Five Points Yoga

Barrett's Blog

Archive for the ‘Local Interest’ Category

Of Interest to Moms

While I’m on a roll with mom resources, here’s some more local events in town, and global events happening online!

1. Monday, March 22 at 7pm.   Mass Midwives Birth Circle at the Cambridge Women’s Center.  “Each meeting will include positive birth stories in all settings as well as additional topics regarding pregnancy, birth, and parenting. Come meet women who treasure their birthing experiences.”  For more information see above Women’s Center link or email

2.   Mothering Magazine – I get a digital subscription and it’s awesome!  No magazines cluttering my house!  I wish more magazines did this – I’d subscribe.    Occasionally, Mothering also offers packets of helpful information, like this Sleep Packet.   The number 1 thing new moms discuss is sleep – their lack of it, and their babies’ ever changing patterns of it.   This packet has a lot of helpful information about sleep during the first year of your baby’s life.

3. A new pamphlet out from Childbirth Connection called Comfort in Labor.    This is a helpful guide to print out and use when you go into labor.  Also,  I highly recommend having a doula if you’re giving birth in a hospital – she’ll help you through all the things this handout mentions, and more!  

4. One of my favorite articles to come out in the last few months on the NYTimes concerns laboring women’s right to eat and drink during labor.  This has been quite exciting, because if you’ve been in labor you know it’s a lot of work and you need *fuel.*   Midwives and doulas have been encouraging moms to snack for years in labor, and hopefully this lifting of the ban on eating and drinking during labor will go by the wayside quickly. 

 I’ll leave you with some cute pictures of our mom and baby class that happens on Friday afternoons.   Happy families!

Babies love to watch their parents move!

Feels good to go upside down!

Reflections on a Decade of Teaching in Boston

BIG NEWS!  It’s 2010! I moved to Boston in October 1999, on the cusp of the millennium, 10 years ago.   I taught a yoga class the very weekend I moved to town, even though I was sleeping on my friend Mel’s couch without an apartment of my own.   I’ve pretty much taught every week that I’ve been in town since then 🙂

These 10 years have flown by.   Some of you I’ve been practicing with for that entire time, which kind of blows my mind.  A lot has happened in my yoga life in this decade, and it’s been fun for me to reflect on it over the last few days.

I took my first teacher training in 1997, started teaching in 1998, and became certified to teach in 1999.  I was still pretty new to teaching when I moved to Boston, but then, a lot of people were new to yoga back then, so it wasn’t that scary to just jump in and try it out.   I *still* have the sheet of paper that I kept notes on for my first weeks of Sunday morning classes!

From 2000 to 2005, I worked part-time in public health and part-time teaching yoga.  I was very happy to have the stability of a desk job with a fixed paycheck, but the flexibility to teach as many classes as I could.  I learned a lot about teaching through those years, and did a lot of training.

In 2001, I started to spend a good chunk of the winter time in Costa Rica, with my teachers.  I got my advanced certification, and assisted in teacher trainings for a few years.   I also got away from Boston in the most frigid time of the year, which probably helped keep me here this long!   I do much better with the winters now, and though I haven’t gone to Costa Rica since 2005, I’ve continued to travel every someplace warm every winter since. I credit yoga practice with helping me realize that I have to be *proactive* in the wintertime, and find ways to not get too SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder).

Finally, in 2005, it became clear to me that I was ready to teach full-time.   I spent 6 months planning with a business coach, developing a website, and visioning how I wanted my career to look.   It’s been challenging, but totally fantastic as well.   Though I’ve doubted at times, it has only been out of fear of the unknown future, not because of a bleak present.   I’ve finally just fallen into trusting that teaching ROCKS, and if it stops rocking at some point, I’ll make a new plan.

In these 10 years, I have taught in SO MANY different studios and locations, though happily, I’ve settled here in Cambridge and do a lot less travelling now than I used to.  From renting space – who remembers the church in Davis Square (actually 2 churches, 1 chiropractic office, and a basement private studio)? – to working in gyms and offices and private homes, I’ve done it all.  At least it feels that way.   I remember saying to someone once, “I think I’ve gotten to the point where you could wake me up in the middle of the night and ask me to teach a class on the moon, upside down, and I could do it.”

