WHAT’S YOUR SUMMER SPIRITUALITY?

Like many of us, I was instilled with a deep love of summer from a young age.

I remember my two older sisters faithfully sitting out by the pool, baby-oiled up, reflectors in hand, baking in the sun for literally hours on end.  I think this was their “self-care” before that had a name. Linda Ronstadt’s version of “Stoney End” will forever bring me back to those days (still a great song IMO.)

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Sunbathing by the pool, riding on the back of Harleys, hanging out at the beach. This was what living in the moment looked like on a summer day in suburban Long Island in the1970s. For my sisters, summer was dedicated to enjoying every precious moment of summer to the fullest.  

This was their yoga, so to speak. 

Of course, these things have little or nothing to do with ACTUAL yoga practice. But for them, summer was about ultimate freedom, celebrating life, savoring the moment. All very yogic pursuits, no?

And it rubbed off on me. I love the rhythm of summer. And now that I live where we have 6-months of winter, summer is even more precious. Each blossom I smell, every cricket I hear, every freshly-picked berry I taste is something I intend to enjoy fully.

Perhaps this is why I’ve always approached my yoga practice a bit differently in the summer months. Occasional outdoor meditation and asana practice OF COURSE, but so much more than that. Yoga helps me enjoy everything I love about summer MORE FULLY. Practice allows me to be MORE AVAILABLE to make the absolute most of more family time, more PLAY, more LIGHT, more BEAUTY, more LIFE. 

The light and breezy rhythm of summer is exactly what’s inspiring my upcoming 21-day Love Your Yoga Summer edition. 

Because your yoga should help you play more, and enjoy everything you love about summer EVEN MORE. And that becomes easier, even natural and effortless, when you feel good in your body, clear in your mind, nourished in your being. 

Our Love Your Yoga! Summer Edition is 21 days of practices to fully savor the summer begins July 1. It’s free with your $30 monthly membership to The Skillful Yogi (no obligation whatsoever, you can cancel at any time.)

Join us for a 3-week dive into the yoga of summer to celebrate the season, to be filled up with the best of life.

https://barrie-risman-yoga.teachable.com/p/loveyouryoga21daypracticeprogram

 

The Path of Reunion

Here's a thought: Yoga is about returning to oneself in this deepest sense. During most of our day, our awareness and attention is likely (and necessarily) focused outward on actions, tasks, conversations. In yoga, we turn our awareness back into ourselves. The first thing we do in class is sit, close our eyes, and become aware of our breathing. We start to turn our attention inside.

During practice, through consciously moving the body and engaging with the breath, we deepen this inner connection.
Consider how your yoga practice offers you a conduit back to yourself. Through breath, attention, kinesthetic and energetic awareness, the practice brings us home to ourselves again and again.

As we forge the pathway of return, we might recognize how far we’ve allowed ourselves to depart. Our relationship with ourselves might feel long forgotten. Our inner being might seem distant and far away since we last took the time to connect within.

In those moments, it can be helpful to remind yourself to be present for the reunion that is taking place once again, right here and now. Acknowledge yourself for making the time and space for practice. And, be grateful for the practice itself as the technology that offers us passageway toward reunification with our most essential selves.

Presence, remembrance, and gratitude have the power to erase the sadness and replace it with sweetness.

https://barrie-risman-yoga.teachable.com/p/monthly-membersh…

Perfectly Imperfect

So, the other day I had the first of several photo shoots for my forthcoming book.

How many of the poses I did that day were perfect?
Uhh, none.

And, how many were completely and undeniably perfect?
Well, all of them.

The truth is, I’ll NEVER do a PERFECT asana.

Yet, truthfully, how could my asana be ANYTHING BUT pure perfection?

Just as I was mulling this over (because its something I’ve been thinking about for only, say, 20 years now), THIS shows up in the comments of my program (written by a student, of course):

"You are neither good enough nor not good enough. An apple seed is neither good enough nor not good enough, it simply is in the process of becoming an apple, and then falling from its tree, and then transforming yet again to become food for the earth and maybe even the tree itself. And yet we could never say of a seed that it is not whole because it is not yet an apple, nor could we call a rotting apple imperfect. It just wouldn't make sense. And so you are always in the process of becoming, and yet always perfect."

