before we get into this week's episode, I want to give a big warm shout out to our newest patron Marilyn Meeks, Thank you so much for your generous donation. It really, really helps support the show? Hey friends. If you want to help support the show, please consider joining our official yoga and podcast Patreon, the great member perks such as exclusive stress relief, audio meditations live in yoga classes plus you can earn podcast merch over time. To find out more, please visit patreon dot com forward slash yoga and podcast. It's spelled P A T R E O N dot com forward slash Y O G A N D P O D C A S T. The link to check it out is also in the show notes. Your support is greatly appreciated now on with the show. Uh huh mm Welcome friends to the yoga and podcast.
I'm your host Ashley Webber, yoga and Pilates teacher who is living and learning every day here in beautiful austin texas and I am also curious about all things yoga and this is your first time joining us. Well, a big warm welcome to you. This show brings the magic of yoga and mind body practices down to earth for the everyday real human. Today I'm super excited to have dr mark your Adele back on the show for the second time. Check out his previous interview, episode number 14. Yoga and anatomy. When you get the chance. Today is the first half of a two part series. Yoga and practical spirituality, Mark will share with us why it is important to understand the underpinnings of yoga spirituality and answer some of the questions like what is the difference between yoga philosophy and spirituality and why is it important to visit the history of yoga in regards to this subject?
I know you will appreciate learning from this episode just as much as I did. Mark has quite a wealth of knowledge. Now let's sit back, relax and enjoy the episode, y'all. Mhm. Young girl joining us on today's episode is physical therapist, yoga therapist, yoga teacher and yoga teacher trainer. Dr Mark your Adele. Hey Mark, how are you today? Great, Ashley, how are you? I'm doing good. I'm so glad you're here. I'm so glad you're back on the show for a second time. And we're going to talk all about practical spirituality. But for those who have not met you before and who are just tuning in, would you like to introduce yourself just a little bit more?
Tell us about yourself. Sure. I've studied and practiced yoga for over 36 years and um I've taught anatomy, kinesiology, philosophy and yoga spirituality over the past 20 years through different organizations like yoga yoga and practice yoga and also through my company healing arts yoga therapy. So um I really appreciate you inviting me to be interviewed and I'm so excited to talk about this topic. Yeah, yeah, 36 years. That is a long time to be practicing yoga. Um And fun fact, I just think it's funny you taught me anatomy twice, 10 years apart once for Pilates training and once in yoga training. And um and then now we work together at a certain place in town. So it's just it's just funny how it's uh it's a small world. Um Let's talk about yoga. What does yoga mean to you after 36 years and what does it currently look like in your own life?
Well yoga, you know the route is huge which means to join. And so it's it's really about joining all the parts of our being into a unified whole. And so it's a it's a physical practice, a mental practice, a spiritual practice and it's moving toward this idea of oneness. You know, so and so in that sense yoga is everything I tell my students yoga is everything I have to say what I mean by that. Which is because yoga believes that this is oneness, that this is all nous that it is unity and that's the consciousness that we're going for is this unit of state of consciousness. It's like that's the goal of life whether you realize it or not as teach not hans says we are here to awaken from the illusion of our separateness. So it's it's an illusion that everything is separate and that the underlying truth is that there's this unity.
So my yoga practice over the years has evolved, you know it started out as a very physical practice And then as I learned more and got more instruction from Master Yogis and yoga chinese around the world. I started to broaden my perspective on yoga and then I started to bring in these mental and spiritual practices and you know my ultimate goal is this unity consciousness. That's what that's what the Yogis say, our human goal is in life. And yoga is a way to achieve that through practicing these various um mental physical and spiritual practices. Mm And what I love about yoga is it's a lifetime, you can do it for a lifetime. You know like it just keeps evolving and shifting. Like you said it starts started more physical and then it evolved into this more meditative spiritual practice.
