Beyond Asana Blog

Word Power

Dec 01, 2021


Just thinking about an upcoming dental appointment is making my jaw clench. While that may not come as a surprise, it’s fascinating when you think about it, isn’t it?

In Nondual Tantric philosophy, the power of language is known as Matrika Shakti. One of the interpretations of Matrika is “Little mothers.”
The letters of the alphabet give birth to words. Words give birth to meaning. Meaning gives birth to thoughts, associations, concepts, images. All this creates our reality. It’s happening nonstop, all the time.
To begin to get a sense of this incredible power at work and glimpse the immense creative power your words hold, just watch this simple, yet awe-inspiring process.
See if you can slow down enough to become aware of what you are thinking. Then, identify the words (spoken or unspoken) that give form to those thoughts. Finally, notice how this affects your body, your mood,...

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Letting the Heart Have its Say

Nov 25, 2021


In anticipation of tonight’s long-awaited family gathering for Thanksgiving, I took some time to become quiet.

In the stillness of meditation, a question arose:

How can I live from my Heart this holiday season?

It's the ever-present inquiry that yoga whispers into our ears and the ongoing quest it gives rise to: the pursuit of living a more conscious and purposeful life, and contributing positively to the world around us.

I’m planning to begin very simply, with the smallest possible ways of achieving this:
Asking myself: What is needed at this moment?

Being kind to myself and the people I’m with.

And, most importantly, slowing down often and long enough to allow the Heart, the inner voice of compassion, to have its say.



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The Perspective of Precipitation

Nov 18, 2021


With the arrival of winter to our lovely little corner of the world, it's the time of year when us Northerners become very attuned to the different forms of water: rain, freezing rain, snow, blowing snow, sleet, and ice.

Consider precipitation as a metaphor for how energy moves in your life, how it flows to all the things you do, the ways you move, the roles you play, and the projects you're working on.

Where is energy flowing placidly like a gentle mountain stream? Where is it moving wildly like a rushing river? Where is it frozen like an icicle?

The good news is that unlike the Canadian winter, once we've observed all this, we do have some say in the matter. We can direct our energy - physically, energetically, emotionally, and creatively – to flow through blocks, we can defrost the frozen bits, fine tune the velocity where needed, and replenish the riverbeds that have gone dry.
One of the best ways to start to revitalize and balance the...

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Perfectly Imperfect

Nov 11, 2021


I recently received the proofs for a photo shoot I did for a forthcoming book.

How many of the poses looked perfect?

Uhh, none.

How many were completely and undeniably perfect?

Well, all of them.

The truth is, I’ll never do a perfect asana.

Yet, from the perspective of the truth, how could my postures be anything but pure perfection?

Just as I was mulling this over (because its something I’ve been thinking about for only, say, 25 years now), I read this, sent to me by a wise student who had also been contemplating these questions:

You are neither good enough nor not good enough. An apple seed is neither good enough nor not good enough, it simply is in the process of becoming an apple, and then falling from its tree, and then transforming yet again to become food for the earth and maybe even the tree itself. And yet, we could never say of a seed that it is not whole because it is not yet an apple, nor could we call a rotting apple imperfect. It just...

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The RealĀ "Every Damn Day" Work of the Yogi

Nov 03, 2021


Confidence: Certitude, self-assurance, reliance on one’s own resources and powers, trust, firm conviction, sureness.
In the new course on Nondual Tantra that I'm co-teaching, I was reminded of where true confidence comes from: The remembrance of our innate fullness, wholeness, and perfection. 

Just like a flower can’t be separated from its fragrance or the sun can’t be separated from its rays, this tradition teaches that this fullness can never be taken away from us because it’s who we are at our essence.

Anything else – all our smallness, insecurity, and self-doubt – is considered a state of forgetfulness.

Not that the forgetting doesn’t feel real, not that we don’t experience it as a kind of truth, we do. In all kinds of ways, it feels real for us.
This is why our biggest daily task is to remember.

