Meet Your Teacher: Danielle Woermann

Namaste Yoga + Wellness is a container for the Bay Area’s best yoga teachers to offer their incredible talent and wisdom to students of all backgrounds. These highly experienced teachers have dedicated their lives to sharing the gift of yoga with others and we couldn’t be more grateful. It is an honor to support them and to connect them with yoga practitioners like you.

We are excited to share this special new blog series focused on celebrating your yoga teachers and hopefully giving you a glimpse into the brilliant team that is the Namaste Yoga + Wellness family. We have over 55 teachers in our community and every single person offers something unique!

Meet Danielle Woermann:

When and where do you teach?
I teach Nia Dance at Namaste Berkeley!

How long have you been at Namaste?
5 years

What inspired you to become an instructor?
I was inspired to become a Nia teacher when I began taking classes 17 years ago in Oakland from Shelly Ross.

Do you have any go-to yoga and wellness books or podcasts?
I enjoy Gabrielle Roth’s Maps to Ecstasy.

Which teachers influence your practice?
My teachers are Debbie Rosas and Carlos Rosas who inspire me every day through their routines and teachings.

What does your Nia practice look like and how has it changed your life?
When I began my Nia practice, I wasn’t fully aware of my body’s sensations. Nia has taught me to be in sensation and to be able to heal myself emotionally, physically and spiritually.

What is something you wish your students knew?
I wish they knew that access to their self-healing potential is completely available.

What is your morning or evening routine? (whichever is your favorite..or both!)
I practice the Nia 5 Stages in the morning which is a short physical routine which increases mobility, strength and stability.

What is your favorite thing about being a teacher?
Being able to share music, magic, and joy.

What are you involved with outside the studio?
Home life, beekeeping, volunteer work.

What is your go-to movement (asana, dance, hiking, etc.) that allows you to feel the most connected to yourself? *
I dance, hike and practice hula hooping. I attend weekly yoga classes and also enjoy the subtle healing of Breema technique.

I can never get over the diversity of the Bay Area and Oakland in particular. Best weather anywhere!

Meet Your Teacher: Sita Devi

Namaste Yoga + Wellness is a container for the Bay Area’s best yoga teachers to offer their incredible talent and wisdom to students of all backgrounds. These highly experienced teachers have dedicated their lives to sharing the gift of yoga with others and we couldn’t be more grateful. It is an honor to support them and to connect them with yoga practitioners like you.

We are excited to share this special new blog series focused on celebrating your yoga teachers and hopefully giving you a glimpse into the brilliant team that is the Namaste Yoga + Wellness family. We have over 55 teachers in our community and every single person offers something unique!

Meet Sita Devi:

What is your name and when/where/what do you teach?
Sita Devi. I teach vinyasa and power vinyasa and lead kirtan at Namaste Rockridge and looking forward to starting classes at Grand Lake next year.

How long have you been at Namaste?
2 months

What inspired you to become a yoga instructor?
Seva: selfless service.

Do you have any go-to yoga and wellness books or podcasts?
I love the calm app. Awesome daily meditations and nighttime sleep stories. Best wellness app hands down.

Which teachers influence your practice?
Govind Das, Bryan Kest, Janet Stone

What does your yoga practice look like and how has it changed your life?
My practice is constantly evolving and transforming. I was a dancer and performer for many years and yoga was my rock, my foundation. Yoga reminds me how precious every moment is. It is my greatest teacher.

What is something you wish your students knew?
The Beatles were Hare Krsnas.

What is your morning or evening routine? (whichever is your favorite..or both!)
Dinacharya, my morning practice consists of 10 minutes of meditation, oil pulling and abhyanga.

What is your favorite thing about being a teacher?
Hearing, “this is exactly what i needed” after class. Helping people heal.

What are you involved with outside the studio?
Nature, Retreats, Festivals, Travel.

What is your go-to movement (asana, dance, hiking, etc.) that allows you to feel the most connected to yourself?
Ecstatic Dance

What is your favorite thing about the Bay Area?
Everything.

