Intro to Yoga: Heartfelt Advice for the New Practitioner

by Bethany Hobbs

1. Keep it simple.

The Intro to Yoga workshops offer the chance to become familiar in our studios, to explore a simple movement practice, to feel through the foundational element of breath, and maybe to get some ideas about which classes might be best for you, going forward.

It’s an afternoon during which a safe space is available for you to meet yourself where you’re at, to blast through the intimidation factor of taking that very first yoga class, and get to ask some questions from a Namaste teacher (in this case, me, who happens to love teaching Intro workshops). Enjoy yourself, make yourself comfy and arrive a few minutes early to put down your mat, have a cup of tea, and feel out the space.

2. Trust yourself.

There are a few things that I know with total certainty. One is that these bodies of ours never lie.

One reason I love teaching introductory workshops is because I get to witness people discovering new sensations and wisdom inside of their bodies. Yoga is largely about paying attention, whether it is your first class, or your millionth. Honor your body. Listen. Trust. The practice of trusting oneself will serve you for a lifetime.

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3. Stay curious.

I will always remember my first yoga class. I will always remember my first yoga teacher, the first yoga mat I bought, the first time I fell in love with a pose, the first time I truly found my breath, the first time I felt anchored into something deep, something real, through the physical practice of yoga.

Whatever your “firsts” are, hold them close to your heart. They matter. Remember the wonderment; hold your first-time self in a soft, kind way, and bring something of that fervor and openness with you each time you step onto your mat or your meditation pillow in the days and months and years to come.

Any disciplined practice requests a great deal of kindness from us. Observe, watch things change and rearrange and show themselves to you– if you choose yoga as a path of study and/or devotion going forward, I promise you this: you will never run out of things to learn. So: stay curious. Stay kind. Keep showing up.

4. Welcome Home.

For me, yoga has been the practice of coming home, coming back to a sense of authenticity and belonging.

After you attend the initial introductory workshop, I encourage you to seek out a class and teacher with which you align. What do you value? Who and what speak to your spirit? What pace does your body crave? You will more than likely find others who value (and teach) those things as well.
And, P.S., you’re already home– just let yoga remind you of that, should you ever happen to forget.


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The next Intro to Yoga workshop is:
Saturday September 6
1:30-3:30pm
Namaste Grand Lake
$30*, includes a week of free yoga!

Bethany Hobbs fell in love with her first savasana in 2003, and her life hasn’t been the same since. She has been committed to her yoga practice for over a decade, first under the tutelage of Rached Malouf in San Diego, and, later, her mentor Alice Joanou in Oakland, along with many other incredible yogis and healers in India and Oakland (including herbalist Atava Garcia Swiecicki and therapeutic yoga teacher trainer Antonia Fokken). Bethany’s classes hold space for the wholeness of each individual through breath, alignment, ritual, and joy.

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5 Reasons to Attend a Yoga Immersion

by Ashley Sharp
Every Day Sacred Co-Leader

Namaste’s Yoga Teacher Training is divided into two sections that can be taken independently of each other. The first half of the program is designed as an in-depth yoga immersion. Students have the opportunity to take the first half of the training and receive the professional level teachings on yoga without committing to the full training program.

Ashley Sharp TT BlogAlign:

Dive deep and detailed with asana alignment. Take a methodical look at the poses and body mechanics. You will learn modifications for your body and for common injuries. This is a wonderful investment in your practice that will pay off in the years to come.

Invest:

Our physical and mental health require care and attention. Heal yourself with yoga.

 

Immerse:Ashley Sharp TT

Plunge into a broader depth of the yoga tradition than is offered in drop in classes. Learn about those mysterious bandhas and chakras. Have an opportunity to experience some of the other life changing practices of yoga such as mantra, meditation and pranayama. Place the modern phenomenon of yoga in an historical context.

Join:

Amazing things happen when a group of people commit to practice together over a specific amount of time. Connect with others interested in yoga. Offer and receive support from a community devoted to learning and transformation.

Ashley & Nubia TTTransform:

Commit to the transformative practice of yoga. Again and again I hear from students, “that training – yoga, changed my life.” Personal transformation comes to pass when we begin to remember to make Every Day Sacred.