In my experience, this is the “every-damn-day” work of the yogi. It's the work...

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Seriously Though, Don't Go Back to Sleep

Oct 28, 2021


The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.
Don’t go back to sleep.
You must ask for what you really want.
Don’t go back to sleep.
People are going back and forth across the doorsill
Where the two worlds touch.
The door is round and open.
Don’t go back to sleep.

- Mevlâna Jalâluddîn Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks
I take these words quite literally these days, as the weather turns colder and I become ever more comfortable under the covers. When the alarm clock rings and it's time to get up for meditation, hopefully I can remember Rumi's advice, Don’t go back to sleep.
More profoundly, though, this poem calls on us to nurture our experience of awakening. It asks us to clarify and then commit to the shifts we really want to make. It encourages us with the possibility of stepping through the threshold into a new way of being. It also speaks to the perseverance needed to stay engaged with and interested in...

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Letting Go! A Video Sequence For Shoulders And Neck

Oct 21, 2021


From where I sit in Southern Quebec, it’s clear that this week is about letting go. In nature, of course, that is happening gracefully, organically, and precisely as it should be. In my own very human life, however, letting go isn’t always that natural or easy.

I sometimes wonder why my mind and body clearly prefer holding on to unproductive thoughts and limiting patterns rather than releasing into the joy and freedom that come when I’m willing to let it all fall away? Maybe a better question is: How can I facilitate releasing what’s ready to be let go of?

By softening physical tension, yoga invites us to first notice, and then surrender, habitual patterns of movement in asana in favor of greater ease and integration.

On the level of the mind, our practices help us develop the self-awareness to recognize the layers of resistance and habits we’ve built up so we can gradually begin to free ourselves from them.

Whether it’s how...

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Light Diffuses Itself

Oct 14, 2021


Father Joe Pereira is a Indian Roman Catholic priest, a beloved senior Iyengar Yoga Teacher, and a social worker who worked closely with Mother Theresa for decades. He founded the Kripa Foundation, which offers holistic-oriented programs for the rehabilitation of HIV patients and people affected by substance abuse. 

I met Father Joe a few years ago and we spoke about the role of service in yogic life. He told me:

Service is a natural outcome of a practitioner who looks at this practice as a gift.… you can’t keep it to yourself, you want to share it with somebody…Mother Theresa started by getting this inspiration that people are thirsty for love. And the people who were not being loved is where [she fulfilled] the thirst of God in them.… I must know where this urge to help should be oriented. I must first have a mindset. Then I will find a place or a person who needs this help.

Just as light by its very nature diffuses darkness,...

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The End of Subtle?

Oct 06, 2021


Subtle takes time.

In the space of sustained inner attention, awareness penetrates beneath the obvious to notice and capture insights in our practice.

Subtle can’t be downloaded or clicked on.

It’s delicate like the wings of a Gossamer butterfly.

Yes, practice gives us the opportunity to develop the strength of mind and sensitivity needed to refine our perception and grasp what might otherwise remain elusive.

The question is, how much do we value it? And more importantly, are we willing to unplug and simply stay put with our experience long enough for the subtle to emerge?



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Top 10 Tips for Starting Again

Sep 29, 2021


The secret to longevity in yoga practice is a willingness to begin again.

If you’re ready to get back on your mat and recommit to a regular rhythm of practice, you’re in good company. Getting disconnected from, and subsequently coming back to your practice is something all longtime practitioners will do at one time or another.

As you continue down the road of yoga, the question isn’t whether you’ll get disconnected from your practice, it's how will you bring yourself back?

Here are my top ten tips for starting again:

1. Welcome yourself even more unconditionally than usual.

2. Begin with something you love that feels great in your body and go from there. (Rolling around on the floor counts.)

3. Be generous with yourself. Keep it slow and sweet and stay for as long as you want.

4. Allow more space than usual for rest, breath, and simply feeling.

5. Practicing in pajamas is totally okay.

6. No mirrors allowed.

7. Be more mindful than...

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