Beyond Asana Blog
My weekly blog is a forum for contemplative inquiry into the intersection of yoga practice, traditional teachings, and real life.
I asked my Canadian yoga-teacher friends from Nova Scotia to British Columbia, to share their top tips for getting to the mat when the temperature drops. They responded with some really enticing and cozy ideas, none of which involve practicing in a 35-degree room. Clearly, we Canadians have got this winter-yoga thing down!
I light beeswax candles, definitely! Sara
Wear layers - this way I can start feeling warm, then peel off the layers as my body heats up, and have everything near by for a cozy...
A student in a recent retreat shared the following with me:
It was my first time attending a day dedicated to Yoga and the many forms of practice. Importantly, I understood that asanas are only one part of the yogic practice. This simple but powerful insight helped me understand that meditation, chanting, breathing, intention and visioning are part of a system.
Though we may chant in class, meditate, practice breathing exercises, it may not be obvious that postural practice is a part of a holistic system that involves and addresses all parts of oneself.
If you’ve been attending class for sometime, you might have been doing this more than you think. A student in a recent...
Free Home Practice Guide! If you didn't already receive my new 16-page Home Yoga Practice Guide, you can DOWNLOAD IT HERE! It’s full of practical tips and suggestions to support your independent practice, and includes a pose syllabus and practice sequences if you have 15, 30 60 minutes or more. I hope you enjoy it!
With all that's going on in our world, I thought I couldn't write about yoga this week. It felt superfluous and even self-indulgent to talk about practice amidst the tragedies we are dealing with these days. However, the truth is that yoga is precisely what allows me to build resilience in the face of struggle. Practice is...
“Only a few classes and my back pain is gone! I love yoga!”
“I’ve been meditating for just a couple of weeks and I’m already sleeping better. Amazing!”
“Learning to focus on my breathing has made a huge difference in how I deal with stress at work. Wow! Yoga really works!”
Yoga is powerful. It often doesn’t take long to feel its positive impact. Many of us have experienced shifts - both small and large - pretty quickly. Fired up, we commit to making yoga a consistent part of our lives.
However, the pace of transformation doesn’t often continue at such a dramatic rate as these initial shifts. Yoga begins to feel dry and...
Recently, a student remarked to me after class,
“Thank you. This was exactly where I needed to be."
I suspect she was grateful not only to have placed herself in the practices on that particular day, but also to have done so in a space dedicated to yoga and nurturing the path of inner connection.
I’ve always thought of neighbourhood studios not only as yoga schools, but just as fundamentally as community centers. Aside from being, hopefully, one of the last places where we are free from our devices for a little while, studios that encourage community are a kind of modern marketplace, where ideas are shared and connections are made. And even more...
The attainment of the Samadhi state involves the elimination of all-pointedness [i.e. wandering] of the mind and the rise of one-pointedness [i.e. concentration].
Yoga Sutra 3.11, trans. by Edwin Bryant
Under the appearance of thought, there is really an indefinite and disordered flickering, fed by sensations words, and memory. The first duty of the yogin is to think-that is, not to let himself think. This is why Yoga practice begins with ekagrata, which darns the mental stream and thus constitutes a 'psychic mass,' a solid and unified continuum.
When meditation is mastered, the mind is unwavering like the flame of a lamp in a windless place.
Bhagavad Gita, 6.19-20
The Self cannot be pierced by weapons or burned by fire; water cannot wet it, nor can the wind dry it. The Self cannot be pierced or burned, made wet or dry. It is everlasting and infinite, standing on the motionless foundations of eternity.
Bhagavad Gita Verses 2.23-25
Can you imagine what it would be like to be able to access this state of absolute independence?
Yoga practice draws us from outside in, from the periphery toward the center. It does this by directing our sense awareness, which usually moves outward to interact with the world around us, inside. As we sharpen a kinaesthetic sense of ourselves, we also become more sensitive to our breathing, energy, and the movements of our...
Being a good yoga student, and sometimes even becoming a teacher, used to be straightforward. You would show up for class once or twice a week with your teacher and in between supplement with their indications for your home practice. When your teacher, or your teacher’s teacher offered workshops, you showed up and learned more. You continued developing your practice like this for years. Over time you inquired deeper on your own, began (and hopefully were encouraged) to trust your insights, and answer your own questions. Perhaps, one day, the teacher went on vacation or got sick and couldn’t show up for class and asked you to step in for her. You could do this because you...
I was an archaeology major in university. Following graduation I set off to dig in Europe and the Middle East. Among the most exciting finds of my very limited time as an amateur excavator were: an ancient camel tooth, the remains of a Neolithic dog cemetery and a Bronze age clothing pin.
Our first days on the site were about surveying the land, taking baseline elevation measurements, getting to know the soil composition and making a general plan for excavation based on what was known about the history of the location we were digging.
Once the area had been mapped and gridlines set up we cleared way the initial layers of earth with pick axes, shovels and...
I remember attending a yoga intensive a few months after I began meditating regularly. It was a grey, rainy morning. I woke up late and I was in a really terrible mood. Rushing to get to the program, I waited for the bus in the rain, feeling angry at the bus driver. I was ready, even waiting, for the chance to lash out at anyone and everyone. I walked into the meditation hall still seething with anger and frustration. As I took my seat, inwardly, I heard a man’s voice clearly say,
‘This is not who you are. I will show you who you really are.”
I looked up at my teacher’s picture at the front of the hall and his glance penetrated my being. It cut right...