Beyond Asana Blog

Ease, Yes, But Here's How (Some) Online Yoga is Raising The Bar on Practice And Community

Feb 21, 2019

This morning, a fellow yoga teacher posted an article she wrote about how online yoga supports your self-care goals. You know, things like the convenience of being able to do yoga at home (or at the beach, like the student who sent me this photo), the comfort of practicing in your pajamas if you feel like it, the ease of being able to do a class whenever you want, on demand. All valid reasons, of course. Why go to yoga when you can have yoga come to you, right? 

What I realized, as I read her list, is how different our Skillful Yogi online community actually is in the realm of “online yoga.” Actually, we’re much more like an online retreat site than simply an online studio. We’re not merely the easy or more convenient substitute for live yoga. 

In many cases, we’re the option that serves our members BETTER than what’s available to them where they live. Why? Because they’re selective, they know what works for them, and they’re...

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Why "Been There, Done That" Are The Saddest Four Words I Can Hear When it Comes to Yoga

Feb 14, 2019

We’re diving into studentship this week on The Skillful Yogi. We’re exploring some of the many wonderful and nuanced attributes of being a student of yoga. Skills like cultivating our curiosity, honing our discrimination, building a solid faith that’s based on inquiring into our experiences in yoga, and so forth.

I often tell teachers I work with that being a student is the meta-skill of being a teacher, the one overarching ability that if we get good at it, encompasses all the other things we might do and learn as teachers. 

 

In my own yoga journey, my dedication to being a student, well, it’s been my pillar. It’s what I’ve leaned into during times of uncertainty and self-doubt as a teacher. Though my teaching will come to an end someday, my love for the subject of yoga is something I know will continue throughout my life.

This is why, when a yoga teacher tells me they feel as if yoga no longer has anything to offer...

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"Love Yourself"

Feb 14, 2019

I almost never do this, but today I wanted to share what I wrote in the daily column I write for my membership. I spent so many Valentine's Days alone and wishing for someone or something to make me feel complete. I know so well how that longing feels. Here's the lesson I learned about that and that has fueled my yoga practice for more than 20 years now.

"LOVE YOURSELF"

These two simple words, for me, express the ultimate reason I practice and teach yoga.

My relationship with myself was not always positive, kind or loving.

 

But when I discovered, more than 20 years ago, that asana practice could not only be a way to move and awaken consciousness in my body but was also a field for cultivating a more loving relationship with myself well, that was the game-changer that turned asana from merely an interesting physical and mental pursiuit and made it into a major practice of my sadhana.

For me, yoga has been and always will be a path toward self love. This is the...

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Yoga Teachers : Here's The Truth About Credibility And Curiosity

Feb 11, 2019

A friend who’s been diagnosed with an “incurable” medical condition shared something interesting with me the other day. She said that the doctors she seeks out for help with her condition are NOT the ones who claim to have all the answers. She looks for the doctors who are open to learning, to finding out more, to new treatment protocols and information.

Similarly, the BEST chiropractor I know, the one I trust completely, is the one chiropractor I’ve met who is continually learning more and more about his field, about how back pain in the body manifests, what’s most effective in treating it and preventing it from reoccurring.

He’s the one who uses his knowledge as a springboard for diving in with his patients to explore and learn from them. He’s the one doesn’t claim to have “the” method that will fix everyone, every time.

Like my friend, when I look for a chiropractor, I’m not seeking out the person who claims to...

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What is an Advanced Asana ?

Feb 08, 2019

Is it simply, as my colleague Doug Keller puts it, “doing postures other people can’t do? Of course not. Though that’s the way we sometimes think about.”

This weekend at Expo Yoga 2019 I'll be teaching an "advanced" arm balances class. Montreal yogis, I hope you'll join me! But be forewarned: For me, the opportunity for "advanced" practice never lies in the pose we achieve, but rather, what we learn about ourselves in the journey toward getting there.

 

Sure, we'll be playing around with physical challenges, standing on our hands, much like this elephant. But what makes that "yoga," of course, lies in the intention and awareness we bring to it, doesn't it?

Rather than external accomplishment, deepening our asana practice calls on us to refine our awareness and expand our capacity for listening, noticing, feeling, sensing. We harness the power of all our senses as well as our intellect to awaken an ever deeper awareness and mine...

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Shouldn't All Yoga Be Therapeutic?

