It’s crazy to say it, but Namaste has been serving the East Bay community for 15 years now!
Do you remember us way back when?
Our schedule looked a little something like this. We opened the first one room studio at our Rockridge location with about 15 classes on the schedule. We’ve now grown into a full schedule of over 165 classes a week at 3 locations.
Some Things Stay The Same:
- Some of the teachers from those first schedules are still here with us, like Ashley Sharp, Naushon Kabat-Zinn, David Schlussel, and Vickie Russell Bell!
- Some of our students have been with us from Day 1 and continue to be passionate supporters of Namaste. We are so grateful to our whole community, but especially to these folks who believed in us from the very beginning, trusted us to find them amazing teachers, and stuck by us as we evolved into ourselves.
- Our passion for and commitment to bringing yoga to all people will never change.
- The heart and soul of Namaste as an urban refuge and sanctuary remains true.
- We continue to be locally-owned and family-run. From the beginning, owner Kimberly Leo’s dad worked at the front desk. Even while we’ve grown, we still rely on Vera Leo, Kimberly’s mom, to keep our studios connected and humming.
Namaste has been blessed with an incredible tribe of teachers, staff, and students. Our tribe recognizes our commitment to consistency, integrity and community, and we have therefore been able to attract the best teachers in the East Bay. Our front desk staff is phenomenal. They are passionate about bringing yoga to every human. The industry has changed dramatically over the last fifteen years in that yoga is everywhere and all kinds of people are doing it, and people resonate with us because we truly put our heart and soul into the studio.
- Our yoga and wellness offerings will continue to expand.
- We will become a stronger resource for yoga teachers and provide education and offerings to help them to refine their craft.
- We will continue to support our diverse community with more specialty classes that resonate and inspire.
We can’t wait to see what’s next. Follow along on social media and stay in touch!
Our goal this year is to inspire you in your yoga evolution.
Each of us will take our own journey, follow our own twisted path to becoming better or kinder people, feeling more presence in our bodies, tapping into a more sustainable practice, or simply finding inviting self-care rituals. Since winter is the season of compromised immune systems, and the new year provides us the opportunity to dive back into our daily routines with gusto, we thought it was time for some self-care.
We asked our teachers to share their favorite winter rituals.
I use my neti pot daily, especially when traveling, and use a homemade sea salt and sesame oil scrub in the shower a couple times a week to keep my skin glowing.
Inspired? Find Ada’s classes here.
Wrapping up warm and going to the ocean with a hot flask of tea.
Inspired? Find Skeeter’s classes here.
Sensory Deprivation or Float Tanks are a great way to warm and relax the body. It is like a 60-90 minute long savasana (corpse pose) and some people describe it like floating in the ‘void’ or returning to the womb. Please note: some folks newer to floating need to confront their discomfort with smaller and/or quiet spaces. It is the ultimate mini-hibernation for cold weather!
Inspired? Find Ken’s classes here.
- Eliminate sugar after the holiday abundance of treats.
- De-clutter spaces, get rid of extra stuff and enjoy the spacious beginning of a new cycle.
Inspired? Find Rachel’s classes here.
Inspired? Find Naushon’s classes here.
A weekly sea salt or epsom salt bath. Particularly at the end of the week as a way to cleanse your physical and energetic body of stress and tension taken on during the week and start the weekend fresh and clear. Baths have a way of relaxing the muscles, yet create a feeling of lightness. A ritual I love to do at the end of the bath is to let the all the water drain while still lying in the tub and feeling that all stress and energy that no longer serves me is draining from my body with the bathwater. Then rinse off with a cool shower.
Inspired? Find Elana’s classes here.
Rosy Moon + Jill White Lindsay
Ahbyanga — the practice of self massage, is fantastic for not only healthy, soft skin in the winter months, but helps with circulation and hydration. If you run cold like I (Jill) do, use refined sesame oil and massage the entire body before you shower, then rinse off excess oil. After, you’ll feel like you’re wrapped up in a warm cocoon of healing!
