raw yoga

abhay ghiara

celebrating raw yoga  25 years 1995-2020

My name is Abhay (rhymes with 'up high'). I have been teaching a natural, 'uncooked' form of yoga and meditation free of additives such as trade marks for over twenty-five years. I tell my story of reaching enlightenment, A Very Ordinary Enlightenment, on my YouTube meditation channel

I was born in India, lived in San Francisco, USA, and have taught across four continents. I now live on Bohol island, the Philippines, where I teach meditation. 

If you enjoy this website, which is offered in pure love, please also subscribe to my YouTube meditation channel, which is now my primary mode of reaching out to my students and others interested in my philosophy and practice of meditation. 

raw yoga is not a school of yoga

raw yoga is not a school of yoga--The great philosopher Krishnamurti used to joke about people finding the Truth and then the Devil helping them organize it! Forget about schools. Forget about trademarks. Yoga is free and can not be contained. Everything else is what the ancient yogis called maya, or illusion. 

Twenty years ago I started a movement that approached yoga in a fresh, new way. No copyrights, no trademarks and no schools of yoga. I called the movement raw yoga.

Today raw yoga is a worldwide movement. Teachers adopt the words raw yoga to emphasize their commitment to teaching authentic school-free, institution-free yoga that accepts all, adopts all, welcome all. 

Through this openness raw yoga creates true freedom. 

The heart of raw yoga

 The heart of raw yoga is following our hearts to true freedom. Sure there are great teachers. Study with them. Then create your own practice. 

Remember yoga is play! Have fun experimenting. Enjoy your self. Trust your body's incredible intelligence to guide you. Do you remember learning to ride a bicycle? Wasn't it fun even when you fell? raw yoga is play! 

When you are ready teach that practice with openness and as an offering of love.

What is meditation? 

The cosmos speaks to us through our bodies. Our bodies speak to us through physical sensations.

We look for the predominant physical sensation in our body and pay undivided attention to it. This predominant physical sensation may move and change. This is how our body speaks to us. Our work is to pay attention.

Just keep paying attention. I like to call it deep listening.

Meditation is thus a threefold process: firstly, the cosmos speaking to us through our bodies, secondly, our bodies speaking to us through predominant physical sensations, and thirdly, us listening deeply.

raw yoga mini newsletters & talks

photo: John W. Sisson, Jr.

October 2019

I want to create a meditation and healing center on Bohol island in the Philippines in memory of my wife Krista who died last year from cancer after a seven-year healing journey around the world. Krista and I discovered Bohol island during our cancer healing journey and fell in love with the land and the people of Bohol. 

Seven Stars Institute was our joint dream. I want to realize that dream. Join me in visualizing it into existence!

Bohol island

February 2018

When you look up at the night sky do you have a friend up there? One that you feel intimately connected to. A planet, a satellite, a star, a constellation, a galaxy, anything out there. A friend.

When we first met we would go on night walks and Krista would point out Orion. Having grown up in busy, polluted Bombay, I had never noticed the night sky. But from that very first walk in Evanston I have had a friend in the sky.

I always look for Orion. Or rather Orion looks for me. When I look up at the night sky Orion's right there, twinkling at me.

When you look into the horizon do your eyes rest upon another friend--the sea, a river, mountains, valleys, woods? I was born by the Arabian Sea and the sea has always been my friend. Sometimes far away at another seashore I wonder if I can touch the sea of my childhood. And I realize that she is the one reaching out to me.

Have you taken a close look at your heart? For your heart is also your friend. The first time I really noticed my heart I felt her open to me. 

If we first pay attention to our friend heart, and then up to our friend in the night sky, and then down to our earthly friend, we create a triangle. 

If we create triangles at different times, in different parts of the world, together we create interlapping triangles of attention. When our triangles of attention across time and space interlap, we create stars.


January 2018

Although I was born in Bombay I spent the first four years of my life in Hyderabad, the capital of a rambling ancient kingdom ruled by the Nizam until a decade and half before I was born. For those four years of my life I did as I pleased, spending my days, as the song goes, singing long before I could talk. 

Early mornings with birds and our neighbor's water buffalo, days playing with Legos brought to us by our father's friend from Vienna, nights of huge parties on our veranda with our parents' friends from all over the world. 

Music, laughter, dancing, and play. 

Freely expressing the little wild anarchist inside, and aping the Telangana revolutionaries, I even threw tiny stones at jeeps sporting corrupt cops. (A few years ago Telangana was finally recognized as a separate State within India.)

