4 Ways to Welcome Autumn's Vata Energy

This past weekend marked the Autumn Equinox and the beginning of the Ayurvedic Vata season. Ayurveda, yoga’s sister science, often correlates seasonal changes with physical and mental changes we may experience within our bodies and minds. Fall is associated with dryness, spontaneity, creativity, airiness, and anxiety.

Too much Vata and you may be left feeling unable to focus, nervous, or overwhelmed with excessive speech or thoughts. An overload of Vata in the body may be causing symptoms like lack of appetite, joint stiffness, and dry skin. In order to balance these characteristics we must pay close attention to how we nourish our bodies through diet, movement, and spiritual practices. Here are a few simple suggestions for some things you can do in each area to help welcome this exciting new season:

Movement: Get Grounded

Try to integrate more standing poses like Warrior 1 and 2, Side Angle Pose, and Triangle. Make sure when you are moving from one pose to the next you avoid any hops or quick transitions. Rather, to combat the frenzied Vata energy, you hold the poses for longer and slowly, deliberately transition from one to the next. During your practice, you can engage your Mula Bandha for more stability and focus on longer exhales to ground your mind.

AshleyWest-1
Namaste Teacher Ashley West Roberts

Nutrition: Warm Up

As the weather cools, our need to heat up increases. Warm yourself from the inside out. Start with warm lemon water in the mornings and spicy herbal teas throughout the afternoon. For lunch and dinner, try cooked vegetables like asparagus, beets, carrots, and sweet potatoes with lots of ginger, cinnamon, and turmeric. Avoid sweets, cold dishes or drinks, dry fruits (apples or pears), and dairy products.

Lemon Tea

Mindfulness: Create Structure

It is important to create a routine during the Vata intense season in order to help the mind stay focused, and the body stay regular. Make a point to engage in some daily rituals like morning dry brushing (great for detoxification), Abhyanga/oil massage, or a warming meditation accompanied by soothing music. Other suggestions would be to choose movement activities that are not too strenuous, but instead focus on flexibility and balance. Seek out Hatha or Yin classes over Vinyasa based yoga in order to keep yourself balanced.

Wellness Tools

Spirituality: Feel Connected

Fall is one of the best seasons to get outside and experience nature’s transformation for yourself. Find a local park or hiking trail where you can sit and notice the brisk autumn winds, dewy mornings, and crinkly colored leaves. Do your best throughout the week to remind yourself of this connection you have with nature. Maybe it means having a small token, such as a beautiful leaf or pinecone, that sits with you on your desk. Another idea would be to rise early; Ayurveda recommends 6 AM during the Autumn months so that you can get the most sunlight possible as our days begin to shorten.

Dog Fall Outdoors


10174922_10202666021745158_698447662340860057_nA San Diego native, Emily moved to the Bay Area four years ago to work with small businesses and non-profits and help them share their stories. Outside of work you can find her hiking the Oakland hills with her dogs, cooking up healthy eats, or volunteering with organizations like Bay Area Wilderness Training.

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20

4 Ways to Welcome Autumn’s Vata Energy

This past weekend marked the Autumn Equinox and the beginning of the Ayurvedic Vata season. Ayurveda, yoga’s sister science, often correlates seasonal changes with physical and mental changes we may experience within our bodies and minds. Fall is associated with dryness, spontaneity, creativity, airiness, and anxiety.

Too much Vata and you may be left feeling unable to focus, nervous, or overwhelmed with excessive speech or thoughts. An overload of Vata in the body may be causing symptoms like lack of appetite, joint stiffness, and dry skin. In order to balance these characteristics we must pay close attention to how we nourish our bodies through diet, movement, and spiritual practices. Here are a few simple suggestions for some things you can do in each area to help welcome this exciting new season:

Movement: Get Grounded

Try to integrate more standing poses like Warrior 1 and 2, Side Angle Pose, and Triangle. Make sure when you are moving from one pose to the next you avoid any hops or quick transitions. Rather, to combat the frenzied Vata energy, you hold the poses for longer and slowly, deliberately transition from one to the next. During your practice, you can engage your Mula Bandha for more stability and focus on longer exhales to ground your mind.

