A Poem for The Unknown

In out of the way places of the heart
Where your thoughts never think to wander
This beginning has been quietly forming
Waiting until you were ready to emerge.

For a long time it has watched your desire
Feeling the emptiness grow inside you
Noticing how you willed yourself on
Still unable to leave what you had outgrown.

It watched you play with the seduction of safety
And the grey promises that sameness whispered
Heard the waves of turmoil rise and relent
Wondered would you always live like this.

Then the delight, when your courage kindled,
And out you stepped onto new ground,
Your eyes young again with energy and dream
A path of plenitude opening before you.

Though your destination is not clear
You can trust the promise of this opening;
Unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning
That is one with your life’s desire.

Awaken your spirit to adventure
Hold nothing back, learn to find ease in risk
Soon you will be home in a new rhythm
For your soul senses the world that awaits you.

By John O’ Donohue

Poem shared with us by Melina Meza. Join Melina for Yin Yoga this month. During all of March, she will be covering the 5 Elements over the 4 weeks as a way for students to learn more about self-care, Ayurveda, and our connection to nature.

Yin Yoga contains the ancient, and some say original, form of asana practice. The sages who pioneered the path of yoga used asanas to strengthen the body, so that they could sit for long periods in contemplative meditation. If you have ever sat for a long time with legs crossed, you know the hips and lower back need to be strong and open. The sensations you felt were deep in the connective tissues and the joints. These are the deep yin tissues of the body, relative to the more superficial yang tissues of muscles and skin. Yin Yoga opens up these deep, dense, rarely touched areas.


Recently Yin Yoga has been re-discovered, and more and more students of yoga are adding this challenging form of practiceto their regular sadhana. Years of a dedicated asana practice will make anyone healthier, stronger, and more flexible, but at some point the muscles will have reached their limit of flexibility. New depths in postures, deeper ranges of motion, or an increased flow of energy may only be achievable by focusing on the deeper tissues of the body. This is why so many students are finding Yin Yoga to be the perfect compliment and balance to their more active, yang practices.

Join Melina for Yin Yoga Tuesday’s 6:00-7:20PM at Namaste Berkeley.

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20

Thrive: A Personal Self-Care Plan Worksheet

Decision Fatigue and The Unbalanced Life

Life is all about balance. Creating self-care habits that sustain us through life’s up and downs is essential to a healthy lifestyle. If our delicate life balance becomes unruly we may end up sick, burnt out, or depressed. It is when we are unbalanced we reach for stimulants to keep us awake, we crave unhealthy food packed with sugar, and we seek media consumption to numb our mind over healthy hobbies like reading, exercise, or meditation.

Think of it this way, each morning when we wake up we have exactly 100 decision tokens. Each choice we make – what clothes to wear, what to feed the kids, which route to take to work – takes 1 token away. By the end of the day, unless our self-care routine has become habitual, it becomes relatively impossible to think of some way to care for ourselves. When we run out of mental tokens we end up in a state of mindlessness – often beating ourselves up over not doing better.

Yoga teaches us how to create space for self-love and care on and off the mat – but once our mat is rolled up we eventually revert to our default mode of go, go, go.

This is why breaking out of a routine, recommitting to our practice, and networking with others for support is essential when we feel the need to hit the reset button. Sometimes all it takes is structure, guidance, and a renewed sense of inspiration to help us raise our motivation and energy levels. Self-care doesn’t need to be a big thing. As long as we plan ahead, we can create a whole week of self-care!

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What Does Self-Care Look Like?

Self-care is different for everyone but we believe it has 3 main ingredients:

1) is enjoyable and loving.

2) nourishes or benefits your body, mind, or spirit in some way.

3) can be infused with intention for a balanced life.

For us, self-care can include:

  • 10 minute morning routine of dry brushing and oil massage with organic, cold-pressed oils.
  • Drinking a cup of hot water and lemon
  • 10 minute morning meditation
  • Taking an afternoon yoga class
  • Catching up with an old friend
  • Getting to bed before 10 PM
  • Going for a lunch break walk
  • Reading a new book

Self-care does not mean:

  • Beating ourself up for not sticking to a routine
  • Feeling stressed about ‘making time’ for self-care
  • Wishing we were different, not honoring ourself
  • Not being honest about our desires and intentions
  • Not taking time to reflect about our decisions
  • Taking on extra commitments because we feel we should

How can YOU get started?

