We Love Our Students: Meet Natasha

Our Namaste students are the heartbeat of the studios. We love watching each and every individual learn and grow in their unique way. If you’ve ever wondered who is practicing on the mat next to you… here is your chance to find out!

Introduce yourself! What is your name and how long have you practiced at Namaste?
Hello! My name is Natasha and I’ve been practicing at Namaste since January.

What inspired you to begin a yoga practice?
I’ve always been curious about yoga but I’ll admit, I thought it looked intimidating. I wasn’t so sure I could keep up or move my body in a certain way. However, after my first couple of classes, I realized that I really enjoyed how I felt during and after my practice.

Namaste Yoga + Wellness Grand Lake

Favorite parts of taking a class at Namaste?
I love the staff at Namaste Grand Lake. The front desk staff is always so helpful and friendly, and the teachers are amazing. Every class has been a positive experience, from the moment you step onto your mat and throughout your practice. The instructors are super helpful and make you feel welcome and at ease.

What is your definition of wellness?
Doing what makes you feel good (mind, body, and spirit) and having fun while doing it! I think we should enjoy our wellness journey and have fun with it, take the time to relish in how it makes us feel and figure out what works for us individually and what doesn’t.

Namaste Yoga + Wellness Grand Lake

One thing people might be surprised to learn about you is?
For a couple of weeks in college, I did conservation work in the Costa Rican rainforest.

Favorite things you do to help make every day sacred?
I try to get outdoors as often as possible. On my breaks at work, I pop my headphones in and walk around downtown SF. When I get home, I try to get out for a walk in my neighborhood. The fresh air is a great way to decompress after a long day and to just take in a different view.

Best advice you could give to someone who is struggling to start their health and wellness journey?
Take it one day at a time. Make one change or incorporate a new habit/routine and stick to that for a week or two. Then gradually build up from there at your own pace.

Namaste Yoga + Wellness Grand Lake

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We Love Our Namaste Students: Meet Matthew

Our Namaste students are the heartbeat of the studios. We love watching each and every individual learn and grow in their unique way. If you’ve ever wondered who is practicing on the mat next to you… here is your chance to find out!

Introduce yourself! What is your name and how long have you practiced at Namaste?
My name is Matthew Gordon. I have been practicing at Namaste Yoga + Wellness fairly often for the last year or two.

What inspired you to begin a yoga practice?
I was searching for a way to help heal the physical ailments in my body. Since then yoga has become a practice for not just my body, but my mind and my emotional well being. It continues to help me find my peace and gratitude in life.

Namaste Yoga + Wellness Berkeley Matthew 1

Favorite parts about taking a class at Namaste?
Well, to be honest, I really like a lot of the teachers at Namaste. I feel like they really love what they do and that they enjoy sharing the knowledge of their practice with others. I like practicing at the Berkeley studio because it is out of the way, hidden, quiet, and energetically, for me, it is a little calmer than many studios I have practice at.

What is your definition of wellness?
My definition of wellness is a state of mind and being that the practice of yoga and being in touch with nature continually help me to find and remember. It is calmness, peace of mind, and gratitude. That and eating all your fruits and veggies! Also, spending as much time in nature as I can help me to feel calm, restores my sense of balance in this fast-paced bay area life, reminds me not to take myself so seriously and that I am very lucky to be alive …. it is probably the biggest part of wellness for me

One thing people might be surprised to learn about you is?
I like to travel a lot. I used to live in Hanoi for four years. No, I don’t speak Vietnamese, but I do enjoy pho.

Namaste Yoga + Wellness Berkeley Matthew 2

Favorite things you do to help make every day sacred?
Coffee in bed. I cook. A lot. It’s a kind of meditation slash hobby for me. Plus, it’s a lot of fun.

Best advice you could give to someone who is struggling to start their health and wellness journey?
What has worked for me is to have a goal, to embrace the fact that reaching your goal will be a journey of many steps, and to remember that the setbacks along the way are not failures but reminders that the journey to wellness is a process and a lifelong endeavor. Also, spending as much time in nature can help me to feel calm, restores my sense of balance in this fast-paced bay area life, reminds me not to take myself so seriously and that I am very lucky to be alive …. it is probably the biggest part of wellness for me.

Anything you’d like us to share with our Namaste community?
I love to hike. If you see me around, ask me about trails or joining me on an adventure. I would love to find people to hike with!

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5 Questions to Ask Before a Yoga Teacher Certification

If you’re on the mat regularly you know the power of the practice. But are you ready for a yoga teacher certification and training? Trainings have become increasingly popular – with different focuses on everything from social justice to healthy aging. If you know that you are ready to go deeper but are unsure if you need a yoga teacher training to accomplish this, reflect on some of the following questions:

1) Do you have a regular meditation or home practice?

Having a regular yoga or meditation practice is an important first step towards deepening your practice. Although maintaining a regular home practice can be difficult, it is something that most studios encourage before making a commitment to a teacher training. You don’t need to be practicing yoga every morning at 6 AM  – but you should spend time exploring a home practice and make a concerted effort to practice on your own as much as possible.

A good way to gauge if you have a healthy home practice is if you can say, with confidence,  that whenever you feel the need to tap into your body you know how to get there on your own, in a personal, sacred way. Learning how to make yoga personal and how to practice on your own are crucial building blocks for developing a practice that is meaningful and rich.

yoga teacher certification

2) Have you felt cues from other areas of your life encouraging you to dig deeper?

If your life feels like you are ready for a big shift, a teacher training may just be the spark you need. A teacher training will force you to focus, to dig down deep into your inner desires and values, and to learn how to express yourself in more authentic ways.

Often we may feel ready for a lifestyle change but are lacking the right environment or supportive community to help us achieve our goal. A teacher training can be a perfect opportunity to bond with fellow beings who are interested in curating a life of healthy choices and honest living.

3) Do you feel like you are in a supportive, stable place in your life?

A teacher training carries a lot of commitments. Not only will you be investing your money, but you will be investing a good amount of time, energy, and emotions. It is important to feel confident that your living situation, your personal relationships, and your finances are all in a stable place.

If it is a financial stretch, you are going through a rough breakup, or in the middle of moving – then taking a training right now may not be the wisest choice. Although it may sound like a fun distraction – the likelihood of you being able to tap into the inner wisdom you seek will be highly diminished. You want to be in a clear, stable place in your life where you can dedicate yourself fully to the teacher training journey.

yoga teacher certification

4) Are you feeling the desire to learn and become a student again?

Learning is a lifelong process. If you are feeling the burning desire to become a student again, there is no better way to answer the call than to take a teacher training. A yoga teacher training is an opportunity to not only advance your asana practice, but to dig into the philosophy and history of yoga. You will be in a classroom setting again, with fellow students whom with you can study, brainstorm and debate. You will be able to process all of your new knowledge under the guidance of experienced teachers. This will make the learning experience much more valuable than if you were to read the materials alone.

5) Is your yoga studio a place that feels like home?

This is the most important question. Is your yoga studio a place where you feel safe, accepted, and cared for? You will be spending a large amount of time there and will at moments feel very vulnerable. It is important that you vibe with the teachers, the atmosphere, and even the front desk staff. These people will become like family, and the relationships you have with them will either detract or enhance your teacher training experience.

yoga teacher certification

Namaste’s Every Day Sacred 200 Hour Teacher Training is right around the corner. If you are interested in expanding your practice, feel free to email us at tt@ilovenamaste.com or call us to find out more. Applications and more information may be found here. 

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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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