Kīrtan Chant

By Michael Johnson & Friends

अहिंसासत्यास्तेय ब्रह्मचर्यापरिग्रहाः यमाः ॥३०॥
ahiṃsāsatyāsteya brahmacaryāparigrahāḥ yamāḥ ॥30॥


“The restraints are: non-violence, truthfulness, to not steal, respecting boundaries and non-possessiveness.”

– Yogasūtra 2.30


ahiṃsā ≈ non-violence, disrupting harmful practices
satya ≈ truthfulness, not lying
asteya ≈ to not steal, respecting others property
brahmacarya ≈ respecting boundaries, chastity  
aparigrahāḥ ≈ non-possessiveness, not hoarding

Michael's  Bhāṣya (commentary)

Here is the first limb of Yoga. It is a set of skillful means (upāya) that we can adopt to create a space where we can practice Yoga. These five great vows (Mahāvrata) appear to have originated with the Jainadharma tradition c.600 BCE, yet have been adopted by many other traditions. In Yoga Philosophy, these vows are not be used as a way of being better than others (Virtue Ethics) or a goal in and of themselves (Consequentialism) or even rules that we must devote ourselves to (Deontology), rather we can choose to adopt them and create the space to practice Yoga (Tapas, Svādhyāya, Īśvara Praṇidhāna).

Here is a famous commentary on this sūtra from the Vyāsa’s Bhāṣya (c. 450 CE)

“Of these Ahiṃsā is to abstain from injuring any being, at any time in any manner. Truth and other forms of restraints and observances are based on the spirit of non-injury. They, being the means of fulfillment of non-injury, have been recommended in the Śāstras for establishing Ahiṃsā. They are also the best means of making AhiMsā pure. That is why it has been stated in the Śāstras: “As the Brāhmaṇa advances in the cultivation of the many virtues prescribed for him, he abstains from acts of injury to others due either to misapprehension or ignorance and thus purifies within himself the virtue of non-injury. Satya (truthfulness) is correspondence of speech and mind to fact, i.e. saying and thinking of what has been seen, heard or inferred. Words uttered for the purpose of communicating one’s thoughts to others are true provided they do not appear deceitful, delusive and meaningless to the listeners. The words should, however, be uttered from inflicting harm on creatures but for their benefit; because if they hurt others, they do not produce any piety as truth would, but only sin. By using such apparently truthful words (which hurt others) one gets painful consequences (or infernal region). Therefore, truthful words beneficial to all creatures should be uttered after careful consideration.

Asteya means unlawfully taking things belonging to others. Asteya is abstention from such tendencies even in one’s mind. Brahmacharya=Suppressing the urge of the sexual organ and of the activities of other organs leading to it. Aparigraha means to desist from taking or coveting things, seeing that getting and keeping them involve trouble, that they are subject to decay, that association with them causes mischief and that they beget malice. These constitute Yama or restraint.”

Come experience Community Kīrtan live at our studio!

Join us for an evening of inspiring Kīrtan and community with Michael Johnson and friends!

Open your heart with Bhakti devotion to enjoy the presence of community and celebrate the divine energy within. With music and devotion, we will create a space for sangha (community) with one another.

Everyone is welcome, no previous experience required.

All Donations will benefit the Asheville Yoga Center Teacher Training Scholarship Fund

*Donations will be accepted in-person at Asheville Yoga Center. Please bring cash or card with you!

Community Kīrtan

Hybrid (in-person/virtual)

Friday November 25th from

3-4:30pm by donation 

What are the Yoga Sutras?

Decoding the ancient wisdom of Patanjali

If you’re new to yoga, then you may not yet be familiar with the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. In a nutshell, the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali is a collection of 196 short verses that serve as a guide to attain wisdom and self-realization through yoga. The text is estimated to have been written in roughly 400 C.E., and is regarded by many as the basis of yoga philosophy.

The 196 sutras (which translates to “threads” or “discourses” in English) are separated into four padas (chapters): Samadhi, Sadhana, Vibhuti, and Kaivalya. The text itself is open to interpretation by the practitioner, but at its core, the Yoga Sutras are intended to provide depth and practical wisdom to help yogis and yoginis explore the central meaning of yoga.

Samadhi Padas

The first chapter of Yoga Sutras of Patanjali discusses the meaning of yoga. The messaging in the 51 sutras in this section speaks to those who have already adopted yoga into their daily life, and focuses on themes of enlightenment, concentration, and meditation.

Sadhana Padas

Moving forward in the book, but perhaps backward in philosophy, chapter two of the Yoga Sutras explains how to achieve a yogic state. The 55 sutras in this section discuss the practice of yoga, and introduce the eight limbs of yoga, which are:

  • Yama – Five principles of ethics
  • Niyama – Five principles of conduct & discipline
  • Asana – Physical practice of yoga
  • Pranayama – Breath regulation
  • Pratyahara – Sensory withdrawal
  • Dharana – Concentration
  • Dhyana – Meditation
  • Samadhi – Self-realization

The chapter also dives deeply into the first six of the eight limbs of yoga, making it possibly the most important chapter for “newcomers” and those who are seeking yogic tradition in their day-to-day lives.

Vibhuti Padas

The 56 sutras included in chapter three focus on the benefits of practicing yoga regularly. Here, Patanjali explores the power and manifestation that result from yoga, and dives deeper into the final two limbs of yoga – Dhyana and Sadhi.

Kaivalya Padas

The final chapter of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali contains 34 sutras that focus on liberation and freedom from suffering. Here, the text explores the ultimate goals of yoga and provides thoughtful insight on the unconditional, absolute liberation yoga provides.

Whether you’re just getting started with your yoga practice or you’ve got decades under your belt, there is always something new to be learned from the Yoga Sutras. You can find translated copies of this ancient text at the Boutique at Asheville Yoga Center.