Meet Your Teacher: Melina Meza

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 Melina Meza:

How long have you been at Namaste?
Almost three years in total

What inspired you to become a yoga instructor?
I was asked to be a yoga teacher by a friend who wanted to open a studio in Seattle back in 1996. After much consideration, I said YES and was inspired to do so because of how much I loved yoga and the way it made me feel. After one year of teaching a lot of classes, I took my first pause and moved to Maui to study with Gary Kraftsow for the winter. During my first year of teaching, I felt I taught everything I learned from my first teacher and exhausted my resources. On Maui with Gary, I found what was missing….my home practice. Since then, my home practice is what continues to inspire me to teach.

Your favorite literature on yoga or meditation?
Tough question…but if you’re looking for an entry point into yoga and meditation, I recommend, The Heart of Yoga by Deskichar for yoga and A Path with Heart by Jack Kornfield for meditation.

Which teachers influence your practice?
Kathleen Hunt (Seattle based teacher), Gary Kraftsow, Sarah Powers, Tias Little, Jin Sung, Scott Blossom (listed in the order of when I studied with them)

How often do you practice?
My practice of yoga extends beyond the yoga mat into my life. I consider all the times I wake up and do my meditation + Ayurvedic cleansing routines, hydrate, and eat right for my constitution as part of my practice. When I’m actively listening to another, or walking mindfully by myself, I also consider this part of my yoga practice. The asana portion varies for me but in general, I do sequences at home every other day and outdoor activities like walking or tennis on alternating days.

What is your morning or evening routine? 
The morning starts with tongue scraping, brushing teeth, rinsing eyes with Ayurvedic Rose Water drops, Nasya Oil in the nose, hydrate then meditate for 10-20 minutes. After meditating….a leisure cup of coffee before celebrating the day. Depending on the season or travel schedule, I give myself an oil massage every other day or when traveling everyday before showering.

Your favorite self-care practices?
Eating when I’m hungry and not eating when I’m not hungry, oil massage, 20-minute naps, staying hydrated and eating soup often, being creative every day, getting 8 hours of sleep.

What are you involved with outside the studio?
At the moment….photography, tennis, cooking, and a little guitar.

Absolute favorite asana?
Downward Dog

What is your favorite thing about the Bay Area?
Sunshine and the variety of avocados!

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December Honors The Empowered Life

[Photo of Namaste Teacher Odisa Walker]

What does it mean to live The Empowered Life?

At the beginning of 2017 we committed ourselves to a 12-month journey of empowerment. We spent each month unpacking the practices and elements, from self-care to bravery, that allowed us to live with confidence, compassion, and calm. Our motto in January was “My Practice Gives Me Power”. Now we want to reflect on what we’ve done with this power.

Practicing presence and engagement throughout the seasons of our lives opens us up to a deeper connection with ourselves and the world around us. Our hope, as a studio, is that you have found value in these explorations and been inspired to reflect and grow in your own unique ways.

So what exactly does it mean to live “The Empowered Life”? We believe the definition is unique to each person but ultimately it goes beyond simply feeling empowered. It is a life of unwavering integrity and confidence.

Confidence that we have the power to face whatever comes our way. Integrity to act in ways that empower others. Confidence that we are whole and good. Integrity to live our truth.  The confidence we can tackle the sticky, dark corners of life with grace, patience, and love. The ability to return from the shadows whole and decent.

The Empowered Life means we strive to make every day sacred.

Take a look back on our 2017 year and get ready for an even more amazing 2018!

November: Giving Gratitude  | December: The Empowered Life
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The Season of Gratitude

[Photo of Namaste Teacher Danielle Woermann]

November feels like the beginning of the end. Blink twice and the holiday season will be here before we know it. The ceremonial death of one year while the birth of a brand new chapter rests on the horizon. This is the optimal time for inward reflection before the tizzy of celebrations pulls our energy into external events. This is why we’ve chosen, as routine as it may be, to focus on gratitude. Gratitude for the big things in life: family, friends, health in body, mind, and spirit. Gratitude for the small moments too: a warm cup of tea, the silent dark mornings of fall, or a smile from a stranger. We ask you to sit with gratitude in your practice and use it to fuel a more intimate connection to everyday life.

What does it mean to Make Every Day Sacred ?

Every Day Sacred was the name of our first yoga teacher training and the phrase has stuck around because we believe it encapsulates our vision and purpose. Every single day is a gift. We are awake, breathing, and engaged in a world that exists in a temporary and ever-changing realm. How lucky we are to be conscious and to have the power of choice! Each day gives us the opportunity to flex our resilience and perspective in order to shape our reality. Dedication to our yoga practice can be the constant that brings us back to this understanding of our inner strength and power.

