Beyond Asana Blog

Keep on Rolling

Jan 13, 2022

 

The dharmachakra, or wheel of dharma, is one of the most ancient symbols in Indian culture and one of the most well-known and important in the Buddhist tradition. Its even an emoji .
 
Dharma comes from the Sanskrit root dhr, meaning “that which upholds.” It’s often translated as right action or sacred duty.
 
Chakra means “wheel”. Here, the term has nothing to do with the energy centers in the subtle body.
 
The oldest known depictions of the dharmachakra are solar symbols that appear frequently on the clay seals of the Indus valley civilization dating back to 2500 BCE. 
 
The symbolism of the dharmachakra varies. In Buddhism, the hub of the wheel represents the discipline of the seeker. The rim symbolizes concentration and meditation. The spokes represent different aspects of the Buddha’s teachings, depending on the number. For example, a wheel with...

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The Yoga in Front of You

Jan 06, 2022

 

Since you, like me, always have been and always will be,
now ease into your dharma
and be that which you must be for this time
and this place right now.


- Author Unknown
 
This short poem expresses the essence of the teachings in chapter two of the  Bhagavad Gita. It speaks to the paradoxical understanding of the human being in yoga as an embodied spirit, a timeless, transcendent essence bound up in the manifest world of time and place, name and form.
 
Maybe right now isn’t the time for grand visioning or laying out big plans. Maybe it’s a time to focus on what’s right before you, to put one foot in front of the other, and respond to the needs and circumstances of your life. To be that which you must be for this time and this place.
 
Yoga offers us the possibility of holding a kind of dual recognition: Staying aware of our unchanging Self while being fully engaged in the actions of everyday life.
...

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Returning

Dec 30, 2021

 

What I needed this morning is always what I need after a few days of holiday – the time and space to come back to myself and draw back into my inner life. 
 
For me, this comes through silent reflection and writing.
 
I was only too happy to wake up (no alarm clock) before anyone else in the house, to sit and journal about what I want to remember as I head into 2022 (it’s a fruitful journaling prompt if you’re so inclined.)
 
Some would call this “me time,” but it’s more than that.
 
It’s a way of resetting, recalibrating, and regrouping.
 
Quietude is what allows us to return to ourselves and re-establish the spacious perspective that allows us to see our lives and grasp the deeper order at work with greater clarity. 

Over time, this process of returning becomes more than just a nice thing to do for yourself, it becomes an anchor that tethers you to what’s most essential.

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Instant Comfort

Dec 15, 2021

 

Sometimes you get a kitchen gadget that goes straight into storage after few weeks, rarely to be used again. Other times, you get a tool that proves to be something you can’t imagine living without.

We love dhal, especially in the winter. It’s a nourishing, comforting meal that costs pennies to make.

How do we make our perfect dhal repeatedly, easefully, and quickly?

The Instant Pot. If there’s one small appliance that has changed our lives for the better, it’s this one. With the money we save making big batches of soup, the Instant Pot quickly paid for itself.

More recently, my husband perfected this sticky rice.

You might find, like we did, that there’s no need to do dozens of recipes with it, just a few great dishes you love.

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Our Simple Instant Pot Dhal Recipe

Dec 15, 2021

 

Step 1: Soak 2 cups of red lentils (Masoor dhal), ideally few hours, but a last-minute soaking of 30-45 minutes also works fine.

 

Step 2: Prepare your ingredients

1 Tbl. Black mustard seeds

1 Tbl. Coriander seeds

1 Tbl. Cumin seeds

1 tsp. Black peppercorns

3 pods cardamom

A bit of turmeric

Reduce everything to a powder in a dry blender or grinder. This is your masala, or spice mixture.

 

Prepare the other components:

Chop 1 onion

Dice 3 cloves of garlic

Mince 2 inches of Ginger

Get a 796 ml (28oz) can of crushed or pureed tomatoes (even diced tomatoes are fine, it will change the texture of the dhal)

Optional: chop another vegetables of your choice: celery, carrots, etc.

 

Step 3: Make the Dhal:

  • Put the Instant Pot on “Sauté.”
  • Put 2 Tbl. of coconut oil or ghee.
  • Add the masala to the melted oil/ghee. Let it sizzle for a minute.
  • Add the onion, garlic, and ginger, stir for another minute.
  • Add the can of tomatoes.
  • Add an empty tomato...
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From Busy to Full

Dec 08, 2021

 

In yoga, we recognize that words don't just have power, they are power. In Nondual Tantric philosophy, language is recognized as a form of Shakti, the universal energy of creation. Therefore, language not only describes our reality, but it also impacts (some would even say determines) how we experience it.

As we wind down toward the end of the year, I’m guessing there’s no shortage of things on your to-do list.

On my agenda today is filming a class and a pose tutorial for a media outlet. Tomorrow, I’m delivering a webinar to a group of teachers (more on that below!). Friday, more filming plus phone meetings with students and colleagues. Then, cookie baking and gift buying this weekend.
 
So, yes, you could say that like many of us, I have a lot going on.

When I shared this recently with a friend, she responded, “Life is full, isn’t it? And fun.”
 
“Yes!” I...

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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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