ॐ पूर्णमदः पूर्णमिदं पूर्णात्पुर्णमुदच्यते पूर्णस्य पूर्णमादाय पूर्णमेवावशिष्यते ॥ ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः ॥ Om Puurnnamadah Puurnnamidam Puurnnaat Purnnamudacyate Puurnnasya Puurnnamaadaaya Puurnnamavaavashissyate-2.png

This is it. We’ve arrived. Perfectly imperfect. And nothing but PERFECTION.

What if…

--You KNEW that your journey and your destination were both HERE and NOW, fully formed, fully perfect?

--You firmly believed that you, your life, your circumstances, were exactly how they are MEANT to be right now?

--You knew you’ve already ARRIVED at the ideal place in your life?

--You were convinced that the universe is ALWAYS conspiring in your favor to provide the perfect path for your soul’s evolution?

It’s why we do what we do, it’s our work, our passion, our quest, our path.

https://barrie-risman-yoga.teachable.com/p/monthly-membersh

Being and Becoming

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Some teachers will tell you that yoga is not a path, that it’s a journey and not a destination. That it’s simply about being present to what is.

I partially agree with this. Yoga IS a way of BEING with ourselves, a practice of inner attention, a way of seeing and responding to what ‘is’, with a stance of compassion and unconditional self-acceptance. Yoga IS in the things we do that we call yoga. Yoga IS the practices.

But it’s more than that, because JUST that can feel aimless and undirected. And, for me, the gifts of yoga are cumulative and progressive.

Yoga is also a process of BECOMING. It’s a path we travel. Yoga sets us on a clear trajectory toward inner expansion, freedom, and greater consciousness in every part of our lives.

Yoga has a goal. And that goal is awakening to the fullness of our inner being and, from that experience, becoming more benevolent human beings.

Isn’t it the case that over time (even after a single class) we are shifted as people as a result of these practices?

Yes, Yoga is in the BEING, 
but it’s also in the BECOMING.

It’s the journey AND the destination.

And, of course, the two go hand in hand, it’s the BEING, the daily things we do, that lead to what we BECOME. The choices we make in the present moment feed the arc of expansive shift that happens over time.

As you look back on your yoga life, what shifts have you experienced? How are you different? Are you becoming a KINDER person? More compassionate? More accepting of yourself and others? How has your life been made richer by your practice?

Where is YOUR practice taking you – moment-to-moment AND over time?

The choices we make today determine the way we evolve yoga over time. It’s not haphazard or random, it’s an intentional journey. And, we all need to be accompanied with a supportive framework along the way.

We need guideposts, checkpoints, a sounding board, and encouragement to ensure that what we are doing is, indeed helping us to become who we wish to be.

We need DAILY, FRESH, INSPIRED support for both the day-to-day ways we practice AND for the long haul – for continuing down the path toward becoming, integrating our yoga, living it more and more fully.

This is what we’re creating in my Skillful Yogi Online Practice & Study community. It’s a welcoming, respectful home for teachers and continuing students who honor both the journey and destination, the practices and understanding, the being and becoming.

If this integrated approach to yoga resonates with you, I hope you’ll reach out to me to learn more.

m.me/barrierisman
https://barrie-risman-yoga.teachable.com

LISTEN...

There’s always a moment on retreat where a palpable shift happens. I go from being like a butterfly flitting about from flower to flower to being more like an eagle perched on a branch, quiet and focused. When my mind finally relinquishes its attachment to its usual preoccupations an expansive inner horizon opens up. I’m free, untethered from the pull of my thoughts. I tap into a tremendous sense of peace, expanded perspective, and vast possibility, as if I hold the fullness of the sky inside myself. 

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No Guru, No Problem

 I had such a great time speaking with Traci Long DeForge on her Journey to There podcast . 