Be kind. Always. If that leaves your realm of possibility, get onto your mat or meditation cushion or go outside and do lions breath, or eat chocolate, or call a friend, or do whatever you can do to re-boot. Try again. Kindness.
Inspired? Find Margi’s classes here.
Thank you to our teachers for the wisdom they so willingly impart.
(left to right clockwise):
B Yoga mat. We like to think of the mat as where all the good vibes from your practice are going. We have many brands and types of mats to choose from, and our staff can help you find the yoga mat that is right for your yogi’s lifestyle. You can also click here for our mat guide.
Brass sculpture. Bring a little yogic inspiration into the home with a brass deity. There are so many to choose from, large and small, fat and thin.
Leading with Love. This special little book on yoga and spiritual activism is packed full of beauty and quotes to inspire daily.
Chattra bolsters. This gift is perfect for someone developing their home practice and wanting to bring some restoratives into their practice. These bolsters are handprinted with wood blocks in India, but designed locally in Marin.
Eye pillows. Darken the scene so you have a truly restful savasana. Our eye pillows are handmade in Oakland and filled with lavendar for a fresh scent.
Om brass wall hanging. Sweet little wall addition to the home or office.
(left to right clockwise):
House of Intuition candles (tapers or pillars)
Peace Love water bottle
CBD bath bomb
Made by Rheal concrete hands
Art&Soul sage bundle
Card Decks and Tarot Decks
Amethyst Druzy clusters
Knit gloves or headband
Curated selection of books
House of Intuition bath bombs (only $6!)
Our boutiques are full of so many fun and unique items. Please come by and find the perfect thing for your beloved yogi.
(left to right clockwise):
Lifeflower CBD infused massage oil. This delicious elixir for the skin is loaded with Vitamin E and all organic plant extracts to ensure complete relaxation and relief. Infused with jasmine buds, rose buds, lavender sprigs and chamomile buds, and spiked with a charged rose quartz. Several other CBD products from Lifeflower fill our shelves, including Roll-on oils, bath bombs (see below), Med sticks for extra strength healing, and body wash.
Sundara Muscle and Joint oil. Made with 100% Pure Therapeutic Grade Essential Oils of Basil, Camphor, & Clove. Sundara products are Ayurvedic, handcrafted, non-toxic, all-natural skincare line — they are “food for the skin.” We carry many offerings from the Sundara product line, including bath salts, hair products, and more.
Lifeflower CBD bath bomb Can’t say enough good things about the experience of settling into a warm bath with the therapeutic powers of CBD on your side. Maybe a cup of tea to sip on the side would just push it over the edge of goodness?
Chattra pranayama pillow. One of our favorite local vendors, Ann of Chattra has all her fabrics printed by hand with wood blocks by a family she knows in Jaipur. The fabrics are sewn into cushions in India, and then stuffed in LA into bolsters, zafus and more. Her pranayama cushion is long and slender, and meant to use lengthwise under your spine for a reclined pranayama practice. It is different from using a bolster under your back in that there is more room to fill your back body with breath and does not create as much of a backbend since it is not as high.
House of Intuition magic candles. Each candle is meant to assist with an energetic therapeutic opening, and is filled with intention. Also, once burned to the bottom, you’ll find a super charged stone or crystal at the bottom filled with your intention. Made in LA in small batches.
(left to right clockwise):
Ayur Ayurvedic Copper Bottle. Drinking out of copper has many benefits in the ayurvedic tradition, including improved immunity and digestion, increased metabolism, and arthritic support. Upgrading your drinking vessel to something beautiful will only make you want to drink more water, no better self care than that!
Omcali Body Oils. These ayurvedically inspired oils can be used for daily skin care. These same oils are used in our massage treatements and are made locally in San Francisco, with ingredients from Sonoma.
Sundara Bath Salts. Pretty himalayan salts in a festive container, perfect for gifting. Need to slow down a minute? A bath is highly recommended.
RAD self massage tools. These rollers, rounds, and rods from RAD are the height of self care. Roll out the stress and release sore muscles. Comes with great instructions on how to use on many a body part, plus tons of tutorials online make these tools worth their weight in gold.
