“Love this sequence. Thank you!”


“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.



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."


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.


You Are the Sky


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.


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.




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


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


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.




As I begin my 50th year, this is the question on my mind and on a post-it note on my desk. 

Thank you, Brandi Carlile, for asking it.


It's the only way I can think of to reconcile the disparity between how humbled and fortunate I feel for all I've been blessed with, juxtaposed against the amount of needless suffering and injustice in our troubled world that make me profoundly uncomfortable.

Holding this question and trying to live it everyday is my intention for this new year. To no longer waste time with petty differences and insecurities, and to do what I can to make my little corner of the world shine a little brighter. 

My main ally in this endeavor is, of course, the teachings and practices of my path. Yoga, the practices AND the teachings: it's what allows me to tend to my body, to clear and calm my mind, and to restore my spirit again, and again, and again. 

And, I know I'm in very good company.

If you, like me, know that yoga is what allows you to do your work, to bring what goodness you can into the world, then I have good news for you. There's a community of yogis from all over the world who come together, daily, within the virutal walls of The Skillful Yogi, to find inspiration, to replenish enthusiasm, and coninue on.

It would be an honour to welcome you to our collective of yoga teachers and continuing students dedicated to walking the talk.



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.




Lily’s home with a little cold today. She’s resting in our bed like I used to in my parents' room. I remember days like the one she’s having today. Home. In bed. Warm. Safe. Quiet. Apart from the activity of the rest of the world.

It’s fitting too, because I’ve been thinking a lot about home since she asked me the other day, “What is home to you, Maman?” 

With the Jewish holidays rolling around it’s fitting, even natural, to reflect on family and celebrations past in the beautiful home I grew up in; The place that saw celebration after celebration, ordeal after ordeal, the building (feels funny to even call it that) that held the fullness of our family’s life day in and day out. 

And, later this week I’ll be going back to spend a few days in the ashram I called home for many years, and which still feels like it in the best sense of the word: the most welcoming shelter for my being, where I get to let down the pretenses I didn’t even know I was carrying around, where I get to come back to my “why?” and rededicate myself to the most important relationship in my life, the one with my spiritual path.

It’s there where I come back to myself. The truest, most precious homecoming.

The poet saints refer to the body as a house, a temple even, where spirit takes residence. But today I’m thinking about home in this way, as the structures that shelter my being , the places that provide the framework within which life unfolds, the comfortable spaces where I feel welcomed and encouraged to simply be as I am.

I’m creating a new feature for our Skillful Yogi membership, daily writings about the home that yoga provides – the teachings, practices, learnings, the structures - that support a life lived from a stance of inner connection. It’s called the Yogi Home Companion. 

It’s included with monthly membership to The Skilful Yogi. To find out more about the yogi home we’re building here, visit:


It would be a pleasure to welcome you.


Welcome, Late Summer

🌄Here we are...Late summer, as a distinct and separate season, has always made so much sense to me. It's a transitional season, one of consolidating our experiences of the summer and getting ready for fall, harvesting the gifts of the past season as we move into a new rhythm.🌄

I feel it this week. We're on the cusp of turning the page to yet another fresh start (I always say I'll take as many chances to begin again as I can get!)

As always, our practices are there to help us make our way through this transition gracefully and consciously. 

Energetically, late summer is a time to center, to ground, to get solid on our feet. Here's an 8-minute routine to do just that.

And, there's so much more waiting for you on our member site. 




These Lac St-Jean wild blueberries, as any good Quebecer will tell you, are simply the best in the world. Sweet, flavorful, juicy, available only for a few short weeks a year, they are the textbook definition of a PERFECT blueberry IMHO. 

I’ve been snacking often on them as I’ve been planning for my 5-day women’s retreat next week. The other day, it hit me: this is the first ever Evolving Your Yoga retreat. 

As many of you know, I’ve been working on a book about deepening yoga practice for the past several years. It’s soon coming to fruition, so it made total sense when I realized (duh! of course) that this will be the first in-depth event where I’ll be guiding teachers into exploring the content of my book in their practice and teaching, on the mat and beyond the mat. 