AshleyWest-1
Namaste Teacher Ashley West Roberts

Nutrition: Warm Up

As the weather cools, our need to heat up increases. Warm yourself from the inside out. Start with warm lemon water in the mornings and spicy herbal teas throughout the afternoon. For lunch and dinner, try cooked vegetables like asparagus, beets, carrots, and sweet potatoes with lots of ginger, cinnamon, and turmeric. Avoid sweets, cold dishes or drinks, dry fruits (apples or pears), and dairy products.

Lemon Tea

Mindfulness: Create Structure

It is important to create a routine during the Vata intense season in order to help the mind stay focused, and the body stay regular. Make a point to engage in some daily rituals like morning dry brushing (great for detoxification), Abhyanga/oil massage, or a warming meditation accompanied by soothing music. Other suggestions would be to choose movement activities that are not too strenuous, but instead focus on flexibility and balance. Seek out Hatha or Yin classes over Vinyasa based yoga in order to keep yourself balanced.

Wellness Tools

Spirituality: Feel Connected

Fall is one of the best seasons to get outside and experience nature’s transformation for yourself. Find a local park or hiking trail where you can sit and notice the brisk autumn winds, dewy mornings, and crinkly colored leaves. Do your best throughout the week to remind yourself of this connection you have with nature. Maybe it means having a small token, such as a beautiful leaf or pinecone, that sits with you on your desk. Another idea would be to rise early; Ayurveda recommends 6 AM during the Autumn months so that you can get the most sunlight possible as our days begin to shorten.

Dog Fall Outdoors


10174922_10202666021745158_698447662340860057_nA San Diego native, Emily moved to the Bay Area four years ago to work with small businesses and non-profits and help them share their stories. Outside of work you can find her hiking the Oakland hills with her dogs, cooking up healthy eats, or volunteering with organizations like Bay Area Wilderness Training.

Please follow and like us:
20

The Middle Path of Parenting

by Rebekkah LaDyne [This post originally appeared on Rebekkah’s blog, This Mindful Life]

A colleague of mine, who has been practicing and teaching meditation for a long time, said to me, “Before I had kids I never knew how angry I could feel.” Ahh, sigh. Our kids bring out the best and the worst in us at times. And yet isn’t it sooo taboo to feel angry, especially at our beloved children? However we all sometimes do. I mean I do, don’t you?

From what I’m hearing “on the street” lately, it seems to me that the “conscious parenting” camp, which is a very respectable map for encouraging family connection and emotionally intelligent children, comes down too hard on the parents. The message I’m hearing, and that it seems my friends and neighbors are internalizing, is that we are supposed to always know just what to say, just how to resolve, how to console, lift up, teach and role model for our children. I’ve seen so many books and videos that offer really valuable information about how to raise happy healthy children but sometimes the main message that comes across is that we parents should all be trying just a little (or a lot) harder.

It leaves me wondering, where are our advocates? When does a book or video series get produced that talks about happy, emotionally intelligent parents, one that lets us make mistakes, foible and kindly lets us off the hook for getting it wrong sometimes?

Recently, at the park with a friend, while our gaggle of children played, my friend confided in me, “I blew it with my kids this morning.” “Me too,” I say. “Really?” she replies, very surprised. And the added guilt that, “I, the Mindfulness teacher, should never mess up,” comes traipsing right into my head. I take a breath and send that thought on out. “Yes, I think everyone does sometimes. This is a hard job!” I smile and say (for both of our benefits).

“I don’t think anyone really admits it though.” she responds. “Well we all should.” I sigh, “We’re only making ourselves more miserable with these impossibly high standards.”