 

 


Ashley Ashley Sharp, E-RYT began teaching yoga at the turn of the century.  She is known for her wit, practicality, and tenderness as an instructor. She grew up dancing, and brings to her classes a lifetime of body-knowledge and wisdom. She has studied yoga asana and philosophy in the United States and in India with Swami Dayananda, Erich Schiffmann, Patricia Sullivan and Sat Santokh Sing.

See Ashley’s class schedule.

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Honoring the Life of BKS Iyengar: 1918-2014

by Ashley Sharp
Have you ever used a block, a blanket or a strap in yoga class? Have you ever modified a pose to find greater depth of your breath, awareness and ease in the pose? You can thank BKS Iyengar for that!

Yoga changed him – and then he changed the world with yoga.

As a child he was sickly with malnutrition, tuberculosis, typhoid and malaria; the doctors predicted he would live only until 20. He credits yoga asana with saving his life and lived to 95 years of age, doing asana until the end.

Iyengar brought yoga to the world – opening yoga centers on 6 continents. He brought yoga to you and I even if we have never set foot in an Iyengar class. In the
70’s Iyengar yoga was virtually the only yoga one could find. Your yoga teacher has probably studied Iyengar yoga. Our teacher’s teachers learned yoga directly from him. Yoga asanas that we think of tradition and basic – he created!

He says in a 1996 interview, “I had to create poses- if Trikonasana can be done like this, why not Parivrtta Trikonansana? If Virabhadrasana I could be done, why not Virabhadrasana III?… If Bakasana, why not Parsva Bakasana?”

When he started teaching in Europe in the 50‘s no one was interested. Classes were hard to get started and they were small and ill attended. It took years for the students to come. In fact yoga did not get popular until the late 60’s and into the 70’s.

His system is rigorous and precise. “If you cannot see your little toe,”
Iyengar asks, “how can you see the Self?” Within the rigor of the Iyengar system, lies a genius method for accommodating the variety of human bodies and the ailments that befall us at times. Tight hamstrings? Use a strap or a chair, or a bolster or a block. Chronic fatigue? Do your standing poses on the floor. High blood pressure? Do forward bends.

Iyengar’s life and passion reminds us that integrity and commitment can shape a life and ultimately shape the world. “Even if God himself comes and tells me, ‘Leave the asanas behind,’ I will say, ‘No! I will not leave them.'”


Ashley Ashley Sharp, E-RYT began teaching yoga at the turn of the century.  She is known for her wit, practicality, and tenderness as an instructor. She grew up dancing, and brings to her classes a lifetime of body-knowledge and wisdom. She has studied yoga asana and philosophy in the United States and in India with Swami Dayananda, Erich Schiffmann, Patricia Sullivan and Sat Santokh Sing.

See Ashley’s class schedule.

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Creating a Home Yoga Practice

by Naushon Kabat-Zinn

Do you find it challenging to practice yoga and meditation regularly at home? Join the club!

There are many distractions at home, and so we often just don’t do it. With cell phones beeping at us, children or pets asking for attention, dirty floors that glare at you in downward dog, the list of possible things we can be doing besides yoga is endless! The fact is, once we commit, it can be such a beautiful thing to practice more consistently and be able to listen really to what your body needs. Even for just ten minutes a day. The key is to create a habit and stick with it.

If you feel that a home practice is a luxury, think about it this way: home practice is about listening to your body and catering to your individualized needs, exploring whatever it is that you want to work on for that day.

Going to a yoga class is valuable when you want to check-in on your alignment, learn new poses, or dive deeper with the assistance of an experienced teacher. Classes can provide an encouraging environment where you feel like you can go further and adventure in your practice.

That said, often we are so focused on keeping up with the class or advancing our practice that we start to lose touch with our breath and the ability to tune into our deep inner voice. A home practice opens up a world of creativity and freedom that becomes completely personal and intimate.

Taking your practice home allows you to keep the spontaneity of deciding what you want to work on rather than having to follow the flow of the class. It could be a practice geared toward relieving headaches, or a practice of preparing for handstands, or just a quick wake up and get energized flow to help you start your day right.

Practicing at home can bring more of a sense of balance and clarity and joy to our everyday lives.

So how to get started? Join Naushon Sunday August 24th for a fun and playful exploration of what Home Practice can look like and how we can work through the challenges and move towards a beautiful and rewarding process of getting on our mats at home or when we are traveling.


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.

Check our schedule for Naushon’s class schedule.