Getting started it simple. You can begin by printing out the Namaste Weekly Self-Care Planner and filling it out! Find a few minutes throughout your day to commit to loving yourself in a way that feels personal and healthy for your unique self. If you are ready for a bigger reset, consider joining our 30 Days to Thrive tribe which begins Wednesday, January 18 with Naushon Kabat-Zinn and Elika Aird. The 30 Days to Thrive program is the perfect opportunity to dive deeper into your yoga practice, re-evaluate your relationship with food, learn new self-care techniques, and connect with others in your community who are striving to be their wisest, brightest selves.

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Download PDF: Namaste Personal Self-Care Plan Worksheet


About our 30 Day to Thrive teachers:

Naushon_Kabat-ZinnNaushon has been a student of yoga since she was a little girl. Her challenging, yet compassionate Power Vinyasa classes are a wonderful way to cultivate strength, serenity, flexibility and balance.  Inspired by her studies with Baron Baptiste, Shiva Rea, Baba Hari Dass, and the teachings of Vispassana (Insight) Meditation, Naushon’s all levels classes emphasize the linking of movement with breath, cultivating our ability to be more fully present and awake in our lives, and navigate the challenges that arise with more grace and kindness.

ElikaProfileAGrowing up with a love for dance, sports and music, Elika was naturally fascinated by the fluid and liberating practice of Vinyasa Yoga. After a severe back injury led her to the practice in 1999, Elika initially studied Iyengar and Anusara yoga and began to see her body healing and knew she wanted to inspire others to trust the innate ability of the body to regain harmony~full of vitality and bliss. When you take a class with Elika, expect to be inspired and to move your body possibly in ways you’ve never moved, exploring your creative intelligence and connecting with your own Source. Experience a soulful and dynamic weaving of healing music, yoga philosophy, poetry and vinyasa flow informed mostly by her Prana Flow training with Shiva Rea. 

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20

What does it mean to Embrace Your Shadow?

by Sariah Jiwan Shakti 

Kundalini Yoga is an ancient yogic technology that helps us heal, strengthen, and cleanse our body as well as balance our mind and our Ego. It brings together all of the different branches of yoga into one practice that will quickly and powerfully transform your life. The thing about high speed transformation is that it can often feel uncomfortable and messy. As we heal our nervous system from past trauma, the residual emotions come up so they can be cleared. Sounds fun, right? Navigating this kind of mass clearing might feel daunting and even a little scary. Fun isn’t quite the thing that comes to mind! However, on the other side of that is freedom, clarity, more creativity and joy and those things may seem a bit more attractive, and yes, can lead to fun!

I’m excited to speak about these things because I’ve been there and personally experienced the messiness, freedom, and joy in transformation. But it definitely wasn’t always easy. When I was going through my Kundalini Yoga teacher training I experienced a lot of irrational anger. All of my suppressed childhood anger was coming to the surface with a vengeance my target became my teacher. I wrapped up all of that angst and frustration, stuffed it into a ball and lobbed it right at his Ego. It was perfect. One day I flat out told him that I didn’t like him. As I waited with my foot in my mouth for him to ultimately dislike me back, he said, “Sariah, where there is a bright light, there is a dark shadow.” This comment has always stuck with me and I’ve often shared it with friends and students when they are grappling with their shadow self. It helped me realize that in him was darkness and light as well as myself. I also realized that my suppressed shadow was projecting judgements onto my teacher as away to find some relief. Classic stuff.

As humans we have strong polarities or opposite forces within us with the most obvious being left and right hemispheres of the brain, masculine and feminine, and positive and negative charges. We have acidic and alkaline qualities within us, we experience hot and cold, high energy and low energy, we are awake and then we are asleep, and I could go on. Often times we equate our dark side or shadow self to the negative and the light side to the positive. Our brains often go to this place of negative = bad and positive = good. However, I want to invite you to take on a different perspective as you read through this. Because all of the polarities within us make up our whole self and allow us to function and on this earth plane, let’s allow both dark and light, positive and negative to be a perfect part of who we are, not good or bad, just part of our Is-ness. That being said, why does our shadow self often seem so intense, negative, and something that we want to push away, or has consumed such a large part of who we are, there is no room for the light?

Let’s explore what the shadow really is according to Carl Jung. Jungian psychology teaches us that the shadow aspect of who we are refers to an unconscious aspect of the personality that the conscious ego does not identify in itself. It’s the least desirable parts of ourself and so our conscious mind tends to push those away and make them largely negative storing them away in the subconscious. Jung says, “Everyone carries a shadow, and the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is.”Sariah Jiwan Shakti

So the more we push away this often labeled negative part of ourselves and do not give space for it to express in our conscious life in healthy constructive ways, the more destructive it can become taking up so much space there is not much room for the light to get in. This may manifest as chronic depression, addiction, angry rages, or deep internalized anger that contorts the personality. Ultimately, in it’s most extreme form, if this shadow is not expressed, someone may cause harm themselves or others.

