living moment, in this presentation rich with images.
6. Karma, Sex and Shiva: The Philosophical Structure of Tantra
The universe’s laws compel all women and men in the Indian tradition. As we clamber through the jangle of holy books, karma, sex and Shiva rear up again and again, shaping a probing question: what are you going to do with the life gifted you during this brief spell on Earth? Will you exploit it for pleasure (kama) or employ it for wisdom (jnana), or a have a nosh of both?
This fervent riddle propels the mad creativity of India’s self-transformation practices, and it shapes Tantra and yoga in particularly dramatic ways.
In this image-driven lecture, you’ll learn where the wild wisdom of yoga is rooted. And you’ll discover the soul of the weirdly wonderful philosophy of Tantra.
…… C. HISTORICAL PERSONALITIES
1. Ferocity, Faith and Fitness: The Impossible Life of B.K.S. Iyengar
Through 70 years of sweat equity, BKS iyengar redefined yoga while becoming its most famous teacher. How did he live? What sacrifices did he make? In this colorful look at his legacy, we learn about his choices, struggles and dramatic achievements
2. The Yoga Superstar of 1893: Swami Vivekananda
Swami Vivekananda—Sure, you’ve heard of this guy, but who the heck was he? When did he live? What did he look like? And why does his name keep hanging around?
Before Gandhi, ML King and Mother Theresa, Vivekananda was the first pop-culture saint. He was the first to make yoga desirable and cool.
Hopping a boat to America in 1893, he taught yoga throughout the West before dying young and leaving sweet echoes in history.
In this lecture, listen to his stories, and see archival images of Vivekananda’s brash, cigar-smoking effort to pull yoga from the shadows into the modern world.
Not Too Tall, but Brilliant: The Tale of Modern Yoga’s Maker: Sri Krishnamacharya
Only 5’ 2” but packed with brilliance and ambition, Sri Tirumalai Krishnamacharya could bend iron bars with his hands and stop his heart. He mastered India’s philosophies and created the moving yoga we practice today.
See rare photographs from his life as you learn about this teacher of Iyengar and Pattabhi Jois– the man who made modern yoga exciting and new, India’s Sri Krishnamacharya.
D. YOGA PHILOSOPHY
1. The Secret Keys to Yoga Philosophy
Over the past 5000 years, yoga has evolved new beliefs, while yogis have discovered ever-new methods to transcend the mind and body. This rich catalog of approaches and ideas has connected with modern science, medicine and the movement arts to make Modern Yoga.
Figuring out what is ancient and what is new, what belongs to India and what belongs to the West helps us to understand how we get to the mat to transform ourselves and—maybe—transform our world.
2. Yoga and the Quest for True Happiness. A Historical Perspective on What Yogis Do
Yoga has a thousand forms. It’s integrating martial arts, medicine, dance, and other modern disciplines while retaining its promise of Enlightenment.
How did we get here? What happens when we look at the old tradition with new eyes, and look at the new tradition with old eyes? What happens when we try to meld the great world visions of both East and West?
This lecture raises dicey issues while walking you through yoga’s history with hundreds of rare images.
E. YOGA TEXTS
1. Practicing Yoga with the Bhagavad Gita: A Road to Wholeness
There’s all kinds of ways to practice yoga and to make your life go forward, and the Bhagavad Gita, composed about the year 200, is a brilliant and highly readable text that can help us here.
It’s battlefield dramas and message about love sings through the ages. It is a compact, delightful book, rich with characters both human and godly, who’s message about the world is wholly modern. The Bhagavad Gita is a pleasure to read about, talk about, and practice from.
In this 3-hour workshop, we’ll learn the yoga tradition’s main philosophies. We”ll shine a light on our life, work and leisure, and take ourselves through yoga practices with one of the prime authorities of the ancient tradition as our guide.
2. The Upanishads: the World’s First Books of Yoga
The origins of today’s practices are found in the Upanishads, the first books to tell us about yoga. There are 13 of them—and some are almost 3000 years old. Here, we learn how to sit straight, direct our minds, and guide our breath.
The Upanishads tell of yoga’s beginnings and how Indians left their old ways to explore a new understanding of karma. This was a “New Age,” and the Upanishads shaped it 2800 years ago.
In their wisdom, we see our world with its well-known needs. The books teach us to balance goals and desires, life and sex—and our relationship to the divine. In this lecture, we walk with the ancients—and better appreciate life’s waves of excitement and boredom, disappointment and joy, struggle and success.
3. Yoga’s Root Tradition: India’s Sacred Books called the Vedas
The four scriptural Vedas came from a time in human history that seems perfect to us now. The great scholar Wendy Doniger says, “Nowhere can we find the tiniest suspicion of a wish to renounce the world in them; religion is the handmaiden of life. The Gods are asked to give worshippers what they want. The religion is a joyous celebration of human existence.”
In this workshop we learn about that society, and how it created a base for yoga. In the Vedas, poets talked to the gods like friends and saw the dance of male and female as a field of irony, humor and fun. In the Vedas, surrender, vitality and the law of abundance were key to life on Earth.
4. The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali: How We Understand Yoga
The Yoga Sutra is a 2000-year old text that is modern yoga’s “Bible.”
Its four chapters explain the yoga journey, the art of concentration, how we make miracles, and what it means to be enlightened.
It is an ancient plan for accelerating personal growth.
It is delightful and deep, and has shaped life and yoga for millennia. If you have a copy, bring it, and we’ll dive into the Sutras’ hidden messages and rich guidance for life on the modern path.