Why You Should Always Practice Savasana

by Judy Rukat

[This post originally appears on DoYouYoga.com]

I often remind students at the end of teaching a challenging and sweaty Hot Power Yoga Flow class that we show up to the practice for the Savasana.
It is the moment of surrender when the idea of self dissolves, when we release the burdens that plague the body, the fears that invade the mind, and the expectations we place upon ourselves–inviting liberation to awaken from deep within the psyche.

How Do I Get Liberation?

Freedom is the natural state. At the core of human existence, a primal need to survive motivates us to exist within the structures of society—creating boundaries and limitations through which we channel ambitions and desires, and confront personal, relational and global conflicts.

All of these are real, of course.However, just as there is no denying that sustaining a Warrior III pose is a definite struggle, the struggle alone does not define the experience of yoga or of life. If anything, I encourage a physically challenging practice to break down the walls we have in place that define who we are in the world.

Those walls construct the much-needed ego, without them I could not be I, nor you would not be you. These beautiful distinctions provide individuality and a medium through which we engage our unique selves…and coexist, fall in love, and break apart to keep the cycle in motion.

Who Do You Think You Are?

However, we are NOT merely who we THINK we are. Savasana puts us back in our place, so to speak. Practicing at least five minutes serves as a visit home, where we invite presence or an acknowledgment of being right here and right now into the moment.

This we do without projecting into an undefined future or remaining stagnant in memories.

A few moments of simply observing BEing nothing more than an infinite state of blossoming rejuvenates the spirit and invites freedom from the depths into everyday life.

Savasana is peace.
Freedom is peace.
You are peace. Nothing more.


JudyProfileAnewI teach yoga for the rebels, the rogues, the weak, broken, and damaged, the lost and hopeless, the underdog, the ones who only know struggle, the motherless, the addicts, and those who love too much. I am all of these, and I know that a vast ocean of peace lies beneath all this. I’ll never tell you what yoga is and isn’t, you decide for yourself. Just show up and find what liberates you on your mat! Connect with me on Instagram and Facebook.

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A Note on Yoga for Grief

by Ken Breniman

Grief is a multifaceted response to loss, particularly to the loss of someone or something, who has passed away, to which a bond or affection was formed. Although conventionally focused on the emotional response to loss, it also has physical, cognitive, behavioral, social, spiritual, and philosophical dimensions. Source: Wikipedia 

I am very honored to be offering the Yoga for Grief: Healing Hearts/Healing Bodies gathering at Namaste Berkeley on Saturday, December 17th. I have been offering this workshop for the past six years throughout the Bay Area and have learned so much from the participants.

In the ancient story of “Kisa Gotami and the Mustard Seed”, Ms. Gotami realizes some form of loss has touched everyone. Over my years of leading grief healing sessions, I have realized this continues to be a truth in our modern-day society. In my experience, I have come to understand the main difference with societies understanding of grief today is how grief is quickly pathologized and so often grieving persons can feel isolated and not understood. Historically, the process of grieving has gone through many evolutionary changes due to pressure individuals receive to handle a loss in a way that is culturally acceptable.

The practice of embalming, which became standard in the funerary business around the turn of the 20th century, further dissociated us from death. Funerary directors, like doctors, became authority figures and took over the mourning process, while embalming changed how the body felt, looked, and smelled. “It’s amazing how we can block out the truth of death,” says Frank Ostaseski, who founded Zen Hospice in 1987 and the Metta Institute in 2004,  which are based in Northern California and offer educational programs about death, dying, and mourning. . “If you are surrounded by a family or a culture that says, ‘Don’t talk or think about it,’ it can hinder our capacity to acknowledge the loss.” – Excerpt from Grief is Good

My hope is that my workshop and other gatherings for the bereaved can help to normalize the grieving process. The gathering is here to provide space and create a supportive community setting for each person to show up with all their feelings and memories. Once individuals feel comfortable enough to recognize the feelings of loss we move into being able to tap into the healing powers of a yoga practice that is specifically modified to address many of the aspects of grief.

Please remember that if you are experiencing loss whether it is from early childhood or more recent, that grief can easily get stored in the body. And also remember that the human heart grieves all different types of loss. Never feel that somehow what you are grieving is ‘lesser than’ or doesn’t deserve healing. Loss can include the death of a person, death of a pet, a life transition such as a break up, a divorce, losing a job or moving. Many past participants have come to mourn the loss of a healthy happy childhood. The gathering is open to anyone who is experiencing any loss. In addition to yoga, breathwork and relaxation practices, there is also an optional ear acupuncture session offered at the end of the workshop during an extended Yoga Nidra.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions about the upcoming workshop or are interested in learning more about healthy grieving.


