If you are a yogi, chances are, you are on a quest for knowledge and wisdom. In yoga there are two kinds of knowledge, intellectual knowledge, jnana, and experiential knowledge, vijnana. That is to say, in order to really know something, there must be understanding on the level of the the mind as well as on the heart and body. These two types of knowledge are like two wings of a bird.
I like to think of these two kinds of knowledge when I think about knowing a mango. Someone can describe to you what a mango looks like, its color, shape and size and tell you all about how delicious a mango is, how sweet and how succulent. You can intellectually understand a mango, but you’ll never really know a mango until you taste it.
Here are some ways this can play out in yoga:
I came to the practice of yoga via yoga asana, the physical practice of postures.. For the first few years of my yoga practice, I practiced several times a week and gained an experiential understanding of the practice, vijnana. I had physical,, emotional and spiritual experiences, but I often didn’t have the language or concepts to describe what I was experiencing. At that point, I didn’t have any exposure to the yogic texts that described the experiences and states I was feeling. When years later, I finally began to read the yoga texts, there were lots of “ah ha’s” as I began to integrate the experiences that I had on the mat with an intellectual understanding or jnana of what was happening to me on the level of my physical body, mind and on the level of my subtle anatomy. It was then that the practice became more fully understood and integrated.
By contrast, my experience of meditation was the opposite: For several years, I knew that meditation was good for people, but rather than practicing it, I just read voraciously about it. I knew about all of the benefits and different techniques, jnana, but I didn’t actually practice meditation, so I didn’t have a full understanding of what meditation really was. How could I have? Finally, after several years of just reading about meditation, I decided to actually learn to meditate so I found a teacher who taught me a particular meditation style, and I started to meditate and had experiences that confirmed what I had read about. It was then that I gained experiential knowledge about meditation. That is, I got to know meditation from the inside out.
In Great Heart Yoga programs, our programs are grounded in jnana and vijnana.
If you study with us, you can expect a lot of hours of practice in yoga postures, breathwork and meditation where you will gain a lot of experiential knowledge of yoga. You can also expect a lot of hours of reading, thinking and discussing key yoga texts. Our comprehensive program aims to nourish your body, mind and heart for truly integrated experience of yoga.