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We talked about straightforward ways to use yoga in your journey of personal growth - how to begin, how to begin again, and how to see even the most intimidating yoga classes as chances to...well, practice yoga. Check it out!

bit.ly/Journey2There

https://journeytothere.com/no-guru-no-problem-episode-89/

Your Yoga Golden Age

Every astrologer whose ever read my chart has told me I have the chart of a teacher, there’s no getting around it. Yet, I’ve also ALWAYS seen myself as just as much a community leader as a yoga teacher. It’s a role I love and take to heart because it’s crucial. It’s been critically important for me, and to those I serve. We all need to feel heard, seen, acknowledged, and supported in order to thrive in ANY area of our lives.

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In my online program, participants have been reflecting on their yoga stories, recounting the trajectory of their practice from the time they first started until now.

When I hear the stories of these longtime practitioners, one thing I see again and again is that many of us have had a GOLDEN AGE in yoga. A period when our practice flourished when we fell in love with yoga as OUR path, got lit up about the possibilities it unfolded for us and made breakthroughs. For some, this was during teacher training, for others it was as part of an intensive or residential program. Overwhelmingly though, these “big gains” were not made in isolation. Times when we dove deep happened when we were as part of a GROUP, a COMMUNITY, a TRIBE.

As we remember our stories, we might also discover that we were part of a thriving, in-person yoga community that was precious to us, and that doesn’t exist anymore.

We feel that loss, we feel the LACK of support. We miss it.
And there’s a good reason for this:
In yoga, a community is not just something nice to have when it happens, 
It’s PART of the practice,
It’s actually how we are MEANT to do yoga: In the good company of others, with the support of well-wishers cheering us on.

The simple presence of others who are walking the same path with the same commitment to integrity and authentic, positive growth is not only supportive and encouraging, it is vital.

I’m talking about people we may not even know very well PERSONALLY,
But who are there for the same reasons we are,
Who are, like us, are taking the next step on their journey toward being a more compassionate presence in the world, toward living a more conscious and purposeful life.

It’s a fascinating paradox actually,
Ultimately, the journey of yoga - the most intimate, deeply personal reunion with our truest selves - takes place in the privacy of our own hearts. 

AND, we do it most effectively in the presence of others, where we have the boon of being seen and supported.
PEOPLE WHO WILL NOT REQUIRE US TO BE LIKE THEM, but people who will see us for who we are.

The awesome thing is, we no longer have to let geography limit us in finding this community.

I’m having a blast creating an online community of teachers and continuing students, and the engagement is stunning. People are reaching out and contributing in powerful ways. We’re sharing experiences and insights, asking questions about practice and wisdom. We’re coming together as a group of like-minded teachers and continuing students in a respectful, honest forum that will continue to expand and grow because as teachers, as students on the path, we need it.

We’d love to have you join us!

m.me/barrierisman

7 REASONS *NOT* TO CHOOSE OUR SMALL GROUP RETREAT THIS SUMMER (yes, you read that right):

Was it just a coincidence that I (unknowingly) scheduled my teachers’ retreat at the same time that Wanderlust comes to Quebec? Maybe. 

Or it might be the universe’s clever way of inviting me to share what I believe to be the differences between a yoga music festival and our small group intensive. 

Unfortunately, you can’t attend both. That’s why I have included 7 reasons you may want to choose Wanderlust and forego our intimate intensive planned at the same time… and 7 reasons you may be better served by attending our intimate, sacred and nature-based retreat. The choice is always — of course — yours. 

7 REASONS TO CHOOSE WANDERLUST
1. To be in a high-energy, action-oriented scene

2. It can be really fun way to spend the weekend with your yoga buddies

3. To practice with cool lighting, awesome playlists and see some impressive asana demos

4. For making connections

5. You get to try out different teachers and styles of yoga

6. You get to experience some really masterful, experienced teachers

7. It’s a shakti hit of uplifting, good vibes that can be energizing and inspiring.
I think of it as a yoga party where you get to hang out in really comfortable clothes.

7 REASONS TO CHOOSE OUR SMALL, FOCUSED, & SACRED RETREAT
1. Because you want a retreat that puts the focus on YOUR practice.

