Beyond Asana Blog
My weekly blog is a forum for contemplative inquiry into the intersection of yoga practice, traditional teachings, and real life.
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...
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...
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...
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...
In a recent retreat, one of our participants called me out on not being very good at receiving compliments. It’s true. I hear them, I acknowledge them, they stay with me, but owning, really owning, my good qualities? Yikes that’s hard. In truth, I’m often more comfortable owning my shortcomings, even to the point of being self-deprecating. It’s something I continue to work on, one of the edges I seek to expand in my practice.
Does this comfort in the familiarity of playing small, this discomfort of stepping into our true power, by any chance ring true for anyone else (wink, wink)?
For us as yogis, it's an obstacle. Not because we're looking to...
Transformation - the act, process, or instance of being changed - is one of those "big" words in yoga. We tend to associate it with lifechanging shifts and inner fireworks. And, certainly, all this is possible, even probable, as we go deeper.
Yet, it's equally as important to recognize that yoga also transforms our lives in small, but not less important ways. Helping our wrists and shoulders recover from extensive typing or knitting, the awareness of our breath as a way to release the emotional residue of an upsetting conversation, meditation as a practice of centering and grounding ourselves, and on and on. Little by little, these everyday shifts add up to a new, more expanded way...
I think sometimes we forget that some of the most basic things we do in yoga are devotional in nature. Meaning, they are designed to generate feelings of love.
Take, for example, Anjali mudra, sometimes called hands to heart, or Namaskar mudra.
The Sanskrit word mudra means seal. Mudras are kind of like “Hand yoga.” They are gestures or hand positions that leave an imprint on our psyche, like a wax seal.
Because it’s so commonly practiced, it’s easy to forget that Anjali mudra is a gesture of honor, reverence, and loving connection. We can direct it toward others, as in greeting someone...
My morning is defined by a series of beeps. First, my alarm at 6am, then my timer at the end of meditation. Next, the kettle beeping when my water boils. Finally, there's the beep letting my husband know his tea has been steeped to perfection.
I trust these sounds every day. And, every day they happen, almost without fail, creating the faithful rhythm of my morning routine (which, by the way, is really worth creating if you don't have one.)
Beyond the beeps we rely on, there are so many other things we place our trust in every day. Just looking out my window, I see our recycling bin on the road. I trust it will be emptied because that's what happens every other Wednesday. It's...
The sun started rising during my morning practices today. First, there was a dim light. Then, a gorgeous soft peach that filled the sky. Now, it's a muted golden orb above the mountains.
It occured to me, the sun never says to the earth,
"Are you ready for me? Ready for another day?"
And the earth never says to the rising sun,
"Could you hold off for a little a while?"
Life is happening, whether we're ready or not.
Time relentlessly moves on, however we spend it.
Our relationship to time, therefore, is really about our relationship to our lives, isn't it?
Here are some questions to roll around in your mind today:
- How does yoga help you make peace with time?
The cords of wood we got this year are really wet. You can see and hear the water burning off when we start our fire every morning. Today, our logs held a lesson for me.
This morning's meditation was not what I would call quiet. My mind flitted back and forth from the focal point of my mantra to one of several streams of thought it was decidedly more dedicated to than quieting down. It's okay. I KNOW it is STILL meditation even when my mind never quiets down. I KNOW it is STILL working.
Furthermore, and maybe most importantly, if 27 years of practice has taught me one thing it’s that struggling or trying to MAKE my mind quiet only works against me.