Beyond Asana Blog

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

Weeds & Seeds Apr 03, 2024

 

It’s an exercise I sometimes lead at the beginning of workshops.

Participants reflect on how they want to be together, we then name the qualities and behaviors we wish to cultivate (seeds) and those that we want to uproot (weeds.)

Seeds usually include qualities like kindness, non-judgement, and attentive listening, while weeds are often behaviors like being late, giving unsolicited advice, and interrupting.

This exercise isn't just beneficial for group dynamics; it also serves as a valuable tool for personal growth.

An iconic teaching of the Bhagavad Gita tells us,


The body is called the field, Arjuna; the one who watches whatever happens in it – wise men call him the...

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Untangling the Web Mar 27, 2024

 

Imagine a singular, self-organizing energy unfolding the universe out of itself, the way a spider spins its web.

This striking analogy, deeply rooted in the yoga tradition, captures the generative force of consciousness – the source power that births the cosmos and then resides at the center of its creation.

It first appears in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, one of the oldest yogic texts, to describe how all things spring forth from the atman, the innermost Self.

In yogic mythology, it illustrates how Bhuvaneshwari, the form of the goddess as eternal mother, emanates the universe out of her own body and then inhabits it.

Arachnophobes’ discomfort aside, it’s an elegant...

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Your Yoga Golden Age Mar 20, 2024

 

The Timex Ironman is the ideal watch for yoga. I’ve owned at least a dozen. 

With its repeat timer for holding poses and the subtle glow of its blue light for knowing when to lead students out of Savasana, it has been my loyal companion for decades.

While I now use my smartphone for these things, I haven’t relinquished my trusted Ironman either.

It’s a valued reminder of the many seasons of my yoga journey and the depth I’ve cultivated over time. It brings me back to the days of intensified personal practice and cherished memories of in-person yoga communities.

For those of us who’ve been traversing the path of yoga for some time, we have what I like...

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Obstacles and Opportunities Mar 13, 2024

 

"It never ends!” sighed a dear, elderly friend in exasperation.

No sooner had she replaced the bathroom faucet when her Netflix mysteriously stopped working.

“Can’t life ever be simple?” she pleaded with me.

“I don’t think so,” I responded.

In facing life’s ups and downs, there’s a tendency to wonder when it will all end, when things will finally feel resolved.

For me, and everyone I know, that day never seems to come. Life just doesn’t work that way.

What if, instead of wishing for things to be easy, we cultivated the fortitude to meet life on its own terms?

What if we stopped wishing obstacles would disappear and instead saw...

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The Body Remembers, and Why That Can be a Good Thing Mar 06, 2024

 

 For at least the first 5 years of my asana practice, every time I did Chaturanga Danadasana I fell flat on my face, until one day I didn’t. I can still remember the feeling of lowering myself down toward the floor from Plank pose when suddenly, much to my astonishment, I was holding myself up.

That breakthrough moment has stayed with me, not just in my mind but in my body. I can still recall the delightful sensation of strength in my upper back as I hovered there, in control for a fleeting second. In fact, I revisit it often to draw steadiness and fortitude when life throws me for a loop.

There’s a lot of attention paid to how the body holds the memories of our...

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Finding Solid Ground Feb 28, 2024

 

Even the Carpenter Ant in my kitchen sink this morning - a telltale sign of the thawing ground - seems confused about what season it is.

Typically, the bare, brown fields around my house would be well-blanketed in snow right now. But clearly, the extreme and unpredictable weather we’re experiencing is far from typical.

It’s a small illustration of the unsettled quality that’s become the backdrop of 21st-century life.

In a recent interview, Christiana Figueres, Costa Rican diplomat and author of The Future we Choose, offered a startling observation about our predicament. She noted that while life has always had its uncertainties, the rhythm of the changing...

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Learning from a Newbie Feb 21, 2024

 

If only I’d known about this years ago…

My new student, a middle-aged gentleman who spends his days renovating homes and walking miles with his dogs, tells me this at least once in every session. 

He turned to yoga seeking relief from wear-and-tear accumulated over decades of physical work and athletic conditioning.

After several months of consistent practice, he’s astonished at the results. Many of his nagging aches and pains have dissipated. He feels better and more vibrant than he has in years.

What’s even more remarkable to him is the impact on his mental well-being.  He reports feeling calmer, more content, and happier overall. He describes...

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Now that Valentineā€™s Day is over... Feb 14, 2024

 

Now that Valentine’s Day is over...   What about love?

In our course on Bhakti Yoga – the path of love and devotion – an insightful student noted that despite considering love her most closely held core value, the routines and preoccupations of her daily life seem designed to make her forget this.

If you’re nodding your head in agreement, you’re not alone.

I think most of us would agree that when all is said and done, love is what will remain. It’s what brings sweetness and joy to life, making everything else we do more edifying. Yet, it's remarkably easy to lose sight of in the busyness of daily life.

Therefore, one of the most valuable...

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The Power of Slow Feb 07, 2024

 

A wise teacher once told me that a key to deepening yoga practice is learning to go at the speed of the body. The mind wants to go fast, she explained, but the body craves slowness.

In the Yoga tradition, the material world is viewed through the lens of the three gunas, qualities that are constantly interacting to form everything we perceive. Tamas is the quality of heaviness and stability. Rajas is the quality of dynamism and activity. Sattva is the quality of lucidity and clarity.

From the perspective of the gunas, the mind leans toward being more rajasic, characterized by volatility and airiness. Left unchecked, it tends to wander everywhere.

Conversely, the body tends to be more...

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Interconnectedness Jan 31, 2024

 

Love is strong and resilient. It springs from the truth of our interconnectedness.

- Sharon Salzberg


I’ve been thinking a lot about interconnectedness since I’ve been practicing and sharing The Work That Reconnects over the past two years. It seems clear to me that waking up to the truth of our interconnectedness isn’t just a nice idea - it’s the most important spiritual work of our time.

The evolution from seeing ourselves as separate, isolated individuals to realizing our fundamental interexistence with all of life is the pivotal identity shift that’s essential to foster a life-sustaining, just, and peaceful future for generations to come.

In my...

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