What is practical spirituality exactly? And how does it relate to yoga? Well, I think of spirituality as our connection to our soul. This is you know our essence on what you might, what you might call the true self, like big s self. And I feel like spiritually we're already always in communion with source God, Goddess, whatever you're whatever your concept of higher power is this, it's like higher intelligence of the universe. And that's very esoteric. So I think practical spirituality is that you actually are practicing in daily life um Peacefulness, compassion um acceptance. You know this this unconditional love and unconditional joy. This is like living your highest power in your life. And that's what I think is practical spirituality um you know these ancient yogis gave us the knowledge and tools to commune with the divine in a practical way, and that's those are the kinds of yoga practices that I like to do, that keep me in touch with that inter essence on a moment to moment basis, rather than just doing yoga and then you just do your life or going to church and then you do your life, this is about a more connected experience that you bring that into your daily life.
That's what I think of when I think of practical spirituality. So into like yoga is a part of your life, you're integrating yoga into your life and we're going to explore all the ways um you're speaking to how how that will look as we get into things further. So, my question about that is how is yoga spirituality different from yoga philosophy? Because I think it's easy to get confused. Yeah, sure, because, you know, they're often, you know synonymous, but I think of philosophy as the study of like, the theoretical basis of yoga knowledge and it's also in that context, the study of the nature of reality and our existence, especially when considering um you know, why we're here and what are we doing? And these are the big questions that the ancient SAGES asked.
You know, they asked these questions they held those questions as they sat in meditation and then answers came to them about the nature of reality and the nature of our existence as humans in this plane. So um but it's the philosophy part is a more intellectual pursuit in that in that way. Because you're you're studying the theoretical basis of this knowledge. Yoga spirituality um is is more of an experience of our true nature. It's more of going within to find our spiritual source and connecting with that rather than studying it in books. Because you can read about spirituality, but the ultimate is to have that experience, you know, like we look out and see separateness as we look out. But when we go in and we connect with the source, we we get our own answers to those questions and you feel that unity, you know, you feel that connectedness to the universe, you feel that connection to your soul, you feel that connection to other people and that's an experience, you know?
So um that's that's how I that's how I think about it, you know, uh like spiritual truths which can be found in in all religions and in all, you know, theologian ge theological study and and philosophy philosophic studies, you can find these truths, but it's about, you know, living these truths and also uh you know, integrating them into your consciousness. Mm So what I'm gathering a little just like in a nutshell is like yoga philosophies, head, yoga spirituality is like body like you feel one and you think the other. Yeah. And Heart heart Yeah, yoga spirituality I would say is hard because the ancients say that the Lord of Love lives in your heart. The Lord of Love lives in the hearts of all creatures. This is this is from the U pana shots.
And uh they, these SAGES say go within your heart in what they call the cave of the heart where I called the temple of the heart and and in deep in that place is this small light that is the size of your thumb and it is it is your sole light that is already always connected to source. And when you go in there and you and you meditate, you commune with that then that is the essence of spirituality. Mm That's beautiful. Why is it important to go all the way back to the beginning history of yoga. To get to understanding practical spirituality. Well yoga dates back 5000 years, possibly 9000 years years. The those those original Richie's SAGES would sit in meditation find these spiritual truths and then they would um in part that wisdom and that knowledge which you know the vega's vega's means veda means knowledge.
And so the these ancient texts were the first um spoken words about these universal truths that they were finding receiving in meditation. And so we go back, one of the reasons is to uh study the actual things that they were saying and the actual experiences they were having. Another reason is to get those tools so that we can go to the same place they went. Um and uh and you know, those are, those are a couple of really good reasons to go into the back and back and look at that and back and study that um you know these ancients uh stages saw the divine in all aspects of nature including in ourselves and so the sun and the wind and um all aspects of nature were considered sacred and manifestations of the divine.
And so are we in their eyes, Every everything of creation is sacred because it all comes from the one, the one source and uh they don't believe that brahma or God created the universe as much as became the universe that that unit of consciousness became manifest so that it's like the one became many um the the something that was infinite became finite and that's what they believe is the nature of our world. And so our, our life goal is just to realize that it's just to come back into that consciousness of Oh yeah, everything is God, everything is sacred, everything is divine, your divine, I am divine, the sun, the moon, the wind, the stars, you know the totality of creation is divine.
