Clean Living: Simplify Your Life

Spring is the time to focus on CLEAN LIVING.

The first quarter of the year our monthly themes centered primarily around confidence. We honored our inner epicness, bathed in self-love, and cultivated courage in the face of uncertainty. Spring is here and with it new vibes for quarter two.

April, May, and June are all about living honestly. We’ve tapped into our inner power, now is time to awaken our purpose.
This is why we are starting off with a community practice focused on getting real about what matters.

APRIL COMMUNITY PRACTICE: SIMPLIFY

Keeping with the theme, April will focus on simplifying one part of our life each week. Every week of April we will be emailing out journal prompts, tips, and advice on how to detox and simplify four areas of life: Space, Spirit, Body, and Time. 

Stay tuned for Monday when we begin focusing on simple ways to care for our bodies!

Join our community Facebook group, Year of Empowerment Club for weekly tips and journal prompts.

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

Want to check out past months?

Catch up on all of our Year of Empowerment and join us as we continue the journey.

    

Prana Pies: Love Infused Baking

by Grey Aurore Marcoux-Sydow

Something that I appreciate about my parents was their dedication to always preparing delicious, healthy meals for my sisters and I. Sharing meal time brought us together as a family in
a fun and satisfying way. One night where as an angst filled teenager I revealed to my dad that I didn’t really want to eat a piece of steak ever again. Unlike many of my friend’s parents, who would have told their kid that they were going to eat it anyway- my father had a very thoughtful approach to meeting my palate change. He told me that I didn’t have to eat steak, and that he was going to make something else for me entirely.

That night he served me what is still one of my favorite things to eat: a large, tender portabello mushroom cap. He sauteed the mushroom in garlic, olive oil and a pinch of sea salt. When I took my first bite I knew that I’d never want to eat steak again and so began my love for mushrooms.

Although I didn’t realize it at the time, that was the beginning of my transition towards vegetarianism. When ten years later I enrolled in a yoga teacher training, part of our training was
adopting a vegetarian diet for 6 months. I was excited to embrace this dietary change, and I noticed that not only was I feeling great, but some other benefits included saving money, and
feeling good about not contributing to the needless death of animals for food.

My transition to veganism came about 2 years ago, when my husband shared a list of the proven benefits of adopting a plant based diet. At first I was skeptical, being that we both ate eggs
for breakfast almost every morning and cheese pizza was our favorite food. I already ate a healthy diet, so why in the world would I possibly give these things up? Well, it turns out that embracing a plant based diet is remarkably good for your personal health and the planet, as well as the obvious benefit to livestock. After a short time, I didn’t miss eggs at all due to all the other delicious, energy fueling vegan breakfasts I had discovered. And although I do still miss cheese once in a while, the benefits of not eating it far outweigh going back to consuming dairy products. When you start to realize the devastating health effects and the detrimental effects of dairy production-it’s hard to unlearn it. Suddenly, you don’t want cheese so much anymore.

Having friends over for dinner and introducing them to all the delicious flavors and vegan dishes is favorite way of introducing people to veganism. After a bountiful meal made up of
ingredients from our CSA (provided by the Oakland based Phat Beets), I like to serve friends something special that I’ve been perfecting over the past year: homemade raw, vegan pies!

     

Not only have they been called “mouth-wateringly delicious”, but they are mostly whole foods and free of refined sugar. These pies are made from seasonal, organic ingredients which I infuse with loving intention while I make them. They are packed full of nutrients to give you the energy you need to help you thrive. Ingredients like nuts, spices, coconut meat, fruits, and even seaweed all contribute to a dessert that is abundant in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, good fats and proteins.

What I love most is that these sweet, beautiful treats are so tasty and healthy that they are a perfect treat for children as well! Although it feels strange to credit my fish and meat loving father with my path to a plant based diet, I feel incredibly grateful to him for introducing me to the delectable mushroom he put on my plate some 15 years ago. In fact, it was only a couple months ago that he randomly remarked “Hey, by the way- I’m really proud of you and your husband for going vegan. I’m not quite there yet, but I’ll tell you what: I’m quite sure it is the diet of the future.”

