Survival Skills for the Holidays

by Ashley West Roberts

[This post originally appeared on Ashley’s Blog]

I am just going to come right out with it. We don’t do the holiday hustle and bustle in our house. In fact, most Decembers you can find us in Mexico or Hawaii or some other warm place straight CHILLEN. But unless you stay in the house all season long, you are going to have to deal with the disaster that has become the holidays in the US. Not interested in the crazy (and by crazy I mean, oh let’s see, camping out at Target for several days, or living off a diet of Christmas cookies for two weeks or pretending to like yet another gift you never wanted or needed in the first place) check out my survival skills for the holidays:

Be intentional.

Do not allow yourself to get swept up in all the hooplah. Sit down this weekend and make a plan for how you want your holiday season to go. What are your priorities for this time of year? My partner and I decided we want two things from the holidays this year: To take plenty of relaxing down time and to do some kind of service in our community. Sit down with your family and plan out what you all really want to do over the holidays and make it a priority. Just because you went to Grandma Janes house for the last 5 years does not mean you have to go this year. Politely explain that this year you are trying something different.

DO NOT REGRESS.

I repeat, do not regress. Spending the holiday with family can be beautiful but it can also be stressful. If you notice yourself acting childish around your mother or being the “boss” to your younger sibling, take a moment and pause. Remember that you are an adult and you should conduct yourself as such. Also, give your family members the space to do the same.

Ashley_West

Communicate wisely without being defensive.

Come up with one liners that easily shut down a conversation you’re not open to having. Your family may not agree with your dietary habits and things can become tense around the dinner table. “My body feels great when I eat this way” is a short and effective response. Or, perhaps a family member is disapproving about the way you celebrate with your children.You can simply say ” celebrating this way brings our family so much joy”.

When all else fails….BREATHE.

When all other strategies fail, simply return to your breath. It’s seems obvious but it works if you do it. If you feel yourself getting worked up or stressed, take a moment of pause or excuse yourself to the restroom and do this simple meditation.

Sit quietly and focus on how the inhalation and the exhalation FEEL. Match the length of your inhale and your exhale. Image a small circle around you-your personal space- and remember that you are in control of this space. Remind yourself that no judgement and no drama can come into this space unless you allow for it. As you breathe make space for yourself to be just as you are and for your friends or family members to be as they are.


Ashley West Roberts Yoga | Namate Yoga Ashley believes whole-heartedly in movement and meditation as practices for self healing. Her goal as a teacher is simply to help you become more yourself. She stresses “yoga is not one more thing to be good at” but a daily process of checking in with what is present.

Ashley’s classes are anchored in the traditional teachings of yoga sprinkled with experiential anatomy and creative play. Her classes are informed by her background as a classically trained dancer, daily meditation practice and her passion for minimalism and simple living. It is her greatest pleasure to integrate her yoga and dharma as taught to her by her teacher Katchie Ananda.

Ashley West Roberts

www.ashleywestroberts.com

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20

Why's Getting to Yoga So Difficult

by Sadie Chanlett-Avery

[This post originally appeared on Sadie’s Blog Active Body. Still Mind]

As a yoga teacher I perpetually have these two conversations:

Scene One: Around town I run into a former student. They apologize and confess, “Forgive me o’ yogi for I have sinned. It has been three months since my last class.” Then I hear about life’s onslaught: The kid’s soccer practice, work schedules, the sub teacher, the studio is too far. We declare ourselves victims of “busy.”

Scene Two: Meeting someone who has heard the yoga PR but hasn’t yet tried it. Is it only for flexible, young vegan chicks? Am I too injured, old, or out of shape? Will I look stupid? Will have to chant? I’m too lazy for yoga. It’s weird and scary.

Shaking a disapproving finger or launching into an infomercial, won’t offer anything new. There’s always more reasons not to make class. I’m tired. It’s raining. I’m hungry. I just ate. Visitors are in town.

Perfect yoga will never be at your doorstep, with your favorite teacher, at the perfect time, and free. If you need yoga to change your life than change your life to fit in yoga.

Feeling perpetually deficient, overextended, and indebted, yoga appears to demand a surplus of time, money, and energy. The ante seems too high.

Good news! The hardest part is getting there. Arrive aching, frazzled, and awkward. Find the open door labeled “come as you are.” There will be no family obligations, no decisions, no to-do lists. Silence your phone and enjoy the luxury of being told exactly what to do. It will be safe if not always easy.

