White Mountain Yoga Interview with Ganga on his book, Yoga Beyond Belief
He is called “The Architect of American Yoga”. Ganga White opened the FIRST yoga studio in Los Angeles California in 1967. He is the father of “Partner Yoga” and husband to one of the world's most beautiful and poetic women, Tracey Rich. Together they founded The White Lotus Foundation, in Santa Barbara over 20 years ago. Developers of “The Flow Series”, they released the international best selling “Total Yoga” videos, with over 1.8 million sold.
I consider Ganga a treasured friend and honored mentor! His non-dogmatic approach to yoga has always lead my yoga practice, and teaching to arise within me from a deeply organic place. He has challenged me to let go of my expectation and allow for inspiration, supported by a realistic and thoughtful basis. I have been blessed by both his wit and wisdom. Most importantly he has helped me realize that when you have one foot in grounded common sense and good judgment and one foot in the cosmic you lend credibility and vitality to both.
I sat down with Ganga to talk about his latest and long awaited creation, his new book: “Yoga Beyond Belief—Insights to Awaken and Deepen Your Practice.” Available now at Amazon.com, www.whitelotus.org or the White Mountain Yoga Studio.
Syl: “As I have sat in council with you and Tracey, I have often heard you speak to the yoga philosophy and personal experience that I enjoyed finding in your book—What inspired you and why did you choose now, to put it all in book form?”
Ganga: “Syl, the short answer is waiting for the right moment…Yoga interest and practice have been growing at a tremendous rate. Now so many students and teachers are looking for an integrative and contemporary vision to help them make sense out of the many differing points of view. The book has been maturing for a long time. Although I have been sharing this same message and perspective for many years, it took some time to get it down in writing. I think the book got better by refining it over time.”
Syl: “I found myself picking this book up and finding tremendous enjoyment in reading chapters at random interest, like a hand-book—Did you write Yoga Beyond Belief with the intention that it be so ‘user friendly’?”
Ganga: “Yes, it's meant to not only be user friendly and easy to understand but "cross platform". It's written to be practical and beneficial no matter what approach to yoga a person is using but for beginner to experienced student to teacher. I also intended it to be a complete vision of all aspects of yoga that could be read in whole and that would stand alone in part--thank you very much for noticing that!”
Syl: “It has been my personal observation that people look for enlightenment so they can obtain some level of immunity from the mundane, like no more pain, or no more sickness, etc. —Your book is the first I have read that speaks to Yoga without the promise of immunity by practicing one way, or group of postures, yet it is very inspiring. How do you feel the message of regular yoga practice can best be expressed in general, with out sounding like you are promising the SUN & MOON? :-)”
Ganga: “I see yoga as more of learning a process than attaining a goal. Life is constant change and growth. We need to awaken our own vision, perception and insight that guides us on our own unique journeys. Paths are limited and fixed, vision is limitless and always in the present. When you teach someone something as simple as driving down the road certainly there are many rules to learn but the essence is to learn to see and respond, and understand what is going on.
The book, Yoga Beyond Belief, is really designed to awaken the reader's own insight and understanding of body, mind and spirit. When we learn to read and use and develop our internal navigation and feedback systems we're much better equipped to ride the waves of life. And it becomes endlessly engaging, interesting and enjoyable.”
Syl: “Why do you think yogis in general are so readily looking to follow a specific yoga dogma, and why is it often so daunting to come face to face with personal practice for its own sake?
Ganga: “Life is turbulent and unpredictable. Without realizing it, we are looking for certainty and a path to follow so dogmas arise. Actually it is the unknown that gives joy and verve to life. Wise sages have pointed out that wisdom is found in embracing uncertainty. Many hope that yoga is a pure science, "do this and get that", or "practice this way and be healthy and happy." But life and yoga require both art and science--the art of living and being. When we are free of our rigid ideas and formulas we move into the art of discovering what is right for ourselves each moment. This can seem daunting and scary, but it's actually freeing, awakening and liberating.”
Syl: “This book seems a thoughtfully provocative guide, yet what you say makes perfect sense regarding becoming so rigid in your beliefs, that you don’t see the forest for the trees..."
Ganga: “We tend to be conditioned to beliefs. ‘If I believe, practice and follow, a certain yoga path, I'll live happily ever after...and hereafter.’ There is a lot of comfort in belief, but actually there is much greater freedom, joy and aliveness in going beyond belief. We have everything we need to make our lives on Earth a paradise but instead we're destroying it through the clash of our beliefs. We live on an overwhelmingly, beautiful planet in a mind boggling, infinite universe. There are 500,000 million galaxies, each with billions upon billions of star systems. The beauty, miracle and vast diversity of life, are more than we can grasp. We too easily can become numb to it all, but we're immersed in it. Yoga aims to open our eyes.”
Syl: “As always, thank you Ganga, Namaste”
Ganga: “Thank you for all your love and support through the years, Yogini Syl, Namaste.”