The Scented Life: Meet Tracy of White Sage Wellness

In the spirit of this month’s theme of community, and OUR Namaste community in particular, I wanted to share one local line of delightful products in our retail boutiques. This line is so local that it is created by one of our very own students.

Meet Tracy, the creatrix behind White Sage Wellness (formerly Apsara) and a long time yogi at Namaste.

White Sage aromatherapeutic products represent Tracy’s artistic expression of the healing powers of plant medicine. Each spray, oil or smudge wand is inspired by the seasons, cycles and elements of nature and intended as a ritual tool for mindfulness and creating sacred space.

    

“I have my products stationed throughout my home and use them frequently to remind myself to take mindful moments, to complement my yoga and meditation practice, for energetic cleansing and home cleaning.”

As a graduate of Namaste’s Yoga & Ayurveda teacher training last year, she weaves these philosophies along with nature & art therapy into her holistic counseling practice. Learn more about Tracy at  www.whitesagewellness.com.

Shop local and support the members of our Namaste community! Learn more about our boutiques here.

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Summer Solstice Sun Tea

[large photos and inspiration courtesy The Lovely Wild .]

Today marks the longest day of the year and our official entrance into Summer. Traditionally, in Ayurveda, Summer is te catalyst for Pitta season, the season of fire. This means that our bodies are more likely to overheat with emotions and physiological issues like inflammation. According to Bayan Botanicals, excess pitta can manifest in the body as:

  • Acid reflux, indigestion, heartburn
  • Acute inflammation in body or joints
  • Discomfort or nausea upon missing meals
  • Anger, irritability, frustration
  • Bad breath and body odor
  • Excessive sweating
  • Impatience, criticism, judgment, intolerance

A great way to combat the heat is to nourish our bodies with cooling, calming foods and practices. In celebration of the Summer solstice, we are making a cooling, herbal sun tea!

Namaste Yoga + Wellness Best Yoga Studio Berkeley Sun Tea Recipe

Sun tea is very simple and requires only a few supplies. The recipe capitalizes on the longer day by steeping herbs using nothing but rays from our dear sun. Read below for instructions and ingredient suggestions to make your very own Pitta pacifying, Summer Sun Tea!

Best Yoga Studio Berkeley Summer Solstice Sun Tea
[Photo: VPK by Maharishi Ayurveda]

Ingredients:

  • Cooling loose leaf, dried or fresh herbs. Great choices include: mint, lemon verbena, cinnamon, rose petals, ginger, cardamom, fennel, coriander, basil, tumeric, or neem leaves!
  • The largest jar or jug you have with lid.
  • Tea strainer.

Instructions:

Add all ingredients into a large tea strainer. Fill your large jar with clean water. Place tea strainer inside, close up lid, and let steep in direct sun until desired color is reached. Add ice and enjoy!

Namaste Yoga + Wellness Best Yoga Studio Berkeley Sun Tea Recipe

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Uncharted Territory

Many of us woke up Wednesday to a brand new world. There are endless commentaries happening on why, how, and what happens next. Regardless of your political affiliation, this election was painful in its process and its divisive nature all the way to the bitter end. We all know that there is a lot of healing needed in the coming months and years.

If you are feeling exhausted, unsettled, or upset – we invite you to make two commitments to yourself and our community for this week:

  1. What will you do personally to practice peace, loving kindness, and empathy this week?
  2. What is one thing you can do to support another person in our community or in our country this week?

Know that we are here for you. Our studio walls are a safe space for all. We are open all week and weekend. Your teachers are digging deep and showing up with grace, love, and courage to continue our collective mission of honoring the light inside ourselves and each other.

View this week’s class schedule or leave us a note on Facebook.

