Five Points Yoga

Barrett's Blog

September Yoga Babies!

 

It’s that time again – more yoga babies are in the world, and they’re cuter than ever :)

Angela A., from Black Lotus and The Breathing Room,  had baby boy Surya Alexander on September 2.   He was 7lbs 9oz. and I’d love to share what she wrote a few days after her birth (emphasis mine):

“I just wanted to pass on a little note to say thanks for all the wonderful prenatal yoga classes.  My birth was such an empowering and positive experience no doubt because of a strong yoga practice and the excellent support of Nathan!  I felt really strong, confident and powerful and really found the sounding techniques to be helpful.  

Angela and Surya

 

Yusyani S., from Black Lotus and the Breathing Room, had baby girl Marjorie Indra on September 5.   She was 8lbs. 3 oz.

Yusy and Marjorie

Katie D., from O2 yoga, had baby boy Gennadiy, on September 6.  He weighed 8lbs.13oz.   Katie wrote:

“Looking back on the pregnancy, I’m extremely thankful I practiced yoga up until the very end. The most useful thing for me was drishti.  It’s when we focus on a spot in the distance and use that for balance, concentration and centering. That was absolutely essential to getting through the pushing, which at the time felt like it went on forever.”

Gena!

Maggie E. from O2 Yoga, welcomed baby boy Rahm on September 17.   Rahm was in the breech position, so Maggie had a Csection.  She writes:

“Prenatal yoga was essential to my ability to stay calm throughout the surgery and immediate recovery. And now that I’m up and starting to move again, I am so grateful for the extra strength and focus I gained in your classes.”

Maggie and Rahm

Annie M. from Black Lotus and the Breathing Room had baby boy Charlie on September 20.  He was 8lbs. 4 oz.

Charlie and his parents!

Laura S, from Black Lotus and Karma,  had baby girl Liv on September 29.   Laura writes,

“Labor and delivery went very well and Liv is doing great! My recovery has been fast and amazing as well. All that exercise and yoga makes such a difference!”

Liv!

 

Changing Up the Practice

 

Did you know that some yoga traditions practice the same postures, in the same order, every time?  Bikram yoga, famous as “Hot” yoga, practices 26 postures in the same sequence.   In fact, the sequence has been trademarked by the founder (and he has sued people who teach his sequence without crediting him but that’s another story).    Astanga yoga, my first yoga training, likewise does the same flow every time (about 50 postures).

Some people like the predictability of doing the same practice.   The sun salutes are a great example of a flow you can memorize and just do without struggling to think about what comes next.  This is nice in the morning (traditional time to practice sun salutes) when your brain may be a little foggy!     It’s also true that when you practice the same thing over and over, you get more competent at it.

To me, though, there are lots of downsides to doing the same practice each day.   That’s why I like to change it up in every class I teach.  Here are reasons why I like a varied practice:

 

1)      There are thousands of yoga postures.   I can’t imagine creating one practice that would do all that I ever wanted to do for the rest of my life!  For example, when I learned and practiced Astanga in my teens, I craved Pigeon pose and Half Moon Pose, but they aren’t in the series.   Life is so much sweeter with a little Pigeon in it.

 

2)      We are different each time we come onto the mat.   We need different things seasonally (winter vs. summer) and throughout our life cycle (in our 20’s vs. in our 50’s).    We also might need something a little different in the morning vs. the evening, and on a Monday vs. a Friday.    Though a teacher can’t exactly predict what each person needs in a class, she can gauge the class energy and based on some quick perceptions, guide a class that is (hopefully) suitable for the common denominator before her.

 

3)      Repeating over and over can cause injury.   Primary series in Astanga yoga focuses a lot on forward bends.   I’ve found more than one practitioner who has chronically pulled hamstrings as a result.   Ouch!   While it’s true that the practitioner has to accept responsibility for the injury, it may have been avoided if s/he didn’t do the same practice day in and day out.

 

4)      Let’s face it – it’s just a little bit boring to do the same thing time and again.   Isn’t it fun to show up to class and wonder what new asana you’re going to learn?   It’s fun as a teacher too, to make new sequences that help students explore in fresh ways.

All that being said, I encourage you to try Bikram or Astanga if you’re curious!  They are dynamic, high-energy practices.  Take from them the best that they have to offer, but think about the above “argument” for a more varied practice.

Namaste!

August Yoga Babies!

