Beyond Asana Blog

Why "Been There, Done That" Are The Saddest Four Words I Can Hear When it Comes to Yoga

Feb 14, 2019

We’re diving into studentship this week on The Skillful Yogi. We’re exploring some of the many wonderful and nuanced attributes of being a student of yoga. Skills like cultivating our curiosity, honing our discrimination, building a solid faith that’s based on inquiring into our experiences in yoga, and so forth.

I often tell teachers I work with that being a student is the meta-skill of being a teacher, the one overarching ability that if we get good at it, encompasses all the other things we might do and learn as teachers. 

 

In my own yoga journey, my dedication to being a student, well, it’s been my pillar. It’s what I’ve leaned into during times of uncertainty and self-doubt as a teacher. Though my teaching will come to an end someday, my love for the subject of yoga is something I know will continue throughout my life.

This is why, when a yoga teacher tells me they feel as if yoga no longer has anything to offer...

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"Love Yourself"

Feb 14, 2019

I almost never do this, but today I wanted to share what I wrote in the daily column I write for my membership. I spent so many Valentine's Days alone and wishing for someone or something to make me feel complete. I know so well how that longing feels. Here's the lesson I learned about that and that has fueled my yoga practice for more than 20 years now.

"LOVE YOURSELF"

These two simple words, for me, express the ultimate reason I practice and teach yoga.

My relationship with myself was not always positive, kind or loving.

 

But when I discovered, more than 20 years ago, that asana practice could not only be a way to move and awaken consciousness in my body but was also a field for cultivating a more loving relationship with myself well, that was the game-changer that turned asana from merely an interesting physical and mental pursiuit and made it into a major practice of my sadhana.

For me, yoga has been and always will be a path toward self love. This is the...

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Yoga Teachers : Here's The Truth About Credibility And Curiosity

Feb 11, 2019

A friend who’s been diagnosed with an “incurable” medical condition shared something interesting with me the other day. She said that the doctors she seeks out for help with her condition are NOT the ones who claim to have all the answers. She looks for the doctors who are open to learning, to finding out more, to new treatment protocols and information.

Similarly, the BEST chiropractor I know, the one I trust completely, is the one chiropractor I’ve met who is continually learning more and more about his field, about how back pain in the body manifests, what’s most effective in treating it and preventing it from reoccurring.

He’s the one who uses his knowledge as a springboard for diving in with his patients to explore and learn from them. He’s the one doesn’t claim to have “the” method that will fix everyone, every time.

Like my friend, when I look for a chiropractor, I’m not seeking out the person who claims to...

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What is an Advanced Asana ?

Feb 08, 2019

Is it simply, as my colleague Doug Keller puts it, “doing postures other people can’t do? Of course not. Though that’s the way we sometimes think about.”

This weekend at Expo Yoga 2019 I'll be teaching an "advanced" arm balances class. Montreal yogis, I hope you'll join me! But be forewarned: For me, the opportunity for "advanced" practice never lies in the pose we achieve, but rather, what we learn about ourselves in the journey toward getting there.

 

Sure, we'll be playing around with physical challenges, standing on our hands, much like this elephant. But what makes that "yoga," of course, lies in the intention and awareness we bring to it, doesn't it?

Rather than external accomplishment, deepening our asana practice calls on us to refine our awareness and expand our capacity for listening, noticing, feeling, sensing. We harness the power of all our senses as well as our intellect to awaken an ever deeper awareness and mine...

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"May I Not Be Limited By What I Think I Know"

Feb 07, 2019

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

This has been one of the prayers I've often made at the start of my practice and study in yoga.

May I simply be open to receive, to learn, to grow beyond (and sometime, despite) any expectations I may have.

Being a student of yoga - it’s one of the most essential skills we can hone for longevity not only in practice, but in teaching.

The truth is, over my 20 years of sharing these practices, I haven't always felt like I was a skilled teacher. But even during those times when I've doubted my abilities as a teacher, I ALWAYS had faith in my abilities as a student.

My willingness to learn, to question, to try things out, to find out when I wasn't sure, and ultimately to approach everything about yoga, both practice and teaching, not as a finite subject mastered in a given number of training hours, but as a lifelong path of self-discovery, all this has served me well.

And, of course, it's the most valuable thing I can...

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Shouldn't All Yoga Be Therapeutic?

Jan 24, 2019

Certainly, yes. The holistic vision of yoga sees the human being as a composite of physical and subtle energies. Though there are various models of who and what we are according to yogic philosophy, they all describe the individual as an integrated whole. A whole that is made up of interpenetrating layers and energies that include body, breath, mind, emotions, and spirit. 