In yoga we sort real from perceived obstacles. We find the agency to lean into challenge and stop hitting against old patterns. Organizing our bodies, lives, and time is never complete. Meaningful change is never spoon-fed. By making it to yoga, you make yoga.


SadieProfileBSadie Chanlett-Avery, holistic fitness trainer, yoga instructor, and writer, was named a 2013 Athleta Sponsored Athlete. As the In-house Yogi at Clif Bar & Co. she directs the yoga and perinatal programs, trains with kettlebells, and serves on the Wellness Team. Sadie received her teacher certification from Ana Forrest and has immersed for months in the jungles of Costa Rica with Master Yoga and Meditation Teacher, Glenn Black. Her M.A. in Holistic Health Education and multiple fitness certifications lends antomical depth to her innovative and playful classes.

She appreciates the diverse expression of the human genome with the belief that people of all ages and sizes can benefit from exercise and heal with yoga. Teaching for over ten years, she applies ancient yogic principles to individual needs and modern lifestyles.

Sadie blogs at www.activebodystillmind.com.

Blog posts by Sadie: The Dark Side of Detoxing

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20

Why’s Getting to Yoga So Difficult

by Sadie Chanlett-Avery

[This post originally appeared on Sadie’s Blog Active Body. Still Mind]

As a yoga teacher I perpetually have these two conversations:

Scene One: Around town I run into a former student. They apologize and confess, “Forgive me o’ yogi for I have sinned. It has been three months since my last class.” Then I hear about life’s onslaught: The kid’s soccer practice, work schedules, the sub teacher, the studio is too far. We declare ourselves victims of “busy.”

Scene Two: Meeting someone who has heard the yoga PR but hasn’t yet tried it. Is it only for flexible, young vegan chicks? Am I too injured, old, or out of shape? Will I look stupid? Will have to chant? I’m too lazy for yoga. It’s weird and scary.

Shaking a disapproving finger or launching into an infomercial, won’t offer anything new. There’s always more reasons not to make class. I’m tired. It’s raining. I’m hungry. I just ate. Visitors are in town.

Perfect yoga will never be at your doorstep, with your favorite teacher, at the perfect time, and free. If you need yoga to change your life than change your life to fit in yoga.

Feeling perpetually deficient, overextended, and indebted, yoga appears to demand a surplus of time, money, and energy. The ante seems too high.

Good news! The hardest part is getting there. Arrive aching, frazzled, and awkward. Find the open door labeled “come as you are.” There will be no family obligations, no decisions, no to-do lists. Silence your phone and enjoy the luxury of being told exactly what to do. It will be safe if not always easy.

In yoga we sort real from perceived obstacles. We find the agency to lean into challenge and stop hitting against old patterns. Organizing our bodies, lives, and time is never complete. Meaningful change is never spoon-fed. By making it to yoga, you make yoga.


SadieProfileBSadie Chanlett-Avery, holistic fitness trainer, yoga instructor, and writer, was named a 2013 Athleta Sponsored Athlete. As the In-house Yogi at Clif Bar & Co. she directs the yoga and perinatal programs, trains with kettlebells, and serves on the Wellness Team. Sadie received her teacher certification from Ana Forrest and has immersed for months in the jungles of Costa Rica with Master Yoga and Meditation Teacher, Glenn Black. Her M.A. in Holistic Health Education and multiple fitness certifications lends antomical depth to her innovative and playful classes.

She appreciates the diverse expression of the human genome with the belief that people of all ages and sizes can benefit from exercise and heal with yoga. Teaching for over ten years, she applies ancient yogic principles to individual needs and modern lifestyles.

Sadie blogs at www.activebodystillmind.com.

Blog posts by Sadie: The Dark Side of Detoxing

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20

Worth The Tea Time: November 15

With so much going on around the internet it is hard to zone in on the best articles pertaining to yoga and wellness. Forget about the quick posts that give you the top three reasons to do anything and instead, set some time aside with a nice cup of tea to read a few articles that dare to take us a little deeper. Starting now is our new series “Worth the Tea Time” where we provide you with three articles a week we feel are worth the extra five minutes of reading:

Why Are Americans So Fascinated With Extreme Fitness?

