NOW MORE THAN EVER: TAKING HOLD OF THE RENEWING POWER OF SPIRIT

As we wind down toward the darkest day of the year, here's a timely reminder about the ever-increasing preciousness of slowing down to wake up, and finding the regenerative power in our practices:

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From Chapter 9 of my forthcoming book, "Evolving Your Yoga: Ten Principles for Enlightened Practice":

"...the importance of resetting ourselves, of taking time to slow down, to come back to our physicality, to release stress on a regular basis, has become even more crucial to maintain a sense of balance and harmony. It is vitally necessary for our well-being. Not only must we prioritize time dedicated to removing ourselves from the world of our screens, we need reliable and effective ways for restoring a sense of physical and energetic integration to our beings.

Yoga practice is, of course, an optimal way to renew ourselves. Yoga class remains (hopefully) one of the last places where we disconnect from our devices for an hour or so. But even more powerfully, in practice we bring the energy of the mind back down into the body, the breath, and the organic, physical reality of our material existence.

We reawaken to our primitive, sensual, and instinctual nature.

We give refuge to the mind, provide a resting place for the senses, an opportunity for them to pause from their outgoing movement. We emerge with a renewed sense of clarity, balance, and harmony. The value of bringing the mind into the body and staying there for a while has only gotten more precious.

Through unplugging from our outer lives for a little while, we give ourselves the chance to actually plug into the most empowering and nourishing sources of renewal we have: our own breath, our own awareness, our own inner being. We emerge recharged, nourished, and bolstered to meet our lives anew."

What are the practices that provide a resting place for you body, mind, heart, and soul?

WHY IS GETTING EXCITED ABOUT YOUR HOME YOGA PRACTICE SO D&#N HARD?🤷🏻‍♀️

OVERCOMING YOUR TOP 10 CHALLENGES TO BUILDING AN INSPIRING, SATISFYING, AND SUSTAINABLE YOGA PRACTICE

I recently learned from a colleague that the most popular length for online yoga classes is, apparently, 20 minutes. 

My first thought was, "Wow, that's pretty short."

My second thought was, "I get it."

And I do. As someone who's maintained a personal asana practice for more than 20 years, believe me when I say I've encountered every colour and flavour of obstacle. 

I often write about the absolute IMPORTANCE of an independent pratice for teachers and anyone wishing to go deeper in yoga. Yet, I also understand that it seems harder than ever to simply get on our mats, alone, and stay there for a while. 

Why is that?

I have some ideas.

Here's a talk I gave to our Skillful Yogi membership abuot this very topic.

I help teachers and students troubleshoot their specific challenges all the time in our Skillful Yogi Membership. If you're a dedicated teacher looking for support, inspiration, and solutions, you'll want to check out what we've got going on. 

Messsage me for more info on how you can get in at our charter membership rate:

m.me/barrie


🕯THE POWER OF ONE-POINTEDNESS🕯

In our ever-quickening world of instant, continuous, and unending opportunities for distraction, the ability to focus our minds remains vitally important for our well-being.

The ability to draw our attention temporarily away from the busyness of our lives and direct our mental energies into our own selves is a key instigator for the transformative power of yoga.

Here's an excerpt from Chapter 8 of "Evolving Your Yoga: Ten Principles for Enlightened Practice:"

"One of the great benefits of retreats, and the reason why they are such an important part of the yogic tradition, is that in a retreat setting there are limited opportunities for distraction.

In the many spiritual retreats I’ve participated in over the years, I’ve gotten to know the way my mind responds to extended, focused periods of practice. It starts out during the first day or two with its usual preoccupations and wanderings.

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Here, it’s easy to become aware of the usual speed and inclinations of my mind. And with this awareness comes a gradual shift. My mind begins to slow down; it gets easier to pay attention to whatever I’m doing. My awareness becomes heightened and more sensitized. I become available to experience the fullness of each moment.

There’s always a moment on retreat where I recognize that my mind has gone from being like a butterfly flitting about from flower to flower, to being more like an eagle perched on a branch, steadfast, silent, and completely focused. When it finally relinquishes its attachment to its usual preoccupations, an expansive inner horizon opens up. I’m free, untethered from the pull of my thoughts.

