The Playa Provides
“The playa provides.” This reminds me of the ancient Buddhist practice of Tonglen – the practice of Giving & Taking or Sending & Receiving. The practice of trusting in our ability to receive as well as in our capacity to give. On our mats, we could use every in-breath to take in the pain of another and with every out-breath, we can send out what will benefit them. This training in compassion can be very much part of our asana practice.”
Our Dewdrop Existence
"The fleeting & precious, the short-lived & rare quality of a sunrise or a sunset is also the nature of our life. In fact it is said that our life is like a dewdrop on a blade of grass. It’s that tiny & that ephemeral. So how are we going to use it? How are we going to use our dewdrop existence? Are we going use it to fulfill our heart’s innermost, purest & highest, most selfless desire or are we going to waste it and let our dewdrop life evaporate before our eyes?"
Standing in our own Shoes
"The practice of yoga asana is the practice of standing in our own shoes regardless of whether the size fits or not. We come to our mats and the asanas we take aren’t always fitting. Yet we train in standing in whatever seat is offered to us. It might be challenging, it might be boring, it might be emotionally intense. Whatever that seat brings up in us, we stand in it and ground ourselves in our own being - as we are."
On the Spot!
"Instead of being freaked out by that which we don’t know, the teachings of yoga invite us to become interested and thrilled about what’s possible even when it feels like the world is closing down on us. They invite us to welcome change by having the attitude of “Bring it on. Put me on the spot!” This attitude can help us cultivate humility as we recognize that we don’t know it all. It’s an attitude that also gives rise to wisdom because what causes frustration, agitation, anxiety, worry, fear is the discrepancy between what we expect & reality. Wisdom is when there is no longer a discrepancy between the two. As Pema Chödrön reminds us: "Love of the truth puts us on the spot.”
Facts & Ideas
Facts & Ideas
"While the protective mechanisms embedded in our physical body are often facts, the ones we’ve created in our minds are just an idea. An idea can be debated, it can be turned around, it can expand. In one of his last speeches as president, Barak Obama reminded us that politics are a battle of ideas - ideas, which can and should be debated, but facts he said, cannot be denied. And that’s really what we are working with in yoga – questioning, exploring, understanding through experience what is an idea and what is a fact."
More than just a spectator
"Bhakti Yoga, which is commonly translated as the Yoga of Devotion, comes from the Sanskrit root ‘bhaj’. Bhaj means to engage in, to share with, to experience, to participate. Like when we are in an asana, for us to have the most meaningful experience, we don’t just take that seat. We participate with our breathing, with our attention. We project something into the asana and by doing so we become more than just a spectator.”
Checks & Balances
"Alignment principles in Yoga Asana are a form of Checks & Balances. They are there to determine how far we can intelligently & safely move. It's the safety net that precedes the experience of spaciousness."
A New Direction
"Yoga Asana makes what seems implicit, explicit. It shows us why and how we get triggered out of nowhere and react disproportionally under certain, very specific circumstances. It’s only when we recognize that some stuff is hardwired in us and then choose to build a new circuitry in our mind, choose to develop a new range of motion in our body that we can begin to move in a new direction. That’s when the list of possible ways of being opens up."
Embracing Our Differences
Embracing our Differences
"The invitation Yoga Asana offers is to acknowledge and embrace our differences. The practice trains us in relating to those differences with fondness and playfulness. In fact, inherent to the asana practice is difference. There are hundreds and hundreds of different asanas. It is even said that there are as many asanas as there are species. Imagine that! As many asanas as there are species. This is very telling. It is a reminder that the asana practice is first and foremost a practice of celebration of the vast network of bodies that we come into contact with."
A Room With A View
"The spaciousness we experience through the practice of Yoga Asana feels as if we are all of a sudden, upgrading from a tiny room in the basement to a room with a view. We now have the room to view - the room to see something else, something other than our own opinions & ideas, something other than our ‘caught-up-ness’ as Pema Chödrön would say. To me that's a close-up on emptiness or śūnyatā."
In-Dependence & Inter-Dependence
"My personal experience of Yoga Asana is that it’s a platform through which we can address and explore certain unresolved patterns in a safe and empowering environment. But what’s also interesting is that while the practice invites us to find a sense of personal freedom & in-dependence, it simultaneously encourages us to realize and appreciate the inter-dependence of our reality – that is our interconnectedness with a larger, greater world."
Preparing The Seat
"Yoga Asana is a practice that prepares us to take whatever seat life offers us. We might need to modify at times but the idea is that no matter how challenging or uncomfortable that seat, that situation, that relationship, that encounter is, we can always feel ready and at ease."
At Ease In the World
At Ease in the World
"The interconnectedness, the interdependence, the inherent support that we experience on our mat - our most natural habitat – inevitably brings about a feeling of being at home everywhere. And that’s yoga: to feel at home and at ease in the world."
"Our evolution as practitioners of yoga asana doesn’t depend on how advanced of a posture we can take but has more to do with the spirit we bring to it."
Back to our Home Screen
"The practices of yoga invite us to reset our home screen every time we feel disconnected, every time we forget our basic goodness. That’s why these practices are said to be practices of remembrance, practices that take us back home, back to our home screen."
"In the practice of yoga asana, we are invited to allow parts of ourselves that might feel unfamiliar to us, forms that might seem different from us, to surprise us by their intelligence so that we can evolve."