🤸🏽‍♀️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

📖A "SCRIPTURAL" BASIS FOR THE NEW ANNUAL RATE FOR OUR SKILLFUL YOGI MEMBERSHIP📖

I'm not making this up. Even Patanjali points out, in Yoga Sutra 1.22, that there are different types of students in yoga. Not better, not worse, just different. Distinct levels of students, who progress along the path at different speeds according to their character. He talks about the casual, the moderate, the intense, and the super-intense student.

It’s not just Patanjali either. The yogic tradition loves to categorize. As far as I know, there are several other places where we find delineation between TYPES of yogis.

THE CASUAL STUDENT: In the modern-day yoga culture, this might be akin to, say, the student that always and only attends the free classes at Lululemon, doesn’t matter who’s teaching or what style, it’s free yoga!

THE MODERATE STUDENT: This might describe the student who attends the drop-in class at the local Y or the studio closest to home and ONLY at the time that’s most convenient for them.

Or, moving along the spectrum, there’s the INTENSE STUDENT who might be the one who buys the class card, and makes it a priority to attend class regularly with a specifically-chosen teacher and style.

And, then there are the SUPER-INTENSE yogis, the ones who are ALL-IN, for whom yoga isn't just a practice it's a way of living. These are the MEMBERS, the ones who join, who commit, who’ve settled on where they practice, and with whom.

And it’s NOT a matter ONLY of convenience, or location. These yogis commit because they’re selective. They know what works for them. They know the importance of continually refining and deepening their practice, going above and beyond what they teach to feel inspired and excited about what they offer.

They commit because they’ve found what they want - the teacher, the practices, the community that really serves them. (These students, by the way, are the ones who are said to PROGRESS most quickly.)

They join because they know that by committing they become free from having to decide. And, we all know the relief that comes from having ONE LESS THING TO THINK ABOUT. Big exhale.

Because this last category defines our Skillful Yogi community, I realized it was out of alignment for me NOT to offer a yearly rate.

Because we are the yogis who are ALL IN. We’re the fortunate ones who’ve landed, who’ve found the home and community that helps us to thrive in our practice and our teaching.

One of our members shared this about why her decision to go all-in was a no-brainer:

"It's just the perfect program for me. I get classes, inspiration, meditation and philosophy all in one convenient place. I like the platform you use, its very easy to navigate. And I have realized I have gotten VERY picky with who I want as a yoga teacher, I no longer want to go to just any teacher I want someone inspiring and alignment based - it just works for my body. 30$ a month (well now even cheaper) is something that fits into my budget so it was an easy choice!!"

Our new yearly rate is an incredible value at $300CAD. You get two-months free and all-inclusive access to our online classes, courses and workshops. All available anytime, to engage with wherever, whenever, and as often as you’d like.

Questions about how The Skillful Yogi can serve you and your teaching? Message me with any questions.

m.me/barrierisman

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

WHY I STOPPED TRYING TO MAKE SENSE OF THE SENSELESS

Yesterday was the ninth anniversary of my oldest sister’s passing. She would have been 60 years old and a grandmother of two, soon to be three. 

It’s on days like this when I realize, yet again, that I will never be able to understand WHY certain things happen.

As anyone who has lost a close loved one knows, we’ll never be able to answer the question why? Why what should have been, could have been, is never to be?

Yet, while senseless tragedies will remain just that, I choose to believe that there is something else, something greater, something more all-encompassing than the pain and suffering (as well as the happiness and joy) in our lives. 

Something fundamental, unshakeable, and essentially good. 

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I don’t want to say much more about that right now. But what I do want to say is that believing in goodness, believing in something beyond our suffering is a something I choose. It’s a decision I make over and over. 

It doesn’t mean I don’t question, or doubt, or struggle with the enormity of the suffering and injustices in our world. It’s just that I have come to peace with the futility of trying to figure it all out. 

Instead, I humbly accept that there will be some things that will never make sense to me. I also accept that I have the freedom to choose what I wish to believe. 

This perspective allows tragedy and hope to coexist. 
It allows me to embrace the immensity of the ever-unfolding mystery of life rather than shutting down. 
Often, it’s what allows me to keep going.