*Monday, Friday, and Saturday classes begin January 1, 2018!

Meet Your Teacher: Melina Meza

Namaste Yoga + Wellness is a container for the Bay Area’s best yoga teachers to offer their incredible talent and wisdom to students of all backgrounds. These highly experienced teachers have dedicated their lives to sharing the gift of yoga with others and we couldn’t be more grateful. It is an honor to support them and to connect them with yoga practitioners like you.

We are excited to share this special new blog series focused on celebrating your yoga teachers and hopefully giving you a glimpse into the brilliant team that is the Namaste Yoga + Wellness family. We have over 55 teachers in our community and every single person offers something unique!

Meet Melina Meza:

How long have you been at Namaste?
Almost three years in total

What inspired you to become a yoga instructor?
I was asked to be a yoga teacher by a friend who wanted to open a studio in Seattle back in 1996. After much consideration, I said YES and was inspired to do so because of how much I loved yoga and the way it made me feel. After one year of teaching a lot of classes, I took my first pause and moved to Maui to study with Gary Kraftsow for the winter. During my first year of teaching, I felt I taught everything I learned from my first teacher and exhausted my resources. On Maui with Gary, I found what was missing….my home practice. Since then, my home practice is what continues to inspire me to teach.

Your favorite literature on yoga or meditation?
Tough question…but if you’re looking for an entry point into yoga and meditation, I recommend, The Heart of Yoga by Deskichar for yoga and A Path with Heart by Jack Kornfield for meditation.

Which teachers influence your practice?
Kathleen Hunt (Seattle based teacher), Gary Kraftsow, Sarah Powers, Tias Little, Jin Sung, Scott Blossom (listed in the order of when I studied with them)

How often do you practice?
My practice of yoga extends beyond the yoga mat into my life. I consider all the times I wake up and do my meditation + Ayurvedic cleansing routines, hydrate, and eat right for my constitution as part of my practice. When I’m actively listening to another, or walking mindfully by myself, I also consider this part of my yoga practice. The asana portion varies for me but in general, I do sequences at home every other day and outdoor activities like walking or tennis on alternating days.

What is your morning or evening routine? 
The morning starts with tongue scraping, brushing teeth, rinsing eyes with Ayurvedic Rose Water drops, Nasya Oil in the nose, hydrate then meditate for 10-20 minutes. After meditating….a leisure cup of coffee before celebrating the day. Depending on the season or travel schedule, I give myself an oil massage every other day or when traveling everyday before showering.

Your favorite self-care practices?
Eating when I’m hungry and not eating when I’m not hungry, oil massage, 20-minute naps, staying hydrated and eating soup often, being creative every day, getting 8 hours of sleep.

What are you involved with outside the studio?
At the moment….photography, tennis, cooking, and a little guitar.

Absolute favorite asana?
Downward Dog

What is your favorite thing about the Bay Area?
Sunshine and the variety of avocados!

Your Year in Review: 2017 Personal Inventory Worksheet

HONOR YOUR PATH

Memory is a funny thing. The more time passes, the more our recollection of the past shifts and evolves, taking on the hue of the present moment’s wisdom. Take some time this month before we welcome 2018 to document the highs and lows of 2017. What path did you take? There is no sweeter gift for yourself than creating space to touch in with your mind, body, and spirit. Try this ritual below to honor the closing of one year and the birth of another:

  1. Find a quiet space (or somewhat quiet space if you have roommates, children, excited pets).
  2. Light a candle or burn some palo santo.
  3. Pull out a special journal or some fresh white pieces of paper.
  4. Close your eyes, take 10 deep breaths in and out, watching your out breath. You can place your hand over your heart or rest gently on your thighs.
  5. Set an intention for this practice. A suggestion would be “I am grateful for all this year brought and open to honest reflection”
  6. Get writing! Save this worksheet nearby and check-in on it throughout next year to see how far you have come!

Download your very own Year of Empowerment Personal Inventory worksheet!

Keep up with us on the blog, Instagram, and Facebook where we’ll be sharing tips from your favorite Namaste teachers.