As my mind becomes quiet, I experience a tremendous sense of peace, freedom, and vast possibility, like the fullness of the sky inside myself. This is the gift of one-pointed focus. It feels at once like an extravagant and luxurious gift, and at the same time like the most basic and essential nourishment for my soul."

🕯How do you experience the power of one-pointedness in yoga and in life?

🕯How does your asana practice help you to develop one-pointed focus?

🎬BEHIND THE SCENES OF THE SKILLFUL YOGI🎬

On a cold, dark afternoon here in Quebec (where it's only 4:30pm but might as well be 9), comments like these from our members are warming my heart right up: 

"I am LOVING The Skillful Yogi! It's just what I needed, when I didn't even really know what I needed ;)"

"Thank you for everything you shared with us the past few months. You helped me to maintain and nourish my home practice when I was in need of ideas, inspiration, or just company and guidance. It's quite a privilege to have such an easy access to your great knowledge and wisdom." 

Here's's a little 12-minute tour of all that's available to you as a member of The Skillful Yogi, our thriving, online collective of yoga teachers and continuing students from around the world (up to 9 countries and counting!) dedicated to deepening their practice and living their yoga.

Part home for seasoned yogis, part online studio, part online retreat site, I'm pretty proud of what we're creating here.

Take a look around, I'd love to know what you think.

If The Skillful Yogi calls out to you, I'd love to welcome you to our community.

Charter membership rates are available for just a few more weeks.

m.me/barrierisman


🎄THE POWER OF PRANA🎄

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I remember the moment I knew with firm conviction that I would dedicate myself to asana practice in a major way. It was a summer afternoon in Manhattan. I had just finished taking a yoga class and I was walking to catch the crosstown bus.

I looked like just another person walking down Third Avenue, but inwardly I felt completely lit up, alive with an energy that was sweetly pulsing throughout my entire body. 

It was as if I were a string of lights around a Christmas tree that had just been plugged in. I was compelled to just be with the experience. I found the nearest place to sit, which happened to be a concrete landing outside of an office building. I paused for a while, enjoying this extraordinary state of being.

More than twenty years later, that image of being lit up like Christmas lights, and the feeling that gave rise to it, has stayed with me. It has become more familiar over the years too. 

I recognize it not only as a pleasurable after-effect of postural practice but also as a tangible reminder that through asana, we are awakening consciousness and expanding prana in the body.

~ from "Evolving Your Yoga: Ten Principles for an Enlightened Practice" Chapter 6
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To evolve and deepen our yoga practice, we need to understand prana – what it is, how it manifests inside us, how it connects us to the energies of nature, how to harness it’s power in our practice to harmonize and nourish all levels of our being. 

It's the profundity of our breath, of course, but so much more than that.

🌟 How can remembering prana as the power that moves your mind be helpful to you today?

🌟 How can acknowledging your breath as the energy of spirit dancing inside you support you today?

🌟 How can the understanding of prana as the energy that inextricably links you to all of nature nourish you today?

GETTING COMFORTABLE WITH PARADOX

Strength and Flexibility

Action and Reflection

Doing and Being

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Pose and Repose

Effort and Surrender

And the list goes on and on...

I couldn't wait to explore the fascinating nature of the pairs of opposites as described in yoga philosophy and how to balance them in practice and in life:

From Chapter 5 of "Evolving Your Yoga: Ten Principles for an Enlightened Practice":

"There’s a fundamental paradox in our journey as yogis. It's the fact that we are embodied spirits. We have a finite life, a body, an individual identity with its distinct personality and preferences. At the same time, yoga tells us we also have a mystical, expansive, sublime, universal, and ultimately infinite nature. Both are true.

Yoga is a journey where we use the mundane to know the spiritual. In practice, we employ the mind and body to nurture an experience that is beyond both mind and body. For this simple reason, practice at its essence is a dance between opposites.