Jan 24, 2019

Certainly, yes. The holistic vision of yoga sees the human being as a composite of physical and subtle energies. Though there are various models of who and what we are according to yogic philosophy, they all describe the individual as an integrated whole. A whole that is made up of interpenetrating layers and energies that include body, breath, mind, emotions, and spirit. 

Yoga offers practices that address, nourish, and harmonize each of these component parts of ourselves to foster equilibrium, integration and connectivity. 

Done from this perspective, how could these practices NOT lead to a greater and deep-seated sense of well-being and integration?

 

Isn’t it reasonable to assume that in order to call what we practice or teach “yoga,” to consider anything we do as being “yoga,” it must carry the intention of supporting true health? I believe so. 

I consider myself neither a yoga therapist, nor a healer. I’m a...

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Shouldn’t All Yoga Be Therapeutic?

Jan 11, 2019

Certainly, yes. The holistic vision of yoga sees the human being as a composite of physical and subtle energies. Though there are various models of who and what we are according to yogic philosophy, they all describe the individual as an integrated whole. A whole that is made up of interpenetrating layers and energies that include body, breath, mind, emotions, and spirit. 

Yoga offers practices that address, nourish, and harmonize each of these component parts of ourselves to foster equilibrium, integration and connectivity. 

Done from this perspective, how could these practices NOT lead to a greater and deep-seated sense of well-being and integration?

Isn’t it reasonable to assume that in order to call what we practice or teach “yoga,” to consider anything we do as being “yoga,” it must carry the intention of supporting true health? I believe so. 

I consider myself neither a yoga therapist, nor a healer. I’m a...

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Now More Than Ever: Taking Hold Of The Renewing Power Of Spirit

Dec 18, 2018

As we wind down toward the darkest day of the year, here's a timely reminder about the ever-increasing preciousness of slowing down to wake up, and finding the regenerative power in our practices:

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From Chapter 9 of my forthcoming book, "Evolving Your Yoga: Ten Principles for Enlightened Practice":

"...the importance of resetting ourselves, of taking time to slow down, to come back to our physicality, to release stress on a regular basis, has become even more crucial to maintain a sense of balance and harmony. It is vitally necessary for our well-being. Not only must we prioritize time dedicated to removing ourselves from the world of our screens, we need reliable and effective ways for restoring a sense of physical and energetic integration to our beings.

Yoga practice is, of course, an optimal way to renew ourselves. Yoga class remains (hopefully) one of the last places where we disconnect from our devices for an hour or so. But even more powerfully, in practice...

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🕯The Power Of One-Pointedness 🕯

Dec 17, 2018

In our ever-quickening world of instant, continuous, and unending opportunities for distraction, the ability to focus our minds remains vitally important for our well-being.

The ability to draw our attention temporarily away from the busyness of our lives and direct our mental energies into our own selves is a key instigator for the transformative power of yoga.

Here's an excerpt from Chapter 8 of "Evolving Your Yoga: Ten Principles for Enlightened Practice:"

"One of the great benefits of retreats, and the reason why they are such an important part of the yogic tradition, is that in a retreat setting there are limited opportunities for distraction.

In the many spiritual retreats I’ve participated in over the years, I’ve gotten to know the way my mind responds to extended, focused periods of practice. It starts out during the first day or two with its usual preoccupations and wanderings.

Strategies that guide, inform, and illuminate our actions in yoga, infusing our practice with spiritual insight.-7.png

Here, it’s easy to become aware of the usual speed and...

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Yoga As A Practice Of Self-Honouring

Dec 14, 2018
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In writing "Evolving Your Yoga: Ten Principles for Enlightened Practice," I interviewed over 25 longtime teachers to hear their experiences and insights into how yoga practice evolves over time. 

Many of them generously shared personal stories of how yoga helped them to find emotional healing and develop a more caring and loving relationship with themselves. 

Chapter Seven is perhaps the one that feels most personal for me as well. I believe it’s one that will resonate with many of us who’ve found greater self-love and self-acceptance through yoga. Here's an excerpt:

"My hatha yoga practice played an essential role in shifting the nature of my inner dialogue from critical to compassionate. Asana became a practice of self-honoring and self-acceptance. 

I used it to cultivate a loving relationship with myself. I consciously related to my body as an instrument for the inner work of yoga and ultimately as the vehicle for service to the...

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FREE BONUS CONTENT

Our free, online bonus content is designed to complement and enrich your experience of Evolving Your Yoga. Resources like video pose tutorials, downloadable journaling prompts, breathwork, guided visualizations, and more will support your exploration of each of the Ten Principles for Enlightened Practice.