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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Summer Reading List: Volume 2

Stay Curious! Summer is a great time to catch up on your active desire to read more and be inspired. Here, we’ve collected some top yoga-relative reading from your fave teachers. So, before it’s too late, pick a book up from our boutiques or load up your kindle with some of these brilliant recs.

[bottom left] Carpenter: Richard Rosen’s newest book, Yoga FAQs. Local Yoga Legend, Richard asked his students what they wanted to know, and he answered! Its a fun, accessible and yet remarkably thorough — and profound — collection and everything we always wanted to know about Yoga, its past, present and future.

[bottom right] Domonick Wegesin: One recommendation:  Stumbling on Happiness, by Daniel Gilbert.  It’s more of a mindfulness book, but shares psychological insights into what makes us happy.  Insightful read.

[top left] Baxter Bell: I love the books by Stephen Cope, The Wisdom of Yoga, and Yoga and the Quest for the True Self, as well as Richard Rosen’s Original Yoga and his newest book, Yoga FAQ.

[top right] Julia Alexander: I would recommend poetry – invoking our imagination, reviving the inspiration, speaking the language of the heart…Hafiz, Rumi (of course), Rilke…Mary Oliver, David Whyte…

[bottom left] Nubia Teixeira: Gita Wisdom by Joshua Greene, Yogini by Janice Gates

[bottom right] Siri Peterson:  Awakening Shakti by Sally Kempton, Disease Delusion by Jeffrey Bland

[top left] Vickie Russell Bell: The Mirror of Yoga by Richard Freeman, Yogabody by Mark Singleton (a controversial read!), Yoga FAQs by Richard Rosen

[top right] Claudia Florian McCaffrey: Bountiful, Beautiful, Blissful, by Gurmukh, Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth and Baby Massage, The Calming Power of Touch

Heads down people!

Learn more about our amazing teachers here.

(Including Jaimi Patterson, featured in pics in this post.)

Shop local and visit our boutiques where many of these books are available for sale!

 

 

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Using a Rental Mat? 4 Reasons to Get Your Own.

Most studios offer rental yoga mats for student’s who may have forgotten to bring theirs, visitors from out of town, or first-time students. Offering rental or communal mats is a way to ensure no one has to be turned away for lack of a mat, but it really shouldn’t substitute having your own. Yoga mats are spongy and porous making them great for cushioning your knees and wrists but highly susceptible to sweat and germ absorption.

Here are a few facts on why rental mats should be limited use only:

  1. Bacteria may be killed with anti-bacterial disinfectant – but viruses can live in mats for weeks. In order to really eliminate all germs studios would need to use high powered, highly chemical (note: toxic) cleaning solutions and these still don’t work on all viruses.
  2. Using heavy duty cleaning solutions run the risk of causing irritation and are harmful to the staff who labor to scrub the mats by hand each week.
  3. Studios (like Namaste) that run classes nearly all day do not have time to scrub the mats between class. While we do our best to cycle in clean mats before each class, it is not always a guarantee. This means regular mat borrowers inevitably end up with a dirty mat once in a while.
  4. Using a rental mat means you have nothing to practice on at home!

Your yoga mat is your sacred space. When you have your own, it becomes a portal to your practice, allowing you to roll it out anywhere and find a few minutes of connection with your body and breath. That’s why we are encouraging all of our students to find a mat that they love.

Read more:

Beware of Germs – Yoga Journal

Communal Yoga Mats – The New York Times

Is It Safe to Rent a Yoga Mat? – Popsugar

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Take a Break with Poh Teng

Imagine a busy work day in which you are the eye of the storm. Despite a packed schedule, you are calm and focused. Without baggage from the past or worries about the future, you are present with each task at hand. You solve problems and make decisions with clarity. You execute tasks with precision and juggle competing priorities with equanimity, all while being kind, patient and peaceful.

I can honestly share that this scenario is easier said than done!

When not teaching yoga, I work full-time managing intellectual property for a tech company. On most days, I am out of the house before dawn to beat the morning traffic. Although I’m typically home before rush hour begins in the evening, my work day can get extra long if I teach an evening yoga class. Too often, discrete moments transform into a cascade of events that crash into each other, blurring into a long, draining continuum.