When the shadow aspect of ourselves is causing us to self destruct, we become cut off from our connection to spirit, GOD, soul, and our pure creative playful nature – The Light. The good news is that humans are inherently heliotropic which means we are constantly reorienting towards the light. Even in our darkest times with enough digging we can find an ember within us that if stoked will turn into a bright fire. Why? Because one cannot exist without the other. Dark cannot exist without the light and vice versa. So where there is darkness there will always be light.

How can we embrace our shadow, love it, and transmute it into light? What does a healthy relationship with our shadow self even look like? How can we start to cultivate a loving relationship the perceived negative parts of ourselves so we can become more balanced, have more room for our light, and ultimately shine bright, be big, and connected to our soul’s creativity?

1. Practice Allowing All to BE

When you notice that you are experiencing some uncomfortable emotions, thoughts, images, or sensations in the body, give yourself some space experience this energy. Breathe deep into your body, allow it all to be with you instead of labeling your experience as wrong or bad. Recognize that these darker emotions are here to give you information about what you need to improve your experience. As you allow all to be with you, remain open and notice if new, more constructive thoughts, impulses, and ideas come to you. Notice if your body begins to relax and release. Remain open without attachment to the outcome.

2. Play with Your Shadow

Are there some safe, fun, and inspiring ways for you to express and play with your shadow? Perhaps there is a loud, aggressive rock band you want to go and dance to. Maybe a costume or outfit you want to rock at a party that expresses your shadow self. Maybe you go out to a secluded place in the woods and throw rocks and scream obscenities and all of your dark thoughts to release them and ground them in the earth? Creating art and music is a great way to express your shadow self, channel this aspect of your subconscious self into something dark, beautiful, and inspiring for others. Find a friend, teacher, or coach to help you work more constructively with this energy.

3. Practice Yoga, Meditation and Prayer

Yoga and meditation are the fast train to getting into your subconscious mind, clearing out the old, and changing old pattern behavior that does not serve your highest good and your light-being self. Prayer is a way to connect with the God consciousness within you that trumps all darkness and will instantly bring the light. Surrender the destruction of the shadow to God and your Higher Self. Prayer also provides the energetic support you need to pull yourself out of a funk. Yoga will strengthen your nervous system and when you have a strong nervous system, it is easier to take a pause, a breath and be with the shadow so you can metabolize the bad feeling emotions.

4. Celebrate and Shine Your Light

When you notice that your dark energy has shifted to more lightness, celebrate this! A great way to recognize this is if you notice your system has gone from feeling tight to feeling big and expansive. Make it a point to smile at others and say nice things. Share your experience, your grace, and the brightness that is within you. Know that all good things, dreams, goals, and visions come from within you. External circumstances do not get to dictate how you feel. Allow your inner light to shine outward and create all of the good things in the world your unique self is here to create!

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20

Glimpse the Magic of Natural Healing

People always ask me how I became a Healer and Herbalist? Who did I study with and where? Granted I do hold a Masters of Science degree in Acupuncture and Integrative Medicine but before graduate school I spent over a decade doing fieldwork as a “desert rat” taking three journeys a year to different locations in the high deserts of California and the Southwest.

A desert rat is a term of endearment for all of us who might sight one another far off in the distance or at a general store picking up supplies in lost towns in dusty remote regions. Recognizable to each other by our clear eyes, fast instincts and disdain for having to interact with other humans.

I would pack up my truck in Oakland and leave for 10-day desert immersions. With maps in hand (no gps) and sheer gut instincts I would venture out into the high desert and learn the deep skill of listening; from plants, the winds voice or from a coyote encounter.

Annually, I would return to sleep in a tufa cave at 4,ooo feet elevation. The cave, which I came to call “my pod”, was one of my biggest Teacher’s. One late night while perched on the top of my cave pod I watched the night stars bright as gemstones and inhaled the Artemisia tridenta on the winds. Young and apprenticing I was just learning how to “be” on the land. The night Owl decided to gift me a lesson, they screeched and flew so fast with talons out trying to take me down. I fell back down into my pod hiding as to not be attacked by the ferocity and precision of the Owls aim. The Owl was teaching me to be aware that I was a visitor and this was there territory.

The desert not only taught me Herbal Medicine it made me brave and willing to face my shadow over and over again and return annually for profound and magical teachings.


Ratka-Mira

Ratka Mira has over 25 years of healing experience – we are thrilled to welcome her to Namaste!