It all makes me think of the extremes and impossible standards that Siddhartha Gautama (the man who later became the buddha) discovered. His pendulum swung between having all pleasures and comforts and having none of them. Much to his surprise, all imaginable pleasures did not bring lasting happiness. So he went running from them, only to discover that denying all all pleasures was nota source of lasting happiness either. The extremes were leading to unhappiness not away from it.

“There is addiction to indulgence of sense-pleasures, which is unworthy, and unprofitable; and there is addiction to self-mortification, which is painful, unworthy, and unprofitable.” -Siddhartha Gautama

The extremes in parenting might be described as: Being totally passionate, aka obsessed, about being the perfect, excellent, grade A parent – a source of unhappiness; or being uninvolved, checked out, and giving up on the whole process of parenting – a source of unhappiness.

Mr. Gautama discovered that neither extreme was satisfying in part because each led to obsession and “addiction”. He discovered that the middle way was the path of happiness. And that not getting “addicted” to the seemingly perfect extremes was a key.

I think we could use more middle way parenting. Right away I think of pediatrician and psychoanalyst, D. Winnicott’s research on ‘good enough parenting’ and the idea that “ordinary devotion” from a parent is enough to help the child feel “alive and real in one’s mind and body.”

I’ve fallen prey to the fantasy that if I just scowl at myself hard enough for being impatient, it will make me more patient…It never works.

g+a-banner

When I am able to maintain mindfulness during a row with my child, I have thoughts but they don’t have me. And if I notice that my self talk is aghast at my own feelings and reactions it always revs my engine higher, making the conflict worse. If instead I am kind to my feelings, understanding of my own thoughts as well as the feelings and thoughts of my child, it deescalates much more easily.

So just as the middle way to enlightenment asks that we not distract ourselves with perfect and imperfect “practice” but rather just keep showing up, being mindful, taking time to sit and breathe and trusting the practice will work through us, I believe (even though I forget sometimes too) that the same is true for middle way parenting. Keep showing up, keep talking through the blunders and relishing in the sweetness, keep breathing through the flip outs (your child’s and yours). And kindly allow the ups and downs of it all.

Jack Kornfield, teacher, author and co founder of IMS and SRMC, said, “We couldn’t hire a better master teacher from anywhere – some amazing and wise person who would really take us to task on growing our compassion, patience, love in the face of adversity – then these little people we live with called our children. They are the greatest, most diligent, hard driving teachers we will ever know.”

Mindfulness if the process of beginning again and again, wrote Sharon Salzberg teacher, author and co founder of IMS and NYI.

Lately I’ve been mindlessly expecting perfection and completely not achieving it. (Deep breath.)

As I begin again I know these next few mindful days will not just be easier but also more loving and patient, to my sweet children, to my partner and last but not least, to myself.

One of my favorite stories (and illustrations of the middle way of leadership) is of the Dalai Lama. He made a clear translation error in front of, oh, thousands of people. He went so far as to argue back and forth with his translator about the error and after several exchanges of his translator very respectfully saying, “Your holiness the translation is ‘x’, not ‘y’, the Dalai Lama’s eyes lit up, and he said, “Oh yes, you are right. Ha ha ha, I made a mistake.” He then bowed to translator, interviewer and all, and simply went on with a big smile on his face.

May we all be so graceful and light-hearted in the face of our next parenting mistake! One foot in front of the other down the middle way.


pic_aboutrebekkah

Rebekkah’s informal and accessible manner makes learning Mindfulness easy.

Rebekkah has been practicing Mindfulness, Meditation and Yoga for over 20 years and been teaching these wisdom traditions for the last 15 years. She teaches Embodied Mindfulness by guiding each student to bring the practice not just into the head but into the heart and body as well. As director and lead teacher of a thriving Yoga and Mindfulness Center from 1998 – 2008 Rebekkah guided thousands of students to reconnect with their hearts, minds and bodies. She taught at Spirit Rock Meditation center as their ongoing Family Program Teacher from 2010 – 2013. Currently, through this mindful life, she delights in teaching Mindfulness to families, teens and adults through her private practice, workshops, and retreats.

