Springtime Ayurvedic Wellness

As we slowly emerge from the chills of Wintertime and into the blossoming of Spring, we are welcomed not only by the warmer days, blooming flowers, and abundant sunshine but also by the mind and body’s need for rejuvenation and replenishing. With Spring comes the urge for a fresh start – a cleansing of the cozy, hibernating lifestyle held in Winter. While we move through this transition, the longer days and warmer temps are not the only things that are changing – our bodies are biologically set to make a shift as well requiring some focus and attention, self-care, detox, and reflection. Common habits of Winter include eating more and moving less. The chilly weather and decreased sunlight prompt us to seek out more food and eat it quicker – it is a primitive response in preparation for the colder months (although some may argue that the increase comes from more opportunities to eat due to the festivities of the holidays).

Whatever the reason may be, once these habits are adopted, it has a direct effect on overall health and well-being. In the western society, we most commonly refer to the seasons as four cycles in a year; Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall. However, in Ayurvedic practice, these cycles break down into three seasons that also coincide with the three doshas: Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. Leaving Winter means leaving Vata season, which is comprised of air and ether. This period is generally from late Fall into early Winter and is characterized by cold, dry, windy, and light (think airy) qualities. As Spring approaches, we head into the Kapha period which is from late Winter into Summertime and is made up of water and earth. It is characterized by heavy, slow, solid, and oily qualities. To prepare our minds and bodies for this shift and optimize health, we can use the wisdom of Ayurveda to guide us through this transition and on our way to joining the flowers in blooming.

Ayurvedic Spring Wellness Tips

First things first – let’s talk food! As mentioned, diet makes a huge shift with the season and so we must actively pay attention to not only what we’re eating, but how we are eating. This means adopting balanced eating habits that will be beneficial in providing nutrients that give us energy, help keep us full, and practice mindful eating. Eating mindfully is important because it affects digestion and how the body converts food into energy. For example, if you are feeling anxious or stressed while eating (i.e. sitting in traffic on your morning commute), your body will process your food differently than it would if you were sitting at the table eating slowly and paying close attention to your senses – how the food tastes, smells and feels. I invite you to give it a try and reflect on how it makes you feel.

Another nutrition-related tip is to eat foods that are in season and that will be pacifying to the Kapha Dosha. Decrease heavy or stimulating foods like caffeine, sugar, alcohol, and meat, and integrating pungent, drier, and warming foods and spices like turmeric, ginger, lemon, berries, sprouts, and greens, which are naturally cleansing for the body. These foods tend to be lighter than the comfort foods of Winter. Trying out new recipes and experimenting with new ingredients is always a fun way to discover your new favorite, healthy dish! And as always, stay hydrated! Drink plenty of water (might I suggest adding lemon?), and swap out coffee for refreshing herbal iced tea like hibiscus or blood orange.

Ayurvedic Spring Wellness Tips

Now that we’ve dabbled in food-related changes, we can move on to that mental, self-care part that I mentioned earlier (WOO!). Springtime is a time for cleansing, reflecting, and deciding to let go of what is no longer serving us in a bountiful and loving way. This can mean a number of different things ranging from simply cleaning out your closet to cutting off toxic relationships. Let this time be a period of reflection and self-inquiry – find yourself journaling and revisiting those goals you may have set at the beginning of the year, and if you never got around to it, set them now! Now is always a good time to start and remember not to beat yourself up if you’ve fallen off track, just keep on going with self-love and compassion.

Life can feel hectic with all this change and transition, so channeling your energy towards creating a routine for yourself is always a helpful practice. Create a morning and evening routine and stick to it! This could be taking time to really dive into your yoga practice (see class schedule here), meditation, reading a book, journaling, and speaking words of affirmation. Another practice to incorporate is pranayama like Bhastrika – or bellows breath which helps to increase the flow of prana throughout the body’s energy channels, removes excess congestion, and helps to lighten the mood. Strive to keep consistency within your daily routine and notice the benefits of your practice. Lastly, one of the best habits you can get into with the changing seasons is to get outside and enjoy the sunshine! Aerobic activities as simple as going for a long walk or riding your bike can benefit the mind-body drastically – stimulating the brain and invigorating the body! Bask in the sunshine and breathe in the fresh air!