There’s definitely been thoughts over the years about starting a studio, but wow is it tough.  Not only is it difficult financially to pay the bills and pay your teachers well, but it’s also just tough on your personal practice.  The more you administer, the less you teach.  So, I’ve looked to projects that are a little more creative, and a little less scary than starting a studio.   The Yoga Odyssey is the big one.   I’ve been offering it for 2 years now, and it’s SO FUN.   I’m planning to offer a teacher training this year as well, and some other fun products to sell on my website.   Stay tuned!!

Two months ago, I took a business workshop.  In one part, we were doing some visioning.  With a partner, we reminisced about where we were 10 years ago.  I talked about many of the same things I’ve written about above.  Then, we visioned 10 years from now, and it was awesome to think about 2020, and where I’ll be then.   I don’t know the details, but I know I’ll be practicing and teaching yoga!

Love and light, and Happy New Year!

Barrett (on the mic playing Rock Band New Year’s Eve)


The 5 Prana Vayus – A Guest Post

Boston-area yoga teacher Erica Magliaro is writing in with a guest post!

She went down to Costa Rica awhile back at my suggestion to study with our teachers, Don and Amba Stapleton, and she came back a fabulous yoga teacher!

She’s offering classes in Brookline, and also Pranassage, which is yummy yoga massage. Check out her website for details.


Ever find yourself in pigeon pose, jaw clenched, shoulders tense, unable to relax?
What about lying in savasana, trying to focus but instead mulling over your last conversation with your boss or your significant other?

My teacher has always said, ‘Where the mind goes, Prana flows’, but what happens when we get stuck?  Sometimes we find ourselves unable to release physically and/or mentally.    Even as a yoga teacher, I can be as guilty of this as the next person….so when I get stuck, I like to remind myself of Prana at work:

Prana is our life force, the energy that flows through our bodies.  It is broken down into five forces, called the Prana Vayus:

1)  Apana is the downward moving energy in our bodies, grounding us.  Gravity is a simple example of apana.

2)  The next force of Prana is prana (lower-case ‘p’), which is the upward moving energy, or buoyancy, that counter-acts apana.  For me, I can really feel apana and prana at work in Tree Pose…being grounded in the feet, roots growing through the earth…but the buoyancy and lift of the body skywards.

3)  Samana is the third force of Prana, spiraling at our belly center.  It represents the energy of absorption, the fire of digestion, either physical and emotional.  This could be undigested lunch, or a difficult conversation you can’t get out of your head!

4)  Udana is the next force of Prana, representing the energy of sound and communication, giving us the ability to express our experience.

5)  Last but not least is vyana.  Vyana corresponds to the energy pathways in our body, connecting us to ourselves and to others.

I’ve been fortunate enough to fully experience Prana through the giving and receiving of Pranassage, an amazing blend of assisted yoga and massage.  The whole idea is that through touch, pressure, and postures, Prana is made easier to feel, allowing us to truly let go into deep relaxation with awareness of our experience.

So the next time you find yourself clenching in a pose or being distracted, try to remind yourself that it’s okay to let go and focus on the present moment…..allowing Prana to flow.



The 5 Prana Vayus

The 5 Prana Vayus

Yoga Outside!

Yesterday, I taught a free yoga class outside in Copley Square, sponsored by Healthworks.   It was really fun!  It was really hot!   I was impressed by the yogis who stuck with me as the noontime sun came up over the churches and high rises all around us.

I did a practice focused on balancing, given that we’re in a seasonal change and making a transition always requires a rebalance in our systems.   I also talked a bit about how amidst the hubbub all around us, we learn through yoga practice how to tune into ourselves, and tune out the other chatter.

No where might this be more evident than lunchtime in Copley Square!   As we were practicing, there were hundreds of people milling about, noises from the streets around us (why are buses so incredibly loud in this town??), and of course, the breeze and the trees and the charms of being outside.   We noticed all these things, but didn’t let it distract us from our postures, especially our balance postures!

Here’s a pic of us in action – looking up to the sun:

copley square yoga

After the class, I was speaking to a few of the yogis.   One woman mentioned that she really noticed that her practice has helped her focus in.  She was surprised by how undistracted she was!   It was a good experience for her to “test” out her concentration abilities outside of the bubble of the yoga studio.

