Brooke Brings Art & Love to Oakland

[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!

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On Sound Healing

I recently attended Sound Healing with Missy Felsenstein, which I can describe as being on an auditory journey into space. I thought it would be a restful, relaxing experience – but have to admit there were moments of unrest mixed in there for me. Still, i think it is an experience not to be missed! We all need to practice being more restful, and that is the whole point of the exercise.

It did make me wonder — how does it work?

According to current research, the vibrations of sound in various frequencies cause the brain waves to slow down and you start to move into Alpha brainwaves. This state of being is a state of relaxation, a restful place. If you have old injuries, you might feel some tingling in those areas. Once you become more practiced, it is possible that the sound might move you into the Theta brainwave state – this is one which is meditative, and which lives between awake and asleep.

Since no one processes sound in the same way, how this state feels to you and the experience you have will be different than the person next to you.

I found that I moved in and out of the Alpha state of relaxation. But when I would waken to reality, I couldn’t tell you where I had been. It didn’t feel like I had been asleep – it felt like my mind had been doing something – thinking thoughts or travelling down some path, or following the sounds as thought they were a path of footprints — but it was all lost to me when I would become aware of where I was.

Concentrating on sound helps to retrain your nervous system and your brain to learn how to relax. Here’s a tiny snippet of the experience. It’s big and booming, because the planetary gong Uranus was there, so go easy on the volume while you lay in a restful pose and take this auditory experience in.

Join Missy for her next Sound Healing with Restorative Yoga on Sunday, November 13. Sign up here!

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Yoga Journal 2015 – Let's Keep in Touch!

We had such an exciting time at Yoga Journal LIVE San Francisco! We had the opportunity to meet so many wonderful people from our Bay Area community and beyond. If you were one of the awesome individuals we got to share time with, check down below for your memento from our fun weekend.

Find Your Beautiful Self Below!

Be sure the tag us! Here are three ways:

Instagram @ilovenamaste

www.facebook.com/ilovenamaste

#ilovenamaste or Tweet us @ilovenamaste

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Yoga Journal 2015 – Let’s Keep in Touch!

We had such an exciting time at Yoga Journal LIVE San Francisco! We had the opportunity to meet so many wonderful people from our Bay Area community and beyond. If you were one of the awesome individuals we got to share time with, check down below for your memento from our fun weekend.

Find Your Beautiful Self Below!

Be sure the tag us! Here are three ways:

Instagram @ilovenamaste

www.facebook.com/ilovenamaste

#ilovenamaste or Tweet us @ilovenamaste

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Owner Kimberly Leo Talks 10 Year Anniversary

Namaste is honoring our 10 Year Anniversary this year with a free 10 Year Anniversary Celebration & Kirtan featuring Grammy nominated artist Jai Uttal. As we prepare for our upcoming event and anniversary, we touched base with Namaste owner Kimberly Leo to learn more about the last 10 years of Namaste history and what lies ahead for us!

What was the inspiration for opening Namaste Rockridge back in 2003?

KL: I was going through a big life transition and needed to make a change to my quality of life. Yoga got me through the hard spots, and I passionately wanted to share the gift of yoga with others.

Being an Oakland native, I saw a real need for a yoga studio in the Rockridge neighborhood. I have big family roots here and a large extended family. I always saw myself opening a business in Oakland and nothing felt more natural than providing a sacred space for people to practice and find the same gifts yoga offered me. My father was always active in the Oakland, and Asian American communities, and this was a way for me to give back to my community.

Namaste has seen tremendous growth over the last few years. How has the Namaste brand evolved?

Noah3KL: The intent behind Namaste always has been to provide a refuge for those seeking healing and wellness. Our students come to Namaste because they know that when they enter our doors, they can find among many other things — peace, salvation, support and space.

Over the years, Namaste has, in addition, become to stand for quality — quality in our teachers, our service and services, and our programming. People know and trust that we will provide them with the best quality experience. We are dedicated to the safety and well being of our students and that shines through in all of the decisions we make here.

The drive to grow Namaste has been organic, based on the demand from the community. As our Yoga Teacher Training Studentscommunity grew, they wanted more products and services, and wanted to delve deeper into the yoga philosophy and practices. As our programming grew, so has the need to reach the larger yoga community.

Our students want to learn from their teachers’ teachers and so we have been successful at attracting nationally recognized teachers into our studio. You can find many options for visiting teachers in San Francisco, but the East Bay was greatly lacking. We felt that we could serve that hole in the market.

With three studios now, how have things changed from the early days of Namaste?

Kimberly_Street_FairKL: When we first opened, I was at the front desk 24/7. I would go into the yoga studio, close the doors, and take a nap mid-day. I was able to greet each and every student and know them by name. I still know many of our students by name — that gives me the greatest pleasure — knowing our students and the stories behind their lives.