Rebekkah is leading a Mother-Daughter Mindfulness Series beginning this week!

MOTHER-DAUGHTER MINDFULNESS: A 5 WEEK SERIES FOR 8YR-10YR OLDS  with Rebekkah LaDyne

5 Wednesdays: February 25 – March 25
4:30-5:30pm | 8-10 year olds + mom
Namaste Berkeley

 

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20

Ayurvedic Cleansing 101

If the idea of a cleanse makes you cringe – keep reading.  Forget crazy diets or extreme measures and let yourself be cradled by the sweet embrace of Ayurvedic medicine. Ayurveda, a 5,000 year old ancient medicinal tradition from India, is a lifestyle. Ayurveda emphasizes re-establishing balance in the body through diet, lifestyle, exercise, and body cleansing, and on the health of the mind, body, and spirit. Participating in an Ayurvedic cleanse is not just about losing weight or resetting your digestion – it can be an opportunity for an entire lifestyle shift.

Timing is also important for cleanses. The dry and windy nature of fall is deeply taxing for the skin, joints, nerves and adrenals. Ayurveda is the perfect system to support your graceful transition from hot, full and dry summer into a more balanced fall. This is why Kameko Shibata is offering a 10-day Ayurvedically inspired cleanse that will leave your body, mind, and spirit nourished for the season ahead.

Still curious about if a cleanse is something you should commit to?

Here is a little Q & A to help calm the mind’s questions:

Will we be fasting?

Nope, its healthier to keep the digestive system working at a slower reduced rate than to suddenly shut it off altogether. There is an option to only take liquids (miso, broth, soups, juice) for one day , but I only recommend that to more kapha/pitta clients, or if you have the day off. No major work deadlines on juice!

What exactly is on the menu? 

Forget any ideas about only eating lettuce and water. Instead, imagine a delicious plate of red lentils and rich cooked greens or an afternoon snack of fresh fruit. During this Ayurvedic inspired cleanse you will be eating whole foods packed with nutrients like miso soup and quinoa with medicinal pesto and fresh cilantro. The idea is not to starve your system, but rather refresh through a balanced diet that will give your digestive system a break and nourish you from the inside out.

lentils and cooked greens

What won’t I be having?

Think anything that is toxic to the body or mind. This includes alcohol, refined sugars, caffeine, meat, smoking, and excess social media. Although these things in small doses are acceptable on a day to day basis, this cleanse will give your body the opportunity to heal from any chronic use, allowing you to start your relationship with these items with a clean slate (if you even choose to return!).

Why cleanse in the fall?

The heat and celebration of summer leaves us very dry and depleted. Then fall, vata time of year, hits full force, super busy, dry, transitions everywhere! It’s essential to ground, hydrate and nourish our bodies so we can handle the fullness of transition with grace!

Is it all about food?

Nope! Food is part of it, but cleansing is an ancient Ayurvedic art, that includes the mental and emotions systems as well as the physical body. You will be asked to do a guided daily meditation and pranayama practice to sooth the nervous system. You will be asked to practice self care- oilinate your skin and use a neti pot. You will be asked to journal/reflect on your patterns and emotions related to food, stimulants and self-care. This cleanse is a holistic experience!

Neti Pot

Will I lose weight?

Depends on how different this diet is to your normal diet. The goal is not to lose weight, this is an opportunity to cleanse and relax the system not lose weight. if you struggle with weight what this cleanse offers is an opportunity to cut back on unhealthy habits to notice where you have patterns and attachments to food. Going forward you might not choose to use so many foods/substances that trigger you.

Will it be hard?

