Habits set the tone for our daily lives. Having the courage to look at our habits in an unbiased way can lead to more authenticity and connection. Taking the time to understand why we act transforms habits into intentional practices.
When we align with our core values we reap the benefits of a purposeful life. We have more confidence and power to adapt to whatever changes or obstacles we may face.
This is the beauty of a yoga practice. The ritual of returning to our breath and body allows us to stay present. The effects ripple beyond the edges of our mat and lift us up in the most mundane moments. Yoga opens the door for deeper awareness of our mortality, intuition, and potential. The opportunities created by a strong mind-body connection can heal and prepare us for the journeys our physical bodies take through life.
In the spirit of empowerment, we collected stories from our community to inspire you to reflect on your own practices. Every day we hold space within the studios for our community to live more courageously. We do this so that we may shine with confidence both on the mat and off.
Featured Maker: Made by Rheal
Products we carry: Cast hands, coasters, concrete vessels, votives
Materials: Cast concrete objects
From the moment I saw these hands, I knew they were perfect for our boutiques. They speak of offering, they beg to have some precious object placed in them for reflection, they provide the sense of the sacred. Please don’t let this precious product pass you by. Bring a set home and let it remind you of what you offer the world every day. Or what you want to offer the world. The hands are a beautiful metaphor.
The hands were just the first step on my path of finding Rheal, the man behind the hands. He is inspiring! He is a local Oakland maker, with a little backyard studio on the Oakland/Emeryville border. He is immensely inspired by material – it is what lights him up. Currently concrete is the material he works with most consistently, but he veers off into resin and glass as well. He creates molds to cast his concrete menagerie. The concrete is amazing because it lends everything a weight, a heaviness. The cast object is actually there, in reality. You can feel it and touch it and fill it and empty it and start again. It’s earthy and feels grounding to hold in your hands.
I can’t get enough of his work, but perhaps you need to know what to do with it? It’s sculptural, so just enjoy it. But also…. I’m going to make you a list:
• Put the hands on your altar and put a precious object in them. A stone, a crystal, a leaf, an air plant, a flower, something seasonal, something that you value, something that represents your intention.
• If you get hands without sparkly touches, they are food safe. Offer your guests a dash of salt. Set a unique table.
• His “vessels,” tinged with a touch of sparkle, can be filled with soil and succulents. (Perfect wedding table objects anyone?)
• Clean up your workspace and upgrade to a really nice pen holder.
• Use a set of hands as an incense burner. I purchased a roll of charcoal discs and I break a little piece off of one and put it in the hands, light it up, and then drop little bits of loose flower-y incense on it. It’s heaven and perfect to set the mood before a little home yoga class.
• Moon coasters for your moon party!
Made by Rheal products can be found at both our Berkeley and Rockridge boutiques. Support local artisans and local businesses and shop at Namaste boutiques!
[Photo of Energy Bells created by Namaste Student Brooke Levin]
The Namaste community is full of wonderful and impressive yogis who bring creativity and inspiration to our daily lives. Brooke Levin joined Namaste in 2004 when the Rockridge Studio first opened. Brooke has gained so much from the Namaste community both through classes, workshops and the friendships she has formed. Namaste is so much more than a place, it’s a neighborhood to Brooke! We love Brooke and wanted to share an upcoming event highlighting local businesses and artists in Oakland.
Brooke is sponsoring a group of amazing women in an Artisans and Makers Pop Up Shop on Sunday November 5th from 1-5 pm. It will be held at The Rare Bird Makers Space at 3883 Piedmont Avenue. We are delighted to highlight this special event featuring not only Brooke, but also our Yoga Advisor Bekah’s beautiful pottery (featured on the left below) and Namaste student/friend/vendor Tracy from White Sage Wellness (featured on the right below).
Each Artisan has a unique offering, elegant jewelry, essential oils & wyldcrafts, collage journals, chocolates, hand knit goodies, original ceramic mandalas and hand sewn oil cloth bins.
Brooke’s work, shown here include Art Boxes, Energy Bells & Tins. Brooke’s Art Boxes are created from repurposed cigar boxes and a variety of images. The Monarch Butterfly and Bumble Bee boxes are to honor her commitment and charitable work around pollination and as part of her role as a member of the Pollinator Posse, an Oakland based group working to grow the pollinators.