Does this sound like a familiar experience?

On such busy days, a 90-minute yoga class with any of my teachers is an impossibility. I’m lucky if I’m able to squeeze in a 30-minute restorative yoga practice at home without my dogs worrying that I have died on the bedroom floor.

Fortunately, yoga teaches us that each moment is an opportunity to practice, to nurture that which we wish to become.

Atha yoga nushasanam, remember?

Each instance is a chance to return to our highest, truest selves. Even if all we have is just 5 minutes. When we remember to pause, we step away from the madness instead of being carried away by it. Instead of thinking-doing-solving, we
breathe,
feel,
unwind, and
be.
Even if we are in business attire and without a yoga mat.

Finding little moments throughout the day to pause is essential for cultivating balance. Not a work day goes by in which I don’t practice a couple yoga poses in an empty conference room, or use a lacrosse ball to self-massage my trapezius or gluteal muscles. Sometimes, I go for a walk outside.

Will you join me in taking 5-minute breaks in your busy everyday?

Visit TAKEABREAK.YOGA – my latest heart offering.

The site is a free resource that offers simple practice sequences to help you cultivate balance in a demanding world. No yoga props, special clothing or admission fee required. Visit the site often to be guided through practice.

To shake things up, a new sequence is unveiled every couple of weeks. So check back often, not only to see how a regular mini practice can change your day, but also to explore different yoga journeys.

Pencil in 5-minute breaks into your schedule. It could be while you wait for the coffee to percolate, or during much-needed down-time between meetings.

Get out of the office chair.
Stretch out the back.
Take deep breaths.
Rest the mind.
Iron out kinks in the body.
Create space to help you see clearly.

All you need is 5 minutes. TAKEABREAK.YOGA

Here is a sample practice from the site. Click here to download a high-res version for print.

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5 Workshop to ACTIVATE Your Self-Care

 This month our studio focus is:

Self Care Activism

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

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

Blissful Body with Adam Kurzfield and Kameko Shibata

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

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

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Self Care Sadhana with Kameko Shibata 

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

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

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Big Little Bowl with Sonya Genel and Arasa Maram

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

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

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Warm the Heart Sound Bath with Missy Felsenstein

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

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

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Love Your Body with Kimber Simpkins

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

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

registernow-R2c

 

 

 

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Meet Tara Sullivan

Our Namaste Tribe is a powerhouse of wise, talented, and experienced teachers who have dedicated their lives to sharing the gift of yoga with others. We are constantly in awe of the incredible offerings our teachers bring to this community. We are excited to share a new blog series focused on celebrating our teachers and hopefully giving you all a glimpse into the talented team that makes up Namaste Yoga + Wellness.

Meet Tara Sullivan

How long have you been at Namaste?
Just about a year.

What inspired you to become a yoga instructor?
I was conscripted. I was perfectly happy to be a Jivamukti student in New York, soaking in the teachings amidst the pack of artists, activists, performers, celebrities, and oddballs that frequent the Jivamukti Mothership there. When I found myself living in isolated New Zealand and going through a very difficult time, I was starved for yoga. I needed to take a teacher training so I could teach myself. Even before I finished, a local teacher who had just started up her own studio asked me to sub sometimes, then to teach all her classes while she went on holiday, there was really no one else around who could do it – I think it was ten or twelve classes a week for a month. Bam. I had already been teaching the Alexander Technique for 10 years so it was a bit of a natural progression, but it also wasn’t something I set out to do.

Tara

Your favorite literature on yoga or meditation?
Autobiography of a Yogi is a mind-blowing read.

Best advice you have ever received relating to your practice?
If you practice Yoga for small, selfish reasons, you will remain the same, bound by your beliefs about what you can and cannot do. Let go and offer your effort to limitless potential. Dedicate yourself to the happiness of all beings. (Sharon Gannon and David Life)

TaraHow often do you practice?
Every day. I probably miss about 10 days a year at this point.

Absolute favorite asana?
Probably pincha mayurasana – both because it’s the exquisite peacock feather and because I *never* thought I’d be able to do it.

