Five Points Yoga

Barrett's Blog

October Yoga Babies!

Oh, wow, time has flown!  I was hoping to post this *weeks* ago, and now all of these babies probably look totally different!   But you know, they’re cute all the time, so it’s fine.   Here are the October yoga babies, to be followed *soon* by the November yoga babies!


Heema S., of O2 Yoga, had baby girl Reya on October 1.  Heema says that “the yoga breathing and linking to movement helped during labor”.

Ashley W., of Healthworks, had baby boy William on October 15.

Joana E., of Healthworks, had baby girl Noa on October 15.   Same birthday as William, above!

Beau M., of O2 Yoga, had twins Adam and Cassandra on October 17.   Even though the babies came a few weeks early, they were both able to come home with Beau – yay!


Amy M., of O2 Yoga,  had baby boy Evander on October 20.  Amy wrote: “I was induced at 36 weeks after placental abruption. I was still able to make use of some techniques from class, especially practicing relaxing the muscles that aren’t actively working. It helped to relax my shoulders, head and face during contractions.”

Helen H., of O2 Yoga, had baby boy Leeland October 27.  I’ve already seen Helen in my postnatal class – wow!

Wrist Sensitivity in Pregnancy


The wrist is a fragile joint for anyone, but it comes under particular stress in the childbearing year.

A lot of people tend to call any wrist sensitivity “Carpal Tunnel”, but that’s not always accurate.   There are over 20 kinds of soft tissue overuse injuries that can affect the shoulders down to the fingers, many of which are felt in the wrist.  Carpal Tunnel Syndrome refers to the specific instance when the median nerve is pinched as it runs through the wrist (ie carpal) tunnel.   Someone can have wrist pain but not have a pinched median nerve.  In pregnant women, the ‘bracelet’ of the wrist bones feels especially sensitive because: the joint becomes unstable due to relaxin hormone; the increased blood flow from pregnancy is difficult to pass through a narrow joint; fluids pool in extremities, which causes swelling, causes even more narrowing of the passage.  Wrist sensitivity in pregnancy tends to resolve itself when you take these issues away.   In general, the main “cure” for it is finishing up pregnancy!   However, there are many things you can do to lessen the discomfort.

In my prenatal practice, we spend a lot of time on all fours, bearing weight on the hands with the wrists flexed.   In every class, I offer ways to modify the practice so that a woman doesn’t have to spend any time weight bearing on a sensitive wrist.   Options include: making fists and putting knuckles down on the floor with straight wrists; splaying the fingers out like tent poles to bear weight ; or coming down on the forearms.   Most women with sensitive wrists will cycle through all of those options in a class.  It’s so important to keep practicing yoga, because even though you may have to modify in the above ways, the benefits of yoga outweigh that inconvenience.

The basic hands and knees position


Modifying down on the forearms

As I mentioned above, swelling is one of the causes of wrist pain.  Minimizing swelling everywhere in the body will help the wrists.  Putting your legs up will help your wrists, as will any mild inversion (we do several in prenatal yoga).  Drinking lots of water and eating water-rich foods (fruits and veggies), which helps reduce swelling, will also help the wrists.

Legs up the wall is safe for most pregnant women and a great help for the circulatory system.

Finally, keeping your circulatory system going will help improve the wrists’ sensitivity.   Yoga is one of the best ways to improve your circulation.  The asanas we practice in prenatal yoga stretch tight chests and shoulders.  As our breasts change size in pregnancy, we tend to hunch and compress our thoracic outlet.  Often, general discomfort in the forearms or wrists is greatly improved once we work out some of the knots in the shoulders and chest, because restriction of blood flow was starting all the way up there. Getting blood and prana (life force) to flow through the whole body, but especially the upper body, is the best healer for injury.

Opening the chest keeps the prana flowing!

And don’t forget about the postpartum period!  Though the causes of the wrist sensitivity in pregnancy might subside, now we have a whole new set of circumstances that can cause wrist pain.   Women are operating on less sleep, are feeding babies in hunched positions for long periods of time, and are picking up babies often with really bent wrists (think baby sleeping in a bassinet next to mom and reaching over to pick up baby by contorting wrists).   All these things put the wrists at continued risk for injury.

There are several non-yoga treatments possible to help sore wrists.   Wearing a splint at night for sleeping or during the day when you’re resting (not when working)  will keep your wrist in a neutral position.  Acupuncture and massage are great.   Vitamin B6 might be good for keeping the nerves healthy.   Ask your practitioner about what they recommend!

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.”


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!”



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.


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.”


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!


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:


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.





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,


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,



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!



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.



Prenatal Classes:

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



Vinyasa Classes:




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



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!



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  


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  


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