Yoga History and Philosophy Training


Yoga is so much more than the practice of yoga postures. Dive deeper into Yoga with this twice monthly multimedia lecture and discussion series. All levels of practitioner are welcome, including yoga teachers who want to expand their knowledge.

Yoga Philosophy Talks continue on the 2nd and 4th Thursday evening of every month. Investment: $15 per talk (or $40 for any 4 Talks) payable through Venmo/Erin-Mathiason or Video access is available if you can’t attend “live.”









Video recordings are available for previous Yoga Philosophy Talks.  Contact Erin to offer these presentations online for your group or studio:

  • Explore the ascetic traditions of Buddhism and Jainism. Examine how these traditions developed alongside yoga and still influence our practice today. (November 2018)
  • Explore the embodied practice of Tantra. Compare and contrast Tantra with the ascetic traditions of Buddhism, Jainism and Patanjali’s Yoga. Examine why Tantra is most often associated with sex along with your own views on yoga and sexuality. (January 2019)
  • Is instant Karma gonna get you? Explore the concepts of Karma, Karma Yoga and reincarnation. (February 2019)• What is the goal of yoga? Explore the concepts of enlightenment, bliss and liberation. (April 2019)
  • Strong as an Elephant: Yogic Powers  (September 2019). Listen to stories about yogic powers. Consider whether powers are a help or a hindrance on your yogic path. (no recording available)
  • Listen to stories about Swami Vivekananda, often credited for bringing Yoga to America. Learn about his guru, Ramakrishna, as well as the others who helped shaped Vivekananda’s Raja Yoga philosophy. Hear about the Swami’s improbable arrival in the United States in 1893 (at the World’s Fair!), and how he moves the story of how we each got on our yoga mats (and meditation cushions) forward. (July 2020)
  • What do We Really Know about the Chakras?
    Compare our familiar Western view of these energy centers with the Tantric chakra system. (August 2020)
  • Was Thoreau the First American Yogi?
    Find out how Yoga arrived in the United States. Learn about the earliest English translations of Sanskrit texts. Hear about Thoreau, Emerson and the Transcendentalist appreciation for Indian Philosophy. (August 2020)
  • Introduction to the Goddess Traditions, Part 1
    Explore the earliest global roots of the Goddess traditions, along with earliest goddesses in the Indian pantheon. Learn about and hear stories of Lakshmi and Saraswati, “Goddesses of the breast.” (September 2020)
  • The Theosophists
    Learn about how Theosophy and Western occultism are part of our yoga history (as well as the history of New Thought). Mohandas Gandhi was introduced to the Bhagavad Gita by London Theosophists and was given the title “Mahatma” by Annie Besant.  Anusara Yoga Founder John Friend had a “love of magic and Madame Blavatsky” (according to the New York Magazine article, “Karma Crash,” April 15, 2012). Listen to stories about Madame Blavatsky, Annie Besant, Colonel Henry Steel Olcott, C.W. Leadbeater and Krishnamurti. Learn about how Theosophy influenced our modern yoga practice. (September 2020)
  • Physical Culture and the Roots of Power Yoga and Hot Yoga
    Learn about how the physical culture movement and Western forms of exercise have been integrated into our modern yoga asana practice. Hear stories about physical culture pioneers Eugen Sandow and Bernarr MacFadden and the influence of physical culture in India in the early 1900s. Explore the roots of Power Yoga, including the influence of the Baptiste family. Learn about Bikram Choudury, his guru Bishnu Ghosh (brother of Paramahansa Yogananda), and the roots of Hot Yoga. (October 2020)
  • The Roots of Hatha Yoga
    How old is Hatha Yoga and the yoga postures we practice? Learn about the new research into the origins of Hatha Yoga (it might surprise you!). Review Hatha Yoga and asana in the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, The Siva Samhita and The Geranda Samhita. Learn which poses are part of an older tradition and which are modern innovation. (November 2020)
  • Krishnamacharya and the Hatha Yoga Lineage
    Hear about Krishnamacharya and the lineage of our modern yoga asana practice: B.K.S. Iyengar, Pattabhi Jois, Indra Devi and T.K.V. Desikachar. (December 2020)
  • The Vedas: Explore the origins of yoga. Examine key concepts and passages in The Vedas, the earliest text. Consider cultural appropriation and how we can be respectful in our practice.
  • The First Homegrown American Yogis: Learn about the Tantric practices of Pierre Bernard, the “Great Oom,” along with the Hatha practices of his nephew Theos.
  • The Upanishads and Vedantan Philosophy: Explore Yoga’s ancient history, focusing on key concepts and passages in The Upanishads. Learn about Vedanta, the philosophy based on the Upanishads.
