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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The Yoga of Intimacy & Play

“Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind. “Pooh?” he whispered.
“Yes, Piglet?”
“Nothing,” said Piglet, taking Pooh’s hand. “I just wanted to be sure of you.”
— A.A. Milne (Winnie-the- Pooh)

I love teaching Partner Yoga almost as much as I love Winnie-the- Pooh. But then, just like no two bodies or partnerships are alike, why even try to compare a PAIR with a BEAR, right? I hope you will consider joining me on July 9th for our Partner Yoga Playshop which is a celebration of our interbeing and interdependence. The benefits of partner yoga include increased self-awareness and a deepening of one’s own yoga practice while getting the added perk of honoring and witnessing the other person’s practice. Bringing all of that together and you get the best of both worlds and even more!

Whenever I get to offer some support to my partner in a pose or receive some extra hands on assistance from my partner while on the mat, there is something very healing and reassuring about the energy exchange. The synergy of intimacy that can build over the course of a partner yoga workshop is quite lovely and many participants have said it has helped enhance the level of trust and cooperation in a relationship, whether it is with a significant other, a friend or a family member.

July 9th will be the first time offering this playshop to the Namaste community and am very excited to bring the fun and challenge of the various partner poses but also adding to the mix an extended guided relaxation for each couple that I affectionately call a “Yoga We-dra” which will be accompanied by my partner Tim playing soothing and transcendental singing bowls.

I was interviewed a few years back by KTSF about the many benefits of partner yoga and hope you will check it out here.

And here is a testimonial from a recent partner yoga playshop participant:

“I came to Ken’s partner yoga class not knowing what to expect and boy was I blown away! He is incredibly down to earth which I really appreciated. Lots of room for laughter and for me to be myself in the workshop. Ken demoed several of the poses with his lovely partner Tim, which helped make the poses more accessible. On that note I was amazed at how seamlessly he was able to make a class that I really enjoyed as a teacher and other newer students were clearly having as much of a juicy good time in. Check out his next workshop- you won’t wanna miss it!” -Jeremi McManus,RYT, MFT

Jason triangle assist close upIf you are interested in attending and want to know more, please do not hesitate to contact me: kjbreniman@gmail.com

“The glory of friendship is not the outstretched hand, nor the kindly smile, nor the joy of companionship; it is the spiritual inspiration that comes to one when you discover that someone else believes in you and is willing to trust you with a friendship.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Want to sign up? Follow us here to register for our upcoming Partner Yoga Playshop!

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Art as Meditation

What began as a project to free the mind from its artistic block has come to be like an ongoing meditation. After many years of commercial art, my artistic process had become so gummed up with the idea of what people might BUY that I felt incapable of creating from the heart. I had to find a way to switch gears. A friend had returned some art supplies I once gave to him, many years ago, and I decided I would use what I had and do a little watercolor on this attractive block of paper he had given me.

IMG_5557My premise was that I could do nothing “wrong” and that I would just continue to layer and layer watercolor and ink until something beautiful or meaningful happened.

At some point in the process, I started some canvases that were like little studies, with blobs of watercolor that I could draw on top of. I delved into circular patterns, triangles, moon phases. It turned out to be so fun that I plucked a stack of nice paper from my stash and just let the colors melt together in fascinating circles on small pieces of paper.

Water – color – drying. Lots of papers lying next to each other on my art table. It was very therapeutic.

IMG_5569IMG_5591After some overnight drying, I could draw on top of them and little mandalas came pouring out. I would draw a bit, switch to a new one, let it simmer, walk away, come back later. I often try not to think about the patterns that I am creating, I just let them evolve over time and flow from another place in my Self, not my thinking brain. Some are inspired by specific ideas, like Ayurveda or elements in various systems of belief. The process is very freeing – like taking a hike outside with the wind blowing through the trees and whispering in your ear.

IMG_5562After an inspired framing idea, they felt ready to share with the world. You can see these tiny treasures in person too — they have a home on the walls of Namaste Berkeley. Come in to take a peek or take one home for your own altar. Focus your mind on the center and let it spill outward. They are full of love and a symbol of the freedom we all deserve.

 

 

 

 

10423645_10152253194114051_3455534993665733593_nHelene Cotton is Namaste’s Creative Director, responsible for all of our beautiful graphic design and all three Namaste boutiques. Helene is an integral member on the Namaste team and one of our all time favorite humans.

Interested in learning more about Helene? Check out her amazing website http://helenecotton.com/.

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Namaste’s Podcasts Picks for Yogis

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

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On Being with Krista Tippet

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

Start Here: David Whyte – The Conversational Nature of Reality 

 

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The Good Life Project with Jonathan Fields

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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Wanderlust Speakeasy Podcast

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

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

 

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10% Happier with Dan Harris

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

Start Here: Episode #1: Dalai Lama 


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

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Meet Namaste Teacher: Siri Peterson

[Excerpt from SiriYoga]

I am an E-RYT 500 yoga instructor, dancer, wife and momma to my beautiful baby and greatest adventure, Lucia Louise. My mother introduced me to yoga at age 11, and I’ve been a passionate and humble student for the past 25 years. I’m grateful to this practice for supporting and sustaining me through every phase of my life, the highest highs and the lowest lows. Truly, yoga has saved my life… so many times.

I attended my first yoga teacher training in an effort to heal my own chronic injuries. At that point, nothing seemed to be working. Yoga worked. It gave me the tools I needed heal myself physically and emotionally. Since then, I’ve accumulated over 3000 hours in advanced trainings, and I’ve been honored to teach full-time for over ten years. Certified as an Anusara Yoga instructor, E-RYT 500, I now train, mentor, and certify new yoga teachers myself at YogaKula, Shakti Yoga Shala and the Avahana School.

New York Times recognized dancer and choreographer with a BFA in Dance Performance, I am always exploring the unique relationships between yoga, artistic self-expression and mindful movement. I received Reiki I & II certification at the Integrative Medicine Center at Sloan-Kettering and frequently incorporate this work into my practice. I also offer intuitive archetypal readings and spiritual coaching, having been certified by Carolyn Myss through her two year Sacred Contracts training. In 2011 I was a writer for Deepak Chopra’s Leela, a video game that brought the practice of meditation to wider audiences by integrating ancient wisdom with modern technology. In 2016 I was named one of 100 trailblazers in Yoga and Ayurveda by Spirituality and Health Magazine.


0612-IntroSiri-CCWant to practice with Siri? Try our Intro to Yoga workshop this weekend!

Perfect for new students* or beginner students seeking more guidance on alignment and foundational poses.

Intro to Yoga with Siri Peterson Cavanna

Sun Date: Jun 12, 2016 From: 1:00 PM3:00 PM Location: Rockridge
* new students to Namaste receive one week of free yoga!
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