Skillfully navigating the play between the polarities of our existence is at the heart of yoga practice. This is what I think of the principle of balancing the pairs of opposites.

From the start, the idea that the transcendent essence within the human being could be known in this lifetime, in this very body, was the goal of yoga. Out of this vision arose a set of practices and teachings, all based on the basic notion that one could experience freedom from the confines of the body and the temporal world while still inhabiting them.

Even if this is not our particular goal for practice, I think all of us, on some level, practice yoga as a way to restore a more expanded awareness of ourselves. We may or may not recognize that as a mystical, sacred essence. Nevertheless, one of the more intangible, yet precious benefits of yoga is that it reminds us we are bigger than our ordinary sense of ourselves; that we are more than just what our minds tell us.

This dichotomy of being both limited and expanded is especially apparent for those of us who use asana as a major part of our spiritual path.

The idea of using the body to explore the spirit, of fully inhabiting our physicality for the sake of going beyond it, is fascinating, isn't it? It's one of the reasons why postural practice is especially potent. Through it, we have the opportunity to actually embody aspects of spirit, to cultivate the transcendent within our very flesh and bones.

Spiritual wisdom is also paradoxical because it reflects this dual perspective on human existence and our journey toward self-knowledge as essentially a dance or the swing of a pendulum between the polarities of body and spirit, fleeting and eternal, mundane and sacred.

As long as we are alive, the essential paradox of being an embodied spirit might never fully be resolved. And that’s okay. In yoga we are asked to get comfortable with paradox, and even celebrate it."

👉🏼How do you understand and experience balance in your practice? What do you recognize as your tendencies? What do you do to create balance?

👉🏼How does your practice help you to understand, and even celebrate the fundamental paradox of spiritual life?



5 REASONS WHY I WAS NOT AT ALL SURPRISED TO LEARN THAT… “THE HAPPIEST YOGA TEACHERS ARE THE ONES WHO AREN’T TRYING TO MAKE A LIVING FROM TEACHING YOGA.” 

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Over on another Facebook page, one member recently reported her findings from a survey of 100 yoga teachers. It came as no shock to me to hear that one of her discoveries was that the most satisfied yoga teachers are the ones who don’t need to earn an income from teaching, those who teach simply because they love sharing yoga. 

In fact, this is something I hear often. More than that, it’s something I’ve LIVED.

I’ve made my living as a yoga teacher for 20 years. I now mentor a community of teachers, many of whom also teach full-time. It’s our livelihood, the way we support, or contribute to supporting, our family. For me, and others like me, teaching yoga isn’t a hobby or side hustle. The income we make from teaching isn’t extra money that’s “nice” to have. 

And, I’ve found myself disheartened by how little this job can pay, and halfway out the door, more than a few times.

Reasoning that if I got a “real” job I would make more money, with less effort, better hours, more security, and infinitely less stress. Honestly, there have been times in my teaching career when I seriously considered cashiering at my local supermarket because 1. I like cashiering and 2. I would have earned more money doing that than I was teaching, and 3. I wouldn’t have to work weekends.

But, then, I look in the mirror. I sit with my frustration. I sit with my feelings of being burnt out, defeated and demoralized. I sit with the tempting choice to abandon what I know is my calling. Each time I’ve done that, I’ve realized I wouldn’t be able to walk away and still be true to myself and what I know is my purpose.

I know I speak for many of us in saying that my decision to become a yoga teacher was really NOT a business decision (if it was, it would have been a terrible idea). Like any creative person who seeks to make a living through sharing their art, teaching yoga something we do because it’s who we are, our practice is deeply meaningful to us and we’re moved to share it. 

Now, I’m definitely not saying there aren’t times or situations where it’s appropriate to find a supplemental, reliable form of income to supplement or replace teaching. There absolutely are.

But I also have some ideas about WHY dis-satisfaction is so common among full-time yoga teachers and ways we ourselves can begin to shift it, short of heading for the hills or the nearest temp agency:

1. We feel financial pressure. Obviously, right? If we were all making six figures as yoga teachers I’m guessing we’d probably all feel quite satisfied with our teaching gigs. But let’s face it, making a living as a full-time yoga teacher teaching in studios and gyms is hard if not impossible in many places. 

