Deep breaths fill the lungs as yoga enthusiasts inhale the brisk air, and slow exhales lead to automatic relaxation. Muscles relax, and the mind takes a plunge into a deeper realm.
A feeling of vibrancy flows through the body, and a revival of energy is found. This is a feeling Rachel Barrett experiences more often than others.
Barrett is an avid yoga enthusiast, and is also a yoga instructor at Moksha Yoga on King Street and at UNB, and holds classes for kids throughout the community.
But she hasn’t always felt a connection with her mind and body.
“When I initially started practicing yoga I was overweight and uninspired,” she said. “Each and every time I stepped onto my mat I felt increasingly more peaceful and connected to my inner truth.”
Barrett has remained in control of her mind and body over these past couple of years and has changed herself for the better. Growing up, she discovered she had scoliosis in two places of her spine and she has fused vertebrae, which caused her an extreme amount of discomfort. She had very limited mobility and aggravated pain often. All these problems, not to mention the many psychological limitations she faced when she was younger.
Being overweight, Barrett felt her body couldn’t do what others could.
“A consistent yoga practice enabled me to touch my toes for the first time in my life and complete many half and full marathons,” she said. “The physical experience of change cultivated the understanding that mind and body are always in a state of transformation – whatever I believe to be possible, is.”
To her, yoga is the connection to all life. It really doesn’t matter how flexible one is, and if they can physically hold a pose, but it’s the practice of setting all attention to the present moment.
“My passion is to demonstrate through my life that yoga is everything. Yoga is the awareness you bring into your life as it is happening,” said Barrett.
“Yoga is how you listen and what you hear, yoga is noticing how it feels to see others with love, yoga is the refinement of the senses or the way in which we relate with ourselves and the world around us.”
She encourages her students to take normal yoga practices into the real world.
“What use is the peace and loving kindness you feel on your mat if the moment you leave you dive immediately back into action/reaction judgment mode?”
Yoga has taught her to always be true to herself, honour her body and listen to her heart while letting go of the concern of other people’s viewpoints. Maintaining a clean diet with an excessive amount of dark chocolate has also helped her feel much more at ease with her body.
Her progress helps her feel more present in her life, eat cleaner foods and stay away from foods that don’t agree with her – but she always has time for a lot of dark chocolate.
“The biggest thing I would say yoga has taught me is that there is always more room to love, always more space to grow, always another opportunity to practice kindness, and the world needs it,” she said. “When we leave to love ourselves fully, completely and without conditions the way in which we come to our friendships, our work, our relationships, everything changes.”
Barrett has learned through the practice, “The most important thing I take from yoga is how my body is always teaching my mind how possibility is infinite. Today’s courage is tomorrow’s strength.”