House of Intuition bath bombs. These bath bombs were configured around specific intentions (money, love, abundance, etc). Put a little magic in your loved one’s stocking.
Shakti and Bhakti Coloring Books. Illustrated by a local Bay Area artist and chock full of deep yoga philosophy, coloring is a proven form of mindfulness and stress relief.
See you in our boutiques!
You know that bit of the afternoon when time slows to an astonishing pace . . .
and the afternoon drags on and on . . . We have the perfect medicine: The Noon Class.
Namaste has a noon yoga class every weekday at each one of our studios. Our teachers bring their unique flavors, but the outcome of class will always be the same: you will not regret how you spent this hour moving and inspiring the rest of your afternoon. Here is a sneak peek, so you can choose just the right one for your day.
It’s a great re-set for body/mind/heart/spirit. My class highlights the way that yoga is part of Life and can fit into a full day of other tasks.
Focus is on strengthening and stabilizing.
I often pick one area of the body, or a category of poses to emphasize, so that the hour feels both deep and spacious.
We start with movement because i think most folks are coming in with some adrenaline and jittery monday energy. I like to work off a few layers of surface tension before slowing down. About halfway through, we pause to feel and notice the effects of our practice.
Go back into the day with a brighter energy in our bodies, and more spacious presence to engage with the fullness of Life.
In the noon class, I recently connected with a woman i hadn’t seen in 8 years! Her son and my son were in pre-school together, so it was a sweet little reunion, and she told me she’s been receiving my newsletters all that time.
Monday/Wednesday noon at Namaste Rockridge
I try my best to squeeze out every last drop of nectar in our short time together at noon.
We might sweat. We might chant.
Classes are designed so that you may build support and strength while flushing out heaviness and stagnation.
It is my intention that at the 61 minute mark we emerge brighter, clearer, more steady versions of ourselves. And spacious. So spacious. From this place, we greet the rest of our day.
Tuesday/ Thursday noon at Namaste Berkeley
My noon class is a joy. I respect that many of the students are doing a quick transition to and fro work, and I am delighted for the sake of humanity that they choose to spend the hour on the mat with their yoga community.
The class always takes on its own shape depending of the students and energy in the room, but we often start with legs up the wall, and I am careful to get people moving as well as give them time to be still.
We breath a lot, sweat a little, connect deeply.
Move consciously and on occasion giggle at the delight of being in the human form!
Tuesday noon at Namaste Rockridge
Kind and playful philosophy
Creative and precise alignment cues
Tuesday / Thursday noon at Namaste Grand Lake
The vital elements of a modern yoga class are all represented: Pranayama, sankalpa (intention), strong asana with plenty of uplevel/downlevel options, core work, and breath focus throughout.
When I can, I offer hands-on adjustments, and sometimes a little massage during savasana.
Common themes: mindfulness, acceptance, letting go, balance, self love, compassion, being with instead of avoiding… After all, love is not about what you can get, it’s about what you can offer.
Wednesday / Friday noon at Namaste Berkeley
The way I weave in flow, philosophy, biomechanics and fun is a unique combination.
I take people from fixed ideas about what they can and can’t do, towards life as a playful exploration of possibility.
I believe yoga is primarily for relieving the stress we carry as physical tension, so I watch out for it getting too serious and re-activating our habitual stress response.
I like to start slow, mindful and meditative, then build pace to create a mindful sweat, then go deep into whatever action or posture I am focusing on, then drop deeply into meditation.
I had someone come up after class, pointing at his hand, moving his thumb. He said something like “I haven’t been able to move my thumb since an elementary school injury, until today, in savasana, when you had us relax every joint in our body, and my hand just opened…”
Thursday noon at Namaste Rockridge
I cater to the needs of who shows up, listening to their voices, the weather, the news, the moon, the season… we get therapeutic, we flow, we renew and invigorate the day with yogic wisdom and community.
I meet everyone that I can before hand and check in on their needs/ requests.