What is your favorite thing about yoga?
Years of breathing through rigorous asana practice has probably been the best thing to prepare me to be a solo parent.

What is something you wish all of our students understood better?
In this world of endless choices, I wish more students understood the profound benefits of a daily practice. Rather than hopping around from place to place, thing to thing, interest to interest, as my teacher Sharon Gannon says, through repetition the magic is forced to rise.

What is your favorite part of the Namaste community?
I was struggling to find childcare for my toddler so I could sub a class for a colleague at Namaste and Kimberly Leo offered to take him to the playground with her little one. People supporting people supporting people: yes.


TaraProfileATara Sullivan has been pursuing heightened experiences outside mundane life for as long as she can remember. She is a Certified Teacher of the Alexander Technique, a Certified Jivamukti Yoga teacher and holds a B.A. in Music from Sarah Lawrence College. Her first love and her introduction to discipline was opera singing, and she sang professionally in New York City in the 1990′s. This led her to the Alexander Technique which unraveled habits of tension and reactivity, but most importantly demonstrated that profound change is possible. A New Yorker, she stumbled upon Jivamukti Yoga at her gym in September, 2001, and has been engaged with it ever since. Tara loves rigor, clarity, music, depth, mojo, and yoga philosophy and endeavors to weave all these into her classes. She has extensive knowledge of anatomy and how the body works from over 15 years of teaching the Alexander Technique and enjoys the art of giving hands-on assists in class. Tara has worked extensively with her Alexander colleague Peter Grunwald, a pioneer in the field of natural vision improvement, for over a decade. She has traveled widely both internally and externally, is an avid if unsophisticated harmonium player, and has an intimate relationship with language and writing.

She relocated to the Bay Area in 2010 after three years in New Zealand and currently lives in Berkeley with her son. With deepest gratitude she bows to her many extraordinary teachers, without whom she would have far less light in her life, including Sharon Gannon, David Life, Sandhi Ferreira, Katie Manitsas, and Daniel Singer, to name a few.

www.tara-sullivan.com

View Tara’s Weekly Classes

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Yoga for Back Health: A Q&A

We had the chance to interview our lovely Poh Teng on her upcoming workshop Yoga for Back Health on November 1st – check it out and learn more about why back health is such a critical part of a balanced practice:

Yoga for Back Health is an offering dear to me. Over the years, I’ve hurt my back from falls, a car accident, moving heavy boxes and from habitual, asymmetrical ways of moving and being. Yoga was my main modality of healing. A little bit of self-care can go a long way, especially when you are hurt today but your doctor’s appointment is in two weeks. I’m thrilled to offer this special workshop again and I hope you’ll join me for a gentle afternoon of healing.

Q: What kinds of back injury have you experienced?

A: I’ve had scoliosis, sacroiliac joint dysfunction that lead to sciatica, neck and shoulder pain from falls and from a car accident, and facet joint inflammation.

Q: How is your back today?

A: My back is great! I am living with full mobility.

Q: How did yoga help you heal?

A: Yoga helped me address imbalances in the physical body, and in my life as a whole. It is a mindfulness practice that continues to teach me to be embodied, to drop in and tune in, rather than space out and tune out. It has helped me modify habitual ways of being which have brought me off-center (causing scoliosis). It has helped me nurture parts of my body that grip out of fear and of wanting to protect (from falling and whiplash). It has nurtured me so that I may relax and come back to a state of ease. It has also helped me strengthen parts of the body needed for spinal stability (to heal from sacroiliac joint dysfunction).

Q: Did you try other types of healing?

A: Yes – massage, chiropractic and acupuncture have also helped me heal in tremendous ways.

Poh Back Health

Q: Who would benefit from a workshop focused on back health?

A: This workshop is for anyone interested in a healthy back and in practicing self-care in a mindful and loving way. If you’re experiencing a new injury, acute pain or if you recently had surgery, it’s a good idea to check with your doctor and email me (breathe@PohmYoga.com) with questions.

Q: What can students expect to gain from this workshop?