2. To be part of an intimate group, a sacred circle that allows for truly meaningful connection and ongoing support

3. To press the pause button on the regular usual speed of life because you recognize the importance of slowing down once a year for time dedicated only to practice. You know the impact it has on your teaching and the way you show up in all areas of your life.

4. Because it allows for a greater level of focus on the practices and wisdom teachings, without the external noise. 

5. To prioritize space and time to be with yourself in a sweet and nurturing way. 

6. To participate in a deliberate, well-rounded, and optimally balanced schedule of practices intentionally designed to support your process of expansion. 

7. Because you know you’re ready, even craving, to steep yourself in yoga. You know the power of minimizing the outer distractions that can be a barrier to unfolding a profound, transformational experience. You’re going for lasting, deep-seated, expansive and joyful shift this time, not simply a quick, inspiring high. You want a sattva hit more than a shakti hit. 

In the 25 years that I’ve been doing yoga, I’ve learned that there are times when BOTH are useful. So, yes, our retreat is at the same time as Wanderlust. But it’s not a problem or even a conflict, because they offer very different experiences. Isn’t it great that you get to choose?

If your inner wisdom is beckoning you to give yourself the time and space to allow the sweetness and power of your practice to unfold, 

If you’re called to rediscover and reclaim your passion and inspiration for yoga without the distraction of crowds, happy hours, and dance parties,

If you know its time to infuse your teaching with your OWN true and authentic power, 

Then you’ll feel right at home with the group coming together for this small, sacred, intensive, and transformational retreat. 

http://www.barrierisman.com/teachers-retreat-summer-2018/

m.me/barrierisman

A Few Things That Frustrate and, Frankly, Baffle me About Mainstream Western Yoga Culture

THERE ARE A FEW THINGS THAT FRUSTRATE, AND FRANKLY BAFFLE ME ABOUT MAINSTREAM WESTERN YOGA CULTURE

You know, little things like how teachers who repeatedly mistreat students and cross ethical boundaries continue to be welcomed to teach places, even when their transgressions are well known. And, how little actual recourse there is for students who have been targets of these transgressions. 

Oh, and also the hypocrisy of an industry that continues to perpetuate unrealistic, and even unhealthy physical ideals for a practice that is essentially about self-honoring and self-acceptance. 

I must say, there are days when all this really gets to me.

But here’s what keeps me loving what I do and feeling truly grateful for the privilege of sharing the wisdom and practices of our yoga: 

- The dozens, maybe even hundreds of dedicated, longtime teachers I know (and countless others I don’t know) who continue to quietly do their thing and offer the gems from their lived wisdom so generously with their communities.

- The e-mails I get from students longing to go deeper into their meditation practice.

- The many stories I’ve heard from longtime yogis about how yoga has saved their lives in so many real and lasting ways.

- How simple, completely low-tech practices that involve only one’s body, breath and awareness can be truly life-changing.

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But mostly, it’s this. Being in this place, where I have the honor of engaging with these bright, beautiful souls who have been lit up by this practice. Where I get to answer their thoughtful questions, quench their thirst for learning, and help stoke the fire of their longing. 

This is what keeps me thrilled by what I do. It why I wake up everyday feeling grateful, and deeply honored, to serve. 

It’s the YOGA that excites me. Pure and simple. Beyond the playlists, beyond the bells and whistles, beyond the industry, the accouterments of what we’ve come to think of as the yogic lifestyle. 

If you too are ready to let go of the outer veneer, of what the market tells you your practice should look like, and RECLAIM your passion for YOUR practice, I’m gathering a handful of teachers like you. 

I hope you’ll consider joining us this summer for a 5-day retreat dedicated to a deep exploration of yoga as an integrated practice for your body, for your mind, for your spirit, for your life. 

http://www.barrierisman.com/teachers-retreat-summer-2018/

🌀Let's Talk About Twists🌀

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Okay, I finally can talk about Spring without feeling like a fraud. Here in Southern Quebec, it is now officially warm enough, the earth thawed out enough, to call it Spring. The birds are singing, the fiddleheads are ripe, my 3-week cleanse feels easier, and I'm even starting to consider changing over my closet.