(You can find out more about Grey’s raw, vegan pie company by visiting her instagram at:Prana_Pies)
(You can learn more about veganism by watching the documentary Cowspiracy, and vistiting www.nutritionfacts.org)

About Grey Aurore Marcoux-Sydow: Grey was born and raised on the tiny island of Nantucket, Massachusetts. After graduating high school she postponed going straight into college choosing instead to travel to India where she immersed herself in yoga, meditation, volunteer work and traversing the Himalayas. Upon arriving back in the United States, she took a train to California and fell in love with the bay area which she has happily called her home for the past 10 years. Grey teaches mindfulness classes to children in schools and she is also a yoga teacher who firmly believes that yoga is something we do with our hearts and minds, not just our bodies. When she’s not teaching or working at Namaste you can find her rock climbing, cooking vegan food, writing short stories, foraging for mushrooms, and planning her next exotic vacation. Grey loves Namaste and feels fortunate to call such an awesome place “work”!

Manage Stress Mindfully

Stress is something everyone faces on a daily basis. Stressful situations, whether it’s getting stuck in traffic or tripping over the dog, all activate the same fight-or-flight response. This chain of events initiates what is called the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis (HPA axis or HTPA axis). Triggering our HPA axis leads to a flood of stress hormones released by three primary endocrine glands: pituitary, hypothalamus, and adrenal. Stress hormones include cortisol and adrenaline, which act to increase our heart rate and suppress our immune response.

Famed researcher Robert M. Sapolsky wrote a whole book on the subject, titled Why Zebra’s Don’t Get Ulcers. In his book, he says, “A significant percentage of what we think of when we talk about stress-related diseases are disorders of excessive stress-responses.”

Sapolsky emphasizes that our stress response drives illness, not necessarily the exposure to stress itself. Managing stress means understanding how we respond to challenging situations. How can we slow the stress before it starts? One way is with mindfulness. That is where Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) comes into play.

mindfulness-based stress reduction

MBSR involves paying attention to your present experience, including your thoughts, emotions and sensory experiences. Mindfulness helps you to be more accepting of what’s happening and struggle less with your experience. MBSR is the perfect blend of scientific and spiritual practices taking techniques from Buddhist philosophy, meditation, psychology, and medicine to create a balanced practice that is scientifically proven to reduce stress-related illness.

mindfulness-based stress reduction

How can you practice more mindfulness? We recommend coming to class on a regular basis, finding a few minutes a day to foster your meditation practice, and considering an MBSR course. To get started right away, here are three of our favorite MBSR Techniques:

  1. Reframe everyday tasks as “a challenge rather than a chore and thus turning the observing of one’s life mindfully into an adventure in living rather than one more thing one “has” to do for oneself to be healthy.”
  2. Meditating in the morning and evening for as long as you can. Don’t get stuck on “not thinking.” Instead, focus on noticing thoughts when they arise and gently letting them float back into the ether.
  3. Take time think about challenging situations and practice the art of non-judgment. See your impulses to react to things with either joy or distaste. Instead, try to practice neutrality around experiences that often prove to be upsetting or stressful.

In our upcoming 8-week series, Domonick Wegesin, our resident neuroscientist and 200 Hour Teacher Training faculty member, will share the science behind how mindfulness can change your brain to be more peaceful and less reactive. Research has found that this training increases the density of gray matter in brain regions linked to learning, memory, emotion regulation, and empathy. 

We only have a few spots left so make sure to sign up as soon as possible!

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Spring Staff Picks

We labor here all day, in love. We are the eyes of the studio and see everything that comes to fruition. We are the ears of the studio and hear all that is whispered.  We are the tongue of the studio and speak its truths. We are the heart of the studio and feel its pulse.

Want to see what we see? Here are some of our staff favorites. Visit our boutiques and find YOUR fave!

  

Kristen Swehla, Grand Lake Assistant Manager

I LOVE the deities.  I love all things God/Goddess and I feel good seeing them at work everyday.

#shakti #shiva
#divinefeminine #sacredmasculine
#archetypes
    


Tosha Beverlin, Programming Director

I LOVE our OmCali oils. I use them every day! And I switch up which scent I use each season. I’m using Dream right now 🙂 I also started using the oil face wash and it is a DIVINE experience.

  


Eliza Andrews, Berkeley Studio Manager

High waisted, full length, space-dye Beyond Yoga leggings… Sometimes I do laundry just so that I can wear them sooner!

  


Christine Blackmore, Operations Manager 

My current retail fave is my red Manduka Pro-Lite mat.
It is a beauty. Light, easy to break in, and it gives me a sweet and comfy ride in class. I love my mat because it feels like it will last forever and…i can feel all that juicy life love energy being absorbed with every additional class I take. It is cushiony without losing the feeling of being grounded down to the Earth.
In seated positions it provides just a bit more cush so my sit bones are more comfortable too.
I also think it is a good value, it feels like such a durable mat that I know I will be practicing on it for ages!