Letting go where I need to,
Doing my work,
Cultivating meaningful, authentic connection
Being a support for those I love and serve.

And perhaps most importantly, it allows me to remember the preciousness of it all. To savour each moment and each day of this fleeting life, including the challenges, the difficult days, the tragic stories – it allows me to be with it ALL.

This is what our practices bring us. Truly speaking, is there ANYTHING more urgent, more important than being grounded in the absolute preciousness of our lives?

I’ll be welcoming a handful of women to the beautiful countryside of Quebec in a few weeks to become established in this understanding. 

To dig deeper, to regain true perspective, to recharge, to once again turn toward the light. 

If you know it’s time, I’d love to welcome you into our sacred circle.

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

🛶TAKING THE LONG ROAD HOME🛶

Earlier this week my family and I spent the day on a canoe. As we made our way down the idyllic, meandering Missisquoi river I got to thinking about how THIS was once the ONLY feasible way of getting from point A to point B. 

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There were no shortcuts, no highways, just a river with its twists and turns, sometime placid and peaceful, sometimes unpredictable, feisty and turbulent. There was no option but to go with it. We couldn’t take another faster or more efficient route.

In yoga, I’ve never been all that interested in shortcuts or promises of quick and easy transformation. For one thing, when we’re talking about delving into our inner landscape, I don’t think there ARE any actual shortcuts. I think there’s much greater wisdom, and delight really, in taking our time to nagivate all the twists and turns in the terrain of our own consciousness, whether it be physically, emotionally or mystically.

I know we LIVE in a culture obsessed with quicker and easier, faster and more efficient (and I too will NEVER, EVER turn down a way to make a 20-minute meal taste like it took hours to cook), but when it comes to yoga I’ve ALWAYS been much more interested in meandering, in decidedly NOT rushing, in savoring every moment and morsel of the journey, in taking the long road home.

It’s not for all travellers, for sure, but if you, like me, delight in the journey I have the perfect event for you. There are just a few spots left. Contact me for details.

m.me/barrierisman

CONTINUING

If there's one thing I've learned in 25 years of yoga practice, it's this: THE most essential skill in yoga is simply THE WILLINGNESS TO CONTINUE. 

Being willing to begin again, and again.

To get back on the path when you've veered away. Without judgement. Without shame. 

To greet yourself exactly where you are with tenderness and love. 

To once again recognize and make space for your heart's deepest longings to surface.

To gently welcome yourself back into the light.

Willingness to begin again is a skill, for sure. Something we hone over time. And, it is BEST done in supportive, focused, and joyous community.

Yoga teachers: Our sacred, intensive, and transformational 5-day retreat is coming up in a few weeks. We have THE PERFECT group of seasoned yoginis coming together and there are a couple of spaces left. Message me if you know it's your time to dive deep in celebrating your practice, your path, and continuing on. It would be an honour to welcome you into our intimate circle.

m.me/barrierisman

🤔IS THE SKILLFUL YOGI FOR YOU? WELL, IT REALLY ALL DEPENDS ON HOW FINICKY YOU ARE ABOUT YOUR YOGA🤔

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I’ve been speaking with some of our Skillful Yogi members over the past few weeks and, not surprisingly, there's a common theme emerging: We’re here because we're selective.

We’ve been doing yoga long enough to know that not just any local studio down the road is the one we’ll frequent, that we're not going to be satisfied with just any ol' drop-in class. We've come to KNOW what works for us, what we need, and it may not be what ANY teacher in our city provides.

We’re choosy, and rightfully so. There’s a lot out there in yogaland, and the truth is, much of it just doesn’t quite cut it for us. We want the real thing, skilled teaching and authentic community that reflect a dedication to yoga as a path of lifelong inquiry and ongoing discovery.

It’s for us, the discriminating students, the savvy ones, that I designed The Skillful Yogi membership. Nuanced, rich, textured teachings and practices to not SIMPLY give you your fill of yoga, but NOURISH your practice, quench your thirst for inspiration, and provide space for community, connection, input, and guidance. 

"Since taking the on-line course with Barrie, I am back on track with my practice and I am experiencing a more engaged relationship with my yoga and I am full to overflowing with joy for that. I approach my mat now with eagerness and delight. Forever grateful."