It’s like that moment where you’re in a workshop and through skilled sequencing and instruction the teacher leads you, almost unknowingly, into a place you’ve never been before. And you realize you’re just there, in a pose you’ve never done before, or avoided, or were sacred of, or didn’t know how to approach. You just find yourself in it. It was kind of the same feeling yesterday. 

I’ve been so immersed in the journey, it took a moment, and some blueberries, to realize what I’m doing is actually part of arriving at my destination. Pretty cool.



✨What if I KNEW, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that EVERYTHING in my life was unfolding exactly how it was meant to be?

✨What if I had FIRM CONVICTION in the perfection of my life, right here, right now?

Now, I’m not saying there are not things that need to change, or areas that must evolve and shift. Not that there aren’t actions I need to take to encourage that change, evolution, and shift.

But, how would beginning from that place of unconditional acceptance change how I felt and acted? How I approached unease, difficulty, and pain?

I journalled here yesterday about some of those questions. Like many of us, I’m feeling the intensity of these times. 

Maybe it’s the complex planetary movements, maybe it’s grieving for losses in my own life own life, and those of people around me, maybe it’s all that and more.

For so many reasons, there are times when the inner waters get muddied, when we are left with hurt, disappointment, unresolved situations, when we find ourselves in unfavorable conditions in which we, still, must act, must take a step forward, even

Sitting with all this, asking the questions, what if, even with all this, I still TRUSTED that ALL THIS was perfect? That things were unfolding EXACTLY as they should be for the perfect and necessary evolution of my soul? How would that change my experience?

In that very moment, I spontaneously took a deep breath. My jaw released. My shoulders relaxed. I looked up and and felt caressed by the warm summer air, I felt the sun on my skin, I heard the crickets and the birdsong. The present moment rolled out the red carpet for me. All was exactly as it should be on a mid-August afternoon.

To welcome the quiet, abiding joy that tinges life with sweetness,
That reminds us of the underlying perfection among the muddy waters of unresolved situations,
That infuses our challenges with allowing, acceptance, and contentment,
That restores our trust,
THIS is why we practice.

Next week, we’ll be doing just that. Late summer is the IDEAL time for this. The light, the air, all of nature seems to conspire at this time of year to turn our attention toward the inner fullness, the ever-present underlying ground of our being. If you know it’s time, I’d be honored to have you join us.

Message me for details.



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. 


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.



I woke up this morning with a question on my mind. It's one I've been asking for many, many years, decades in fact. It's this:

How can I be of service?

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Like many of us, my yoga teaching (and practice) has ALWAYS fundamentally been about serving. Offering some of what I've been so fortunate to receive on this path. Generously, wholeheartedly. 

It comes down to this: SERVING is what motivates me, what fulfills me, what lights me up. 

I KNOW this is true for many teachers out there. We do what we do out of gratitude for what yoga has brought to our lives, in many cases, even SAVED our lives.

Truly speaking, I think we are ALL here to be of service.

So, the question is - what gets in the way? How can we, as teachers, ensure that we're able to CONTINUE doing what we're here to do? What brings joy and meaning to our lives? 

The answer is no secret. We all know that the ONLY way to be of service to others is to serve ourselves first. Regularly, effectively. There just isn't any way around it. 

I serve my body with nourishing movement.
I serve my mind with meditation and timeless wisdom.
I serve my spirit by surrounding myself with natural beauty and uplifiting company as often as I can.

What are you doing today (and everyday) to fuel your ability to be of service? How are you serving YOURSELF?

In a few weeks, a handful of women teachers will join together to dive deep into joyous, transformative, and sacred practices. 

This intensive retreat is INTENTIONALLY placed to arrive at the end of the summer and before the busyness of the fall sets in. It's the PERFECT time to do the ESSENTIAL work of rejuvenating, restoring, and reconnecting. There is no better moment to serve yourself, to fill your cup to overflowing. 

Here's the info, if it call out to you, I'd love to welcome you into our circle:




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. 


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.



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.