“The whole notion of pushing your physical limits — popularized by early Nike ads, Navy SEAL mythos and Lance Armstrong’s cult of personality — has attained a religiosity that’s as passionate as it is pervasive. The “extreme” version of anything is now widely assumed to be an improvement on the original rather than a perverse amplification of it. And as with most of sports culture, there is no gray area. You win or you lose. You leave it all on the floor or you shamefully skulk off the floor with extra gas in your tank.”  Read More…

The Meaning of Life

BY TIM WU       OCT. 15, 2014

“Beyond the beliefs, the practice of Buddhist mindfulness-centered meditation is also undeniably having a moment.Corporate mindfulness programs, such as General Mills’s pioneering at-work meditation program, in which participating employees begin the day listening to the sound of bells ringing, are increasingly popular. Google’s seven-week course for employees, “Search Inside Yourself,” is oversubscribed. Similar programs have begun to crop up in universities and public schools, as well as in the United States Marine Corps, to help deal with stress. The explicitly nonreligious nature of mindfulness meditation makes it an easier sell for those who are allergic to all things New Age; Buddhism has succeeded in part because it does not directly challenge the nation’s dominant Christian faith but still gives nonbelievers a spiritual centering.” Read More…

There’s More to Life Than Being Happy

BY EMILY ESFAHANI SMITH  JAN. 9, 2013

“This uniqueness and singleness which distinguishes each individual and gives a meaning to his existence has a bearing on creative work as much as it does on human love. When the impossibility of replacing a person is realized, it allows the responsibility which a man has for his existence and its continuance to appear in all its magnitude. A man who becomes conscious of the responsibility he bears toward a human being who affectionately waits for him, or to an unfinished work, will never be able to throw away his life. He knows the “why” for his existence, and will be able to bear almost any “how.” Read More…

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20

Meet Tara Sullivan

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

Meet Tara Sullivan

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

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

Tara

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

www.tara-sullivan.com

View Tara’s Weekly Classes

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20

Winter Wellness: Digestive Wellness & Recipes for the Holidays

by Kameko Shibata

Welcome to the cooler weather, a time for warm meals, intimate gatherings, early nights, stillness and reflection, as we move into the darker days of winter. Sounds enticing, but likely allusive as the onslaught of winter holidays, family gatherings, colds/ flus, and winter blues kick in. This yea I will be offering three separate Ayurvedic discussions and mini-practices to support a more digestively healthy, mentally calm, compassionate and motivated winter season. That’s truly something to rejoice!

Using the wisdom of Ayurveda, Indian classical medicine, and whole food nutrition we will learn some basic tips on how to make healthy decisions and support yourself emotionally during the holidays.  These tips will focus on how to properly combine food, how to nourish your body during the winter, and how to create a healthy relationship with food during the holiday season. You will also receive some simple recipes and learn about spices to help create more delicious and Ayurvedic friendly holiday meal plan. For example, here is one of my favorite recipes to make during this season:

Miso SoupCalifornia Miso Soup

This is my favorite breakfast of all time. As a Californian part Japanese yogini, this is the perfect blend of traditional and contemporary, with an Ayurvedic twist. It’s light but warming, and full of fresh veggies which is ideal for breakfast and can be made hardy by adding protein. It’s balancing for all Ayurvedic doshas or types. It takes about 20 minutes depending on the ingredients and how small you cut the veggies. I often make a batch for a few days and re-warm in the morning.

The ginger makes it warming and helps the belly build agni, or digestive fire, and the turmeric is cleansing and anti inflammatory, helping remove ama or toxins from the belly. If these concepts interest you, consider attending the special class this Monday, November 17 to learn about what foods and spices build agni (digestive fire) and which ones weaken it, which foods clear toxins (ama) and which ones increase toxins in my Ayurvedic Winter Wellness series!

Ingredients Needed:

  • Fresh Ginger
  • Turmeric
  • Dark Greens (Can be Kale, Chard, Collards, or Arugula)
  • Miso Paste
  • 1/2 cup Quinoa or Rice
  • 1 Egg (optional)
  • Meat/Fish (optional)
  • 1 Avocado
  • Cilantro (garnish)
  • 1 Piece Kombu Seaweed (optional but traditional)
  • 2 Red Potatoes
  • 2 Japanese Sweet Potatoes
  • 1 Onion (optional)
  1. Boil 2 quarts purified water with ample fresh grated ginger and turmeric,  kombu seaweed, red potatoes, 2 japanese sweet potatoes, and 1 onion.
  2. When the sweet potatoes are soft but not done add chopped kale or collards, for quicker miso add chard or arugula. Add optional wakame seaweed or sea palm for minerals and veggie protein.
  3. Turn off the soup, and mix in miso paste ( you never want to boil miso). Try this easy mixing trick: fill a mug with the broth, add paste to it and stir with a fork to break up miso , then add the broth paste back to the whole soup.
  4. Add egg, quinoa, rice, or meat/fish for protein (you can poach an egg in the water before you add the paste or cook it on the side)
  5. Garnish with avocado, fresh cilantro and a drop of ume plum vinegar. This makes its spectator!

