Beyond Asana Blog
My weekly blog is a forum for contemplative inquiry into the intersection of yoga practice, traditional teachings, and real life.
One of my teachers often led us out of Savasana by describing those final resting moments as “after the end and before the beginning.”
What a gorgeous way of articulating the liminal space, that in-between time when one thing has ended and another has yet to begin.
This is where we’ve arrived in the cycle of the year. The solstice, derived from a root meaning “standing still,” marks a turning point. It’s when the sun’s movement appears to stop ever so briefly - like the pause in the swing a pendulum – before reversing course.
Yoga prepares us well to capture this tiny space of stillness and embrace the opportunity it presents.
Surveying the fields around my house, the newly fallen snow strikes me as poignant metaphor for the gift - and relief – of new beginnings.
Just a few months ago, they were lush and vibrant, hosting stalks of corn, bales of hay, and grazing cows. Today, they're blanketed in white, pristine and seemingly as full of possibility as blank sheets of paper.
That’s the thing about life – it’s always new. With each sunrise, every breath, and shift of the seasons, we witness the cyclical nature of existence and the ever-unfolding intelligence that gives rise to it.
It’s easy to lose touch with these natural rhythms, which are, in fact, also our own. How reassuring,...
The most intriguing prompt from last week’s writing lesson with author Anne Lamott was: “What I am pretending not to know.”
What a novel idea! Yogis usually focus on opening to the reality of the present moment. Here I was being asked to admit what I’m deliberately overlooking.
It felt edgy and a bit scary. Would I unearth some significant issue I’ve been denying?
Initially, nothing came to mind. But it gradually dawned on me that, indeed, I’ve been pretending not to know about the clothes strewn across my teen’s bedroom floor (her “floordrobe,” as one mom on TikTok dubbed it.) I’m also ignoring the odd sound my...
It's the tail end of November and my weather app says the sun will set at 4:12 pm today. What better time to make friends with darkness?
Here’s a perspective that might shift the way you think about it:
You, darkness of whom I am born –
I love you more than the flame
That limits the world
To the circle it illuminates
And excludes all the rest,
But the dark embraces everything:
shapes and shadows, creatures and me,
people, nations – just as they are.
It lets me imagine
A great presence stirring beside me.
I believe in the night.
- Rainer Maria Rilke, Book of Hours
Translated by Joanna Macy & Anita Barrows
There’s something profoundly humbling, comforting, and...
I envision a vertical depth that’s possible in yoga, where advanced practice is less about achieving hard poses and more about penetrating the richness of your inner experience.
As you show up consistently and explore the subtleties in asana – even seemingly ordinary poses - you discover a profundity that expands as your awareness and sensitivity become more refined.
Getting the most out of a gratitude practice works in a similar way.
When we contemplate what brings us happiness, we might tend to think of extraordinary events like vacations or special nights out. However, research shows that consistently noticing and appreciating small, everyday positive moments has a much...
Recently, I had the pleasure of meeting with some of the students enrolled in my online classes. I took the occasion of launching my new class platform to reach out to people, address their questions, and check in with how the classes were going for them.
During these delightful one-on-one meetings, I had the chance to learn about their backgrounds in yoga, what led them to my classes, and why my teaching style resonates with them.
We uncovered shared experiences in our yoga journeys, discussed teachers we both admire, and reflected on how yoga has anchored us through the big changes we’ve experienced over the past four years.
Although my initial intention was to support them, I...
It might surprise you to know that for a long time, I struggled to find an authentic way to practice gratitude. By “authentic”, I mean a form of gratitude rooted in reality, which doesn’t ignore or deny life’s hardships or attempt to minimize the pain we might be experiencing.
To be honest, considering everything happening in the world, I questioned whether this was even possible.
Nonetheless, I was determined to find a genuine approach to cultivating gratitude because of its well-documented benefits for our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being.
One reason gratitude can be challenging to experience is that human beings are naturally predisposed...
Dr. Roland Griffiths was the founder of the Johns Hopkins Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research and a pioneer in studying the therapeutic potential of psilocybin. He passed away at 77 last month.
As a dedicated meditator, it was his mystical experiences in meditation which initially led him to research the nature of spiritual experiences using hallucinogens. I encountered his work through recent high-profile interviews in which he discussed his approach to the end of his life.
Last year, after receiving a terminal cancer diagnosis, he contemplated the emotional states one might expect to experience such as depression, anxiety, fear, denial, and anger. Drawing on his insights...
At the end of my retreats, I always conclude by offering a blessing to the group. It’s inspired by the themes we’ve explored and the unique synergy of the participants.
During a recent retreat, the sentiments that surfaced included a wish to “honor the inner wisdom that’s guiding you toward the great beings you are becoming.”
To my surprise, the group responded with a collective chuckle as if to say, Me? A great being?
The truth was, I wasn’t joking. When I looked at our circle, I saw people dedicated to becoming the most expanded versions of themselves. making their lives meaningful beyond self-interest. and contributing to the greater good. From...