A: Students will come away with soothing self-care practices to help them feel good in their bodies. Much of the yoga and self-massage practices that we will practice together can be practiced anywhere – at work, on a plane and at home. All it takes is a minute here and there, as you can spare, to gently nudge the body back to a state of ease. One doesn’t have to wait until the weekly 90-minute yoga class to work on all the contractions and aches that have accumulated in the body.

Q: Can people come to the workshop if they are not strong or flexible?

A: Yes! Yoga and self-care is for EVERY BODY. The goal is not to be strong/flexible, just as being strong/flexible is not a prerequisite for this or any yoga class.

Q: The workshop offers an afternoon of practice. How will I remember the practices after it’s over?

A: Every issue of my newsletter includes a Yoga Posture for Back Health. In this section, I include pictures and instructions of yoga postures that we practice during the workshop, and for back health in general. Visit this link to receive inspiration and instructions.


Yoga for Back Health
a healing workshop with Poh Teng, PhD, CYT, RYT 500
Nov 1, 1.30-3,30pm | Namaste Grand Lake

unnamed-1Yoga with Poh is an amalgamation of her education across multiple yoga lineages and life experiences.  She is trained in the Vinyasa and therapeutic styles, and continues to be inspired and informed by the Power, Shadow, Anusara and Forrest Yoga lineages. She is also guided by her Passage Meditation practice and her work as an academic scientist.  She has healed from scoliosis, osteopenia and back injury through yoga.  After over 10 years of practice, she is finally a mellow type-A.  Known for her curiosity, playfulness and nurturing style, she leads group classes through movement with breath, awareness, healthy alignment and safe, creative sequencing. With over 500 hours of training, she blends yogic tradition, intention setting, and current findings in biology and yoga therapy. Occasionally, there’s a splash of Bhakti and she sings. Because yoga is not one-size-fits-all, Poh also offers private yoga sessions for your specific wellness needs.

Yoga is a come-as-you-are-party.  Poh invites you to honor your truth in the present moment, and to breathe, strengthen, heal and play. Poh is a Yoga Alliance Registered Yoga Teacher, a Certified Yoga Therapist for Chronic Physiological Conditions and a Cancer Yoga Therapist.  She is also a UCLA graduate with a PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.  Get to know her better at PohmYoga.com.

Connect on FacebookInstagramTwitterPinterest and LinkedIn.

 

 

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Sukkot, Yoga, and Packing Your Life’s Suitcase

by Aviva Black

Thousands make the pilgrimage, many fulfilling a lifelong dream. The weather’s balmy, so the revelry goes on all day and night with throngs of people engaged in the streets and lounging in open booths. You’re thinking Burning Man. But no, this is what Sukkot was like during Temple times. From what I gather, aside from people keeping their clothes on, Burning Man looks like a Girl Scouts’ convention in comparison. Good times. SukkahSukkot, the harvest festival we’re celebrating now, is one of three annual Jewish festivals (Shavuot and Passover being the others). We just got through kneading our souls and asking for forgiveness for all the rotten things we’d done in the past year. We’ve committed ourselves to delivering our best during this new year.

Sukkot is our exhale, giving us a break from intense soul searching work. It’s pure joy. Like the week spent in the sukkah, our days on this planet are temporary. So what should we pack in each breath? Put another way, if you had one suitcase for your life’s move, what would you fill it with? This is also a shmita year, the ‘sabbatical year’ 7th year of the planting cycle where traditionally, we’ve let the fields lay fallow. By taking a rest, the fields release what’s unnecessary and become more fertile and productive.

Take a step back and, without being harsh, evaluate what’s most vital to you. What stories have you been clutching and what have you been ignoring? What do you value most and what helps you deliver the best of yourself? On the yoga mat, this Sukkahis the perfect time to a) celebrate the practice that you do have and b) determine what you need to put on hold so that your body and practice can unfold more naturally. Do this and chances are you’ll feel better and your practice will actually deepen. Recently, the NY Times Styles section told of a traveling chuppah — a simple handmade wedding canopy that has been used by a web of family of friends for over a decade. People keep requesting this chuppah because it’s absorbed the love and hope of joint fulfillment from and for those that have stood beneath it.

