Beyond Asana Blog

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

Dapper Wednesday Jan 24, 2024

It started when a student at a primary school in rural Maine decided to start wearing suits to school. The idea took off and it became a weekly occurrence. The children say that they stand up a little taller and feel a little bit better about themselves when they get dressed up for school every Wednesday.

With all that’s going on in the world, we need stories that celebrate goodness and affirm the inherent dignity of the human spirit. This isn’t to dismiss or minimize the myriad stories of hardship and suffering, but to fortify us so we can face them unflinchingly. 

Dapper Wednesday is a heartening reminder that amid the tumult and adversity, there are also triumphs,...

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The Organizing Principle Jan 17, 2024


If the world is to be healed through human efforts, I am convinced it will be by ordinary people whose love for this life is even greater than their fear.

- Joanna Macy

A recent workshop participant beautifully characterized love as the central hub of the wheel of her life - the core value she relies on to align her actions with her deepest intentions.

What a useful way of reframing love - not as an abstract, woo-woo concept, but as the organizing principle around which decisions are made, priorities set, and actions taken.

In committing to love as a guiding value, my experience is that it becomes a clarifying force - a steady ground where you can find sure footing when the disarray...

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Destination: Stillness Jan 10, 2024


A long-time student graciously reached out last week to thank me for something I wrote years ago that continues to support her:

Through body, breath, sound, symbol, and awareness itself, yoga offers us pathways to experience the stillness and equanimity of our inner being.

Like a swan on a hot summer’s day, we dip into the clear waters of our own consciousness and emerge renewed, restored, rejuvenated.

Is there anything more refreshing than taking a break from the chatter of your mind?

It can be easy to get caught up in the external aspects of postural practice and lose sight of yoga’s fundamental purpose: stilling the mind.

Traditionally, asana was intended to prepare the...

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Getting Purposeful Jan 03, 2024

I recently discovered ikigai, a Japanese concept that refers to your purpose in life. It’s the driving force that motivates you to get up in the morning, your raison d’être.

It’s considered the cornerstone of a fulfilling life and an important part of health and longevity. Once your ikigai is clear, life feels more meaningful and day-to-day decisions become easier.

Ikigai shares some common elements with the Vedic concept of dharma, sacred purpose or duty, and the later notion of svadharma, one’s individual purpose or duties in life.

How does yoga help?

Whatever form your practice takes, yoga is meant to impact positively the way you navigate life and how...

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The Threshold Dec 27, 2023


It’s the point at which something begins or shifts; the cusp, the verge, and the boundary that marks the entry point.

I recently learned that in medieval times, the threshold was a plank strategically placed across the front door that prevented barnyard debris from entering the house. It’s related to the verb thresh, the act of separating the seeds of a grain from the rest of the plant.

For us as yogis, the notion of extracting what is most valuable and setting aside the rest has clear resonance.

The first thing you do when you come to your mat or cushion is the threshold of your practice. It marks the moment of separating your attention from the activity of the day and...

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The Midnight Hour Dec 20, 2023


One of my teachers often led us out of Savasana by describing those final resting moments as “after the end and before the beginning.”

What a gorgeous way of articulating the liminal space, that in-between time when one thing has ended and another has yet to begin.

This is where we’ve arrived in the cycle of the year. The solstice, derived from a root meaning “standing still,” marks a turning point. It’s when the sun’s movement appears to stop ever so briefly - like the pause in the swing a pendulum – before reversing course.

Yoga prepares us well to capture this tiny space of stillness and embrace the opportunity it presents.


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The Magic of New Beginnings Dec 13, 2023


Surveying the fields around my house, the newly fallen snow strikes me as poignant metaphor for the gift - and relief – of new beginnings.

Just a few months ago, they were lush and vibrant, hosting stalks of corn, bales of hay, and grazing cows. Today, they're blanketed in white, pristine and seemingly as full of possibility as blank sheets of paper.

That’s the thing about life – it’s always new. With each sunrise, every breath, and shift of the seasons, we witness the cyclical nature of existence and the ever-unfolding intelligence that gives rise to it.

It’s easy to lose touch with these natural rhythms, which are, in fact, also our own. How reassuring,...

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Pretending Not to Know Dec 06, 2023


The most intriguing prompt from last week’s writing lesson with author Anne Lamott was: “What I am pretending not to know.” 

What a novel idea! Yogis usually focus on opening to the reality of the present moment. Here I was being asked to admit what I’m deliberately overlooking.  

It felt edgy and a bit scary. Would I unearth some significant issue I’ve been denying?

Initially, nothing came to mind. But it gradually dawned on me that, indeed, I’ve been pretending not to know about the clothes strewn across my teen’s bedroom floor (her “floordrobe,” as one mom on TikTok dubbed it.) I’m also ignoring the odd sound my...

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Opening to the Night Nov 29, 2023

It's the tail end of November and my weather app says the sun will set at 4:12 pm today. What better time to make friends with darkness? 

Here’s a perspective that might shift the way you think about it:

You, darkness of whom I am born –
I love you more than the flame
That limits the world
To the circle it illuminates
And excludes all the rest,

But the dark embraces everything:
shapes and shadows, creatures and me,
people, nations – just as they are.

It lets me imagine
A great presence stirring beside me.

I believe in the night.

- Rainer Maria Rilke, Book of Hours
Translated by Joanna Macy & Anita Barrows


There’s something profoundly humbling, comforting, and...

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Mining the moment Nov 22, 2023


I envision a vertical depth that’s possible in yoga, where advanced practice is less about achieving hard poses and more about penetrating the richness of your inner experience.

As you show up consistently and explore the subtleties in asana – even seemingly ordinary poses - you discover a profundity that expands as your awareness and sensitivity become more refined.

Getting the most out of a gratitude practice works in a similar way.

When we contemplate what brings us happiness, we might tend to think of extraordinary events like vacations or special nights out. However, research shows that consistently noticing and appreciating small, everyday positive moments has a much...

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