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.

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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.

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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!

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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5 Workshop to ACTIVATE Your Self-Care

 This month our studio focus is:

Self Care Activism

This is the Year of Empowerment and this month we are focused putting our self-care first. Taking time for ourselves isn’t selfish, it is necessary for us to show up wholly for the ones we love. We do our best work when we are feeling loved and confident. Self-care is also contagious. When we see someone make the choice to create space for self-care, it gives us permission to do the same. All month we are asking you to stand up for self-care and inspire those around you to do care for themselves too!

Here are our top five picks this month for workshops that will help you fully embrace your self-care vibes:

Blissful Body with Adam Kurzfield and Kameko Shibata

The art of self-care is a radical practice that allows us to slow down, nurture ourselves and enjoy the transition of winter into spring. This three hour workshop has restorative yoga and hands on massage, accompanied by live music – perfect!

Date: Sunday February 12 From: 1:30 PM – 4:30 PM Location: Grand Lake

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Self Care Sadhana with Kameko Shibata 

Take Valentine’s Day back with a week long sadhana geared towards cultivating radical self-care as an act of self-love. Activate your body with an all levels flow, pranayama, meditation and explore a take home self-care tool.

Sat Date: February 12-17 From: 6:30 AM – 8:00 PM Location: Berkeley

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Big Little Bowl with Sonya Genel and Arasa Maram

A heartfelt yoga practice with LIVE music followed by a nourishing meal. Step into a rhythmic flow of body and sound, heighten your senses, and finish feeling profoundly revitalized.

Date: Sunday, February 12 From: 4:30 PM – 7:00 PM Location: Rockridge

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Warm the Heart Sound Bath with Missy Felsenstein

Experience ultimate relaxation during the live sound savasana led by sound alchemist Missy Felsenstein. In this special sound bath evening, indulge in meaningful rest and a soothing mental calm while being “bathed” by the blended, meditative tones of Paiste gongs and quartz crystal singing bowls.

Date: Tuesday, February 14 From: 7:30 PM – 9:00 PM Location: Rockridge

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Love Your Body with Kimber Simpkins

“Love Your Body” is easy to say and harder to feel. Get down-to-earth advice on relating to your body with a little more friendliness every day with Kimber Simpkins, author of 52 Ways to Love Your Body. Find lasting peace within your body, and learn how to be your body’s best friend, starting wherever you are

Sat Date: February 24, 2017 From: 1:30 PM – 6:00 PM Location: Grand Lake

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Self-Care Ritual: Get Outside

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

For the rest of February we’ll be calling out some of the best ways to practice self-love, from hiking to hiding away with a good book, all of our tips will be highlighted here.

First practice? GET OUTSIDE. Read on to hear from them and see some awesome research on why nature therapy is self-care gold!

The Bay Area is known for our immense amount of hiking and natural spaces, more than almost any other city in the US. We are cradled by the ocean and bay to our west, rolling hills full of red wood groves and chaparral meadows to the east. Getting outside can be a big adventure or a stroll to your neighborhood park. Need motivation? Here are some awesome benefits of being in nature:

    1.  Japanese researchers have shown that forest bathing, the practice of sitting in the forest, lowers your blood pressure, pulse, and heart rate variability. It has also been shown to decrease stress hormone levels.
    2. People who live close to nature experience less anxiety and depression. Walking in nature has been shown to improve mood and short-term memory in people with depression, as well as decrease rumination (repetitive, negative thoughts) and brain activity associated with mental illness.
    3. Being outdoors, and away from artificial lights, helps synchronize your biology to natural circadian rhythms. Scientists investigating chronobiology, the study of biological rhythms, have shown that our connection to natural light/dark cycles helps to regulate our sleep, our moods, our stress levels, and our hormones.
    4. One study found that children with ADHD showed significantly better concentration after taking a 20-minute walk in nature, compared to a walk in an urban setting. Another study showed that taking a walk in the park (or even just looking at green space) helped to ease brain fatigue and increase participants’ abilities to concentrate. Spending time outside makes us feel connected to a bigger picture of life.

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.

Research Sources via MindBodyGreen. 

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Self-Care Activism Starts NOW.

Last month we launched our Year of Empowerment campaign. We focused on Honoring Our Epic-ness and supported each other during our 14 Day Mantra Meditation Challenge. Our intention: to start the year off empowered to live a heroic life. Now we’re ready for month two – SELF-CARE ACTIVISM!

What is Self Care Activism?

We’ve all heard it before: Take care of yourself. We tell this to anyone we love. Our sick child, our stressed partner, our hurt friend – we say, “Slow down, be kind to yourself.”

Why then do we struggle to put our own needs first? 

We’re living in tumultuous times. It’s the perfect storm for self-care to take a backseat. Caught up in putting out fires and accomplishing lingering to-dos, self-care often feels like a luxury we can’t afford. We may feel that there are bigger tasks, more important causes, that need our attention. We put off self-care thinking we’ll have more time tomorrow…or maybe this weekend.

