Beyond Asana Blog

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

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 Valentine’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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Dapper Wednesday Jan 24, 2024


It started when a student at a primary school in rural Maine decided to start wearing suits to school. The idea took off and it became a weekly occurrence. The children say that they stand up a little taller and feel a little bit better about themselves when they get dressed up for school every Wednesday.

With all that’s going on in the world, we need stories that celebrate goodness and affirm the inherent dignity of the human spirit. This isn’t to dismiss or minimize the myriad stories of hardship and suffering, but to fortify us so we can face them unflinchingly. 

Dapper Wednesday is a heartening reminder that amid the tumult and adversity, there are also triumphs,...

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The Organizing Principle Jan 17, 2024

 

If the world is to be healed through human efforts, I am convinced it will be by ordinary people whose love for this life is even greater than their fear.

- Joanna Macy


A recent workshop participant beautifully characterized love as the central hub of the wheel of her life - the core value she relies on to align her actions with her deepest intentions.

What a useful way of reframing love - not as an abstract, woo-woo concept, but as the organizing principle around which decisions are made, priorities set, and actions taken.

In committing to love as a guiding value, my experience is that it becomes a clarifying force - a steady ground where you can find sure footing when the disarray...

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Destination: Stillness Jan 10, 2024

 

A long-time student graciously reached out last week to thank me for something I wrote years ago that continues to support her:

Through body, breath, sound, symbol, and awareness itself, yoga offers us pathways to experience the stillness and equanimity of our inner being.

Like a swan on a hot summer’s day, we dip into the clear waters of our own consciousness and emerge renewed, restored, rejuvenated.

Is there anything more refreshing than taking a break from the chatter of your mind?

It can be easy to get caught up in the external aspects of postural practice and lose sight of yoga’s fundamental purpose: stilling the mind.

Traditionally, asana was intended to prepare the...

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Getting Purposeful Jan 03, 2024


I recently discovered ikigai, a Japanese concept that refers to your purpose in life. It’s the driving force that motivates you to get up in the morning, your raison d’être.

It’s considered the cornerstone of a fulfilling life and an important part of health and longevity. Once your ikigai is clear, life feels more meaningful and day-to-day decisions become easier.

Ikigai shares some common elements with the Vedic concept of dharma, sacred purpose or duty, and the later notion of svadharma, one’s individual purpose or duties in life.

How does yoga help?

Whatever form your practice takes, yoga is meant to impact positively the way you navigate life and how...

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The Threshold Dec 27, 2023

 

It’s the point at which something begins or shifts; the cusp, the verge, and the boundary that marks the entry point.

I recently learned that in medieval times, the threshold was a plank strategically placed across the front door that prevented barnyard debris from entering the house. It’s related to the verb thresh, the act of separating the seeds of a grain from the rest of the plant.

For us as yogis, the notion of extracting what is most valuable and setting aside the rest has clear resonance.

The first thing you do when you come to your mat or cushion is the threshold of your practice. It marks the moment of separating your attention from the activity of the day and...

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