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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!

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    Recent Entries

    Invitation into the Depths of Being Human

    Monday, July 11. 2011

    Inspirational quotes from Leslie Kaminoff...

    Human nature and the path of yoga

    "There is nothing wrong with you that you have one tight hip and one loose hip, or one leg that wants to turn out a little more than the other. This is what it is to be human. So give yourself a break."

    "BE the change you want to see in the world. That's the most motivating thing for people to see, rather than telling them the right way to do things."

    "Human nature: looking for that one key thing that will set them free - and hanging on for dear life."

    "We all have our ways of being kind and not lying. Ahimsa comes before Satya, doesn't it, in the Yamas? Remember that." [Yoga Sutra 2.35 Ahimsa = non-harming; Yoga Sutra 2.36 Satya = truthfulness]

    "Heyam duhkam anagatam: The suffering which has yet to occur can and should be avoided." [Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra 2.16; inscription over the entrance to Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram in Chennai, India]

    "The hardest thing for people who do yoga is when they are more on the flexible side and need to stop themselves before their body stops. To not push to your full range of motion, to set a boundary and respect it even though you know you could go further, is very hard to do emotionally and it's very hard to do muscularly."

    "Pain is like an alarm. Pain is alerting you to something. So the body will whisper it first. Then it will start talking. Then it will start talking a little more loudly. Then it will start shouting. And if you still don't pay it attention it's going to lay you flat on your ass. You’re not going do anything else for a certain period of time other than be still."

    "How would you know that there even should be this concept of stopping, until something like an injury stops you? Far too often in our field, meaning yoga, it turns into what I call the unbridled pursuit of unlimited flexibility. And if that's what we're after, something has got to give at some point."

    "Pain doesn't mean the system has gone haywire. It means that the system is working. It's sending you a message that you can't afford to ignore anymore. So the question you need to ask yourself is, “What's bugging me? What is really going on here?” And often this enquiry is working in a really rapid manner. The pain is gone instantly."

    "Did you ever get stuck halfway through a yawn? I mean, you know how great it feels to take a nice, full, deep yawn? It's like your whole system is just going, "Yes!" Right? And do you ever get partway there, and it just stops for whatever reason, and you're like, "Oh, shit!" Your whole body is like, "I wanted the rest of it, and I didn't get it!" You know that feeling, right? That's exactly how I felt … for six months my body felt that way. It was my constant companion, that next breath wanting to happen."

    Student: "How do you shift samskara [deep habit pattern] that is generated from bad childhood experiences?" Leslie: "Make another samskara, a positive one that affirms your relationship to a universe that really wants to fill you with your next breath. Abhyasa and vairagya (practice and non-attachment) is the advise in the sutra. Connecting with the positive, disconnecting with the negative - they go hand in hand."

    Student: "Why do you think we breathe this way [using our accessory muscles]? Is it our lifestyle?" Leslie: "It's the age-old struggle between mere survival and living fully, between boundaries and space, between safety and freedom. We use our breathing to shut down the vulnerable spaces in our bodies in order to survive our own internal states. We spend the rest of our lives trying to recover those spaces assuming it ever registers that they're missing in the first place. We feel the symptoms, but fail to recognize the cause."

    "Like any relationship, if it's going to be healthy, it has to exhibit a balance - a balance between sthira and sukha. Between the things that limit it and the movements that can occur within it. Between stability and mobility. And these principles occur in relationships other than mechanical ones, like in the joints. Like between people - we still know that these are important issues. We call them space and boundaries. Why else do we spend all this money on shrinks unless it's to help us figure out how to get our boundaries right so we can have the spaces that we need? This is part of understanding relationships."

    More quotes from Leslie Kaminoff:
    On Yoga
    Breath and breathing
    Pranayama, sthira, sukha, drishti, brahma granthi
    Asana and yoga anatomy

    Asana and Yoga Anatomy

    Monday, July 11. 2011

    Inspirational quotes from Leslie Kaminoff...


    "The foot is the only part of your body that has evolved specifically for the purpose of having a relationship with the Earth."

    "The support for your breath, your diaphragm and everything starts in the arches of your feet."

    "Nature in all of its wisdom has placed 75-85% of the body’s proprioceptors in the region of the ankle." [proprioceptor: a mechanical receptor within a joint structure that delivers sensory information to your nervous system]

    "Unless we can get good information from our ankles we have no hope of keeping that centerline of gravity somewhere within our base of support so we don’t fall over. But when the surfaces that we’re interacting with are predictable we lose that sensitivity. We get weak in the sensory part of the process and the motor part as well. We tend to have weak feet in general and Western society."