I give options for levels in almost all poses and flows – opportunities to go further, to pull back, to just be with the breath, to hold still or to flow… i make sure and offer challenge space for more advanced practitioners and space to pull back, breathfull, observe, and feel good about it (“being where you are at is the real yoga”)
I hope my students leave with a sense of inner steadiness and ease, a refresh to their day, a smile in their hearts, a forgiving and wide view of whatever is showing up in life, or the fire to go forth and creatively make change in their world!
“I feel like I have just gone to the spa every time I leave Lucid’s class.” ~ Darya
Friday noon at Namaste Grand Lake
High energy, great world music playlists, slow but vigorous.
Work hard, sweat, breathe, smile, get in a great mood and get ready to relax for your weekend.
Basic but hard, simple sequencing and poses with a focus on building muscular strength.
Full body flow/work out We hit all the major muscle groups to build strength, improve balance and then stretch out what we worked.
Follow along with Sonya Genel as she takes you on a mudra journey…
to cultivate focus and life energy.
A mudra practice has many physical, mental, and emotional benefits. They work with the subtle energetic body and they are a great ally on the spiritual path!
Liked this practice? Join Sonya Genel for her upcoming workshop Beyond Asana, on Saturday, September 29th.
She also teaches public classes at Namaste Rockridge on Mondays and Wednesdays at 7pm. Sign up for class here.
Considerations for Group Yoga Class
Reposted with permission by Domonick Wegesin, The Opener
Last week, the New York Times posted an article about parenting entitled, “Which Is Better, Rewards or Punishments? Neither” In the article, the author described the downside of using punishment in an attempt to shape children’s behavior since “punishments tend to escalate conflict and shut down learning. They elicit a fight or flight response, which means that sophisticated thinking in the frontal cortex goes dark and basic defense mechanisms kick in”.
However, she also points out that reward-use has its pitfalls. Children tend to acclimate to rewards over time and end up wanting more reward for the same work, or want rewards for doing anything, even basics like making their beds or doing their homework. Further, “psychologists have suggested that rewards can decrease our natural motivation and enjoyment…and are associated with lowering creativity”.
Instead, the author highlights the use of corrections that assume that kids naturally have good intentions, are empathetic and want to be team players. Helping them understand the rationale behind why some tasks need to be completed can be motivating enough.
This article was on my mind as I addressed a recurring issue in my yoga classes last week.
During sivasana, the intention is to create an environment of non-doing, a place of quiet and calm. It may be the only moments of non-doing that students experience all day. Despite me repeating this intention over the years, some students choose to leave class during the sivasana period.
When this happened again last week, I got up and followed four students out of the studio and relayed that their disruption was unwelcome. I was frustrated by the disruption, and though I didn’t raise my voice, my tone clearly carried a message of dissatisfaction. This change of vocal tone was enough to be considered punishment, at least by one of the students who later relayed feeling chastised by my remarks. Though my words included the rationale about why it is important to safeguard the quiet, non-doing environment, that message may have been lost if my tone evoked a fight-or-flight reaction. Again, our frontal, logical brain can be highjacked by the more primal fear brain.
In this month’s newsletter I wanted to highlight the rationales for why it is helpful to arrive on time and not leave early to group yoga classes. I do assume that my yoga students have good intentions, are empathetic and have interest in the well-being of the group. However, sometimes ego-driven thought might interfere with those assumptions being manifest.
To follow through with the sivasana example, the ego need to adhere to your schedule may interfere with your ability to perceive that your moving around during sivasana is interfering with the calm of the entire class. In effect, you’ve decided that shaving off a few minutes for your personal schedule is more important than the well-being of a room full of other people. You may rationalize that you are moving quietly, but any movement in a still space is heard and is disruptive. It pulls attention and brings people back into a doing mind. Psychologically, yoga is about ego diminishment, and your decision to prioritize a few minutes for your schedule over the well-being of the entire class is ego aggrandizement.
So what do you do if you need to leave early?