Taking the time your body needs to feel refreshed will have you feeling so grateful you did, as well as provide an incentive for you to continue on this path. Let this time be a transition into a greater, brighter, more self-loving you! Happy Spring!

Bay Area's Best Yoga Studio Now Hiring Front Desk Staff

Rhiannon is a true, wild adventurer pursuing wellness at heart, and a total lover of life. Originally from the Rocky Mountains of Denver, she came to the Bay Area in 2013 to finish her degree in Psychology and feed her hunger for exploration. She is on a journey pursuing Yoga Therapy and has recently completed trainings with the Art of Yoga Project based in the greater Bay Area, and her RYT-200 hour certification in Yoga Therapy and Alignment in Koh Phangan, Thailand. Her passion for the world of wellness is something that is deeply rooted in her everyday endeavors and something she wishes to share with her community and the world! Time well spent to her means practicing and teaching yoga, meditating, writing, snuggling her kitties, cooking yummy, healthy food, dancing, backpacking, rock climbing, and traveling. To learn more about her journey, and for some fun inspiration, follow her on instagram @truewildwell!

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GOOD VIBES: Spring Challenge is HERE!

Good Vibes Spring Challenge

Kick-off spring with our Good Vibes community challenge!

Score points over the next six weeks by engaging with your Namaste Yoga + Wellness family. When you’ve accomplished nine activities turn your card into the front desk for a chance to win ONE MONTH OF UNLIMITED YOGA!

Step 1: Pick up a card on your next visit.

Step 2: Take ACTION to GET STAMPED by the front desk for things like coming to class. ENGAGE with a new friend to FILL IN THE BLANK and learn something new about someone. Practice self-care by savoring a cup of tea to CHECK IT OFF under SCOUT’S HONOR.

Step 3: Turn in your card at the front desk to receive a beautiful Namaste Reusable Shopping Bag and enter for a chance to win!

We will be choosing three winners on Friday, May 18th!

All participating students will receive a Namaste Reusable Shopping Bag.

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20

Community Classes: 5 Facts to Inspire YOU

Namaste offers community sliding-scale donation classes at all three studios on a weekly basis. I was inspired when asked to teach the Thursday night donation class because of the power of community. Comunity is a great refuge in these uncertain times.

At Namaste, let’s inspire and uplift each other and the broader community. Let your friends and family know about the healthy chance to practice yoga and meditation together! Our Thursday night Yoga + Meditation class at Namaste Rockridge is donation-based and no one will be turned away due to lack of funds. It’s the perfect opportunity to bring your friend or loved one with you.

When I feel the need to be reminded of how important community is I seek out inspiration like the piece below transcribed from a speech given by Angeles Arrien at the 1991 Organizational Development Network, based on the work of Milton Olson:

Fact 1: As each goose flaps its wings, it creates an uplift for the birds that follow. By flying in V formation, the whole flock adds 71% greater flying range than if each bird flew alone.
Lesson: People who share a common direction and sense of community can get where they are going quicker and easier, because they are traveling on the thrust of one another.

Fact 2: When a goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of flying alone. It quickly moves back into formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the bird immediately in front of it.
Lesson: If we have as much sense as a goose, we stay in formation with those headed where we want to go. We are willing to accept their help, and we give our help to others.

Fact 3: When the lead goose tires, it rotates back into the formation and another goose flies to the point position.
Lesson: It pays to take turns doing the hard tasks and sharing leadership. As with geese, people are interdependent on each other’s skills, capabilities, and unique arrangement of gifts, talents, or resources.

Fact 4: The geese flying in formation honk to encourage those in front to keep up their speed.
Lesson: We need to make sure our honking is encouraging. In groups where there is encouragement, the production is greater. The power of encouragement (to stand by one’s heart or core values and encourage the heart and core of others) is the quality of honking we seek.

Fact 5: When a goose gets sick, wounded, or shot down, two geese drop out of formation and follow it down to help or protect it. They stay with it until it dies or is able to fly again. Then they launch out with another formation or catch up with the flock.
Lesson: If we have as much sense as geese, we will stand by each other in difficult times as well as when we are strong.Bay Area's Best Yoga Teacher

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20

Meet Your Teacher: Simona Balan

Namaste Yoga + Wellness is a container for the Bay Area’s best yoga teachers to offer their incredible talent and wisdom to students of all backgrounds. These highly experienced teachers have dedicated their lives to sharing the gift of yoga with others and we couldn’t be more grateful. It is an honor to support them and to connect them with yoga practitioners like you.