    "The calves are your second heart." [because of the role they play in helping to pump venous blood from the lower extremities]

    "Focus on the core of what you're doing: base of support, center of gravity, range of motion. BOS-COG-ROM." [Leslie on the hierarchy of values in constructing an asana, and finding balance and equilibrium]

    "Go forth and love your spirals. Play with your arm supports, and see what happens!"

    "You can't integrate the pieces until you can differentiate them, and that for most people is a big deal—most people don't even register on a sensory level that there's a distinction between their shoulder blades and their upper back."

    "What do you tell someone who's really stiff - "You can't do yoga"? Actually, no. You say, "You can. You don't have to be flexible to do yoga. You might get more flexibility doing yoga, but you also might learn to be a little bit more at peace with some of the restrictions that are just there, that you don't want to be constantly struggling against." And the surprising thing is, once you make peace with those, that's when they really actually start transforming in ways you couldn't possibly imagine."

    "How do you know when you're flexible enough? One way is to go too far and injure yourself. That seems to be the preferred way of learning that lesson, which after all makes sense, because how would you know that there even should be this concept of stopping until something like an injury stops you?"

    More quotes from Leslie Kaminoff:
    On Yoga
    Breath and breathing
    Pranayama, sthira, sukha, drishti, brahma granthi
    Human nature and the path of yoga

    Sanskrit Made Easy

    Monday, July 11. 2011

    Inspirational quotes from Leslie Kaminoff's Yoga Anatomy course 2010-2011...

    Leslie on PRANAYAMA

    "The most advanced pranayama, and the simplest - here it is: Take a deep breath please, hold it for just a moment, and now - without squeezing, pushing or forcing - just let it go. Let it leave your body and wait … just wait at the end of that exhale. […long pause…] Where you waiting for the next instruction? Does there need to be a next instruction? That’s the point! Do you have any choice whatsoever about what happens next? [laughter in class] What you do have a choice about is what relationship you have to NOT having a choice. That’s deep!"

    "There is a force inside of you that makes you take your next breath."

    "Pranayama doesn't mean breath control, it means unobstructing the breath."

    "Hindi speaking Indians have the habit of dropping the final "a" in Sanskrit words. So it's actually prana-ayama. Meaning: unobstructing the breath. … Ours is sometimes a society of restrictions, control and DON'Ts instead of undoing and unlearning."

    "Unobstructing prana is accomplished through a balanced joining of the forces of inhale and exhale."


    "su-kah means "good space" (internal space). This means that asana should be stable and with good space inside (being at ease)."

    "Sukha: look for space - always."

    "It's always going to come down to prana/apana, sthira/sukha, release and support. We’re always dealing with these dynamics."

    "Intrinsic equilibrium: a deep source of support that can be uncovered through yoga practice."


    "Following your fingertips with your gaze or with your nose is actually one of the most challenging things for people to do. You have to stay really present in the moment to maintain that drishti."


    "The Primary Knot - the energetic root of our resistance to change."

    "The thing that's preventing the prana and the apana, the inhale and the exhale, from having an integrated relationship."

    More quotes from Leslie Kaminoff:
    On Yoga
    Breath and breathing
    Asana and yoga anatomy
    On human nature and the path of yoga

    Breath as the Integrating Principle

    Monday, July 11. 2011

    Inspirational quotes from Leslie Kaminoff...


    "Breath is the integrating principle of posture, movement and yoga practice."

    "Yoga is union. Breath IS yoga."

    "My hope is that you'll come to appreciate how much you already intrinsically know about breathing. Sometimes, we just have to get a lot of the things we've learned out of the way first."

    "Breathing is both voluntary and autonomic. If you ignore this connection, you miss what is most important in the practice of yoga."

    "Breath is how we mobilize the spaces in our body. Posture is how we stabilize our bodies in space."

    "As soon as you start coordinating your postural movements in space with your respiratory movements, you find efficiency. That, by definition, gives you a healthier relationship with the space around you, meaning posture, and the space inside of you, meaning breath."

    "When we want to understand breathing, we have to understand what a cell is doing."

    "We are kind of hardwired in a sense for an exhale. Nothing has to happen muscularly to get the air out."

    "Saying 'I am feeling the increased expansion of the rib cage because of the expansion of the lungs’ reverses the cause and effect."