This, by the way, often holds true regardless of your level of experience. A new teacher typically does not earn significantly less than an experienced teacher. In most traditional venues, we’re all “yoga teachers,” whether we have the equivalent of a high school diploma or Ph.D. 

(I have a lot ideas about this and when I work with teachers, we always find ways to shift to a more profitable dynamic. Here, though, I’m more interested in how we can shift our mindset about full-time teaching to make it work for us.) 

And, let’s face it, we also KNOW that money equals value, which brings me to my second point:

2. We feel under-appreciated. As teachers we’re also, more often than not, dedicated students of yoga. We’re educated in not only the breadth of yoga practice and wisdom, but also often in other complementary disciplines. 

We’re professionals with hundreds and hundreds of hours of training. We know first-hand the value and power of what we teach. We know we have tons to offer. We know the world needs the tools that yoga provides now more than ever. And, so, when we’re teaching for 2 instead of 20, when our pay is dependent upon class attendance, or when we’re cancelled on at the last minute, well, none of that feels great. 

3. We’ve lost our love for yoga. We don’t feel enthusiastic about our own practice. In fact, we may not even HAVE a practice other than teaching. But there’s simply no getting around it - in order for us to stay inspired about what we do, we NEED to be growing in our own practices. Continually. We need to feel connected to OUR yoga.

I love working out at the gym. Why? One reason is that I KNOW I will never become a fitness trainer. I’m there because I want to be, because I enjoy it. It’s never something I will make money from and therefore, I’m free to do it solely for myself. But yoga? That’s a different story.

One of the most common challenges I hear from teachers is that practice becomes all about teaching, it’s never for themselves anymore. Over time, this catches up with us. Practice feels like work, it’s no longer nourishing, The reason why we love yoga has disappeared. 

4. We don’t have the support of a community. Oftentimes, WE are the ones upholding our community, but it doesn’t mean that we don’t also need the support of like-minded others. Teachers need community ASIDE from the people we teach and serve. People who are doing the same work as us. It’s not always easy to find.

We may be too busy to be part of an in-person community. We may live in a rural area where there aren’t fellow teachers. Or, if there are other teachers and studios nearby it may feel difficult to feel a sense of support from them, we may feel more competition with them than affiliation.

5. We haven’t figured out how to simplify, streamline and maximize our teaching time. Many of can say from experience that running all over the city, lugging props in your car trunk, and sitting in traffic all for a one-hour class doesn’t make for a sustainable yoga teaching career. 

Add to that keeping track of registrations, other administrative tasks, to say nothing of marketing and building our networks – things we all must do and yet are never compensated for. ALL of this adds up to quick burnout if we don’t get help and support.

What to do?

Well, one thing I can say for sure is that having your own COMMUNITY where you can get answers and find support and a FRAMEWORK for practice and inspiration helps. A lot. 

I developed The Skillful Yogi to be a welcoming, friendly, and respectful collective of teachers and continuing students. It’s home where you can come to find inspiration AND practical support for the art, skill AND business of yoga teaching. Kind of like an online retreat site. It includes outstanding asana classes delivered weekly, daily inspiration for living your yoga, and personal, tailored guidance and support to refine your practice and teaching. So you can thrive in what you do, what you’re meant to be doing, and reignite your love for teaching once more. 

If this calls out to you, it would be an honour to support you on your journey.

Charter membership rates are available for just a few more weeks. 

I’m here and more than happy to answer any questions you might have about how The Skillful Yogi can serve you.

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

🦋BEING AND BECOMING: YOGA AS A PATH OF TRANSFORMATION🦋

In theory, at least, it’s easy to understand that yoga is clearly a path of shift and change. A good practice doesn’t leave us quite the way it found us. It’s physically, mentally, and spiritually edifying. 

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However, it may be hard to identify and articulate the ways in which we have experienced the transformative power of the practice. 

