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Sutra 1.33 Commentary: The Four Immeasurable Qualities

(In everyday living, we should) cultivate maitri (loving kindness), karuna (compassion), mudita (innate joy) and upeksha (equanimity) in relation to pleasure and pain, good and evil.

Commentary by Joseph Le Page:

The practice of Samadhi extends beyond seated meditation and encompasses all of our activities; for it is not restricted by time or place; it is union with our true being, whose essential nature is limitless freedom.

But, this moment-to moment samadhi needs to be tested in our activities, with all their challenges and difficulties, and these four qualities are the essential guide for "holding the pose of Yoga" in daily living.

Maitri, loving kindness is living with an open heart, it is the intention to maintain a positive attitude so that our every thought, word and deed benefits all beings and serves as a catalyst for awakening.

Maitri is also remembering that when negativity arises within us or in our surroundings, it is only a reflection of limiting conditioning, allowing us to witness it, while holding a space of positive energy.

Karuna, compassion is releasing the tendency to make our own needs and beliefs our main priority, allowing us to see and feel what others are feeling with greater clarity and objectivity.

This clarity allows us to see our similarities; all of us trying to find happiness and avoid suffering to the best of our ability given the limitations imposed by our conditioning and level of understanding.

Through awakening compassion, we sense the pain experienced by all beings as well as the depth of our own suffering, but we also acknowledge how much pain has been released along the spiritual journey.

Clearly seeing the nature of suffering and its solution through spiritual awakening, we pledge our life energy to support all beings along the journey while respecting each person's limits and true needs.

Mudita is joy that bubbles up like a spring from within our own being as a reflection of our ongoing connection to our true Self, inherently whole and complete, one with the source energy.

Attuned to this inner spring, we recognize that any negativity that arises is a reflection of conditioning, allowing our own inner joy to serve as an antidote for anger, resentment, greed, fear or jealousy.

Innate joy reminds us that we are that which we seek, and free from the need to look to the world for that which could make us happy, we live moment-to-moment in deep appreciation for all life brings.

Upeksha is sometimes translated as indifference, but neutrality and equanimity bring us much closer to the heart of its meaning, for it is seeing clearly that life's ups and downs never touch our true being.

Centered in our inner being, we witness pleasure and pain, good and evil and our own reactivity while remaining calm and serene, recognizing that every interaction is an opportunity for awakening.

This neutrality is not inactivity, but just the contrary; by not getting dragged down into conflict and emotional reactivity we have more energy and clarity for service to the greater community.

As we practice these four immeasurables, obstacles are removed naturally, allowing us to enter into Samadhi easily, which in turn deepens our ability to integrate these qualities in daily living.
A perspective on the Yoga Alliance policy on Yoga Therapy
by Joseph Le Page

Yoga Alliance recently adopted a new policy stating that the use of the word "therapy" is not based on approval by their Registry.  The Yoga Alliance asks schools to specify what their therapy is based on so that the public can make an informed decision. In addition, registrants who market themselves externally using both their Registry credential and "yoga therapy"-type terms will need to state the non-Registry basis for their "yoga therapy" qualifications.

My perspective is that this new policy is recognition that the Yoga Alliance is not specialized in the area and can't say which therapies would be effective. The motivation is to protect themselves from possible liability.

Integrative Yoga Therapy (IYT) will maintain its Yoga Alliance Registry following YA guidelines. The new policy can actually be seen as favorable to established schools like IYT that have a strong background in the practice and teaching of Yoga Therapy.  In the area where institutions describe the basis of their Yoga Therapy, IYT presents the following:
  • Accredited as a competency-based yoga therapist training program by the IAYT with a minimum of 800 hours.
  • A pioneer of Yoga Therapy training programs in the United States with over 20 years of experience.
  • Over 20 years of successfully designing and implementing Yoga Therapy programs in mainstream medical settings.
  • In-depth understanding of the Yoga Therapy tradition in India as presented in the Yoga Therapy in India Video Project (
This language will be available for IYT students to use on their YA Registry.

