Sustainability for Your Closet

Earth matters. We’ve really taken our time to try to curate our boutiques with care and concern wherever possible to find low-impact products and to offer sustainability for your closet, home and practice. That’s why, in honor of Earth Day, we are so pleased to be sharing the three sustainable companies we are proudest to be selling in our boutiques right now.

Back Beat Rags

Sustainability in Your Closet Back Beat Rags

Back Beat Rags is committed to the planet and to giving you better choices when it comes to what you wear. Made here in Los Angeles, this company buys locally knitted fabric and works with small, family owned businesses. That way, BackBeatRags supports local makers and creates jobs at every rung of the supply ladder, while also minimizing their environmental imprint. They also use low-impact goods like GOTS-certified organic cotton, recycled cotton, hemp, and tencel.

This video elaborates on the process and concerns that go into making a Back Beat Rag garment.

Groceries

Sustainability in Your Closet | Groceries

Groceries Apparel is a vertically integrated, environmentally friendly and socially responsible company. All of their fabrics are 100% organic, recycled or closed-loop tencel. They use non-toxic or low-impact dyes, are locally made in the USA in their own California factory, ensuring quality and responsible production. Groceries is redefining industry responsibility by supporting family farms, localized manufacturing, living wages, and Monsanto-free, organic ingredients. Its operations empower human beings through fair-trade, fair conditions and fair treatment across its entire supply chain and provide full traceability to its customers.

Girlfriend Collective

 

Girlfriend Collective makes all of their clothing from recycled bottles and recycled fishing nets. They believe in ethical manufacturing, full transparency, and recycled materials.  They believe in body positivity and that health and wellness come in many shapes and sizes, and that representation matters. They believe in taking care of the people who make your clothes, and never putting our bottom line before what’s best for the planet. Their recycled polyester is sourced from Taiwan from post-consumer water bottles.

The bottles are sorted, cleaned, and chipped into feedstock at the center. The processing center is pretty special. It’s owned by a respected Taiwanese family that has been at the forefront of the recycling industry for decades. Once the color sorting is done, we shred them down into tiny chips, wash them again, and place them in transport bags to be shipped to our manufacturing facility. The full story is amazing, and I encourage you to read more about the fabric specifics on their website, where the process is broken down into minute and caring detail.

Please consider shopping locally with us to support these innovative fashion brands that care about the environment. We want to continue supporting these companies that are producing clothing with care and concern, but that takes our consumers caring through their purchases as well.

The purchasing power is in your hands. Buy sustainable with us! Visit our boutiques to see these lines in person (Girlfriend Collective is carried at our Grand Lake boutique, Back Beat Rags and Groceries can be found in our Rockridge location).

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Three Activities to Help Heal a Bereaved Heart

For many years, Ken Breniman has had the honor to hold space for hundreds of people in his Yoga for Grief workshops in the SF Bay Area. In addition to yoga, Ken also serves as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, clinical supervisor and a private practice yoga therapist in the Bay Area.

Ken shares:

I added this subtitle to my Yoga for Greif workshops –Healing Hearts, Healing Bodies – because the grieving process is unique for each one of us and there are a variety of places within our being that unhealed energies or emotions can get stuck. I found that by offering a yoga practice that participants were able to release emotions that had become stuck in the body and helped them move through some very difficult mind states. I also always knew that just a half day of yoga or a 6 week series of yoga sessions could be a safe and supportive space for grieving yogis and yoginis but that it could not ‘cure’ the bereaved heart.   

So what might one do to patiently tend to a healing heart during an extended time of grief?   In my own personal journey and in hearing from participants of these gatherings, I have found that the following three activities have been helpful during the darker days of loss to channel the pain and anguish, and assist in working through the numbness.  These three activities also provide a safe go-to place even after the acute grief response has subsided and we come to realize that there will be waves of grief in the days, months or years to come.   

1. Journaling.

Healing Grief | Journalling

I started journaling when I was a teen and about two years before my mom became ill.  Journaling literally saved my life while I was trying to make sense of my mom’s sudden death. I look back at those journal entries and they were riddled with questions I still don’t have the answers to, but allowed me a space to let my heart’s voice be heard rather than shut down. Over the years, journaling has become my free (and always available) therapist and I continue to write in a journal on a regular basis.  Of course, there are times when the journal sits at the bed side for weeks but for me it has become one of the best tools in times of loss and grief and I highly recommend checking out this website on grief journaling.  

