We’re so excited to be partnering with Manduka to recognize a Namaste yogi each month that is a staple of our community and who inspires us daily! For our second month we’d like to recognize Alan Perlberg, someone who lifts our spirits when we see him and is extremely dedicated to taking his practice off the mat! We asked Alan to share a little bit more about himself below:
Fun Fact About You?
I find joy in making music
What inspires you?
Falling down and getting back up
When you aren’t on the mat, where can we find you?
Out walking and hiking and spending time with lisa, my wife
Favorite East Bay business (other than Namaste :)?
Sushi Park or the Aurora Theater
How has your yoga practice shaped who you are?
Having the mat as a sacred place to do my own practice and to be part of something bigger …and bringing my practice out into the world
Why do you love Namaste?
Feeling part of a community … lots of classes with wonderful teachers having varied styles … helpful and friendly staff … convenience of Grand Lake location … and great massage too!
A conversation with Reba Gray and Poh Teng about their must have self care practices:
Poh: I love seeing what you’re up to on Instagram. Your self-care practices are random mid-day reminders for me to do self-care. What are some of your favorites?
Reba: Asana practice of course! Also massage, reading in a quiet space, and getting pedicures. In general, doing things more slowly and mindfully.
Poh: You do always have nicely pedicured feet! And you went to southern California this summer?
Reba: Yep, my hubby and I went to San Diego & Santa Barbara. My favorite moment was lunch on the beach with my toes in the sand, laughing with good friends and enjoying the sea breeze. We also got to visit Cold Spring Tavern, a saloon from the 1860s. We shared a really delicious cold beer. Having moments like that are so rejuvenating for me, creating sense memories, you know? I can remember the feeling of toes in the sand, the taste of that cold beer after traveling on a hot, dusty day… Tell me about your favorite self-care practices.
Poh: My favorites are yoga, massage and hiking with my dogs. But really, anything that helps me let go of stress buildup in the body, heart and mind. Last week, I took an hour-long savasana in a sensory deprivation tank. It was my first float. I had the best rest in a very long while. It was much needed as I had recently struggled for a few weeks with minimal sleep due to a nerve impingement injury. The injury is related to my history of neck and shoulder trauma, and was triggered when I broke up a dog fight on a hiking trail. Early this year, I started a new job that requires a long commute, which aggravates the injury. During recovery, I practiced yoga and self-massage daily in addition to receiving regular bodywork. Super thankful for my personal practice, the support of friends in my wellness community and for the body’s ability to heal. What are you working on in your yoga practice?
Reba: I’m really inspired by breath work and meditation lately. I’ve been taking 5-30 minutes a day to sit and observe my breath, or to do some favorite breath practice, like kumbhaka pranayama (breath retention). Breath retention helps me feel less anxious, helps me stay present – I tend to get ahead of myself with planning stuff that’s way off in the future.
Poh: I’ve been really inspired by breath and meditation, too. There’s two parts to the practice for me right now: 1) dharana – resting the mind on the rise and fall of the body, using the body as home base; and 2) svadhyaya – contemplating the habits of the mind that I noticed from the meditation practice.
Reba: And I love sweaty vinyasa with inversions. Home practice is sweet, but I really like the energy of practicing with a whole bunch of yogis in a studio.
Poh: Me, too! Throw in a handful of arm balances and I’m happy.
Reba: You know what else is also self-care? Always having my favorite foods in the fridge. Buying or growing food we like is a really important way to take good care of ourselves. It’s something I struggle with, but when I take the time to slow down and carefully prepare my own food, it is so worth it. I always have spinach, yogurt, Frog Hollow apricot conserve, cheese, and eggs in the fridge.
Poh: Yum! I always have eggs, too. And coconut water, kale, several varieties of hot sauce… and soy milk or soy pudding. My constitution is predominantly pitta-vata. I was advised by ayurveda practitioners to decrease intake of hot sauce and soy, to be careful I don’t go into pitta and vata overdrive. I struggle to give up hot sauce because I’m a child of Malaysia, and I can’t give up soy because it’s a part of my family’s diet for generations. I’m practicing mindfulness and moderation of my habits, slowing down to notice if the foods I choose nourish me or deplete me. It’s all a practice.