KenProfileAKen has practiced yoga for over 10 years and became certified with Yoga Alliance as a RYT-200 after graduating from Yoga Tree’s Yoga Teacher Training program in 2006. Yoga Alliance has recognized him as a ERYT-200/RYT-500 as he completed his Yoga Therapy training at Ananda Seva Mission in July 2010.   Ken is very excited to be joining the Namaste family.

In his classes, Ken provides eclectic non-denominational Hatha yoga guidance, honoring a variety of traditions, such as Iyengar alignment principles, invigorating Kudalini Kriya, and playful Acroyoga-inspired partner work.  He invites you to embrace SIMPLICITY, PATIENCE and COMPASSION as you deepen your practice and your connection with your true Self. Ken offers Yoga Therapy workshops on a variety of topics such as restorative yoga, grief, relationships, stress management and coping with chronic illness.  In addition to yoga, Ken also serves as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, clinical supervisor and a private practice yoga therapist in the Bay Area. Daniel Quinn and Paulo Coelho are among his favorite authors.

His life work of service is inspired by Ram Dass’ words:  “We are all just walking each other hOMe.”

Please visit Ken’s website at www.kenbreniman.com  or email him at kjbreniman@gmail.

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Kameko's Traditional Herbal Chai

Fall is here and we are not waiting a second longer to start indulging in delicious vata pacifying, soul soothing, autumn inspired meals! Up first on our menu, Namaste teacher and Ayurvedic practitioner Kameko Shibata’s Traditional Herbal Chai recipe:

Traditional Herbal Chai

Begin by boiling the green cardamon pods until they look full and bloated. You can reboil with fresh water and the same spices for several days in 3-4 qt. of fresh water (grab a big pot!)

Chai TeaIngredients:
3 cinnamon sticks
2-3 TBSP green cardamom pods, whole coriander seeds
1 TBSP whole black pepper
1 TBSP fennel seed -optional- for summer and digestive support
tons of grated ginger
2 star anise (optional)
traditionally assam black tea was added at the end, milk and sugar (jaggery)

Chai Tea

Enjoy as a sweet morning drink or afternoon pick-me-up. Send us your pictures of your homemade chai by tagging us on instagram  at @ilovenamaste using the hashtag #MyChai!


Kameko

Check out Kameko’s upcoming Fall Ayurvedic Cleanse at Namaste! Begins this Saturday, October 4.

WELLNESS TREATMENTS WITH KAMEKO: Kameko Shibata combines her passion for ayurvedic medicine, bodywork and yoga into a comprehensive healing modality that empowers people to heal themselves. She received her Ayurvedic Practioner certification from the Dhyana Center of Health Sciences, where she went on to complete over 1,000 hours in a 2-year internship under her teacher, DeAnna Batdorff.

Kameko’s healing hours: Saturdays 10:15am – 2pm
Please check out : 
www.kamekoarts.com

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Kameko’s Traditional Herbal Chai

Fall is here and we are not waiting a second longer to start indulging in delicious vata pacifying, soul soothing, autumn inspired meals! Up first on our menu, Namaste teacher and Ayurvedic practitioner Kameko Shibata’s Traditional Herbal Chai recipe:

Traditional Herbal Chai

Begin by boiling the green cardamon pods until they look full and bloated. You can reboil with fresh water and the same spices for several days in 3-4 qt. of fresh water (grab a big pot!)

Chai TeaIngredients:
3 cinnamon sticks
2-3 TBSP green cardamom pods, whole coriander seeds
1 TBSP whole black pepper
1 TBSP fennel seed -optional- for summer and digestive support
tons of grated ginger
2 star anise (optional)
traditionally assam black tea was added at the end, milk and sugar (jaggery)

Chai Tea

Enjoy as a sweet morning drink or afternoon pick-me-up. Send us your pictures of your homemade chai by tagging us on instagram  at @ilovenamaste using the hashtag #MyChai!


Kameko

Check out Kameko’s upcoming Fall Ayurvedic Cleanse at Namaste! Begins this Saturday, October 4.

WELLNESS TREATMENTS WITH KAMEKO: Kameko Shibata combines her passion for ayurvedic medicine, bodywork and yoga into a comprehensive healing modality that empowers people to heal themselves. She received her Ayurvedic Practioner certification from the Dhyana Center of Health Sciences, where she went on to complete over 1,000 hours in a 2-year internship under her teacher, DeAnna Batdorff.

Kameko’s healing hours: Saturdays 10:15am – 2pm
Please check out : 
www.kamekoarts.com

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20

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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20

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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20

Mae’s Magic Chia Seed Pudding

At Namaste, we love sharing our favorite recipes. There are few things that can beat a delicious, nourishing meal that is also super healthy and easy to make! Last week our studio director, Mae Boscana, brought in her homemade Magic Chia Seed Pudding for us to try… needless to say it was amazing. Why do we go so far as to call it magical? Well it is equal parts healthy and delicious!