For the first four years of my life I was following life. Then for many years and many decades I tried to make things happen, opted for control over following life, only to come to the point now where I can clearly see that to live following life is the only way to really live. 

And when the holidays come along it is a gentle reminder from life to give up controlling things and to enjoy each other, our lives, and our beautiful earth. 

Wishing all my friends a wonderful Christmas, happy holidays, and a fabulous new year in which we let our little anarchist within sing and leap for joy!

Cebu, Philippines

December 2017

I love Sanskrit words though I don't speak or write Sanskrit. Sure, I can read it, but that's really cheating because Sanskrit uses the same script as my mother tongue Marathi and shares many root words with it, as Latin does with English. 

A Sanskrit (and Marathi) word that I love is namaste

It is three syllables long and pronounced num-must-tey. Or if you prefer, the syllables rhyme as follows

1st syllable rhymes with come

2nd syllable is simply the word must

3rd syllable rhymes with say

(Not naa-must-tey nor num-mast-tey)

So what I want to say about this wonderful word is that looking at its roots fascinates me. That's because 

namas means to bow, and

te means to you

As you know the word is not said as a command. When I say namaste I am not asking you to bow. The word is said as a greeting, so when I say namaste to you, I am saying, 

bow to you

and there is no I involved! Who bows to you when the I is absent? 

No one. 

When it is no one doing the bowing it must be the all doing the bowing. 

The all is the creator.

We speak for the creator when we greet everyone, wish everyone well, love one another.


Panglao, Philippines

When the mind is clear we can feel the pulse of life moving through us. 

When the mind is clear choice falls away. We are left only with right action. 

Right action does not mean there is one right action. It only means right action in the moment. 

When we keep our minds clear and follow the pulse we follow life. 

Panglao, Philippines

November 2017

When I was 13 I had an experience that changed my life. I was sitting cross legged at the Aurobindo Ashram in what had once been Aurobindo's bedroom. I had sat down for hardly a minute or so when the great heaviness which had followed me all my youthful life lifted. I understood that I was not a separate body but energy, lighter than a feather. I learned that life was lightness. 

When I was 15 I had another life-changing experience. I was a voracious reader and read novels, short stories, and poetry late into the night perched on a marble bench on our large veranda. It was very late that night and the foxes had visited and gone to sleep. As I read the last few words of Dostoyevski's Crime and Punishment, I started laughing heartily and could not stop laughing for a week. During the week I was guided to visit all the people in my life that I cared about. I would go over to their homes laughing, and soon my laughter would result in everyone laughing uncontrollably with me. I suppose I was lucky to have been born Indian. In the India I grew up in, the tolerance for what we might call weirdness was infinite. No one bothered me, and laughed along with me when I was around. I learned from that experience that life was laughter. 

When I lost my father at 16, my mission became to speak to him again. In the thirty five years that have passed since he died, I have tried to speak to him every day. I have only succeeded once. That one time, he came through so clearly and forcefully that I was overwhelmed with his love. He was not 'dead', but very much alive in a way that transformed me. He gave me a hug that I will never forget. I learned that life continues after death, that we can not understand life but that the closest we can get to understanding life is a hug. 

Wishing all my friends lightness, laughter, and hugs on this Thanksgiving weekend,

Panglao, Philippines

October 2017

There are no short cuts in life. But surprisingly, there is a whole industry of short cuts: wise women and wise men bringing intuitive, channeled, and self-realized messages. These messages talk of how we create our reality, how intentions are the creative force of our lives, how visualizing success leads to success. 

I am not a wise man. I have no messages to bring. I have no authority over such matters. However, it is my opinion that all these 'messages' offer short cuts and in my own experience short cuts tell half-truths. 

My experience of life teaches me that life can not be fathomed. Things happen to us that we can not possibly understand, let alone be responsible for. We create our reality in a very narrow sense that we have just one choice -- do we follow life or try to control it. That's it. Very few people actually follow life wherever she takes us. Most people try to control life. When we are told that we create our reality we are asked to take control of our life. That is a very impoverished understanding of what we are here to do in life. We are not here to create abundance, or be happy, or forgive people, or say, "I know I created my own cancer -- I am to blame, now I can force myself to magically get rid of it since I create my reality." This viewpoint is all about control. I control life--My life is out of control--I will read the books and listen to the recordings of this wise person--I will regain control of my life. 