Now it is not physically possible to meet every person who walks through the door but the basic premise of serving the community and touching people’s lives is still the same. Every person who now works at Namaste has their own personal connection to what we are doing here which really shows in the way they connect with our students. I am so lucky that we have been able to maintain that level of personal attention and love for our students. I am blessed and honored to do this work. It feeds my soul, and it is amazing that we can touch so many lives.

You have been an active member in the local and regional yoga community for over a decade. How do you feel about the direction the yoga industry is headed?

KL: I have seen the yoga industry change dramatically over the last 15+ plus years. Yoga can have a profound effect on people’s health and wellness — not only the physical but their emotional states. It is always interesting to watch new students come through our doors seeking a fitness class and after the first few visits you really see that they are gaining much more than they expected. Yoga has finally reached the mainstream, and I believe the more people doing yoga, the better place the world can be. I am excited for yoga to reach the masses.

Best advice that you could pass along to new studio owners?

KL: It is cliché — but just do it! Be smart and have a business plan — but don’t think about it too hard. If I thought about the risks, the dos and don t’s and all the what-ifs, I would never have done it. You can’t sit there and analyze things too hard. It’s stifling. You will be amazed at the way the world receives you when you decide to just go for it.

How has your personal practice evolved or changed over the years of owning a studio?

IMG_1716

KL: Opening a business around self-healing, and the practice of yoga has changed my life forever. I am a lifelong beginning student — learning new lessons every day, every minute. Yoga influences how I live and walk through life every day — how I live my life, run my business and raise my child.

I am thankful for my family and to my staff for making this life possible. I am blessed to work with such wonderful people and to be in an environment where people are taking care of themselves and each other.

 

 


If you are excited about our 10 Year Anniversary Celebration and Kirtan, please make sure to pre-register for free today: bit.ly/1thBc3F

Namaste 10 Year Anniversary Celebration & Kirtan featuring Jai Uttal
When: Sunday, September 21 from 4:00-7:00 PM
Where: Namaste Berkeley (Parking Lot)

Event will be featuring:
Kirtan with Jai Uttal.
Dancing by Nubia Teixeira.
Additional Music by Adrienne Shamszad.
Aerial Arts by Kameko Shibata.
Taiko drumming by Vera Leo!

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What I didn’t know: A journey from Yogi to Teacher to Author!

by Kimber Simpkins

When I first showed up on my yoga mat many years ago, my heart was eager for the poses and the wisdom (Be patient with yourself, one of my first teachers said). My body couldn’t believe that I had finally found a place where the relentless barrage of criticism quieted. Finally I could see, like a ticker tape flowing just under my field of vision, how hard I was being on myself: “Kimber, you never do this right. Why don’t you stick to a diet? Why don’t you go to the gym more? What’s wrong with you, anyway…”

I had no idea that by noticing this habit of self-judgment, and applying gallon-sized jugs of lovingkindness balm to my body and mind, I would slowly undo the damage I’d done to myself through my teenage eating disorder. No one had ever mentioned that, along with flexibility and calm, as a benefit of yoga practice!

But that’s part of the powerful magic of yoga… it helps us find and heal the parts of our heart we keep hidden away.

 

kimber_booksigning

I didn’t know that once my heart started to open, a loving yoga teacher was there, ready to reach out to others. I also didn’t know I would end up writing a book about my journey, one that I know some of you have read: Full: How one woman found yoga, eased her inner hunger, and started loving herself. And the surprises have continued to unfold this year, when after the book’s self-publishing release in Dec 2013, a publisher (New Harbinger, here in Oakland) approached me to buy the book. Thrilled, I said, “Yes, please!” As a result, the book is no longer available on the market, but will be republished in a revised form in March 2015, and available in bookstores everywhere! And since then, Full also won a 2014 Better Books for a Better World Silver Award in Body-Centered Practices from Nautilus Awards. It’s so cool! Some of my favorite authors, like Brene Brown and Jon Kabat-Zinn have won Silver Nautilus awards, too! Who knew this is where that first step onto my mat would take me? Who knows where your yoga practice will take you? As you keep showing up on your mat, let the magic unfold…

View Kimber’s full Namaste Schedule
Follow Kimber on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter
Check out her website for events and more book updates at kimberyoga.com

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Happy Mother's Day from the Namaste Tribe!