Chia seeds are incredibly nutritious. They contain loads of anti-oxidants, protein, fiber, and a good amount of Omega-3 Fatty Acids which are all great tools for helping lower blood pressure, increase weight loss, and reduce your risk of diabetes and heart disease! The best part is topping this sweet treat off with vanilla and cinnamon helps to satisfy your sugar cravings, while cinnamon lowers your blood sugar, reduces inflammation, and fights bacterial infections. How awesome is that? Now eat up!

Chia SeedMae’s Magic Chia Seed Pudding Recipe

1/3 cup chia seeds (you can find these at any health food store or most grocery stores now!)
1 1/2 cups nut milk of choice (We prefer unsweetened coconut/almond blend)
pinch of sea salt
1/2 tsp vanilla
5 cardamom pods
1/2 tsp fresh ground ginger
1/2 tsp fresh ground cinnamon
2 tsp maple syrup or agave

Instructions:

1.) Put all of the above items in a bowl or mason jar.

2.) Stir.

3.) Wait at least 2 hours or until chia seeds are not crunchy (30 min. may be just enough). Stir again if need be.

4.) Eat layered with fresh fruit. Our favorite is strawberries or blueberries!

Additional topping ideas include: Goji berries, Cocoa nibs, Bananas, Raspberries, Sliced Almonds, Walnuts, or Honey!

Enjoy for breakfast or lunch – although we highly recommend making some and keeping it in the fridge to satisfy your late night sweet tooth.

Chia Seed

 

 

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20

Why Thai Massage is Perfect for Yogis

by Fiana Anderson

Thai massage is an ancient healing art form, and is no doubt a unique experience. It delivers a deeply meditative and relaxing massage through an intelligent
Thai massagesequencing of palm, thumb and knee presses, stretches, and much, much more. Not to mention that it is unequivocally one of the best therapeutic massages for yoga practitioners.

Thai massage is done on a mat, on the floor, with loose clothes on. A series of deep and rhythmic pressure is applied to the body, along what are called “sen” lines in the body. These lines, especially in the body of a yoga practitioner and Thai Massageparticularly one who sits for meditation, tend to accumulate static tension or lactic acid. This stagnation is relieved and largely released through this massage.

Lactic Acid is built up through rigorous exercise. According to WebMD, when you cross the lactate threshold, the activity rapidly becomes much more difficult and unpleasant. Muscles ache, burn, and become fatigued; the heart pounds; and you feel starved for air. These symptoms increase if you continue to exercise above the lactate threshold, and, in a brief time, you may be physically unable to exercise any longer at that intensity.* This is why massage is a great tool for yogis and athletes looking to detox their systems of lactic acid.

The benefits of Thai Massage are simply innumerable, and include improved flexibility, relief from anxiety and emotional tension, detoxification, boosting the immune system, increased blood circulation, lower blood pressure, improved breathing, posture, balance, corrected body alignment, dissolving energy blockages, relieving arthritis and back pain, toning the body, strengthening joints and can even relieve chronic joint pain.

Thai massage actually slows the aging process.

IMG_5766

Furthermore, this modality is an awakening and engaging experience. There is no ‘zoning’ out in this massage, and although you may experience euphoric and elated sensations, you are always aware of your surroundings and present in your environment.

Thai massage given by a conscious practitioner or partner is a deep form of meditation for both parties. You feel a deep sense of release and often, a sedative quality overtakes the body. Indian, Chinese and Southeast Asian cultural spheres of medicine have influenced this healing modality.

*[American Thoracic Society. American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, May 15, 2003. McPherson, R. Henry’s Clinical Diagnosis and Management by Laboratory Methods, 22nd ed., Saunders, 2011. eMedicine: “Lactic Acidosis.”]  


Fiana_AndersonFiana came to work for Namaste Yoga through sheer love and passion for the yoga community.  She moved to the East Bay last year to study classical, medical Ayurveda at Vedika Global. She spent two years studying in India and has over 1,500 hours of combined education and training in yoga, massage and Ayurveda.

Upcoming Thai Massage Events:
Domonick Wegesin will be leading a Partner Yoga + Thai Massage workshop this upcoming Saturday, February 14.

 

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20

5 Steps to Cool Down Your Hot Flashes

By Dr. Amy

“Is it hot in here or is it just me?” Whether you think of them as power surges or a pain in the neck, hot flashes are a very common sign of changing hormones.

No one knows exactly what causes them but hot flashes and night sweats are among the most common symptoms of menopause. The body’s temperature regulation system gets out of balance when our hormone levels are fluctuating. Once you are a few years past your last menstrual period, things will usually calm down on their own, but in the meantime here are some steps you can take to cool things down when your hormones are acting up.

