The Unlayered Self

Mar 27, 2017

It’s the end of March here in Montreal. As all Quebecers know, the arrival of Spring here can scarcely be distinguished from the continuation of winter. Snow is still piled up on the sidewalk outside the studio as I sit down to teach my Friday class. The students, like me, are all bundled up. Though the coats, hats, scarves and gloves came off in the reception area, the layers remain: Leggings covered by legwarmers, socks still on, tank tops covered by long-sleeved shirts and those by cardigans. We feel safe and cozy beneath the layers that protect us from the elements. As we start to move and build heat, the layers slowly come off. For me, there is joy in simply moving the body, free from all the layers.

On another level, of course, we all bring layers of different sorts with us to the practice. The various roles we play, the other people and things we are responsible for, indeed to the full spectrum of our life experience past and present. In some form, all these come to the mat with us as well.

In the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna explains how the eternal, unchanging Self becomes embodied in this way:

As, after casting away worn out garments,

A man later takes on new one,

So, after casting away worn bodies,

The embodied Self encounters other, new ones.

Bhagavad Gita Verse 2.22

Even if you don’t believe in the concept of reincarnation as described in this teaching, I think the notion of an essential, unchanging sense of ourselves is one that resonates for most of us on the path of yoga on some level. Yoga brings us back to an essential sense of who we are free from the superimposed layers of outer life and even our individual identity.

From this perspective, transformation in yoga can be viewed as a process of un-layering. It is a journey we embark on again and again, each time returning back to who we are beneath the cloaks that we wear to navigate our way in the world. This is certainly how the journey of yoga has felt to me.

Looking back on the little and sometimes big moments of shift I’ve experienced through yoga practice, I realize that it has always felt organic and completely natural. This is not to say it is easy, straightforward or that I don’t experience fear, resistance, doubt or agitation and more. I do, sometimes very intensely. But on the other side of that intensity, I find myself feeling lighter, freer and somehow more myself, rather than something new or different. It’s as if I have somehow peeled another layer back to revealing more of who I truly am. Over time, I think we become more skilled at distinguishing the layers from the one who puts them on, and get to know that place better and better.


Thursdays, 7:45-8:45pm at Happy Tree, Westmount

April 13 - May 18, 2017

'm very excited to be offering this new series! These weekly sessions will include interactive and stimulating discussion, practical exercises and juicy inquiry into your yoga practice. Each week I'll be presenting new and transformative approaches to your practice and offering you simple, practical and effective ways to infinitely expand the benefits of your yoga - whatever style you practice! Topics include:

  • April 13 - Evolving Your Yoga: Principles for deepening, expanding and integrating practice
  • April 20 - Mud to Lotus: Transformative Approaches to Practice
  • April 27 - Finding Balance: Embracing the pairs of opposites
  • May 4 - The 1 before the 0000s: Nurturing the Inner Relationship
  • May 11 - Remembering Wholeness
  • May 18 - Connecting to your Steady Centre

Interested in the series but out of town? I'll be opening a few spots for a web-based version of this series later in the spring. Contact me if you're interested in participating.


I'm thrilled to announce I'll be launching a new 6-week course on April 24. Our focus this time will be on Backbends, Hip Openers and Hanumanasana with mini-sequences, inquiry videos and much more! 

Sign up now and receive $100 off the regular course price!

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