It's time to talk about spinal twists.

Although twists are not necessarily “big” poses, don’t be fooled. Even though sometimes it might feel like not much is happening, they are deeply detoxifying, rejuvenating and stimulating. Twists are powerful and fortifying not only for the spine but for the organs as well. After a good twisting practice you should feel lighter.

Twists are the perfect spring cleaning poses.

Here are some pointers for working deeper in twists and feeling great in your back after:

I'll start by addressing the perennial (or at least very common) question about spinal twists.

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QUESTION: Should I square my hips when twisting or allow my pelvis to turn into and with the twist?

ANSWER: It depends.

Let’s get into some of the nuances of this. I’m going to get a little technical here, so let me know if you have any questions:
In a twist, the torso rotates over a stable base that resists the movement, providing resistance from which the spine can revolve and extend.

What differentiates a twist from a turn is that in a twist the base stays stable. Think of a rubber band. Without tethering one end of the rubber band while twisting it you’d just be turning it around in circles. But when you hold one end of the rubber band down, you get rotation.

That’s what a spinal twist does for the vertebrae. It rotates them. So, the stability of the foundation in a twist is essential. The base of the twist, usually the pelvis, needs to stay stable so that the vertebrae above can twist.

WHAT WE WANT: A stable foundation from which to rotate the spine.

WHAT WE DON’T WANT: Pain after the twists. This often comes from the sacrum and the ilium moving at different rates in the twist. When that happens we can end up with a subluxation, the SI joint being “out” after the twist, and this can cause pain. This is the rationale behind the idea of firmly stabilizing the pelvis, i.e. “hugging to the midline” at all times in twists.

However, I believe there are some issues with this:
For one, if we’re stiff and we keep the hips very square and the pelvis completely stable in a twist, we may not get very far.

Generally, if you’re stiffer, it’s better to let the pelvis move into the twist. Be mindful though of keeping the top of the sacrum moving in and the lower back extending up to maintain healthy alignment in the lumbar spine. Sit up on height if you need to keep from rounding the lower back.

If you're more flexible, the situation is a bit more nuanced:
If you remain totally lax, you won’t create the stability in the base that is necessary for the twist to happen and deepen. You’ll get more rotation and deeper into the twist if you keep your pelvis more square. And, allowing the hips to passively move into the twist can result in the SI joint going out for the reason mentioned above (see: WHAT WE DON'T WANT).

Yet, I also believe that holding the hips rigidly fixed can ALSO create problems for the SI joint.

My experience is that you’ll have to experiment with the right balance of stability and release in the pelvis that allows you to create the necessary resistance to create the rotation in the vertebrae without overdoing it.

TIP: Instead of stabilizing the pelvis by hugging toward the midline, or firming the outer hips in, Donald Moyer suggests focusing on deepening the inner groins as a way to hold the pelvis stable without rigidity. This focus works better for me.

Three more principles to keep in mind when twisting:

1. TWIST FROM THE BASE UP
Keep in mind that the lumbar vertebrae have very little rotation that’s even possible for them, so most of your twist will happen in the thoracic region and ultimately, the cervical, though your neck should be the final part of the spine to twist.

2. TWISTS ARE ALWAYS ACTIVE (except supported, restorative versions)
Work in twists in two phases:
- The Elongation phase on the inhalation, lengthen the spine up and create space
and
- The Twisting phase on the exhalation, soften the big, outer layers of the trunk muscles and mobilize the deeper, smaller spinal muscles to move deeper into the twist, even working on the organic, or inner body (more on that next week!)

3. INITIATE THE TWIST FROM THE OPPOSITE SIDE
Begin the action of the twist from the side you are twisting away from. Remember to keep widening, and creating space on that opposite side in the elongation phase and move deeper by twisting away from that side in the twisting phase.

https://barrie-risman-yoga.teachable.com/p/evolving-your-as…

🦃ON NOT LETTING THE TURKEYS GET YOU DOWN🦃

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I’ve loved this mug ever since the stationery-store wandering days of my youth.