2) Tonglen Meditation     

This can be a powerful practice when done on a regular basis. Tonglen meditation is a Buddhist technique that helps a grieving person find a way to sit with the suffering using the in breath to find a way to release the pain, suffering, despair, anger or other unhealed energies so that we can open our hearts to feel relief, joy, forgiveness, and other healed emotions through the out breath.  Pema Chodron, a great Buddhist nun, has a graceful way of teaching Tonglen.  Check out Pema’s teaching here.

3) Creating an Altar in your home

Healing Grief | Making an AltarAdmittedly, this was the hardest one to begin for me because I somehow thought that a nondenominational eclectic animist like myself who didn’t have any lineage or tradition, didn’t have a foundation for building a sacred space in my home.  Then it dawned on me, that is all the more reason to build one!  No matter what your beliefs or non-beliefs are, if you are mourning the loss of a beloved person, pet or the loss of some thing, (i.e. a relationship, a job, health) you deserve to have an area in your home that helps to ground and center you!  And even though it took me years to find out how powerful my tiny little bookshelf altar would be in my healing journey, I laughed out loud when I searched the web for a ‘how to build an altar in your home’ and found the simplest of instructions. Check out these three steps to creating an altar!

I am prone to borrow Mae West’s wisdom at times like these: “I didn’t say it would be easy, I did say it would be worth it.” I hope you find these tips helpful and if you have any healing tools that you would like to share or if you have any questions on how to deepen your healing practice, please email Ken or share in the comments below!

One final practice I can share is this yoga Swan Dive with Intention.

Swan Dive with Intention

A short practice with Ken Breniman for when you are confronted with grief.

Posted by Namaste Yoga + Wellness on Monday, December 3, 2018

From my healing heart to yours, I wish you solace and peace in your healing journey. Please join me for my next Yoga for Grief workshop, which begins Thursday, April 25.

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Ayurvedic Spring Practice

As we are interconnected with Mother Nature, we can more powerfully keep in tune with ourselves by attuning to her seasonal rhythms. In Ayurveda, Spring is the season to consider ridding the body and mind of some ‘ama’ to experience the highest and brightest energy of spring.

Ama describes the toxic waste, sticky gooey sludge that builds up in the channels of the body.

This occurs when your digestive fire (agni) becomes weak due to improper food combining, too many cold liquids mixed with your meals, overeating, stress, or a compromised immune system. Our body, just like nature, needs space. The lack of space in the digestive channels eventually leads to slower movement of food down the GI tract and decreased absorption of the essential nutrients from the food we eat. In Ayurveda we believe that protecting your digestive fire is the most important factor in maintaining your physical and mental health and will be the primary discuss for our workshop.

Typical treatments to move ama out of the body include one or all of the following practices:

  • Elimination diet
  • Sweating
  • Oil massages
  • Yoga asanas

Consider including a yoga sequence like this into your practice this month to help improve circulation, increase your core temperature, and reduce ama in the body.

Ayurvedic Spring Practice

Ayurveda for SpringJoin Melina for her upcoming Ayurveda for the Spring workshop, on April 28, which will cover all of the poses listed below and more!

  • Sun salutes
  • Joint rotations
  • Wide leg lunges
  • Kapalabhati breathing
  • Squat variations

Melina Meza has been sharing her knowledge of Hatha Yoga, Ayurveda, and whole foods nutrition with yogis around the world for over 20 years. Melina pioneered Seasonal Vinyasa, an innovative multi-disciplined approach to well-being, and is the author of the Art of Sequencing books, creator of the Yoga for the Seasons – Fall Vinyasa DVD, and co-director of 8 Limbs Yoga Centers 200- and 500-Hour Teachers’ Training Program in Seattle, Washington. Join Melina for her public classes at Namaste.