It may be that you have to get home to your kids, or get to an appointment at a time where those last few minutes of class really make all the difference. In this case, let the teacher know before class that you need to leave early and exit the studio before sivasana. Ideally, you will carve out time for your own sivasana before you leave early, even though this means missing some of the closing poses. In this way, you can leave early and not disturb the other students during their sivasana.
On the other side of the class, some students are chronically late. Just as the group has settled in to an introductory meditation or breathing practice, the door opens, foot steps are heard, mats are slapped open, props are fetched, etc. It is hard to not notice these auditory and visual distractions, especially when your own mind is still buzzing from your day.
What to do if you arrive late?
Enter quietly into the studio. If the class is in the middle of a still meditation, then sit or stand by the door until the meditation is complete. Once the class begins moving again, then proceed to set up your mat and join the group.
The other consideration in arriving late is one of safety. Instructors sequence the poses so that early poses warm up and prepare the body for more complicated poses that come later. If you arrive 10-15 minutes late, you may have missed important preparatory poses that make jumping into the advanced poses midstream potentially unsafe. This is rare; over my 12 years of teaching I have asked students on a few occasions not to join the class for this reason.
As teachers, we attend to individuals, but we also have to safeguard the well-being of an entire group. I think of the Utilitarian philosophy of John Stuart Mill in which our actions are intended to create the greatest good for the greatest number of people. This is integral in yogic thinking where we are going beyond I, me and mine and yoking to a greater US. When you have the well-being of the group in mind, it is easier to navigate your individual needs in a way that accommodates the group, even if it may mean a slight inconvenience to you personally.
I appreciate my students’ efforts in making the classes harmonious for everyone. And, if any of my comments as a teacher come across as punishment, I apologize for any unintended harm-doing. It is natural for the ego to be defensive when it is called out for a perceived yoga foul. My intention is to foster the education of the group, not to belittle the individual.
Q+A with Ayurvedic Practitioner Kameko Shibata
Why cleanse in the fall?
The theme of this cleanse is nourishment! Summer is fun, hot, dry and full of play. All the can leave up feeling pretty depleted in the fall. The dry and windy nature of Fall is deeply taxing for the skin, joints, nerves and adrenals. In Ayurveda, Indian classical medicine, we practice gentle detoxifying practices and then nourish and rebuild our tissues. It’s also a great time re-set from summer. Fall can be irregular- weather is hot then cold, schedules shift, so it is the perfect time to create more regular and balanced routines.
Will I be eating only cabbage for a week?
No, that would be boring and likely to give you gas.
What will I be eating?
Red lentils, or moong beans, quinoa, non-soy miso soup, cooked greens, cilantro, medicinal pesto, AVOCADO, fruit on its own.
What won’t I be having?
Alcohol, refined sugars, caffeine, meat, excess social media.
Is it all about food?
No, thank you for asking. 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!
Is this a fad diet?
No, Ayurveda is a lifestyle. Most yogis/ayurvedic practitioners/ spiritual followers, abstain from sugars, caffeine, alcohol, gluten most if not all of the time. I hope you find the food to be delicious and cleansing, and the self-care practices to be something you will continue to use over time. It can just be nice to have some quick-start support, which is what the cleanse does.
Will I 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!
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. those affect our endorphin levels and we feel bummed without them. After about 3 days your body normalizes and you no longer feel so cravey and dependent of substances. This is why its nice to do it with the support of a group. We can email each other-like “damn I was crabby, but now I’m feeling better”
Will I levitate?
Not likely, although if you fast you might fall over . But it could happen. I do believe in possibilities!
What if I miss a meeting?
The final meeting is not a big deal, its just a post fun celebration. If you need to miss the main first meeting email me, I maybe able to phone/email chat with you to get you up to speed.
What if I need to cheat on Wednesday?
Do it with grace! Choose your poison.
What if I’m raw..gluten free…vegan etc?
Email me before it starts we can work around it. The cleanse is already gluten free and vegan (although you have the option of ghee) Raw is a little harder, as ayurveda is all about cooked , simple,warm and easy to digest foods, but it would be a fun challenge.
What will I tell my friends?
