Beyond Asana Blog

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

The Technology of Reunion Oct 15, 2020

 

We are like migrating birds,
The sadness of our departure
Is mitigated by
The joy of our reunion

- Author Unknown

 

Consider how your yoga practice offers you a conduit back to yourself. Through breath, attention, kinesthetic and energetic awareness, the practice brings us home to ourselves again and again.
 
As we forge the pathway of return, we might recognize how far we’ve allowed ourselves to depart. Our relationship with ourselves might feel fraught or long forgotten. Our inner being might seem distant and far away since we last took the time to connect within.
 
In those moments, it can be helpful to remind yourself to be present for the reunion that is...

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Peace is Every Step Oct 08, 2020

 

Do you remember when you first got lit up about yoga as something more than a physical pursuit? Do you recall what it felt like when the tender shoots of self-awareness first sprouted within you? 

It’s mysterious, isn’t it? Somehow the switch gets flicked on and we get interested in our our inner life.
 
The very first “spiritual” book I ever read was Peace is Every Step by the Vietnamese Buddhist master Thich Nhat Hanh. I’m honouring him today because by all reports, he will soon be leaving his body. At 94, his was the definition of a life well lived in my book.
 
When I picked up that...

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Whole You Yoga Oct 01, 2020

 

After a recent weekend with a group of bright and thoughtful teachers-in-training, I’m once again blown away by something I've known for 25 years and yet, astonishingly, feels revelatory and thrilling each time I remember it. I mean REALLY remember it, as in sit with it, and consider its implications:
 
Asana as sadhana, the path of the body as an instrument of yoga. Postural practice as a means to explore our inner being and become situated in our souls.
 
Asana as not only a physical endeavor, but as a practice that integrates all the eight limbs and addresses the whole of us: yama, niyama, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, dhyana, and samadhi. They can all be right...

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Let's Face it, Letting Go Isn't Always as Beautiful as the Autumn Leaves Make it out to be Sep 24, 2020

 

Autumn is just about to show us how beautiful it can be to let go.
 
Ugh…
 
If I see this meme one more time, I think I’ll scream.
 
Don't get me wrong, I love being inspired by the beauty of nature.
 
And, yes, the leaves are dying with incredible majesty and grace.
 
Of course, letting go CAN be beautiful. 
 
It can also be really hard and not very pretty at all.
 
Can you relate? After all, the last six months have been a master class for all of us on letting go: individually, collectively, personally, professionally, every which way in fact.  
 
Yoga has a lot to say about the importance of letting go...

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"I Used to Be Able to Do That" Sep 17, 2020

 

It’s a common response to being introduced to a new, exciting, scary or particularly bendy pose.
 
It is often said with nostalgia for what was once possible and even a certain resignation that limitations of age, stiffness or injury will keep us from ever doing it again.
 
It’s true that what we were once able to do might no longer, or at least not right now, be appropriate or useful for us.
 
The body is always changing. Physical constraints, lifestyle and so much more can keep us from being able to do what we did when we were 9 years old, 25 or even last week.
 
The quicker you can get past the regret, the sooner you will be able to move on to the...

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The Message of Your Ancestors Sep 10, 2020

 

It’s Pitru Paksha, the fortnight of the ancestors. This is the two-week period in the Hindu calendar (September 2-16 this year) dedicated to honoring one’s lineage.

This traditionally includes the three generations that have come before you – your parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents that have passed on. It can also include teachers, friends, mentors, and even pets who have departed.
 
I believe the support of our ancestors is with us all the time, even when we don’t experience it. It becomes more powerful when we consciously connect to their presence.

During this powerful time I invite you to take hold of the support of your lineage...

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Living in Liminality Sep 02, 2020

 

I’ve been fascinated by the concept of liminality since I first learned about it years ago as an undergrad in Anthropology. It refers to the period between one role or stage in life and the next.

Liminal comes from the Latin root limen, which means “threshold.” It is a transitional time, where we're on the cusp between two ways of being. We've left one behind and aren’t quite established in another. The time between graduating university and starting a new job, being engaged and getting married, or leaving one home and moving to a new city are some examples of liminal spaces.

Liminal...

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In Praise of the Real Aug 27, 2020

 

Recently, in response to a column about being an ambassador for yoga, one of our readers wrote:

I have felt some pressure from people (students or not), an expectation that I have to be a certain way. For instance, people assume that because I do yoga I am always calm and never get angry (neither apply to me.) Or, that because I am doing yoga I am some kind of super Bendy-Wendy circus person (which I am not either).

Over the years, yoga has become something more and more private to me. A practice that I use and can go back to again and again. Yoga is my companion. It helps me reflect and awaken whether others see it or not.


I relate to this. I remember once leading a...

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The Quieted Mind Aug 20, 2020

 

The quieter you become, the more you can hear.

- Ram Dass



Silence. It's not just the absence of words, though that's where it begins.

It's the quieting of the mind, the slowing down of the stream of thoughts.

When the ripples of the mind settle and become like the calm surface of a lake, as the classic analogy goes, it becomes still, clear and pristine.

From here, peace emerges.

If I'm honest with myself, this is the experience I long for the most, the most precious gift of yoga in my life. It often eludes me, but when I do experience it, I realize that silence, more than anything, is what I pray my practices will bring. The gift of quietude that reveals freedom, serenity,...

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Like a Plant Being Watered Aug 13, 2020

 

True confession: House plants are not known to thrive under my watch. In fact, I'm looking at one right now badly in need of water. Like, really badly. I'll get to it right after I write this, I promise.

But the sight of that thirsty plant reminded me of an experience I've often had in yoga. In fact, its one I'm having this week as I get back into a more regular routine after our family vacation.

Practice, my morning contemplation, meditation, silence - I feel like a plant being watered. It's only now that I notice how parched and dry I was, actually. Everything was fine, I was fine. But what a difference after three straight days of focused asana and getting back into my...

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