Join us for a New Year’s Day Benefit Class to support Habits for Humanity! The best way to kickstart your new year.

Meet Your Staff: Rockridge Manager Holly Saitta

Holly is modeling some of our newest apparel from the Namaste Boutiques.

Featured here: Onzie velvet crop top and metallic leggings. Perfect for NYE dancing!

Each week for the next few weeks we will be highlighting one of our incredible Namaste tribe members! With so many inspiring, passionate folks working at Namaste we felt it was a crime to keep their shining personalities from the rest of the world.

Meet Studio Manager: Holly Saitta

Who are you?
My name is Holly and I am the Rockridge Studio Manager.

How long have you been at Namaste and what do you do here?
I have worked here for going on 5 months and began as a front desk associate then fell in love with this amazing place and community then took over as studio manager at Rockridge. I make sure all is well with the studio staff and clients helping create a sacred space for us all to be a part of.

Where did you grow up and how long have you lived in the Bay Area?
I grew up in a very tiny rest stop of a town in central Florida before moving to Gainesville Florida for college then graduated and have been living my California dream here in the Bay for about half a year now.

Favorite part of Namaste?
Namaste’s diversity of offerings; experiences, retail, and community wise.

What is your favorite thing about yoga?
Community! I specialize in bringing people together through the practice of Acro Yoga.

What are your favorite self-care practices?
The people, the forests, and the fog

What are you involved with outside the studio?
Outside of work I am a skater yogi and love to go to acro yoga jams. I also enjoy cooking healthy meals with my loving other half.

We know you love our teachers equally – BUT whose classes do you take the most?
I love Melina Meza’s class!


Want to work at Namaste Yoga + Wellness?

December Honors The Empowered Life

[Photo of Namaste Teacher Odisa Walker]

What does it mean to live The Empowered Life?

At the beginning of 2017 we committed ourselves to a 12-month journey of empowerment. We spent each month unpacking the practices and elements, from self-care to bravery, that allowed us to live with confidence, compassion, and calm. Our motto in January was “My Practice Gives Me Power”. Now we want to reflect on what we’ve done with this power.

Practicing presence and engagement throughout the seasons of our lives opens us up to a deeper connection with ourselves and the world around us. Our hope, as a studio, is that you have found value in these explorations and been inspired to reflect and grow in your own unique ways.

So what exactly does it mean to live “The Empowered Life”? We believe the definition is unique to each person but ultimately it goes beyond simply feeling empowered. It is a life of unwavering integrity and confidence.

Confidence that we have the power to face whatever comes our way. Integrity to act in ways that empower others. Confidence that we are whole and good. Integrity to live our truth.  The confidence we can tackle the sticky, dark corners of life with grace, patience, and love. The ability to return from the shadows whole and decent.

The Empowered Life means we strive to make every day sacred.

Take a look back on our 2017 year and get ready for an even more amazing 2018!

 
November: Giving Gratitude  | December: The Empowered Life

Why I Teach Prep for Birth

When I was pregnant with my first child I remember facing the unknown of giving birth. It felt like it didn’t matter how much I read, I still couldn’t get a handle on what the first, second and third stages of labor might look and feel like. This created a background feeling of tension and unease that I was only barely aware was there.

Second time around, I not only had the benefit of having been through the experience, but I also took HypnoBirthing® classes. These classes offered several fantastic tools that, in part, inform my upcoming Prep for Birth workshop. Having immersed myself in the world of prenatal yoga after having two children I feel passionate about bringing these tools to new mothers.

Combining experiential exercises, including some gentle partner yoga, as well as informational pieces, the main focus is on practices supporting relaxation.
In our busy modern lives, being able to relax is a skill that can take some training, especially in the face of a brand new, unknown experience.

Another important piece is to make sure you’re not sweeping concerns under the rug like I was that first time. When we have the time, space and support to explore those background worries and bring them to light, we get to either find action steps or see that we’re holding on to something unnecessarily and can let it go.