Yoga offers practices that address, nourish, and harmonize each of these component parts of ourselves to foster equilibrium, integration and connectivity. 

Done from this perspective, how could these practices NOT lead to a greater and deep-seated sense of well-being and integration?

 

Isn’t it reasonable to assume that in order to call what we practice or teach “yoga,” to consider anything we do as being “yoga,” it must carry the intention of supporting true health? I believe so. 

I consider myself neither a yoga therapist, nor a healer. I’m a...

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Shouldn’t All Yoga Be Therapeutic?

Jan 11, 2019

Certainly, yes. The holistic vision of yoga sees the human being as a composite of physical and subtle energies. Though there are various models of who and what we are according to yogic philosophy, they all describe the individual as an integrated whole. A whole that is made up of interpenetrating layers and energies that include body, breath, mind, emotions, and spirit. 

Yoga offers practices that address, nourish, and harmonize each of these component parts of ourselves to foster equilibrium, integration and connectivity. 

Done from this perspective, how could these practices NOT lead to a greater and deep-seated sense of well-being and integration?

Isn’t it reasonable to assume that in order to call what we practice or teach “yoga,” to consider anything we do as being “yoga,” it must carry the intention of supporting true health? I believe so. 

I consider myself neither a yoga therapist, nor a healer. I’m a...

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Top 10 Tips For Getting Back To Your Practice

Jan 04, 2019

If you, like me, are MORE than ready to get back on your mat for real, here are my do's and don'ts for starting again, something I've gotten really good at over the years:
1. Welcome yourself even MORE unconditionally than usual.
2. Begin with something you love that feels GREAT in your body and go from there (for me this usually means lying on my back, knees up and hugged in).
3. Be generous with yourself. Keep it slow and sweet for as long as you want.
4. Allow more space than usual for rest, breath, and simply feeling.
5. Practicing in pajamas is totally okay.
6. No mirrors allowed.
7. Be more mindful than usual of how you feel afterward.
8. No trying to get better at anything.
9. No expectations. Whatever you do is ENOUGH.
10. Consciously thank yourself for showing up no matter what your practice looked like.

www.skillfulyogi.com

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Now More Than Ever: Taking Hold Of The Renewing Power Of Spirit

Dec 18, 2018

As we wind down toward the darkest day of the year, here's a timely reminder about the ever-increasing preciousness of slowing down to wake up, and finding the regenerative power in our practices:

Strategies that guide, inform, and illuminate our actions in yoga, infusing our practice with spiritual insight.-8.png

From Chapter 9 of my forthcoming book, "Evolving Your Yoga: Ten Principles for Enlightened Practice":

"...the importance of resetting ourselves, of taking time to slow down, to come back to our physicality, to release stress on a regular basis, has become even more crucial to maintain a sense of balance and harmony. It is vitally necessary for our well-being. Not only must we prioritize time dedicated to removing ourselves from the world of our screens, we need reliable and effective ways for restoring a sense of physical and energetic integration to our beings.

Yoga practice is, of course, an optimal way to renew ourselves. Yoga class remains (hopefully) one of the last places where we disconnect from our devices for an hour or so. But even more powerfully, in practice...

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🕯The Power Of One-Pointedness 🕯

Dec 17, 2018

In our ever-quickening world of instant, continuous, and unending opportunities for distraction, the ability to focus our minds remains vitally important for our well-being.

The ability to draw our attention temporarily away from the busyness of our lives and direct our mental energies into our own selves is a key instigator for the transformative power of yoga.

Here's an excerpt from Chapter 8 of "Evolving Your Yoga: Ten Principles for Enlightened Practice:"

"One of the great benefits of retreats, and the reason why they are such an important part of the yogic tradition, is that in a retreat setting there are limited opportunities for distraction.

In the many spiritual retreats I’ve participated in over the years, I’ve gotten to know the way my mind responds to extended, focused periods of practice. It starts out during the first day or two with its usual preoccupations and wanderings.

Strategies that guide, inform, and illuminate our actions in yoga, infusing our practice with spiritual insight.-7.png

Here, it’s easy to become aware of the usual speed and...

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FREE BONUS CONTENT

Our free, online bonus content is designed to complement and enrich your experience of Evolving Your Yoga. Resources like video pose tutorials, downloadable journaling prompts, breathwork, guided visualizations, and more will support your exploration of each of the Ten Principles for Enlightened Practice.