Welcome to the Yoga Beyond Fitness Blog!
Yoga Beyond Fitness Blog


About Karin

Yoga teacher, practicing yoga since 1997, teaching since 2003, writer/translator, global soul, world traveller (and sometimes beyond), passionate about eastern philosophy and western psychology, especially its application in mind-body practices such as yoga and somatic movement therapy, deeply in love with life, knows that our greatest teacher lies within, also sometimes a total mess - it's part of the package!

Latest TweetsFollow espritrelax on Twitter!

    Recent Entries

    Neti Neti - Neither THIS nor THAT

    Thursday, January 13. 2011

    Swiss Alps Neti NetiAs I was flying back to the South of France a few days ago, I took this photograph of the Swiss Alps covered in a dazzling blanket of snow. Absorbed in her iPod game and not fully aware of her surroundings, the woman next to me suddenly got curious and asked what I was photographing. I leaned back for her to look out of the window. She briefly gazed at the passing scenery, “Oh, the Alps. Have seen them many times. They always look the same,” and then went back to playing on her iPod.

    Just like her I’ve also seen the Alps many times before – but this time was different. Appreciating the strangeness and “otherness” of this winter landscape, it reminded me of how often we don’t really see what we’re looking at but instead only see what we’re looking for.

    Whilst taking snaps of what looked like a of huge pile of chopped Toblerone :) sprinkled with blue icing sugar, I became increasingly aware of the depths and vastness of my surroundings and how seldom I really see the whole of its splendour, richness and sheer magnificence. Unexpectedly, I found myself contemplating how often I look at my world from just ONE angle. MY angle. MY perspective. For example down below, I am frequently unaware of the magic going on up HERE at the other end of the spectrum. I rarely think about what my world might look like from THIS perspective up HERE. Yet, being up HERE and looking down, how come I can’t stop thinking of what my world looks like from THAT perspective down THERE?

    The absolute has no need for my point of view

    Habitually, most of us look in order to confirm what we think we already know, that is to say, we have a certain perspective of things that our mind confirms as we look at that thing (“Oh, the Alps. They always look the same”). We do this all the time, not only with our eyes but all our senses. The result is that we always see what mind is looking for (or what we think we know) but rarely what we are looking at (what we know we don’t know). We rarely allow ourselves to step out of our conventional patterns of physical and mental experience to challenge our limited point of view. Instead, we frequently insist on one perspective, outlook or opinion and ignore the many contrasts, opposites and dualities of life that give rise to the diversity of individual expression which we so much treasure.

    The photograph I took shows nothing more than what my eyes saw that day: THIS.

    Yet, it perfectly illustrates how little our habitual conditioning permits us to really see: the WHOLE. Or to be more to the point: neither THIS nor THAT.

    To admit that our current viewpoint doesn’t provide an accurate picture of the whole and to accept that other viewpoints may be just as valid as ours requires effort – effort to understand from all angles, effort to recognize the value of a different perspective, effort to appreciate diversity, but also effort to cheerfully abandon all these partial viewpoints yet again. For if we don’t learn to let go of everything that helped to guide us to this insight, we may find ourselves stuck in our own trap of limited fixedness.

    True transformation begins when we become aware of our actual condition

    Oddly enough, recognizing this is the first step to greater understanding. It takes a certain amount of introspection and reflection to admit that despite everything we know and experience we can never be sure to really see the whole picture given by our senses and interpreted by our rational faculties. It’s only when we recognize our own limited condition and then make the effort to look beyond our narrow horizon in order to endlessly explore, understand and honour the existence of another perspective, no matter how different, that the duality within us (THIS or THAT, HERE or THERE, etc.) slowly starts to fade.

    Little by little we open up to the unknown and, paradoxically, also learn to let go of it again. In this state of openness and constant letting go, there’s room for something new to emerge: the possibility for transformation.

    In the all-encompassing perspective, there’s neither THIS nor THAT

    Breaking through the conditioned cycle of our experiences and habitual patterns of thinking however isn’t simply a mental process. It’s a dynamic process that engages the whole of the body (our senses) as well as the mind (awareness of the present moment to explore WITH our senses what is actually happening). It requires to continually put into practice one of the key teachings of yoga: everything in the universe is in constant motion, including our body and our mind. Nothing is fixed. Nothing is permanent. THIS or THAT, HERE or THERE, etc. really have no meaning, except in a dynamic context where everything is interconnected and where everything is subject to change. To hold on to any fixed viewpoint in this perpetual movement of expansion and contraction clearly is incompatible with life – and opening up and letting go becomes the only way to offer an all-encompassing perspective.

    When we recognize this dynamic process and understand its implications, there’s a magical sense of wonder in everything we look at. Finally, we allow ourselves to flow with life instead of struggling against it.

    The irony however is that accepting this freedom of movement and letting go of our habitual tendencies, as easy as it may sound, is still one of the most difficult things for us to do. Several thousand feet high above the Swiss Alps it seemed so simple, so easy, so close. Upon touch-down, habitual reality caught up with me when, looking at my photographs, the woman with the iPod said to me: “Oh, THIS is what you were looking at.”

    Indeed, THAT is what I was looking for.

    How often are you looking in order to confirm what you think you know?

    And how often are you looking in order to discover something new?

