The Open Awareness Yoga Blog

Latest blog posts

  • Open Awareness Yoga I’m starting up a new in-person class here in Portland in December so lately I’ve been thinking about the process of Open Awareness Yoga, which has evolved quite a bit since we started practicing online together.  Yoga is such a vast discipline. Which......

  • This week I want to give you a little technique that’s been working for me when I get overwhelmed or feel like I’m chasing my tail. Here’s how it works: First, notice that you’re going into the crazy zone, whether it’s rushrushrush mode or that......

  • What is permission anyway? What do you think when I say the word “permission”? Do you think of a certain person giving permission to you, or permission you would give to other people?   Maybe it’s an age-based thing: older people give permission to younger people;......

Philosophy posts

  • Accidental Monday morning soundtrack This morning I woke up, as I usually do on Mondays, wondering what I was going to write for my newsletter today. I wound up with a song in my head. You know the one that goes “put a little love......

  • The History of Yoga and Why I’m not a Yogi I’m a yoga practitioner and a yoga teacher but I am not a yogi. Let me tell you why with a bit of the history of yoga. First, Sutra Studies My friend Mayuko and I meet......

  • Distractions I wonder how many things are going on around you at this very moment? How focused is your attention on reading these words? Do you feel like you really have the time to be doing this, or perhaps there are a line of impatient......

  • Sharing your experience Do you talk about your yoga practice to anyone else? Do you journal about it? Do you think on it?   There are a few of you that I talk with regularly about your practices, and at the end of Zoom classes we’ve started......

  • Overthinking  I was having a chat with a neighbor friend of mine the other day about overthinking. About how decisions seems harder to make because of all the thinking, considering one choice and all the potential ramifications and then another and another. It’s actually a......

  • Yoga Prop Excitement This past week brought all kinds of excitement in yoga prop land. I had conversations with some friends/students/practitioners about how useful the wall is in asana practice and other friends/students/practitioners have acquired new props or inquired about which ones to buy. All these happenings......

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Yin Yoga posts

  • This week I want to highlight Yin Yoga poses for beginners. On Wednesdays we practice together for 45 minutes on Zoom, but I know not everyone can make class live and besides, some of you might be wondering what Yin Yoga is in the first......

  • Wondering if Yin Yoga builds strength? The short answer is yes – just not in the way you might be thinking. Yin Yoga is an exercise for your connective tissues, not muscles. When you build muscular strength, you’re exercising in familiar ways: working up a sweat,......

  • The adjectives “yin” and “yang” must always be used in context. Nothing is inherently yin, nothing inherently yang. Something might be yin compared from one perspective, but yang from another. For example, dense and stable connective tissue is yin compared to more elastic and flexible......

Anatomy and physiology posts

  • January I tried something different with online OAY classes and went with the theme of “Anatomy Month.” Over the last three weeks, we split the body into three parts – hips on week one, shoulders week two, and spine week three. This week, we put......

  • First of all, with that title up there is anyone else picturing a bare butt sticking up out of a convertible? No, just me? ???? Ok, on that note let’s get down to business… What parts of you lie beneath your consciousness? Do you think about......

  • Think of the thermostat in your home or on a space heater. You set a certain temperature and when the sensor senses the room reach that temp, the heat cuts off. What if something was wrong with the sensor and the heat didn’t turn off?......

  • Cartoon from the animal cartoonist named Jimmy over at theycantalk.com Have you ever been in conflict with somebody who just checks out? Maybe you’re trying to explain yourself, make a point, or get them to understand something, but they aren’t responding. It’s like they aren’t......

  • Let’s talk autonomic nervous system. Why? Because anxiety, that’s why. And because you’re a body and you have a nervous system and it’s nice to make friends with yourself, all the parts. Your body and brain’s number one job is to keep you alive. When your......

  • Last weekend I was practicing with an upturned chair under the dogwood tree when I had an interesting yoga experience. It was nothing magical, and perhaps just a series of coincidences that my human brain registered as a pattern. But I had a poignant insight about......

Yamas and Niyamas

  • Did you know that yoga is much more than a physical practice? The asana, or postures, we practice in a typical yoga class is the third of a total of eight limbs of yoga. The first two limbs of yoga are yama and niyama, or......

  • The yamas can be understood as ways in which we interact with the world around us. Things we must observe to be good, solid people. It’s no surprise that telling the truth makes the list.  We now arrive at our second core discipline, satya.  Satya:......

  • There are five yamas and five niyamas, for a total of ten moral and ethical precepts to help guide one’s life. Here is the third precept, asteya. Asteya: Non-Stealing Resisting desire for that which does not belong to us.   This one, like the others,......

  • The eight limbs of yoga, including the yamas and niyamas that we are working through, are not meant to be completed in a linear fashion. It’s not that you master all five yamas, then move on to all five niyamas, and only after that you’re......

  • The language of yoga is Sanskrit, and Sanskrit words mean so much more than a simple and direct translation can do justice. We do our best to express the concepts in English. The next and final yama is one that feels to me to go......

  • The yamas are external observances, ways we strive to show up in our community and our household. Conversely, the niyamas are internal disciplines, ways to aim to be on the inside, personal rules to follow for a spiritual life. The first niyama is sauca. Sauca: Cleanliness, Purity Recognizing the......

  • Yogas citta vrtti nirodhah (Sutra 1.2) states that yoga is the calming of the fluctuations of the mind. It’s a move away from the myriad distractions of knowledge, misconception, imagination, memory, and even sleep into a place of centered presence unaffected by these states of......

  • Yoga is both the goal and the steps you take to get there. That is, one practices yoga in an effort to achieve yoga. The word yoga has many definitions. It means to yoke or to unify, to become one with the object of concentration.......

  • Yoga is a robust philosophy full of advice and practices based on thousands of years of experience. Yoga has evolved with its master practitioners, who are themselves connected to a lineage of teachers through the history of time, to suit the changing needs of the......

  • Yoga is not a hard and fast dogma. It’s flexible. It’s open. The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali themselves recommend six techniques for concentration before simply saying “or practice anything that is uplifting.” (1.32-39) Even as a non-yogi who has no interest in the practice, you’ll......