Yogi’s Choice: Holiday Gift Guide

Give gifts from the heart this year. Shop local and support local business. It is its own form of activism.

Here, some of our top picks from the boutiques.

  1. Manduka Eko-Lite yoga mat. This mat gets high marks from our staff. It’s sticky and eco-friendly, made from biodegradable natural tree rubber.
  2. Crystal candleholder. Made of natural crystal, it shimmers and shines in its beauty. Need I say more?
  3. Leslie Francesca Druzy studs. We’ve got tons of sizes and styles of these druzy quartz beauties to add sparkle to any outfit, or to fill those tiny boxes that make the best presents.
  4. Sueded Tassel earrings. Not to confuse the issue but there is long and short, necklaces and earrings, in 6 different shimmery colors.
  5. Engraved Palo Santo. Are you a fan of scent? This aromatic wood has been engraved with positive intention and can be burned for ritual or ceremonial purposes. Prepare to be covered in a cloud of heavenly scent. (Perfect stocking stuffer!)
  6. Affirmations Soy Candles. The candles are soy. The scents are crisp and fresh. The message is clear. (Perfect stocking stuffer!)
  7. Caraucci fingerless gloves. Keep warm in California style! Full color pallette to choose from. (Perfect stocking stuffer!)
  8. Gods and Goddesses card deck. Add a little intention and ritual to your life with one of our many card decks. From tarot cards to mudras, there is a deck for you.
  9. Don’t forget — the trusty GIFT CARD. Good for any service (yoga, massage, workshops, trainings) and product (yoga accessories, clothing, lifestyle stuff, and more).
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  10. Aratta hand embroidered scarf. Wrap your loves up warm and cozy this season. So many scarves to choose from around here!
  11. Wood Engraving by Gneiss Wood. Each piece of driftwood treasure is engraved with a special and meaningful saying to imbue your days with grounding wisdom. Stop by to see our selection!
  12. Moon Deck. Straight outta Brooklyn, this sweet sweet deck of cards and guidebook comes with the triple goddess engraved on the lid of its wood box. An uplifting and empowering tool.
  13. Wild Unknown Spirit Cloth. A new addition to our Wild Unknown offerings, this cloth is printed with card layouts for tarot. For the seeker in each of us.
  14. Wild Unknown Animal Spirit Deck. Our bestselling deck of gorgeously illustrated animals. Purchase with the guide book for extra insight!

There’s more to come!! So be sure to poke around our retail areas to find those holiday gems.

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Student Stories: Kiersten Anderson

This is YOUR community. We want to continue to make an effort to share the stories of our students and your fellow yogis. Get to know the people who practice next to you. Here is one of our newest stories to share about a yogi who gives back to our world by helping homeless animals. Enjoy!

1. How and when did you first get into yoga?

When I was in undergrad, I developed a nervousness and anxiety from all the major life changes happening to me and this turned into an eating disorder. I hate to say that I came to yoga because I was broken, but I’ve always known that there is more to life than the superficial surface layers. I grew up backpacking and hiking in the Santa Cruz/Big Sur mountains with my dad and felt so at peace in nature. When my anxiety developed and spiraled into a dark place in college, I sought solace in a small, independent yoga studio in San Luis Obispo owned and operated by a warm, knowledgeable and beautiful yogi who exposed me to wonderful physical and spiritual practices like Nia, kundalini, hatha and yin-my favorites to this day! I grew more and more curious about the other limbs of yoga and this “do no harm” lifestyle… I’m forever grateful to Amy and that sacred space she and the students created; it provided a strong foundation for my explorative and knowledge (of self, body and yoga philosophy)-seeking practice today.

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2. What brought you to Namaste? Any favorite teachers?