The new Yoga Alliance policy highlights the importance of the work being done by IAYT. While the IAYT Standards are still in process to some degree, they serve an essential function in terms of defining scope of practice, who can practice Yoga Therapy, and in accrediting schools to offer the 800-hour program. This accreditation is based on over 10 years of experience examining standards for Yoga Therapy training programs.

The best measure for evaluating the success of IAYT is its broad acceptance in the field, with over 25 accredited Yoga Therapy training programs since 2014. Through these programs, hundreds of students have been participating safely and successfully. When an appropriate Scope of Practice and extensive training form the foundation of an organization, the word "therapy" can be used safely and effectively as is done, for example by the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA), which has been supporting their members since the 1940s.

Yoga Alliance's new policy is part of the evolution of Yoga Therapy becoming a profession in its own right. It is also an opportunity for us to reflect on topics relevant to the development of Yoga Therapy as a whole:

1. Is teaching Yoga Therapy inherently more risky than any other kind of Yoga instruction?
In over 25 years of practice and teaching Yoga Therapy, IYT has never had a serious injury among students in the program or in healthcare settings. From my experience, Yoga Therapy is one of the safest Yoga practices because it usually employs gentle, adaptive Yoga and because the Yoga Therapist has training in how to meet each student's unique needs. Additionally, the use of the word "therapy" is carefully defined by each Yoga Therapy school to avoid confusing it with medical treatment. It is essential to remember that all of the additional training the Yoga Therapist receives is first and foremost about creating safety.

2. Can we distinguish clearly between the role of the Yoga Teacher and the role of the Yoga Therapist?
The Yoga Therapist uses many of the same tools and techniques as the Yoga Teacher, but with additional training and skills that foster a safe environment for the client, including:
  • The ability to adapt and modify the practices to individual needs and specific health conditions, along with an understanding of the contraindications.
  • An in-depth understanding of anatomy and physiology, including stress and its effects of each of the systems of the body.
  • How to work with medical professionals, understanding the role of each and how the Yoga Therapist supports, but never replaces, a healthcare provider.
  • An in-depth understanding of the vision of Yoga beyond tools and techniques, and how this change in perspective is the key to the process of healing.
3. To what extent can we separate Yoga Therapy from the Hatha Yoga tradition as a whole?
Yoga Therapy is an integral part of the Hatha Yoga tradition. Different from many other spiritual traditions of India, the texts of Hatha Yoga are, in part, treatises on the therapeutic application of Yoga. Yoga Therapy is a key foundation of the vast majority of Indian lineages that brought Yoga to the West. It is part of the authentic Yoga we received from India, which has been traditionally divided into Yoga Teaching for the general public and Yoga Therapy for groups or individuals with special needs. The Yoga tradition has been modified significantly in the West, both in its form and intention because of cultural, economic and legal reasons, but to what extent can we modify it and still continue to call it Yoga?

4. Can Yoga Therapy become a profession within the current healthcare system?
Yoga Therapy is in the very first stages of this process. It is important to remember that physical therapy began as a certificate program and gradually evolved into a profession. What we see in India today is a tendency for Yoga in general, and Yoga Therapy in particular, to move into the university system, and this is a likely direction for the United States. For this to occur successfully, it will require unity of purpose on the part of all Yoga Therapy schools and a further strengthening of the important work already accomplished by IAYT, especially in the area of research.

5. Can Yoga Therapy enter the mainstream and still maintain its character as authentic Yoga?
The current medical model favors allopathic remedies to such an extent that everything coming in contact with it tends to take on this character. From the allopathic perspective, you can give a Yoga protocol for a certain condition and then test the result. If the result is consistently positive, you have one of the factors needed for an effective protocol. The Yoga Therapy perspective is, of course, much wider. In the ultimate sense, disease is separation from our true Self. The whole of life is a journey of healing as a return to union with our authentic being. Physical and psychological health is a reflection of our growing union with our true Self. Yoga is the vehicle for this journey as a philosophy, a technique, and a methodology. Yoga Therapy is the specialized application of Yoga for those who are out of balance and require individualized or small group therapy for their specific needs.

