Beyond Asana Blog

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

The Wisdom of Not Knowing Sep 01, 2021


"May I not be limited by what I think I know."

This is a prayer I often make at the start of my yoga practice.

It expresses my desire to be open, to receive, and to grow beyond (and sometimes despite) my assumptions, biases, and expectations.

A willingness to learn, question, and try things out are part of fulfilling this intention. Ultimately, I think the seasoned student approaches everything about yoga not as a subject to be mastered in a given number of classes or training hours, but as a lifelong path of growth and self-discovery. This is what keeps your studentship and your practice vibrant.

In over 25 years of sharing yoga,...

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Resetting Routine Aug 25, 2021


Truth be told, I'm looking forward to next Tuesday. This is the day when my daughter goes back to school and our family schedule will return to, well, being more scheduled. This week, we’re in that liminal time all parents of school age children know well: post-summer activities, pre-academic year.
Still, I stick to my morning routine as best I can. For what it’s worth, I've broken down the most successful version of it, in case you too are ready to reset your schedule: 

1. Grounding (sitting quietly, looking out the window from my favorite spot on the couch, sipping my morning coffee)
2. Connecting to the sacred (meditating, contemplating)
3. Recommitting to my...

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The Savasana Solution Aug 18, 2021

It’s the a-ha that answers the question we have been asking ourselves.

It’s the bright idea that floats effortlessly to the surface of our awareness.

It’s the creative solution to a problem that arises seemingly out of nowhere.

How many times have we heard or experienced this? The answers we seek come after we have let go of all effort.

Psychologists might give one explanation for this, productivity specialists another. But yoga has a particular take on how this phenomenon works.

In yoga, our mind is seen not only as our faculties of questioning, thinking, analyzing, reasoning, ruminating, and so on. Yoga recognizes there is also an aspect of our mind that's a...

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What is it about light? Aug 04, 2021


There’s something about sunlight.

I don’t pretend to understand exactly what. But somewhere in me I know. Somewhere in all of us, I think we all know.

We know when we watch the way sunlight dances across the surface of a lake, or shimmers on a wet leaf, or casts golden shadows on the urban landscape. We know when we watch the sun rise and set.

We know that there’s magic there, undeniable beauty, and power.

Light heals, repairs, and nourishes.

It’s in high summer here in the Northern hemisphere, but wherever you live, it’s a great day to receive the power of light, even for just a moment.

Allow it to soften the hard edges, to soothe you, and...

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Hatha Yoga, Schmata Yoga Jul 28, 2021


A meditation master once taught:

Hatha Yoga, Schmata* Yoga. Even an elephant can stand on his front legs, but is your inner courtyard filled with the fragrance of your own love?

(*Schmata is the Yiddish word for a rag or old, ragged clothing)

It’s a question I come back to again and again: What makes postural practice more than physical exercise, even when done with mindful awareness, conscious breathing, and good alignment?

And the answer keeps coming back: it’s the context we give it, the intention behind it, and the inner trajectory it moves us in that brings asana into the realm of spiritual practice and part of a larger path of personal growth.


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You are What You Integrate Jul 21, 2021


According to Ayurveda, you aren’t what you eat, you’re what you digest.

It’s true with food and it’s also true with yoga.

Like digesting a meal, assimilation in yoga is about extracting the nourishment you receive from your practices. Assimilation allows the imprint and impact of the practices to settle into the fabric of your being - mind, body, and spirit - and become part of you. It's how integration happens.

Among the possibilities for assimilating the effects of your practice are:

- Resting in Savasana or another supported, fully relaxing pose

- Articulating your experiences through writing, drawing, or another...

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Getting Aligned Jul 14, 2021


Much of the conversation about postural alignment in yoga revolves around cues, biomechanics, evidence-based theories of movement, and evolving perceptions of healthy movement patterns that could apply to many different physical disciplines.

But of course, what makes yoga, yoga, is the understanding that the physical body is only one part of who we are. And that’s what’s missing from many of these discussions in my view. When we treat alignment as purely biomechanical, we overlook the fundamental yogic understanding that we are more than just the body.

There are different models of the human being in the yoga tradition. What they all have in common is the...

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Renew, Renew, Renew Jul 08, 2021


A few months ago, I was invited by a media outlet to share an excerpt from my book that I felt was particularly fitting for this time. There were several that felt pertinent, but none more so than Chapter 9: Renew Yourself.

After what we’ve lived through over the past year and a half, renewal is so important right now, both for yourself and others. Even as (or maybe because) many parts of the world are starting to open, you might feel understandably confused, challenged, or just plain tired.  

It's time to remember what you’ve been learning and hearing in yoga for years, maybe even decades: The only true and lasting source of renewal is found right inside...

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The Nostalgia Problem Jun 30, 2021


June can be a nostalgia-inducing month for parents because of transitions like the end of the school year and the start of summer vacation. 

Turning points like graduations, weddings, and in my case my 14 year-old’s birthday and her first summer job, can also pull me into wistful memories of childhood (hers and mine) at this time of year.

I have mixed feelings about nostalgia.

On the one hand, it’s an attractive place to hang out. It can be comfortable to reminisce about sweet memories, life-defining moments, and experiences that have shaped who we’ve become.

At the same time, nostalgia is inherently problematic because it’s a state of longing for what was...

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The Lady of Light Jun 23, 2021


Dawn arrives, shining like a lady of light
stirring all creatures to life….
Dawn’s light breaks the shadows.
Her face turned to all things across the wide world,
she rises in splendor, enwrapped in bright clothes.
Shining in golden colors, dressed in rays of light,
she guides forth the day…. 
-Rig Veda, 7.77.1-1 (translation: Prof. William K. Mahony)

The Vedic poets heralded the dawn as a lady of light. For me, this image evokes the majesty of the sunrise, and metaphorically, the dawning of the inner light of wisdom and understanding.
The nature of sunlight is to reveal what’s been hidden in darkness. Likewise, the awakening of self-knowledge...

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