Where I live now we have real turkeys. Wild ones. While they have their own charm, there’s no denying their clumsiness. They’re big, heavy, and slow, really awkward fliers.

We all know what its like to be held down by the turkeys that show up in our own lives everyday. They’re the little annoyances that nag us, snags that need untangling, and misunderstandings that need to be clarified. They’re the myriad frustrations that tighten our jaws, hunch our shoulders, restrict our breathing, and contract our energy.

And of course, there are also the inner turkeys that sabotage our freedom and hold us down. The habits, foods, even relationships that no longer serve the forward movement of our lives.

This poor elephant seems to have surrendered and accepted the reality of his situation.

But we know that isn’t the only option. Yes, letting go and releasing the weight of those nagging frustrations is essential. More importantly, though, are taking steps to restore our lightness of spirit.

Moving, literally, helps a lot. So does conscious breathing. So does being in meaningful community with others on the same path. It’s springtime. Nature is supporting us to take flight, to blossom, to renew.

We’re building an online yoga community of sincere students and teachers dedicated to self-study, forward movement and expansive growth through yoga.

If you’re called to be part of a small, intimate group that supports your growth, empowerment and independence as a practitioner, I’d love to have you join us.

DM me for details.

💛VALUE CREATES VALUE💛

A recent New York Times article pointed out how convenience has become a major driving force in our consumer economy. Our choices in the marketplace consistently demonstrate this. We’d rather use something easy and simple (Netflix) over something cheap (network television). 

Furthermore, because of economies of scale and the power of our buying habits, convenience begets greater convenience. The more we buy from Amazon, the more powerful it becomes, and therefore it can make itself even more efficient and easier to use, which leads us to value it even more.

I believe a similar dynamic is at work in yoga, though its about benefit and importance, rather than convenience. 

The more we value our yoga, the more valuable our yoga it becomes.

For the casual, once-in-a-while practitioner, the benefits of yoga are likewise casual, easily replaced by a different kind of workout or another self-help method.

But for the committed practitioner, one who places a premium on practice time, on learning from seasoned teachers, on dipping into the wisdom of the tradition regularly, a whole new level of benefit ensues. Practice becomes rich, deeply nourishing and rewarding. This, of course, strengthens our commitment to practice.

We start to schedule and prioritize practice times as sacred appointment with ourselves. We sit for meditation even when it means taking time out of a busy day. We stay the course when practice feels boring or lackluster. This leads to greater, more palpable and lasting benefits. A lovely feedback loop results that strengthen, deepen and expand the ways in which yoga serves us in our lives over time.

I've created a new online program to explore some of the approaches to practice that have helped me to treasure, and, in turn, extract the enormous value from yoga for the past 25 years. Truly, these are some of the KEY understandings that have worked for me and continue to support me in every area of my life. I can’t wait to share this with you!

https://barrie-risman-yoga.teachable.com/p/evolving-your-asana

The Most Important Skill in Yoga is THIS

One of the most important skills we develop as we continue down the path of yoga is this: The ability to WELCOME ourselves back, and begin again, AND to do it with compassion, self-acceptance, and sensitivity.

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💥Rekindling the Spark💥

The smell of the earth this morning brought me right back to the Catskills, to the ashram where I lived in the early 2000’s. 

It brought me back to the many, many mornings I walked from my dorm room to the early-morning chant at 4:30 am in the dark, wrapped in a shawl. 

It brought me back to the feelings of devotion, one-pointedness, and community. But most palpably, it brought me back to the LONGING I experienced during those years.

It was there, in the darkness of the early mornings, first in India and then Upstate New York over the course of 7 years, that my longing took root. What began as a desire to be happy with myself and content with my life blossomed into a yearning to dive deep into my inner being, I longed to uncover the truth, the wisdom and the magnificence of that place within me that lies independently from the ups and downs of outer life.

This longing is and has been at the root of everything I do, everything I create, everything I offer as a teacher. It’s the common denominator of my life, my most fundamental motivation. 