KamekoProfileB

Check out Kameko’s upcoming Winter Wellness Series at Namaste Monday, January 19.

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

Please follow and like us:
20

Winter Wellness: Digestive Wellness & Recipes for the Holidays

by Kameko Shibata

Welcome to the cooler weather, a time for warm meals, intimate gatherings, early nights, stillness and reflection, as we move into the darker days of winter. Sounds enticing, but likely allusive as the onslaught of winter holidays, family gatherings, colds/ flus, and winter blues kick in. This yea I will be offering three separate Ayurvedic discussions and mini-practices to support a more digestively healthy, mentally calm, compassionate and motivated winter season. That’s truly something to rejoice!

Using the wisdom of Ayurveda, Indian classical medicine, and whole food nutrition we will learn some basic tips on how to make healthy decisions and support yourself emotionally during the holidays.  These tips will focus on how to properly combine food, how to nourish your body during the winter, and how to create a healthy relationship with food during the holiday season. You will also receive some simple recipes and learn about spices to help create more delicious and Ayurvedic friendly holiday meal plan. For example, here is one of my favorite recipes to make during this season:

Miso SoupCalifornia Miso Soup

This is my favorite breakfast of all time. As a Californian part Japanese yogini, this is the perfect blend of traditional and contemporary, with an Ayurvedic twist. It’s light but warming, and full of fresh veggies which is ideal for breakfast and can be made hardy by adding protein. It’s balancing for all Ayurvedic doshas or types. It takes about 20 minutes depending on the ingredients and how small you cut the veggies. I often make a batch for a few days and re-warm in the morning.

The ginger makes it warming and helps the belly build agni, or digestive fire, and the turmeric is cleansing and anti inflammatory, helping remove ama or toxins from the belly. If these concepts interest you, consider attending the special class this Monday, November 17 to learn about what foods and spices build agni (digestive fire) and which ones weaken it, which foods clear toxins (ama) and which ones increase toxins in my Ayurvedic Winter Wellness series!

Ingredients Needed:

  • Fresh Ginger
  • Turmeric
  • Dark Greens (Can be Kale, Chard, Collards, or Arugula)
  • Miso Paste
  • 1/2 cup Quinoa or Rice
  • 1 Egg (optional)
  • Meat/Fish (optional)
  • 1 Avocado
  • Cilantro (garnish)
  • 1 Piece Kombu Seaweed (optional but traditional)
  • 2 Red Potatoes
  • 2 Japanese Sweet Potatoes
  • 1 Onion (optional)
  1. Boil 2 quarts purified water with ample fresh grated ginger and turmeric,  kombu seaweed, red potatoes, 2 japanese sweet potatoes, and 1 onion.
  2. When the sweet potatoes are soft but not done add chopped kale or collards, for quicker miso add chard or arugula. Add optional wakame seaweed or sea palm for minerals and veggie protein.
  3. Turn off the soup, and mix in miso paste ( you never want to boil miso). Try this easy mixing trick: fill a mug with the broth, add paste to it and stir with a fork to break up miso , then add the broth paste back to the whole soup.
  4. Add egg, quinoa, rice, or meat/fish for protein (you can poach an egg in the water before you add the paste or cook it on the side)
  5. Garnish with avocado, fresh cilantro and a drop of ume plum vinegar. This makes its spectator!

KamekoProfileB

Check out Kameko’s upcoming Winter Wellness Series at Namaste Monday, January 19.

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

Loosening the Grip: Yoga for Self Compassion

by Jill Satterfield

[This post originally appeared on Vajra Yoga & Meditation Blog]

Here’s what I have come to know as a fairly universal contemporary problem – many of us are a bit too tough on ourselves. We criticize our looks, our thoughts and emotions, our progress on the spiritual path, our practice quantity and quality. And, the fact is, that it’s not helpful!

If we add to our outlook, vocabulary, thoughts and emotions – tenderness – we can loosen the unhealthy grip of the overactive critic and relax into our lives and being a little bit more.