And I think that you know that's the, that's the ultimate reason to go back and um get this um get that same and energy, you know, get that energy of those ancient riches. In fact part of the yoga tools are to chant the ancient scriptures as the ancients did as a way to reconnect with that. And some of these chance are you know, there's a whole initiation rite in classic yoga where the first richie the first stage who chanted this gave it to their disciple and then that disciple gave it became a guru and gave it to their disciple. So there's this whole idea of the lineage of passing down these ancient chants and when you get initiated by a guru in that lineage, it gives, gives a lot of power to that chant because when you're chanting it you realize, wow, I'm chanting this just like the first Yogi chanted it 5,000 9000 years ago and it really gives it potency.
It makes sense. That totally makes sense. Yeah. So um that is why you know, we we want to tap into that ancient heritage of of yoga. Yeah, I mean that makes sense. Like why not go straight to the source And in the essence of it is timeless. Like connecting, Connecting yourself to higher source. Like doesn't matter if it's 5000 years, 20, like it's the same thing. Um you know uh so I find you're you're absolutely right and that's the beauty of it. It's not um it's not ancient. You know, it's so universal. The truths are so universal that there perfectly relevant and right now. Mm hmm And that's that's what's great about it is if you can feel that resonance and that you know, if you can feel that then you're connected with um you're connected with it.
And it doesn't, it doesn't, you know, you don't you know, it's not like you have to transport yourself back there. You're actually bringing those universal ideas and making them relevant in the present. Right somewhat recently I had brandy joe Perkins and Caroline Caswell, owners of earth commons on the show. Check out episode number 62. When you get the chance, Earth commons is more than an apothecary. They offer herbal consultation, massage therapy classes and monthly memberships. They have really helped me get into my herbal side. It's a fabulous way to connect to nature and to a supportive herbal community. One of my favorite things to get at Earth commons is road Eola. It's great for focus also increases my energy without that caffeine spike. My other go to herb is hops. I make it into a T. And it's great for relieving muscle tension. Another favorite is there vetiver bundles if you have ever seen a sage bundle before.
It's like that but made with super grounding vetiver. So great for relaxation. They have many awesome offerings. Do yourself a favor and go check it out for yourself. You can find them if you are in the Austin area at 8 13 Springdale Road or visit them online at Earth hyphen commons dot com. That's spelled E A R T H hyphen c o M M O N S dot com. I'll link all their info in the show notes. Check out Earth commons online or in Austin for all yourself. Keeping needs. That's also affordable. And we're back your, your new course has all that because my my next question is how do we find all this ancient, these ancient texts and somebody knowledgeable to um kind of guide us through this because it is, it is a little bit intimidating to pick up a book on your own about the upon assad's and and the other ancient text is it you want a teacher right?
To tell you what you're reading I imagine. Yeah, they're well there's there's a lot of good resources. But yeah, my course Bhakti yoga um the Yoga of devotion is a pre recorded of course that I have on my website. I have a whole learning center on my website where I have a bunch of different courses for yoga therapy, anatomy, kinesiology, um actual yoga classes that you can take with me. And um and this new course is this Bhakti yoga course about the yoga of devotion. And basically what I do is, well, let me just explain what Bhakti yoga is. Bhakti translates as devotion to find this or homage faith, love and worship. And so Bhakti yoga is actually A theistic movement that that emerged in, in Hinduism like in the 8th 8th century and then sort of reached its pinnacle and like the 17th century.
But um you know, Bhakti yoga sometimes considered like a type of yoga. But I look at it and most post modern scholars also look at it as these ancient ideas, these ancient vedic universal truths. Um and it's just a revival of those and so as opposed to like, you know, physical based yoga, which is, you know, that's that's like a revival of the physical based yoga, but this is like the revival of the spiritual based yoga. Um so anyway, in in my course, what I do is I go back to the original Vegas and you punish shots and I look at how this idea of devotion, um this sort of devotional aspect or spiritual aspect of yoga yoga spirituality, how that is in the in those old text, in those old practices in um and and then also in the Bhagavad Gita, which is another classic yoga text, That's the translation is the song of the Blessed one.