It’s no longer about escaping myself or the world, but a way of bringing my best to bear on situations I am (that we all are) confronted with, both outside and those of my own habitual making. It’s a force that guides me to strive to live a responsible, purposeful life.

Funny that I should have this experience today, standing on the cusp of an exciting opening in my business, of putting my work out into the world in bigger, bolder new ways. That I should be brought back to the devotion and the longing that inspires my work is a sweet reminder of WHY I do what I do. It lies beyond any success and failure. When all is said and done, my longing and the path it offers toward its own fulfillment will remain.

Several teachers that have signed up for my new online program shared with me that the content is calling out to them in a similar way. It’s reminding them of what that led them to yoga, the moment they made it their own and knew it was THEIR path. It’s bringing up the longing to rekindle that original spark.

There is nothing sweeter then remembering our own initial stirrings. Over time they tend to get lost, buried in the business of life, forgotten as we get pulled out of our own experience, lost perhaps by our very participation in the modern yoga world. 

If you are feeling the call to go back to your yoga roots, to RECLAIM what made you love to practice in the first place through the lens of your knowledge and experience, I hope you’ll consider joining us. We begin March 20 on a springtime journey of exploration to uncover the gems of insight and inspiration that are still there, still precious, waiting to be dusted off, polished so they can shine their light on your life and practice once again.

https://barrie-risman-yoga.teachable.com/p/evolving-your-asana

Evolving Your Yoga

TO EVOLVE: to gradually become clearer or more detailed, to develop, elaborate, unfold, advance, progress, blossom, grow, mature, ripen, emerge

🐚🌀🐚🌀🐚

I first fell in love with this word as an Anthropology major in college. Tracing the emergence and adaptation of the human race over time was fascinating to me. But, honestly, the concept of evolving, adapting, and UNFOLDING has become even more thrilling and juicy as I’ve begun to see my yoga practice in this light, as not just as something I “do” but as something I grow and ripen, something that continually EMERGES.

It’s an ever-unfolding process that’s POWERED and INSPIRED by the very nature of life ITSELF to elaborate, clarify, grow, shift and progress. 

Do you sense the amazing possibilities that could be revealed in approaching your practice this way?

4 Seconds of Flow

I got stuck this morning. My 10-year old, bless her heart, missed her bus and I had to drive her to school. Granted, this was the first time this year that this has happened. And, driving her to school is not really a big deal because my schedule today is pretty flexible and the school is only about a 10-minute drive. Yet, I found myself critical, annoyed, frustrated. I could see that holding onto this episode was neither necessary nor useful. Stuckness.

After I dropped her off, I took the opportunity of being out earlier than usual to take a walk. After all, we are at balmy 15 Celsius and its a beautiful sunny day here. The snow is melting and the rivers are rushing. My lesson was right there in the flowing water: soften, release, and move on.

I’m always very clear with my yoga students that I am decidedly NOT a flow teacher. Sure, I can teach a good Vinyasa class, I’ve done it many times, but it's not my true love.

Yet, the IDEA of FLOW is very important to me, and, like any dedicated Vinyasa student knows, it’s about much more than gracefully transitioning between poses. It’s about learning to identify where I’m stuck, to have the presence of mind to see it, and then take steps to get back into the flow.

In my case, this was taking a walk outside, consciously focusing on my breath, and recognizing the lessons in water.

Like this stream flowing beneath the melted snow outside my house, I think about where, and how I can soften and let go of my ideas about how I want things to be long enough to once again tap into the flow that’s there just beneath the surface of my resistance.

After all, if the flexibility, attention to breath and graceful movement I cultivate in my yoga practice doesn’t allow me to flow more easily in MY LIFE then what’s the point?

Consider:

  • What does flow look like for you today?
  • Where might you be stuck in work or life?
  • What are the tools you already have and know well (asana, breath, nature, etc.) to soften, let go, and move on?

We’ll be delving deeper into the point of yoga practice and how to actually USE the tools and practices we know and love even MORE fully beginning next week.  If you haven’t already, I hope you’ll consider joining me!