My favorite part of the class is a couple of simple exercises to bring you and your partner into a deeper connection. I love hearing from the couples that I work with that, in the course of their preparations, these exercises have them come back to the very reason they are bringing this amazing new life into the world together. It’s not uncommon in committed relationships (and even more so for those already parents), to have that deeper connection fall by the wayside.

So this class will not only give you tools to take into a relaxed and easeful birth, but can support you going forward in your relationship too!

In three hours, you’ll connect sweetly and deeply, you’ll learn, move and relax. I look forward to meeting you and supporting you on this very special journey.

Rosy Moon Schlussel

 

With love,
Rosy Schlussel

This class is an opportunity to come together with your partner and learn some foundational tools to support the mother-to-be in the lead up to delivering her baby.

The Driven Yogi: Wisdom for New Teachers

About 25 prospective teachers go through Namaste’s teacher training every year. These students take their newfound knowledge and promote wellness in their communities by teaching at local studios, opening up their own studio, or even teaching yoga at non-profit organizations. However, one of our recent graduates is using her time, knowledge, and new skills to help other yoga teacher graduates like herself. Keisha Courtney started The Driven Yogi.com, a site that offers free tips and advice to help new yoga teachers land their first jobs after training. We wanted to find out more about Keisha and her company. Read on to learn more!

1. Where did you grow up and at what age did you discover yoga?
​I’m from a small town in Clinton, Utah. Growing up I was a competitive gymnast and power tumbler. The competitiveness I learned at a young age carried into different areas of my life, including my career.

It wasn’t until the age of 26 when I discovered the magic of yoga. I was in a high-visibility, high-stress career as a TV news reporter. I covered a wide range of stories from natural disasters to murders, and my stress and anxiety got to an unmanageable level. Since I use exercise as an outlet, I started experimenting with different classes. I took one yoga class and was hooked! I left the studio feeling grounded, light, and clear-headed. From that moment forward, I knew that yoga would be an integral part of my life.

2. How has yoga changed for you since you began practicing?
​When I first started practicing I was always frustrated when I couldn’t do a pose (the competitive gymnast was still in there). It was 6 months into my practice when I was finally able to dig deeper and really understand that I needed to accept where I was in my practice from day-to-day. Sometimes I wanted to move and move hard, and other times a child’s pose was exactly what my body needed. When I accepted this idea, I was finally able to let things go on my mat and that’s when my practice truly blossomed.

3. What attracted you to take a yoga teacher training?
​As much as I love yoga, it actually wasn’t the yoga at all that compelled me to enroll in a teacher training. I’m a competitive pole dancer and I absolutely love pole. When tackling difficult moves in pole, I use the breath techniques I have learned in yoga to help me get through the moves. Because of the benefits yoga brought me in pole dancing, I wanted to bring it to other dancers and create a class that combined the two forms of exercise. I was halfway through my yoga teacher training when I realized I wanted to teach yoga, as there were soooo many directions I could take it. For now, I’m focused on teaching yoga, improving my teaching skills, and sharing my journey through The Driven Yogi.com. I may still come up with the pole/yoga hybrid class, but for now, I’m just happy teaching yoga and guiding my students in their practice.

4. Do you have any advice for people who are just getting into yoga?
​There are a lot of misconceptions that stop people from practicing yoga and the first one relates to flexibility. Since teaching I have had several people say “I can’t do yoga because I’m not flexible,” but that’s not what yoga is about. For me, yoga reminds me to breath, not take certain things in life so seriously, and to come to my mat to find that release and stillness that my body (and mind) need. If people decide to try yoga for the first time I would just say don’t have preconceived notions about what yoga is or isn’t. Try it out and see what happens. Allow yourself to have your own experience.

5. You have a great presence and have really put yourself out there. Any tips for teachers who may be shy about marketing themselves?
​First off, thank you for that compliment! As for the question, putting yourself out there is scary – I totally get that. But marketing yourself as a new teacher is necessary.
If people don’t know about your classes, how will they be able to come? The studios I work at are super helpful in promoting teachers’ classes, but teachers can’t solely rely on studios to do that for them.