Just to inspire and remind you – one of the goals of practice besides alleviating suffering, is to be in the present moment. When you bring yourself into your body, you are in the present, when you absorb the natural beauty of the sky, you are in the present, when you hug someone you love, you can be in the present – there is plenty of beauty and things to appreciate in the present, anchor yourself in that.
Jack Kornfield says, “Buddhist texts describe compassion as the quivering of the heart in the face of pain, as the capacity to see our struggles with “kindly eyes”. Developing these kindly eyes allow for some faltering, some forgetting, some mistakes, and gently remind us to start again.

Gripping onto thoughts, feelings or anywhere in the body just causes discomfort and resistance. What we resist will persist. If we can soften around displeasure, discomfort and the occasional raw mistake, we can flow a bit more into the movement of life. Movement implies softness; nothing moves very far in constricted areas, or very easily through tight places.

Of course there’s a distinction between too tight and too loose, which was famously brought to light by the Buddha in the story of the sitar player. The musician asked him, “Should I maintain tight controls on my mind during meditation or should I let it flow?” The Buddha asked, “How do you tune your instrument?” The sitar play said, “If I tune the strings too tightly, they break. If they are too loose, no sound comes out.” “Just so,” replied the Buddha, “you should hold your mind in meditation.” If we are too loose with ourselves we won’t practice, or even attempt to be mindful – that would require too much effort. On the other hand, if we are too tight with ourselves, we create tension, guilt and will probably eventually give up on practicing.

Remember that a practice has room for creativity. Play around from time to time and see what the results are. Rigidity in form is not always the answer, some of us need a little freedom to experiment – to find out which technique works for us depending on our current situation, mood, state of health etc. So a creative practice might include gazing at the sky and sucking the blue of a light sky into your body, or walking in the woods or by the beach, or reading some poetry to inspire the next session of meditation.

Tenderness. Kindness. Creativity. Spiritual friends and teachers, ah the stuff of a great life, not too loose or tight but usually just right.


jill__0201-240x300Jill Satterfield is the founder of Vajra Yoga + Meditation, a synthesis of yoga and Buddhism that combines meditation, yoga and contemplative practices. Named “one of the 4 leading yoga and Buddhist teachers in the country” by Shambhala Sun Magazine, the VY+M trainings were the first to integrate Buddhism and meditation directly into asana practice in New York City in 2002. Jill has instigated mindful and creative educational programs for over 28 years.

Jill turned to meditation and yoga over 35 years ago to successfully heal from a debilitating physical condition with acute pain that she was told could never be healed. Her personal triumph became the inspiration and drive to guide as many people as possible in utilizing and understanding their own mind, heart and body to help themselves.

Jill’s next workshop is this weekend, Self-Compassion: The Ultimate Pursuit, November 15 at Namaste Berkeley. 

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20

Namaste Teachers: Meet David Schlussel

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

Meet David Schlussel

How long have you been at Namaste?
I first taught at Namaste Rockridge in 2003. I dropped my early morning class there when my second daughter was born. I have been teaching at the location that is now Namaste Berkeley since 2003.

What inspired you to become a yoga instructor?
My yoga practice helped lift the veil of conditioning that was running my life. I loved being in my body, being more present, and the gift that yoga is. I wanted to share it right away. I found that I was always talking and sharing about yoga with people after class, and found I had facility for translating my breakthroughs into words, and could help people with their practice. A yoga teacher friend suggested I practice sincerely for five years before I went into teaching, and that’s what I did.

Your favorite literature on yoga or meditation?
Tantric Quest by Daniel Odier

Best advice you have ever received relating to your practice?
Practice less, more often.

Your favorite self-care practices?
Standing barefoot in the garden, micro practices (just spending one second being present, noticing my breath).

What is your morning routine?
Morning cuddles with the family, breakfast, kids to school, micro practice, business…

David

What are you involved with outside the studio?
EcoGameChangers, trying to gamify the redirection of our culture from consumerism to environmentalism, spreading yoga to the underserved through United Playaz.

How often do you practice?
A little every day.

Absolute favorite asana?
Schlusselasana, it’s a twisted thigh stretched bound pigeon.