 

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Owner Kimberly Leo Talks 10 Year Anniversary

Namaste is honoring our 10 Year Anniversary this year with a free 10 Year Anniversary Celebration & Kirtan featuring Grammy nominated artist Jai Uttal. As we prepare for our upcoming event and anniversary, we touched base with Namaste owner Kimberly Leo to learn more about the last 10 years of Namaste history and what lies ahead for us!

What was the inspiration for opening Namaste Rockridge back in 2003?

KL: I was going through a big life transition and needed to make a change to my quality of life. Yoga got me through the hard spots, and I passionately wanted to share the gift of yoga with others.

Being an Oakland native, I saw a real need for a yoga studio in the Rockridge neighborhood. I have big family roots here and a large extended family. I always saw myself opening a business in Oakland and nothing felt more natural than providing a sacred space for people to practice and find the same gifts yoga offered me. My father was always active in the Oakland, and Asian American communities, and this was a way for me to give back to my community.

Namaste has seen tremendous growth over the last few years. How has the Namaste brand evolved?

Noah3KL: The intent behind Namaste always has been to provide a refuge for those seeking healing and wellness. Our students come to Namaste because they know that when they enter our doors, they can find among many other things — peace, salvation, support and space.

Over the years, Namaste has, in addition, become to stand for quality — quality in our teachers, our service and services, and our programming. People know and trust that we will provide them with the best quality experience. We are dedicated to the safety and well being of our students and that shines through in all of the decisions we make here.

The drive to grow Namaste has been organic, based on the demand from the community. As our Yoga Teacher Training Studentscommunity grew, they wanted more products and services, and wanted to delve deeper into the yoga philosophy and practices. As our programming grew, so has the need to reach the larger yoga community.

Our students want to learn from their teachers’ teachers and so we have been successful at attracting nationally recognized teachers into our studio. You can find many options for visiting teachers in San Francisco, but the East Bay was greatly lacking. We felt that we could serve that hole in the market.

With three studios now, how have things changed from the early days of Namaste?

Kimberly_Street_FairKL: When we first opened, I was at the front desk 24/7. I would go into the yoga studio, close the doors, and take a nap mid-day. I was able to greet each and every student and know them by name. I still know many of our students by name — that gives me the greatest pleasure — knowing our students and the stories behind their lives.

Now it is not physically possible to meet every person who walks through the door but the basic premise of serving the community and touching people’s lives is still the same. Every person who now works at Namaste has their own personal connection to what we are doing here which really shows in the way they connect with our students. I am so lucky that we have been able to maintain that level of personal attention and love for our students. I am blessed and honored to do this work. It feeds my soul, and it is amazing that we can touch so many lives.

You have been an active member in the local and regional yoga community for over a decade. How do you feel about the direction the yoga industry is headed?

KL: I have seen the yoga industry change dramatically over the last 15+ plus years. Yoga can have a profound effect on people’s health and wellness — not only the physical but their emotional states. It is always interesting to watch new students come through our doors seeking a fitness class and after the first few visits you really see that they are gaining much more than they expected. Yoga has finally reached the mainstream, and I believe the more people doing yoga, the better place the world can be. I am excited for yoga to reach the masses.

Best advice that you could pass along to new studio owners?

KL: It is cliché — but just do it! Be smart and have a business plan — but don’t think about it too hard. If I thought about the risks, the dos and don t’s and all the what-ifs, I would never have done it. You can’t sit there and analyze things too hard. It’s stifling. You will be amazed at the way the world receives you when you decide to just go for it.

How has your personal practice evolved or changed over the years of owning a studio?

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KL: Opening a business around self-healing, and the practice of yoga has changed my life forever. I am a lifelong beginning student — learning new lessons every day, every minute. Yoga influences how I live and walk through life every day — how I live my life, run my business and raise my child.

I am thankful for my family and to my staff for making this life possible. I am blessed to work with such wonderful people and to be in an environment where people are taking care of themselves and each other.

 

 


If you are excited about our 10 Year Anniversary Celebration and Kirtan, please make sure to pre-register for free today: bit.ly/1thBc3F

Namaste 10 Year Anniversary Celebration & Kirtan featuring Jai Uttal
When: Sunday, September 21 from 4:00-7:00 PM
Where: Namaste Berkeley (Parking Lot)

Event will be featuring:
Kirtan with Jai Uttal.
Dancing by Nubia Teixeira.
Additional Music by Adrienne Shamszad.
Aerial Arts by Kameko Shibata.
Taiko drumming by Vera Leo!