  • Hollywood Yoga of the 1940s: Aldous Huxley, Gerald Heard, Christopher Isherwood, Krishnamurti, Indra Devi, and more.
  • The Psychedelic 60s
    Hear stories of Swami Satchidananda at Woodstock, The Beatles in India with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, and the Hare Krishna movement. Explore the concept of guru.
  • Yogini: Women in Yoga in Ancient and Modern Times
    Get an overview of yoga’s herstory. Hear stories of heroines, perfect wives, philosophers and renunciants. Learn about how Hatha Yoga addresses the female practitioner, and how the female practitioner is located by following the blood. Discuss gender in contemporary yoga.
  • Gurus of the 1960s
    With the change of immigration laws in the 1960s, many gurus arrived in the United States. We’ll talk about some of them, including Swami Muktananda, Rajneesh/Osho, Swami Rama and Sai Baba. We’ll also discuss the downfall of some of the gurus in the 1980s.
  • Bhakti Yoga
    Explore the main concepts and practices of the Yoga of devotion and love. Listen to Bhakti poetry.
  • Ram Dass, Krishna Das & the Modern Bhaktas
  • Prana, Pranayama & the Energy Body
    Learn about what the yogic texts say about the breath. We’ll also explore the prana vayus, the main channels, nostril dominance, breath retention and polyvagal theory.
  • Modern Hatha Yoga as a Spiritual or Religious Practice
    We’ll look at the last 50 years of yoga as a spiritual or religious practice. We’ll talk about the rise and fall of the yoga guru as well as the 1970s interest in cults and deprogramming, We’ll explore who can claim ownership of yoga, as well as Christian beliefs toward the practice. We’ll also cover modern topics of concern such as cultural appropriation, yoga in schools, and spiritual activism.
  • Tibetan Buddhism
    We see the idea of spending “7 years in Tibet” studying with a great master throughout contemporary American Yoga history. Learn about the evolution of Buddhism as it moved into Tibet. Explore some of the key concepts of Tibetan Buddhism including karma, compassion, emptiness, Lom Rim (“evolutionary self care”) and Dream Yoga. We’ll also talk about Tibetan Yoga.
  • Buddhism in Modern Yoga, a Historical Perspective
    From Ralph Waldo Emerson to The Beats to Pema Chodron and Jon Kabat-Zinn, get introduced to key figures in American Buddhism and its intersection with modern yoga.
  • The Tibetan Book of the Dead
  • Bardo Yoga: the Gap between Lives
  • Yoga & Shamanism
  • Yoga & Mysticism
    Learn about mystic experience in the meditation paths outlined in in the Yoga Sutras and in Buddhism. Hear about how neuroscience supports these mystical claims.
  • Paramahansa Yogananda
    Learn about Paramahansa Yogananda and his contributions to our modern yoga practice. This talk will dive into Yogananda’s story beyond what you might know from his Autobiography of a Yogi.
  • Outer vision: The Yoga of Seeing
    Learn about how the senses, especially sight from the perspective of the yogic texts. Learn about dristi and where to focus the eyes in asana and meditation. Practice eye exercises.
  • Inner Vision: Yoga & Intuition
    Dive into what the yogic texts say about our inner sight, as well as explore a modern, somatic approach to intuition.
  • Yoga, Ayurveda & the Elements
    Explore the elements from a yogic perspective, as well as from the lens of Ayurveda, the sister science of yoga.
  • What’s your Dosha?
    Learn about your constitution and how to personalize your asana practice and daily routine.
  • Chinese Medicine & Yoga
  • Sikhism & Yoga
  • Stories Behind the Names of Yoga Postures, Part 1 & 2
  • Introduction to the Ramayana
  • Colonial Yoga & Decolonializing Yoga
  • Women and Gender in Yoga
  • Ahimsa/Nonviolence
  • Virtual Reality
  • How to be a Modern Yogi

You can purchase these video recordings by contacting Hatha Yoga with Erin. Investment: $15 per video.


Contact Erin to present yoga philosophy and history for your studio (online only at this time), either as a part of teacher training or as a continuing education workshop.

Erin was on the faculty of Mudra Yoga’s teacher training program, offering training in yoga history and philosophy including the Yoga Sutras and the Bhagavad Gita (the studio closed in December 2019).

Erin has extensive training in Yoga philosophy, including hundreds of hours of study with Dr. Douglas Brooks. Erin completed Embodied Philosophy’s Yoga Philosophy 300-hour Online Training & Certification, with an emphasis on the Bhagavad Gita. She has studied and taught The Gita, Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras,  Tantra philosophy and more. Erin is currently writing a book on the contemporary history of American yoga.