But control is violence. To follow is nonviolence. In the industry of short-cuts, violence trumps nonviolence. Few people simply follow life in all its complicated richness. That's how I try to live my life. I try.

By now it is widely accepted by many people with a spiritual bent that intentions matter. That to live a good life, a full life, we must practice holding intentions. But intentions are control, it is choosing to control life rather than follow her. We can hold intentions but holding intentions are practicing control, which is violence. I like the nonviolent path of not holding intentions but rather simply following where life takes me. 

Visualization is also control. It is violence. I prefer to visualize nothing. I prefer to follow life, the nonviolent path. 

The problem with creating our reality, intentions, and visualizations is not that they do not work--they do! My problem with all three approaches is that they are half-truths. I do not for a moment believe that our lives are what they seem to be. We are multidimensional! While the three approaches can create all kinds to things in three dimensions they are violent and screw things up and limit life experience in multiple dimensions. 

Our reality does not have an objective, independent reality, outside of us. Our reality is us. If we are trying to shape, to improve, to control our lives it means that we don't really understand who we are. We are magnificent, multidimensional beings. The reality we are aware of is a tiny little three dimensional spot in an infinite multidimensional space which is our Reality.

The messages of the wise women and wise men do not show an understanding of Reality (multidimensional) only reality (three dimensional). We can certainly create our reality but we can not create our Reality, which is beyond our capacity to even fathom. 

In creating our reality we use violence. We can set intentions, we can visualize, and these will certainly affect our reality. But when we do so we choose controlling life over following life, violence over nonviolence. We mess with things we don't understand. 

So this is what I understand about myself: I am magnificent, multidimensional energy, not what I think of as my reality. I have only one choice: to control or to follow. I choose to follow. Which means that I do not create my reality, I do not set intentions, and I do not visualize. 

I simply follow life. I do not 'like' that my partner has stage four cancer, that my life is very hard. But I don't try to change anything. I simply follow, willingly, life where she leads me. 

Panglao, Philippines

September 2017

Meditation is the journey from I-may-be-wrong to I-don't know. 

We worry. We take action. We worry some more. Why do we worry? We worry because here we are taking action and that action could be insufficient or even wrong. At the root of it is the fear, I-may-be-wrong, and then what's going to happen? 

Uncertainty-Action-Worry-More Uncertainty and so on is the pattern that many of us find ourselves in. Meditation moves us away from I-may-be-wrong. We disengage those parts of ourselves that imagine ourselves in certainty followed by worry about the reliability of that certainty. 

When we meditate we simply pay attention. It is not a passive state. Our bodies call out to us with physical sensations. We listen. In the state of I-don't-know, we are able to be still and watch ourselves. We are more than the doers of things. We are also witnesses.

We accept that we don't know. We can not be wrong when we simply don't know. That's the I-don't-know state.

Panglao, Philippines

November 2016

When times are hard our yoga practice becomes our sail-boat that helps us cross the story sea. Our yoga practice is not only the daily practice of physical postures known as yogasana or simply asana but also the daily practice of living our lives.

When times are hard we feel fragmented. It is a great challenge to stay focused, to move forward with our lives. Such times demand that we make conscious use of our most precious resource, namely time. The ancients have given us three modes of being that, to continue our metaphor, allow us to cross uncharted waters in our sail-boat. Any one of these can take us safely across when combined with our asana practice. 

The first mode is known as bhakti yoga. This is the devotional mode. One dedicates every waking and sleeping moment to a cause, a deity, a principle, anything that one believes in whole heartedly. Bhakti yoga is very effective when you have something that you can single-mindedly focus on. That then becomes your meditation, night and day.

The second mode is known as gyan yoga. This is the mode of the intellect. One immerses oneself in the discovery of new knowledge, gaining a deeper and deeper understanding and perspective upon our subject of study. Gyan yoga is not simply book-knowledge. You study for your self the practical implications of that knowledge and act upon your understanding.

The third mode is known as karma yoga. This is the mode of work-for-the-sake-of-the-work-itself. The Bhagavad Gita defines this mode as follows: You have the right to your work but not to the fruits of your work. You simply immerse your self in your work with no thought of the results but simply connecting to the act of working as your meditation practice. The beauty of karma yoga is that anyone can do it in absolutely any kind of work that one is engaged in. You could be hand-washing dishes, working in a library, painting a house, directing a movie--all that matters is that you do your work with no ego-attachment to the results of the work. 