The Energy Bells are created to be used to clear space of “stuck” energy. It’s a great alternative to smudging and can be done anywhere, home, work or in the car! Just ring the bell in every corner of every space and use as often as needed. All items are made with lots of Oakland Love and handled with care.
We hope you can make it to this great event. Look forward to seeing you there!
Preparing for a new baby may be one of the biggest events you’ll experience in a lifetime. As a woman, your body is changing constantly while mentally you prepare for birth and what a brand new member of your family means to your way of life.
In the midst of it all yoga can be a valuable tool for birthing mothers and their partners to remain calm, grounded and present during the transitions of pregnancy, childbirth and parenthood. This simple five-minute flow from Namaste teacher and new mom Annemaria Rajala is perfect for sneaking in a few moments of self-care. Enjoy this prenatal yoga practice in the morning, evening, or even on a lunch break! Plus, check out this weekend’s upcoming Prenatal Partners Workshop with Annemaria and Julia Anne Stathis!
[Photo of Namaste Teacher Elika Aird]
We’ve entered the final quarter of the year. The air has a new chill as our hearts and minds begin to turn inwards. As yogis and wellness warriors, we have a responsibility to acknowledge the tragedy occurring in our world. The political climate is devastating our country’s ability to make progress on key issues. Natural disasters have wreaked havoc from coast to coast. Last weekend, we experienced the collective trauma of another mass shooting in Las Vegas. It is easy to use our practice as an escape mechanism, and sometimes we may need to, but this month we encourage you to stay present.
What defines Courage & Confidence?
Our Year of Empowerment has been a journey focused on self-love, integrity, and action. Each month we’ve encouraged you to look inside and reflect on different facets of self-care. This month is no different. Living with courage and confidence means that we do not shy away from the tough questions, the difficult events, and the challenging conversations. We choose to practice bravery. We choose to believe that we have the power to change, to help, and to heal. A healthy yoga and wellness practice can empower us to recognize both inner strength and softness. Like a deep breath, we inhale power to exhale love.
We have chosen the focusing question: how does my practice empower me to live with more courage and confidence?
Share Your Story
Sharing your story can be the inspiration someone else needs to live with more courage and confidence.
How you can participate:
This month we will be creating community “empowerment” posters around the studio. We encourage you to share your story of empowerment. There will be materials for you to write and paste your statements of empowerment. Share how your practice lets you live with more courage and confidence. Keep an eye out for stories shared by your teachers and our Namaste family.
Additionally, we are working on creating opportunities for our community to give back to the tragedies occurring around the world. We’ll keep you updated on ways to take your practice beyond your mat.
Stress. Ah. That word alone makes me want to let out a big sigh. It’s hard to avoid, nearly impossible these days. And in some ways it’s become our cultural norm; the standard as to how we measure our busyness. If we’re not stressed, we perceive it as a sign that we’re not doing enough, aka not valuable or important enough.
Practice: Next time you ask someone how they’re doing pay close attention to their response; do they reply with something along the lines of, “I’m just so busy!” or “There’s so much to do and so little time!”?
Notice for yourself, are you inclined to respond in a similar way? And maybe taking it one step further, how does it feel in your body when you express these emotions? Notice how the constant pushing feels in the body.
I’ve spent many years letting stress run my life. And I’ve also dedicated many years to studying, teaching, and working with clients on how to channel stress for the better. There will always be some form of stress in our lives, and a certain amount is healthy. The right kind of stress can spur us to go for our dreams, to ace that presentation, to not settle for less than our best. The wrong amount of stress can create dis-ease in the body, harm relationships, and negatively impact our work.
It’s a delicate balance, and like anything it takes practice and a whole lot of patience.
But I promise the more you do it the easier it will get. It’s like any other muscle, you have to use it if you want to get stronger. But remember, once you get in shape you don’t get to stop working out, you have to stay on it if you want to stay mighty.
Below are the top 5 ways I choose to de-stress. In no way is this list exhaustive or all inclusive. Find what works for you, then do more of it.