We are excited to share this special new blog series focused on celebrating your yoga teachers and hopefully giving you a glimpse into the brilliant team that is the Namaste Yoga + Wellness family. We have over 55 teachers in our community and every single person offers something unique!

How long have you been at Namaste?
About a year and a half – a little over a year as a regular instructor

Bay Area Best Yoga Teachers Simona Balan

What inspired you to become a yoga instructor?
I’m a planner by nature, but I become a yoga teacher purely by chance. Comes to show you some things are just meant to be :).
I was first introduced to yoga as a child back home in Romania. Interestingly, I’ve later learned, yoga used to be banned in Romania, and yoga teachers and practitioners were looked down upon like near-terrorists up until a few years before my mother had me try it out to help with my scoliosis. After those initial lessons, the opportunity to take yoga classes didn’t arise again until I traveled nearly halfway around the world to pursue a PhD at UC Berkeley.

With $10 a semester I was able to take unlimited yoga classes at UC Berkeley’s Recreational Sports Facility (RSF). Thursdays 5:30 pm with Shy Sayar became my regular weekly yoga class (I now have been teaching it for about 10 years). In that massive, loud basketball court, with bright fluorescent lights and stinky mats, surrounded by up to a hundred other students, I fell in love with yoga. I loved how it made my body feel. How it improved my performance in other physical activities. How it helped me deal with the stress of culture shock and the demands of a PhD program. Even though I could only take classes once or twice a week due to my schedule, I right away started practicing daily. Less than a year into my daily practice my teacher was contemplating offering his very first teacher training and gave me a partial scholarship to help make it happen. This fairly unusual teacher training – 100 hours in the sun, wind and hail of Death Valley over Spring Break, and 100 hours on a remote property in Southern Oregon – was truly transformational, and I began teaching yoga soon after.

Bay Area Best Yoga Teachers Simona Balan

Do you have any go-to yoga and wellness books or podcasts?
My favorite yoga and wellness books include Timothy McCall’s Yoga as Medicine and Darrell Wolfe’s Healthy to 100. But my go-to books whenever I need some inspiration, guidance, or clarity are Pema Chodron’s The Places That Scare You and When Things Fall Apart.

Which teachers influence your practice?
My main teachers have been Shy Sayar and the Niroga Institute’s teachers (including Baxter Bell), but pretty much all the teachers I’ve taken classes with have influenced my practice and my teaching to one degree or another.

What does your yoga practice look like and how has it changed your life?
My yoga practice changes organically. The only constant is that I practice asana every morning, even if it’s just for 10-15 minutes before I catch the 6:30 a.m. train to Sacramento for work. I have a mini-studio at home complete with foam roller, massage balls, yoga balls, bosu ball – and I take turns incorporating them into my practice. Some days I explore more restorative or therapeutic poses, other days Vinyasa flows. I have a full time desk job, so I intersperse my day with stretching and moments of mindfulness. In the evenings I tend to practice self-massage and myofascial release.

Yoga has changed my life in too many ways to list here. The most obvious one is that I now live in the Bay Area. It was my introduction to the Bay Area’s yoga community that eventually made me get past the culture shock and feel more at home here than anywhere else I’ve lived before.

Bay Area Best Yoga Teachers Simona Balan

What is something you wish your students knew?
Limitations are impermanent, like everything else. Never underestimate the transformational effects of mindfulness, relaxation, and practice. Yoga poses that seem impossible now may simply be poses that the body-mind doesn’t yet understand.

What is your morning or evening routine? (whichever is your favorite..or both!)
It varies somewhat, but tends to involve yoga asana practice and purring cats.

What is your favorite thing about being a teacher?
Teaching yoga is immediately satisfying for the part of me that wants to heal the world, in particular the human relationship with the environment. I’ve spent years studying and working as an environmental scientist, but I often feel more of service teaching yoga. It’s helped me realize that any transformation of our relationship with the environment must start with an internal transformation of our relationship with ourselves, and with an experiential understanding of our connection to everything else.