 

Ok, I’m officially LOVING putting the list of new mamas and babies together every month!  It’s been a busy August as you can see!  Enjoy :)

Whitney H., a 3-time mama from o2 Yoga, had baby girl Frances on August 6.   Baby Frances surprised everyone by deciding not to wait until the hospital!  Whitney gave birth on her bed, with her doula (who is her sister) and husband there to catch the baby.  An all-female EMT crew showed up to make sure everyone was healthy (gotta love Cambridge!).    Whitney has been in class for her 3 pregnancies over the last 6 years, and she wrote me: “Thank you Barrett for providing a calm and focus on many Sunday nights during my pregnancies.  I feel fortunate to have learned from you.”

Frances with big sister

Marguerite R. from Healthworks had baby girl Maeve on August 10.   She was 8lbs. 1 oz, and Marguerite noted that her daughter came on their wedding anniversary.  Aww!

Marguerite and Maeve

Emily P. from Healthworks had baby boy Luke on August 11.   He was 8lbs. 10oz, and Emily said that the doctors “told me it was going to take about 3 hours for me to push him out, but once I started going, they were caught off guard… I don’t think they were ready for my yoga pushing strength!”   He came out in 20 minutes!

Emily and Luke

Kirsten H., from O2 Yoga, had baby boy Finnianon August 19.   Baby Finn stayed persistently breech, and mama Kirsten writes: “I used your prenatal podcasts twice a week throughout pregnancy to keep me in shape and well-stretched.  Breathing and staying focused and calm was very important during the start of labor and actually during the operation since I was so anxious about surgery. Thanks again for all of the excellent recommendations on breathing and strengthening poses.”

Finnian!

Lisa M., from Black Lotus and The Breathing Room, had baby boy Philip, on August 27.   He was 7lbs, 4oz.

Lisa and Philip

Sulini H., from Black Lotus and The Breathing Room, had baby girl Aisha, on August 28.   She was 7lbs, 4oz.    Sulini is convinced that all those years of yoga practice made for a relaxed labour, and a seriously chilled out baby.

Sulini, Aisha, and furry friend

 

Mishayla S., from Black Lotus and the Breathing Room, had baby boy Thierry on August 29.   He was 7lbs.14oz. with a thick head of hair!

Thierry!

What is “Advanced” Yoga?

 

I’ve updated my yoga resume because I am shopping around for new yoga studios to teach in since Black Lotus closed 3 weeks ago.   Yoga is a funny thing – I supposedly teach an “advanced” class on Monday nights, and I’m looking for a new home for all those dedicated yogis who take that class.

But it got me thinking – what really is “advanced” yoga?   It reminded me of something I wrote awhile back for one of my online yoga programs.  Here it is:

BEGINNER’S MIND

When are you no longer a yoga beginner? When are you advanced?  Interestingly, I think the more advanced you are, the more you have a beginner’s mind. What does that mean?

Beginner’s mind is a concept I first heard from the classic book “Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind” by Shunryu Suzuki. An online article says beginner’s mind is: “the mind that is innocent of preconceptions and expectations, judgements and prejudices. Beginner’s mind is just present to explore and observe and see “things as-it-is.”

I think of beginner’s mind as the mind that faces life like a small child, full of curiosity and wonder and amazement. “I wonder what this is? I wonder what that is? I wonder what this means?” Without approaching things with a fixed point of view or a prior judgement, just asking “What is it?”

I think about this a lot when I’m doing sun salutes day by day.  There’s a well-known yoga studio whose slogan is: “Another day, another downward dog.” That’s how it feels! It’s another day, and I’m doing the same thing. But it’s so interesting because it feels so new everyday. I think it’s because of this beginner’s mind – it’s like we ask ourselves, “I’m so curious to find out what it’s all going to feel like today.” I feel like I’m always wondering what’s going to be *available* to me today, and I just don’t know until I show up on the mat.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I definitely slag through the practice sometimes with a distinctly un-beginner’s mind. A judging day, when I wonder why something hasn’t shifted, or an impatient mind that wonders if I can skip the warmup and go right to the main event. It’s hard to keep beginner’s mind everyday, but nice to notice how fun the practice can be when we do.

July Yoga babies!

 

Don’t you love when you get a great email?   Well, I’m so lucky because at least once a week, I get a birth announcement from one of my prenatal students!  I thought I could start sharing them with you monthly!  Prenatal students, when you have your baby, email me and I’ll include you on the blog for all your friends from class to see.