"So grateful for this program and my companions on this journey."

"That is the first time I have practiced yoga outside in my own backyard! It was AMAZING! The feel of the earth beneath my feet was stabilizing, I felt I could remain in the posture so much longer... just savouring! As the practice progressed, I slowed... stewed in each movement, each breath! Thank you for this!"

"Wonderful... What an amazing way to start the day! I feel full!"

We’ve been having a great time in our Love Your Yoga! 21-day Program of Practices to Savor the Season doing things like:
=> ROADTRIP RECOVERY CLASS
=> LOWER BACK LOVE- A nourishing practice for taking care of sore backs and cranky SI joints
=> HARNESSING THE VITAL POWER BREATHWORK
=> EXPERIENCING NATURE AS A DHARANA
=> 3 INTRIGUING PRACTICES TO EXPLORE AND REFINE HOW YOU WALK ON THE EARTH

See the full program here:
https://barrie-risman-yoga.teachable.com/p/loveyouryoga21da…

It's all included with your monthly membership. You can jump in anytime and begin right away. Video classes, teaching talks, breathwork, journaling prompts, meditations and much more are waiting for you when you join The Skillful Yogi Membership. You’ll get access to our complete Love Your Yoga! 21-day program which you can do at your own pace, in your own time. 

$30CAD/month, no strings attached, you can cancel at anytime.

Questions? Not sure? I'd love to hear from you.

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

m.me/barrierisman

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/

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...

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/

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

🌀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…

🎊Beyond the Bells and Whistles🎊

When I teach at conferences and festivals, I always find that the exact right people show up for my session. This weekend at Expo Yoga in Montreal was no different. As usual, I was delighted to be with a group of curious, engaged students interested in taking their yoga a little bit deeper, getting some input on refining their practice and exploring how to integrate the lessons of the postural practice into their lives. 

And, as usual, I’m the teacher without the awesome playlist, without the elaborate ritual, without the bells and whistles. 🛎

Don’t get me wrong; I have nothing against a great playlist. I LOVE to groove out in my practice from time to time. And, I LOVE ritual, sacred circles, ALL OF THAT. It’s just that for me, the bells and whistles often sound loudest when I get to go deeper INSIDE my experience. Awakening a new awareness, discovering a new connection, inhabiting my own strength or softening into a deeper release – these are the things that light me up. And those experiences, for me, are often best accompanied only by the music of my breath and the sweet presence of other yogis. 💡

Call me traditional, call me old school, but for me, music, cool lighting, and other trappings of commercial yoga culture can be a distraction to accessing the thrilling experience of expanding consciousness in my body.

Silence is how I get to OWN my experience in practice, keep it with me, integrate it into my being, independent of accouterments.

If you, like me, are ready to go beyond the bells and whistles and unlock a deeper level of empowerment, awareness and refinement in your practice I hope you’ll join me for my upcoming free webinar on THURSDAY, MARCH 1. 

I'll reveal some of the key approaches to practice that have made yoga an incredibly valuable support in all areas of my life and fully integrate the physical practice into my journey of self-discovery. 

REGISTER HERE:
https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/evolving-your-yoga-3-principles…

The link to the recording will be sent out if you can't participate live.

I can't wait to share this with you!

By Rote or Remote?

Congratulations! You made it to your mat. Whether in a studio, YMCA, or your living room, you’ve shown up.

That certainly deserves applause because yoga, like any other pursuit, works best through repeated effort over time. Abhyasa in the tradition, neuroplasticity in scientific terms. Whatever we label it, it’s true that the most important thing you can do in yoga is simply to keep showing up.

And, yet, there is SO MUCH MORE. 

And here’s where the question of HOW comes in. Not just DO you practice (I’m pretty sure that you do, at least most of the time), but HOW, how do you practice?

By rote? Mechanically, uninspired and just going through the motions?

Or by remote? Your body is there but your mind is scattered, distant, distracted?

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Believe me, I’ve been in both of those places!

I’m here to tell you: It doesn’t have to be that way.

Think about the sunrise. It happens consistently without fail. And every day is new and different. It’s not always unforgettable, or spectacular. Sometimes its quiet, muted. But every day it is unique, and fully WHAT IT IS. It is perfect.