To Make Every Day Sacred is to live with mindfulness and non-attachment. We notice, like a soft breeze, when something enters our threshold of awareness and triggers within us joy, pain, or an indescribable emotion. We watch our reaction and give thanks for the experience of connection to this very moment. Then, like an exhale, we release our grasp on whatever it was that came our way. We acknowledge the heartwarming of a kind act and just as simply we let it go – opening to the next experience. We actively choose to see the hidden beauty unfolding in every moment regardless of its tenor.

Community Practice:

Gratitude Meditations

How you can participate:

This month we will be offering journal prompts, inspirational videos, and opportunities to give back to the community. Take your first step by finding a sweet journal where you can begin making your daily notes of gratitude and growth!

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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Empowered by [Practice]

Habits set the tone for our daily lives. Having the courage to look at our habits in an unbiased way can lead to more authenticity and connection. Taking the time to understand why we act transforms habits into intentional practices.

When we align with our core values we reap the benefits of a purposeful life. We have more confidence and power to adapt to whatever changes or obstacles we may face.

This is the beauty of a yoga practice. The ritual of returning to our breath and body allows us to stay present. The effects ripple beyond the edges of our mat and lift us up in the most mundane moments. Yoga opens the door for deeper awareness of our mortality, intuition, and potential. The opportunities created by a strong mind-body connection can heal and prepare us for the journeys our physical bodies take through life.

In the spirit of empowerment, we collected stories from our community to inspire you to reflect on your own practices. Every day we hold space within the studios for our community to live more courageously. We do this so that we may shine with confidence both on the mat and off.

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Living with Courage & Confidence

[Photo of Namaste Teacher Elika Aird]

We’ve entered the final quarter of the year. The air has a new chill as our hearts and minds begin to turn inwards. As yogis and wellness warriors, we have a responsibility to acknowledge the tragedy occurring in our world. The political climate is devastating our country’s ability to make progress on key issues. Natural disasters have wreaked havoc from coast to coast. Last weekend, we experienced the collective trauma of another mass shooting in Las Vegas. It is easy to use our practice as an escape mechanism, and sometimes we may need to, but this month we encourage you to stay present.

What defines Courage & Confidence?

Our Year of Empowerment has been a journey focused on self-love, integrity, and action. Each month we’ve encouraged you to look inside and reflect on different facets of self-care. This month is no different. Living with courage and confidence means that we do not shy away from the tough questions, the difficult events, and the challenging conversations. We choose to practice bravery. We choose to believe that we have the power to change, to help, and to heal. A healthy yoga and wellness practice can empower us to recognize both inner strength and softness. Like a deep breath, we inhale power to exhale love.

We have chosen the focusing question: how does my practice empower me to live with more courage and confidence? 

Community Practice:

Share Your Story

Sharing your story can be the inspiration someone else needs to live with more courage and confidence.

How you can participate:

This month we will be creating community “empowerment” posters around the studio. We encourage you to share your story of empowerment. There will be materials for you to write and paste your statements of empowerment. Share how your practice lets you live with more courage and confidence. Keep an eye out for stories shared by your teachers and our Namaste family.

Additionally, we are working on creating opportunities for our community to give back to the tragedies occurring around the world. We’ll keep you updated on ways to take your practice beyond your mat.

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 Stress Relief Tips with Sarah Moody

Stress. Ah. That word alone makes me want to let out a big sigh. It’s hard to avoid, nearly impossible these days. And in some ways it’s become our cultural norm; the standard as to how we measure our busyness. If we’re not stressed, we perceive it as a sign that we’re not doing enough, aka not valuable or important enough.

Practice: Next time you ask someone how they’re doing pay close attention to their response; do they reply with something along the lines of, “I’m just so busy!” or “There’s so much to do and so little time!”?

Notice for yourself, are you inclined to respond in a similar way? And maybe taking it one step further, how does it feel in your body when you express these emotions? Notice how the constant pushing feels in the body.

I’ve spent many years letting stress run my life. And I’ve also dedicated many years to studying, teaching, and working with clients on how to channel stress for the better. There will always be some form of stress in our lives, and a certain amount is healthy. The right kind of stress can spur us to go for our dreams, to ace that presentation, to not settle for less than our best. The wrong amount of stress can create dis-ease in the body, harm relationships, and negatively impact our work.

It’s a delicate balance, and like anything it takes practice and a whole lot of patience.

But I promise the more you do it the easier it will get. It’s like any other muscle, you have to use it if you want to get stronger. But remember, once you get in shape you don’t get to stop working out, you have to stay on it if you want to stay mighty.

Below are the top 5 ways I choose to de-stress. In no way is this list exhaustive or all inclusive. Find what works for you, then do more of it.