This is a big one. The more time I spend hunched over a screen the worse my body feels (wrist, shoulder, neck tension anyone?!), my eyes ache, and I actually feel more disconnected. I’m committed to turning my phone off at least an hour before bed and choosing to read or spend time with my partner instead. Use your phone as your alarm clock? Put your phone on airplane mode so you’re not tempted to check your email or IG page for the 73rd time that day (the average American checks their phone 80 times in a day!).
Water is medicine. Baths can be both soothing and energizing. Try adding different ingredients into your tub for different results. Two of my favorites: epsom salts for tired muscles and an overworked mind; or for a moisturizing soak combine 1 T. coconut oil, 1 T. apple cider vinegar, and 1 t. honey (just make sure to clean the tub afterwards otherwise that coconut oil could surprise the next shower guest, and not in a good way!).
Mother nature heals. Have a picnic in the park; breathe in the ocean air; take a hike or go for a bike ride outdoors. Pressed for time?— even 5 minutes of soaking up the sun can improve your mood and stimulate a foggy brain.
Find activities you love and do them often. Aim to sweat a little every day. Sweating is therapeutic for the body; gives your mood a boost, and helps you sleep sweeter.
Laugh more. Those deep belly laughs. Call a friend, read the comics, watch a movie; get really creative here and let your playful side run free.
Here’s to strengthening your stress-less muscle!
Water meditation can enhance the powerful benefits of mindfulness practices. Reverberating a mantra’s sound current inside a human body of water can calm the overactive mind and encourage a feeling of non-attachment and weightlessness. Allowing ourselves to be fully present creates space for every day stress to fade away into the background.
This guided meditation is led by Anne Koller, Namaste’s newest Kundalini yoga instructor, and was created by Hari Kaur Khalsa, author of A Woman’s Book of Yoga: Embracing Our Natural Life Cycles, with Machelle M. Seibel, M.D.
This water meditation is meant to be performed in warm, shallow water that sits at or below bellybutton level. Fill a bath, light a few candles, and sink into your own meditative bliss.
To begin, cross your legs and find a comfortable seated position. Sit up tall with a lengthened spine, hit play, close your eyes, and allow your mind and body to fully connect with the water.
Anne has been a KRI certified Kundalini Yoga and Meditation teacher as taught by Yogi Bhajan for four years. Anne was trained by Hari Kaur Khalsa, named 10 Influential Yoga Teachers Who Have Shaped Yoga in America, in New York City.
Her passion for sharing the power of breath awareness, emotional-balance, self-empowerment and mind-body alignment permeates all of her yoga and meditation classes. She has been featured in Huffington Post, Today Show, Tennis Channel, ReachMD and YogaCity NYC for her work in wellness training, specifically in water healing and corporate mindfulness. She believes that if we can feel at home in our mind and body, we can thrive in any environment.
Fall is on the horizon and the energetic nature of summer is winding down. Take this month to focus on cultivating calm in your life. Join us for a fun stamp card challenge as we practice ways to stress less.
OUR COMMUNITY PRACTICE: STRESS LESS STAMP CARD
All it takes is a simple reminder to breathe more and stress less. Carry this beautiful card with you throughout the month to support your mission of cultivating calm in daily life. Play along with our four Stress Less Challenges for a chance to win one of three amazing wellness prizes including luxury retail items, wellness services, and more! Simply accomplish each experience on your own time and let the front desk know when you are finished.
When you have achieved all four stamps, turn your card in at the front desk and wait for our winning announcement!
Share with us on social media using the hashtag #YearofEmpowerment.
Want to check out past months?
Catch up on all of our Year of Empowerment and join us as we continue the journey.
Sit for just 10 breaths. Just 10 breaths in and 10 breaths out.
Then get up and start the day. It’s amazing how this very simple, very short practice levels me before I launch. And it’s amazing to me how much easier it is to remember to close my eyes and take a slow deep breath later in the day when I really need it.
So while sometimes we go to class and are guided through 90 minutes of asana and pranayama, and sometimes we enjoy and extended practice of 2 or 3 hours, and sometimes we immerse ourselves in a workshop or training…