Beyond Asana Blog
My weekly blog is a forum for contemplative inquiry into the intersection of yoga practice, traditional teachings, and real life.
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.
In the La Presse article last weekend, I think Ève Dumas landed on several important qualities of my approach to yoga practice and teaching.
Slow, lasting, profound, are some of the adjectives she used to describe it,, and also the phrase “almost anachronistic,” which I admit I kind of loved.
I agree with all this.
The longer I teach, the more old school I feel. Maybe I’ll start to call my brand of yoga “retro yoga.” I’ve been looking for a catchy name.
Yesterday in our Power of YOU program, I gave a talk on reigniting passion for practice. The unglamorous work of continuing to show up.
If you’ve hung with me long enough, you’ve...
The companion to my daily morning contemplation and journaling is...a big, strong cup of coffee with...get ready...a generous helping of half-and-half.
I'm grinning as I say this because I used to think I should hide this habit of drinking coffee from my students, I would feel it wasn't yogic or that I wasn't acting in integrity.
I remember once on a retreat one of my students came up to me at breakfast and accusingly said, "YOU drink coffee?" As if I should be ashamed of myself for such egregious non-yogic behavior.
For a while, I admit I played into it. I felt ashamed for treating my nervous system and digestion this way.
Truth be told, when I do a 3-week cleanse once or twice a year,...
Happy New Year 2020!
Usually at the beginning of a new year I LOVE to create my goals, intentions, and visions for the coming months.
Like many of us I’m sure, I’ve been working on these over the past few days.
But something feels a little different this year.
I haven’t felt as strongly about all this as I have in past years. Until yesterday I wasn’t quite able to put my finger on it.
Today it feels clear.
What about the unexpected? The surprises? The gifts? The opportunities not yet known? The mystery and the magic?
I want to leave space for all of this in my life. Yes, I have goals and intentions. I plan to do my best to work toward them.
But I’m also...