    Five Classical Techniques in Dynamic Yoga

    Saturday, November 6. 2010

    Dynamic Yoga is based on the integration of the five classical techniques of yoga:
       - asana (stillness)
       - vinyasa (movement)
       - bandha (integration)
       - pranayama (breathing)
       - drishti (focus, awareness)

    Each of these is a dynamic, direct expression of one of the five primary energies of existence:
       - stability
       - motion
       - transformation
       - extension
       - emergence

    They are symbolically defined as the five elements (tattvas) of the natural world:
       - earth (stability) —> asana
       - water (motion) —> vinyasa
       - fire (transformation) —> bandha
       - air (extension)> —> pranayama
       - space (emergence) —> drishti

    More about the five elements in Dynamic Yoga >>

    Five Elements in Dynamic Yoga

    Friday, November 5. 2010

    Dynamic Yoga uses five techniques (elements, or tattvas in Sanskrit) to integrate body, mind, and breath:

        - earth (stability) —> asana
        - water (motion) —> vinyasa
        - fire (transformation) —> bandha
        - air (extension)> —> pranayama
        - space (emergence) —> drishti

    Using these five techniques to integrate body, mind, and breath, Dynamic Yoga aims to improve and release the practitioner's awareness of life:

    Earth—Each posture (asana) uses correct alignment to bring stability to the posture. Practiced with steadiness (sthira) and ease (sukha), it frees the body of tension and calms the mind.

    Water—The flowing practice of entering, leaving and linking each posture (vinyasa) creates harmony.

    Fire—Using muscular locks (bandha) in each posture the spine is stabilized and a cleansing and healing quality is given to each posture.

    Air—Breathing techniques (pranayama) bring a calm lightness to the postures facilitating the cleansing and healing process.

    Space (Ether)—Focused attention is used in each posture to bring conscious awareness to body and mind (drishti), creating space and freedom in movement and thought.

    Consider the five elements: earth, water, fire, air, space ... and the qualities these elements represent for you:
       - Earth grounds us
       - Water brings us flexibility and harmony
       - Fire drives us forward
       - Air frees us
       - Space brings conscious awareness to body and mind

    With which element do you most strongly identify? Which element would bring more balance to your life?

    Once you are able to identify the element of your individual strength and the qualities of the element you might seek in your life, let that knowledge permeate your yoga practice. It is through the balance of the five elements that you find balance in your yoga practice and balance in your life.

    More about the benefits of Dynamic Yoga >>

    Benefits of Dynamic Yoga

    Thursday, November 4. 2010

    The Dynamic Yoga method provides an integrative yoga practice centered around balance. Benefits are quick, dramatic, and far-reaching:

    The postures stretch, tone and strengthen the entire skeletal system, working not only the body’s frame but the internal organs, glands and nerves as well. Concentration and attention in each posture encourage deep body awareness and relaxation. Breathing exercises refresh and cleanse the body and help to calm the mind.

    The union (yoga) of these techniques release physical and mental tension, cultivate increased mental awareness and clarity, and liberate vast reserves of energy. The results are improved vitality and flexibility, enhanced immune system response, increased muscle and bone strength, and capability for relaxation. With gentle, persistent, and patient practice, Dynamic Yoga releases self-limiting habits in body and mind, assisting each practitioner to realize their potential and discover their true nature.

    For more information about Dynamic Yoga and espritrelax classes, workshops and retreats please contact Karin.

    Green Smoothies - Why go green in our diet?

    Sunday, October 10. 2010

    In oriental medicine, greens are said to build blood and improve liver function, resulting in greater energy and better health in general. This is because the chlorophyll molecule (the green pigment that makes all our greens green) is nearly identical to that of haemoglobin, whose single atom of iron replaces one atom of magnesium. Haemoglobin carries oxygen to all our body cells. So, if you're feeling tired or lacking in energy, drinking a green smoothie will quickly raise your red blood cell count because it is digested and assimilated almost instantly.

    In addition, since the core atom in chlorophyll is magnesium and sugar cravings are often a sign of magnesium deficiency, green smoothies are the best powerfood to end your addiction to cakes, cookies and chocolate. When your body gets the nutrients it needs, all cravings go.

    But there is more:

    Many naturopaths believe that the body's pH balance has an effect on your overall health. An acidic body breeds disease. An alkaline body promotes health. Green smoothies are rich in alkaline minerals like calcium. This will help to balance your pH. High-calcium greens are the fibrous ones such as dandelion, kale and spinach.

    To be able to absorb the maximum amounts of nutrients blend the greens until smooth. This will break down their tough-to-chew and hard-to-digest cellulose walls. Then add fruits and seeds as desired. For maximum health benefit drink the smoothie straight away. Enjoy!
    Green Smoothie
    'Start me up' Green Breakfast Smoothie:
    2 kiwis
    2 oranges
    1 teaspoon linseeds
    2 cups fresh dandelion
    Blend all ingredients with 1 cup of water until smooth.

    Green Powerhouse Smoothie:
    2 bananas
    2 oranges
    1 tablespoon Spirulina (or other blue-green algae)
    2 cups of fresh spinach
    Blend all ingredients with 1 cup of water until smooth.
    « previous page   (Page 5 of 11, totaling 54 entries) next page » 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 811


    Blogs I Like

    Leslie Kaminoff's blog, making waves in the yoga community since 1998

    AYP Forum
    Advanced Yoga Practices Support Forum

    AYP Main
    Advanced Yoga Practices Main Lessons

    AYP Tantra
    Advanced Yoga Practices Tantra Lessons

    My Teachers

    Godfrey Devereux
    Dynamic Astanga Vinyasa Flow Yoga

    Kira Balaskas
    Traditional Thai Yoga Massage

    Leslie Kaminoff
    Yoga and Breath Anatomy