My clients appreciate the way I treat them as a whole person. I recognize that injuries often have their origins in a variety of sources: physical, psychological, or spiritual. I use a combination of massage, breath work and various manual therapies to address the immediate needs of my clients and create healing plans that bring relief to current pain and address root causes.

She is at Namaste Berkeley on Wednesdays 10am-3pm. Find our next available appointment today.

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20

Namaste’s Podcasts Picks for Yogis

Many of us know it can be hard to find time to cuddle up with a good book or watch a great documentary. If you’re looking to learn new things, reaffirm core beliefs, or receive gentle reminders on mindful living – podcasts may be the perfect medium for you. The reason podcasts are so great is that you can listen to them in the car, while you are cleaning, paying bills, the list is endless. Namaste is all about making health and wellness a lifestyle. Asana is only a small part of what it takes to connect to yourself and others. With love and consideration we have picked out some of our favorite thought leaders to help you take your practice off the mat and into your daily life:

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On Being with Krista Tippet

Why you will love it: On Being is an award winning podcast and website produced by American Public Radio for the intent of exploring the human condition. Krista Tippett is a Peabody Award-winning broadcaster and New York Times best-selling author. In 2014, she received the National Humanities Medal at the White House for “thoughtfully delving into the mysteries of human existence. On the air and in print, Ms. Tippett avoids easy answers, embracing complexity and inviting people of every background to join her conversation about faith, ethics, and moral wisdom.”

Start Here: David Whyte – The Conversational Nature of Reality 

 

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The Good Life Project with Jonathan Fields

Why you will love it: Jonathan Fields, founder of The Good Life Project, says “ A good life is not a place at which you arrive, it’s a lens through which you see and create your world.” This philosophy is woven throughout the podcast as Jonathan digs into the why and how individuals create a good life. This podcast, with over 350,000 subscribers, provides unscripted, deeply-inspiring conversations and insights from acclaimed artists, entrepreneurs, makers and world-shakers.

Start Here: Elena Brower: On Yoga, Love, Addiction and Grace

 

RICH-ROLL-PODCAST-GRAPHIC-640x640The Rich Roll Podcast 

Why you will love it: Rich has an amazing story of how he transformed from over weight, over worked lawyer to a vegan triathlete and wellness advocate. Each week Rich delves deep into all things wellness with some of the brightest and most forward thinking, paradigm busting minds in health, fitness, nutrition, art, entertainment, entrepreneurship & spirituality. Intimate, deep and often intense, these are not interviews. They are conversations. A weekly aural dance designed to provoke, educate, inspire and empower you to discover, uncover, unlock and unleash your best, most authentic self.

Start Here: Jedidiah Jenkins: The Pursuit of Wonder, The Power of Story & Finding Truth in Adventure

 

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Wanderlust Speakeasy Podcast

Why you will love it: Wanderlust is of course one of the leaders in the yoga and wellness space. Their approach to broadening the yogic community and effort to include all aspects of health from food to music to the practice itself creates a vessel for wisdom. Immerse yourself in the inspiring ideas of thought-leaders at the Wanderlust Speakeasy. The intimate and casual lecture series covers topics ranging from holistic health to progressive politics, from personal empowerment to community betterment.

Start Here: Graham Hill: Less Stuff, Space, and Energy. More Time, Money and Freedom.

 

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10% Happier with Dan Harris

Why you will love it: After having a nationally televised panic attack, Dan *knew* he had to make some changes. A lifelong nonbeliever, he found himself on a bizarre adventure involving a disgraced pastor, a mysterious self-help guru, and a gaggle of brain scientists. Eventually, he realized that the source of his problems was the very thing he always thought was his greatest asset: the incessant, insatiable voice in his head. Now each week he interviews meditation experts on how to bring the practice home in our every day lives.

Start Here: Episode #1: Dalai Lama 


Namaste-app-widgetWould you be interested in hearing short, weekly podcasts episodes featuring your favorite Namaste teachers? Let us know in the comments below!

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20

The Path to Happiness

General Vivek Murthy, the US Surgeon General says that there is one factor that leads to health and success in life – happiness.  He defines happiness not as hedonistic pleasure, but as emotional well-being that comes from fulfillment, social connection and love. He says that “happiness is protective,” and reduces our risk of illness and death from illness if we do become sick. Further, our happiness is not due to external factors in life, but from our own internal response to life events and circumstances.  Scientific research shows that this state of emotional well-being can be cultivated by practicing gratitude, kindness, exercise, meditation and social connection. These simple practices lead to a healthier and stronger world.  

The Buddha taught these very same principles 2,000 years ago. Our own well-being and ease arises from how we respond to the ups and downs of life. He taught gratitude as one of the paramis – a “perfection” of the heart. Kindness is considered to be at the pinnacle of human development.  Meditation teaches us to work with our minds.  Community is a sanctuary and refuge in this life.  

