YogaCity NYC Panel Discussion: Physical & Subtle Anatomy


Full PanelThis past Wednesday I had the privilege to participate in a panel discussion with Brette Popper (moderator), Amy Matthews, Alison West, James Bae, Alan Finger and Swami Sadasivananda.  The panel was sponsored by YogaCity NYC and was hosted at Yoga Union in New York City.  A lot of people turned out to hear us explore a variety of  questions, including:

  • How much do students and teachers of yoga really need to know about the physical and subtle body?
  • Why do we focus so much today on the physical body, when it seems from the ancient texts that the focus was primarily on the subtle body?
  • When teaching therapeutically, where do we draw the line before we should refer to a doctor or PT?
  • If we aren’t ourselves masters of the subtle body, should we even reference the chakras and nadis when we’re teaching?
  • Within such a vast tradition, where the learning is infinite and can take lifetimes to achieve, how does a 200-hour teacher find their way?

For those of you who are interested in listening to the conversation but couldn’t make it to the event, I’ve got great news!   I recorded the audio of the full panel discussion and have uploaded it into this blog post as three separate tracks, each followed by an outline of the questions and the participants who responded with the time frames listed for your reference.  Or if you prefer to download the full 90-minute track and listen offline, just click here.


TRACK 1 of 3

Welcome & Introductions

From left to right: James Bae, Alan Finger & Swami Sadasivananda

From left to right: James Bae, Alan Finger & Swami Sadasivananda

  • Brette Popper (0:00:8:55)

Question #1:  “For teachers, how much do students really need to know about the physical and subtle body when they’re practicing yoga… what are the kinds of things that we should be informing them about that would make their practice richer?” (8:55-9:30)


  • Swami Sadasivananda (9:30-12:00)
  • Alan Finger (12:00-14:19)
  • James Bae (14:19-17:02)

Question #2: “For Jason… you’re teaching the mechanics and the physical body to a large degree.  How do you meld the two [physical & subtle], or do you purely concentrate on the physical body?” (17:02-17:20)


  • Jason Ray Brown (17:20-19:55)

Question #3: “For Alison… Several of the ancient text write extensively about the subtle body, but not much about the physical body.  Why did that paradigm change, and how has it changed over the centuries?” (19:55-20:50)


  • Alison West (20:50-25:00)

Question #4:  “Amy, I know that this is a big part of your teaching — using the landmarks of the physical body in order to access the subtle body.  Can you give us some examples of that?  How may teachers begin to do that with their students?” (25:00-25:25)


  • Amy Matthews (25:25-30:50)

TRACK 2 of 3

From left to right: Brette Popper, Amy Matthews, Alison West, Jason Ray Brown

From left to right: Brette Popper, Amy Matthews, Alison West, Jason Ray Brown

Question #5:  “You all teach therapeutically, to some degree.  Does the language that you use when you’re teaching therapeutically differ compared to when you’re teaching someone in a regular class?”  (0:00-0:35)


  • Amy Matthews (0:35-1:44)
  • Alison West (1:44-4:55)

Question #6:  “Jason, last night I was in a class and a teacher was giving medical information.  When you’re teaching students about their meniscus and all the rest, how far do you go with them?  Do you draw a line? Do you recommend at some point that they should see a doctor?” (4:55-5:58)


  • Jason Ray Brown (5:58-10:25)
  • James Bae (10:25-14:47)
  • Alison West (14:47-16:00 )
  • James Bae (16:00-16:25)

Question #7:  “Alan, we’re talking about three different questions at the same time.  I’ll let you address any of them…  therapeutics, ancient texts and at what point in time is a teacher out of their realm when giving advice?” (16:25-16:45)


  • Alan Finger (16:45-22:25)
  • Swami Sadasivananda (22:25-28:20)
  • James Bae (28:20-31:35)
  • Amy Matthews (31:35-32:22)

TRACK 3 of 3

Q&A with the Audience

Q&A with the Audience

Question #8:  “I’ve been in classes where the teacher will say, “We hold emotion in our Svadhisthana chakra.”  What is that all about?  Should teachers not say things like that or is that okay?” (0:00-0:35)


  • Swami Sadasivananda (0:35-3:04)
  • Alan Finger (3:04-6:19)
  • Alison West (6:19-9:10)
  • Alan Finger (9:10-10:12)

Question #1 from Audience:  “How do you maintain your flow and grace when teaching while at the same time having to address the misalignments that you see in class?”  (10:12-11:05)


  • Alan, Jason, Amy & Allison (11:05-14:50)

Question #2 from Audience: “How might you work differently with a student who has a new body? For example, someone who has just had a mastectomy?” (14:50-15:30)


  • Amy Matthews (15:30-17:17)
  • James Bae (17:17-19:05)

Question #3 from Audience:  “There are teachers here have done 200-hour teacher trainings and now they’re teaching.  And they encounter meniscus tears, and psychological problems, and there’s the question about whether they should talk about chakras or not, and nadis… What is a modern yoga teacher and what is expected?  A 200-hour training does not a teacher make.  What do you suggest?” (19:05-20:04)


  • Alison West (20:04-22:52)
  • Jason Brown (22:52-24:45)
  • Alan Finger (24:45-25:12)

Closing Comments

  • Brette Popper (25:12-25:55)

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7 Responses to YogaCity NYC Panel Discussion: Physical & Subtle Anatomy

  1. Valerie September 29, 2013 at 12:38 pm #

    Thank you SO much for posting this!!!!! I was hoping to hear it recorded somehow since I couldnt make it in.

    • Jason Ray Brown September 29, 2013 at 1:40 pm #

      You’re welcome, Val. Hope that everything is going well for you ;-)

  2. Ariana September 30, 2013 at 6:00 pm #

    Again, thanks for sharing this with all of us. I think it was a great panel discussion. I learned so much.

    • Jason Ray Brown September 30, 2013 at 6:04 pm #

      Hi Ariana! Thanks for posting your comment on the blog – and happy that you enjoyed the panel. I definitely think that a lot of great topics were raised that give good food for thought ;-)

  3. Caitlin Casella October 3, 2013 at 12:17 pm #

    Excellent. Thanks Jason!

  4. V L KRISHNA PRASAD November 5, 2013 at 4:50 pm #

    I am very lucky to listen the audio. Thanks for sharing your experience about physical body and subtle body….I got to know about this posting through Amy Matthews as she posted in her facebook account, am following her facebook account. I missed this opportunity.

    Thank You.


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