In writing "Evolving Your Yoga: Ten Principles for Enlightened Practice," I interviewed over 25 longtime teachers to hear their experiences and insights into how yoga practice evolves over time.
Many of them generously shared personal stories of how yoga helped them to find emotional healing and develop a more caring and loving relationship with themselves.
Chapter Seven is perhaps the one that feels most personal for me as well. I believe it’s one that will resonate with many of us who’ve found greater self-love and self-acceptance through yoga. Here's an excerpt:
"My hatha yoga practice played an essential role in shifting the nature of my inner dialogue from critical to compassionate. Asana became a practice of self-honoring and self-acceptance.
I used it to cultivate a loving relationship with myself. I consciously related to my body as an instrument for the inner work of yoga and ultimately as the vehicle for service to the...
I remember the moment I knew with firm conviction that I would dedicate myself to asana practice in a major way. It was a summer afternoon in Manhattan. I had just finished taking a yoga class and I was walking to catch the crosstown bus.
I looked like just another person walking down Third Avenue, but inwardly I felt completely lit up, alive with an energy that was sweetly pulsing throughout my entire body.
It was as if I were a string of lights around a Christmas tree that had just been plugged in. I was compelled to just be with the experience. I found the nearest place to sit, which happened to be a concrete landing outside of an office building. I paused for a while, enjoying this extraordinary state of being.
More than twenty years later, that image of being lit up like Christmas lights, and the feeling that gave rise to it, has stayed with me. It has become more familiar over the years too.
I recognize it not only as a pleasurable after-effect...
Strength and Flexibility
Action and Reflection
Doing and Being
Pose and Repose
Effort and Surrender
And the list goes on and on...
I couldn't wait to explore the fascinating nature of the pairs of opposites as described in yoga philosophy and how to balance them in practice and in life:
From Chapter 5 of "Evolving Your Yoga: Ten Principles for an Enlightened Practice":
"There’s a fundamental paradox in our journey as yogis. It's the fact that we are embodied spirits. We have a finite life, a body, an individual identity with its distinct personality and preferences. At the same time, yoga tells us we also have a mystical, expansive, sublime, universal, and ultimately infinite nature. Both are true.
Yoga is a journey where we use the mundane to know the spiritual. In practice, we employ the mind and body to nurture an experience that is beyond both mind and body. For this simple reason, practice at its essence is a dance between opposites.
Over on another Facebook page, one member recently reported her findings from a survey of 100 yoga teachers. It came as no shock to me to hear that one of her discoveries was that the most satisfied yoga teachers are the ones who don’t need to earn an income from teaching, those who teach simply because they love sharing yoga.
In fact, this is something I hear often. More than that, it’s something I’ve LIVED.
I’ve made my living as a yoga teacher for 20 years. I now mentor a community of teachers, many of whom also teach full-time. It’s our livelihood, the way we support, or contribute to supporting, our family. For me, and others like me, teaching yoga isn’t a hobby or side hustle. The income we make from teaching isn’t extra money that’s “nice” to have.
And, I’ve found myself disheartened by how little this job can pay, and halfway out the door, more than a few times.
Reasoning that if I got a...
In theory, at least, it’s easy to understand that yoga is clearly a path of shift and change. A good practice doesn’t leave us quite the way it found us. It’s physically, mentally, and spiritually edifying.
However, it may be hard to identify and articulate the ways in which we have experienced the transformative power of the practice.
For students and teachers wishing to expand and deepen their practice, the understanding of how and why yoga works as a path of positive change is crucial.
This is why I felt it was important to delve into the transformative aspect of yoga, and specifically to examine how shift happens in yoga, why it happens, and of course, to what end.
Here's an excerpt from Chapter 3 of "Evolving Your Yoga: Ten Principles for Enlightened Practice":
"Some teachers will tell you that yoga is not a path toward a goal, but that it is simply about being present to what is.
I partially agree with this. Certainly,...
This was the chapter that couldn't wait to be written. It's such an important message, I believe, for anyone wishing to deepen their yoga and certainly anyone who teaches it.
This single shift of mindset, from approaching yoga as a client, a consumer, or even simply a practitioner, to being a student of the practice. Well, it changes everything, don't you think?
From Chapter 2, "Evolving Your Yoga: Ten Principles for Enlightened Practice":
"Among the many skills we develop in yoga, the skill of being a student is perhaps the most important. It’s the meta-skill that encompasses all the others.
Unlike most other subjects, being a student of yoga is not only about the knowledge we gain or the skills we sharpen. It’s about being a student of ourselves, our life, and our consciousness.
Studentship in yoga is a vast and awesome undertaking that runs the gamut of inquiring into the most mundane aspects of our physical body to investigating the metaphysical,...
Beginning today and for the next few weeks I'll be sharing snippets of what you'll find in each the chapters of my forthcoming book, "Evolving Your Yoga: Ten Principles for Enlightened Practice."
Many of us who've been practicing yoga for a while know without a doubt that yoga helps us in our lives. We feel better in our bodies, clearer in our minds, more in touch with our emotions; we’re better equipped to handle stress, and we function more capably in all areas of our lives as a result of our practice.
Yet we may not know exactly how yoga does this, or why yoga works not just physically and mentally, but on all levels of our being.
In looking at both my own experience of evolution on the path of yoga and what I’ve observed in working with thousands of students over the years, I wondered:
What are the underlying beliefs that have allowed asana to become part of our path of inner discovery and positive shift?
What recurring themes form the...
We're blanketed with the most spectacular, abundant covering of snow today. It's still, peaceful, and best of all I don't have to go out until much later.
Giving ourselves - and our possibly (maybe probably) tired bodies, ragged nervous systems, and overworked minds - the gift of STILLNESS, SILENCE, and TIME for renewal is not only necessary and precious, it's the absolute BEST way to meet the holiday season.
"I love that you opened up your home to receive us and create a safe space for us to share. I have to say that I didn't feel "less than" because I was a new teacher, I love that there was so much respect between all the different levels of experienced and less-experienced teachers. I feel like it is hard to find sometimes."
Boy, don't I know it. Sadly, a community of yoga teachers is NOT always the most welcoming place for a new teacher to be. Our Skillful Yogi Teachers' Retreat on Saturday was, for me, proof that it doesn't have to be that way. That we can reclaim the community and support we need as teachers of yoga.
Beyond the practices we shared, beyond the wisdom we dove into, it was the feeling of simply being together as dedicated students and teachers in an Intimate, small-group learning and practice environment that felt most timely and precious.
Teachers who've been at it for more than a decade sat beside those newly certified without a whiff of...
Over on a colleague’s Facebook page there’s an interesting discussion about what, besides training, makes for great teaching. Presence, empathy, humility, motivation, finding one’s own voice, these are all great answers, the question is: How do you do it?
It’s something I’ve been thinking about for a while now. In just the past few weeks, several new teachers have reached out to me with the same curious situation – hundreds and hundreds of hours of training, yet little confidence in their abilities as a teacher. They’re bloated with information but unable to effectively share it, to deliver their knowledge in a way that they feel good about and that they feel really serves their students.
It’s not very surprising, actually. I know from being a former studio owner that trainings are one of the biggest income streams for yoga studios. Let’s face it, no one is making a living from $30 unlimited classes for a month....
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.