Evolving my yoga – with Barrie

Anyone who thinks there’s a lot of yoga going on in Zurich should go look at the triyoga London timetable: it’s insane how many things are going on all over this chain of studios… and in each single one! For curious yogis (like me), this is a big FOMO source 🙂

My latest trip to London was not yoga-motivated but when in town, there’s no way I can pass up on the opportunity to meet and practice with brilliant teachers. While the Sunday yogasana practice was intense, physical, spiritual and even political , the Saturday masterclass was completely different: deep, thoughtful, emotional, educational… and by all means, a privilege! On that gloomy morning I had the honor to meet Barrie Risman, bestselling author and highly experienced yoga educator from Canada, who offered a wonderful 2h-masterclass at triyoga in London Soho.

I have to say: it was not an event I had duly researched, and I was not aware of Barrie’s work. But a brief research on her book, Evolving Your Yoga: Ten Principles For Enlightened Practice convinced me that her class would be a great choice. After all, with my ongoing teacher training I am used to practicing and studying yoga over the weekend, so felt like holding on to that good habit.

The triyoga studio in Soho is very different to the one in Shoreditch which I visited earlier this year for creative vinyasa and yin yoga classes. A renovated loft-like setting on top of the busy Kingly Court, it felt traditional yet authentic. In stark contrast to my other triyoga classes, our workshop was not “mat-to-mat” and the group of 6 participants was just perfect for in-depth practice and discussion.

Barrie greeted each of us personally. We didn’t all do an intro round but I could tell that most of the other participants were (also) teaching yoga or on their teacher training journey like myself. The first part of the workshop was asana practice, and the focus was on twists and deep stretches. We practiced mainly standing, sitting and lying on our backs, and often using props such as blocks and straps.

The clear focus of the class was on alignment and maybe even rediscovery of certain classic poses by using different cues, props or adjustment “tricks”. For instance, Barrie introduced us to a few tips on how to self-adjust in cow face pose / gomukhasana, to find symmetrical grounding in both hips.

The standing positions were nothing new, but in the spirit of the masterclass: evolved! It’s almost magical how one can reach a different level of a pose by redirecting attention to certain details. A good example was the set of standing poses we practiced: warrior II, triangle pose, standing forward fold. No more, no less – and not boring at all!
With precise, detailed, articulate cues, new layers (and challenges) can emerge from well-known and often-practiced poses.

Later on we also used the strap and the blocks in combination, to reveal deeper thigh and hip stretches in spine position. I loved that mini-sequence so much, I noted it down immediately and shamelessly integrated it in one of my yoga classes with friends 🙂 Thank you for the inspiration, Barrie!

In the last half hour we focused more on meditation and visualization. Barrie encouraged us to imagine ourselves in a beautiful garden setting and first recount the milestones of our yoga path, before moving on to our yogic vision for the future. We discussed impressions and realized how unique our yoga “catalysts” were, and how fascinating our journeys continue to be. I know I’ve come a long way, but also acknowledge how much lies in front of me and can’t wait to follow on my path.

Barrie’s book is certainly a helpful guide and compass on my yoga route.
I’m slowly, carefully, mindfully enjoying the lecture and the practice inspiration – just like one would enjoy every single bit and crumb of a delicious dessert 🙂 … or every single step on a beautiful garden path ♥

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