These days you can find mindfulness in many settings such as the workplace or a hospital with no mention of the Buddha who was the original teacher of mindfulness.  In large part this is because research has shown the effectiveness of meditation.  Yet many of us still don’t understand what is meant by mindfulness meditation and we feel that we can’t do it because of some perceived fault such as impatience. Mindfulness meditation is not about coming to a kind of blank thoughtless state – in actuality, it is not about coming into any particular state at all.  Mindfulness meditation is way of observing and experiencing moment by moment whatever is arising.  Mindfulness meditation allows us to practice non-contentiousness with everything that arises during the meditation including impatience, grief or peace. We practice not judging whatever comes and cultivate the habit of non – reactivity. When the mind is clear and free then wisdom and intuition arise naturally. The capacity to respond rather than react to whatever we may meet in daily life grows through practicing doing this while meditating.  We create more peace and less suffering.  We learn, as General Murthy says, our well-being is not due to external circumstance, but to our response. Meditation gives us a chance to practice responding with wisdom.

The Buddha taught community as a refuge in this life and recommended that we surround ourselves with others that are committed to waking up.  Research shows that we are deeply influenced by the people around us, our community. In the same vein, General Murthy also recommends social connection for happiness.  

Want to dive deeper? Join Ashley Sharp for a deeper look into yoga, meditation and mindfulness in a 10-month Yoga and Dharma immersion combining exercise (yoga asana), meditation and social connection in one program.  This program is a deep immersion into the cultivation of happiness and emotional being through the ancient teachings of both yoga and meditation. Learn about the many forms of meditation and which types work best for your mind. Practice yoga asana, breathing exercises and sacred mantra.  Do what needs to be done to cultivate peace and create a better world for us all…

Learn more about our Yoga and Dharma 65 Immersion with Ashley Sharp!

 

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20

Finding a Kinder Practice- My Path To Therapeutic Yoga By Jill Lindsay

By Jill White Lindsay

I know what you’re thinking, therapeutic yoga sounds so…clinical.  But don’t get weirded out by the not-so-sexy name of the practice, I’m here to tell you that this style of yoga changed my life. 

I remember going to my favorite challenging yoga classes, ready for a great workout and especially excited to get so hot that I just had to strip down to show off my new lululemon sports bra.  In certain asanas, I would glance over towards my neighbor wishing I could go deeper into a pose like they were.

My yoga at that time was about pushing, comparing, and striving for that strong and perfect practice.  

I was able to let go of some of that ego when I earned my 200-hour certification, understanding that perfection is really not what yoga is about. But deep down, as hard as it is to admit, I was still trying to prove something. Because of that, I was attracted to practicing and teaching the more powerful disciplines of yoga. I was able to teach for a few years that way…until I had my one and only injury, blowing out my right shoulder.  I’m sure there were warning signs I could have listened to, and ways I could have modified, but my body finally said, “That’s it!  I can’t keep practicing this way!” I put a band-aid on it for a while, letting myself rest and heal here and there. But I still kept practicing and demo-ing those difficult postures, re-injuring myself again and again. When I finally admitted my defeat, I realized I was extremely limited in my practice and teaching.  

It wasn’t until I found a physical therapist and yogi that understood my shoulder from a yogic perspective, and that taught me how to strengthen and support the weak muscles that originally caused the injury that I was able to begin to heal.  I was embarrassed by how little I knew about the rotator cuff muscles and the glenohumeral joint. I was supposed to be an experienced instructor, after all!  This PT also taught therapeutic yoga classes, a discipline that immediately spoke to me. I felt calmer, more connected, and restored after class.  The need to prove flew out the window. I no longer felt frustrated by the poses I couldn’t do, but instead, felt empowered by what I was still able to do, and found myself going into poses that were still deep and opening, but in a safe and healing way.  Slowly, my shoulder regained its full range of motion and became even stronger through therapeutic yoga.  That PT (and my now mentor) is Harvey Deutch, and he and I still meet once a week where I assist him in his physical therapy clinic in SF.  Yes, I originally stumbled upon this form of yoga because of my injury, but I’ve made it my goal to show that therapeutic yoga is a practice for all body types, all ages, and all skill levels.  This rewarding practice is not just for the old or injured, it is a type of yoga that every body can benefit from.  