Of course, we need that quiet safe haven of the studio, but isn’t it nice to know that with practice, we can be in the whirlwind all around us and still manage to find a deep, slow breath?



I’ll Try Anything Once

I have never tried a Bikram class.   I’ve looked at the 26 poses a few times, but I’ve never gone to a class.  I have a bit of an aversion to Bikram for some reason, but I think I’m ready to give it the good ole college try.

Recently, I’ve seen two articles about different styles of yoga.  I get asked almost every week about the different styles of yoga, so here’s a great in-depth review from Yoga Journal of some of the major styles of yoga.  If you are an experienced practitioner, but you’re ready to shake it up a bit, think about trying out a new kind of class. 

Rebecca over at Om Gal also recently posted about the different schools of yoga, and has a great writing style, so you might enjoy her take on yoga.  

As I’m preparing for the Yoga Odyssey, I’m thinking about how I’ll use the 28 days of daily practice in a new and interesting way.   I think I’d like to try out several new classes around the Boston area in the month of October.   Though I’ve been practicing and teaching for awhile, there is so much I don’t know!  This could be a great way for me to do something a little different for myself as a yoga student.

I’m curious to know, dear readers, what you’ve wanted to try recently.   There is constant innovation in the yoga world, so some of you have doubtless heard of something I haven’t!   I’d love to know.

Enjoy your yoga adventures,


Keep Moving Forward

This interesting article just came through my email yesterday.   It’s from Patricia Walden, a wonderful teacher here in Cambridge.  My favorite part of the article is the emphasis on just continuing to practice, even when it isn’t apparent that you’re “progressing” or benefitting.

It reminds me of how I’ve felt the last few months as I’ve been running.  During the two 5K races I’ve run, I’ve had several moments where I just keep moving forward.   It doesn’t matter what I look like doing it, it doesn’t matter if I’m going fast or slow, it doesn’t matter if it’s up a hill or down.    I couldn’t believe, both times, that I actually finished the race!   Apparently, even when I didn’t believe it, I was “progressing” – I was moving forward!

I realized reading this article that this has applied to my yoga practice as well.   Over the years, of course I’ve been in a rut at times.   I feel run-down, preoccupied by other things, or just a little un-creative.   But I’ve known, deep down, that the more I can just get the on the mat, and keep practicing, the better it will go.   Sometimes I’ve just sat on my mat.   Sometimes I’ve danced through a yoga practice.   But the commitment has always been there, and so has the evolution. 

As part of the upcoming Yoga Odyssey, my online program that helps you create a daily yoga practice, I’m so excited to commit to taking a class once a week.   In that way, I’ll keep moving forward, because it’s been awhile since I’ve gone to a regular class.  

How are you moving forward, in life, and in your practice?   I look forward to hearing about it here, or during the Odyssey (early registration for the Odyssey ends September 10!).

Be well,


The Doula Guide to Birth – Book of the Month

Pregnant Mamas – Read this Book!


I’m adding to my list of favorite books to suggest in pregnancy.   Boston resident (and friend of mine) Ananda Lowe has written a FANTASTIC book all about what you need to know to give birth in the US today.  


It’s called “The Doula Guide to Birth: Secrets Every Pregnant Woman Should Know”  and it’s chock full of helpful tips from Ananda’s years as a doula, prenatal massage therapist, and employee at ALACE (I took her job at ALACE when she left in 2003, and learned much of what I know about pregnancy, birth and postpartum while working there). 


I like this book because it’s very open to all the possibilities of what someone may want in their birth.   I don’t think this book leaves anyone out – she speaks to single moms, lesbian moms, twin moms, and the dads/partners of said moms.  


A student of mine mentioned that she thought the book pushed the idea of getting a doula a little too much.   I’m such a fan of having a doula that I didn’t notice that at all, but I guess someone who knows they do not want a doula might experience that as well.  However, even if you know you don’t want a doula, I found information in this book that is hard to find written about anywhere else, so I still think it’s a great read.





Farmers Markets Are Back!


I LOVE the farmer’s market!   Even though I’ve had a CSA share with Waltham Fields for 9 years(!!!), I still make my way to the farmer’s market regularly.    We have one every day of the week near Cambridge!