Bay Area Best Yoga Teachers Simona Balan

What are you involved with outside the studio?
I’m an environmental scientist working as a civil servant for the state of California to implement the Safer Consumer Product Regulations. Basically, my group researches chemicals of concern in consumer products to regulate them as needed. Most of my work thus far has been on a class of fluorinated chemicals used in a wide variety of consumer products, including in stain- or water-resistant clothing and furnishings, and in greaseproof food packaging. If you’re interested, you can learn more about my work in this short webinar: https://www.healthandenvironment.org/partnership_calls/95944

What is your go-to movement (asana, dance, hiking, etc.) that allows you to feel the most connected to yourself?
Yoga asana, with its many forms, and Aikido, a Japanese martial art focused on achieving harmony to resolve conflict. I’ve had the opportunity to travel twice to Japan and train in the little town of Iwama, where the style of Aikido was developed. I train several times a week at the Aikido Institute in Emeryville.

What is your favorite thing about the Bay Area?
The diversity of people and activities. The Bay Area vibe resonates so well with me that I’ve chosen to make this my home, even though I didn’t intend to when I first come here to start my graduate studies.

 

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20

Meet Your Healer: Rhea Borromeo

Keeping a consistent wellness routine is more important than just feeling great, it truly keeps your body in working condition. Regular bodywork reduces stress, inflammation, stiffness, and blood pressure. Everything from your immune system to your energy levels improves when you allow for serious self-care time.

Our experienced and deeply knowledgeable healers work with each client to hear their specific needs and create treatment sessions customized for their body. Plus, with the help of cold-press, locally grown, adaptogenic oils from OmCali our therapists are well equipped to offer an experience of complete bliss and rejuvenation.

Since we are in love with each and every Namaste Healer we thought you may want to get to know them a little better too. We hope you enjoy this fun blog post series of Meet Your Healers!

Meet Your Namaste Healer: Rhea Borromeo

Hi Rhea! Where and when do you offer massage? 
Rhea Borromeo, I work at the Grand lake location on Tuesday 10-3, Thursday 3:30-8:30p.m and Sunday 2:30-7:30p.m

How long have you been at Namaste? 
Joining the team recently, but been practicing massage since 2004.

What type of healing modalities do you offer? 
My style is a combination of Deep Tissue, Thai stretches, Acupressure, and Swedish. Hot stone, Lomi Lomi, thai herbal, and prenatal massages.

What inspired you to become a wellness practitioner? 
I had health concerns and I wanted a life filled with purpose. Massage Therapy was a beautiful way for me to become more connected to my body and how it can heal itself.

What are a few of your favorite self-care tips for the winter season?
Taking bath soaks filled with healing herbs and essential oils.

Can you share a favorite nourishing recipe for winter? 
My homemade Elderberry Syrup!

What are you involved with outside the studio? 
Making my own herbal infused oils, plant-based concoctions, herbal classes. kids school activities.

What is your favorite thing about the Bay Area? 
Nature

Anything else you want to share?
I am the mother of two beautiful wild kids.

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20

Meet Your Teacher: Satya Gita Aune

Namaste Yoga + Wellness is a container for the Bay Area’s best yoga teachers to offer their incredible talent and wisdom to students of all backgrounds. These highly experienced teachers have dedicated their lives to sharing the gift of yoga with others and we couldn’t be more grateful. It is an honor to support them and to connect them with yoga practitioners like you.

We are excited to share this special new blog series focused on celebrating your yoga teachers and hopefully giving you a glimpse into the brilliant team that is the Namaste Yoga + Wellness family. We have over 55 teachers in our community and every single person offers something unique!

Meet Satya Gita Aune:

What is your name and when/where/what do you teach?
My name is Satya Gita Aune and I teach Vinyasa, Hatha, Therapeutic, Yin, Restorative.

What inspired you to become a yoga instructor?
I wanted to share and facilitate for others the total magic I experience both physically, spiritually, and emotionally.

Which teachers influence your practice?
Sharon Gannon and David Life from Jivamukti NY.

What does your yoga practice look like and how has it changed your life?
Dancing through life, flowing with the breath supports me to come into the present moment in my body. Sensing and being present to my experience, letting my consciousness hold my practice with an attitude of love, care, and curiosity.

East Bay Yoga Teacher Sita Gita Aune

What is something you wish your students knew?
The magic of being embodied. Treating the body as a temple and living life as a prayer.