For students and teachers wishing to expand and deepen their practice, the understanding of how and why yoga works as a path of positive change is crucial.

This is why I felt it was important to delve into the transformative aspect of yoga, and specifically to examine how shift happens in yoga, why it happens, and of course, to what end.

Here's an excerpt from Chapter 3 of "Evolving Your Yoga: Ten Principles for Enlightened Practice":

"Some teachers will tell you that yoga is not a path toward a goal, but that it is simply about being present to what is. 

I partially agree with this. Certainly, 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. 

But it’s not only that. 

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

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

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

🤔ARE YOU A YOGA STUDENT OR A YOGA CONSUMER?🤔

This was the chapter that couldn't wait to be written. It's such an important message, I believe, for anyone wishing to deepen their yoga and certainly anyone who teaches it.

This single shift of mindset, from approaching yoga as a client, a consumer, or even simply a practitioner, to being a student of the practice. Well, it changes everything, don't you think?

From Chapter 2, "Evolving Your Yoga: Ten Principles for Enlightened Practice":

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"Among the many skills we develop in yoga, the skill of being a student is perhaps the most important. It’s the meta-skill that encompasses all the others.

Unlike most other subjects, being a student of yoga is not only about the knowledge we gain or the skills we sharpen. It’s about being a student of ourselves, our life, and our consciousness.

Studentship in yoga is a vast and awesome undertaking that runs the gamut of inquiring into the most mundane aspects of our physical body to investigating the metaphysical, existential questions of life.

What makes someone a student of yoga and not simply a consumer, a client, or someone who “does” yoga?

A CONSUMER...
-- is a person who consumes something.
-- shows up to receive.
-- seeks out goods and services.
-- enters into a transaction based on consumption, one that may or may not require their contribution or active participation.
-- pursues short-term satisfaction with the services, products and experiences that are packaged and delivered to them.

A STUDENT...
-- is a person who studies something. 
-- shows up to learn.
-- seeks out knowledge. 
-- enters into an interactive process of learning and discovery that requires their engagement as an active participant in order to be successful.
-- pursues learning, growth, and is invested in a fruitful and cumulative engagement with the subject that expands over time."

What does being a student of yoga mean to you?

WHAT IS YOUR YOGA?

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➡️ What brought you to yoga? 
➡️ What keeps you coming back? 
➡️ How has your practice evolved over time?

I’ve been practicing yoga for a quarter of a century. My practice has varied widely over this time. There have been periods when I’ve practiced asana for two to three hours, sat for extended periods of meditation, and chanted sacred texts daily. There have been times when my practice was whatever I did for twenty minutes on my mat.

While the form, frequency, and purpose of my practice has changed, my yoga practice has been a constant companion through all life’s ups and downs. For me, practice is a way to express joy in times of celebration and achievement. It buoys me and provides perspective in times of loss and grief. It helps me harness courage in the face of challenges and find clarity in times of confusion. It restores me on every level… 

As we continue over time, the question is not if our yoga practice will evolve, it’s how. Yoga can and will adapt in form, frequency, and content to serve us throughout our lifetime. Our task as yogis is to get more skilled in knowing when and how to shift our practice so that yoga can continue to serve us and so that we can continue to grow as practitioners…

As a lifelong path of conscious living and inner expansion, the possibilities that yoga offers us are practically endless! Asking questions and inquiring into our own reasons for practice is an exciting paradigm shift because it allows us to engage with yoga not just as something we “do” but as a dynamic part of our lives that continually unfolds. 

When we approach yoga as lifelong path of self-discovery and learning, our practice evolves, and we evolve as a result of our practice. It’s a dynamic process. 

---From "Evolving Your Yoga: Ten Principles for Enlightened Practice"

🐚WHAT ARE PRINCIPLES FOR AN ENLIGHTENED PRACTICE?🐚

👉🏼Beginning today and for the next few weeks I'll be sharing snippets of what you'll find in each the chapters of my forthcoming book, "Evolving Your Yoga: Ten Principles for Enlightened Practice."👈🏼

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Many of us who've been practicing yoga for a while know without a doubt that yoga helps us in our lives. We feel better in our bodies, clearer in our minds, more in touch with our emotions; we’re better equipped to handle stress, and we function more capably in all areas of our lives as a result of our practice.