 

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Manage Stress Mindfully

Stress is something everyone faces on a daily basis. Stressful situations, whether it’s getting stuck in traffic or tripping over the dog, all activate the same fight-or-flight response. This chain of events initiates what is called the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis (HPA axis or HTPA axis). Triggering our HPA axis leads to a flood of stress hormones released by three primary endocrine glands: pituitary, hypothalamus, and adrenal. Stress hormones include cortisol and adrenaline, which act to increase our heart rate and suppress our immune response.

Famed researcher Robert M. Sapolsky wrote a whole book on the subject, titled Why Zebra’s Don’t Get Ulcers. In his book, he says, “A significant percentage of what we think of when we talk about stress-related diseases are disorders of excessive stress-responses.”

Sapolsky emphasizes that our stress response drives illness, not necessarily the exposure to stress itself. Managing stress means understanding how we respond to challenging situations. How can we slow the stress before it starts? One way is with mindfulness. That is where Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) comes into play.

MBSR involves paying attention to your present experience, including your thoughts, emotions and sensory experiences. Mindfulness helps you to be more accepting of what’s happening and struggle less with your experience. MBSR is the perfect blend of scientific and spiritual practices taking techniques from Buddhist philosophy, meditation, psychology, and medicine to create a balanced practice that is scientifically proven to reduce stress-related illness.

mindfulness-based stress reduction

How can you practice more mindfulness? We recommend coming to class on a regular basis, finding a few minutes a day to foster your meditation practice, and considering an MBSR course. To get started right away, here are three of our favorite MBSR Techniques:

  1. Reframe everyday tasks as “a challenge rather than a chore and thus turning the observing of one’s life mindfully into an adventure in living rather than one more thing one “has” to do for oneself to be healthy.”
  2. Meditating in the morning and evening for as long as you can. Don’t get stuck on “not thinking.” Instead, focus on noticing thoughts when they arise and gently letting them float back into the ether.
  3. Take time think about challenging situations and practice the art of non-judgment. See your impulses to react to things with either joy or distaste. Instead, try to practice neutrality around experiences that often prove to be upsetting or stressful.

Mindfulness Based Stress ReductionIn our upcoming 8-week series, Domonick Wegesin, our resident neuroscientist and 200 Hour Teacher Training faculty member, will share the science behind how mindfulness can change your brain to be more peaceful and less reactive. Research has found that this training increases the density of gray matter in brain regions linked to learning, memory, emotion regulation, and empathy.

 

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This is How We Roll: Piriformis Release

Self massage can be an amazing and inexpensive tool for working with tight muscles and releasing the fascia, which is a thin web of connective tissue that covers your muscles and organs.

Are your spring activities getting you in places you forgot about? One common area that gets tight from cycling and running is the piriformis, which helps with hip rotation and runs diagonally from the lower spine and connects to the upper part of the femur. The sciatic nerve runs underneath or through this muscle as well. Follow along with Sarah Moody and this therapeutic roll out of the piriformis.

This is How We Roll: Piriformis Release

The piriformis helps with hip rotation and runs diagonally from the lower spine and connects to the upper part of the femur. The sciatic nerve runs underneath or through this muscle as well. Follow along with Sarah Moody and this therapeutic roll out of the piriformis.

Posted by Namaste Yoga + Wellness on Monday, April 8, 2019

 

Note: like anything that has the power to heal, misuse and overuse can cause harm. Start with small doses – 30 seconds on each muscle group you want to roll. If you have more time, try doing three sets of 30 seconds, with 10 seconds of rest in between. Also, try to decipher the difference between pain and discomfort in your body. Rolling should feel something like a deep tissue massage, but never painful. Stay in the middle space between effort and ease, making sure that your breath is smooth and that the muscles on your face are relaxed.

 

Join Sarah for her regularly scheduled weekly classes, including Roll+Release, Yin Yoga, and Restorative.

 

Spend a little more concentrated time with Sarah and attend her upcoming Roll Release and Restore workshop on Saturday, April 13.

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Active Twist / Passive Twist

What is the difference between an active yoga pose vs. passive yoga pose?