The good news is that attitudes toward healthcare are gradually shifting both within society and within the medical community to embrace a more whole person view of healing. Schools such as IYT that focus on the educational component of Yoga Therapy are essential in maintaining its authentic character. Although scientific study is an important component of Yoga Therapy, the real heart of the profession is the art of educating human beings, especially those who are suffering, on how to reunite with the true Self.

~Joseph Le Page
Now accepting enrollment! 

April 24 - May 1, 2016
Kripalu, MA.

Each day focuses on a system of the body, the most common medical conditions affecting that system, and specific therapeutic yoga approaches to support healing. Joseph Le Page, founder and director of Integrative Yoga Therapy, introduces a detailed protocol for a condition being highlighted that day, and leads a practice based on that protocol. Important facets of this training include:
  • Half and full-day workshops offered by leaders in the field who have in-depth experience in treating specific conditions with yoga
  • Contraindications for yoga therapy treatment of these conditions
  • Daily morning asana class concentrating on one of the conditions being covered that day
  • Yoga nidra and meditation techniques appropriate for each condition
Teaching Format and Contact Hours: This course is a one-week residential program fulfilling 65 contact hours. Classes are held daily, beginning at 6:00 am and ending at 8:30 pm. These hours can be applied to the 800-hour Professional Yoga Therapist Training Program accredited by the International Association of Yoga Therapists.
Ananda Balayogi Bhavanani, MD (AM), MBBS
Joseph Le Page, IYT Founder and Director
Debra Jensen, PTA, E-RYT 500, CHC
Karen O'Donnell Clarke, E-RYT 500

Special Guests:
Sat Bir S. Khalsa, PhD
Allen Wilkins, MD
Terry Roth Schaff, E-RYT
Sudha Carolyn Lundeen, RN, E-RYT 500
Susi Amendola, E-RYT 500
Robert Saper, MD
Baxter Bell, MD, E-RYT 500

Yoga Therapy Applications Within the Mental Health Field
May 1 - 8, 2016, 
Kripalu, MA. 
Explore yoga therapy's applications in the mental-health field. Each day focuses on a different facet of mental health, including depression, anxiety, trauma, PTSD, addiction recovery, and yoga in social work settings. Delivered by leaders in the field, each presentation outlines:
  • How yoga can be used to support treatment
  • Specific applications that are most helpful
  • Contraindications
Enjoy daily morning asana classes that center on one of the conditions being covered that day. Joseph Le Page, founder and director of Integrative Yoga Therapy, presents a detailed protocol for one condition highlighted that day, and leads a practice based on that protocol. Participants also learn yoga nidra and meditation techniques appropriate for each mental-health condition. 

Teaching Format and Contact Hours: This course is a one-week residential program, fulfilling 65 contact hours. Classes are held daily, beginning at 6:00 am and ending at 8:30 pm. These hours can be applied to the 800-hour Professional Yoga Therapist Training Program accredited by the International Association of Yoga Therapists.
Joseph Le Page, IYT Founder and Director 
Ellen Schaeffer, E-RYT 500, Yoga Therapist
Special Guests: 
Richard P. Brown, MD
Patricia Gerbarg, MD
Bessel van der Kolk, MD
Tommy Rosen, kundalini yoga teacher, author founder of Recovery 2.0
Sue Tebb, PhD, MSW, RYT 500
Karen Soltes, LSCW, E-RYT

Special Savings when you register for both trainings!
 April 24-May 1, 2016 and save $199.00! Click here to Register Now. 
By June 2016 we will be ready to accept applications online. 
Om Shanti Shanti Shanti.

Integrative Yoga Therapy | 555 Fifth Street Suite 310 | Santa Rosa | CA | 95401