Yet we may not know exactly how yoga does this, or why yoga works not just physically and mentally, but on all levels of our being.

In looking at both my own experience of evolution on the path of yoga and what I’ve observed in working with thousands of students over the years, I wondered:

➡️ What are the underlying beliefs that have allowed asana to become part of our path of inner discovery and positive shift?

➡️ What recurring themes form the underpinning of our asana practice as a means of expansive self-development and personal growth?

➡️ What teachings have been instrumental in bringing asana practice into the realm of a spiritual practice?
What I now call “Principles for an Enlightened Practice” arose from these inquiries into my experience as a student and teacher.

The principles I outline in this book are intended to illuminate and enrich your yoga by providing a solid foundation that will allow your practice to become deeper and richer than ever before, to empower you with approaches that will enable your practices to unfold as a journey of expansive self-discovery and inner growth.

➡️ Which of these questions do you believe will be most powerful for evolving YOUR yoga in 2019?

🎉BIG BOOK NEWS!🎉

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Dear friends,

I’m so excited to announce that "Evolving Your Yoga: Ten Principles for Enlightened Practice" is now in the capable and creative hands of a Kelowna-based designer and is scheduled for release in February 2019.

If you’ve been to my retreats this fall, you’ve heard me talk about the inspiration for my book as a guide for continuing students and teachers to take their yoga deeper, refine their understanding of how their practice can serve them in their lives, and move beyond simply doing yoga to living yoga. 

I can’t wait to share it with all of you! 

It’s one thing to birth a book-baby that's been more than three years in the making. It’s another thing to share your baby with students and friends and receive their heartfelt support. Thank you to everyone who has offered your good wishes!

Still, it’s yet another thing to send your baby to some of the most highly-respected names in the yoga world and get endorsements like this (which honestly make me teary-eyed with the most exalting mix of gratitude and humility):

"There are many “how to” books on Yoga, but few books on “why to”. Barrie’s book is an excellent combination of how to practice yoga, with many suggested classes, and a deep philosophical understanding of the intention of the practice. Highly recommended for beginners and advanced students alike!"

- Bernie Clark, author of Your Spine, Your Yoga and The Complete Guide to Yin Yoga

In the coming days and weeks, I'll be posting previews of what's inside "Evolving Your Yoga: Ten Principles for Enlightened Practice." 

And, you can bet I'll be celebrating big time with a launch party in Montreal this spring. This will be followed by a book tour which will take me to all corners of Canada, the US, and Europe throughout 2019. Stay tuned for dates and locations!

THE BEST WAY TO MEET THE HOLIDAY SEASON IS THIS...

We're blanketed with the most spectacular, abundant covering of snow today. It's still, peaceful, and best of all I don't have to go out until much later.

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My home and practice feel like a refuge, a soft landing pad for my mind, body, and spirit to be with what is, to find comfort, to take shelter, and to be renewed.

Giving ourselves - and our possibly (maybe probably) tired bodies, ragged nervous systems, and overworked minds - the gift of STILLNESS, SILENCE, and TIME for renewal is not only necessary and precious, it's the absolute BEST way to meet the holiday season.

🤸🏽‍♀️ADVANCING YOUR ASANA: CREATIVE & PROGRESSIVE SEQUENCING FOR EXPLORING COMPLEX POSES IS READY!

“Love this sequence. Thank you!”

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“That was a fabulous sequence Barrie and, like you, I was well prepared for Natarajasana. It was very informative for me on how much the thighs are at play in this pose.”

When I get comments like this from members of The Skillful Yogi, I know I’m on the right track. They aren’t just saying these things to be nice. They really mean it.

We’re a collective of seasoned practitioners and teachers who know better than to take an interesting and effective practice for granted. We know that there’s an art and a science to creative and intelligent sequencing. One that can be experienced and learned.