Please don’t misunderstand me. When instructed and executed correctly, those powerful yoga classes can be of great benefit to many bodies. I still enjoy a strong, sweaty class from time to time. But the hard truth is, many classes are taught too quickly without the proper experience behind the instruction to support and guide yogis though the movements in a safe way. Injury should not be a normal, accepted part of the yoga experience. Our yoga should not be about forcing or pushing ourselves into postures just so we can say we “got there.” In my opinion, the other hard truth is, a lot of the yoga out there is not a sustainable way to practice. It’s possible when bodies are young, strong, and flexible and they can withstand the more heavy repeated force of a fast flow or challenging power class. But I’m not sure I see myself doing chaturangas, handstands and arm balances into my older age.  I want a practice that can evolve with me. Part of what therapeutic yoga has taught me is to let go of what I used to be able to do. So what if I can’t do crow like I used to. At least I can say, I’ve sure never had a more safe and stable-feeling down dog than I do today because I’ve slowed down and learned more about body mechanics.

After receiving my 100-hour therapeutic yoga certification, I am a more well-equipped and better educated instructor in the studio, in addition to being a more receptive practitioner when I practice at home. I can now spot when someone who seemingly has a beautiful down dog is actually over-extending their hyper flexible shoulders instead of stabilizing those joints and trying to find more extension in their thoracic spine. Learning where to move from instead of going into our hypermobilities might help save a students shoulders before they give out like mine did.  

I’m not here to instill fear, and I’m not here to speak poorly of other forms of yoga. I am here to help you give yourself permission to slow down if that’s what your body is trying to tell you…mine sure was. Our yoga practice should be about listening to what feels good, and knowing when to pump the brakes when something doesn’t feel right.  I think more yogis could be practicing in a sweet and wise way. I think there could be more yoga out there that offers the practice as a healing modality, as a sort of therapy…not just a form of fitness. So come give therapeutic yoga a try with me, see what you think.  The only requirement is the desire to show up, to have a willingness to play, and learn something new about your body.  

Check out Jill’s classes on Tuesday and Friday.

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20

Kundalini Yoga: Find the Missing Sock in Your Soul!

By Sariah Sizemore

Housekeeping 

I love it when my house is clean. Everything is in its place and the thin film of dust that covered the tables and countertops has been wiped away exposing vibrant color and shine. The air is fresh and fragrant. As I move around my space, I actually feel the spaciousness inside of myself as a reflection of my external experience. I find things again! I’m no longer irritated and confused when I can’t seem to locate the one knee sock that goes with the other knee sock that perfectly goes with the dress I want to wear. I know, as they say, first world problems, but it can be maddening to not find the missing piece to your ideal outfit. For me, laundry always seems to be my downfall when attempting to keep a tidy home. 

I know you might be thinking that this is a blog on Kundalini yoga and energy so why the heck is she talking about cleaning her house and finding her socks! As I was contemplating what I wanted to share with you about my experience with Kundalini, I thought a lot about how developing a relationship with the life force in myself, the Kundalini energy, has allowed me to more directly clean, clear, and organize my internal experience.

Through practicing Kundalini Yoga, I have cultivated more spaciousness within myself. I have more access to the information my mind, body, and spirit has to offer me. Ultimately, I experience more clarity and awareness so I’m able to find the “sock” within myself, or I should say my soul, that completes my whole self.  

Yes, I’m saying that Kundalini Yoga will help you find the missing sock in your soul! It is an ancient technology that works to cleanse, balance, and activate the self-healing superpowers inherent within you. We humans are pretty complex beings with a lot of bells and whistles. The amount of information we process is mind blowing, literally, and we manage to do all this processing as we accomplish our daily tasks at work, spend time with our families, travel, plan for the future and tend to all of the other threads that weave our lives together. The way we manage all of this data is through the subconscious mind, and it’s called sub – conscious for a reason…it’s not conscious. If all of the info we take in on a daily basis was in the forefront of our consciousness it would in fact blow our minds. However, this does not mean that it is not contained within us. 

The Subconscious Mind and Autonomic Nervous System

Our subconscious is associated with the autonomic nervous system that manages all of the functions our bodies carry out without us having to think. For example, we don’t consciously tell our heart to beat-beat-beat, it just does that. We don’t have to tell our food to metabolize, or our cells to regenerate. These things just happen and they happen through the silent work of the autonomic nervous system. Our nervous system keeps us alive and functioning on all levels and using the subconscious, records all of the data it needs to diligently perform that duty.  Sounds good right?! Thank you Autonomic Nervous system! 