Which mode we pick depends on our personality and personal preferences. Joining any one these modes with our asana practice allows our sail-boat to stay afloat and cross the stormy seas. After all the word yoga means to join: we must join the practice of living and the practice of doing to create wholeness in our lives.

November 2015

December 2014

I just wrote a piece called two yogas.

May 2014

I just wrote an exercise without movement piece called prana

December 2013

Interview with India West about my time in India as a Fulbright scholar. This appeared this month and can be seen here.  

November 2013

Back from travels in India as Fulbright scholar. In the midst of creating a new integrated work linking yoga and creativity, improvisation and guidance by Life itself.

May 2012

I will be a Fulbright scholar to India for 2012-13. 

February 2011

Just returned from a long visit to India to find that the Journal of Curriculum and Pedagogy had published my 26 Short Discourses on Yoga in their summer 2010 issue v7(1) with the editor referring readers to this website for further reading.  Happy new year!

January 2010

As we prepare for the year 2012 we are experiencing far-out changes. We are moving from largely physical beings to light beings. Raw yoga is at the vanguard of this transformation. It asks of us not only physical transformation but also a mental one. We are creating a safe passageway rooted in a centuries-old tradition that will finally make enlightenment available to everyone. Happy new year!

November 2009

For two years I wandered. Following a voice within. I met angels in the guise of humans, one of whom robbed me of my possessions in Goa, India. In one night I lost everything and I found everything. And I discovered new truths. Here is the first one:

Yoga is the consciousness of your inner voice.

One of the basic building blocks of inner expansion is listening to the voice within.

January 2009

I will be lecturing on yoga at an all day workshop on Cancer and Yoga Therapy: a cross-disciplinary workshop bringing together yoga instructors and health professionals to exchange information about cancer treatment and learn new ways to help support survivors through alternative treatments such as yoga.

The other two speakers are pioneers in the field of alternative treatments to traditional cancer treatments. Anand Dhruva, M.D is a cancer specialist at the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at UCSF Medical Center at Mount Zion. He provides integrative medicine consultations for cancer patients with specialized knowledge in both standard and non-traditional approaches to treatments and supportive care. Kelly McGonigal, PhD is a leading expert on the mind-body relationship and the psychology of yoga. She teaches yoga, meditation, and psychology at Stanford University, and is a passionate editor and freelance writer in the areas of mind-body psychology and integrative health care.

January 10th, 2009 10 AM - 4 PM at the California Pacific Medical Center

It is a free BUT space is very limited! Please register soon to avoid disappointment! For more information, maps, etc. please click here.

I hope many of you can make it to this paradigm-shifting workshop. Regardless of your background you will surely have a deeply transforming experience!

I am a teacher, writer, and Gandhian economist. I started studying yoga at age four at my mother's feet. My mother's great grandfather had been an Ayurvedic vaidya. Her grandfather was the teacher of the great philosopher-teacher-saint, freedom fighter Sane Guruji often called the National Teacher of India. My father, himself a great teacher, was educated at the celebrated Bordi school where his own father, my grandfather was a Master. The Bordi school carried on the great tradition of combining the best of the East and West initiated by the legendary Indian leader Gokhale (Gandhi's mentor), and turned out a number of freedom fighters. I was initiated by my teacher at the Aurobindo Ashram at age thirteen and went on to get a university education as well. I studied economics and yoga at Bombay University, graduating exactly 100 years after Mahatma Gandhi. I have a master's degree from Northwestern University, Evanston, Ill.  I have practiced yoga all my life. 

I have lectured on yoga and life in four continents, most recently in London, Bristol, San Francisco, Chicago, Rio de Janeiro, Fortaleza and Mumbai.

My yoga blog is called yoga is love and my economics blog is called Gandhian economics

I am a Fulbright Scholar to India and a peer reviewer for the Fulbright Commission, New Delhi, India. 

 photo: Maritstar

>> two yogas

>> prana 

>> raw yoga Q & A 

>> Lecture at California Pacific Medical Center, San Francisco

>> appreciations

>> contact me 

raw yoga a-z

 >> akasha

>> breath

>> circle  

>> connection

>> duality

>> embrace

>> friend

>> Gandhiji

>> gravity

>> how

>> imagination

>> joy

>> karma

>> kripa

>> love 

>>  meditation

>> metaphor  

>> minimum effort  

>> moon cycle

>> padma

>> pain 

>> radical yoga

>> root  

>> sex  

>> soul 

>> string 

>> temple

>> untangle

>> waken the serpent 

>> zindagi