My daughter has been a part of the Namaste community since she was in utero and I taught my class with my protruding belly right up until three days before her birth! Motherhood is like yoga; my daughter always draws me back into the sweetness of the present moment. Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there and thank you for all that you do! –Megan Moreno

Judy

There are only two lasting bequests we can hope to give our children. One of these is roots; the other, wings. W.Hodding Carter. –Judy Rukat

Liz

Dance as a spiritual practice came from this hot mama (disco queen of the 70’s)! –Liz Mac

Nubia

I am so grateful to be the Mother of Ezra Gopal! Pure Joy and Lots of Devotion ! Jaya Ma –Nubia Teixeira

Robin

My mother passed away 14 years ago July 3rd 8:06pm. I miss here everyday. There were nuggets of knowledge she would give me as a child that I did d not know I would use in my adult life and I am grateful. She called me her Robby Roo. Much like baby kangaroos, I stayed close to her always snuggling. Her scent was intoxicating and could never be duplicated. –Robin Ward

KimKimberly or Enzo? 🙂

Bethany

Here’s my foxy Taurus mama, who introduced me to my very first yoga teacher. She is a force and I am so proud of her courageous path. –Bethany Hobbs

Sarah

My Moms cute activist picture is attached. Id love a caption that says, “Thanks, Mom, for teaching me to stand up for justice!” –Sarah Jenness

Amy

“Time with our kids is precious. Do whatever you need to do to feel your best, so you can enjoy every minute of it!” –Dr. Amy Day

Cherie

This is my Mom. The photo says so much….rarely is there a picture of just her. She is always with family or friends. She loves the country life. My Mom is the sweetest and most patient of anyone I know. I love her fiercely and hope I have inherited some of her traits. –Cherie Carson

Helene

My mama’s got a heart of gold! -Helene Cotton

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Happy Mother’s Day from the Namaste Tribe!

My daughter has been a part of the Namaste community since she was in utero and I taught my class with my protruding belly right up until three days before her birth! Motherhood is like yoga; my daughter always draws me back into the sweetness of the present moment. Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there and thank you for all that you do! –Megan Moreno

Judy

There are only two lasting bequests we can hope to give our children. One of these is roots; the other, wings. W.Hodding Carter. –Judy Rukat

Liz

Dance as a spiritual practice came from this hot mama (disco queen of the 70’s)! –Liz Mac

Nubia

I am so grateful to be the Mother of Ezra Gopal! Pure Joy and Lots of Devotion ! Jaya Ma –Nubia Teixeira

Robin

My mother passed away 14 years ago July 3rd 8:06pm. I miss here everyday. There were nuggets of knowledge she would give me as a child that I did d not know I would use in my adult life and I am grateful. She called me her Robby Roo. Much like baby kangaroos, I stayed close to her always snuggling. Her scent was intoxicating and could never be duplicated. –Robin Ward

KimKimberly or Enzo? 🙂

Bethany

Here’s my foxy Taurus mama, who introduced me to my very first yoga teacher. She is a force and I am so proud of her courageous path. –Bethany Hobbs

Sarah

My Moms cute activist picture is attached. Id love a caption that says, “Thanks, Mom, for teaching me to stand up for justice!” –Sarah Jenness

Amy

“Time with our kids is precious. Do whatever you need to do to feel your best, so you can enjoy every minute of it!” –Dr. Amy Day

Cherie

This is my Mom. The photo says so much….rarely is there a picture of just her. She is always with family or friends. She loves the country life. My Mom is the sweetest and most patient of anyone I know. I love her fiercely and hope I have inherited some of her traits. –Cherie Carson

Helene

My mama’s got a heart of gold! -Helene Cotton

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Outdoor Adventures with Anna Landauer

Anna Landauer is hands-down the Namaste guru on outdoor adventures. We all turn to Anna when we are looking for a little outdoor inspiration, good recommendations or a buddy to hit the trails with. Below, Anna shares a few of her favorite photos and tells us a little bit about what inspires her, where she’s been and what she has in store next.

Anna will be leading two group hikes this summer. They will include a refreshing all levels vinyasa practice, a peaceful walk through the trees, and an opportunity to sit quietly and reflect on your experiences.
Saturday May 17 and Sunday June 22
Learn More

Namaste: When did your adventurous spirit of exploration begin?

Anna: I distinctly remember falling in love with the outdoors on my 7th grade camping trip to Yosemite Valley. I grew up locally and at the time was in Ms. Davis’ class at Albany Middle School. I was also fortunate to grow up with a mom who was an Environmental Studies major at UC Berkeley. I remember playing in the creeks at Tilden Park and especially being fascinated by the water bugs scooting across the surface.

Namaste: Do you have a favorite place to hike, somewhere that feels like ‘your’ spot?

Anna: The first place that comes to mind is Lyell Canyon in Yosemite National Park, and it expands from there into the high country of the Sierras, Tuolumne Meadows and south to Mt. Whitney, the high mountain passes. I feel most at home, alive and vibrant above 10,000 ft. in the Sierras. I love the wide open spaces, the endless sea of granite and powerful contrast of water flowing over smooth glacial polished stone.

