Props for Props

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My students know that I’m not someone who uses props or gives props without good reason.

Well, props to John Parrot over at Relax Like a Boss, who recently shared the best guide I have seen on pretty much everything you need to know about yoga blocks, which saves me from having to write an inevitably much less thorough post on the subject.

Here’s his intro:

“Whatever level you're at, yoga blocks can be very useful for taking your practice to the next level (no pun intended!).

So here's our ultimate guide to them:

From some of the best yoga block exercises to creating your own DIY blocks at home, this guide will teach you everything you need to know about them!

Let's get going...”

Read the whole guide here.

The Kindness Diet: Can I Be A Yogi and Still Eat Meat?

The Kindness Diet: Can I Be A Yogi and Still Eat Meat?

In the context of my teaching, people regularly ask me if yogis must eat a vegetarian or vegan diet. Often, what they're really asking is can I be a yogi and still eat meat? 

The short answer is: opinions vary. There is no shortage of passionate, conflicted, and contradictory opinions on the subject. Most long-term yogis I know...

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Chronic Ecstasy: Are You Addicted to Meditation?

Chronic Ecstasy: Are You Addicted to Meditation?

Recently, a friend published this quote on FB: "Chronic ecstasy is a learnable skill."

Chronic.  Ecstasy. A strange juxtaposition. Chronic, often associated with a less healthy form of constancy—as in chronic pain. Andecstasy, often associated with a less healthy form of drug-induced high—as in rave culture drug of choice. 

My initial response was one of both affirmation and caution. Yes, chronic ecstasy is indeed a learnable, even valuable, skill, and yet, chronic ecstasy without discerning engagement is simply self-indulgent escapism...

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Principles of Wholeness: Ethical Practice

Principles of Wholeness: Ethical Practice

The beginning of all yoga is virtue. Like all wise people world-wide, the yogis of ancient India realized that certain behaviors are more conducive to healthy development than others, so they described and prescribed a code of conduct as a prerequisite foundation for Yoga: Yama, five abstinences that guide our relationships with others, and Niyama, five observances that guide our relationship with ourselves. Together, Yama and Niyama are an essential set of ten underlying principles (intentions, values, choices) that guide one’s yoga practice on and off the mat. These are the “ethical ground” from which all else grows...

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The Cosmic Striptease: Uncovering the Koshas

The Cosmic Striptease: Uncovering the Koshas

In the yogic tradition, Self-realization consists of discovering and discarding false identifications with aspects or energies of human being (koshas) that make up the spectrum of being-consciousness-bliss underlying who we are and the nature of reality. Ranging from material to spiritual, the entire spectrum is considered to be variations of the same being-consciousness-bliss organizing itself at different vibrational frequencies or forms...

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9 Reasons to Love Your Yoga Practice

9 Reasons to Love Your Yoga Practice

1) Seussian portability.

On a plane or on a train, in a car, here or there, near or far... yoga can be practiced wherever you are--gardens, studios, parks, living rooms, bedrooms, boardrooms, lunchrooms, offices, atriums, gymnasiums, airports, hotel rooms. It’s wireless and portable. All that’s really needed is you in a relatively quiet, comfortable room with open floor space —and of course, depending on how physical the practice, comfy clothing and a mat can be helpful, but even these are optional.

2) Conspicuous contentment...

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Light of the Moon: Chandra Namaskar

Light of the Moon: Chandra Namaskar

When I was a child, my mum used to sing a little folk song with me. Perhaps you know it. The beginning lyrics were, “I see the moon and the moon sees me. The moon sees the one that I long to see…”  

On a clear night, under the light of a full moon, that little childhood ditty will often come to mind. Of course, as a child, I thought that the one in the song was a special someone somewhere else in the world.

Years later, I often think of the one...

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Turning Toward the Light: Surya Namaskar

Turning Toward the Light: Surya Namaskar

People across cultures have a long history of paying homage to the primary source of life energy here on Earth, our most magnificent star, the Sun.  The yogic tradition is no exception.  Enter any hatha yoga class, and you will find yourself surrounded by sun-worshipers—not the skin-deep, scantily-clad variety of the pre-sunblock eras burning epidermis in pursuit of epic tans—but rather, the lycra-clad, bare-foot yoga enthusiasts engaged, often unknowingly, in the ancient ritual of burning through illusions to rest in the radiance of realized being, commonly referred to as the Sun Salutation...

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Gâyatrî Mantra: the Mantra of Spiritual Light

Gâyatrî Mantra: the Mantra of Spiritual Light

Considered to be one of the most profound mantras in the world, the Gayatri Mantra, or loosely translated, the Mantra of Spiritual Light, is one of humanity's oldest prayers originating in the Rig Veda and dating back to at least 1500 BCE.  It has been and continues to be chanted by generations of people who aspire to awaken the divine wisdom in and for all beings.  In the words of Sri Aurobindo...

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This Will Never Happen in One of My Sessions

This Will Never Happen in One of My Sessions

Here's one hilarious story of a man, a hot yoga class that was not so hot, and a mat, as shared in his original Seattle Craigslist ad:

Yoga mat for sale. Used once. - $1 (Bellevue)

Yoga mat for sale. Used once at lunch hour class in December 2009. Usage timeline as follows: 

11:45a
Register for hot yoga class. Infinite wisdom tells me to commit to 5 class package and purchase a yoga mat. I pay $89.74. Money well spent, I smugly confirm to myself...

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How to Be Luminous: Kiss the Ground

How to Be Luminous: Kiss the Ground

Despite the oft-emphasized upscale, aspirational, ascendant aspects of yogic practice, yoga is an omnidirectional affair, and one essential direction is downas in Downward Dog, down-to-earth, calm down, settle down, get down, feet-firmly-planted-on-terra-firma, rooting-ourselves-in-the-Ground-of-Being DOWN. Feeling grounded—stable, balanced, and present in ourselves and our lives—is essential to our well-being. Just as electrical systems need to be grounded in order to conduct energy safely, human beings need the felt connection to our bodies and the earth in order to function optimally.

Unlike in childhood when being grounded is...

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