[Photo by Alaia at Localwise]

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Voting as an Act of Love

Voting as an Act of Love

By Eliza Andrews Richmond

We can agree that the energy surrounding this turbulent election has brought a lot of suffering to our country, and most of the people in it. The passion felt by all parties and constituents has divided our nation into radical and polarizing extremes. In times like these it can be difficult to remain open to the feelings of others, particularly those on the other side of the issues. Now, more than ever, it is important to practice the principles of yoga off the mat: to practice non-violence, forgiveness, and compassion in the face of fear. After All, the purest metric of peace in our lives is how kindly we can speak to those with whom we do not agree.

Everyday, His Holiness the Dalai Lama practices a form of meditation known as Tonglen or “sending and receiving.” Similar to the practice of Metta from the Theravada Buddhist tradition, Tonglen is a way to make peace with suffering and open up to compassion. As you prepare to vote this Tuesday, I invite you to share this Tonglen practice with me:

 

  1. Begin in a comfortable shape, with your spine long, and both hands on your heart. Allow your breath to slow down and deepen. Closing your eyes, begin to feel into the center of deeper wisdom within you: the part of your being that is of knowing rather than thinking. Begin to imagine, as clearly as you can, that you are seated together with everyone who will vote this Tuesday. Though this may be challenging, try to see the faces of people who you disagree with compassionately.
  2. On every inhale, breathe in the suffering of yourself and other voters, brought on by this election. Breathe in the fear of the unknown: the results of the general election, and the effect you anticipate. Breathe in the anger you are feeling over the issues that have been brought up. Breathe in every kind of suffering that you are feeling, knowing others in this country who are feeling it too (including those who will vote for what you fear). Breathe it all in, but also breathe in the longing that we all have to feel safe, happy and free.
  3. On every exhale, send peace into your being, send it to your loved ones who are feeling this suffering, those in the nation who are feeling it, and those beyond our national borders. Breathe out loving-kindness for every being, everywhere who feels fear, anger, divisiveness, and intolerance. Breathe out the strength and wisdom to see one another fully in compassion, loving-kindness, and peace.
  4. Practice this for a few minutes a day, and notice how you regard one another. When you are triggered by something on the news, something you overhear on the street, or you are debating with a friend, take a breath, and let this practice help you find peaceful ground.

Whether or not this practice works to fix the world is something we can’t know, but what it will help us to see is the basic goodness of one another. If we are able to see that then maybe our votes won’t simply be an expression of our personal agendas, but a reflection of the love we have for our country and those who live beside us in it.  In the words of Marie Curie: “Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.”

1013027_475474802545693_1117117261_nEliza Andrews Richmond is Namaste Berkeley Manager, a yoga teacher, an avid adventurer, and an all around amazing gal.
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10 Minute Morning “Primer” for Gratitude

A common myth around meditation is that there is a right and wrong way to approach it. Often we believe we must sit perfectly still in order to reap the full benefits of the practice. The truth is, mindfulness can lead to similar results and may appease some of us who are just too energized to sit and focus on one thought (or lack of thought). We first heard of the gratitude meditation, or morning priming exercise, from the motivational speaker Tony Robbins. Here is our suggestion for how you can get started!10 Minute Morning Gratitude Meditation

End your meditation practice by honoring yourself for taking the time out of your day to tune in. A healthy, clear you is what helps makes this world a better place.

[Photos taken from our friend Alaia at Localwise Jobs]

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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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The Thoracic Jacket

The thoracic jacket is a supportive tool that helps maintain healthy upper spine alignment. It keeps the shoulder blades relaxed away from the ears, the chest lifted, and encourages the head to lean back and line up with the upper back.  I used it daily, not too long ago, when I struggled with chronic nerve impingement.  I had lots of tingling, numbness and nerve pain down the arms.  The sensations were especially uncomfortable when I slept on my side – for a 6-month period, I didn’t sleep through the night because of nerve pain.  My condition was probably encouraged by years of working with microscopes and computers for long periods of time, and exacerbated by two car accidents.  It also wasn’t helpful that I folded up in a car, 4 days a week, to drive to work from Oakland to San Jose.  I had lost all the natural curves in my spine.  The thoracic jacket was helpful in scaffolding my upper back, supporting me in healthy alignment so that my body could relearn a better way of being.