What is your favorite morning routine?
Morning: Sipping a cup of warm coffee or tea while journaling, study inspirational books, meditating, shower, yoga practice. Getting ready for the day to be of service and shine the light.

What is your favorite thing about being a teacher?
Getting to teach and inspire my student’s awareness of self-care and self-love, see them realizing them self in a deeper way, laughing and being creative.

What are you involved with outside the studio?
Deeply engaged in a mystical school called Diamond Approach, offering spiritual counseling and bodywork, energy work and hands-on Inquiry, dancing, playing music, hiking, traveling.

East Bay Yoga Teacher Sita Gita Aune

What is your favorite thing about the Bay Area?
Diversity, creativity, and the physical bay.

Anything else you want to share?
I am passionate about teaching yoga and inspired to share the love. That has been my work for past 25 years!

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20

Meet Your Teacher: Sean Feit Oakes

Namaste Yoga + Wellness is a container for the Bay Area’s best yoga teachers to offer their incredible talent and wisdom to students of all backgrounds. These highly experienced teachers have dedicated their lives to sharing the gift of yoga with others and we couldn’t be more grateful. It is an honor to support them and to connect them with yoga practitioners like you.

We are excited to share this special new blog series focused on celebrating your yoga teachers and hopefully giving you a glimpse into the brilliant team that is the Namaste Yoga + Wellness family. We have over 55 teachers in our community and every single person offers something unique!

Meet Sean Feit Oakes:

How long have you been at Namaste?
4 months

What inspired you to become a yoga instructor?
I was on Buddhist retreat in India and they wanted a yoga practice on the retreat but there were no yoga teachers around. I volunteered, and it turned out to be easy and pleasurable. Coming from both Insight Meditation and vinyasa Yoga lineages, it became a core part of my work to emphasize embodiment for the meditators and mindfulness and concentration for the yogis. I started teaching in both forms around the same time, and they have always woven together for me.

Do you have any go-to yoga and wellness books or podcasts?
I still love Vanda Scaravelli’s classic, “Awakening the Spine” as a book about yoga that weaves together reflections on postural practice and some of the more meditative or philosophical concepts about yoga. I have been deeply inspired and challenged in my ideas about yoga by Matthew Remski’s research and writing, and for beginners in contemplative practice, I recommend my teacher Jack Kornfield’s overview of spiritual life, “A Path With Heart”.

Which teachers influence your practice?
My first formal teacher was Joshu Sasaki Roshi in the Rinzai Zen tradition (1993-99). In 1997 I started Ashtanga with Larry Schultz and Alice Joanou, Authentic Movement with Bill McCully, and postmodern dance with Keith Hennessy and Kathleen Hermesdorf. I did yoga teacher training with David Moreno in the Bihar tradition in 2007, and the Spirit Rock Mindfulness Yoga and Meditation program with Anne Cushman and Jill Satterfield. My Buddhist teachers have been Jack Kornfield, Eugene Cash and Sylvia Boorstein (Theravāda & Insight Meditation), Anam Thubten (Tibetan Mahāyāna), and Sayadaw U Janaka (vipassanā). In 2008 I started studying trauma resolution and systems theory with Steven Hoskinson (Somatic Experiencing, Organic Intelligence®), and have been strongly influenced in my recent work on the integration of trauma, mindfulness, and yoga by Dr. Stephen Porges.

What does your yoga practice look like and how has it changed your life?
Recently my practice looks mostly like parenting and providing for my family, which means that the “practice” part of it consists of mindfulness of emotions, speech, and actions, as well as the maintenance of my energy through attempting to balance work, sleep, physical exercise, and family connection time. The best formal practice support I have right now is prānāyāma, which changes my energetic state quicker than meditation can. When I get a chance to sneak away for some actual āsana, it’s fantastic, and brings me back to myself. It’s always done that, and it’s why I kept with it. Yoga, Buddhism, and inner inquiry saved me, slowly, from being an existentially depressed loner. Now I’m an existentially curious philosopher with better relationships and coping strategies. And I look forward to years of unfolding further along this path.

