Beyond Asana Blog

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

Inspiring Fearlessness May 21, 2020

 

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...

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Vibrant Vitality May 13, 2020

 

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...

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The Truth About Lived Happiness (Hint: it may not come from where you think it does) May 07, 2020

 

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...

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Never Underestimate the Power of Being Nice Apr 30, 2020

 

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.  
 
Niceness feels...

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Your Roots are Showing Apr 23, 2020

 

First world hair problems aside, much more than our grey is being revealed right now.

In this time of all being laid bare, one thing that becomes clear for all of us I think, is:

Where we turn for inspiration when life feels hard and scary. 
 
Where we look for guidance, comfort, and meaning when we’re unclear and uncertain. 
 

Where we find stability when the ground beneath us feels shaky.


For yogis, I’m not sure we really need to look anywhere new or different. In fact, we already have a foundation of understanding that’s tailor made to help us make sense of uncertainty, to hold us steady in adversity, to anchor us in an...

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“No Time for Philosophy” Apr 16, 2020

 

A few days ago, I was listening to a story on NPR about a group of community organizers in Vermont who were putting new systems into place to coordinate their efforts. One of the organizers said something like, “This isn’t the time for thinking about things, it’s a time for taking action, there’s no time for philosophy, things have to get done.”

“No time for philosophy.” That phrase stuck with me. I suspect many of us might be feeling that way just about now. And when it comes to organizing food deliveries for homebound seniors I get it. But for the yogi, I’m not so sure.

I understand how in some ways yoga philosophy might not seem...

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Just me and My Yoga: The Importance of (Truly) Independent Practice Right Now Apr 10, 2020

 

Don’t get me wrong, current circumstances aside I really love (and teach, and practice) online yoga. You get the benefit of a virtual teacher while continuing your commitment to your yoga practice, and people are really enjoying the support and connection it affords, especially during this time of social isolation.
 
Yet, even with the plethora of online offerings, and maybe especially because of them, I find myself craving the intimacy of my independent practice these days more than ever.

By independent practice I mean what I do on my mat without anyone else telling me what to do, how long to do it for, and what to do next. 

As a teacher and...

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The Terrible and the Majestic, the Fullness of These Times Mar 27, 2020

One morning last week was particularly rough. Images on my Facebook feed of children and families playing outside, enjoying their time of social isolation triggered feelings of sadness, desperation, and anger for the children for whom school was their only safe place, their only guaranteed hot meal.

A few minutes later, I checked my Facebook feed and a friend had shared that she was offering a live meditation by donation and that all proceeds would benefit, of all things, a Kids Phone Help Line. Then later that day, a friend whose daughter works for New York State told me about all the people working so hard to get food and support to poor families there.

Sadness and desperation...

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The Blind Man and the Covid-19 Elephant Mar 20, 2020

 

I had a dream the other night that I was telling The Blind Men and The Elephant story. Do you know it? It’s a traditional Indian story about a group of blind men who’ve never come across an elephant before. They learn what the elephant is like by touching it.

One puts his hand on the elephant's side and says, “Now I know all about an elephant, he’s just like a wall.” .

The second feels the elephant's tusk and responds, “No, you’re mistaken. He's not at all like a wall. He's more like a spear."

The third takes hold of the elephant's trunk and argues, “You’re both wrong, an elephant is like a...

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Practice At Home Mar 13, 2020

 

If ever there was a good time to start a home practice, now is it.

For your well-being, and for the collective well-being.

With everyday life already being disrupted in many places, it’s pretty clear that things are going to get worse before they get better. As one expert I watched yesterday put it, this isn’t just a blizzard, it’s a winter. Many of my studio-owner friends in Europe are already closed for now, and more cancellations, shut downs, postponements are on their way.

If you don’t want to practice with an online class, that’s okay.
Do what you remember.
Do what you love.
Do what feels good in your body.
 
Even a few full, conscious...

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