If you’re looking for relief from neck pain or shoulder pain, or maybe you’re just trying to neutralize text neck, I hope you’ll put on the thoracic jacket and go about your usual activities. Give it a try and see how you feel.  I have found it useful on days when I do a lot of writing or when I learn a new chant with my harmonium.  It’s not so great on days when you have to dress up for the office, and it’s particularly annoying if you like wearing nicely pressed, wrinkle-free clothes.

Poh-thoracic

Known for her curiosity, playfulness and nurturing style, Poh offers yoga practices that cultivate spacious presence for the busy, modern life.  Poh comes to yoga with a career in tech at the intersection of engineering, law and business.  Her personal practice revolves around nurturing body, heart and mind towards homeostasis as she navigates a demanding world.  This is the flavor of her yoga classes.  Poh teaches from the heart and offers her unique blend of attentiveness to healthy alignment, courageous + compassionate self-inquiry, and deliberate relaxation.  Typically, there’s a splash of Bhakti and she sings.

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Tea as an Anchor with Far Leaves Tea

by Brad Lebowitz

photo-4 (1)I write now having just taken a sip of some Alishan High Mountain Oolong Tea from Taiwan. Tea has become an anchor in my life. Like brushing my teeth, mornings just don’t feel complete unless I take the time to sit with my tea. I love the whole process of making tea: from filling my electric water kettle, choosing the loose leaf tea to brew, waiting for the water to come to the right temperature for the tea of choice, rinsing whatever vessel I’ll be using for the tea, to brewing my cup, and then the “ahhhh” of taking that first sip of tea. Tea is more than just a beverage. The process of making tea has helped me slow down, focus, and bring awareness to and appreciate the present moments.

Did you know that tea is the second most consumed beverage, after water, in the world?

In fact, most cultures on this planet have some sort of tea tradition. The Asian cultures are suspected to have had the tea practice the longest. Legend has it that in 2737 BC, the Chinese emperor Shen Nung was sitting beneath a tree while his servant boiled drinking water, when some leaves from the tree blew into the water to become what’s now known as tea.

All teas come from the plant camellia sinensis, a species of evergreen shrub commonly known as tea tree or tea plant. Technically, herbal infusions like mint tea or chamomile tea are not tea given the lack of leaves from camellia sinensis. The unique quality of tea is that while it has caffeine, it also has other chemicals like theanine that at once stimulate yet relax the brain. It’s this ability to calm yet focus the mind that I find so unique of tea and so different from coffee.

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In the hands of a skillful tea farmer and artisan, healthful tea leaves can be crafted to produce brilliantly beautiful aromas and flavors categorized into what the tea experts at Far Leaves Tea call “kingdoms of tea”: white, green, oolong, black, puer, and, of course, herbal infusion. Each is unique in its proportion of caffeine content and flavor, to allow one to choose pending the mood and experience one is looking for in that moment.

I didn’t grow up in a tea culture. It had never had any meaningful place in my life. But once I started making loose leaf tea, and paying attention to the process of making the different infusions of tea that brewing loose leaf tea allows, a new door was opened, opening into a world that I could make my own.

Brad Lebowitz is a tea lover and aficionado. He has been serving, sharing, and educating the Bay Area community on tea with Far Leaves Tea for the last 15 years.


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We proudly serve Far Leaves Tea at our Namaste studios. Sourced from the finest sources and prepared with care, Far Leaves Tea is a local business who continues to provide the community with nourishment and peace through the tea experience.

 

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Sonya’s Bulletproof Morning Tea Blend for Allergies

by Sonya Genel

?✨⚡️Try my Bullet Proof Morning Tea Blend for Allergies/cold/sinus congestion? ✨⚡️?

Ingredients:

1 whole lemon
1 small branch of ginger
1 garlic clove
1 tea spoon of Bee Pollen
1 table spoon turmeric powder (or chop 1 small branch of fresh turmeric!)
1 table spoon of organic raw honey (ideally local wild honey will be the best medicine for allergies!)
Tiny sprinkle of cayenne pepper

Chop and Mix ingredients in a quart of boiled water.