Sean Feit Oakes Namaste Yoga + Wellness Mindfulness

What is something you wish your students knew?
I wish students knew more deeply that they’re not alone in their struggles, and that way more is possible in life than mainstream culture, including yoga culture, suggests. I wish teachings of renunciation and liberation were more common in the Yoga and Buddhist communities, so that these gorgeous practices wouldn’t be reduced to surface interventions that help people survive our current inhumane social systems but don’t uproot the systems themselves, either from global power or from our own hearts.

What is your morning or evening routine?
Morning: up before dawn awoken by a toddler saying “Mama, Papa!!”, sitting and Refuge Puja while our boy nurses, then playing with him and making breakfast while his mama sleeps some more. Evening: after everyone goes to sleep, if I’m not exhausted, I get some quiet time to drop into my body. I do whatever feels good.

What is your favorite thing about being a teacher?
The relationships that form as a class or practice space becomes consistent, and how those consistent communities and practices start to affect people’s lives in real and meaningful ways. I love deep discussion about the implications of practice and the teachings on people’s lives.

What are you involved with outside the studio?
I teach Buddhism, Yoga, and Organic Intelligence® in various places, including Spirit Rock. My main work is individual sessions for yoga and meditation practitioners where we work in various ways to deepen practice, including counseling, trauma resolution, subtle bodywork, and inquiry. Other than work, I try to write as often as I can, and the rest of my time is for family.

What is your go-to movement (asana, dance, hiking, etc.) that allows you to feel the most connected to yourself?
A slow, intuitive vinyasa is still my most grounding movement practice, but I also love running as a meditative energy practice, and my long-time deep movement home is the postmodern dance form Contact Improvisation.

What is your favorite thing about the Bay Area?
It’s my home! I grew up here, and I don’t have a favorite thing specifically, though the main thing that makes it hard to move away is the depth of connections I have made over the decades. I’m grumpy about the Bay Area nowadays and can barely afford to live here anymore, but nowhere else feels like home, and that’s still a precious, subtle feeling.

Anything else you want to share?
I want to offer my blessings to everyone who calls Namaste home, and say that I’m thrilled to be bringing my teaching work here. I’m excited to meet many of you over time, and to contribute whatever I can to deepening the practice and study being offered at the studio.

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20

Meet Your Teacher: Elissa Buchman

Namaste Yoga + Wellness is a container for the Bay Area’s best yoga teachers to offer their incredible talent and wisdom to students of all backgrounds. These highly experienced teachers have dedicated their lives to sharing the gift of yoga with others and we couldn’t be more grateful. It is an honor to support them and to connect them with yoga practitioners like you.

We are excited to share this special new blog series focused on celebrating your yoga teachers and hopefully giving you a glimpse into the brilliant team that is the Namaste Yoga + Wellness family. We have over 55 teachers in our community and every single person offers something unique!

Meet Elissa Buchman:

What is your name and when/where/what do you teach?
Elissa Buchman–I teach Vinyasa Flow at Namaste Grand Lake on Tuesday and Thursday mornings from 7 – 8 AM

How long have you been at Namaste?
I was subbing at Namaste for about a year and a half before I began teaching regular weekly classes at Namaste Grand Lake in January.

East Bay Yoga Teacher Elissa Buchman

What inspired you to become a yoga instructor?
I think I need to answer that question in three parts. Part one is, of course, that I loved yoga and wanted to share it with others. Part two extended beyond my reverence for the practice: I am a lifelong learner, a voracious reader, and a writer. Teaching yoga allowed me to creatively mesh those things together in a way that could actually make a difference in people’s lives, whether that was through providing someone a little bit of relief for 60 minutes or a whole lot more.

Part three is less flattering, but also deeply human: I wanted love. I saw how loved my teachers were, and I wanted in. I was 20 years old, lost and unsure of where I wanted to focus my vulnerable array of passions and interests. Teaching yoga, with its seemingly endless rainbow of external validation and love, seemed like something I could get behind.

Looking back, I don’t see any of those desires as negative or even misguided. Through my teaching and my practice, I have indeed found my passion and focus in life. Though it didn’t take long to realize there was no rainbow of admiration at the end of the teaching rainbow, I have absolutely found love through the extraordinary communities and connections I’ve been able to form with others.