And then I also go through the yoga sutras because it's been said that potentially the author of the yoga sutras was a bhakti yog, what that means is that he was very spiritually based. And there's a lot of spiritual aspects of the yoga sutras. And then we look at modern day bhakti yoga, which, you know, I do some chanting because this ecstatic chanting and curtain is a part of um the modern Bhakti movement and so I'm basically taking you on a chronological tour of devotional spiritual based yoga and bringing you right up to the present. So that's that. I'm really excited about it because that's been a long piece of work. It's about eight hours, seven or eight hours of uh of watching me and listening to me and and then actually having experiences of devotional yoga.
So, wow, you mentioned faith earlier um in terms of devotional yoga, Bhakti yoga, what do you mean by um how does if you want to explain further? Like, what do you mean by faith? In terms of practical spirituality or Bhakti yoga? All right, well, let me just let me just give you an example from the Bhagavad Gita, chapter 12 of the Bhagavad Gita is entitled Bhakti Yoga, which is devotional yoga and the second verse um Krishna says, and christian is like the main figure of the Bhagavad gita, Krishna is the blessed one. It's christian represents the christ consciousness or or this idea of source in human form. And Krishna says, you know, for those of you who set your hearts and minds on me and worship me with supreme faith, you are the most superior of all.
So what christian is saying is set your heart. So you have to have this connection to your heart and your mind. So you're it's a it's a it's like what we just talked about, the head and the heart are together in this, it's not just the heart which you could call blind faith and it's not just the head, which is sort of intellectual spirituality, but it's a it's a balance between the head and the heart. And that's a that's a key piece of this. The other thing is supreme faith is, it's the kind of faith where you know that there is a divine unfold mint happening, you are secure and safe and fully able to let go into this idea that there is a higher power that is guiding you and supporting you and loving you unconditionally.
And so you're just, you're reciprocating that you're you're loving unconditionally, your trust, fully surrendering your, your will to that higher well, you're you're connecting your intelligence with that, that higher intelligence and and that is a higher level of faith because you're really letting go of your ego consciousness and you're really stepping into this whole new level of being that you're like, I am connected to the universe. I'm I'm supported by the universe. And and no matter what happens, I have this this deep knowing that I'm that I'm loved and I'm supported and that there is some, there's some divine plan for me, this, this this soul of mine in the, in the world. So that is what I think I want to think of uh the kind of faith that they're talking about in the scriptures, wow, sign me up for that, that just sounds awesome.
I'm getting there. I'm not quite there yet, but um but I I have a little tape, you know what I'm at right now in my practices that feeling of being held between Earth and sky, that really feeling that universal alignment, I guess that's what I call it. That is just like before yoga, I had no concept of that. And now it's it does feel supported, hugged, carried held. Um yeah, so that's it. It's a process. You know, it's a process and you know, that's why we're here is because we're in that process and it's like you're in the process whether you're aware of it or not, it's like you you're doing the process. It's like where is your consciousness at if you're getting glimpses of that communion between heaven and Earth, if you're getting glimpses of that, that sense that you're held, uh you know, that's the that's the beginning, peace and then that spurs you on to say I want more of that, you know, and then you it sort of cracks you open and so, you know, separateness, selfishness, greed.
All these things that are egocentric in nature are just are just basically closing you off to from reality. And then as you crack open your consciousness then you see the truth of what's possible for our human condition, you know, and what's possible for our our time here in this world well, and I really loved what you said, um a few days ago, we were just talking about this interview um and just in discussion about just yoga and spirituality and you you made the comment of um and you might say it better than I can remember, but the practicing yoga balances the right and left halves of the brain and how the left side I believe was the judgmental side mhm blows my mind. Um because you're talking about the greed and the separateness and the I would also categorize you know, judgment as a way of like separating people from others, right?
And uh prejudices is prejudgment. It's like it's like you're looking through your eyes, you're already pre judging people based on whether it's their color of their skin or their attitude or their gender. And it's just like you just that's what the left brain loves to do is is create boxes and put people in because it likes the left brain wants to have sort of this intellectual control over all these things so that it has everything figured out and then the right, your right brain is much more just accepting. In fact, now, if you saw the the Judith taylor piece on, you know, where she is called stroke of insight, but basically it's a ted talk and then she wrote a book and and she's done many interviews, but that's a really good reference to check out because she talks about she's a she's a brain scientist and she started having a stroke and she was conscious enough to realize what was happening. And when her left brain was turning off, she realized she had this amazing connection to the all Nissen the oneness.