So what does all of this have to do with Kundalini Yoga and finding our socks? As evolving humans, our physiology is constantly changing to meet the needs of the modern environment we live in. Unfortunately, we haven’t quite managed to sync up. Actually, we haven’t changed that  much since the time of the cave man except for the ability to use language, which happened about 4,000 years ago. When we examine how our autonomic nervous system works, we gain some insight into this fact. The nervous system is categorized into two different functions: sympathetic and parasympathetic. The sympathetic nervous system is responsible for the “fight or flight” mechanisms in our system. For example, if we are in the jungle and see a sabertooth tiger, this will activate your sympathetic nervous system which in turn fires up everything in your body to run or pick up a big stick and fight! The parasympathetic nervous system is responsible for resting, regeneration, and relaxing. 

The subconscious starts recording information from the time we are in the womb and stores info on how to stay safe, comfortable, and out of danger. It saves the threatening experiences, imprinting trauma right into your system, so you will be activated to move away from that same danger again through the sympathetic nervous system. The problem is that in modern society we experience so much stress and pressure that our nervous system’s ability to recognize a real threat can be off base. 

Is it a tiger about to eat you, or just your boss breathing down your neck to finish a deadline? Our ability to switch between the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system becomes abnormal when we experience our every day environment as a threatening place. This contributes to fear, confusion, disorientation, and anger. When spending more time activated into sympathetic nervous system response, our adrenal glands excrete high levels of adrenaline and cortisol hormones. These hormones increase blood flow, heart rate, and send more nutrients to our muscles so we can get the power we need to escape the threat. The problem is that it takes away resources from other bodily functions and that leads to lack of sleep, irregular metabolism, fatigue, and dis-ease in the body. 

When we are inundated with information that is not being processed appropriately and our nervous system is not regulated, we often have an experience of feeling blocked, cluttered, or not having enough space to execute on the things we want to accomplish. Fear can be a debilitating emotion and when you mix that with a lack of physical energy and resources, struggling may be more of your experience than fresh energy and spaciousness. Our minds may feel foggy, memory slow, and our ability to connect with ourselves and others becomes more difficult. When all of this is happening inside of us, it is very much like having a messy home with dust covering our color and shine and it’s very hard to find that missing sock or perhaps even know what we are looking for! 

Kundalini, The Healing Life Force Energy

Practicing Kundalini Yoga infuses you with fresh life force energy and regulates the nervous system. It is a practice that cultivates awareness and through that awareness, you have more choice in how to respond to your environment instead of being in the reactionary place of fight or flight. You are able to recognize the triggers that happen in your everyday experience that re-stimulate you into experiencing the trauma of the past, and consciously clear them instead of having them lay dormant in the subconscious continuously activating fear and protection. Soon your experience becomes more neutral, you are more embodied and present, and have more space to bring forth creativity from a deeper connection with the soul and our whole self. 

Kundalini Yoga combines all of the aspects of yoga practice: physical, breath, sound, service, and intention to quickly and powerfully realign the energetic centers in the body connecting you with your whole self. It is a quantum technology that if practiced regularly will give you the ability to transcend time and space and create the life you want to have through the power of vision and directed positive thought. The life force energy, or Kundalini, moves from the base of the spine, through concentrated energy centers called the chakras up to the crown of the head and out into the aura, the electromagnetic field that surrounds the body. You can think of this energy as a healing salve that washes through entire system to regenerate you – mind, body, and spirit. This practice unlocks you in such a way where old trauma is brought up from the subconscious to the conscious so it can be healed and cleared. If you are looking for a yoga practice that gives you the full package of physical, mental, emotional, and nervous system fitness, give Kundalini Yoga a try. Because it’s so powerful, you might have a range of experiences with it. Sometimes it’s pure bliss and at times as it wears away the layers of fear and protection, it’s uncomfortable. Practicing yoga teaches you how to stay present with that uncomfortableness, however. In allowing that stuff to come up and move, you experience more presence, liberation, and ultimately more joy and expansiveness in your life. 

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Want to learn more about Kundalini? Listen to Sariah speak further on the Spirituality 101 Podcast.

Please join me every Thursday at 6pm at Namaste Grand Lake for Kundalini Yoga and meditation. I am a life coachcounselor offering private Kundalini Yoga sessions as a tool for quickly moving through the blocks that hold one back from experiencing a fully expressed and joyful life. Please visit my web site at www.sariahsizemore.com

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Namaste Mamas Wisdom and Gift Guide

We are all sons or daughters and arrived here by a kind of magic.

We asked a few of our fabulous mamas here at Namaste to share their experience around Motherhood and we love what they had to share:

Namaste Teacher Margi writes these sweet haikus for her son, Fin:

My role as a mom?
To guide, allow, and protect.
It is an honor.

Six year old guru
Shines bright light on the darkness.
Fin Young Cecconi.