Namaste: What is the most inspiring place you’ve ever visited?

Anna: Would it be boring to say Yosemite? Now you can tell pretty clearly where my favorite place on earth is. I am also in awe of and inspired by the Grand Canyon. Rafting down the Colorado for three weeks through the Grand Canyon tops my list of amazing adventures. I love the feeling of utter insignificance I experience being a small human creature in such a vast space.

Namaste: What’s left on your bucket list?

Anna: Hike the Pacific Crest Trail from Mexico to Canada. Climb El Capitan. Run an ultra, maybe the Leadville 100 or Western States. Hike in the Alps. Trek in Nepal and Tibet. Take my niece backpacking…

Namaste: How do your big adventures impact your everyday life?

Anna: Every part of my life is a big adventure. My time in the wilderness feeds my spirit, keeps me nourished and vibrant. It is my time to recharge and connect with myself, with nature, with that which is grander and bigger than all things. Creation. Universe. Love. It reminds me that I am a living breathing, experiencing, being residing on this beautiful planet. This feeling of passion and enthusiasm for life is what I hope to carry back to my everyday life, my work and my community.

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Rod Stryker's Tantra Shakti Training

Mind Fish +  Prana Fish

by Kameko Shibata

To be honest, I have few words to describe the Tantra Shakti Master Teacher Training with Rod Stryker. (Mostly because I’m still floating in spinal bliss and mantras keep ringing in my ears).

The best I can come up with is: life changing. There isn’t one thing to pinpoint, there are many. First of all, its an honor to study with a teacher who himself has a teacher and is connected to a lineage. He is also a down to earth, normal guy.  In the west we experience yoga as asana based and often made up by various teachers. There is nothing wrong with “making things up”, and many teacher are excellent at making up styles, brands, etc., but there is something deeply grounded and sacred in teachings and lineage that have thousands of years of history. When you study in India, you feel the connection to nature, history, cosmology and the whole universe. When you study with Rod Stryker that same connection emanates through his teachings.

Rod Stryker is the founder of ParaYoga and his lineage, sri vidya, is tantra based. Like most, I wasn’t sure what tantra even was. In the US people thinks it’s about sex (that’s one tiny branch of one style!). I learned that tantra is about the cultivation of power – the power of shakti, the feminine energy of the world. Shakti is manifested through the cultivation of prana, or prana shakti. Yoga on the other hand,  as seen in the Yoga Sutras, is a mind based practice. It basically says “learn to understand and balance the mind, and then meditative states arise.” Tantra says “learn to understand and move prana shakti, and the mind will follow.”  In this training we cultivated prana through powerful meditations, visualizations, pranayama, asana and mantra (the most important tool in ParaYoga).  The asana isn’t too challenging or too frequent, but deep. For asana Rod draws on the vinyasa krama system of Krishnamacharya, where breath and sound is linked with dynamic movement. I align and draw on that system having also studied at the Krishnamacharya Mandiram.

I left this training with two simply profound take-aways:

  • He used the metaphor of the mind and energy (prana) as two fish always swimming after each other, chasing each other around.  Through tantra ones learn to cultivate the energy (prana) through the yogic practices and the mind will follow. This was revolutionary because most of the time we are so worried about our minds and alignment in asana, we forget to trust that we just need to move the breath, body, energy and the mind will follow!

  • Tantra aims to weave the mundane and the spiritual together into the tapestry of life. It’s so easy for our practice to be a sacred beautiful ritual and the rest of life to feel like a drag. Beginning to weave the elements of practice, the movement of breath, and the belief that all is sacred into our daily lives, we can live a much more fulfilling life even when we’re not on the mat. I’ve been really working on seeing everything as a sacred ritual, and low and behold it makes chores less annoying! Bottom line: who cares if you can put your foot behind your head if you’re mean to your kids afterwards?

I am so grateful to leave this training feeling inspired to teach the way I want too! When I came back from India I knew I needed to teach the practice of chanting om and moving, which most of you have done if you’ve been in my class. I was nervous- because its different. Teaching bandhas, philosophy, mantra, chanting and pranayama in a world of pop music power yoga is scarey. Sometimes I wonder if students really crave just a fun workout…. But I believe what most of us truly crave is authenticity.That’s what I appreciate about Rod Stryker, his authenticity. Both pop power vinyasa and this deeper style can be done authentically, if you have a teacher who is practicing, connected and inspired!

Catch you on the mat.  Hari om!
For more inspiration, free recipes, and events  visit Kameko’s website: www.kamekoarts.com

 

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