   


Grey Marcoux, Berkeley Assistant Manager

The opal star & moon necklace by Leslie Francesca is just dreamy! Plus take a peek at the opal heart and hamsa necklaces, equally as adorable.

  


Sunny Koh, Rockridge Front Desk

Hard to choose but if I had to, it would be the colorful and textured bolsters, zafus and pillows we have by Chattra. They’re fun and such a sweet way to liven up a space.

  


Kelsey Garden, Rockridge Assistant Manager

I would have to go with local artist (and Namaste student) Mary Siegfried’s one of a kind women’s pin.  I love the vintage feel it has & that we are bringing back wearing pins! March is also National Women’s History Month so I think it’s the perfect gift to give a strong, powerful woman in anyone’s life. Available at Rockridge studio only!

  


Ezri Chioma, Bookkeeper

The Melody Furry Scarf – I would have one of each color if i could!

Take a Break with Poh Teng

Imagine a busy work day in which you are the eye of the storm. Despite a packed schedule, you are calm and focused. Without baggage from the past or worries about the future, you are present with each task at hand. You solve problems and make decisions with clarity. You execute tasks with precision and juggle competing priorities with equanimity, all while being kind, patient and peaceful.

I can honestly share that this scenario is easier said than done!

When not teaching yoga, I work full-time managing intellectual property for a tech company. On most days, I am out of the house before dawn to beat the morning traffic. Although I’m typically home before rush hour begins in the evening, my work day can get extra long if I teach an evening yoga class. Too often, discrete moments transform into a cascade of events that crash into each other, blurring into a long, draining continuum.

Does this sound like a familiar experience?

On such busy days, a 90-minute yoga class with any of my teachers is an impossibility. I’m lucky if I’m able to squeeze in a 30-minute restorative yoga practice at home without my dogs worrying that I have died on the bedroom floor.

Fortunately, yoga teaches us that each moment is an opportunity to practice, to nurture that which we wish to become.

Atha yoga nushasanam, remember?

Each instance is a chance to return to our highest, truest selves. Even if all we have is just 5 minutes. When we remember to pause, we step away from the madness instead of being carried away by it. Instead of thinking-doing-solving, we
breathe,
feel,
unwind, and
be.
Even if we are in business attire and without a yoga mat.

Finding little moments throughout the day to pause is essential for cultivating balance. Not a work day goes by in which I don’t practice a couple yoga poses in an empty conference room, or use a lacrosse ball to self-massage my trapezius or gluteal muscles. Sometimes, I go for a walk outside.

Will you join me in taking 5-minute breaks in your busy everyday?

Visit TAKEABREAK.YOGA – my latest heart offering.

The site is a free resource that offers simple practice sequences to help you cultivate balance in a demanding world. No yoga props, special clothing or admission fee required. Visit the site often to be guided through practice.

To shake things up, a new sequence is unveiled every couple of weeks. So check back often, not only to see how a regular mini practice can change your day, but also to explore different yoga journeys.

Pencil in 5-minute breaks into your schedule. It could be while you wait for the coffee to percolate, or during much-needed down-time between meetings.

Get out of the office chair.
Stretch out the back.
Take deep breaths.
Rest the mind.
Iron out kinks in the body.
Create space to help you see clearly.

All you need is 5 minutes. TAKEABREAK.YOGA

Here is a sample practice from the site. Click here to download a high-res version for print.

3 Workshops for Cultivating Curiosity

March Studio Focus: Embrace the Unknown

The third month of our Year of Empowerment is about recognizing when fear has taken hold of us and how we can nurture ourselves back to a place of understanding and self-care. Often our suffering is a product of our reactions to life events. When we become anxious about uncertainty we can work ourselves up imagining the worst or simply fantasizing about what we may want to happen. Both of these paths are dangerous and can lead to increased fear and disappointment.

If you want to practice combatting uncertainty, the best place to start is by cultivating curiosity. When we put energy into staying open and are willing to explore possibilities new doors can open for us. Trying new things is a perfect way to build our curiosity muscle. Get a little uncomfortable, make yourself a little vulnerable, and try something new this weekend!

Here are a few of our handpicked workshops that are totally worth a try: 

Bollywood Yoga Fit with David Moreno + Bulla Singh

Test out your dancing shoes.

