Namaste Values: What Matters to Us

Almost 15 years ago Kimberly Leo had a dream of bringing yoga to more people. She was intent on creating a space that was inclusive, compassionate, and offered safe and smart instruction from the Bay Area’s best yoga teachers. Over the years we’ve been fortunate to have an incredible community that continues to grow. Namaste now proudly serves three neighborhoods in the East Bay: Grand Lake, Rockridge, and Berkeley.

Growing can be an eye-opening experience for people and small businesses alike. Through the years Namaste has faced many obstacles and opportunities, helping us to define and shape what matters most to our community. We are still a small, locally run business but we aim to make a big impact! In the spirit of our May Studio Focus, we are excited to highlight our Namaste Core Values Lotus flower.

Respect: We choose to treat each and every person as we would like to be treated. The classic golden rule. Everyone deserves kindness and an opportunity to be heard.

Safety: Keeping our studios safe is one of our most important values. We manifest this by hiring the most experienced teachers, keeping our spaces clean, empowering thoughtfulness in our staff, and ensuring our policies create safe environments for all.

Inclusiveness:  We believe all people, regardless of religion, gender, sexuality, color, shape, or ethnicity deserve to be treated with equality and love. If you are here and want to be a positive part of our community, then we’ve got your back.

Compassion: We believe in living like each person we meet is worthy of our love and care. Acting with sweetness creates softness and safety in our studios allowing for more intense learning and growth.

Integrity: Living a life of authenticity requires honesty, respect, and alignment of action and intention. We strive to live our core values every day.

Healing: Healing is a non-linear experience that requires keeping an open mind and open heart. We believe in honoring each individual’s unique healing journey and keeping ourselves open to support in any way we can so others can live with more freedom.

Service: We believe in uplifting our community through high-quality offerings that serve to provide opportunities to live and feel better. Additionally, our SEVA program donates all mat rental proceeds each quarter to a new, local non-profit that is making an impact in our community!

Community: What would we be if not for our community? From our incredible teachers to the endless gratitude we feel for our students to our fantastic staff – our community is the heartbeat behind the studio. To us, community happens in the small moments. When the front desk remembers your name, a fresh pot of tea is ready for you before class, or you find a new friend in class. The more moments we can create the better.


Share with us on social media using the hashtag #UnfoldYourTruth.

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.

    

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5-Minute Evening Practice to #UnfoldYourTruth

This month our goal is to recognize our core values and align our actions in a way that brings out our most authentic self.  We have been meditating on this process and want to share a quick practice you can do at night, even while brushing your teeth if you would like!

Step One:

Create a list of 5-10 core values that help guide your life. Pick up one of our lotus flowers at the studio or simply make a checklist for yourself.

Step Two:

Commit to one week of nightly “check-ins” where you sit with the list and reflect on your day.

Step Three:

Carve out 5-10 minutes of time to think about each core value on this list. Write one to two sentences (even fragmented thoughts!) down on paper about how well you felt you did living up to these values. What challenges did you face? What came easily?

At the end of your week reflect back on your nightly notes and honor the amazing effort you’ve put forth towards living with more attunement! It’s easy to get worn down and distanced from the things that matter most to us. Living with EMPOWERMENT is about guiding ourselves gently and sweetly back to our most authentic way of life. Give yourself some love and TLC for all of the good you did this week.

Keep it close. Hang on your bathroom mirror, desk at work, or in our studio to see when you come in for class!

Share with us on social media using the hashtag #UnfoldYourTruth.

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.

    

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#UnfoldYourTruth This May

May Studio Focus: Core Values

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.

The springtime is about living with honesty and alignment. We’ve tapped into our inner power, and now we are ready to live with purpose. Last month our goal was to simplify and clean out any stagnant energy so that we can recognize what matters most. This month, we are using a clear mind space to examine what we believe in and what we represent.

MAY COMMUNITY PRACTICE: #UNFOLDYOURTRUTH

Values give us purpose. They allow us to filter our actions and choices through the lens of what makes us feel most connected, alive, and authentic.

By connecting to these core aspects of our self, what motivates us most, we can begin to stand for the things we love rather than feeling like we must be against all of the things we hate.

The beautiful thing about naming your core values are how they don’t need to be universal. Yes, things like respect and inclusiveness are vital, but when you are narrowing down what matters the most to you, right now, you may find qualities like bravery, trust, or thoughtfulness are more relevant to your current growth and journey.

Our value system can be an evolving, living thing – like the perennial lotus flower – that blossoms with new beliefs and focuses each season of our life.

Sometimes self-compassion may be important when we are building our confidence, but as the season passes, we become ready to let go and focus on something new. During May are inviting you to fill out your lotus flower with the values that let you live your truth.

#UnfoldYourTruth by printing the lotus below or picking up a printed version in the studio on your next visit!

Keep it close. Hang on your bathroom mirror, desk at work, or in our studio to see when you come in for class!

Share with us on social media using the hashtag #UnfoldYourTruth.

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.