    Student: "How is the relationship between the diaphragm and the breath relevant in a yoga class for me, as a student?" Leslie: "Good question. I'd say that without that relationship, it's not actually a yoga class. It may be stretching or calisthenics, but what makes it yoga is the conscious integration of movement, mind and breath."

    "Spirit is that thing inside of you that makes you take your next breath - combined with all the choices you've made in relating to that."

    "The practices of yoga are derived from observing our breathing. Our mind affects our breathing and our breathing affects our mind."

    "When I'm practicing, if I have to think of anything other than the fact that I'm inhaling or exhaling, I'm going to lose my yoga."

    "The minute the breath leaves the building, so does the yoga." [Leslie on breath support in Chaturanga Dandasana]

    Leslie: "… and then reverse the breath. Notice what that does to the connection through your legs and feet. Notice if it changes the pathways of sensation that you’re able to gather from this movement. Relax. … What did you notice?” Student: "I really like the opposite because I feel like the inhale is a break for me. Somehow, when I go down, it feels like it slowers…" Leslie: "It makes it slower as you're lowering? It slowers. That should be a word!" Student: "And then when I come up, it supports that openness." Leslie: "So it slifts. It supports as you lift and it slows as you lower. So you were slowering and slifting. I like it - we've got that on record?"

    More quotes from Leslie Kaminoff:
    On Yoga
    Pranayama, sthira, sukha, drishti, brahma granthi
    Asana and yoga anatomy
    Human nature and the path of yoga

    Go Forth and Love Your Spirals

    Monday, July 11. 2011

    Inspirational quotes from Leslie Kaminoff, world-renowned yoga educator and co-author of Yoga Anatomy (new 2nd edition to be released soon; Leslie is working on it).

    I collected these wonderful quotes over the last 9 months whilst studying with Leslie. Hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

    My favorite quote: "Go forth and love your spirals. Play with your arm supports, and see what happens!"

    Leslie's brand new course starts Fall 2011. Highly recommended! (And I'm not just saying this because I'd like Leslie to follow me on Twitter. :-)

    Leslie on YOGA

    "Either the goal of yoga is to be free, or the goal of yoga is to get it right. You can't really have it both ways. Because if you choose freedom, you have to divest yourself of that crazy idea that you have to get it right."

    "Yoga is all about accomplishing more by doing less… letting go, giving up something… and surrendering to the life force that is bigger than ourselves."

    "Yoga tries to find the balance between what you can change (tapas) and what you cannot (ishvarapranidhana)."

    "Tapah svadhyaya ishvarapranidhana defines yoga practice. It may look like asanas, it may outwardly resemble asana practice, but I’d say that unless somebody is doing something like that, what they're practicing probably isn't yoga."
    [1) tapah = changing our activity or behavior outside of our normal habitual ways of operating, which is why it's often translated as austerity; 2) ishvarapranidhana = the other end of the spectrum, some phenomenon to which the only possible response is surrender: 'This isn't going to change, this is just the way it is and the only relationship I can have to something that isn’t going to change, that I can't control, is to surrender to that'; 3) svadhyaya = the connecting principle, meaning self-reflection, self-study, or introspection; the ability to sort out the things that we want to work on changing and the things that we want to work on surrendering to.]

    "When we resist the change that's inevitable, we miss the change that's possible."

    "Your yoga practice has to be more clever than your habits."

    "...the recognition of confusion is a form of clarity." [Leslie quoting his teacher, T.K.V. Desikachar; lineage of Krishnamacharya]

    "When we do yoga, we put controlled stress on ourselves so that we can learn how to react to stresses of life."

    "It's what you're familiar with versus what you're not familiar with. Whenever you work against resistance, you're going to generate more information. That's what generates information: working against our habit patterns, not within them."

    "This is true for all asanas: how you choose to enter into a shape is going to determine your experience once you're there. That's the whole idea of Vinyasa, of Vinyasa Krama, a step-by-step placement of elements in the practice that is intended to achieve a certain effect."

    "It's not too hard to reconcile yoga with anything, if you focus on the practical side of it and ignore its metaphysical roots."

    More quotes from Leslie Kaminoff:
    Breath and breathing
    Pranayama, sthira, sukha, drishti, brahma granthi
    Asana and yoga anatomy
    Human nature and the path of yoga
    (Page 1 of 1, totaling 5 entries)


    Blogs I Like

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

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    My Teachers

    Godfrey Devereux
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    Kira Balaskas
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    Leslie Kaminoff
    Yoga and Breath Anatomy