The first 3 days are usually the hardest especially if you are cutting out caffeine and sugar for the first time in awhile. Caffeine and sugar affect our endorphin levels and we feel bummed without them. After about 3 days your body normalizes and you no longer feel so strong cravings or a dependency on toxic substances. This is why its nice to do it with the support of a group. We can email each other words of support and advice for what is helping us each to stay focused.

What will I tell my friends? How do I deal with going out? 

Tell your friends and loved ones that you are taking a week to reset your digestive system, and balance your mental and emotional health. You can explain that as you come out of summer and into Fall you want to feel grounded and nourished. Ask them to join you. Tell them you are taking responsibility for your own health. If you end up going at it alone, know that this is not forever. It is one week that will set you up for months of healthier living.


KamekoProfileBWELLNESS 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

Mama, I Hate You: A Lesson on Peace and Parenting

by Rebekkah LaDyne [This post originally appeared on Rebekkah’s blog, This Mindful Life]

Mama, I Hate You.

..said my little girl, looking up at me with sadness and anger in her eyes. This from a girl who really loves her mama. She’s my daughter who often says she does not want to go to school or even playdates because she would rather “be with mama.”

On the morning of her birthday party my daughter had a special breakfast at a restaurant with her grandmother – kind-hearted grandma who incidentally uses the word “hate” frequently. It’s a generational thing, I tell myself, and yet, when grandma is visiting, “hate” always seems to make a few cameo appearances in my daughter’s speech. But until this morning it had never been used to describe how she feels about me.

While she was out for her party day breakfast, I had been busy hiding surprises all over our yard. As grandma’s car pulled into the driveway, my husband jumped outside and called to me, “Stall them,” as he ran to our backyard to hide more surprises. I headed out front as casually as possible and kept everyone in the driveway interviewing them about their restaurant adventure. I commended myself for successfully acting nonchalant while inside I felt slightly frantic – I still needed to frost the cake, set out the snacks, and get my girls dressed. After the hiding was complete and everyone back inside, I rushed around like a slightly off-kilter tornado. As I whirled this way and that, I was all too aware that I needed to calm myself so I could provide the most important element of the party for my little girl, a settled and present mama. But centered mama was no where to be seen at that time. When my daughters started protesting about getting dressed for the party, I was quick to cut them off at the pass. Firm and uncompromising mama was now in residence, kids were going to get dressed and the stern tornado—me—was off to frost the cake. Birthday girl was not happy with the frosting. Her displeasure was made clear as she hid from her cake inside my apron.

Mama’s tornado was desperately trying to complete its tasks without leaving any rubble in its wake.

I was losing my patience despite my efforts to play it cool and be the friendly, calm, loving mama I wanted to be right then. While I attempted to smile and “fix it” (the cake), my tension was mounting and the rock in my back that appears when I am forgetting my mindfulness was pressing hard on my spine. Apparently the birthday girl felt tense too, because that’s when the dreaded declaration made its debut: “Mama, I hate you.” At first I felt startled. Then I felt frustrated with grandma, whom I blamed for re-injecting this high-octane word into our household. And finally, I was sobered. “Mama, I hate you” had been my mindfulness bell. It had pulled me out of the mindset of there and then — the party fun will begin out there in the yard (with all the fun things I’ve been breaking my back to hide) and the cake will be enjoyed then, during the fun, fun party we are about to have, (enjoying it now is of no importance). This mindfulness bell had brought me back to the here and now. The fun birthday celebration for my little girl was right now, not then, and right here, not there.

“Mama, I hate you” echoed in my head once again and I got what she was telling me. She hated how I was being. The rushed, frantic, short-tempered mama who was throwing this party was not the mama that my daughter wanted to spend her party day with. I was being a mama to be hated.