    

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A Meditation on NYC and Clutter

When living in NYC, my husband and I renovated our small Chelsea apartment. Due to costs, we had to live in the apartment while it was being torn apart and renovated. It was a mess: walls were torn down, cabinets ripped out, possessions in boxes, plaster dust was everywhere. It was hard to sleep, with the air quality so poor. I believe those few months were the most difficult of our relationship, as I felt so aggravated by the dirt and disarray, I had a very short fuse.

I recognized that disorder comes in shades of gray, not black and white. Having a more extreme taste of disorder had such a potent impact on my well-being, that I recognized that smaller amounts of disarray also impact me, but less so. Nonetheless, the more I can keep my living environment clean and clutter-free, the more ease I experience. Accordingly, I make efforts to keep things tidy, and enjoy the benefits of living in a space that feels welcoming and calming. – Domonick Wegesin [Catch Domonick’s weekly classes!

If you are seeking to mesh mindfulness and the act of de-cluttering, we found this sweet meditation practice from ZenHabits founder Leo Babauta to be the perfect fix:

It’s a form of zazen — which is sitting meditation, but at its core zazen is really a way to practice being mindful. It’s a way to prepare us for dealing mindfully with the rest of the things we do in life. And really, anything can be used as a way to practice mindfulness. I’ve often used running and walking, but also washing dishes and sweeping.

And decluttering is one of the best mindfulness practices, in my experience. Here’s how I do it:

  1. Pick one cluttered flat surface. It can be a tabletop, countertop, shelf, the top of a dresser, floor of a closet, floor of a room (just a section of that floor to start with). Don’t worry about all the rest of your cluttered spaces for now — just pick this one space. Small is good.
  2. Clear that surface. Take everything off and pile it on the floor or another table. Clean the surface while it’s clear — wipe it with a cloth, slowly and mindfully.
  3. Take one object from the pile. Forget about the entire pile — just look at that one object. Ask yourself why you have it. Is it for emotional reasons, or do you really use it? Is it for “just in case”? When was the last time you used it? If you don’t really need or use it, put it in a box for donation or trash it. If you do really use it, put it in another pile to be put back on your now-clean surface. If you’re on the fence and can’t bear to give something up, put it in a “maybe” box and put that box away for six months (mark the date on your calendar).
  4. Repeat, one object at a time. Practice doing this mindfully. Make a decision with each object — keep, donate, or maybe box. No waffling or putting off decisions. Deal with each object once, then move on.
  5. Put the objects back, and make a “home” for each one. Each object needs to have a spot that is its home, and you should always put those objects back in their homes. If you can’t find a home for an object, you don’t have space for it. Donate the items in the donation box, and put away the maybe box. Eventually you won’t need a maybe box as you get good at this.
  6. Learn to focus on one thing at a time, mindfully, and deal with each object once. This is a good practice for doing things in the rest of your life.

Stay tuned for upcoming posts!

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.

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Grounding, Microbes, and Medicinal Herbs

Digging your fingers in the dirt will take you back to another age and time  — a time of wonder and simplicity.  While tending your garden, you can’t help but notice the seasonal changes in plants, the sweet little buds coming out and then turning into blooms, the first leaf joyfully coming into existence. It’s a wonder that translates to other compartments of life — teaching yourself to take the time to look and listen and be in wonder with other humans in our lives, other relationships, other moments of our day. Gardening teaches a cultivation of love for the little things.

There are some scientific reasons to back up the theory that gardening improves your life. Called “earthing” or “grounding” — gardening fulfills the task of touching the earth. The earth itself is masterful at removing excess positive charges in the body, which build up in our bodies over time from our modern lives full of cell phone and computer usage. Research is beginning to show that “earthing” can reduce inflammation and chronic pain, improve sleep, improve blood flow, support adrenal health, and more.


Gardening also puts you in contact with micro-organisms. Several continuing studies suggest that dirt helps one to develop a healthy immune system. Soil based micro-organisms have stronger strains of beneficial bacteria that can survive through the digestive system and provide the most benefit.

Finally, planting a medicinal garden will bring another layer of benefits. Not only will you have a sustained relationship with the earth and dirt, but you can grow flora that will further good health and immunity. Start your medicinal garden with chamomile, yarrow, lemon balm, echinacea, aloe, and peppermint, for use in teas, poultices, and salves.

Get out there in the dirt and the sunshine!

Stay tuned for next week’s upcoming posts!

This month’s detoxing and cleansing workshops:

Best Yoga Oakland and Berkeley | Namaste Yoga + Wellness   

Best Yoga Oakland and Berkeley | Namaste Yoga + Wellness   

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.

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Breathe Yourself Better

Pranayama is an amazing way to improve your life and detox your body. If you have ever practiced pranayama, either alone or in a yoga class, you’ve probably experienced the buzz that comes with mindful breathing techniques. Our respiratory system works directly with our nervous system to help calm or energize our bodies. Conscious breathing gives us more connection and control over our body so that we can use it’s benefits to our advantage.

Yogic tradition believes that alternate nostril breathing helps connect you to specific sides of your brain, the right hemisphere through the left nostril for example. By alternating between your nostrils, you increase your ability to access and nourish your entire brain. Full activation of your brain helps to improve sleep, calm emotions, increase creativity, and reduce stress.