Check out  for lots of info about when and where.   Some markets I love:


Copley Square, Tuesday and Friday – my favorite one, because it’s big and has Siena Farms, which always has interesting produce.   Siena Farms is connected to Oleana, one of our best restaurants in Cambridge.  


Central Square, Monday – the easiest one for me to get to.   It’s really great.   One of my favorite strawberry growers is here.


Davis Square, Wednesday – my former closest farmer’s market.  It’s an awesome feel here. 


Union Square, Saturday – also a fun family feel.


There’s also Harvard Square on Sunday and Tuesday, Cambridgeport on Saturday, and Kendall Square on Thursday.


I hope to bump into some of you this summer!   Here’s to an awesome healthy summer everyone!





Two Great Classes at Black Lotus Yoga


Mom and Baby Yoga – Fridays 1:30 – 2:45pm Starts today!  Taught by Barrett


Sunrise Yoga – Thursdays 6:30-7:45am Starts April 30, taught by Sarah


I’m really excited to be starting my new moms yoga class today at Black Lotus!! This is one of my favorite classes to teach, and one of the most challenging – there’s a lot going on.  I think of the class as controlled chaos 🙂


But, it’s extremely helpful for new moms.   We focus on a mom’s essential needs postpartum:

          to move and breathe in a way that feels invigorating but restful

          to strengthen and tone the physical body postpartum, especially focusing on the pelvic floor and abdomen

          to relax mentally and go with the flow of caring for a newborn

          to enjoy time with your new baby

          to connect with other new moms in a supportive space


We do this by making the babies as comfortable as possible in the beginning of class.   I invite moms to come early, to feed and swaddle their babes and make them content.   Then we get down to business with yoga!   Of course, sometimes babies will need something during the 75 minutes of our class.   We have specific standing, sitting, nursing, and lying down postures to practice with the baby as well, so you can stay in the yoga zone even if your baby needs to be held for a bit.


We also work in stages, so the class is appropriate even if you’re newly postpartum.   When you first begin attending, you’ll work with the most gentle postures, and after several weeks, you’ll move into more intermediate and advanced postures.


Also at Black Lotus, Sarah is offering a Sunrise Yoga class starting April 30!

This 8-week class will help you dedicate time in your life to your yoga practice in two ways: Class will meet every Thursday morning from 6:30-7:45 AM for 8-weeks beginning April 30.  In addition, every other week, Sarah will post a 5-20 minute podcast for you. These podcasts will be mini-yoga classes to help fortify your practice and  give you some material to work with on your own. Pod casts will have the following topics: yoga at your desk; breathing easy; feel the stretch (for flexibility); rinsing out (twisting series). Tuition for the full course is $99. Please call or stop in to Black Lotus to reserve your spot today! 617.899.4775



See you on the mat!





New moms and babies at a recent brunch I hosted at my house

Neti in the News

I love the neti pot.   I don’t use it often, only if I have a cold, or if it’s allergy season.   Well….. it’s getting to be allergy time!   I haven’t felt any allergies yet, but I can only assume it’s coming.


Traditionally, a yogi does Jala Neti (the purifying practice of nasal washing) every day.  For awhile, I tried this, and I felt dried out.   Now I use as needed.  As a teenager, the first time I used the neti pot, I remember thinking, “Well, I have no nasal issues.   Everyone else in my teacher training gets sinus infections, allergies, etc.  I have none of these, so this isn’t for me.”   Nevertheless, after my first foray into neti cleansing, I felt like I had never taken such a full, satisfying breath.  It was awesome! And, several years after moving to Boston, I developed allergies – and was very happy to already know about the neti pot!


Yogis have known for a LONG time how helpful the neti pot is, but in case you need scientific evidence, there are actually studies to prove its efficacy – check out this recent NYTimes article.


Don’t get me wrong – I’ll also be taking allergy pills and using eye drops when the going gets rough.    But the neti is unsurpassed for helping me feel clear and unclogged. 


Don’t resist!  If you have nasal issues (and even if you don’t), try out a neti pot.     


My neti pot looks like this, only blue.   You can buy them at Whole Foods and awesome natural food stores such as Cambridge Naturals.


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