East Bay Yoga Teacher Elissa Buchman

Do you have any go-to yoga and wellness books or podcasts?
One word: Yogaland! Andrea Ferretti happens to be the wife of my teacher Jason Crandell, but she’s a badass, amazing woman all on her own. I listen to the Yogaland podcast religiously and love how it inspires my teaching and my practice. She interviews all sorts of yogis, yoga teachers, and wellness professionals who leave no stone unturned when it comes to the world of well-being.

Which teachers influence your practice?
Every single teacher I’ve ever taken has influenced my practice whether they’ve been my cup of tea or not, and I’m not just saying that! Though my primary teachers are Jason Crandell, Sean Haleen and Annie Carpenter, I make it a point to escape the echo chamber of my tried-and-true favorites and explore all kinds of other teachers and styles that keep me fresh and inspired.

What does your yoga practice look like and how has it changed your life?
Yesterday, my yoga practice looked like a powerful 90-minutes of chaturangas, arm balances, and inversions. Today, I rolled around awkwardly on my mat for 15 minutes in ways that could only vaguely be likened to asana, then proceeded to halfway relax into a 2 minute Savasana interrupted by my vibrating cell phone. Point is my practice changes all the time. Currently, it’s a pretty balanced combination of home practice and attending public classes, but had you asked me a few month ago my answer would have been entirely different. Yoga has made me both more disciplined and less rigid all at once. I am wholly committed to practicing yoga in some form or another for the rest of my life but know that what that practice looks like will remain in constant flux.

East Bay Yoga Teacher Elissa Buchman

What is something you wish your students knew?
If your yoga teacher asks you in the beginning of class to “set an intention for your practice” and you draw a blank, this one is my go-to: I am a human, humans make mistakes; I am allowed to be human and make those mistakes on my mat. The world can be harsh, and capitalizing on failure as a tool for growth is a privilege we don’t always get to take advantage of in our day to day lives without serious consequences. When you get on your mat, the world has essentially given you a blank canvas, a bunch of paint, and a blindfold to throw on. Don’t be afraid of making a mess–you may be pleasantly surprised at what you’re able to create, or at the very least have a good laugh in the process.

What is your morning or evening routine? (whichever is your favorite..or both!)
Oh, wow. My answer to this could not be more mundane. The only things I do every morning or evening with enough frequency to call it a “routine” is brush my teeth, change my clothes (either into or out of my pajamas,) and possibly look at pictures of french bulldogs on Instagram.

What is your favorite thing about being a teacher?
The ability, and arguably the necessity, of wearing so many hats! As a teacher, I get to be a poet, a creative thinker, an academic and a scientist. It’s like someone found an old manifesto from my childhood entitled “What I Want to be When I Grow Up” written on bright pink construction paper, then handed it back to me as an adult and said, “go for it.”

East Bay Yoga Teacher Elissa Buchman

What are you involved with outside the studio?
This has changed hugely for me in the last six months. Right now, I’m in the early stages of becoming a clinical psychologist. And by early stages I mean, EARLY. I’ve only just submitted by applications to doctoral programs, and am currently enrolled in a few fascinating prerequisite courses before I begin the processes of getting my degree. Aside from that, I’m usually immersed in some sort of teacher training program, reading a wonderful novel, or watching a terrible Netflix horror film with my girlfriend.

What is your go-to movement (asana, dance, hiking, etc.) that allows you to feel the most connected to yourself? *
Yoga [asana] Though my yoga practice is not always asana-based, when it comes to movement, asana is my kryptonite.

What is your favorite thing about the Bay Area?
I was born and raised in the Bay Area, which I understand makes me somewhat of a unicorn (thanks, rent control!) I love the diversity, the culture, the people, the passion, the nature, the yoga, and my mom, who still lives in Oakland (if you met her, she’d probably be your favorite thing about the Bay Area, too.)

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20

Meet Your Teacher: Marina Guastucci

Namaste Yoga + Wellness is a container for the Bay Area’s best yoga teachers to offer their incredible talent and wisdom to students of all backgrounds. These highly experienced teachers have dedicated their lives to sharing the gift of yoga with others and we couldn’t be more grateful. It is an honor to support them and to connect them with yoga practitioners like you.

We are excited to share this special new blog series focused on celebrating your yoga teachers and hopefully giving you a glimpse into the brilliant team that is the Namaste Yoga + Wellness family. We have over 55 teachers in our community and every single person offers something unique!