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Namaste Tribe: Meet Fiana

Each week for the next few weeks we will be highlighting on of our incredible Namaste tribe members! With so many inspiring, passionate folks working at Namaste we felt it was a crime to keep their shining personalities from the rest of the world.

Meet Assistant Manager and Subs Coordinator: Fiana Anderson

Who are you?
My name is Fiana, and I am originally from Reno, Nevada.

How long have you been at Namaste?
I am going on 2 years at Namaste.

What do you do here?
I am an assistant manager, extraordinaire. I also am in charge of making sure each of our classes have an awesome teacher to teach them. If your favorite teacher is away, it is my duty to make sure someone equally awesome is there to lead your class!

What are your favorite self-care practices?
Being a blooming Ayurvedic practitioner, I can say that Dinacharya, or daily routine self-care practices are my favorites. They include such things as waking before the sun, meditation, pranayama, abhyanga (self oil massage), nasya (oiling the nose), drinking very warm water upon waking–there are many more but these are my some of my favorite jams. I also give myself the alone time I need to rejuvenate, with zero apologies.

What is your favorite thing about yoga?
You know I am having an absolute love affair with yoga. It has become a part of my every breath and such a part of my very being these days. My favorite thing about it is that first or second asana back after a break; the remembrance, appreciation and gratitude that accompanies that.

Any big dreams you are close to actualizing?
I will be finishing up my Ayurveda practitioner training pretty soon. I am excited to start treating people, making home remedies and teaching workshops.

What is your favorite thing about the Bay Area?
I adore living in the East Bay. It’s the first place I’ve ever lived that really feels like home to me. There is something hypnotic about the weather, it is perfection. I also feel a deep sense of permission to just be here and to express myself, whatever that may be, on any given day.


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.

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Tips for Establishing a State of Gratitude

By David Schlussel

[This post first appeared on David Schlussel’s Blog: Live Better, Feel Better]

I’m so glad you’re even looking at this post. Thank you.

To help establish you in a deeper state of gratitude, I have a few questions for you: What’s the difference between actual gratitude and the word “gratitude”?

What is the feeling sense?

How grateful are you for how well your life is going at this moment? That you currently have the health and resources and time and lack of other trauma to be in front of a computer reading this? Seriously. Life could be much, much worse, right? Things are okay, right? Pretty good in fact, relatively. Of course things could be much better, but that’s for later. Gratitude for current reality is the name of the game. Gratitude for now.

We’ve all been in a situation where we’ve offered something generously, and felt genuine gratitude from someone; and we’ve all been on the receiving end of that exchange, and felt that genuine gratitude within us. What is that feeling?

We’ve all been on both sides of a situation where an offering was not fully met with gratitude. “Thanks” (said flatly) or “eww” or “is that it?” or “(silence)”. We know how that feels, yes? From both sides, yes?

When was the last time you felt it: actually fully received someones gift, especially the gift of their open heart’s availability to you?

When was the last time you felt fully received?

What creative ways have we found to not not receive people’s (or the earth’s) offerings? What else can push away that opportunity for gratitude?

  • taking it for granted
  • rejecting it as offensive
  • indifference
  • judging it as insufficient

And while all of these experiences are valid, it is not only possible, but feels really good to take a moment to experience gratitude for the gesture.

Taking it for granted: “Wow, air, I’ve been breathing you my whole life, forgetting what agony I would be in without you, how I would actually die within seconds if you weren’t constantly there for me. I’ve even polluted you without thinking twice about it more times than I can remember. When I put my attention on you I realize that every breath is blissful. (Inhale/exhale). Oh I am so grateful for you and this blissful breath of life we are together.” Or how about your partner, your job, your car, your parents, your kids…..


Rejecting it as offensive:
Swami Venkatesananda said something great: paraphrasing: “If we are a true seeker, looking to clear away our triggers, if someone does something that bothers us we can thank them for pointing out to us where we are unresolved, and where the rest of our work that we are so committed to is”: “Wow, judge, your letting a known sex offender and child pornographer go after raping a 13 year old really disturbed me. Thank you for reminding me of what’s really important to me that I’ve done nothing about. I’m going to do something about that, like make sure you lose your job, and make sure the world understands that 13 year olds are precious and should not be held responsible for their actions, and that those who take advantage of them do not get away with it.”

