Friend of the Farmacy Interview: Raj Barker from The Class
Apr 21, 2021
📸 Jaimie Baird
In a year of unpredictability around every corner, we have been challenged to looked inward and find what truly grounds us. On this search, we had the opportunity to speak with Raj Barker, a certified Yoga Instructor and Holistic Nutritionist, on how she has used her practice at The Class as a way to stay grounded and get some insight into what her work is doing for thousands of students daily.
Read below and be sure to check out all of The Class here!
First things first, when did you first begin implementing yoga/movement as a major part of your life?
I grew up playing lots of sports, dancing and moving my body but when yoga entered my life at age 24, the whole game changed! That was 11 years ago! My movement practice has been deepening and constantly evolving since then.
What led you to The Class specifically?
I heard a lot about The Class even from Australia before I moved to NYC. I had a friend in town that wanted to try it and we agreed to try Taryn’s class together. Within 2 mins I knew the method was magical and something I wanted to be close to.
Do you have a favorite technique that you teach at The Class? How has it changed/helped you?
Especially now, with not knowing who is out there practicing with me, I always try to speak the things I need to hear the most. I’m not sure if that is a technique but more of a way that I approach my classes. I hear from students post practice saying that what I said was exactly what they needed to hear and that just highlights that what we’re feeling is often a collective feeling and we can all move through it together. It has helped me not to feel alone through this process and to trust that what I am feeling is not too different to what other people are feeling (be it challenging, intense, complex or enlightening).
The Class is often described as a ‘cathartic workout’, what does this mean for the students?
Whatever they want it and need it to mean. Some people experience the cathartic piece through stillness and awareness of breath, others tap into it with guttural sound and big movement. The beautiful thing about this method is that people can practice it differently or the same each day and still be doing it effectively. We encourage people to let their body take the reigns and shift practice to practice as they need.
You’re a nutritionist, right? As it relates to coaching and the work you do with your clients, if you could outline just three things that if everyone could implement them, they would change our health (in any aspect - emotional, spiritual, physical, etc), what would they be? Are there a few practices that you find universally beneficial to everyone?
Practice modalities that drop you out of your head and allow for a deeper connection to the physical body. That’s where your innate wisdom resides. Find what does this for you and commit to it.
Let yourself sleep and rest. When we are in these states, we can safely assume we’ve dropped into our parasympathetic nervous system where our body moves into deep repair and restoration. This is crucial to physical, mental, emotional and spiritual wellbeing.
Find any excuse to laugh. It truly is medicinal. Even though we are going through a collective transition and some are struggling more than others, laughter creates joy and no matter what our experience, joy can coexist with all of it.
How has the pandemic (if at all) changed your approach to nutrition coaching + teaching? Have you seen any big shifts in what people need / are struggling with as it relates to wellness?
I’ve been forced to read and rely on myself before stepping onto the mat as opposed to reading and relying on the room. I’ve often sought external cues as to how I conduct The Class but that has had to completely shift and the teaching has become way more about trust and surrender - learning to rely on that imaginary force to take the reigns and guide me to where The Class needs to go.
In terms of coaching, I feel it has become way more intimate with my clients. People are craving connection and intimacy and have been a lot more vulnerable and open with me since the pandemic began. I feel a big part of people’s ability to maintain a sense of normality is feeling heard as well as validated while developing rituals and structure that feels supportive to them. The restrictive, deprivation model is out and people are turning more towards a holistic approach.
If you could go back to this time last year (pre / early - pandemic) and do everything over again, would you change anything? Why or why not?
I’ve lived thinking it would all be over “soon” - If I could do it all over again, I’d approach it with a long-term mentality. The build up towards “reemerging” and then realizing that the build up was all for nothing has been intense. I’m sure I’m not alone on this one!
If your future self could look back to this moment right now and tell you one thing, what’s something you would hope she would be able to say to you?
You did good, kid!
Lastly, we believe “Wellthy is the new wealthy” and focus on what it means to get and stay well. What does “wellthy” mean or look like for you in your life?
Having friends and family close, being part of a solid community, doing work that I love, standing up for what I believe in and trying not to take the whole process too seriously.
For more about on Raj's work, follow The Class and to see what she is up to, follow her here.
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