Enjoy!

Barrett

—-

 

Elena W. from Black Lotus had her baby girl Sienna on July 13.  Sienna was 9lbs. 2oz and 22” tall.

Lisa K. from Black Lotus had her baby girl Charlotte on July 14.   She was 8.2 pounds, and Lisa says that prenatal yoga really helped prepare her for a natural childbirth.

Lisa K. and Charlotte

 

Cedar P., a well-loved Healthworks teacher, had baby boy Axel on July 18.   He was 8.5 pounds and Cedar says: “It was an awesome birth – no drugs, just breathing, good positions and good mantras – and the huge benefit of being a second birth.”

Baby Boy Axel

Jenny M. from Black Lotus classes had baby girl Cecilia on July 20.   Jenny writes:   “We didn’t make it to the couples class you were teaching the other weekend, because the night following the afternoon I ran into you I went into labor.  I bet it was your fist bump that helped get things going!  My water broke on the very walk I was taking when I saw you.”  

I love when I see mamas that are on the edge of labor – it’s awesome :)

Jenny M. and Cecilia

 

Let me know what you think of this monthly posting!  It takes a little work to get it together, but I have a feeling you all will love it!

Have a fabulous day,

Barrett

Changes in my Class Schedule

 

Well, there’s some big news this way!

I’ve been very lucky to have long-time classes around the city in these last 13 years.  When I find a place I like to work in, I hunker down and build my classes.   For example, I’ve been teaching my O2 prenatal yoga class on Sunday nights for almost 10 years!

But things end.   Two weekends ago, Black Lotus yoga studio in Cambridgeport had such a massive flood that they have closed permanently.   It’s been devastating for our community.   I have taught 3-4 classes there weekly since 2007, which represents about ¼ of all my classes!   And currently all of my public vinyasa classes.  So…. It’s been hard for me personally too.

But with all endings come beginnings.   I just sent out my August newsletter, which had this quote in it:

“Live your questions now, and perhaps even without knowing it, you will live along some distant day into your answers.”   Rainer Maria Rilke

Though I don’t know where my new beginnings will be, I know they will happen.   I am in the NOT knowing, or question part of the journey right now, which I admit is difficult.

I have faith that one of the reasons I’ve been able to stay in one place for so long is because I take my time to make the right decision for myself and for my students.   So, bear with me please, as I figure it all out!

 

Love and light,

 

Barrett

June 2012 Newsletter

 

“When you are grateful fear disappears and abundance appears.” -Tony Robbins

I’m feeling so much gratitude these days for my family, friends, yoga community, and more!  I’ve been trying to write down each day (which ends up being more like every other day) things that I’m grateful for, and it truly does help me build even more gratitude.  Like begets like, right?  Also known these days as the Law of Attraction, which I’m really starting to believe :)

Here’s some upcoming classes and workshops that I’m *grateful* to announce!

 

PRENATAL WORKSHOPS

I’m excited to be teaching two prenatal workshops at Samara Yoga in Davis Square, Somerville.   These two 2-hour workshops will take place on Saturday afternoon, on June 30 and on July 21.

All the details are on my blog and you can sign up directly on Samara’s website.

 

CLASS SCHEDULE   

Prenatal Classes:

SUNDAYS 7:00-8:30PM @ O2 YOGA

MONDAYS 5:30-6:45PM @ BLACK LOTUS YOGA

WEDNESDAYS 4:30-5:30PM @ HEALTHWORKS, PORTER SQUARE

Vinyasa Classes:

MONDAYS 7:00-8:15PM @ BLACK LOTUS YOGA INTERMEDIATE LEVEL

THURSDAYS 5:30-6:45PM @ BLACK LOTUS YOGA ALL LEVELS

FRIDAYS 8:30-9:45AM @ HEALTHWORKS, PORTER SQUARE

See my online class schedule for directions and pricing for the above classes.

 

PRENATAL YOGA TEACHER TRAINING

If you’re a yoga teacher interested in learning how to teach transformational prenatal yoga classes, my next teacher training is fast approaching!
Prenatal Yoga Teacher Training

WHEN: September 8-11, 2012

REGISTER:   Register by August 8 to get the early registration discount!

If you have any questions about the teacher training, don’t hesitate to email me!