You are not alone in your sukkah. More so, the shmita year attracts others to your open invitation. So choose wisely and make space for this bounty. Make the pilgrimage into the dwelling of your heart and see that it’s open, receptive and yearning to cherish and celebrate the most valuable pieces that make you and your life great. Aviva Black


aviva bAviva is a RK — a rabbi’s kid. Interweaving Judaism and yoga has enabled her to go deeper on the mat and in the sanctuary. She teaches conscious alignment and flow, and encourages students to take poses to the fullest, most optimal place in that moment. She asks students to trade in rigidity and self-doubt for discipline to see what’s possible, emphasizing that with patience and diligence, they can remain safe and still take amazing forms — folding, twisting, balancing and lifting off! Aviva has been practicing yoga since 1997 and began teaching in 2007. She is a former Anusara-Inspired teacher and I will never stop studying. She is so grateful for her main teachers: Sianna Sherman and Abby Tucker, with whom she is currently apprenticing, and her father, Rabbi Barry Friedman. Check out Aviva’s weekly class schedule at Namaste.

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4 Ways to Welcome Autumn's Vata Energy

This past weekend marked the Autumn Equinox and the beginning of the Ayurvedic Vata season. Ayurveda, yoga’s sister science, often correlates seasonal changes with physical and mental changes we may experience within our bodies and minds. Fall is associated with dryness, spontaneity, creativity, airiness, and anxiety.

Too much Vata and you may be left feeling unable to focus, nervous, or overwhelmed with excessive speech or thoughts. An overload of Vata in the body may be causing symptoms like lack of appetite, joint stiffness, and dry skin. In order to balance these characteristics we must pay close attention to how we nourish our bodies through diet, movement, and spiritual practices. Here are a few simple suggestions for some things you can do in each area to help welcome this exciting new season:

Movement: Get Grounded

Try to integrate more standing poses like Warrior 1 and 2, Side Angle Pose, and Triangle. Make sure when you are moving from one pose to the next you avoid any hops or quick transitions. Rather, to combat the frenzied Vata energy, you hold the poses for longer and slowly, deliberately transition from one to the next. During your practice, you can engage your Mula Bandha for more stability and focus on longer exhales to ground your mind.

AshleyWest-1
Namaste Teacher Ashley West Roberts

Nutrition: Warm Up

As the weather cools, our need to heat up increases. Warm yourself from the inside out. Start with warm lemon water in the mornings and spicy herbal teas throughout the afternoon. For lunch and dinner, try cooked vegetables like asparagus, beets, carrots, and sweet potatoes with lots of ginger, cinnamon, and turmeric. Avoid sweets, cold dishes or drinks, dry fruits (apples or pears), and dairy products.

Lemon Tea

Mindfulness: Create Structure

It is important to create a routine during the Vata intense season in order to help the mind stay focused, and the body stay regular. Make a point to engage in some daily rituals like morning dry brushing (great for detoxification), Abhyanga/oil massage, or a warming meditation accompanied by soothing music. Other suggestions would be to choose movement activities that are not too strenuous, but instead focus on flexibility and balance. Seek out Hatha or Yin classes over Vinyasa based yoga in order to keep yourself balanced.

Wellness Tools

Spirituality: Feel Connected

Fall is one of the best seasons to get outside and experience nature’s transformation for yourself. Find a local park or hiking trail where you can sit and notice the brisk autumn winds, dewy mornings, and crinkly colored leaves. Do your best throughout the week to remind yourself of this connection you have with nature. Maybe it means having a small token, such as a beautiful leaf or pinecone, that sits with you on your desk. Another idea would be to rise early; Ayurveda recommends 6 AM during the Autumn months so that you can get the most sunlight possible as our days begin to shorten.

Dog Fall Outdoors


10174922_10202666021745158_698447662340860057_nA San Diego native, Emily moved to the Bay Area four years ago to work with small businesses and non-profits and help them share their stories. Outside of work you can find her hiking the Oakland hills with her dogs, cooking up healthy eats, or volunteering with organizations like Bay Area Wilderness Training.

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