The Essence of Yoga

A Path to Freedom from Our Habitual Patterns

Taught by Michael Stone

Regular Price: $199.00

Special Price $129.00

 - Online Course

“This is an ongoing, lifelong process of awakening. This is not a description of a final enlightenment where the light goes on, and you transcend your body. This is descriptive of being an engaged citizen who is passionate about transforming the suffering within them and around them. And that’s bodhisattva practice. That’s the practice of freedom. It’s so simple, but it’s not easy.”—Michael Stone

The great paradox of the human psyche is that we suffer because we try to get away from suffering. When the teachings of Buddhism and yoga refer to suffering, they’re pointing not just to the intense pain we sometimes encounter, but to the thread of dissatisfaction that runs through every aspect of our lives and keeps us locked in a cycle of trying to get what we want and avoid what we don’t want. That more subtle and pervasive form of suffering leads to every variety of unhealthy human behavior: addiction, craving, aggression, escapism, laziness, and more.

What if we could break out of those patterns altogether by training our minds, hearts, and bodies to respond to our own and others’ suffering not from reactivity, but from wisdom? That is the very definition of freedom—and it’s available to you right now.

In this online course, the late Michael Stone—a well-loved and esteemed teacher of yoga, psychology, and Buddhism—illuminates insights from those three traditions to show us how our minds work. Michael centers his teachings around the five kleṣas of yoga philosophy: the reactive patterns in our minds and bodies that keep us trapped in a cycle of negative beliefs and behaviors. By unpacking the kleas and shining light on why we do what we do, Michael guides us in opening courageously to what’s around us and inside of us, expanding our ability to move beyond reactivity and habit and lead lives full of meaning.

Course Materials

Eight hours of video lessons by Michael Stone—including Q&A, with downloadable transcripts and audio-only versions available

Selected readings from The Inner Tradition of Yoga, Awake in the World, and Yoga for a World out of Balance by Michael Stone

Two guided meditations to help you bring body and mind together in the present moment

A PDF workbook outlining all the content in the course, with helpful notes and graphics for you to easily review the teachings

50% discount on the following books by Michael: The Inner Tradition of Yoga, Awake in the World, and Yoga for a World Out of Balance

Unlimited access on your computer, mobile device, or tablet—learn at your own pace wherever and whenever works best for you


This course will help you:

  • Understand the psychological mechanisms that sap your life of meaning and vitality, so that you can live more purposefully
  • Discover a new way to think about challenging mental states and emotions
  • Cultivate courage and insight through the practice of staying with intense feelings without reacting to them
  • Understand how trauma occurs when we are unable to process a difficult experience
  • Investigate how a sense of self arises in our moment-to-moment experience
  • Learn what karma actually is, and reflect on how it is present in your own life
  • Consider how we can collectively change the world by disentangling ourselves from our habitual responses
  • Learn the four tasks taught by the Buddha for working with suffering
What You Will Learn in Each Lesson

Lesson 1
Mindfulness Is Intimacy

The authentic practice of mindfulness is complete intimacy with present experience—whether with a baby on the hip, making breakfast, or feeling the breath on your meditation cushion. When we move through the world wrapped up in thought, there is no direct contact with reality, and we don’t know who or what we are. In this lesson, we’ll discuss how the more we clarify our perception, the more openness and compassion we can bring to the profound—and sometimes confusing—undertaking of being in the world.

Lesson 2
Defining Consciousness

The concept of “me” is a holdover from the past. While it’s true that there is a self-referential mechanism in the mind, what is untrue is its permanence and substantiality. At the heart of the world, in the center of our conception of our personality, at the base of our worldviews and preferences, we find a reality not bound by our stories and ideas. We find, instead, a reality that is boundless and centerless. In this lesson, we’ll look at different paradigms of consciousness and begin to unravel the idea that we inherently exist.

Lesson 3
Full-Contact Meditation

Right here and right now is where everything important is happening. This is where we place our attention. The breath and the body are always present, so we breathe our circumstances. Then we develop the skills necessary to deal with difficulty rather than reinforcing patterns of attachment or aversion. This helps us use the mind efficiently—to see something clearly, to feel what is there to be felt and allow it to pass on. In this lesson, we’ll explore how coming into contact with the fullness of our experience leads to wisdom.

Lesson 4
Becoming Disentangled

Samsara is a metaphor for meaninglessness. It refers to the endless cycle of birth, death, and rebirth of our sense of self. How we meet each moment of experience, whether in stillness or in reactivity, sets up the pattern for the next consecutive moment. How do we cultivate our ability to skillfully meet each moment with open and undivided attention? In this lesson, we’ll look at how we got where we are and how we can change where we’re going.

Lesson 5
Turning toward Pain

When we continually run away from our experience, we plant seeds of repetition: the next time the same experience occurs, we will meet it with the conditioned response we have constructed and reinforced in mind, body, and nervous system. But if we could allow ourselves to feel the pain of a difficult experience when it arises and ride it out to its dissolution, we would eventually become so familiar with the patterns underlying its occurrence that we would be able to get under it before it takes over. In this lesson, we’ll glimpse the freedom that arises when we develop the ability to turn toward suffering.

Lesson 6
The Path Emerges in Each Moment

Enlightenment is becoming who we really are, free to take action. Through taking wholesome action and understanding the habits that inform unwholesome action we decondition the heart into such a natural state of openness that we see no existence in the universe as separate from this very self. In this lesson, we’ll take a look at how our own path of liberation could unfold into broader social change.

Praise for Michael Stone

Michael presented interesting, relevant material in such a sincere and brilliant way. He has a gentle sense of humor balanced with depth and compassion.”

I found Michael’s teaching clear, and accessible. His presentation of the four noble truths inspired a deeper understanding, which has stayed with me. 

Michael’s ability to be incredibly clear with dharma and yogic teachings is a gift. He has a way of taking a huge topic and making the teachings piercingly precise, but also will not hesitate to link them with the overall issues affecting our world today. He doesn’t separate the dharma from global issues like mental health or climate change; instead he links teachings from the personal to the global and local body politic. 

About the Instructor

Michael Stone

Michael Stone (1974–2017) was a prominent and innovative Buddhist teacher, yogi, psychotherapist, and author. He was the founder and director of the Centre of Gravity Sangha, a community of yoga and Buddhist practitioners based in Toronto, and he taught widely and had a large international following. He is the author of The Inner Tradition of Yoga, Yoga for a World Out of Balance, Freeing the Body Freeing the Mind, and Awake in the World. For more information visit

30-Day Satisfaction Guarantee

If for any reason you are not completely satisfied with your purchase, please e-mail us within 30 days of registering for the course, and we will promptly refund your purchase price.

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