 

COMMUNITY RESOURCES 

Sister yogini Diana is also a registered dietician, and teaches a rockin Yoga and Mindful Eating series a few times per year.   She also is hosting a weekend retreat at the end of the summer about Yoga and Mindful Eating.   Check out her website for more informationand to sign up!

We’ve been travelling a lot with our kiddo, and I can’t believe how much stuff we have to pack!  Sometimes I question whether I have room to pack anything but the essentials for myself.  However, I’m committed to taking my yoga essentials and my running shoes no matter what!   I appreciated this article in the NYTimes about exercising on the road.

Summer Prenatal Workshops

 

I’m so excited that 1) I’m offering some workshops again – it’s been since before I was pregnant!   and 2) I’m offering them at Samara Yoga, a new venue for me.

Here’s the deets:

SATURDAY JUNE 30 2:00-4:00PM  

BEING A MAMA BEAR

In this extended prenatal class, you will experience all the essential movements of the spine and pelvis in ways that are safe and comfortable for pregnancy. We will explore how our daily and weekly asana practice prepare us to be tenacious, courageous and strong mama bears. This is especially helpful when we are preparing for labor and for the postpartum period. The first half of the practice will be a powerful flow, and then we’ll end with an extended set of restorative postures and breathwork that will help you feel connected to your strength and your baby’s.

This class is appropriate for any pregnant mama, in any trimester.

$20 if preregistered at Samara, $25 day-of

 

SATURDAY JULY 21 2:00-4:00PM  

PRENATAL PARTNER YOGA

Here’s your chance to practice with your partner during this vibrant and dynamic time! We’ll be practicing in tandem some of the asana that we do in a regular prenatal class, as well as exploring ways to support and be supported by our partner. Trust and safety are paramount feelings in pregnancy and birth, and we’ll find these qualities in a playful way with our partner. No yoga experience necessary for either pregnant mama or partner!

This class is appropriate for pregnant mamas, and their partner of choice (spouse, sister, friend, etc.)

$30 if preregistered at Samara, $35 day-of

Teacher Training Pictorial

 

I’m excited to be teaching a Prenatal Yoga teacher training November 5-8!  If you’re a yoga teacher interested in teaching spectacular prenatal classes, I highly recommend taking a specialized training.  It makes such a difference in the quality of classes you can offer all your pregnant students.

At my last teacher training, we were lucky enough to have Erica Magliaro take pictures for us.  Here are some highlights:

Not all the trainees are parents, and you don’t have to have given birth to be a good prenatal teacher.   I taught prenatal yoga for 8 years before I became a mama!  I taught the training while pregnant!

 

The teachers got several opportunities to observe me teaching pregnant students, and to actively teach prenatal classes.

Teachers who take this training come from all over the US and Canada.  Some are brand new teachers and some have several years of experience.  Some are professionals in the field of maternity/childbirth, while others are interested to learn more.

Because everyone who takes the training is required to have completed a basic yoga teacher training, we are able to work together, in a sacred circle, and learn from each other.  We’ve got an alter in the center of our circle honoring our families and our yoga traditions.

In the training, we do lots of hands-on experiential learning.  We keep the training small so that everyone gets personal attention.

We learn how to turn up the heat in classes, and we learn how to help pregnant women relax deeply.

 

Best of all, we try to enjoy learning.   This past group was lots of fun!   If you’re interested in signing up, or learning more about the teacher training, check out my website or email me on the contact page.

Vacation Breaks


With quotes from Angela of http://www.spaceandtimeconsulting.com/


Maternity leave is NOT vacation – maybe it’s just the opposite!  However, it is a time out of ordinary life, and it’s made me think a lot about the ways in which we take (or don’t take) vacation breaks.

We have these set intervals in which we mark time – days, weeks, months, years, etc.  I’ve started thinking about creating little vacations in each one of these time periods as a healthy way to ensure I’m releasing stress on a regular basis.  I’ve asked yogini Angela from Spaceandtimeconsulting.com to chime in a bit about how to create “vacations” regularly for yourself.


DAILY – Studies show that when you work in short bursts, and have some non-work breaks throughout the day, that you’re actually more productive!   Sitting at your desk for hours at a time is bad for your back, your eyes, your heart, your bladder, AND your productivity! When you’re working or studying, you will be most focused on the first and last tasks in your burst.

So, having many mini study/work sessions in the day will help you retain more information and get more done.

