YOGA TEACHERS: WHAT DO YOU TELL STUDENTS WHO SAY THEY'RE TOO BUSY FOR YOGA?

I BET IT'S SOMETHING LIKE THIS...

As yoga teachers, we’re experts in offering the best of ourselves to our students. As mothers, daughters, sisters and wives, we know how to be there for our families.

Most of us are really, really good at taking care of others, supporting those we love and serve with our positive energy and the wisdom gained from our study and learning.

Yet, as we all well know, it can be harder to turn the tables and direct that love right back toward our selves. Don’t we see this dynamic not only in our lives but in the lives of our students? How easy, almost automatic it is to think that taking care of our bodies, minds and spirits is something that can (or even has to) wait until AFTER we’ve taken care of everyone else?

How do you respond when you see this attitude in your students?

When you observe your students running themselves ragged, or getting “too busy” for yoga, when they tell you they just have too much going on to show up for class, what do you tell them?

I bet it’s something along these lines:

"I get it. I’ve been there. And here’s what I’ve learned: THIS is when you need yoga the most."

When you make the space and time for your own nourishment, upliftment and rejuvenation, you remember how ESSENTIAL it is to serve from a full bowl, how smart it is to PRIORITIZE your own well being so you can serve the well being of those around you, how necessary it is to spend time going deep into your practices so you can guide others to do the same.

And, when you DO make that choice, aren’t you are EVER so grateful to yourself that you did?

As many of us have learned the hard way, it’s actually not even a CHOICE, because NOT taking time for ourselves is simply not sustainable.

As women, as teachers, as students, we need to carve out the dedicated, focused time to dive deep, to restore joy, to rekindle the spark of yoga. This is how we go from DOING yoga to BEING yoga. Again, and again, and again.

We have an incredible, seasoned group of women coming together next month for a deep dive into practices and wisdom. There are a few spaces left to join our sacred circle. 

Message me for details.

m.me/barrierisman

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

WHERE THERE IS DHARMA THERE IS VICTORY (LET’S HOPE SO)

I was talking with a few other teachers recently about showing up for class on days when we are totally not feeling it.

I could relate. Hasn’t it happened to all of us?

Maybe someone in our family isn’t well, maybe we’ve got a ton of other things that need attending to, maybe we are just plain uninspired. For whatever reason, or for myriad reasons, we just Do. Not. Feel. Like. Teaching. Today.

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Here’s the thing:
One in our group said that when she takes her seat something begins to shift. Effortlessly. The class comes into existence and honoring her role as teacher completely changes her state. As she steps into the stream of her dharma the teaching not only happens, it’s often even better than usual. She’s in flow, effortlessly serving in the energy of the moment. Have you ever experienced this? 

In almost 20 years of teaching, the class I taught on the morning of November 9, 2016 was one of the hardest. I was in shock, fearful, I felt I had nothing to offer, no inspiration. None. But taking my seat, tuning in, I was not only able to serve my people, but to create a space of comfort and support that was a lifesaver for me that day, perhaps even more so than for my students. I don’t pretend it was only me, but my willingness to honor my role even when it felt really challenging definitely played a part.

I believe that when we’re fulfilling the responsibilities set forth by the roles we’ve taken on, dharma, righteousness, steps in to support us. When we are doing what we’re meant to be doing, I believe it IS the right thing, even when it doesn’t feel easy, or comfortable, or we don’t feel up to it. We’re learning the lessons we are meant to be learning, letting go of what we need to let go of in order to serve our soul’s evolution. When we’re performing the right actions, it IS victorious, regardless of how it looks to the world,

I believe that where there is dharma, there is victory.
I believe that light will triumph over darkness, that love will win the day. Eventually.
I believe that goodness will prevail.
I believe all this not because it’s easy or convenient, but because I CHOOSE to believe it.

But this choice takes work. It needs to restored and refreshed daily. This is where yoga comes in. This is why we need our practices now more than ever.

Hope and faith in the future is easier to sustain in community. This is why we need connection.

We’re building an online community of yoga teachers and students dedicated to upholding faith in humanity, in restoring trust in goodness, in shining their light to support their communities.

If you’re one of us, we’d love to have you.

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

THE VIEW FROM THE MOUNTAINTOP

"You climb the mountain to be able to look over the whole situation, not bound by one side or the other."
---Thich Nhat Hanh, The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching

In my summer online program, we’re exploring how yoga invites us to learn from nature, to recognize and benefit from the timeless truths she holds.

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Honestly, I’ll never tire of contemplating nature as an expression of a universal intelligence, and as a conduit for tapping into that wisdom. Take, for example, this mountain near my house.

For some time, I’ve been fascinated by the fundamental paradox of our existence as embodied spirits, as physical beings with a subtle essence. And, how yoga helps us to dance between these two polarities of material and spiritual, relative and absolute, earth and sky, with grace and skill. Yoga gives us tools to enhance the enjoyment of our physicality as well as for our spiritual benefit.

Exploring how to fully stand on the earth while embodying the sky is, I think, central to our task as yogis. It’s something I’ve been playing with in my own practice for some time.

One recent insight: Just as earth is heavy dense and weighty, it also builds, it rises to meet the sky. The mountain has a base and it has a peak. The mountain is at once immovable AND a spacious vantage point from which to see. So we can climb the mountaintop and see out, feet firmly planted on the earth. There is wisdom to be tapped here.

This lesson is helping me a lot in the figurative mountains I’m scaling in my professional life. From the perspective of my climb there is, of course consistent, daily effort. There are challenges, moments of disappointment, overwhelm and fear.

Yet, I also see the perfect circumstances and the ideal network of support and encouragement that is making the climb so much more fun and exciting than I would have imagined it could be.

Looking down from the mountaintop, I see myself taking leaps, growing bigger, elevating, becoming clear, steady and grounded in exactly who I am and what I offer (and who I’m not and what I don’t), and empowering others to do the same.

If you’re being called to expand your perspective, to rise to new heights in your yoga and your teaching, we’re here to welcome you.

Our monthly membership is off to a fantastic start. You can jump in anytime for all-inclusive access at $30/month. There is no obligation whatsoever you can cancel at anytime.

m.me/barrierisman

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

 

 

As Featured in Stylight Magazine: The Best Yoga Studios in Canada

Representing Sutton!

I'm thrilled that my new studio and online practice community were chosen to be featured in Stylight's survey of the finest yoga in Canada.

Of course, ANY teacher and ANY studio is only as great as the students we serve. When I think of the amazing people who I've had the privilege of teaching (including our very own Prime Minister who came for class with Sophie one Sunday morning), I feel pretty darn blessed.

But when I multiply that by all the teachers, all the studios who are lighting up hearts in every corner of our fair land, well, that just blows my mind. Canadian yogis, Canadian yoga teachers, you rock!

Namast-EH

Oh, Canada.

From Saturday’s spent at the rink, to traversing mountaintops and canoeing wild rapids (not to mention all the shoveling in between), it’s safe to say that Canadians are a pretty active bunch. Hockey’s a given, but did you know that the country is also brimming with yoga fanatics? Justin Trudeau himself is basically a pro (well, unofficially).

Google Trends reports that the country with the highest number of people searching Yoga around the world is none other than Canada. And surprisingly, within the country, the most yoga-curious bunch comes from the Yukon! British Columbia, Lululemon’s birthplace, came in a close second to the territory. Read on for the full list...

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. 

Read More

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