Beyond Asana Blog
My weekly blog is a forum for contemplative inquiry into the intersection of yoga practice, traditional teachings, and real life.
My experience is that progress in yoga often occurs in seemingly small shifts that actually aren’t so small.
A student once shared with me that she holds the steering wheel of her car differently because of her yoga.
With the awareness and sensitivity afforded by her practice, she no longer grips it tightly like she used to. Instead, she holds it with a loose grip, allowing her shoulders and neck to relax.
This has changed her experience of driving. She’s calmer and less reactive to other drivers. Considering the substantial amount of time she spends commuting to and from work every day, this shift has had a significant impact on her overall experience of life.
I’m sure I’m not the only parent who experiences June as a nostalgia-inducing month. The end of the school year, the start of summer vacation, as well as milestones like graduations and weddings, can pull me into wistful memories right about now.
So, while I’m immensely grateful that my 16-year-old daughter has a summer filled with all good things, I also find myself experiencing a sense of loss in living these entirely expected and natural transitions. And I know that so many of us are grieving losses right now, both large and small, individual and collective.
Grief - what we experience when what or whom we love dies or disappears - is as natural as...
One of the more intriguing gifts I ever received from a student was a small, bright yellow melon given to me at the end of a one-day retreat. She shared that she chose it because it reminded her of an inner sun. That’s what she was feeling after our day of practices.
I can relate to her experience. Perhaps you can too. Just as sun’s brilliance brings light, energy, illumination, and power to the outer world, postural practice can help us to cultivate and generate those very qualities within ourselves. We may often feel lighter, invigorated, more energized, and refreshed, almost as if we are lit up from inside, because of our practices.
If we look at the historical...
In the midst of my recovery from Covid, coinciding with the haze of wildfire smoke descending upon our area, I found myself reflecting on the preciousness, and the profundity, of the breath.
Consider your breath as the rhythm of life moving through you. The pumping of the heart, the cycle of the days and night, the turning of the seasons, the ebb and flow of ocean tides; everywhere and on every level, life moves in waves of pulsating energy. This universal dance of expansion and contraction, arising and dissolving, filling and emptying, is present in every breath you take.
The teachings of the Nondual Tantric tradition refer to the dynamic, creative pulsation...
I have two family reunions this summer. Can you offer a class about not getting caught up in family drama and instead, finding a way back to yourself where there is peace and self-acceptance? Like finding calm in the eye of the storm.
It was great to receive this question yesterday, not because I wish anyone difficulty with their families, but because I think it’s such a valuable topic and a common concern. If anything can push our buttons, it’s time with family. As Ram Dass said: If you think you are enlightened, go and spend a week with your family.
I’m not a therapist, but I can certainly share insights from my own experiences that have proven...
We had only a tiny harvest of lilacs in our yard this year, but the few blossoms that did manage to survive were at their peak this past Sunday.
I happened to notice them just as my weekend retreat was culminating and I was standing in front of the house waving goodbye to the participants as they drove off.
It was serendipitous moment, seeing those perfectly formed, fragrant, little flowers after a wonderful weekend spent in the company of bright, genuine, and open-hearted students. Just like those lilacs in their fullness, my spirit brimmed with a profound sense of fulfillment.
Purna is a Sanskrit word that means complete, full, and perfect....
I spent a good part of the weekend listening to birds, something that never fails to uplift and encourage me. (I realize that for non-birdwatching folks, few things are more boring than reading a list of birds, but for the record, I identified five new ones this weekend, including a Bobolink, a Downy Woodpecker, and a Kildeer!)
I love the intricacy of their songs and calls. It’s as if each note carries a resolute optimism, persisting with unwavering determination. Yet, beneath it all lies the most profound revelation of all— the awareness of the energy of life, unhindered and effortless, coursing through their beings.
And, of course, it’s...
I recently had the privilege of spending a few days at a serene Quaker retreat center, which is approaching its centenary. While not my personal tradition, I found myself thoroughly nurtured by my time there.
Every aspect of the center - the grounds and facilities, as well as the kind and helpful volunteers - helps to foster an atmosphere conducive to inward reflection and spiritual learning.
During a reflective moment, nestled in a cozy corner of the Main House, my gaze settled upon the weathered wooden floor of the room. The floor was probably part of the original structure built in the 1930s. It was clearly well-maintained and cared for, yet it bore the...
I have a well-meaning acquaintance, you might know the type, who considers herself quite the yoga expert, yet can never seem to motivate herself to actually practice it. Recently, she was trying to convince me that box breathing was superior to lengthening the exhalation for stress relief. Mind you, she had barely dabbled in either technique.
As I often remind my students, the teachings of yoga are not just meant to be intellectual concepts, they’re intended to be put into practice. Yoga is a discipline that requires active exploration. The knowledge we gain from yoga is meant to inform, elevate, and refine our actions.
In fact, the Sanskrit term for knowledge in...
During a visit to my mother's house years ago, I left a yoga philosophy book lying around in the kitchen. When I returned a few hours later, she looked at me wistfully and said, “I was looking through your book. It must be so nice to believe what you believe.”
What an intriguing statement, don’t you think?
It got me reflecting about the nature of belief in yoga and the source of our faith in the practices.
In Sanskrit, faith is known as shraddha. It's meant to be based on our experience, born out by practice, and reinforced by self-reflection.
For example, if someone tells me that Half Downward-facing...