Most of us learned to use our hands to push and pull us into a twist, for example, in Easy Sitting Twist with one hand on our knee and the other on the floor. This is using our passive range of motion, which involves adding an outside force in addition to using the muscles needed to create an action at a joint. In a twist this is rotation between spinal bones. In the seated and standing twists, that outside force is usually your hands and arms. In other types of poses, like forward or side bends, there can be other outside forces.

When we move the muscles in the torso to twist without using our hand to push or pull on anything, we are engaging only our active range of motion of our spine.

This is the actual amount of movement that our spinal rotating muscles can create on their own, including both the deep rotator muscles, such as the rotator muscles that are present in all spinal regions, and more superficial muscles, such as your middle abdominals (the obliques), as well as others.

Doing an active twist versus a passive twist is beneficial, because we are building strength in the rotating muscles.

And, because those muscles attach directly to our spinal bones, they can also help to keep the spinal bones stronger. We are also more likely to avoid over-rotating our spinal bones. Over-rotating, which can lead to soft tissue or bone injury, is more likely to occur in a passive range of motion where we are involving the hands and arms more actively in creating our twists.

To feel the difference between your active and passive range of motion, you can try a little experiment.

Active Twist vs Passive Twist

Compare how it feels to actively twist, vs passively twist, in this gentle therapeutic offering with Sierra Wagner Sierra Laurel Yoga

Posted by Namaste Yoga + Wellness on Thursday, April 4, 2019

1. Sit in Easy Sitting pose or another seated posture where you can easily find an inner lift through the center channel of your body. You may want to sit on a folded blanket or other lift to help you find that length in the spine. 

2. Bring your arms into Cactus Arms. This means take them out to your sides at shoulder level, with your elbows bent to 90 degrees and your fingers pointing to the sky.

3. Slowly rotate your upper belly, chest, and head to the right as you exhale until you cannot go any further, noting where you are. Consciously contract the back and ab muscles. This is your active range of motion.

4. Inhale and turn back to center, lengthening your spine again.

5. Exhale and turn to the left in the same way you did on the first side.

6. Repeat this a few more times on each side while moving with your breath. 

7. When you are back on the right side, bring your hands to your knees and the floor. Ground down into the hands as you inhale and lift the spine. Then, slowly push with your back hand and pull with your front hand to see how much further you are able to turn. This extra distance is your passive range of motion.

8. Release to center and repeat on the second side.

Learn more about Sierra on her website Sierra Laurel Yoga, or read the interview with her on our blog. Check her class schedule here.

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Mama Needs a Minute

Mama Needs a Minute is a short prenatal yoga sequence created by mama and Namaste teacher Ashley West Roberts. This short but powerful practice is aimed at taking a break throughout the day when you may feel wiped out, overwhelmed or simply in need of reprieve.

Try this practice any time of day and focus on rooting down through your strong legs to get grounded in to this special time.

Use props like blankets, blocks and eye pillows to help yourself find comfort in each pose and hold each pose for at least 8 breaths.

You’ll feel good as new (and baby will too) when you’re done with this sequence.

Mama-Needs-a-Minute

Mamas remember, your practice should support you. Practice when you feel up for it but be gentle with yourself. Practice one or all of these poses to reconnect with yourself and your baby.

TIP: Use the wall in standing balances like tree pose to practice accepting support when you need it.

For more information on the full Prenatal and Postnatal offering at Namaste, including workshops and classes, please visit our PeriNatal Offerings page, where we have consolidated information on classes, workshops and more just for mamas and mamas-to-be.

For another quick yoga sequence check out Ashley’s recent post 5 Minutes to Move.

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Meet Your Teacher: Sierra Wagner

Meet Your Teacher Sierra Wagner! Her heart-felt intention is to develop her students’ potential and help them to experience greater confidence and contentment. Her particular yoga leaning is toward Therapeutic Yoga, which is for anyone…and for everyone! But in particular, therapeutic yoga can be useful for those working with an injury or managing a health condition. Yoga therapy classes can serve your self-healing and help you do yoga safely. We are happy to share more about Sierra and her life both on and off the mat.

What inspired you to become a yoga instructor?

I started taking Iyengar yoga classes at 13 and by 18 my mentor and teacher was encouraging me to teach, because I was fascinated with the possibility of healing myself and others with the tools. I love yoga and couldn’t imagine a better thing to do with my life.