This is a big one. The more time I spend hunched over a screen the worse my body feels (wrist, shoulder, neck tension anyone?!), my eyes ache, and I actually feel more disconnected. I’m committed to turning my phone off at least an hour before bed and choosing to read or spend time with my partner instead. Use your phone as your alarm clock? Put your phone on airplane mode so you’re not tempted to check your email or IG page for the 73rd time that day (the average American checks their phone 80 times in a day!).

 Water is medicine. Baths can be both soothing and energizing. Try adding different ingredients into your tub for different results. Two of my favorites: epsom salts for tired muscles and an overworked mind; or for a moisturizing soak combine 1 T. coconut oil, 1 T. apple cider vinegar, and 1 t. honey (just make sure to clean the tub afterwards otherwise that coconut oil could surprise the next shower guest, and not in a good way!).

Mother nature heals. Have a picnic in the park; breathe in the ocean air; take a hike or go for a bike ride outdoors. Pressed for time?— even 5 minutes of soaking up the sun can improve your mood and stimulate a foggy brain.

Find activities you love and do them often. Aim to sweat a little every day. Sweating is therapeutic for the body; gives your mood a boost, and helps you sleep sweeter.

Laugh more. Those deep belly laughs. Call a friend, read the comics, watch a movie; get really creative here and let your playful side run free.
Here’s to strengthening your stress-less muscle!

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Water Meditation to Stress Less

Water meditation can enhance the powerful benefits of mindfulness practices. Reverberating a mantra’s sound current inside a human body of water can calm the overactive mind and encourage a feeling of non-attachment and weightlessness. Allowing ourselves to be fully present creates space for every day stress to fade away into the background.

This guided meditation is led by Anne Koller, Namaste’s newest Kundalini yoga instructor, and was created by Hari Kaur Khalsa, author of A Woman’s Book of Yoga: Embracing Our Natural Life Cycles, with Machelle M. Seibel, M.D.

This water meditation is meant to be performed in warm, shallow water that sits at or below bellybutton level. Fill a bath, light a few candles, and sink into your own meditative bliss.

To begin, cross your legs and find a comfortable seated position. Sit up tall with a lengthened spine, hit play, close your eyes, and allow your mind and body to fully connect with the water.

Anne has been a KRI certified Kundalini Yoga and Meditation teacher as taught by Yogi Bhajan for four years. Anne was trained by Hari Kaur Khalsa, named 10 Influential Yoga Teachers Who Have Shaped Yoga in America, in New York City.

Her passion for sharing the power of breath awareness, emotional-balance, self-empowerment and mind-body alignment permeates all of her yoga and meditation classes. She has been featured in Huffington Post, Today Show, Tennis Channel, ReachMD and YogaCity NYC for her work in wellness training, specifically in water healing and corporate mindfulness. She believes that if we can feel at home in our mind and body, we can thrive in any environment.

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September Theme: Cultivate Calm with Stress Less Stamp Cards!

Fall is on the horizon and the energetic nature of summer is winding down. Take this month to focus on cultivating calm in your life. Join us for a fun stamp card challenge as we practice ways to stress less.


All it takes is a simple reminder to breathe more and stress less. Carry this beautiful card with you throughout the month to support your mission of cultivating calm in daily life. Play along with our four Stress Less Challenges for a chance to win one of three amazing wellness prizes including luxury retail items, wellness services, and more! Simply accomplish each experience on your own time and let the front desk know when you are finished.

When you have achieved all four stamps, turn your card in at the front desk and wait for our winning announcement!

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

Keep up with us on the blog, Instagram, and Facebook where we’ll be sharing tips from your favorite Namaste teachers.

Want to check out past months?

Catch up on all of our Year of Empowerment and join us as we continue the journey.


    Community Building Yoga Oakland Berkeley

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Make 5 Minutes: Stand Well & Breathe

First thing when you wake up, before you have the thought not to do it, before you tackle your to-do list and your morning routine…SIT.

Sit for just 10 breaths. Just 10 breaths in and 10 breaths out.

Then get up and start the day. It’s amazing how this very simple, very short practice levels me before I launch. And it’s amazing to me how much easier it is to remember to close my eyes and take a slow deep breath later in the day when I really need it.

The other is simply the reminder that the practice is a breathing practice and a practice of paying attention and connecting with the inner quiet that we carry with us everywhere we go…


So while sometimes we go to class and are guided through 90 minutes of asana and pranayama, and sometimes we enjoy and extended practice of 2 or 3 hours, and sometimes we immerse ourselves in a workshop or training…

Simply standing in samastitihi, the pose of attention, for 10 breaths (or 5 breaths, or 20 breaths) IS a practice too. 

But most importantly, just stand and breathe and be quiet and strong and simple and still for a few moments. Then go off and live the day. 

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