Good 1-10 minute day breaks:

  • Get up! Stretch and dance, and take some big sighs. Don’t surf the web.
  • My favorite mid-day yoga that’s easy to do in an office: shoulder stretches! Examples include: eagle, cow, and yoga mudra.
  • Close your eyes and smile at the stillness and silence!  Or listen to some soothing music.
  • Do you need a bio-break?  It’s amazing how we can lose track of the fact that we need to use the bathroom, or that we need to drink water.

“I couldn’t agree more with this!  Often people think of time for themselves needing to be in large chunks of time, but throughout the day if you insert little spaces of time for yourself you will still benefit immensely!  I know sometimes guilt creeps in, but if you think of it as taking care of yourself it puts it into a new light.  The saying of putting your oxygen mask on first before helping others is really the key here!”  -Angela


WEEKLY – The weekend is something we shouldn’t take for granted – we worked hard and earned some rest!  The weekend is basically the ancient idea of the Sabbath – (at least) one holy day of rest each week, to honor the creative lifeforce.   You can’t keep creating if you don’t take some time to renew!

Good weekend ideas to renew:

  • Get thee to a yoga class at *least* once a week.  Please give yourself the gift of a full yoga experience, from warm-ups right through to savasana.   For most of us, that means going to a class where we don’t have to think about what’s next – the teacher will guide you, and you enjoy the journey.
  • Spend the day outside (on the beach or hiking for example).
  • Spend a day with friends (seeing a movie and going out to dinner).
  • Make an excursion to a place you haven’t gone before – a museum or park that you’ve always meant to go to.
  • Spend a day on the couch or porch reading a book (avoid TV most of the time!).

“I love this because it speaks directly to how we choose to spend our leisure time.  I choose to do yoga during my breaks because it is one of those activities that is packed with all around benefits for your well-being.  It encompasses physical, social, emotional, cognitive and spiritual domains all at one time and as Barrett stated, taking the journey with a teacher is a real gift. I find yoga is perfect for getting myself into a state of flow.

In that same vein, not all activities are created equal.  I love that Barrett said avoid TV most of the time, because it really is low on the activity index for benefits to your well-being.  I challenge people who feel they have time constraints to do a time-diary study to see how much time is spent watching TV.  It’s often one of the biggest chunks of time in peoples’ diaries.  If you can cut that out of your schedule you’d be surprised at how much time opens up to do activities that are really meaningful to you.” -Angela


MONTHLY – Inevitably, you’ll have some days and weeks where you didn’t give yourself a little vacation from the grind.  Every month, I try to look at my calendar and see what’s coming up that I’m really looking forward to.   Almost every month, there is a holiday – for example, we’ve got Labor Day coming up.   I’m trying to use those holidays, or special visits from family and friends, as a way to more consciously build in relaxation.   If you are someone who likes weekend getaways, aim for one a month to recharge you.   Finally, if you’re really a yoga aficionado, there are weekend intensives every month in Boston with top teachers ready to help you dive in!   Try a few of these every year – they will take your yoga practice to the next level!

“This idea of looking toward the future is great.  Having positive things to focus on and plan for keeps you moving forward, and also helps you to put the current moment into perspective.” -Angela


YEARLY – Our last cycle of time is the year.   Take a real vacation every year, for at least a week!   Every winter, I make the commitment to go someplace warm to get the chill and the gray of the winter out of my system.  Also, my partner and I try to plan a vacation every few years that’s a big one – to a special place in the world (Israel, Europe, someday to India), and we try to go for a longer stretch of time.   These things help keep us feeling alive and connected to our sense of adventure.  I try to do a yoga training once a year to keep my skills sharp and my spirit renewed.

Carving out some restful time, in small and large increments throughout your days, weeks, months and years, is so important.  It relaxes you, and also helps you reset back into enjoying the moment.  Most of us don’t do this enough.  It’s counterintuitive to think that we’ll actually get *more* done with more time off.  But it’s true – and you’ll enjoy it all more as well.

“I would love to see Americans shift their values to create a culture where we are not only expected to, but encouraged to take time off from work. According to a 2010 Expedia.com survey, only 38% of Americans said they take all of their vacation days!  We can begin to change this one person at a time, one day at a time, and one moment at a time.  How do you begin to carve this time out.  What would it look like?  What choices would you make?  What activities would you choose to pursue?  I am happy to give you a free phone or email consultation to help you get started!” -Angela

See you on the yoga mat for your daily vacation!!

Barrett