Bollywood Dance Fitness is a fusion of traditional Indian classical, Bhangra dance styles, with Western styles like hip hop, jazz, and Latin. This high energy program will make you sweat, laugh, build strength, endurance, better smile muscles, and let your heart thump at a good clip! Date: Sunday March 5  From: 1:00- 3:00 PM Location: Grand Lake

registernow-R2c

 

 

A Compassion Heart with Ashley Sharp

Explore Buddhist philosophy and self compassion.

Compassion for both ourselves and others in uncertain times can carry us through the storms we face. Everyday we are called to our highest potential of wisdom and compassion in order to save the world and our hearts. Take an afternoon to build and explore your compassion muscles. Date: Sunday, March 12 From: 1:00-4:30 PM Location: Rockridge

registernow-R2c

 

 

Intro to Alexander Technique with Jaimi Patterson and Steven Moses

Get curious about your body!

The Alexander Technique is about movement and habit. It’s practical and embodied. The Technique acts as a vehicle to bridge the gap between that interference and our inherent design. Once bridged, it’s a skill that can be applied to any activity, including yoga. Date: Sunday, February 12 From: 4:30 PM – 7:00 PM Location: Rockridge

registernow-R2c

 

 

A Poem for The Unknown

In out of the way places of the heart
Where your thoughts never think to wander
This beginning has been quietly forming
Waiting until you were ready to emerge.

For a long time it has watched your desire
Feeling the emptiness grow inside you
Noticing how you willed yourself on
Still unable to leave what you had outgrown.

It watched you play with the seduction of safety
And the grey promises that sameness whispered
Heard the waves of turmoil rise and relent
Wondered would you always live like this.

Then the delight, when your courage kindled,
And out you stepped onto new ground,
Your eyes young again with energy and dream
A path of plenitude opening before you.

Though your destination is not clear
You can trust the promise of this opening;
Unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning
That is one with your life’s desire.

Awaken your spirit to adventure
Hold nothing back, learn to find ease in risk
Soon you will be home in a new rhythm
For your soul senses the world that awaits you.

By John O’ Donohue

Poem shared with us by Melina Meza. Join Melina for Yin Yoga this month. During all of March, she will be covering the 5 Elements over the 4 weeks as a way for students to learn more about self-care, Ayurveda, and our connection to nature.

Yin Yoga contains the ancient, and some say original, form of asana practice. The sages who pioneered the path of yoga used asanas to strengthen the body, so that they could sit for long periods in contemplative meditation. If you have ever sat for a long time with legs crossed, you know the hips and lower back need to be strong and open. The sensations you felt were deep in the connective tissues and the joints. These are the deep yin tissues of the body, relative to the more superficial yang tissues of muscles and skin. Yin Yoga opens up these deep, dense, rarely touched areas.


Recently Yin Yoga has been re-discovered, and more and more students of yoga are adding this challenging form of practiceto their regular sadhana. Years of a dedicated asana practice will make anyone healthier, stronger, and more flexible, but at some point the muscles will have reached their limit of flexibility. New depths in postures, deeper ranges of motion, or an increased flow of energy may only be achievable by focusing on the deeper tissues of the body. This is why so many students are finding Yin Yoga to be the perfect compliment and balance to their more active, yang practices.

Join Melina for Yin Yoga Tuesday’s 6:00-7:20PM at Namaste Berkeley.

March: Embrace the Unknown

Happy March!
Are you ready to EMBRACE THE UNKNOWN?

Over the last two months, we’ve honored our epic-ness, steeped ourselves in self-care, and now we are prepared to EMBRACE THE UKNOWN. Together we will cut through the anxiety of uncertainty by cultivating curiosity. We will foster intrigue and wonder through simple acts like exploring a new class, meeting new people, or going to new places.

MARCH COMMUNITY PRACTICE: CULTIVATE CURIOSITY

We’re excited to introduce a fun challenge: Class Stamp Cards.

The purpose of these cards is to provide inspiration and motivation to step out of our comfort zone by trying new classes, teachers, and class styles. Complete the card by taking five different class styles and return your stamped card to the front desk to become eligible for a chance to win a 90-minute massage.

Details on how to play:

  1. Come to class, grab a card, and ask the front desk for a stamp either before or after your class!
  2. Fill out as many cards as you want throughout the month! Each card is one entry for a chance to win a 90 min. massage. You can return filled cards to the front desk when you have received five stamps.
  3. Winner will be announced via email first week of April!