Step 1 – Dietground_flaxseed

Eat lots of vegetables and raw foods, especially cooling foods such as cucumber, fennel, parsley, celery Soy (organic, non-GMO), cruciferous vegetables,
broccoli sprouts, raw ground flax seeds, and wild salmon are all great choices. Quality proteins and good fats will provide the building blocks for your hormones (Caution if you have hypothyroidism: both raw crucifers and soy should be in limited quantities. Instead, add seaweed and fish for extra iodine.)
AVOID: spicy foods, deep fried foods, hot beverages, processed sugars, alcohol, caffeine and cigarette smoking – all can trigger hot flashes

Step 2 – Stress Management

Get regular exercise and go to bed early enough to allow for 8-9 hours sleep
Keep your cool: Feeling anxious, irritable or nervous can trigger sweats
Practice deep breathing – try for 5 minutes at a time, several times per day to teach your nervous system how to calm.
Practice mindfulness, meditation, yoga, or try acupuncture – your body will be less likely to get triggered.
Take care of your adrenals so they can help produce hormones when you need them.

Step 3 – Sleep Comfort

Wear light clothes or wicking exercise shirts to sleep in.
Dry off quickly if you are woken in a sweat, in order to avoid the chill that can create a cycle of sweats/chills.
Keep a window ajar for fresh air that will naturally cool over the night and leave a fan on to keep the air moving.
There are many products on the market such as gel pads and pillows (ie The Chillow) that stay cool through the night.

Step 4 – Herbal Remediesblack-cohosh-clingmans-239

Black cohosh is by far the most well studied herb for controlling hot flashes. An extract providing 20-40 mg twice per day will decrease the frequency and severity of hot flashes for many women. Soy, kudzu and other beans/legumes provide isoflavones which have
a balancing effect on estrogen receptors and can help with hot flashes. Red clover, sage and shatavari (an Ayurvedic herb) are other herbs to consider. I have also been using a newer herbal option, an extract of Siberian Rhubarb (ERr731), with great success.

Step 5 – Hormone Therapy

If your symptoms are severe and persistent, you might be considering bioidentical hormones. Most women (and doctors) think that hot flashes are due to low estrogen. While this can certainly be true, usually in the earlier stages of perimenopause, it is the lower levels of *progesterone* that lead the temperature instability and trigger the heat. Working with a hormone expert will help you discover how best to balance your hormones directly if needed, but the above lifestyle changes and natural remedies will do the trick in most cases.


 

Amy-200

JOIN DR. AMY DAY THIS WEDNESDAY AT WOMEN’S WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS.

Dr. Amy Day is the resident Naturopathic doctor at Namaste. She is on a personal mission to empower women to find effective solutions to their health problems.After eight years practicing at San Francisco Natural Medicine, she now has her own practice in Berkeley where she lives with her husband and son. She enjoys cooking with natural foods, spending time outdoors, hiking and yoga.

 

 

Schedule a visit with Dr. Amy Day at Namaste Berkeley.

[This post first appeared on Dr. Amy Day’s blog.]

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20

What Can You Do for Yourself in 30 Minutes?

Inspired by the viral video by Dr. Mike Evans entitled “23 1/2 Hours: What is the single best thing you can do for your health?” (we won’t spoil the answer for you) we have decided to share a few of our own favorite 30 minute activities to stay healthy: massage, acupuncture, Ayurveda, & private yoga!

It is true, that if you spend a small fraction of your day/week practicing self-care , your ability to prevent disease and emotional distress is greatly improved. Here are some quick findings from the Wall Street Journal on the importance of integrating regular bodywork and movement into your self-care routine:

  • Children given 20-minute massages by their parents every night for five weeks plus standard asthma treatment had significantly improved lung function compared with those in standard care, a 2011 study of 60 children found. A 10-minute massage upped mitochondria production, and reduced proteins associated with inflammation in muscles that had been exercised to exhaustion, a small study last month found.
  • A 2010 study with 53 participants comparing the effects of one 45-minute Swedish massage to light touch, found that people who got a massage had a large decrease in arginine-vasopressin, a hormone that normally increases with stress and aggressive behavior, and slightly lower levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, in their blood after the session. There was also a decrease in cytokine proteins related to inflammation and allergic reactions.
  • The American College of Physicians and the American Pain Society now include massage as one of their recommendations for treating low back pain, according to guidelines published in 2007.

Taking time for things like bodywork and private yoga can at times feel luxurious. The truth is, these small gifts we give to ourselves drastically improve our overall health and wellbeing. The better we feel, the better we can give back to the world and those around us.

For more information on Namaste’s 30 minute wellness treatments, click here.

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