That you are taking a week to reset your digestive system, and balance your mental and emotional health to come out of summer feeling grounded and nourished. Ask them to join you. Tell them you are taking responsibility for your own health.
What will I feed my kids?
This maybe the hardest one. Try to have some things pre-made for them. Kids may not like lentils, but the veggie pesto, fresh fruits, miso soup you can often get them to go for. Explain what you are doing so they feel included and interested. Try not to yell at them in the first 3 days!
*Go to Hydration Pesto Recipe: blend like regular pesto in a food processor adding oil as you go. You can add water to thin it out but you must eat it within 3 days if you use water. Use this pesto as a dip w/ veggies or a smear for wraps or thin it out w/ extra olive oil or water for a dressing.
- 1 bunch cilantro
- 1 bunch basil (if in season)
- ¼ bunch dandelion greens or arugula
- 1 fennel bulb
- ½ RAW seeds or nuts (tahini also makes it super creamy)
- 1-2 juiced lemons
- olive oil , spices, salt and water to taste
After reading this you will probably feel ready to join up for Kameko’s Fall Cleanse that begins Saturday, September 29. Don’t be scared, join us in changing your habit and in turn positively influencing your life! Sign up for Kameko’s Fall Cleanse here.
Where do you currently live and how does it inform your life or teaching?
I live in Oakland, CA but my work is international. I travel to teach all over the US and overseas, as well as coach/mentor Kids Yoga Teachers online.
How did you find the practice of yoga? What was your first experience of yoga like?
I was first introduced to Yoga by my parents when I was 15 years old – it was on Fire Island while the sun was setting, on the dock of the bay. My parents were practicing with a private instructor and I was curious to join them. In that moment, everything seemed perfect ~ and it was.
What do you most hope students will get out of your teachings?
My prayer for those who take the Next Generation Yoga Teacher Training with me is that they find joy, connection, purpose and healing. That they reconnect to their inner-child and can play again.
How has yoga influenced your life?
Yoga is a lifestyle for me not a physical practice. It is my way of being including mindful, kind, authentic and vulnerable. My Yoga shows up off the mat primarily in how I care for the environment, eat organic foods, immerse truthfully in my relationships and practice radical self-care. I occasionally go to a Yoga class, and ritually do my own physical practice at home, every morning.
What other forms of movement inspire you?
Dance! I love to dance! Ecstatic dance!
What is your morning or evening routine?
I start every morning the same because if I don’t do my ritual, it effects my whole day. It’s simple … I wake with no alarm, typically after 8 hours of sleep because my body knows. I ritualize my space by lighting incense and lifting the blinds. I boil hot water for tea while simultaneously take my supplements. Then – my favorite … I sit in my cozy window seat & meditate for 20 minutes with the timer on. When I hear the chimes, I continue to sit in silence and gaze out the window, watching & listening to the world (and neighbors) wake up. Next I move my body uging a foam roller, doing Physical Therapy exercises and some of my favorite Yoga poses. Finally, a cell-phone free mindfulness walk outside where i notice my senses and all my surroundings. AND then … I begin to check my notifications. It works!
What is something you often hear yourself repeating in your teaching?
Do you have any wellness, yoga or “life” books, podcasts or blogs you would recommend?
Davidji on Hay House Radio
Anything else you’d like to add?
In addition to leading Kids Yoga Teacher Trainings, I am also the CEO of Next Generation Yoga and a business mentor to Yoga entrepreneurs. I’ve got 21 years on the industry with lots of experience and wisdom to share!
Join us for Jodi’s upcoming training, developed for yoga teachers, school teachers, and more. This 25-hour intensive will provide a comprehensive, hands-on exploration of unique NGY methods for combining the ancient practice of Yoga with the playful nature of children.
When you come into our studios, you are greeted by friendly faces. Have you ever wanted to know more about the beautiful humans behind our front desk that you interact with on a daily basis? We caught up with our Rockridge Front Desk Advisor Anisa Esmail recently and learned many a thing we did not know about her.
What is your favorite emoji at the moment?
Ooooh my favorite emoji would definitely be the “hang loose” emoji.