And and she was just, it's like the right brain just takes all of the all of life in the present moment and just has an experience of it. The left brain is the, is the side of the brain that categorizes everything, delineates everything boxes things up And we need both because as her left brain went off line, she couldn't even tell the difference between the phone when she was trying to call 911 and her hand, like she became one with the phone so that my God, so that's not practical for living on the earth. So we need both brains. But what I'm getting at is that we have an overactive left brain and and there's an over after overactive overall left brain consciousness in our world and we need to shift back to balance. A lot of the yoga practices are about bouncing left and right brain and that is very helpful in achieving a more balanced reality and then we act out of a more balanced reality consciousness, you know?
So we're not just all about, like you said, the judgment. Mhm. No, that that is a great, that is a good thing to know. I feel like my friends who are on the fence about yoga, I could just mention that piece of it and I think that just really sparks people's interests like, oh, balancing my brain. I just think that's a really beautiful way to put it, that, that yoga can, that's a reason to do yoga. You know, uh, let's, let's talk about surrendering to a higher power. What does, what do you mean? What does that mean exactly in terms of spirituality, surrendering to a higher power? Well, like I talked about just a few minutes ago, one of the aspects of when you have that supreme faith is that you can, you can let go of this sort of, your perception that you're in control because you know, especially like over the past year and a half with everything that's been happening, we realize there are a lot of things we do not have control over.
And so if you're trying to get control, you're just grasping for things to hang on to you try to manipulate. And so the idea of trustful surrender is this idea that hey, we're, you know, we're, we know that there's some divine plan unfolding whether we, it looks like it or not because we don't really understand what's this, what's in store for us on this path we're on. But as things come into our experience, if we can meet them with this sense of trustful surrender, then it takes such a load off of us trying to control and manipulate everything in our surroundings sometimes the idea of surrender. You know, people think they're giving up a part of themselves like you're losing something. But this is the idea of letting go of your ego consciousness, letting go of that gripping control, letting go of your attachment and trust, fully surrendering your little s self to this possibility of a big s self which is your soul.
Mm And so you know, you're you're you're not your body, you're not your occupation, your not your gender, your not all these things that you think you are that you are identified with. But in fact you're the unchangeable illness. You know, you're you're already always in community and communion with this higher power. So as we as we let go of it we let go into this all knowing omniscient always there for us on the present and holding all of the power. Omnipotent source and this is the source of life. Um so anyway, this is this idea of each Mattaponi donna. It is this trustful surrender to a higher power. Not like some not like something outside of us but right here inside the temple of your heart, wow! In a really small way.
Does is like Shiva sena, the corpse pose the gateway to to that direction of surrendering to a higher power. Is that just something else? It can be because a lot of people lie down with their arms open and their heart open that's a very vulnerable position. So absolutely it can be um you're you know, you're just opening with your eyes closed. I mean, you know, anything could happen so that there is a large level of trust when you're in opposition to that, your yoga teacher is holding a sacred and safe space for you. So that's a big part of it. Is establishing a safe place, A sacred place. That's like one of the, that's one of the biggest things that you can do for yourself to start to go within in that deeper way. Uh huh. I hope you enjoyed part one of yoga and practical spirituality with the knowledgeable doctor Mark.
Your Adele stay tuned next time for part two where Mark will lead you through a meditation experience. Also check out Mark's new course offerings linked in the show notes. If you have any questions or comments, we love hearing from you. Please email us at yoga and podcast at Gmail dot com. The and is spelled out. Y O G A N. D. Podcast at Gmail. The theme song is performed by ali holder sound engineering and guest booking by Bentley the cat social media by Chloe the kitty. Remember that This podcast is for everyone. If you are a human living on planet Earth, you might benefit from listening to yoga and podcast. See you next time young girl