It’s Pitru Paksha, the two-week period in the Hindu calendar (September 21-October 5 this year) dedicated to honoring one’s ancestors.
This traditionally includes your parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents. It can also be extended to include teachers, friends, mentors, and even pets that have departed.
It’s a great time to acknowledge with gratitude the legacy of wisdom or protection that you've received from loved ones or trusted elders who have passed. You might consider how you continue to benefit from their guidance and love in your life.
What if the blessings of your ancestors were in a box that you could open and release into your life at will?
But even if you don’t relate to notion of the invisible support of your lineage, it can be an interesting exercise to visualize what it would be like to view your life from their perspective.
In your mind’s eye, zoom out and envision all the goings-on of...
It might be more efficient to make your morning coffee the night before and microwave it when you wake up. But most of us don’t do that because, well, it’s just not the same.
Like your morning beverage, yoga is so much more potent and powerful when it’s served up fresh.
What good is all the information that´s in all those wonderful books you’ve read and notes you've taken if you can’t apply it to your life?
My experience is that yogic knowledge is never a one-and-done affair. It needs to be refreshed, remembered, and re-enlivened so it’s not just something I understood once upon a time but living wisdom that’s available to me in the present moment, where it really counts.
For example, this week I’m going back to exploring the movements of prana in the body in preparation for my Fall Workshop. While this is a concept that I first learned about more than 20 years ago, it feels new in my...
Man is the only creature who refuses to be what he is.
- Albert Camus, French philosopher
We've turned the corner into September and there's no looking back. As you head into the rhythm of Autumn, it’s a perfect time to renew your sense of purpose. What fuels you? What keeps you focused, motivated, and enthusiastic? What helps you maintain a healthy perspective?
I contemplated these questions over the Labor Day weekend. I sat in my favorite spot, on a large rock in the middle of a mountain stream and considered my purpose for my work and practice this season. A lot came to me, including this:
Dharma, sacred purpose, is everywhere in nature.
The dharma of a stream is to flow.
The dharma of a plant is to grow.
The dharma of the sun is to shine.
There's no questioning, doubting, or resistance in how animals and the elements of the natural world fulfill their dharma. They simply do what they are meant to do.
Imagine living like that.
"May I not be limited by what I think I know."
This is a prayer I often make at the start of my yoga practice.
It expresses my desire to be open, to receive, and to grow beyond (and sometimes despite) my assumptions, biases, and expectations.
A willingness to learn, question, and try things out are part of fulfilling this intention. Ultimately, I think the seasoned student approaches everything about yoga not as a subject to be mastered in a given number of classes or training hours, but as a lifelong path of growth and self-discovery. This is what keeps your studentship and your practice vibrant.
In over 25 years of sharing yoga, I haven't always felt like I was a skilled teacher. But because of the nature of my engagement with yoga, even when I've doubted my abilities as a teacher, I have always had faith in my abilities as a student.
Owning your skills and gifts to step forward with confidence while...
Truth be told, I'm looking forward to next Tuesday. This is the day when my daughter goes back to school and our family schedule will return to, well, being more scheduled. This week, we’re in that liminal time all parents of school age children know well: post-summer activities, pre-academic year.
Still, I stick to my morning routine as best I can. For what it’s worth, I've broken down the most successful version of it, in case you too are ready to reset your schedule:
1. Grounding (sitting quietly, looking out the window from my favorite spot on the couch, sipping my morning coffee)
2. Connecting to the sacred (meditating, contemplating)
3. Recommitting to my intention and mindset (journaling)
4. Writing out my schedule
The last element, though it might seem to be the least “yogic” of the four, is as important as all the others. In it, I list the flow of how I want my day to unfold, including approximate timings. It usually takes less than...
It’s the a-ha that answers the question we have been asking ourselves.
It’s the bright idea that floats effortlessly to the surface of our awareness.
It’s the creative solution to a problem that arises seemingly out of nowhere.
How many times have we heard or experienced this? The answers we seek come after we have let go of all effort.
Psychologists might give one explanation for this, productivity specialists another. But yoga has a particular take on how this phenomenon works.
In yoga, our mind is seen not only as our faculties of questioning, thinking, analyzing, reasoning, ruminating, and so on. Yoga recognizes there is also an aspect of our mind that's a conduit for our inner wisdom.
When we disengage from solution-seeking part of our mind, the busyness of our mental chatter settles. Internal space clears. Then, as if silently summoned from the depths of our being, the voice of deep knowing can emerge, precisely because we have made...
How about including your body?
It’s your vehicle, your instrument, the house of your spirit, the sacred vessel of consciousness and the living, breathing miracle of your existence on this earth.
Amidst the aches and pains you might be experiencing, consider the thousands of things that go right to make it possible for you to get out of bed in the morning.
How would it feel if, for just a moment, we could aside our judgments and complaints, and thank this body for its immense and unceasing efforts in service to all we do?
Then, if you wish to go a step further, consider who is doing the thanking.
There’s something about sunlight.
I don’t pretend to understand exactly what. But somewhere in me I know. Somewhere in all of us, I think we all know.
We know when we watch the way sunlight dances across the surface of a lake, or shimmers on a wet leaf, or casts golden shadows on the urban landscape. We know when we watch the sun rise and set.
We know that there’s magic there, undeniable beauty, and power.
Light heals, repairs, and nourishes.
It’s in high summer here in the Northern hemisphere, but wherever you live, it’s a great day to receive the power of light, even for just a moment.
Allow it to soften the hard edges, to soothe you, and dissolve the some of your separateness. Allow it to open you to the possibility of wholeness.
A meditation master once taught:
Hatha Yoga, Schmata* Yoga. Even an elephant can stand on his front legs, but is your inner courtyard filled with the fragrance of your own love?
(*Schmata is the Yiddish word for a rag or old, ragged clothing)
It’s a question I come back to again and again: What makes postural practice more than physical exercise, even when done with mindful awareness, conscious breathing, and good alignment?
And the answer keeps coming back: it’s the context we give it, the intention behind it, and the inner trajectory it moves us in that brings asana into the realm of spiritual practice and part of a larger path of personal growth.
All we do on our mats - the one-pointedness we nurture, the agility we engender, the vitality we increase, and even the more subtle awareness we cultivate – must be placed in service to our own evolution and becoming a stronger force for love and goodness in the world for it to be yoga.
According to Ayurveda, you aren’t what you eat, you’re what you digest.
It’s true with food and it’s also true with yoga.
Like digesting a meal, assimilation in yoga is about extracting the nourishment you receive from your practices. Assimilation allows the imprint and impact of the practices to settle into the fabric of your being - mind, body, and spirit - and become part of you. It's how integration happens.
Among the possibilities for assimilating the effects of your practice are:
- Resting in Savasana or another supported, fully relaxing pose
- Articulating your experiences through writing, drawing, or another creative medium
- Sharing your insights with others
- Reflecting while being in nature
What are your favorite ways to assimilate your yoga?
Our free, online bonus content is designed to complement and enrich your experience of Evolving Your Yoga. Resources like video pose tutorials, downloadable journaling prompts, breathwork, guided visualizations, and more will support your exploration of each of the Ten Principles for Enlightened Practice.