Over the next few weeks, we’ll keep providing you with tools and fun tips to keep your inspiration alive. Looking forward to testing new boundaries and finding ourselves cultivating curiosity in every aspect of our lives!

Join our community Facebook group, Year of Empowerment Club  for weekly tips and journal prompts.

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

Self Care Ritual: Setting Boundaries

This month, our focus has been #SelfCareActivism. We are getting close to the end and wrapping up our One Daily Ritual practice. Our Namaste teachers have shared how they choose to love and care for themselves whether it is getting some time out in nature or developing a home practice, and now, we turn to turning off.

Setting boundaries mean learning when our health and energy is in jeopardy of being compromised and then taking steps to protect ourselves from burnout. It is easy to get swept up. The news is full of insanity lately. Our families demand our attention. Work can become unruly. Our ability to filter what is important wanes. A great metaphor is to think of our energy as tokens. We only have so many decision tokens per day. When we spend all of our tokens, we begin to make poor decisions, which can exhaust us making it difficult to live our best lives.

Our last installment of Self Care Ritual inspiration is full of insight on cutting back and focusing on your internal landscape. This week, practice saying no a little more often, unplugging, and practicing loving kindness for yourself and others.

Join our community Facebook group, Year of Empowerment Club for weekly tips and journal prompts.

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

Self Care Ritual: Home Practices

This month, our focus is #SELFCAREACTIVISM. Our Namaste teachers have shared how they choose to love and care for themselves.

Last week we highlighted interesting facts and inspiration from our teachers on why it’s so important to get out in nature. This week, we are sharing some home care tips including morning practices and easy 15 minute breaks from your busy day.

Ready for the low down? Read on to hear from your teachers and get inspired on ways that YOU can create a home care practice.

Kameko Shibata: “We keep a tea warmer (just like the stand under the tea pots at grandlake) with a cup of oil in the bathroom and light the candle each morning when we get up. It heads up quickly & Then massage the oil on dry and sit to mediate for 15-ish minutes. That way the oil absorbs in and meditating w warm oil on your body is the best thing ever. I have a special pair of sweat pants for the occasion ”

Wendy Faith (Rivka): “I just returned from precious time on sacred land in Colombia… no cell phone, no email, no social media! I CONNECTED TO NATURE, felt the sun on my face, listened to the birds, basked under the moonlight… complete care to be in Union with Mother Earth.I was able to SING in the directions every sunrise and sunset, MEDITATE under the stars, PRAY with my community in temescal (sweatlodge) and PRACTICE YOGA OUTDOORS.

I am continuing these practices at home including an ongoing prayer circle tonite and one of my favorite forms of self-care, weekly DANCE, plus early morning CANDLE LIT BATHS WITH ESSENTIAL OILS and enjoying NOURISHING FOODS.How blessed we are to live in the Bay and have so much access to that which feeds our body, mind & spirit… including sharing the gift of yoga.”

Adam Kurzfeld: “Yes! I love [self-care]! Drum roll………… LEGS UP THE WALL!!! 15 min a day, keeps the Trump-slump at bay!” Legs up the wall is an amazing pose for achieving all the benefits of an inversion without the strenuous nature of flipping upside down. According to Yoga Journal, Viparita Karani or legs up the wall, helps to alleviate headaches, boosts energy, soothes menstrual cramps, and relieves lower back pain. Schedule yourself 15 minutes each afternoon for a quick break and a chance to increase circulation after sitting all day.

Jillian Schiavi: “Every single night: washing my face and putting on some yummy vegan skincare products (Arbonne) so I feel connected to my body, and feel incredible and hydrated when I wake up 🙂 I also frequently do complimentary skincare and selfcare workshops for groups of people, either in homes or in studios and businesses!”

Elana Morgulis: “Mmm, selfcare is my favorite!! I have to agree with Adam, Legs Up the Wall pose for 10 minutes any chance I get while at my day job, at the end of my yoga practice, or just to wind down in the evening is one of my favorite ways to settle and decompress. I also love taking 20 minutes or so on my porch with a cup of tea in the afternoon light. It’s so soothing on every level, I become quiet, reflective, still, and it connects me to myself. If I need to move, I’ll go for a walk through my neighborhood or a nearby trail for that quiet, soothing experience.”

We are excited to share in this collective experience. Cheers to a new month full of self-care inspiration.

Join our community Facebook group, Year of Empowerment Club  for weekly tips and journal prompts.

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