Make time for yourself – join Reba and Poh in Power Up + Power Down, an extended, self-care practice. You will power up with joyful and supported back bends, and power down with guided meditation and deep hip openers. Discover stillness in power, and power in stillness.
I’ll start by admitting that I am a serious fan of Alexander Technique! I started studying the technique as a Freshman in college as part of my major in Theater for Social Justice. I was privileged with the opportunity to take both group and private lessons for three years (oh, how I miss you, liberal arts education!) and I found the work deeply profound and lasting.
The technique, very simply, is about learning to let go of harmful tension in your body.
Like yoga and other ‘attention through movement’ practices, it is about focusing your awareness on the body and breath, about noticing your postural habits, your patterns of holding and tensing, and learning to let them go.
It’s about finding a balance between ease and strength. It’s about learning to move through the world with a lightness, a sense of freedom. It really is as good as it sounds!
As an actor, the work becomes a bit more specific. The technique helps you access a “neutral” body. You begin to notice your own physical idiosyncrasies and learn to let them go, to find a more neutral body onto which you can “build character.” You learn safe ways of adding another’s physical characteristics onto your own body’s blank slate. This becomes powerful and technically precise with a deepened awareness of the body and how it moves through space.
You can take the principals of the technique with you, anywhere you go. In a car, on your bike, standing in line. The insight, the knowledge you gain about your body and how to make it feel good, stays with you. I have found this technique to be my best companion on my yoga mat. I know better what my body tends to do and where it tends to hold and overcompensate. I know better how to let that stuff go, how to move more freely, and with ease, into my practice. I know how to better protect myself from injury and repetitive strain, how to keep myself safe and self-soothe. And, most importantly, I have a deepened joy in moving and breathing and the yumminess that comes from taking really good care of myself.
Join us for our Alexander Technique Workshop in June with Tara Sullivan where we’ll learn to stop doing the habits that interfere with our innate ease and can then make conscious choices about how we want to move through life.
How twired are you? First things first, what is twired? Twired = tired + wired. And it’s an epidemic in our society. We are running on empty. Some of us go to bed too late, don’t get enough sleep and then run on adrenaline all day. Others don’t sleep well (due to hormones, stress, alcohol) and then wake up, and move caffeinated and wired through the day. We don’t know how to rest. No one taught us. We think that zoning out to TV, or answering emails on the couch while we down a pint of Ben & Jerry’s, or playing candy crush on our ipad is rest. Think again. Rest involves stopping and we don’t do that well. Some of us are so twired, we’re afraid that if we stop, we may not be able to start again (you know who you are!)
Being busy is the new addiction, and it’s actually a control mechanism that keeps us from feeling. It keeps the fear and the loneliness below the surface. Stopping to rest can be downright frightening. It might mean that we tap into a part of ourselves that we’ve denied and kept hidden for a long time. Stopping and feeling requires that we wake up.
So, how can we learn to rest? Yoga and savasana to the rescue!
Here’s What You Do:
Set a timer for 15-20 minutes. Place a folded blanket under your head as a pillow and a roll under your lower thighs/knees (or put your legs up on a chair or your bed). Place your arms a little away from your sides. Let the weight of your body drop into the floor. Notice your breath. Soften something that feels tense. Do nothing but rest. Attempt to relax, and stay awake. Feel + breathe + be.
Savasana lacks ambition. Savasana is receptive. Savasana is soft and kind. Savasana is about being and not about doing. Savasana is the practice of deliberate stillness. Savasana is the antidote to twired. 15-20 minutes will radically shift your nervous system. You will feel more relaxed, more at ease, more peaceful. The more you practice the easier it becomes, and it will change your life. Your friends, family and co-workers will thank you!
Want More? Try the 30-Day Challenge:
For the next month 30 days, do 15-20 minutes of savasana every day, once a day. Drop the twired – be more at peace – get to know yourself. I promise you won’t regret it! (Oh yeah, let me know how it goes…)
Please let us know in the comments how you feel after the exercise!