For an extra boost option: add 2 bags of black breakfast tea at the end and steep for 3-5min, remove before drinking. Or drink with no tea bags to keep it caffeine free.

?✨⚡️? Enjoy!

sonyagenel-bSonya Genel, ERYT500, joyfully embraces the power of yoga not only to heal and transform the body but also to heighten human consciousness and to create a radiant life. In her classes, Sonya weaves precise anatomical alignment with flowing movement. Always approaching her students with authenticity and humor, Sonya’s intention is to hold space for a direct embodied connection with Spirit. Join her for her Friday 9:30am class at Namaste Berkeley! You can also connect with her at sonyayoga.com and on Instagram @sonyayoga

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Yoga on the Go

Yoga on the Go with Melina Meza

If you have a steady yoga and meditation practice at home or attend regular classes at a studio and now find yourself on the go for work or pleasure, it’s not uncommon to lose momentum in your practices.

Over the years I’ve started traveling more as a yoga teacher and Ayurvedic Health Educator and have figured out a few ways to maintain my wellness routines and yoga practice no matter where I go.
On the road, yoga is a lovely companion and can help you physically recover more quickly from fatigue, time zone changes, and long airplane rides. It mentally supports you in staying grounded and calm in the midst of all the unexpected circumstances you may face in travels! Here are a few of my favorite ways to incorporate yoga on the go:

Before Traveling:
  • Purchase a thin traveling yoga mat for your adventures.
  • Schedule a private with your local teacher to design a practice that is realistic and suits your personal needs.
  • Research possible yoga studios close to where you are traveling and schedule them into your itinerary.
  • Find a yoga-inspired book to help you learn more about the philosophy or history of Yoga for those long airplane rides or to help you relax before bed.
  • Build a wellness-travel kit with tongue scrapper, neti pot, sea salt, nasya oil, triphala (take in the evening if you suffer from constipation when traveling), tea tree oil spray (to sanitize your hotel room), and your Ayurvedic oil to treat yourself to an oil massage before bed or your morning shower.
On the Road:
  • Wellness Practices = Healthy Yogi Expand your morning routine to include a large glass of room temperature water to hydrate. Also, scrape your tongue to remove bacteria in the mouth, use the neti pot to rinse away airborne pollutants, and squeeze a few drops of nasya oil post-neti to lubricate your nasal cavity.
  • Mindfulness Practice Meditate in bed for 5-20 minutes first thing in the morning or lying down in bed at night listening to a Yoga Nidra recording. Meditation can be very helpful to prepare you for the unexpected and new experiences that accompany traveling.
  • Schedule Your Asana Time Write down in your calendar when you plan to do your asana practice. Create a 15-30 minute sequence of standing poses in case you don’t have a mat or clean floor to do a full practice. If you’d like some ideas for your home practice, check out my Art of Sequencing books, available in our boutiques at Namaste.
  • Online Yoga Classes Ask one of your regular teachers if they can recommend a yoga video or audio practice for your travels. If you travel often enough, you might consider joining something like My Yoga Online, which allows you to stream or download numerous videos to your computer.

This post was originally published on MelinaMeza.com

10002927_10152263344729450_1907427944_nMelina Meza has been sharing her knowledge of Hatha Yoga, Ayurveda, and whole foods nutrition with yogis around the world for over 20 years. Melina pioneered Seasonal Vinyasa, an innovative multi-disciplined approach to well-being, and is the author of the Art of Sequencing books, creator of the Yoga for the Seasons – Fall Vinyasa DVD, and co-director of 8 Limbs Yoga Centers 200- and 500-Hour Teachers’ Training Program in Seattle, Washington.

She teaches Mondays at 5:30pm at the Grand Lake studio and will be teaching the upcoming Intro to Yoga workshop at Namaste on Saturday, April 30.

Photos ©Melina Meza.

 

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