Beyond Asana Blog
My weekly blog is a forum for contemplative inquiry into the intersection of yoga practice, traditional teachings, and real life.
This morning I had an appointment in our village that is slowly opening up. It's a time of day I'm not usually out. On my way home, I got to see the recycling truck and the mail carrier in action.
Although it might sound like a strange thing to say at a time when so much feels off-kilter, I actually had the thought, "All is happening as it should be."
I felt grateful for all the services and people I count on for the everyday functioning of my life. I’m thankful to live in a society where resources like these are provided on a regular basis. They're so important, yet I hardly ever think about it.
Similarly, a few days ago I was speaking with a group of yoga friends...
Getting an "A" in yoga.
Sounds silly, right? The idea of getting a grade or receiving some kind of external reward for performance in yoga so obviously goes against our most basic reasons for doing the practice.
Seth Godin in his book What to do When It’s Your Turn, writes:
"… The prevailing system of the educational-industrial complex puts the fear of a ‘C’ in us. The entire point of twelve (or sixteen) years of our lives isn’t to learn anything, it’s to get an ‘A’…What if instead, we decided to opt in to a different path, the path of always learning?"
Because yoga is, or can be, all about continuous...
Use your own light and return to the source of light. This is called practicing eternity.
One of the more interesting gifts I’ve received as a teacher was a bright-yellow Brazilian Melon. A student in a retreat gave it to me a few years ago as a symbol of the lightness she felt in the days following our time together. For me, it was a sweet reminder of the inner sun that yoga reveals within us.
This is the Prana Shakti. Like a sun inside ourselves, prana is the source energy that animates our bodies, enlivens our senses and powers our minds.
I spent a luxurious amount of time this weekend watching the sun illumine the fields and mountains around my...
Today feels like the right day to revisit the story of Tikkun Olam as told by Rachel Naomi Remen:
In the beginning, there was only the holy darkness, the Ein Sof, the source of life. And then, in the course of history, at a moment in time, this world, the world of a thousand, thousand things, emerged from the heart of the holy darkness as a great ray of light.
And then, perhaps because this is a Jewish story, there was an accident, and the vessels containing the light of the world, the wholeness of the world, broke. And the wholeness of the world, the light of the world was scattered into a thousand, thousand fragments of light, and they fell into all events and all...
“The wound is the place where the light enters you” – Rumi
I learned recently that Rumi’s poem preceded this phrase that Leonard Cohen made famous. While I’ve contemplated this on my own internal level many times, it feels that now the collective wound is open. The wound of our society’s prejudice and injustice. It’s painful. It’s uncomfortable. It’s deeply unsettling.
And yet, necessary.
Necessary for the light to make its way in, for the reckoning to begin. For healing to become possible.
We have our work cut out for us. It starts with being willing to fully feel the pain of the wound itself, to take an unflinching look at...
My word today is hope. There are many issues that need my hope today, many things that have me concerned, worried, even up in arms.
Those feelings are all there. And, yet, what I keep coming back to is that I can choose to cultivate how I wish to respond. I can choose the colour with which I want to paint the landscape of my mind.
Choosing hope doesn’t replace the need for concrete action, of course. Rather, I experience it as the fuel for conscious and purposeful action. It recharges me and allows me to move forward with vision, intentionality, and integrity.
One of the greatest boons of our practices is that we gain freedom beyond the ups and downs of our minds....
On days when fear or anxiety creep in, I often remember the words of a wise teacher who taught: There are only two things that cause fear:
1- You've forgotten the place of fearlessness inside you.
2- You aren't aware of God's help.
(you can replace God with the Universal Self, Spirit, Source or whatever other term you feel comfortable with.)
For me, it's usually a combination of both.
So, one approach to overcoming fear that I find helpful is simply to focus on inspiring fearlessness by remembering these two things. Some ways you might do this are:
Remember instances where the universe completely supported you, and you knew it.
Connect kinesthetically to the feeling of fearlessness inside...
As luck would have it, it’s a good day for me to write about the quality of vitality.
Why? Not to make anyone jealous, but I slept about 10 hours last night. There’s nothing like a good night’s rest to help us feel re-vitalized. Believe me, I’m grateful for it. A good night’s sleep can be hard to come by these days. I wonder why?
The quality of vitality – vibrancy, liveliness, and exuberance – is a support, almost a prerequisite, to all the other virtues.
When I feel tired, lazy, and drained it’s harder to be kind, generous, patient, and compassionate. Without vitality, all the other virtues feel like more...
In her book, The Optimism Bias, psychologist Tali Sharot writes about the disconnect between the things we think will bring us happiness and the things that actually contribute to our experience of lived happiness moment to moment.
It turns out that the big life goals we expect will lead to our happiness, things like career, marriage, and children, do not necessarily bring us very much actual lived happiness. Turns out, raising children doesn’t correlate highly to moment-to-moment satisfaction. (Wink, wink to all the parents reading this.)
Sure, our life goals are worthwhile, our dharma is important, but what her research showed is that lived experiences of happiness come...
Have you heard about doctors now actually needing to remind patients to put on pants when they show up for their virtual visits?
Oy. In times like this, it’s easy to let things go. Simple politeness and niceness included. At this point, we might all be feeling a little raw and rough around the edges. But let’s not forget the simple power of just being a nice person.
I remember once sitting next to the actor Danny Glover on a plane. I was surprised at how genuinely nice he was. Kind, respectful, human.
I’ve always been most impressed when those in the public eye, with power to be less than nice, are just really nice.