The Yoga Sutra offers techniques for aligning with a deeper dimension of life by mastering our unruly thoughts, feelings, and behavior. Exploring the nervous system and components of our personality can help us make best use of those yoga practices. We’ll explore how a special part of the nervous system supports happiness, contentment, growth, and spiritual goals, and how to activate and strengthen that aspect of ourselves.

Tailoring specific practices from the Yoga Sutra to address the unique ways our thoughts and behaviors destabilize the nervous system, we develop resiliency and balance in our somatic being as well as our mental being. With enhanced self-awareness and techniques designed to clear and stabilize the mind, we can grow into our best selves, free from distorted perceptions and conflicted thought patterns and behaviors. We’ll concentrate on these areas of inquiry:

  • Afflictions (kleshas) and neuroanatomy
  • Applying the Yoga Sutra’s four attitudes and yamas and niyamas to modulate inner states of being driven by biological urges and samskaras
  • Cultivating interoception and self-awareness through asana and related yoga practices
  • Exploring self-identity and the factors influencing it
  • Techniques for contemplation, centering, somatic self-awareness (interoception), shifting nervous system dominance, and meditation

Each session includes a presentation, time for questions and discussion, and a practice.


Mon 7:00-8:30 pm

Session #1: Afflictions (Kleshas) and Resulting Challenges

With Dr. Carrie Demers and Sandy Anderson

  • How karma and ensuing mental, physical, and emotional complications are rooted in the afflictions (kleshas) described in the Yoga Sutra
  • Yoga Sutra’s practical techniques for attenuating the kleshas
  • Kriya yoga—good stress (tapas), exploring selfhood (svadhyaya), and aligning with source of consciousness
  • Developing self-awareness and intention

Morning and Evening Contemplation Practice

Yoga Sutra References: YS 2:1, 2:3-9; YS 1:15

Wed 7:00-8:30 pm

Session #2: How Your Neurology Supports Your Obstacles or Your Fulfillment

With Dr. Carrie Demers

  • Neurobiology for yoga students: Polyvagal theory, neuroplasticity, neural anatomy
  • How the enteric nervous system and the vagal nerve complexes affect our physical and mental health
  • Good stress (eustress); tapas, and the observances and restraints (yamas and niyamas)
  • How the Four Attitudes and the yamas and niyamas support the autonomic nervous system

Practices for the autonomic nervous system: Bhramari, ujjayi, nadi shodhana, systematic muscle relaxation and breath training

Yoga Sutra reference: YS1:33 The four attitudes arise with the social engagement system (Ventral Vagal Complex).

Sat 10 am -noon

Session #3: Interoception and Yoga Practice: Cultivating Somatic Intelligence

With Sandy Anderson

  • Using asana alignment to cultivate proprioception, and breath awareness to cultivate interoception—sensitivity to inner space and harmonious flow of prana
  • If dominated by thinking mind, we are cut off from interoception, and often from compassion, empathy, and intuition
  • Get in touch with the flow of prana (life force) so that fear and anger don’t lead you and cripple your inner intelligence.
  • Conscious alignment with the flow of prana facilitates deep healing and transformation of emotional dysfunction

Yoga Sutra references: 2:46-48; 2:32-33

Practice: Breath Training and Asana for Pranic Awareness (1 hr); Aharana

Mon 7:00-8:30 pm

Session #4: Exploring Self Identity

With Sandy Anderson

  • Asmita, selfing, and refining the ego
  • Narrative and experiential modes of identity and integrating all aspects of intelligence
  • Attachment and aversion as related to sense of self
  • Svadhyaya in the Yoga Sutra
  • Relationship of purpose and meaning to your sense of identity
  • Traditional methods of sankalpa to bring disparate identities to a focal point in the present moment and location

Practice: Traditional Sankalpa Contemplation and Meditation (15 min)

Yoga Sutra Reference: YS 2:6, 2:42, 2:44

Wed 7:00-8:30 pm

Session #5: Putting It All Together with Meditation

With Dr. Carrie Demers

  • Cultivating positive intention
  • Active vairagya—developing a balanced and stable mind
  • How and why meditation can integrate somatic awareness and the thinking mind
  • Neuroplasticity and the importance and practice of contemplation and meditation

Guided Meditation Practice

Yoga Sutra References:

YS 2:11 The mental tendencies associated with the afflictions can be destroyed by meditation.

YS 1:36 Vishoka va jyotishmati.

Sat 10-Noon

Session #6: Conclusions, Discussion, and Questions

With Dr. Carrie Demers and Sandy Anderson

  • Summary
  • Q&A and Discussion

Practice: Guided relaxation, aharana pranayama, and meditation