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From our Studio Director Mae: On Practicing and Protecting:

**Protection. Truth. Practice**

As a parent, your child is your most vulnerable tender heart walking through a sometimes fierce and selfish world. Every fiber of your being aches to protect that little being. Give shelter. And while giving shelter and sanctuary, truth is the vehicle in which to deliver the words and wisdom that facilitate true safety and true protection.

As anyone who has a child knows, a small child’s detection of inauthenticity is unparalleled.

Compassionate, truthful words and actions teach authentic self-confidence and understanding.

How do I find compassionate and truthful words and actions?  Through my own imperfect practice.  By mindfully connecting my mind and body, breath and spirit.  By witnessing my thoughts.  By practicing my yoga and allowing the wisdom of many thousands of teachers to resonate through my spirit and into my heart.

Through practice we offer our truth and provide protection.

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Nubia says it straight from the heart, as always…

It took a lot of concentration from me, to be present in my HEART while my mind and body were telling me that motherhood was too demanding . After a while I was able to befriend my inability to open my HEART to the immense LOVE that my son was reflecting back to me. I had masks, armors and all kind of excuses to not allow my heart to burst open and to surrender to that LOVE…and when I was finally able to…my time with my son became the most OPENING spiritual experience of my life.

Now Ezra is 10 and I still learn everyday from him.

From a Bhakti Yoga perspective, motherhood is the ultimate practice of devotion where the sacred qualities of unconditional love, sacrifice, faith, tolerance, patience, good will, and hard work are all channeled towards one being, your little Guru-Baby.

Treat your mamas right this Mother’s Day. Looking for the perfect gift? See our gift guide below and don’t miss out on our Mother’s Day Sale of 20% off all jewelry for your beloved one May 1-May 10.GiftGuide-2

 

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Pranayama with Nubia Teixeira plus a Practice Recording

As we each develop and go deeper into our yoga practice we also begin to deepen our understanding of the connection between the breath and the body as well. This connection is absolutely fundamental to our ability to fully practice the yoga poses or Asana to their full potential and experience the most profound benefits. Pranayama may feel like a very advanced concept but fortunately Nubia Teixeira, one of our core teachers and the head of our Teacher Training at Namaste, is able to dissect and break down the meaning and uses for pranayama in our lives in a clear and useful way. Read on for Nubia’s insights on Pranayama and a practice exercise to begin your exploration:

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*Excerpts adapted from the Namaste Yoga Teacher Training Manual

UNDERSTANDING PRANAYAMA 

The word Pranayama is derived from two Sanskrit terms: prana which means vital energy, the very seed of life within and without; and Ayama, which means to control, to expand, to lead beyond death. The intention of the practice of pranayama is to breathe in a conscious way, to honor the life force in our physical bodies, the grace that breathes us into existence.

Prana is mostly present in the air we breathe (Air – Vayu), the wind and the electrical currents, the light of the Sun (Fire- Agni), the water we drink (Water- Apas), the bodily fluids, the food we eat (Earth-prithvi) and the forces of gravity and magnetism. It is also in the sounds we vocalize (Ether-akasha) and in the sounds we hear.

Developing a relationship with the breath facilitates the withdrawing of the senses (pratyahara) and our communication with the inner world. A pranayama practice supports the awakening of the dormant sensations and memories within ourselves and also teaches us how to heal ourselves by allowing the vital energy to move to the places of joy and sorrow within us. The practice of Pranayama is one of the most effective ways of balancing the energy in the body, mind and emotions.


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FINDING OUR TRUE PURPOSE with PRANAYAMA PRACTICE

Humans often are blinded by the ego and uncertain of their true purpose, which can lead to the separation of the self from others, from life and from Source. As a result, confusion rises, despair creeps in and inner wisdom, intuition and sense of Self is forgotten. In this place of loss and confusion, it becomes only natural to grasp on to the material world.

Human evolution is intrinsically connected to spiritual growth, and it is only through our bodies and actions in this world of things that we evolve. Our approach to living our lives, moment-by-moment, fully present, rests on our ability to surrender to the Divine.

This, in turn, ignites our innate Wisdom. Developing the capacity to follow the in and out breath without interfering in the flow, awakening faith and confidence.

This “Thread of Life” that we call breath, is a thread that connects us, each individual soul to the universal soul’s trajectory, beyond time and space, beyond body, beyond the beyond. It is a continuum, without beginning, middle or ending. Life after life. One Love through infinity.

Join Nubia for her upcoming Pranayama Series, a 4-week exploration focused on learning and implementing simple pranayama practices into your life. Learn More About Nubia Here.

Listen below to an introduction to Bhakti based meditation with an intro “Twameva” – sung by Jai Uttal

 

 

 

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