Beyond Asana Blog

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

Home of the Heart Aug 02, 2023


We are like migrating birds,
The sadness of our departure
Is mitigated by
The joy of our reunion

- Author Unknown

I remember the first time my yoga practice felt like a homecoming. It was 1995 and I was teaching English at a university in Nanjing, China. Living abroad was an unforgettable experience, and, like any great adventure, it also had its challenges.
It was during one of those tougher times when it first dawned on me that yoga would always be there to welcome me just as I was. I recall one day, when I was feeling especially lonely and frustrated, rolling out my mat felt like preparing to enter a warm and familiar home where I could take refuge and find...

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The Winds of Your Homecoming Jul 26, 2023


Oh, not to be separated, shut off from the starry dimension
By so thin a wall.

What is within us
If not intensified sky
Traversed with birds
And deep
With the winds of homecoming?

-Rainer Maria Rilke, Uncollected poems, translated by Joanna Macy and Anita Barrows
It always amazes me how just thinking about yoga as a practice of homecoming softens some of the hard edges that I didn’t even realize were holding me separate and small.

Isn’t it true that life, in all its fullness and complexity, tends to narrow and constrict how we experience ourselves and closes us off from an expansive sense of being?

How wonderful, then, to consider how yoga brings us back to...

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The Journaling Journey Jul 19, 2023


Recently, I was thrilled to read a New York Times article confirming that journaling is “one of the more effective acts of self-care,” explaining that  articulating and processing difficult experiences and emotions through writing is healing:
Keeping a journal, according to Dr. Pennebaker, helps to organize an event in our mind, and make sense of trauma. When we do that, our working memory improves, since our brains are freed from the enormously taxing job of processing that experience, and we sleep better... “There’s no single magic moment,” Dr. Pennebaker said. “But we know it works… journaling about...

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Edges, Reconsidered Jul 12, 2023

Does shift only happen at the edges?
Yes, but not always in the way we might think.
Your edges are the frontiers of your practice, the limits where something is about to happen. Joel Kramer coined the term in a 1977 article, saying “The body has edges that mark its limits in stretch, strength, endurance, and balance. ...This edge has a feeling of intensity, and is right before pain, but it is not pain itself.”
The way we approach our edges, therefore, is essential for experiencing shifts in our practice. 
I believe that there times when it's appropriate not to work at your edges and that there are other edges that are equally important to...

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Progress in Yoga Jul 05, 2023

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.

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Yoga, Loss, & Grief Jun 28, 2023

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...

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Surya Devata Jun 21, 2023


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...

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The Rhythm of the Sacred Jun 14, 2023

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...

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Q&A: Finding Calm in the Eye of the Family Storm Jun 07, 2023


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...

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Fragments of Fullness May 31, 2023


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....

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