In regards to digital promotion, it doesn’t have to solely​ be about promoting yourself and your classes.​ I find that students actually enjoy getting to know more about their teache​rs outside of class, and they look for ways to relate to them. The posts I put out that don’t have anything to do with yoga tend to get more interaction than the ​posts that ​do​​.​ And ​sometimes, students ​will mention things they’ve seen on my page when they come to my classes – and it’s always the post that don’t ​have to do with yoga.

6. Who are your favorite Namaste teachers and why?
​Oh my goodness, there are so many! I love how much knowledge and experience each one has and I love getting the chance to practice with them. Obviously, I rea​lly enjoyed my teacher trainers: Domonick for his unique yoga classes that combine sequences with dancing, Baxter for his knowledge around anatomy, Vickie for helping me fall in love with alignment-based yoga, and Ashley for helping make meditation bearable (I couldn’t stand doing it before I had her leading me and teaching me certain techniques). On top of the teacher trainers I had, Whitney Walsh (my mentor) is amazing and has such a unique way of leading classes. She drew me in immediately and I HAD to learn more from her. I practice with her weekly and am blown away every. single. time.

7. Where do you hope to be in 5 years?
​In five years I hope The Driven Yogi is the go-to source for new yoga teachers. Many great and experienced teachers have already contributed to the site by providing insightful tips for new teachers. As the site grows I will continue to reach out to teachers, but I definitely have plans for the future of the site​ – stay tuned!​

8. What is one tip or self-care practice that you can’t live without?
​This is cliche, but I couldn’t live without yoga. I have a Type-A personality and my mind is constantly on the go trying to figure out how I can check more things off of my neverending to-do list. Yoga reminds me to breathe, be present and let little things go, and it also keeps me grounded so that I can get back to tackling lists – in a healthier way of course.

9. Anything else you’d love our Namaste community to know about you?
I​f you’re a new teacher and curious about the next steps you should take after your yoga teacher training, or if you are thinking about doing a training, please visit my website and sign up for our email list so that you are always in the loop when new tips come out – TheDrivenYogi.com.

The Season of Gratitude

[Photo of Namaste Teacher Danielle Woermann]

November feels like the beginning of the end. Blink twice and the holiday season will be here before we know it. The ceremonial death of one year while the birth of a brand new chapter rests on the horizon. This is the optimal time for inward reflection before the tizzy of celebrations pulls our energy into external events. This is why we’ve chosen, as routine as it may be, to focus on gratitude. Gratitude for the big things in life: family, friends, health in body, mind, and spirit. Gratitude for the small moments too: a warm cup of tea, the silent dark mornings of fall, or a smile from a stranger. We ask you to sit with gratitude in your practice and use it to fuel a more intimate connection to everyday life.

What does it mean to Make Every Day Sacred ?

Every Day Sacred was the name of our first yoga teacher training and the phrase has stuck around because we believe it encapsulates our vision and purpose. Every single day is a gift. We are awake, breathing, and engaged in a world that exists in a temporary and ever-changing realm. How lucky we are to be conscious and to have the power of choice! Each day gives us the opportunity to flex our resilience and perspective in order to shape our reality. Dedication to our yoga practice can be the constant that brings us back to this understanding of our inner strength and power.

To Make Every Day Sacred is to live with mindfulness and non-attachment. We notice, like a soft breeze, when something enters our threshold of awareness and triggers within us joy, pain, or an indescribable emotion. We watch our reaction and give thanks for the experience of connection to this very moment. Then, like an exhale, we release our grasp on whatever it was that came our way. We acknowledge the heartwarming of a kind act and just as simply we let it go – opening to the next experience. We actively choose to see the hidden beauty unfolding in every moment regardless of its tenor.

Community Practice:

Gratitude Meditations

How you can participate:

This month we will be offering journal prompts, inspirational videos, and opportunities to give back to the community. Take your first step by finding a sweet journal where you can begin making your daily notes of gratitude and growth!

Keep up with us on the blog, Instagram, and Facebook where we’ll be sharing tips from your favorite Namaste teachers.