Which teachers have influenced you?

Katchie Ananda, Will Kabat-Zinn, Sean Feit-Oakes, Kathleen Generaux, Angela Farmer, Shiva Rea and Sarasawati Devi.

Meet Your Teacher Sierra Wagner

What does your yoga practice look like? How has it shaped your life?

Most days I spend about 20-30 minutes with yoga, myofascial release self massage and other forms of physical therapy and 20-30 minutes with meditation. I also go to a sangha to meditate about once a week.

I consider my volunteer work an essential part of my practice. I volunteer as an assistant specialized yoga classes, as well as for a non-profit based food distribution program.

I am also practicing my yoga everyday when I cultivate mindfulness in my relationship to myself and others.

Over time, my practice has changed a lot. I include much more of my life in my practice now than I used to. It can’t be separated from the daily life. It has grown steadily from not having a home practice at all for the first 10 years of my journey, into a steady home practice. I didn’t meditate much until I took my first yoga teacher training with Katchie Ananda, who is also a dharma teacher. These practices were also more sporadic for me at first but has since become a daily habit. I have devoted more time to meditating in times of grief or transition, and have found it so helpful.

Tell us about your yoga-related everyday habits.

I’ve started doing more meditation and restorative yoga at night instead of watching TV. Mornings almost always consist of a green smoothie.

Meet Your Teacher Sierra Wagner

What is your favorite thing about being a teacher?

It is the shift I see in my students, and sometimes even myself, from the beginning of class to the end. . .  from tension to relaxation, and dis-ease to ease.

What is something you wish your students knew?

The right way to do yoga is what makes sense to you. A teacher is there to assist you not tell you what to do. You must honor yourself over any instruction.

There are so many other things I would like my students to know, so I bring themes into my classes to help continue their expanding awareness.

What are some favorite non-yoga activities that are on your rader?

My friends and family are very important to me and I make sure to spend time with my community and support those around me whom I love. I enjoy traveling in nature, like going for hikes in the wilderness, riding my bike and feeling the wind while I’m on my scooter. My sangha is an important commitment that I prioritize. I also love dancing, hiking, giving and receiving Thai massage, and riding my bike.

What wellness books or podcasts can you recommend?

Food For Thought Podcast

Light On Yoga by BKS Iyengar

The Places That Scare You and When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodron

Meet Your Teacher Sierra WagnerWhat is your guilty pleasure?

Chocolate by far. . . hands down!

Learn more about Sierra on her website Sierra Laurel Yoga, which includes information about the launch of her newest online program, Yoga for Aging Gracefully.

Please join her for her regularly scheduled public classes at Namaste. Click here to see her schedule and sign up online.

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Student Stories: Meet Danielle

Danielle profoundly inspires us with her commitment to her practice. Each day she devotes an hour to practicing vinyasa with teachers like Sita Devi and Satya Gita Aune (truth be told, she’s admitted that sometimes she even shows up twice a day!) In Danielle’s story, we see her wielding her practice to align her heart and ethics with her innermost beliefs. We strive to follow suit.

What inspired you to begin a yoga practice?

I was searching for a workout that would connect my mind, body and soul. I tried the New Student Special and was immediately hooked.

Student Stories: Meet Danielle

We are inspired by Danielle's commitment to her daily practice. Hear what drives her to practice.

Posted by Namaste Yoga + Wellness on Wednesday, March 27, 2019

 

Do you have any daily routines or actions that help you to make every day sacred?

I like to sit in the morning before the day starts, drink something warm and set intentions for the day.

What is the best advice you’ve heard lately?

Make choices which align with your goals and values.

What do you think is the highlight of taking class at Namaste?

The teachers are incredible. Some of the best in the world. Professional, sensitive to our needs and allow me to make the most of my practice.

Student Stories Meet Danielle Bound Side Angle

What is your definition of wellness?

Taking a break throughout your day to listen to your intuition and invest in your body, mind and soul. To use this break to understand under which values and motives you will act during the day and throughout your life.

Student Stories Danielle Neubauer

What is one thing people might be surprised to learn about you?

