Keynote Speaker

What have the Astronauts and Patanjali got in common? Where to with Yoga in our Modern World.

There have been over 400 astronauts who have ventured into space since the sixties when the space program began.  Many of them have experienced, talked about, and written about the Overview Effect.  If we dive into this “effect” we can see that it is not unlike the effect of a yogi experiencing pratyahara or a Buddhist meditator engaging samadhi.  We’ll explore those connections.  These “higher limbs” of yoga have been somewhat neglected in the modern iteration of yoga in the West where asana has received the key emphasis.  Since offering a benefit workshop in the wake of Hurricane Harvey in Houston last year, Michael has been engaging with some folks at NASA in exploring these connections.  He’s learning that the transformation experienced by astronauts happens when they begin to experience their world through a different lens.  He’s convinced that this “lens” change can happen without a journey in space and for ordinary people.  His work over the last 30 years has been applying yoga therapy to help people create a different lens and as a result they often experience a profound shift in their mental and emotional health.  Neuroscience research now validates several of the elements of this approach. Its application could have major implications for mainstream health and wellness in the areas of pain, anxiety, stress, depression, and a myriad of our so called “lifestyle conditions”.  This is just one example that is indicative of where yoga might be headed in the years ahead.    

Michael Lee

Michael grew up in Queensland and held teaching posts there, in PNG, and in SA before leaving for the USA in 1984 to pursue his yoga quest. He wanted to learn about the effectiveness of yoga for changing lives and so immersed himself at the Kripalu Center (then an ashram) in Massachusetts for two years. This began a career in yoga and yoga therapy with a focus on mental and emotional health and spanning 33 years. Michael founded Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy in 1986 based on his learning and integration of yoga and elements of contemporary psychology. PRYT now has training programs in several cities in the USA, in Canada, and in Japan and has over 2000 graduates. Michael and his wife Lori parent five adult children live in rural Massachusetts.