Beyond Asana Blog

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

Comfort and Joy Dec 14, 2022

 

Two words that evoke the best of the holiday spirit. How can yoga bring a new dimension to the ways we might usually think about them? Let’s take a look:

The English word “comfort” can be translated into a number of different Sanskrit words. But one that you might be familiar with is sukha, which means ease, comfort, or happiness. In the Yoga Sutras it refers to one of the qualities of a well-established meditation posture and, by extension your experience of physical ease and comfort in any posture at all.

You can also think about sukha in deeper sense of how your yoga practice can be a source comfort in your life. You can approach your practice as a time to...

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Dual and Nondual Yoga Philosophy: What it Means for Your Practice Dec 07, 2022

 

In last week’s post on the differences between dualist and nondualist yoga philosophies, we saw that whether we adopt a dual or nondual perspective makes a huge difference in how we see our relationship to the world and the nature of reality. Therefore, it has significant implications for how we understand the aims of our yoga practice, it’s role in our lives, and the forms that our practice takes. 

As I mentioned last week, dualistic yoga philosophies view spirit and matter as essentially different and independent from one another. They see the goal of yoga as liberating the soul from its entanglement with the body/mind and the outer world. This gives rise to...

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Dualism vs. Nondualism Nov 30, 2022

 

I would love your thoughts on the difference between dualistic and nondualistic yoga philosophies.  

I’m so glad you asked! This is an important question and one that has significant implications for your yoga practice. This week, I’ll explain the differences between dual and nondual worldviews and their distinct approaches to yoga. Next week, I’ll discuss what this means for your yoga practice.

Dualistic yoga philosophies consider spirit and matter to be fundamentally different and view spirit as superior to matter. The belief that reality is composed of two separate and independent parts is known as dualism, or dvaita in Sanskrit.

For most...

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Gratitude Day Nov 23, 2022

 

How about including your body? The living, breathing miracle of your existence on this planet?

Amidst all the ways you might feel your body is less than perfect, consider the thousands of things that go right just to make it possible for you to get out of bed in the morning.

Take a moment and bow down to the ingenious mechanism of your breath, the wonder of having senses to perceive the world, and the masterful symphony of reflexes, systems, and processes constantly at work supporting all you do and all you are.

And, perhaps most of all, honor the awareness that’s there to do the thanking.

 

 

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Essential Emptiness Nov 16, 2022


At the conclusion of last weekend’s Grounding in Gratitude workshop, one of the participants expressed her appreciation for the “long” final relaxation after the postural practice. In fact, it lasted only five minutes, though I fully appreciate how a good Savasana can wonderfully warp our sense of time. 
 
Acknowledging our need for deep rest, the group remarked on how tough it can be - even for those of us who know better - to give ourselves the time and space for it. I think there are some good reasons why we might resist giving ourselves permission to do nothing, even just for a few minutes. Yet, when we consider how life works, it seems...

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24 more hours Nov 09, 2022

 

Is not impermanence the very fragrance of our days?
- Rainer Maria Rilke
  
Congratulations! You’ve been given 24 brand-new, irreplaceable hours.
 
They’re pretty much guaranteed to be imperfect and to include moments that disappoint you and others that delight you.

How do you wish to live them?
 
There’s no shortage of ideas and inspiration for how to make the most of the time we have. It’s a question that’s been pondered by seekers, philosophers, and poets throughout the ages. Yet, it’s one that only we ourselves can answer.

 

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Softness is Your Strength Nov 02, 2022

 

I heard a wonderful anecdote recently about the revered Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh, or Brother Thay as he was known by his community and students. It was told by a monk who served as his attendant for many years.

One day, as Thay was getting ready to leave the dining hall of the monastery where he lived, his attendant saw that there was a bottleneck of several hundred people gathered at the door. Because it was part of his job in such situations to make sure Thay had enough space to exit the room, he began to assert himself into the crowd, when suddenly he felt a gentle pull on his robes from behind. It was Thay, who without saying anything indicated that making space in this way...

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Thoughts on Living Spiritually Oct 26, 2022

 

In a moment of near-perfect irony, no sooner did I get settled on the couch to begin writing this post than I was interrupted by my teenage daughter, who was getting ready for school and asked me for help making breakfast.

It’s an example of the classic paradox for us householder yogis and a question I’m often asked: How do you balance your commitment to going deeper in yoga with honoring your roles and responsibilities in the world? Is it possible to do both? 

This is an especially challenging dilemma to resolve if we consider Classical Yoga - the yoga of Patanjali and the eight-limbed path - to be our only option. In fact, Classical Yoga was originally designed...

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Yoga and Collective Grief​ Oct 19, 2022

 
Did you hear the news out of Alaska last week that the annual winter snow crab season was cancelled, for the first time ever, because of a decline in the crab population that’s likely due to the warming of the Bering Sea?
 
For me, it was another sad reminder of the fragility of the world’s precious ecosystems. I know I’m not alone in feeling a sense of grief when thinking about the future of life on earth, or in the deep desire to contribute to the healing and sustaining of life on our beautiful, miraculous planet.
 
Collective grief happens when a community or a society experiences extreme change or loss. It can manifest in the wake of major events...

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To Share or Not to Share Oct 12, 2022

 

Recently, a yoga friend asked me why I don’t often speak or write about my spiritual experiences.
 
While I do share my inner experiences in yoga in specific contexts, it is also true that I’m selective about how, when, and with whom I speak about them. I am protective of my spiritual experiences because they are so meaningful and precious to me.  
 
In an era where it can feel like we’ve barely finished doing something before we feel the urge to share it, I think there are some important reasons for holding your inner experiences in yoga close.  
 
For one thing, deep spiritual experiences take time to assimilate....

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