Pranayama can be a little like meditation. We know we should do it but creating that power habit can be another story. There are plenty of online resources available if you are curious about a particular pranayama technique. In light of our theme, we suggest keeping things simple. For the next 30 days try this one tip:

As soon as you wake up in the morning, before you get out bed, lay on your back or sit straight up with a soft gaze. Count even breaths, so four or five counts in and four or five counts out. Repeat this ten times. Then give yourself some love!

As time progresses you can add longer exhales or inhales; you can try alternate nostril breathing or something more advanced like lions breath! Just remember: to start a good habit we have to start simple. Carving out a few moments first thing in the morning will help you begin the day clearer and with more control.

If you are interested in going even deeper, try out Domonick’s Pranayama class Thursdays 8:15am at Namaste Grand Lake, Every 2nd Tuesday Pranayama with Annie Carpenter 8:15am at Grand Lake, or Anna’s Smooth Qi workshop this weekend!

Looking for a detoxing and cleansing this week?  

Best Yoga Oakland and Berkeley | Namaste Yoga + Wellness   

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Thursday: Get Earthy: Grounding, Microbes, and Medicinal Herbs

Friday: Top Hacks for Sound Sleep

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.

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Simple Ways to Mix Yoga + Fitness

Yoga is the perfect complement to other types of fitness. It provides opportunities for strength building, flexibility, and increased mindfulness helping to prevent injuries. Keeping with April’s studio focus we’re offering a few simple tips on how to integrate yoga into your fitness routine.

I love to Run!

Running is all about keeping yourself balanced and maintaining proper form. We suggest focusing on integrating breath as you move through your pre and post run asanas. Notice your body and listen to your breath the way you would in a yoga class. Pick a few poses that really stretch out your legs and activate your core. This will help clear your mind and prepare your body for the next step.

I love to Cycle!

Cyclists know that strength and flexibility keep you injury free. Yoga increases your ability to stay on the bike longer by helping to lengthen and strengthen your body. Similar to running, find a few minutes before and after your route to connect with your breath for added benefits to your cycling routine. You can also take some quick breaks on your bike for side bends or whatever else feels good in the moment.

I love Strength Training! 

Weight training, whether with dumbbells or body weight, is one of the best things you can do to stay in shape. When working with weights it is particularly important to keep track of your form. Uneven alignment can quickly lead to injuries when you have added weight involved. Yoga is great for mindful activation of our muscles. Do a few rounds of cat/cow or downward dog to chaturanga before training. This will help warm up your joints and get you in touch with your breathing.

Stay tuned for this week’s upcoming posts and subscribe to our newsletter:

Wednesday: Breathe Yourself Better

Thursday: Get Earthy: Grounding, Microbes, and Medicinal Herbs

Friday: Top Hacks for Sound Sleep

This month’s fitness lover’s workshops:

  

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.

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Healthy Body Basics

The season for shaking out stagnation is upon us. Now is the perfect time to take stock of all that has built up over the winter. Our focus this week is on the BODY. You know the feeling of eating unhealthy food or not getting enough sleep. We’ve all been there. This week our goal is to bring awareness to SIMPLE ways we can clean-up our nutrition, sleep, and self-care to help us live a little lighter.

Let’s get started with some basics:

1. Drink PLENTY of water. 

Namaste Tip: Slice up some lemon slices the night before and keep them in the fridge. As soon as you wake up, grab some lemon wedges and a glass of room temperature water. Your body is working hard to cleanse itself at night and we all wake up a little dehydrated. Drinking some fresh H2o first thing in the morning can help with grogginess, digestion, and mood. It’s simple and super effective.

2. Take at least two yoga classes this week!

Namaste Tip: Teachers tend to do a lot of work on detoxing and releasing during the beginning of Spring. Wring out any old tension and stagnation from winter with a lively vinyasa class. Vinyasa or Hatha Flow classes tend to have more movement and will help get your heart rate up. This increases blood flow and allows your body to cleanse itself of any lingering toxins.

3. Cut out the “good stuff” and replace with real food. 

Namaste Tip: Search “Detox Diet” on google and risk being sucked down the rabbit hole. Keep it simple. Consider taking a week off of one thing. Maybe it’s sugar or alcohol. It can also be white starches, like rice or bread, or habits like smoking. Don’t overcomplicate it. Stressing out about the right “meal plan” can reverse the benefits of healthy eating. Instead, just be mindful in your choices and think “How will this make me feel?” before deciding to nourish yourself with it.

Stay tuned for this week’s upcoming posts and subscribe to our newsletter:

Tuesday: Yoga for Fitness Lovers

Wednesday: Breathe Yourself Better

Thursday: Get Earthy: Grounding, Microbes, and Medicinal Herbs

This month’s detoxing and cleansing workshops:

Best Yoga Oakland and Berkeley | Namaste Yoga + Wellness   Best Yoga Oakland and Berkeley | Namaste Yoga + Wellness

Best Yoga Oakland and Berkeley | Namaste Yoga + Wellness   

Join our community Facebook groupYear 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.

Please follow and like us:
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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.

    

Please follow and like us:
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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-judgement. 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!

mindfulness-based stress reductionu

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