When I realized all of this I scooped her up in hugs, kisses and empathy. While we talked through the incident; each of us apologizing and conceding to use our kind words and calm bodies, something more important was being transmitted, and it did not come from what we were saying. As we were talking, my body was softening, my frantic energy was transforming into calm, and I was with my daughter for the first time since she’d come home. I was finally in the here and now. She responded right away to my presence and as we went to the kitchen to finish the cake together I was careful to sidestep any of my own inner reactivity at her delivery of this important message. While, “I hate you” is not the way I would have wished to receive her plea for me to return to her, those were the words she had at that time and so I chose to just hear her message. After I had returned to my body and my mindfulness, and saw clearly that what I had intended to do was very different from what I had actually been doing, the tornado flew away. I was relieved to be left there in the yard on a bright sunny day with my family and a lovely party ahead of us… and I can happily share that it turned out to be a truly wonderful day.


pic_aboutrebekkah

Rebekkah’s informal and accessible manner makes learning Mindfulness easy.

Rebekkah has been practicing Mindfulness, Meditation and Yoga for over 20 years and been teaching these wisdom traditions for the last 15 years. She teaches Embodied Mindfulness by guiding each student to bring the practice not just into the head but into the heart and body as well. As director and lead teacher of a thriving Yoga and Mindfulness Center from 1998 – 2008 Rebekkah guided thousands of students to reconnect with their hearts, minds and bodies. She taught at Spirit Rock Meditation center as their ongoing Family Program Teacher from 2010 – 2013. Currently, through this mindful life, she delights in teaching Mindfulness to families, teens and adults through her private practice, workshops, and retreats.

Rebekkah is leading a Mother-Daughter Mindfulness Series beginning next week!

Wednesdays October 1 – 29
4:00-4:40pm
7-8 year olds + mom
Namaste Berkeley
Wednesdays October 1 – 29
4:45-5:45pm
9-10 year olds + mom
Namaste Berkeley
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20

Let's Bridge The Gap Between Yoga Teacher And Student

by Judy Rukat

[This post originally appears on DoYouYoga.com]

The yoga mat, aka a rectangular microcosm of life at large, provides a springboard into the depths of self study and psychospiritual exploration. It makes sense that as yogis, we can and will experience “triggers” or moments that plunge us deep into positive and negative memories or more intensely, into past traumas.

As teachers, not only do we need to practice mindfulness around our language, but also a willingness to take responsibility for the atmosphere, tone, and emotional ambience we provide for our students. We provide a safe and nurturing space for others to show up with their vulnerabilities, unrecognized expectations, and inevitably…their projections.

The unspoken conversation that is constantly going on can be a complex territory to navigate through while simultaneously flowing through a sequence. As an instructor, one cannot help occasionally placing a “me against them” barrier between teacher and students.

How A Yoga Community Thrives

The sangha or yoga community thrives when the teacher can successfully offer an air of unconditional acceptance and support with the ability to react on the spot—not just with proper alignment and cueing of the physical asana practice, but also in dealing with the frustrations and feelings of inadequacy when the students confront challenges.

A teacher must discern at times between a voice that demonstrates tough love with positive encouragement, and the voice of a concerned parent cautioning one from pushing too far too fast. As much as we remind our students to practice beginner’s mind on their mats, as teachers, we can also benefit from that very same advice.

Practice treating each student as an individual rather than looking over their postures and picking at “this” while pulling at “that”—as I have recently experienced in some alignment-based classes. The goal of unrealistic perfection exists everywhere, and yoga provides a retreat for introspection beyond those external pressures.

Both student and teacher can empathize that showing up on the mat is not always easy, and that each person brings a tremendous amount of emotional energy with them to class. Whatever a particular student needs today will change tomorrow, and the same holds true for the class a teacher offers.

We Are All Students AND Teachers

A teacher can prevent an authentic empathic connection to form by feeling defensive, feigning a cool detachment or react indifferently to their own fear of being judged by students. Similarly, feeling unseen or being given a less than thoughtful physical or verbal adjustment can challenge a student’s ability to trust a teacher. And in some cases, their ability to trust the practice itself.

