Barrie's Blog

Making Your Sacred Offering (&Your Offering Sacred)

Jan 24, 2018

May you awaken like the sun at daybreak,

Ready to make your sacred offering.

Set forth with delight, like a pilgrim on his journey.

 

O heroic one, move forward with resolve

To make this sacred offering of yourself to life.

May you plan the banner of victory

In the service of humankind.

Rg-Veda

 

When I returned from living in India for 4 years, one of the things I dearly wanted to hold onto was the awareness that everything I do can be approached as an offering. I wanted to remember, no matter what, that my highest goal in life is to be of service to others.

To remind myself of this intention, I put a small candle on my desk and lit the flame each day when I began my work.

With time, I stopped lighting the candle on my desk, but I found other ways to remember and uphold the spirit of offering in my daily life. It continues to be a treasured and guiding force. It elevates work and family life to the realm of dharma, and allows me to see that even my most...

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What Really Matters?

Jan 11, 2018

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...

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How Does it Feel to Begin Again?

Jan 04, 2018

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.

...

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Top Cold-Weather Yoga Hacks

Nov 30, 2017

I asked my Canadian yoga-teacher friends from Nova Scotia to British Columbia, to share their top tips for getting to the mat when the temperature drops. They responded with some really enticing and cozy ideas, none of which involve practicing in a 35-degree room. Clearly, we Canadians have got this winter-yoga thing down! 

Thanks to Christine Guenette, Eliot Acuna, Erin Moon, Melanie Richards, Nathalie Keiller, Robin Golt, and Sara Lamb for weighing in!

GETTING READY

  • I light beeswax candles, definitely! Sara

  • Wear layers - this way I can start feeling warm, then peel off the layers as my body heats up, and have everything near by for a cozy savasana. – Christine

  • Playing some chants or other slow, steady music seems just right for winter. - Sara

  • I have discovered that the warm red glow of a simple infrared bulb draws me to my mat on chilly days in winter, especially when I have been at my desk for a while and feel creaky. Available in the reptile section of your...
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Top Cold-Weather Yoga Hacks

Nov 30, 2017
 

I asked my Canadian yoga-teacher friends from Nova Scotia to British Columbia, to share their top tips for getting to the mat when the temperature drops. They responded with some really enticing and cozy ideas, none of which involve practicing in a 35-degree room. Clearly, we Canadians have got this winter-yoga thing down! 

Thanks to Christine Guenette, Eliot Acuna, Erin Moon, Janie Pelletier, Melanie Richards, Nathalie Keiller, Robin Golt, and Sara Lamb for weighing in!

GETTING READY

  • I light beeswax candles, definitely! Sara

  • Wear layers - this way I can start feeling warm, then peel off the layers as my body heats up, and have everything near by for a cozy savasana. – Christine

  • Playing some chants or other slow, steady music seems just right for winter. - SaraI have discovered that the warm red glow of a simple infrared bulb draws me to my mat on chilly days in winter, especially when I have been at my desk for a while and feel creaky. Available...

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Q & A: How to Combine Different Practices

Oct 26, 2017

A student in a recent retreat shared the following with me:

It was my first time attending a day dedicated to Yoga and the many forms of practice. Importantly, I understood that asanas are only one part of the yogic practice. This simple but powerful insight helped me understand that meditation, chanting, breathing, intention and visioning are part of a system.

Though we may chant in class, meditate, practice breathing exercises, it may not be obvious that postural practice is a part of a holistic system that involves and addresses all parts of oneself. 

If you’ve been attending class for sometime, you might have been doing this more than you think. A student in a recent meditation course shared with me that while the course was helpful to understand how meditation actually worked and provided the motivation and group support to actually do it, she also realized that through her years of practice in classes and retreats, she not only was familiar with many of the...

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When Yoga Gets Boring; 6 Ways to Refresh Your Practice

Oct 04, 2017

Free Home Practice Guide! If you didn't already receive my new 16-page Home Yoga Practice Guide, you can DOWNLOAD IT HERE! It’s full of practical tips and suggestions to support your independent practice, and includes  a pose syllabus and practice sequences if you have 15, 30 60 minutes or more. I hope you enjoy it!


With all that's going on in our world, I thought I couldn't write about yoga this week. It felt superfluous and even self-indulgent to talk about practice amidst the tragedies we are dealing with these days. However, the truth is that yoga is precisely what allows me to build resilience in the face of struggle. Practice is what restores my inspiration when I'm feeling hopeless and calms my agitation so I can show up for others in a way that is truly helpful. It's actually what I need to do most. So, here's to continuing to think about practice and continuing to practice, even when it feels hard.

6 ways to Overcome...

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Traversing The Plateaus: How to Maintain Enthusiasm For Practice

Sep 26, 2017

“Only a few classes and my back pain is gone! I love yoga!”

“I’ve been meditating for just a couple of weeks and I’m already sleeping better. Amazing!”

“Learning to focus on my breathing has made a huge difference in how I deal with stress at work. Wow! Yoga really works!”

Yoga is powerful. It often doesn’t take long to feel its positive impact. Many of us have experienced shifts  - both small and large - pretty quickly. Fired up, we commit to making yoga a consistent part of our lives.

However, the pace of transformation doesn’t often continue at such a dramatic rate as these initial shifts. Yoga begins to feel dry and boring. Motivation wanes. Practice becomes a chore rather than a delight. You might feel as if nothing is happening, or that yoga isn’t helping you anymore. You certainly don’t feel the exuberant joy for practice you once did. As we continue, enthusiasm for practice is something we...

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Where Does Your Practice Thrive?

Jun 27, 2017

Recently, a student remarked to me after class,

“Thank you. This was exactly where I needed to be."

 

I suspect she was grateful not only to have placed herself in the practices on that particular day, but also to have done so in a space dedicated to yoga and nurturing the path of inner connection.
 I’ve always thought of neighbourhood studios not only as yoga schools, but just as fundamentally as community centers. Aside from being, hopefully, one of the last places where we are free from our devices for a little while, studios that encourage community are a kind of modern marketplace, where ideas are shared and connections are made. And even more valuable and rare than that, dedicated yoga spaces are places that can spark and sustain the precious longings of seekers.

My practice was honed in local centres, meditation groups, and retreat sites. These were places where other seekers welcomed me. They gave me the space to nurture my burgeoning pull...

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Yogi Mind: Ekagrata

Jun 13, 2017

The attainment of the Samadhi state involves the elimination of all-pointedness [i.e. wandering] of the mind and the rise of one-pointedness [i.e. concentration].

Yoga Sutra 3.11, trans. by Edwin Bryant

Under the appearance of thought, there is really an indefinite and disordered flickering, fed by sensations words, and memory. The first duty of the yogin is to think-that is, not to let himself think. This is why Yoga practice begins with ekagrata, which darns the mental stream and thus constitutes a 'psychic mass,' a solid and unified continuum.

Mircea Eliade

When meditation is mastered, the mind is unwavering like the flame of a lamp in a windless place.

Bhagavad Gita, 6.19-20

The most powerful lessons in one-pointedness I’ve had came while watching yajnas, ancient Vedic fire ceremonies that are performed by Brahmin priests. During the 4 years I lived in India I attended a number of these ceremonies, which often last for several days. In a yajna, Vedic mantras are...

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