Beginner’s mind

There’s something about the sunrise that evokes optimism and possibility and stirs the beginner’s mind. It’s nature’s way of clearing the slate, gaining perspective and connecting us back to our own internal rhythms.

In yoga, beginner’s mind keeps the practice fresh, allowing us to discover the spaciousness and nuances about poses and our relationship to them. It also simplifies the practice so we can see things as they are and not as they should be. Practicing with beginner’s mind promotes less judgment and more acceptance. And we could all probably use more of that.

The simplest things

Hopefully you’ve experienced some of these awe-inspiring sunsets we’ve been getting this winter. Watching the sun’s quiet, slow descent is a reminder of what ancient cultures understood: everything is part of the living universe and that the sun, moon, earth and planets influence each of us and all of life.

In the evening breeze, the soft movement of clouds and changing light, we remember we are part of a divine elemental flow, and that there are super powers within nature, ourselves and what we focus on, and the simplest things.

Showing up

I was remembering Woody Allen’s quote, “80 percent of success is just showing up.” But it was something else he said that got me thinking: “Tradition is the illusion of permanence.”

Over time our yoga practice inevitably changes. Each time we show up on the mat we realize our practice meets us right where we are. It’s like a refuge that gets us through all of the other stuff in life.

As our practice changes and morphs into something different than before, it’s tempting to compare it with where we used to be, or where we think we should be. More open hips, stretchier hamstrings, a deeper backbend, getting handstand. It’s fun to be surprised, so just go with it. And the best part is all of the benefits are cumulative. Every pigeon pose counts, forever.

Yoga is the practice that keeps on giving; as it changes it gets better. Breathing and moving, like dance, is the passport to a better present space. Just showing up reminds us we have more to give and a lot longer to go.


January was named for the Roman god Janus because his spirit took up residence in doorways and arches, transitions, time and duality. Janus had the magical gift of being able to look forward and backward, e.g. between years, into the future and the past, and presiding over the beginning and ending of conflict.

Statue representing Janus Bifrons in the Vatican Museums

The last week of January prepares us for the lunar new year of the Metal Ox. The ox is known for diligence, dependability, determination and strength. The Janus metaphor applies: ending the conflicts and confusion of 2020 whilst simultaneously setting and achieving goals for a stronger, clearer Ox year ahead. And oxen thrive on conscious and determined effort.

Yoga, as you may have heard, has abundant and magical tools and skills to aid us through the metaphoric gateway into a stronger, clearer, calmer, more determined place.