Beyond Asana Blog

My weekly blog is a forum for contemplative inquiry into the intersection of yoga practice, traditional teachings, and real life.

Hum Jun 12, 2024

 

Do you know why humming is so good for you?

Simple humming, which is related to the yogic practice of Bhramari Pranayama, or Bee-buzzing breath, can positively impact your heart, soothe your nervous system, lower blood pressure, and reduce stress levels.

These benefits stem from the calming effects of activating the parasympathetic nervous system and the release of endorphins in your brain. Just a few minutes of humming a day can improve your health and overall mood.  

But the benefits of humming go beyond these physiological effects. There’s a deeper, more profound significance to it.

Seismologists have discovered that the Earth itself emits low-frequency sound waves that...

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Reciprocity Jun 05, 2024

 

Life, like the natural flow of the breath, moves in a continuous cycle of giving and receiving - the fundamental energy exchange that underlies every process in the physical world.

The Vedic culture that preceded yoga recognized the delicate balance of reciprocity inherent in the web of life, and honored it through hymns, sacrificial fires, and other rituals. These aimed to foster harmony with the natural world and place human beings in right relationship with the earth.

As yogic practices emerged, these outer rituals became interiorized. Recognizing that all the cosmic and elemental forces exist within the human being in microcosmic form, yoga sought to unify the individual with the...

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Yoga and the Ecological Self May 29, 2024


When Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh was asked by his students what the most important thing we can do for the healing of our world is, he replied, “The most important thing we can do for the healing of our world is to hear, within ourselves, the sound of the earth crying.”

This sentiment resonates with the many enthusiastic responses I received to last week’s postabout thinking like a lilac. It affirms that the unity awareness we foster in yoga isn’t just an esoteric concept removed from daily life.

Rather, seeing ourselves as part of the living body of the earth is a natural evolution of our awareness that strengthens and deepens over time.

This shift - from individual...

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Lilac speak May 22, 2024


Last weekend, I attended a Work That Reconnects retreat where we participated in a practice called The Council of All Beings.

In this ritual, people set aside their human identity and imagine what it’s like to be another life form. Speaking on behalf of that entity, they share what life is like for them, and the gifts they can offer us humans.

It was astounding how much wisdom and insight emerged from invoking our moral imagination and tapping into our capacity to empathize with the more-than-human world.

The power of the practice clearly impacted me, because upon returning home and seeing the lilacs blooming in my yard, I began to wonder: What would they say if they could speak? What...

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Theyā€™re Back May 15, 2024


Man is the only creature who refuses to be what he is.

- Albert Camus


After months of near silence (save for those persistent crows) the sparrows, bobolinks, blackbirds, mourning doves, robins, and Canadian Geese are back, and they’re singing their hearts out.

The nerve! How dare they sing so sweetly, as if all is well? Haven’t they gotten the memo that that the world is on fire? That pain and suffering are everywhere?

Even if they could understand, I doubt it would change things. They’re birds after all, that’s what they do.

It’s only us humans, with our big brains and our capacity for conscious choice, that stray from our authentic nature, quelling the...

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Mirror Wisdom May 08, 2024


During a long drive this week, I got to catch up with two long-time yoga friends, both going through their own version of tough times.

Surprisingly, our conversations left me feeling uplifted and invigorated. Rather than feeling burdened by their struggles, I felt a deep sense of compassion and solidarity.

Just a few weeks ago, the roles were reversed. It was me confiding in a close friend about something that was weighing on my heart. She received my vulnerability with grace and openness.

While a friend’s listening ear may not solve our problems, it sure can lighten our load and buoy us through the turbulence of life’s uncertainties.  

In the Buddhist tradition, when one...

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Of all the seasonsā€¦ May 02, 2024

 

After my workshop last Saturday, a participant noticed with delight that the treetops visible from the studio had grown even greener during our afternoon together. In our corner of the world, every sign of the burgeoning springtime feels worthy of celebration.

In Chapter 10 of the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna tells his student, Arjuna, where to perceive the sacred in the world. It’s quite a list!

Among the many places he guides him to look, he says,
Of the seasons I am spring, that brings forth flowers. (10.35)

This statement has always intrigued me. The text later reveals that all seasons, indeed all of existence, originate from the same source.

So why highlight spring...

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Talking to Yourself Apr 24, 2024

 

What yoga has given me through years of practice is reflected in how I talk to girls about building self-esteem. I ask them, who are you when nobody’s looking? What kind of thoughts arise about yourself? Are you kind, patient, and loving? What is the conversation that happens within you when you’re alone? Because that is the reflection of who you are.

- Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau, Evolving Your Yoga



Imagine – if you dare – that your inner thoughts during yoga were visible to others, like thought bubbles in a cartoon. Wouldn’t that be revealing?

I came to yoga in my early twenties with a background in dance and gymnastics. The postures came easily....

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5 years later Apr 17, 2024

 

This week marks the fifth anniversary of the release of Evolving Your Yoga.

Like any author I suppose, it continues to thrill me to hear how the principles in the book are helping people deepen their yoga and integrate its benefits into their lives.

However, the biggest gift by far has been the many sincere, kind-hearted people I’ve met - people dedicated to living better lives through yoga.

It’s hard to believe just how much the world has changed since 2019. The shifts we’ve lived through and how much we are all holding in these tender, messy, heartbreaking times only underscores the importance of our shared practices.

In the spirit of the book, it’s been...

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Eclipsed Apr 10, 2024


In her post about Monday's eclipse, Vedic Astrologer Marga Laube wrote:

Practicing self-compassion would be a phenomenal way to tend to the swirling energies of this eclipse.

If Monday’s awe-inspiring cosmic dance pause felt powerful and profound, that’s because it was.

Astrological insight can provide valuable context for grasping the magnitude of such a momentous event. Yet, this information alone might not fully equip us to meet the inner intensity it can stir up.

Here’s where self-compassion comes in. Like a mother soothing a restless child, we can learn to meet the whirlwind of our emotions with tenderness and love.  

A yoga practice informed by the wisdom...

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