I came to Namaste seeking a diverse community of teachers, practices and students. I suffered from a really traumatic experience, resulting in the loss of a loved soul, while I was in the Peace Corps a few years ago. I literally searched online for “grief support/Berkeley” and found Ken’s workshop on working through grief through community and yoga. I am forever grateful to him, those I met in that space and the tools with which I came away to continue to process my loss. I love the variety of classes and am always so impressed and inspired by the variety of offerings-workshops, trainings and types of classes. Admittedly, my home base is the Berkeley studio, and I’m still relatively new to Namaste, but I gain so much from Abby Tucker’s classes. I love how she blends philosophy with movement, delivering both with clarity and intention. I walk out of her class with an elevated understanding of myself and others-or sometimes with an incredibly humble feeling of not knowing anything at all 🙂

3. We loved learning that you work for the SF SPCA and have been committed to living a philanthropic life. How does yoga support you in your non-profit career?

I worked with street animals while serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Caribbean and feel beyond Kiersten Andersonlucky to have found my calling in life in animal welfare and hope to get back to working internationally with street dogs in the near future. I continue to be involved with the organization I started, The Vincentian Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (VSPCA) and am so inspired by the local island community responding to our mission to lever kindness to all living beings. I’ve seen, and continue to experience, a lot of tough stuff-but yoga has been my compass. Be it deep belly breathing and meditation, physical asana that’s yang or yin focused, or choosing to practice ahimsa in how I live-yoga anchors me to stay true to my life-intention and brings me into balance when my heart or body are fatigued from working with shelter animals, as I do now. For me, a regular yoga practice brings forth the kind of person I want to be-compassionate, empathetic and continuously learning.

4. Anything else you want to share with our community?

I go through different phases, as I’m sure we all do, of getting lost in the surface level side of yoga-the final pose or those cute new pants that cost more than we know we should be spending. What I enjoy so much about a regular practice is that it reminds me that the beauty lies in the becoming-the process, not the result. As I age and my body changes, I find certain things now more challenging but it excites me to address these challenges and stay tuned into the “feel” rather than the “form”. What we think, we become. Yoga helps me think beautiful and compassionate thoughts about myself and others… reinforcing my life of service to those who cannot speak for themselves. Lokah Samastha Sukhino Bhavantu <3

Have a story you want to share?

Let us know! Shoot us an email at info@ilovenamaste.com with the subject “My Student Story”.

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Uncharted Territory

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

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

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

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

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

[Photo by Alaia at Localwise]

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On Sound Healing

I recently attended Sound Healing with Missy Felsenstein, which I can describe as being on an auditory journey into space. I thought it would be a restful, relaxing experience – but have to admit there were moments of unrest mixed in there for me. Still, i think it is an experience not to be missed! We all need to practice being more restful, and that is the whole point of the exercise.

It did make me wonder — how does it work?

According to current research, the vibrations of sound in various frequencies cause the brain waves to slow down and you start to move into Alpha brainwaves. This state of being is a state of relaxation, a restful place. If you have old injuries, you might feel some tingling in those areas. Once you become more practiced, it is possible that the sound might move you into the Theta brainwave state – this is one which is meditative, and which lives between awake and asleep.

Since no one processes sound in the same way, how this state feels to you and the experience you have will be different than the person next to you.

I found that I moved in and out of the Alpha state of relaxation. But when I would waken to reality, I couldn’t tell you where I had been. It didn’t feel like I had been asleep – it felt like my mind had been doing something – thinking thoughts or travelling down some path, or following the sounds as thought they were a path of footprints — but it was all lost to me when I would become aware of where I was.

Concentrating on sound helps to retrain your nervous system and your brain to learn how to relax. Here’s a tiny snippet of the experience. It’s big and booming, because the planetary gong Uranus was there, so go easy on the volume while you lay in a restful pose and take this auditory experience in.

Join Missy for her next Sound Healing with Restorative Yoga on Sunday, November 13. Sign up here!

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Voting as an Act of Love

Voting as an Act of Love

By Eliza Andrews Richmond

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

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

 

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

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

1013027_475474802545693_1117117261_nEliza Andrews Richmond is Namaste Berkeley Manager, a yoga teacher, an avid adventurer, and an all around amazing gal.
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