I’ve relocated more than 7 times in my life. I’ve lived in Israel, India, Zambia, Germany and the US. These transitions and adaptations have allowed me to realize how important it is to strengthen your core. Because at the end of the day, when life changes, it’s important to keep your backbone and have that inner strength that can only be achieved with hard work, intention and practice – what yoga has given me.

Danielle loves coffee and yoga, and her perfect day includes a combination of both. Follow Danielle on her adventures on insta @danzln

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Meet Your Teacher: Jill White Lindsay

Who do you listen to when your body needs a tune-up? Who helps you find modifications for poses when you are injured? It’s your yoga teacher of course, and we are so grateful to them for moving out of these challenging places more quickly. Jill White Lindsay is one such instructor. With a focus on therapeutics, she often comes up with solutions for her injured students or those with varying abilities and challenges. Therapeutic yoga, however, is not just for the ‘mature’ or injured, it is a practice every body can benefit from by going deep in a safe and healing way.  It’s a practice that helps to strengthen and stabilize but also unwind and restore. Take a peek at who Jill is on the inside, and check out her amazing programming coming up this year, including a Therapeutic Immersion and a 1-Month, 200-Hour Summer Yoga Teacher Training.

What does your yoga practice look like and how has it changed your life?

I find these 20-30 minute chunks throughout the day to play with and explore my practice. I practice what I teach: therapeutic yoga. And my practice has evolved as I have matured…I do not have the same practice that I did when I was 25, and I love that. The physical aspect of the yoga that I teach and practice is rooted in safety and sustainability, so it’s changed my life because I move in a wiser, kinder way both in and outside of the studio.

Meet Your Teacher Jill White Lindsay Therapeutics

Which teachers influence your practice?

Ganga White, Harvey Deutch, Janet Stone, Robin Gueth, and my dog Bowie.

What inspired you to become a yoga instructor?

Once I really started deepening my personal practice, I couldn’t wait to share this art with others. Yoga has gotten me though the many storms of life: break ups, loss, illness and injury.

What is something you wish your students knew?

And it’s not just a physical practice…there’s so many other pieces that make up the art of yoga: breath, meditation, concentration, devotion, observances, etc.

What is your favorite thing about being a teacher?

The relationships I get to build with my regular yogis is invaluable, and I enjoy showing various tips/tricks to help people lessen their pain or discomfort.

For The Wrists with Jill White Lindsay

with Jill White Lindsay This fun and simple exercise is great for lubricating and opening up the wrists and forearms via pronation and supination (Anatomy Nerd Alert! Pronation means a "side-to-side" movement, Supination means "rotating to face forward of the body"). This move is especially great if you work behind a computer most of your day, as it moves the congestion out from those distal joints.

Posted by Namaste Yoga + Wellness on Thursday, January 10, 2019

Do you have any go-to yoga and wellness books or podcasts?

I will always love Living Your Yoga by Judith Lasater and It’s Easier Than You Think: The Buddhist Way to Happiness by Sylvia Boorstein.

What is your morning or evening routine?

I love to sleep, so I value my preparation for rest: during these colder months I get my heating pad going in my bed, I have my little face care ritual, then essential oils and then cuddle up with my hubby and my puppy.

Tell us a few of your favorite things:

Knitting, Book Club with my high school girlfriends, hip hop class at Hipline, Bay Area scenery, Bay Area FOOD, and logic riddles.

Join Jill for her regularly scheduled weekly therapeutic yoga classes: Mondays and Wednesday 4:30 at Namaste Berkeley, Tuesday 6:00pm at Grandlake, Thursday 4:30 at Rockridge and 10:00am at Grandlake.

Go deeper with Jill and join her for the upcoming 25 Hour Therapeutic Yoga Immersion from May 9-12, 2019.  Take your therapeutic practice to the next level. This is your opportunity to learn more about your body, the functionality of its movements and how to maintain a safe, sustainable practice.  This will be a great platform to ask questions from adaptations for injuries, to how to create a customized therapeutic home practice.

Jill will also be the Anatomy + Therapeutics instructor for our summer One-Month 200-Hour Yoga Teacher Training. Learn more here.

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