Perhaps, understanding that both teacher and student have vulnerabilities and fears, and a huge part of the healing process of yoga as it unfolds day after day, teaches us all forgiveness and patience.

We are all students and teachers to each other constantly, and by remembering that our learning never stops, we can bring the present moment into our consciousness and live it on and off our mats.

We can take the guru off the pedestal. Instead, we will bring the teacher/student relationship to the forefront because it is through critical self inquiry – where a student has the space and freedom to question the teacher’s intention – that deep understanding of the self and compassion for others can occur.

Image credit: Rob Martel / Yogi: Judy Rukat


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

Please follow and like us:
20

Let’s Bridge The Gap Between Yoga Teacher And Student

by Judy Rukat

[This post originally appears on DoYouYoga.com]

The yoga mat, aka a rectangular microcosm of life at large, provides a springboard into the depths of self study and psychospiritual exploration. It makes sense that as yogis, we can and will experience “triggers” or moments that plunge us deep into positive and negative memories or more intensely, into past traumas.

As teachers, not only do we need to practice mindfulness around our language, but also a willingness to take responsibility for the atmosphere, tone, and emotional ambience we provide for our students. We provide a safe and nurturing space for others to show up with their vulnerabilities, unrecognized expectations, and inevitably…their projections.

The unspoken conversation that is constantly going on can be a complex territory to navigate through while simultaneously flowing through a sequence. As an instructor, one cannot help occasionally placing a “me against them” barrier between teacher and students.

How A Yoga Community Thrives

The sangha or yoga community thrives when the teacher can successfully offer an air of unconditional acceptance and support with the ability to react on the spot—not just with proper alignment and cueing of the physical asana practice, but also in dealing with the frustrations and feelings of inadequacy when the students confront challenges.

A teacher must discern at times between a voice that demonstrates tough love with positive encouragement, and the voice of a concerned parent cautioning one from pushing too far too fast. As much as we remind our students to practice beginner’s mind on their mats, as teachers, we can also benefit from that very same advice.

Practice treating each student as an individual rather than looking over their postures and picking at “this” while pulling at “that”—as I have recently experienced in some alignment-based classes. The goal of unrealistic perfection exists everywhere, and yoga provides a retreat for introspection beyond those external pressures.

Both student and teacher can empathize that showing up on the mat is not always easy, and that each person brings a tremendous amount of emotional energy with them to class. Whatever a particular student needs today will change tomorrow, and the same holds true for the class a teacher offers.

We Are All Students AND Teachers

A teacher can prevent an authentic empathic connection to form by feeling defensive, feigning a cool detachment or react indifferently to their own fear of being judged by students. Similarly, feeling unseen or being given a less than thoughtful physical or verbal adjustment can challenge a student’s ability to trust a teacher. And in some cases, their ability to trust the practice itself.

Perhaps, understanding that both teacher and student have vulnerabilities and fears, and a huge part of the healing process of yoga as it unfolds day after day, teaches us all forgiveness and patience.

We are all students and teachers to each other constantly, and by remembering that our learning never stops, we can bring the present moment into our consciousness and live it on and off our mats.

We can take the guru off the pedestal. Instead, we will bring the teacher/student relationship to the forefront because it is through critical self inquiry – where a student has the space and freedom to question the teacher’s intention – that deep understanding of the self and compassion for others can occur.

Image credit: Rob Martel / Yogi: Judy Rukat


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

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20

Namaste Tribe: Meet Sophie

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 Namaste Studio Manager (and Goddess of All Things Namaste): Sophie Geaney

Who are you?
I’m Sophie and I am from Oakland, right near our lovely Grand Lake studio.

How long have you been with Namaste?
I have been with Namaste since February 2011, 2 and a half years!

What do you do here?
I am the studio manager of all of our locations. I work closely with our amazing front desk team as well as the studio director and owner to make sure we are bringing our clients the best services possible, while also having the most fun possible. Along with managing our desk staff, I manage our Wellness program which has recently expanded into our Berkeley location, I am very excited about it! I really love expanding my role each year to encompass more and more – we are constantly growing!

