Playing the Edge

Part of the art of yoga is knowing how far to push yourself and knowing when to stop. The point at which any more effort would be too much but any less would be too little, is called “the edge,” and mindfully sensing this point- advancing and retreating from it when appropriate- is often referred to as “playing the edge.”

Understanding the concept of the edge as well as how to successfully play it is, in my opinion, one of the most important things to remember in any yoga class. In fact, your ability in yoga has almost nothing to do with the number of poses you can do. It is not dependent on your degree of flexibility or on how well you can balance. Rather, your skill in yoga is a function of how mindfully you play your edge. (more…)

The Truth About Yoga

Yoga is a form of meditation; it is letting go, freeing your mind, being in the moment, and connecting with that quiet place in your body and soul we are so often distracted from. Yoga is about relaxation, breathing, stretching and developing the core strength of your physiology–especially the heart. Yoga is not meant to be a rigorous exercise, it is not meant to be strenuous, and it is not difficult. Yoga is not a sport, it is not competitive and has nothing to do with the person in front or behind you in class—yoga is you—and only about you.

“You cannot do yoga. Yoga is your natural state. What you can do are yoga exercises, which may reveal to you where you are resisting your natural state. ” –Sharon Gannon (more…)

Phillip Askew & Lydia Walker – Variations On Surya Namaskara (Music by Jonah Rank)

“Phillip Askew, yoga instructor, and Lydia Walker, formerly of the School of American Ballet, present their “Variations On Surya Namaskara” as part of Columbia Ballet Collaborative’s Fall Show at New York City Center Studio on November 22, 2008. With the improvisational accompaniment of pianist Jonah Rank.”

Also, see coverage of this by The New York Times at

Morning Yoga

In my last post, I talked about how every yoga practice is different. Some days you have outstanding balance; other days, it takes all you have to stay in tree pose for more than two breaths.

Experiencing and being aware of such differences will help you to more completely understand your body. Through this understanding, you will be able to determine which poses, and ultimately, which type of yoga is best for you. (more…)

You Are Where You’re Supposed to Be

I have to be honest. I recently fell off of the yoga wagon. I know that is probably not the first thing you were hoping to read when you clicked on the yoga page of Tuning the Student Mind, but hear me out.

One of the things that I love most about the practice of yoga is that it never lies. Yoga is and has always been a very real extension of myself. Yoga shows me where I am, on an emotional, spiritual, and physical level. Like a mirror, it does not reflect back to me who I imagine myself to be or who I would like to be tomorrow, next week, or next year. It shows me who I am, right now. (more…)

College Baseball Players Using Yoga For The Competitive Edge

“Doing yoga every day has made me a better athlete. Getting in the gym and getting strong is one thing, doing yoga every day, it makes me more flexible, makes me faster, makes me stronger.” – Matt Arburr

For free baseball videos, tips and strategies to remain injury free and get a competitive advantage on your competitors go to

Environmental Influence

I like to think about how different environments shape our notions of self. For example, a solitary confinement cell and a mathematician’s office may look eerily similar but one denotes dignity, intelligence and creativity and the other denies these same qualities. Meanings attached to space reinforce concepts of authority, autonomy, legitimacy and social status. Years ago, I read a fascinating book that explored the meaning of the art people choose to put on their walls (Inside Culture by David Halle). You may believe your art is merely representative of your taste but a careful look will reveal far more about your character and your socio-economic background than you can begin to imagine.

I think the same is true for gyms and yoga studios. There is a feeling that permeates the space. A Powerhouse gym gives off a very different flavor than a Bikram Yoga studio. One is not better than the other. It is just different strokes for different folks. (more…)

In the Yoga Studio: Briohny Smyth

“The Equinox instructor (and internet sensation) narrates her personal body-bending, back-opening flow.”

I found this piece to be extremely inspiring. Not only from the perspective of yoga but also as a filmmaker. I saw it go through a couple of changes in just a few short weeks. The first, a three and a half minute “dance” set to peaceful and captivating music was an eloquently put together piece set to inspire any yoga practitioner. The second edit (the one posted here) is more of an educational approach to the same footage. (more…)

A Surprising Twist

I was not a particularly athletic kid. During college I wore pearls, Bermuda shorts and keds to play intramural basketball. The ref had to stop the game because he couldn’t see through his tears of laughter as I jumped down the court holding the ball (I was attempting to avoid a call for traveling). My husband worried throughout my pregnancies that I would pass my “two left feet” gene on to our children. And, so, it came as rather a surprise to find that not only do I love yoga but I am a pretty successful practioner of the art. (more…)

La Batarde

I laid on the floor in my Ayurvedic practitioner’s office as she instructed me to breathe deep into my abdomen. “It’s like you’ve been punched in the gut, you’ve lost your breath.” Tears, inability to breathe deep and her instructions to feel the Earth supporting me. It began here four long years ago, this journey to self-preservation. I had just graduated college, moved back to Michigan from Seattle for an internship at a well known ad agency, and I had ended a seven year relationship diving into the next one with someone who wanted me to remain a…. secret. I lost my breath. I lost my grip. There wasn’t any traction. Dramatic? Yes. It was all drama. I needed help.

I remember that day I stopped and then the day I started again. Stopped having clarity. Started having my artistic visions again. I had become clouded. Overwhelmed. I reached out to Molly Beauregard, my former teacher from the College for Creative Studies (CCS), as a touchstone to who I used to be. Where had I gone? (more…)

See the Film