The truth is – staying run-down costs us. The more exhausted we become, the less we can critically think. We lose touch with our truth and power. We don’t show up as the people we want to be.

This month our intention is to change that. We’re bringing self-care front and center. We are calling on each person in our community to not only put their self-care first, but to share their self-care practices with others. Heres how:

Community Practice:

One Daily Ritual

Choose one simple practice, a daily ritual, that makes you feel loved and nourished. It can be something you already do or brand new. It can be small, like making tea each morning, or longer, like drawing a warm bath. Practice every day in February to ground in your right to enjoy being alive.

Now for the ACTIVISM:
Share with one friend or loved one each week. Proudly loving ourselves gives others permission to love themselves deeply too. Vocalizing our own practices encourages others to take the time out they need to replenish and reset. 

How can you share? Here are some tips:

  • Send them a text letting encouraging them to try your favorite practice.
  • Gift them an appointment.
  • Recommend your favorite tools (oils, dry brush, foam roller, tea brand) or practitioners.
  • Send them an email with the health benefits of your selfcare practice.
  • Post photos of yourself post-bliss or of your favorite product to use in your ritual.

Use the hashtag #SelfCareActivism to spread the word on why selfcare is SO important.

As we begin this week, I’ll keep providing you with tools to keep the energy alive. If you have any questions along the way – don’t hesitate to ask. This is meant to be collaborative. I look to you as the experts.

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.

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Mantra Meditation: Keep It Going

Today is the last day of our 14 Day Mantra Meditation practice. As the first month of our Year of Empowerment begins to fade into a new chapter – we want to encourage you to keep up your mantra practice throughout the rest of the year. Mantras can help remind us of our power, our inner peace, and our ability to weather change and resistance. They are malleable and can adjust to whatever we are facing in our life. You can have one mantra or many. You can say them aloud, our quietly to yourself.

The process of building a more empowered life starts by integrating practices that boost our self-confidence, support our mindfulness practices, and offer relief from fear and doubt. Over the next 12 months you can pick and choose what practices work best for you!

As a last harah we are sharing with you three more inspiring tips from our Namaste tribe:

Ashley West Roberts

The way I currently practice is by choosing weekly mantras that go on my calendar on the first day of each week.

I memorize and repeat them each morning before I get out of bed and throughout the day as needed. And that is often! My mantra (which I have already shared with my students this week) is from Judith Lasater…

“Relaxation is the process of observing your tension”
When I feel stressed or overwhelmed I pause and repeat this and notice how my body responds. Simple.

 

Annemaria Rajala

Annemaria Rajala

I love using mantras!
 
Here’s a mantra that I use with my Prenatal students as we work through a challenging moment:
Inhale: I am Strong, 
Exhale:I am Capable
I learned this from my good friend Julie Anne while pregnant myself and used it as labor got going. It was massively helpful and empowering.

 

Simona Balan

An empowering one that I really like and could qualify as a mantra is this quote from Pema Chodron:  You are the sky. Everything else is just the weather.”
Otherwise, my favorite empowering mantra that is not in english is Om mani padme siddhi hum ri
– a reminder that, just like a muddy lake is home to the pure lotus flower, what we perceive as the “ugly” or “challenging” parts of ourselves are in fact our greatest opportunities for growth towards attaining pure joy, compassion, and inner peace. I sing this mantra often at the end of my yoga classes, during savasana.
 
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How to Create Your Mantra:

Think about what you personally need to hear. Often Mantras begin as affirmations, “I am, I choose to be, I believe…” Mantras are statements, not questions, that enforce a value or belief about ourselves and the world.

Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and here of course for inspiration all month long. 

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Mantra Meditation Inspiration: Part Two

Last week we announced our 14 Day Mantra Meditation practice. This is part two of our three part series featuring Namaste teachers and the mantras they use to keep themselves feeling grounded and empowered. If you are just picking your own mantra or affirmation now – no worries! You can join in the fun at any time. The prize is the same: feeling more present, engaged, and in love with your self.

Elika Aird

Catch Elika this Wednesday for her 30 Days to Thrive mini-immersion co-led with Naushon Kabat-Zinn.

View Elika’s weekly yoga class schedule.

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Margi Young

Margi Young

My favorite mantra that I made up!

“What if this was savasana?”
(like during a hard pose, or a hard conversation, or listening to the news)

 

Another way of saying this would be:
“Can i rest in every moment?”

 

 

Sparkle Thornton

Sparkle Thornton

My personal theme for 2017  is Upgrade to Thrive. My personal mantras/affirmations can be condensed to this:

My 4 agreements for art and career in 2017:
my career is prosperous
my health is abundant
my creativity is endless
my life has direction
 
I say this often as I close my practice or meditations. See Sparkle’s weekly yoga class schedule or book a massage!
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How to Create Your Mantra:

Think about what you personally need to hear. Often Mantras begin as affirmations, “I am, I choose to be, I believe…” Mantras are statements, not questions, that enforce a value or belief about ourselves and the world.

Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and here of course for inspiration all month long. 

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