Beyond Asana Blog

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

From Busy to Full Dec 08, 2021

 

In yoga, we recognize that words don't just have power, they are power. In Nondual Tantric philosophy, language is recognized as a form of Shakti, the universal energy of creation. Therefore, language not only describes our reality, but it also impacts (some would even say determines) how we experience it.

As we wind down toward the end of the year, I’m guessing there’s no shortage of things on your to-do list.

On my agenda today is filming a class and a pose tutorial for a media outlet. Tomorrow, I’m delivering a webinar to a group of teachers (more on that below!). Friday, more filming plus phone meetings with...

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Word Power Dec 01, 2021

 

Just thinking about an upcoming dental appointment is making my jaw clench. While that may not come as a surprise, it’s fascinating when you think about it, isn’t it?

In Nondual Tantric philosophy, the power of language is known as Matrika Shakti. One of the interpretations of Matrika is “Little mothers.”
 
The letters of the alphabet give birth to words. Words give birth to meaning. Meaning gives birth to thoughts, associations, concepts, images. All this creates our reality. It’s happening nonstop, all the time.
 
To begin to get a sense of this incredible power at work and glimpse the immense...

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Letting the Heart Have its Say Nov 24, 2021

 

In anticipation of tonight’s long-awaited family gathering for Thanksgiving, I took some time to become quiet.

In the stillness of meditation, a question arose:

How can I live from my Heart this holiday season?

It's the ever-present inquiry that yoga whispers into our ears and the ongoing quest it gives rise to: the pursuit of living a more conscious and purposeful life, and contributing positively to the world around us.

I’m planning to begin very simply, with the smallest possible ways of achieving this:
 
Asking myself: What is needed at this moment?

Being kind to myself and the people I’m with.

And, most importantly, slowing down often and long enough to allow...

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The Perspective of Precipitation Nov 17, 2021

 

With the arrival of winter to our lovely little corner of the world, it's the time of year when us Northerners become very attuned to the different forms of water: rain, freezing rain, snow, blowing snow, sleet, and ice.

Consider precipitation as a metaphor for how energy moves in your life, how it flows to all the things you do, the ways you move, the roles you play, and the projects you're working on.

Where is energy flowing placidly like a gentle mountain stream? Where is it moving wildly like a rushing river? Where is it frozen like an icicle?

The good news is that unlike the Canadian winter, once we've observed all this, we do have some say in the matter. We...

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Perfectly Imperfect Nov 10, 2021

 

I recently received the proofs for a photo shoot I did for a forthcoming book.

How many of the poses looked perfect?

Uhh, none.

How many were completely and undeniably perfect?

Well, all of them.

The truth is, I’ll never do a perfect asana.

Yet, from the perspective of the truth, how could my postures be anything but pure perfection?

Just as I was mulling this over (because its something I’ve been thinking about for only, say, 25 years now), I read this, sent to me by a wise student who had also been contemplating these questions:

You are neither good enough nor not good enough. An apple seed is neither good enough nor not good enough, it simply is in the...

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The RealĀ "Every Damn Day" Work of the Yogi Nov 03, 2021

 

Confidence: Certitude, self-assurance, reliance on one’s own resources and powers, trust, firm conviction, sureness.
 
In the new course on Nondual Tantra that I'm co-teaching, I was reminded of where true confidence comes from: The remembrance of our innate fullness, wholeness, and perfection. 

Just like a flower can’t be separated from its fragrance or the sun can’t be separated from its rays, this tradition teaches that this fullness can never be taken away from us because it’s who we are at our essence.

Anything else – all our smallness, insecurity, and self-doubt – is considered a state of forgetfulness.

Not that the...

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Our easy sticky rice in the Instant pot Nov 01, 2021

 

1 cup of Calrose rice

1 cup and 2 Tbl. water

1 Tbl. rice vinegar

 

Put everything in the Instant Pot.

Set to “Pressure Cook” for 6 minutes, and let it sit on “Keep Warm” for about 8 minutes (or a little more if you are busy).  

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Seriously Though, Don't Go Back to Sleep Oct 28, 2021

 

The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.
Don’t go back to sleep.
You must ask for what you really want.
Don’t go back to sleep.
People are going back and forth across the doorsill
Where the two worlds touch.
The door is round and open.
Don’t go back to sleep.


- Mevlâna Jalâluddîn Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks
 
I take these words quite literally these days, as the weather turns colder and I become ever more comfortable under the covers. When the alarm clock rings and it's time to get up for meditation, hopefully I can remember Rumi's advice, Don’t go back to sleep.
 
More profoundly, though, this poem calls on us...

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Letting Go! A Video Sequence For Shoulders And Neck Oct 20, 2021

 

From where I sit in Southern Quebec, it’s clear that this week is about letting go. In nature, of course, that is happening gracefully, organically, and precisely as it should be. In my own very human life, however, letting go isn’t always that natural or easy.

I sometimes wonder why my mind and body clearly prefer holding on to unproductive thoughts and limiting patterns rather than releasing into the joy and freedom that come when I’m willing to let it all fall away? Maybe a better question is: How can I facilitate releasing what’s ready to be let go of?

By softening physical tension, yoga invites us to first notice, and then surrender,...

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Light Diffuses Itself Oct 13, 2021

 

Father Joe Pereira is a Indian Roman Catholic priest, a beloved senior Iyengar Yoga Teacher, and a social worker who worked closely with Mother Theresa for decades. He founded the Kripa Foundation, which offers holistic-oriented programs for the rehabilitation of HIV patients and people affected by substance abuse. 

I met Father Joe a few years ago and we spoke about the role of service in yogic life. He told me:

Service is a natural outcome of a practitioner who looks at this practice as a gift.… you can’t keep it to yourself, you want to share it with somebody…Mother Theresa started by getting this inspiration that people are thirsty for...

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