Indifference: “Hey lover, when you ignored my loving gesture, I felt hurt like I’d been abandoned. Thank you for helping me feel how I still cling to abandonment trauma, and the ways I do things to get approval, not just because they are good things to do. I can now work with that.”

Judging it as insufficient: “Thank you person I am not at all attracted to who is flirting with me, it is so beautiful of you to face any fears you have of rejection and approach me this way. I am flattered (pause to enjoy). And I also am not interested.”

We can experience gratitude without having to take everything that comes our way.

A powerful lesson in gratitude came from my nephew Helix at Christmas when he was about 5. He opened present after present, until he could find no more, and as any 5 year old would do, without thanking anyone for a single present, asked if there were more. I thought: why would anyone give you more presents if you don’t even appreciate what you have.

Of course I immediately thought about my own life, how many gifts I have and how rarely I actually appreciate them. Theres a way that when I feel like I don’t have enough money, love, attention, whatever, that feeling of scarcity and the closure that surrounds it keeps me from having the more that I desire.

And so I apply it in my yoga practice. Most powerfully in things like straightening my leg while hold ing my big toe, when lifting up to a handstand, opening to the splits, or any such yoga trick that once seemed impossible to me. I’d find myself attempting a posture and feeling that familiar blockage to my freedom and get so frustrated (so ungrateful) for my limitations, forgetting that they are there to protect me. Why would my body keep opening if I don’t appreciate what it’s already doing? I learned not to force past those blockages, but to be grateful for them: pause there to learn what my body was trying to tell me by seizing up, and guess what happens? My body opens further. My ingratitude held me tight where I was, my gratitude freed me up. Every time. In every way.

So I take this time to thank you for being in my life enough to get this message. I love that I get to feel heard on subjects that are important to me. I thank the earth for the enormous bounty it’s been offering every species in our divine cohesion since life began! I thank our nation and it’s desire to fiercely protect it’s citizens in a way that I have never lived in fear of war or famine, and can use that freedom to pursue loftier aspirations. I thank my family for holding me and raising me and nurturing me in all the ways they knew how, the best they could every day to this day. I am grateful to have this chance of a lifetime on earth as a human being to get to experience what life has to offer.

Have a wonderful day, week, month, year, decade, life!


David_Schlussel

David Schlussel is a yoga teacher, life coach, husband, and father. David experiences yoga as the practice of reconnecting with our wholeness. When we operate from our wholeness, we experience the incredible strength and flexibility that is our potential. David coaches his students from fixed ideas about what they can and can’t do, towards life as a playful exploration of possibility.

To contact David, email him at yogidavid@gmail.com or visit his website: yogilifecoach.com

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Namaste Tribe: Meet Jenn

Each week for the next few weeks we will be highlighting on of our incredible Namaste tribe members! With so many inspiring, passionate folks working at Namaste we felt it was a crime to keep their shining personalities from the rest of the world.

Meet Front Desk Team Member & Membership Guru: Jenn Mason

Who are you?
My name is Jenn Mason and I am originally from Riverside, CA.

How long have you been at Namaste?
I have been with Namaste for 7 months!

What do you do here?
I am part of the Front Desk team and am responsible for of memberships. This means that I oversee all membership questions and requests and make sure all of our Namaste members continue to have the best membership that fits their needs.

What are your favorite self-care practices?
I enjoy Acupuncture, listening to guided meditations, taking hot showers, and moisturizing with sesame oil before bed. Sesame oil is a great oil to use if you are looking for something nourishing for your body and mind. It has been used as a healing oil for centuries and has awesome anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and antioxidant properties.

What are you involved with outside the studio?
I am a full time student studying mind-body medicine. My passion is women’s health and a huge part of what I do and who I am is written in my blog. I am truly living and practicing what I am passionate about. When I am not studying or working, I am blogging or hosting women’s health dinner parties!

What is your favorite thing about yoga?
I love that yoga is for anyone and everyone. No matter your age, size, socioeconomic status, etc. If you can breathe, you can do yoga.


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Jenn’s background is in non-profit management, health care and sociology. She is a birth doula and leads stress reduction and mindful living workshops. She holds a master’s in women’s health and is currently getting a PhD in Mind-Body Medicine with a certification in health and wellness coaching and hypnosis.

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