3 Branding Tips for New Yoga Teachers

The yoga industry is booming. In the last year, over 15 million new yoga students began practicing within the US alone, spending over $27 Billion on yoga related products and services. Where it use to be difficult to find a quality yoga class – now, in certain cities, studios outnumber Starbucks. The improved yoga studio business model, an increase in celebrity attention, and the rise of mindfulness practices (especially in tech) have led to a massive boost in popularity.

New students entering this space are often excited, nervous, and overwhelmed by the sheer number of choices, including what style and whose class they should take, and that is once they decide on a studio.

With so much marketing, advertising, and corporate money being poured into the yoga scene – it can be daunting figuring out where to start as a new student, let alone a new yoga teacher. Who are you? How can you communicate your uniqueness to your students?

The good news is this…yoga is still very much about just being yourself.

At Namaste, we have a large community of over forty teachers and over a hundred classes per week. Over the last few years I have had an opportunity to watch what works best. Here are my top three branding tips for new yoga teachers:

Yoga takes discipline. Most yoga teachers don’t end up teaching because they have nothing else to do. A large percent of yoga teachers have master degrees, some of them are CEO’s, and some of them have gone through immense life challenges to be here, sharing their path. Let your students in on your life.

Write down or say aloud to yourself why you love teaching and why you decided to become a yoga teacher. Think of it as creating your personal brand’s “About” page. What was the catalyst that led you to this way of life? How has your life changed? You are a living, breathing advertisement for your own product (your class), your content (your own practice), and your brand (your teachings). Streamline this story, so it becomes easily digestible, succinct, and highlights the parts that are unique to your path.

Share this story with your students. They will appreciate your openness; they will feel more connected to you, and they may even share your story with friends (leading to bigger class sizes!). Depending on how succinct you can make your story, you may share intermittently in class, but always have it available online. In addition to having it on your website, consider writing a blog post and posting through social media to gain more traffic. Also, spending time to connect with the front desk staff at your studio will increase the likelihood they also share your story with new students.

New teachers can have a difficult time building yoga classes off the bat. The best technique I have seen for gaining new students is through subbing. In order to sub for popular classes, new teachers must put themselves out there and get to know the other teachers in their community. I highly encourage new teachers to make the rounds. Attend other teacher’s classes and workshops, community events for the studio, and yoga industry gatherings. If your style resonates with another teacher (or vice versa), it works out great for both parties.

Once you have connected with teachers, share your experiences. Share photos of you attending their class, status updates about hanging out with others in the community, and event invites for workshops being taught by other teachers. These types of social media posts are attractive to students. They enjoy seeing your engagement with the community, syncing with more established teachers who they trust already, and will assume you likely teach a high-quality class, since other teachers are actively supporting you.

The more you share other teacher’s works, the more likely those teachers are to promote and share yours. When you are cross-pollinating your promotions with other teachers, you give yourself access to a larger demographic. Students can categorize you and your style of teaching faster when you are connected to another group of teachers, and this allows for faster development of your personal brand.

Deciding to be a yoga teacher means you have chosen a life that is now largely in the public eye. Your regular students will look up to you the same way people look up to some celebrities. As tempting as it may be to shy away from self-promotion, embrace it. It is a necessary aspect to ensuring your career is successful.

Take advantage of all the self-promotion tools available. Set up a Facebook Page (not a personal page) as a public figure. Create an Instagram account dedicated to your yoga practice and teachings. Create a website and make sure to list all of your classes, your bio, and any upcoming workshops. There are several great website services such as Squarespace, Wix, and WordPress that all make it easy (and cheap) to create beautiful sites with minimal technical experience. It is also worth hiring a professional photographer to take a variety of photos that you can repurpose across all of these platforms. A professional photographer out of the budget? Ask a friend or even your studio. Often times studios have access to a nice camera and may be willing to help you take a few pictures.

Once you have established your social media pages, continue to update. Feed your new fan base with recent pictures, new insights, and fresh content such as blog posts and favorite teachings of yours. In order to stay at the forefront of your student’s minds and to attract new students you must stay engaged with your online community.