We’ve just completed “Advancing Your Asana,” our 8-week foray into exploring complex poses for practice and teaching through skillful, progressive and creative sequencing.

Today, I’m making this series available to everyone for immediate download.

We’ve covered some of the more interesting standing poses, backbends, arms balances, inversions, twists, and more.

Classes are all-levels and designed to challenge you as a practitioner and inspire you as a teacher.

Each class breaks down specific actions and component parts to make some of the more advanced postures understandable and approachable. You'll learn clear and accessible ways to practice and teach these fun and challenging poses.

PS: This series is FREE for members of The Skillful Yogi. You get unlimited access anytime, anywhere. Plus more than 30 other classes waiting for you immediately, with new classes added every week, plus guided meditation, plus daily inspiration for living yoga, plus 1:1 guidance for your practice and teaching, plus, plus, plus. Really. $30/month CAD gets you in as a charter member, but only for a few more weeks.

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

https://barrie-risman-yoga.teachable.com/p/advancing-your-a…

Fall 2018 Teachers' Retreat Report


"I love that you opened up your home to receive us and create a safe space for us to share. I have to say that I didn't feel "less than" because I was a new teacher, I love that there was so much respect between all the different levels of experienced and less-experienced teachers. I feel like it is hard to find sometimes."

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Boy, don't I know it. Sadly, a community of yoga teachers is NOT always the most welcoming place for a new teacher to be. Our Skillful Yogi Teachers' Retreat on Saturday was, for me, proof that it doesn't have to be that way. That we can reclaim the community and support we need as teachers of yoga.

Beyond the practices we shared, beyond the wisdom we dove into, it was the feeling of simply being together as dedicated students and teachers in an Intimate, small-group learning and practice environment that felt most timely and precious.

Teachers who've been at it for more than a decade sat beside those newly certified without a whiff of pretension or superiority, only respect, generosity and kindness.

This weekend I really got it that THIS is the new culture of yoga teachers we're building over at The Skillful Yogi. It's one marked not by certifications, number of students, or flashy teaching gigs but by dedication, sincerity, integrity and respect.

You can be sure I'll be creating more opportunities for us to be together.

And, I know we're not alone in this. Thank you to ALL the yogis, those within our Skillful Yogi walls and beyond, who continue to quietly, boldly, do the important work of building suportive communities that are dedicated to restoring and sharing your light with the world.

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

You Are the Sky

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I wrote this post several years ago, and I'm considering it again on this grey and rainy end to a grey and rainy week. The inner weather report. It's been a game changer for me.

www.barrierisman.com/blog/2016/1/25/the-inner-weather-report

Tomorrow, I'll be welcoming a small group of our Skillful Yogi members to a small-group retreat in Sutton. I can't wait to welcome these 15 teachers, some of whom I've known for more than a decade, some of whom I've yet to meet in person.

I have no doubt that whatever the outer weather, the sun will be shining brightly within the walls of our gathering.

It's how yoga and community works. Together, we BECOME the sky, we clear away the clouds, we restore ourselves, we emerge bright, clear and shining.

If you're a yoga teacher who knows you would benefit from the the support of a seasoned, friendly, and respectful community of yogis dedicated to inner exploration and shining our light more brightly for those we serve, I'd love to welcome you to The Skillful Yogi.

m.me/barrierisman


THE CURIOUS CASE OF THE OVER-QUALIFIED AND UNDER-CONFIDENT YOGA TEACHER

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Over on a colleague’s Facebook page there’s an interesting discussion about what, besides training, makes for great teaching. Presence, empathy, humility, motivation, finding one’s own voice, these are all great answers, the question is: How do you do it?

It’s something I’ve been thinking about for a while now. In just the past few weeks, several new teachers have reached out to me with the same curious situation – hundreds and hundreds of hours of training, yet little confidence in their abilities as a teacher. They’re bloated with information but unable to effectively share it, to deliver their knowledge in a way that they feel good about and that they feel really serves their students.