Your yoga practice can be the same way. By approaching your practice through the lens of the timeless (yet exceedingly relevant) wisdom at the heart of this living tradition, practice is never the same because WE are never the same. Our bodies, our minds, our needs are always changing. It’s like viewing a masterpiece of art. We can do it again and again and always get something new, different, and more nuanced out of it. When we learn how to engage with practice this way, it never gets old because it is a continual unfolding of the truth illuminating our present experience. We get insight, we see nuances, we make shifts. It is exciting!

“Principles for an Enlightened Practice” are approaches, entry points into practice that are designed to help you make your yoga new and uniquely yours every day.

They are the keys I have found over 25 years of practice to experience freshness and greater enjoyment and extract deeper benefit in my practice every day. And to INTEGRATE all the juicy insights and aha moments I get on my mat into my life.

Join me for my upcoming, free webinar to start working with these transformational approaches to practice so that every day you show up it’s new and perfect, like the sunrise.

 

What REALLY Matters?

I almost skipped (or at least postponed) my morning meditation today in favor of being “productive.”

As my coffee was brewing, I glanced at my Facebook feed and saw:

- an account from someone in Montecito, CA about the devastation happening there.

- a crowd-funding campaign for a friend who was recently diagnosed with stage 4 cancer

- A tribute to an old friend who recently passed away.

- A blog post from a colleague about her experience of grieving a recent miscarriage.

- Many, many messages of support and good wishes from friends all around the world for what all these people are going through

Struck by the intensity of all this (especially at 6:30 am, and especially before I’d had my coffee), I felt a sudden sense of urgency. Immediately, I sat for meditation.

I sat because all this news was a stark reminder that, for me, there is NOTHING more important than taking time DAILY to get perspective on what really matters, to remember the preciousness of life, and to become present to the extraordinariness of each day we are given.

I don’t doubt that most would agree all this is important, even necessary, for living a purposeful, inspired life.

The thing is, we need a WAY to do this, consistently and effectively. That’s where practice comes in. A daily, scheduled, sacred time for practice, whether it’s asana, mediation, prayer, reflection, or something else, practice is about bringing us back to the awareness of what matters most.

After my meditation, I went about being productive, but from an entirely different inner stance. Emptying the dishwasher, making breakfast for my daughter, and the simple tasks of daily life felt palpably sweeter, somehow poignant. The gift of meditation for me this morning was becoming available to notice and appreciate the blessings in my life, and to meet the pain and suffering of those going through difficulties with compassion and love.

What is the value of practice for you in your life? In your state of being?

Noticing the effects of your yoga on the rest of your day, and on your perspective of life in general, helps to solidify your commitment to it. And whenever you do, I encourage you to take a moment to thank yourself, actually honour yourself, for pausing from the business of life to remember what’s truly important.

How Does it Feel to Begin Again?

How was your practice over the holidays? Interrupted? Sporadic? Non-existent?

I can relate.

Over the past 25 years, I’ve experienced the full range of what I think of as ‘seasons’ in my yoga practice. There have been long stretches when I could practice uninterruptedly for (sigh) 2 hours a day. And, there have been times where yoga couldn’t, or didn’t, happen regularly. Whether due to travel, family or work responsibilities, injury, illness, or just plain-ol’ laziness, I have slacked on many occasions. 

And I know I’m not alone. For anyone who embraces yoga as a path of practice over the long haul, this is how it goes. Life, or oneself, sometimes get in the way.

But here’s the thing:

It’s okay with me. It's okay because I know I will start again. I always do. I’ve learned that I can trust myself to get back to a scheduled, regular practice time and begin, yet again. That’s what I’m doing this week.

More than that, I’ve learned to relish the opportunity of a new beginning, to once again enjoy the freedom of moving a stiff body as if for the first time, to greet myself in the space of allowing and acceptance, to breathe consciously, to turn within.

Remember: The starting point in yoga is always exactly where you are.

Self-reliance is liberating. It cuts through resistance, guilt and allows for the myriad fresh starts we make on the path. 

This week, I invite you to welcome yourself back. And thank yourself for showing up.

May you experience the liberating magic of beginning again.