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Gary Kraftsow is Founder and Director of the American Viniyoga Institute. He has been an innovator in the transmission of yoga for health, healing, and personal transformation for over 40 years. He began his study of yoga in India with T.K.V. Deśikācar in 1974 and received a Viniyoga Special Diploma from Viniyoga International in Paris, France in 1988.
Gary graduated with a BA, Magna Cum Laude, from Colgate University in 1976 and received his Masters Degree in Psychology and Religion from the University of California at Santa Barbara in 1983. Around that time, he opened Maui School of Yoga Therapy. In 1999, he founded the American Viniyoga Institute, LLC. Since then, he has become a renowned speaker and teacher of the Viniyoga methodology at many conferences and schools nationally and internationally.
Gary has successfully developed protocol for two National Institutes of Health studies: “Evaluating Yoga for Chronic Low Back Pain” and “Yoga Therapy for Generalized Anxiety,” as well for the “Mind-Body Stress Reduction in the Workplace” clinical trial for Aetna Insurance Company.
Gary is the Director and Senior Teacher of the American Viniyoga Institute (AVI®), the author of two books published by Penguin: Yoga for Wellness and Yoga for Transformation, and author of four educational DVDs: Viniyoga Therapy for Low Back Sacrum and Hips and Viniyoga Therapy for Upper Back, Neck and Shoulders, Viniyoga Therapy for Depression, and Viniyoga Therapy for Anxiety. He has also produced multiple online workshops: Āsana Unlocked, Pranayama Unlocked, Meditation Unlocked, Yoga Therapy for Depression, Yoga Therapy for Better Sleep, and Yoga Therapy for Anxiety. He is currently in the process of creating the AVI Digital Library which offers both live and on-demand classes.
List of Gary’s Sessions
Guru Paramparā: Śrāvaṇa, Manana, Nididhyāsana: Teachings from the Tradition of Kṛṣṇamācārya
[E] Guru Parampara / Inspirations
This is the first of two linked Sessions.
The first part of this Session will be a “dharma talk.” It will be followed by a questions and answers period in which Gary will offer greater, more personal, insights as gleaned from the opportunities he gained from his own long-term relationships with both Kṛṣṇamācārya and Kṛṣṇamācārya’s son, Desikāchar. Gary met them both in 1974. He lived and studied with Desikāchar for about four years, in Chennai, while Kṛṣṇamācārya was still alive.
In this session, we will explore the meaning, purpose, and component parts of Yoga Sādhana as understood in the context of Kṛṣṇamācārya’s overall teachings. It will prepare us for the more experiential second session which is a truly integrated practice
According to Kṛṣṇamācārya’s teachings, the Samādhipāda was composed for Mastakāñjali one who, through the power of a concentrated and dedicated mind, can achieve freedom by listening (śrāvaṇa) to the teachings, reflecting (manana) on their meaning, and meditating (nididhyāsana) on them until their meaning is internalized and assimilated. Instead, the Sādhanapāda was composed for Baddhāñjali one who, due to ignorance, lives in a state of identification and is bound by karma that is perpetuated by action rooted in deep-seated and, for the most part, unconscious patterns, or saṁskāras. Most of us fall into the category represented by Baddhāñjali according to Kṛṣṇamācārya. We, like Baddhāñjali, can achieve freedom by dedication to sādhana (spiritual practice). In the Sādhanapāda, Patañjali presents clearly delineated paths of practice that lead to the goals of Yoga: Kriyā Yoga and Aṣṭāṅga Yoga. Kṛṣṇamācārya taught that Kriyā Yoga and Aṣṭāṅga Yoga are not simply organizations of distinct and separate practices, but rather comprehensive systems of linked practices, each component an essential part of an integrated whole.
Kṛṣṇamācārya cautioned that if we just pick and choose what we are attracted to, we will more likely re-enforce our dysfunctional patterns rather than transform them.
In this session, we will explore the meaning, purpose, and component parts of Yoga Sādhana in the context of Kṛṣṇnamācārya’s teachings.
This session will prepare us for an experience of a truly integrated practice, which we will do togehter in our second session.
Though each session can be taken separately, they were designed to be taken together, this first one presenting the theory, and the second the practical experience.
The greatest benefits for participants will therefore be gained by attending both sessions.
The Integrated Practice: Āsana, Prāṇāyāma, Svādhyāya, Mantra Japa, Devatā Yoga, and Manasā Pūjā
[C] The Divine Is Within / Contemplative Spirituality
This is the second of two linked sessions.
As in the first one, Gary will offer insights from his own long-term relationships with both Kṛṣṇamācārya and Kṛṣṇamācārya’s son, Desikāchar. Gary met them both in 1974. He lived and studied with Desikāchar for about four years; in Chennai, while Kṛṣṇamācārya was still alive.
Kṛṣṇamācārya taught that the component parts of Sādhana were designed to help us create a conscious relationship with ourselves at different levels:
In this one-hour practice we will weave these ancient practices together into an integrated whole that will help us find stability, manage our energy, clarify our direction, find a deeper meaning and purpose in our lives, and connect to the Divine.
This is the second of two linked sessions.
This session will illustrate the practical application of the teachings and theory presented in our first session together.
Though each session can be taken separately, they were designed to be taken together, the first presenting the theory, and this second one the practical experience.
The greatest benefits for participants will be gained by attending both sessions.