Do you have a favorite yoga story?
A student came up to me after class a few months ago, looking at me curiously, then looking at his thumb which he was bending and straightening, then looking back at me, back to his thumb, and so on. He said something like: “I injured my thumb in elementary school. I haven’t been able to straighten it ever since. Until today, in savasana. You were telling us to relax everything, even things that had been tight so long we thought they were bones, and it relaxed and opened. I always had this pain in my hand (pointing at muscle that when clenched to the point of pain would keep thumb from straightening). Thank you.” He left sort of stunned and amazed and grateful. It reminded me how simple it is… Just be willing to feel everything, to question all assumptions, and to let go.

What is your favorite thing about yoga?
That it’s a quality of being that seems to slice through all challenges when applied.

What is something you wish all of our students understood better?
That it’s a quality of being, not an exercise program. We use the challenges in the physical practice as a forum for cultivating that quality of presence. It doesn’t matter at all whether how well we achieve the poses. What matters is that when we feel challenged, can we still find our breath? Do we still love ourselves?

David

What is your favorite part of the Namaste community?
There is a bright optimism in everyone that works at Namaste. There is a broad approach to yoga: we host many styles and varieties. It goes deep and wide. We have excellent instructors in many styles.

Thoughts on where the yoga industry is headed?
My fear is that it is headed towards “fancy exercise”. My hope is that it is headed towards global awakening. It all depends on which one we feed.

What is your favorite thing about the Bay Area?
The bay area is filled with openness, bright forward thinking, the brightest people, leading the charge in world change for what I consider to be the better. We have some of the best transformational courses, environmental activists, yoga teachers… Things are happening here.


DavidSchlusselProfileBDavid 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.

David began his exploration of yoga with Ashtanga, where he learned the benefit of regular consistent practice. He continued his training by studying Dynamic Yoga, where he discovered the deeper strengths available through activating along the muscular and energetic pathways of the body, and where he developed his passion for yoga philosophy. He is currently inspired by Anusara Yoga, which has infused his practice and teaching with an empowering understanding of alignment, therapeutics, and fun. David’s classes are a flowing celebration of our bodies, designed to exercise, educate, integrate, delight, challenge and recharge. He is known for his warm approachability, contagious curiosity, gentle and liberating hands on adjustments, facilitating healing of old injuries, and offering concepts that support his students both on the mat and in their daily life.

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

View David’s Weekly Class Schedule

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20

Spiritual vs. Physical Yoga

by Sadie Chanlett-Avery

I have been asked, “Why don’t you teach the more ‘spiritual’ kind of yoga?” It’s true that I don’t talk about God and one of my students recently commented that I wasn’t an “Om’er”.

That question puzzles me. It assumes a fundamental separation between body and spirit and implies that we could attend to our physical health or transcend to a higher pursuit.

With clear and erudite teaching, I enjoy classes with more mystical language, Sanskrit chanting, and spiritual themes. However, I cringe at the sing-song, “yoga” voice lacquering on the new age psychobabble. With a mind always chattering about dramas of the past and projections of the future, I don’t need more flowery chatter.

My classes unapologetically invite an internal focus into the body. Tracking sensations, concentrating on form, and appreciating the breath anchor us in the moment. The proprioceptive feedback of movement harnesses the mind. As our bodies and minds unite we dwell fully in the present. With presence, an individual sense of spiritual connection can arise spontaneously.

I want my classroom to be as inclusive as possible so I don’t assume that everyone shares my beliefs. Although we may have different Gods, we have similar bodies. With acute awareness, addressing the quotidian maintenance of the body is a profound practice. My instructions aim to cultivate vivid embodiment, establish optimal alignment, and get students moving. The yoga works its’ magic regardless of our spiritual inclinations.


SadieProfileBSadie Chanlett-Avery, holistic fitness trainer, yoga instructor, and writer, was named a 2013 Athleta Sponsored Athlete. As the In-house Yogi at Clif Bar & Co. she directs the yoga and perinatal programs, trains with kettlebells, and serves on the Wellness Team. Sadie received her teacher certification from Ana Forrest and has immersed for months in the jungles of Costa Rica with Master Yoga and Meditation Teacher, Glenn Black. Her M.A. in Holistic Health Education and multiple fitness certifications lends antomical depth to her innovative and playful classes.

She appreciates the diverse expression of the human genome with the belief that people of all ages and sizes can benefit from exercise and heal with yoga. Teaching for over ten years, she applies ancient yogic principles to individual needs and modern lifestyles.

Sadie blogs at www.activebodystillmind.com.

Blog posts by Sadie: The Dark Side of Detoxing

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