Best advice you have ever gotten?
“Find something you love and make a living out of it.”

What are your favorite self care practices?
I am prone to headaches so I am often indulging in nourishing self care practices to ease the pain. My favorites include yoga, epsom salt baths, reading, massages and napping.

What is your favorite way to spend a Sunday?
I will most likely be out exploring California by hiking, canoeing, swimming, picnic-ing or cuddling under the trees. Even though I have lived in the Bay Area most of my life, I am still in awe of the beautiful and diverse nature we have at our fingertips. My favorite places include Point Reyes, Mt Tam, Redwood parks anywhere anytime and Big Sur, but my list continues to grow…

What is your favorite thing about yoga?
Yoga does the one thing that is hardest for me to do: it slows me down. For that, I am SUPER grateful! It is my goal to walk through the world as I do post yoga- all the time.


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An Oakland resident for much of her life, Sophie’s love and respect for the city (i.e. the Oakland A’s) has never waned. One day in late 2010 as she made her usual Arizmendi run, she saw the sign for Namaste Grand Lake’s opening. Although still in the middle of undergrad at NYU, she had an auspicious feeling that this yoga studio would someday occupy a special place in her heart. Two years later, Namaste is her second home as she is studio manager for all three locations. Yoga is one of the most effective ways to ground this Air sign and she is eternally grateful for the growth, community and all around yumminess that Namaste offers her on the daily.

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Mindfulness Tools for Today: An Intro to MBSR

Video by Rebekkah LaDyne

At Namaste, we strive to offer programs that we feel can easily be integrated into our modern lives. Mindfulness is something all yogis strive for but really is a fantastic practice for everyone, whether they have a yoga practice or not. Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction is a way of separating yourself from the thoughts that trigger negative emotions, therefore allowing space between you and the urge to react to those thoughts that often trigger stress. MBSR has been praised by people across all demographics, industries, and schools of thought as a scientifically proven method for treating depression, anxiety and insomnia.

Our thoughts are extremely powerful and sometimes, when left unchecked, can manifest into physical illnesses. The beauty behind MBSR is that it does not teach us to ignore stress and illness, but rather to relate to them in a new way. Changing our perspective us gives us a new freedom and ability to approach our problems with a calm, level head.

In this article from PsychCentral.com, Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn (the founder of MBSR), acknowledges that “there are few outright cures for chronic diseases or for stress-related disorders,” however, “it is possible for us to heal ourselves — to learn to live with and work with conditions that present themselves in the moment. Healing implies the possibility that we can relate differently to illness, disability and even death, as we learn to see with eyes of wholeness.”

If you are interested in learning more about this holistic practice, we encourage you to watch the video below and consider attending our September MBSR workshop series!

This post originally appeared on Rebekkah’s blog The Mindful LifeMindfulness practice can invite us to allow our experience to be as it is, opening to, accepting it. Mindfulness can also help us to take wise action, and to incline the mind away from unhelpful thoughts. Find out more about these practices with this pithy teaching.

 



pic_aboutrebekkahAs director and lead teacher of a thriving Yoga and Mindfulness Center from 1998 – 2008 Rebekkah guided thousands of students to reconnect with their hearts, minds and bodies. She taught at Spirit Rock Meditation center as their ongoing Family Program Teacher from 2010 – 2013. Currently, she delights in teaching Mindfulness to families, teens and adults through her private practice, workshops, and retreats. 

Join Rebekkah in her upcoming 8-week series beginning September 14th.

FREE OPEN HOUSE SEPTEMBER 7th. 

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Mae's Magic Chia Seed Pudding

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

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

Chia SeedMae’s Magic Chia Seed Pudding Recipe

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

Instructions:

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

2.) Stir.

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

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

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

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

Chia Seed

 

 

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