It’s not very surprising, actually. I know from being a former studio owner that trainings are one of the biggest income streams for yoga studios. Let’s face it, no one is making a living from $30 unlimited classes for a month. We’ve created a culture of training overload, where inspired students and new teachers feel they need to enter training after training because they are simply the only venues that provide the input and community we’re seeking.

But there comes a time when adding more hours and more certifications are not what’s needed. What’s needed is the unprofitable, yet crucial and empowering work of developing one’s OWN relationship with yoga.
Yes, of course, the skills and techniques you receive in training are the basis of effective teaching. We all know that. And, yet, for me, what makes the biggest difference in who you are as a teacher is, simply, who you are as a yogi.

I began teaching online in 2015 for the sole purpose of helping teachers integrate what they learn in trainings. To provide what I recognized as a much-needed framework and structure for new teachers to assimilate their hundreds of hours and put their skills into practice in ways that that proved effective in real life and felt authentic for them.

This is how The Skillful Yogi started, and it’s evolved into so much more. We’ve become a global community of teachers committed to shifting the serial-training culture and digging into practice and learning with the support of a seasoned community. I’m proud to say we’re shifting the culture of yoga consumerism and reclaiming the path of studentship and engaged learning. It’s pretty awesome, and if this post resonates with you, you’ll definitely want to check out what we're creating over at https://barrie-risman-yoga.teachable.com, but I digress…

What it comes down to is this: PRACTICE and EXPERIENCE. To be clear, I don’t mean ONLY practicing teaching, or getting experience teaching. I mean practicing YOGA. I mean going deeper into one’s own EXPERIENCE.

Simply put, we can only teach from who we are. A body, a mind, a spirit that REGULARLY (read: yes, every day) steeps itself in the teachings and practices of our tradition (if only for a few moments even) is, dare I say, THE ONLY way to find your voice as a teacher, to develop the presence and authenticity you crave, to be able to inspire simply by being who you are, to lead others on the path.

It’s a the daily infusion of yoga into our lives that give us confidence as a teacher, that gives us that thing that no training can provide, that makes teaching a natural extension of who we are.

It’s what you do on your mat when no one else is telling you what to do that you come into relationship with your body, your breath, your mind, that will be your greatest teacher.

It’s by being a STUDENT that we deepen our teaching. A student of our craft, of course, but perhaps more importantly, a student of OURSELVES.

Yoga is not simply a path of acquiring and consuming, though that is often the way it is presented in a mainstream yoga culture. It’s a path of BECOMING, IMBIBING, and ultimately, of BEING.

A Story for These Times

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Still processing the intensity of the weekend, still feeling raw, still grieving the senseless tragedies, and considering this (again) today:

"In the beginning, there was only the holy darkness, the Ein Sof, the source of life. And then, in the course of history, at a moment in time, this world, the world of a thousand, thousand things, emerged from the heart of the holy darkness as a great ray of light.

And then, perhaps because this is a Jewish story, there was an accident, and the vessels containing the light of the world, the wholeness of the world, broke. And the wholeness of the world, the light of the world was scattered into a thousand, thousand fragments of light, and they fell into all events and all people, where they remain deeply hidden until this very day.

Now, according to my grandfather, the whole human race is a response to this accident. We are here because we are born with the capacity to find the hidden light in all events and all people, to lift it up and make it visible once again and thereby to restore the innate wholeness of the world. It’s a very important story for our times. And this task is called tikkun olam in Hebrew. It’s the restoration of the world."

Rabbi Naomi Remen

GETTING REAL

We've been getting real about all manner of things this week on The Skillful Yogi - about our practice, our intentions for yoga, our bodies, our minds.

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I love getting real. Having authentic conversations aboout where we are with our yoga, unapolgetically, is who we are at The Skillful Yogi. Because shouldn't yoga be for real life?

Here's a sampling of the practices and conversations happening within the virtual walls of our no-nonsense, down-to-earth collective of dedicated teachers and inspired students, with a free class download for you!

Let me know if you have any questions about our membership. It would be an honour to support you in your practice and teaching.

m.me/barrierisman

https://mailchi.mp/…/free-downloads-a-skillful-yogi-sampler…