Meet Marina Guastucci:

How long have you been at Namaste?
2 months

What inspired you to become a yoga instructor?
Yoga helped me overcome a decade-long eating disorder and continues to help me with a lifetime of body image issues.

East Bay Yoga Teacher Marina Guastucci

Do you have any go-to yoga and wellness books or podcasts?
The Tao Te Ching is my go to. It’s simple, potent & accessible.

Which teachers influence your practice?
Abby Tucker and her amazing ability to weave together yoga & earth wisdom practices has been my primary influence for the past 4 years. Before that, Rod Stryker & Bryan Kest were the teachers from whom I drew a lot of inspiration.

What does your yoga practice look like and how has it changed your life?
Right now, it’s practical and sporadic (I have a two-year-old). I used to practice asana every day, but it’s very much in a state of ebb and flow, and I’m okay with that. I squeeze in movement when I’m able to, and meditate more than I ever have before. My practice is my time to feel my body separate from my daughter. It’s very personal and intimate.

East Bay Yoga Teacher Marina Guastucci

What is your morning or evening routine?
In the winter, at night, I take baths with salts and essential oils and either read or watch TV.

What is your favorite thing about being a teacher?
I love the stories that emerge from the this embodied practice. Each week is an opportunity for my students and me to co-create and experience life on our mat.

What are you involved with outside the studio?
A lot of hiking and toddler wrangling.

What is your go-to movement that allows you to feel the most connected to yourself? 
Hiking and being in nature.

East Bay Yoga Teacher Marina Guastucci

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Meet Your Teacher: Jerry Givens

Namaste Yoga + Wellness is a container for the Bay Area’s best yoga teachers to offer their incredible talent and wisdom to students of all backgrounds. These highly experienced teachers have dedicated their lives to sharing the gift of yoga with others and we couldn’t be more grateful. It is an honor to support them and to connect them with yoga practitioners like you.

We are excited to share this special new blog series focused on celebrating your yoga teachers and hopefully giving you a glimpse into the brilliant team that is the Namaste Yoga + Wellness family. We have over 55 teachers in our community and every single person offers something unique!

Meet Jerry Givens:

How long have you been at Namaste?
About 3 years

What inspired you to become a yoga instructor?
Watching my own growth in yoga, I really wanted to share the experience with likeminded souls. Teaching was the natural next step.

Your favorite literature on yoga or meditation?
My favorite book on yoga is the Yoga Sutra. It’s timeless, a classic, and somewhat hard to read. Though over the years, through trainings and mentorship with other teachers, I’ve come to better understand the Sutra. Every time I return to it, more is revealed. It’s the book that keeps on giving. More contemporary, a great “first read” for aspiring yogis is “The Art of Joyful Living” by Swami Rama, which details “how” to be a yogi in the modern world.

East Bay Yoga Teacher Jerry Givens

Which teachers have influenced your practice?
I’ve had the pleasure of studying primarily with Devidas Karina Mirsky (based in Kalamazoo, MI), who is a longtime student of Yogarupa Rod Stryker. Karina’s background in yoga, massage, mindfulness, and her Masters in East-West Psychology have inspired me to look at my practice and the teaching beyond my own perceptions, attempting to understand truth from a higher perspective.

How often do you practice?
Every morning, I sit in meditation. My asana (physical yoga) practice is more varied depending on the day/week.

What is your morning or evening routine?
Each morning, I practice nauli kriya for 2-3 minutes before settling in for a 20-30 minute meditation practice. After that, I move mindfully through my home as I get ready for the day. This really helps make sure I can be my best self each day.

East Bay Yoga Teacher Jerry Givens

Your favorite self-care practices?
Daily meditation, massage, nature, “me” time, hot springs, personal retreats

What are you involved with outside the studio?
I’m fortunate to have many passions, including writing Adventure Fantasy novels. Over the past 6 years, I’ve published 3 novels and I just finished writing the fourth one this past summer.

Absolute favorite asana?
Savasana for sure. Yes, you’re just laying there, but can be quite difficult to master – to be able to lie there awake, present, but also at complete rest. Practicing Yoga Nidra really helped me to find peace (not sleep) in this pose.

What is your favorite thing about the Bay Area?
Nature meets city. I love it!

East Bay Yoga Teacher Jerry Givens

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