Heart Talks

Valentine’s Day can spark a lot of emotion and feeling for people. 

If you are single, it can bring about feelings of loneliness or longing or celebration as one may be choosing to not be in a partnership at the moment. If you are in a partnership, each may be wondering, “what can I do to make this day special for my partner?”

Which ever is the case, the celebratory day of love and romance is upon us! As a Love Coach, I wanted to share a little something about how to build intimacy.

Intimacy is all about deep connection, vulnerability, mutual trust, caring and acceptance. It involves feelings of emotional closeness and connectedness with another person and the desire to share each others innermost thoughts and feelings. Intimacy, connection and love are so important in our lives. It is why we are all here. How to build intimacy? Being vulnerable, deep listening and having Heart Talks. 

Heart Talks involve deep listening.  If you have something in the shape of a heart, use it as a talking stick. The person doing the talking, holds the heart. A timer is set for 1-2 minute and the person shares from the heart using “I” statements. Anything that is said during this share is sacred and cannot be brought up during an argument. Any complaint about the partner should be turned into a need and not an accusation. The person not talking listens. When the person talking finishes, the listener, shares what they heard.

Viola! I use this in my relationship and give this as a tool to others to use in theirs and it works wonders to help build intimacy. If you do not speak your truth, a distance will grow between the two of you and love will disappear from your relationship.

I hope you get a chance to build Heart Talks into your relationships. May we all have the life, love and intimacy we desire. We are the creators of our world and not the other way around.

Jennevieve Ybarra is a Love Coach, as well as one your beloved teachers here at Namaste.

Find her for weekly classes at Grand Lake on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, 7:30-8:45pm.

Join her in March for her program “LOVE YOURSELF TO THE BONE-A PATHWAY TO EXTRAORDINARY PARTNERSHIP AND INTIMACY or visit her website for more info.


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5 Benefits of Yoga + Mindfulness for Teens

Resilience is like a muscle. Strengthen it! Yoga and mindfulness can create healthy habits that help girls as they grow into strong women. Using yoga and meditation builds the mind-body connection, and positive psychology helps to find our strengths and bolster our ongoing “I’m good enough” practice.

“Do not feel lonely.  The entire universe is inside of you.” –Rumi

5 Benefits of Mindfulness and Yoga Practices for Teens:

  1. Stress Management: Several studies have proven that teenagers who practice yoga are less stressed and perform better than their counterparts in academics. Working with mindfulness tools and breathing practices to reduce anxiety comes in handy in the pressure-filled life of a high school teen. Find the details of one of these studies here.
  2.  Build Strength: In adolescence, bodies are changing. Yoga builds physical strength from the core out. As if that is not enough, the auxiliary benefit is that feeling strong in the body will translate to strength and confidence in the mind.
  3.  Expand Attention Span: Mind-body practices teach focus and concentration and remind us to bring the focus back over and over. Learning skills like these can translate into increased concentration in all areas of life.
  4. Emotional Resiliency: Mindfulness helps with critical thinking and executive function. There are no better skills for your teen to learn than how to make good decisions and think for themselves. Those are skills that can be applied to all of life.
  5. Community: Let’s not forget that yoga classes create the opportunity to meet like-minded friends. One of the tenets of Buddhism is Right Friends.  Finding people who support you and want to see you succeed goes a long way in building confidence.

Have a teenage girl in your life? Share Anna Grace’s upcoming series for teen girls ages 14-18, Build Resiliency. Learn more about this weekly program beginning February 28, 2019 here.


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Feel Your Unique Moving Body

Q+A with Ada Lusardi

Ada teaches weekly public Hatha Level 2-3 class on Saturdays at Namaste Berkeley from 8:00-10:00am. Every first Saturday of the month includes myofascial rolling, so don’t miss out on that. We caught up with Ada on her intentions and inspirations for the year ahead.


Q: Did you make any New Year resolutions or intentions? If so, can you share with us?

A: Each year I set an intention for what I hope to impart to my students for that year. This year I want them to feel the uniqueness of their bodies move, specifically how their joints are shaped and are meant to move. This is different for every individual. Once this way of feeling is honed in the asanas we can make the best choices for ourselves and reduce the risk of overuse and injury by moving in concert with the shape of our bones. The science of human anatomy, once learned, never goes away as we’re living every moment in its’ glorious expression.


Q: Will your practice be useful in these intentions / resolutions? If so, how will you use it?

A: My practice on the mat is where my teaching is born. Moving from my natural architecture is the foundation of my personal practice and teaching.




Q: Do you have any inspiring advice or quotes for our students in the new year?

A: “The greatest thing we can do is to help someone know they are loved and that they are capable of loving.” ~ Fred Rogers


Q: Can you recommend one inspiring book or podcast?

Q: Can you recommend any nice winter self care rituals?

A: 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.

Everything starts with the feet and how we connect to the ground. Watch and try this mini foot exercise with Ada  to connect with the feet before practice.

Check out some of Ada’s other advanced offerings at Namaste:


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Slowing Down to the “Slowest Part of Me”

Q+A with Ken Breniman

Ken Breniman teaches weekly Gentle Yoga classes at our Grand Lake and Berkeley studios.

Q: Did you make any New Year resolutions or intentions? If so, can you share with us?

A: My intention is equanimity and it is a ‘carry over’ from last year as it was profoundly powerful in guiding me through the twists and turns of life.


Q: Will your practice be useful in these intentions / resolutions? If so, how will you use it?

A: I practice a tonglen meditation. It is a Buddhist tradition in which one breathes into the suffering or discomfort (i.e. impatience, callousness, anger, jealousy) and transmute the energy with the out breath which honors the complimentary force (i.e. patience, compassion, forgiveness, comparison). It is quite the powerful meditation and helps me find equanimity.

Q: Do you have any inspiring advice for the new year?

A: I have been singing the chorus from the Karen Drucker song “Gentle with Myself” which goes “I will only go as fast as the slowest part of me.” I find this quote to be chuck full of wisdom in honoring the youngest or most tender parts of self that might otherwise get overlooked in the fast paced society we live in. The song reminds me how important self-compassion is in my on-the-mat and off-the-mat practices.


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

Q: Can you recommend one inspiring book or podcast?

A: “Die Wise” by Stephen Jenkinson


Q: Can you recommend any nice winter self care rituals?

A: 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!


Catch Ken on Monday, 10-11:30am, Gentle Yoga at Grand Lake or Thursday, 5:30-6:45pm, Sliding Scale Gentle Flow at Berkeley

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15 Years of Service in Action

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.

Send us a message with your memories of our beginnings, or use hashtag #makeeverydaysacred on Instagram to post a new or old photo of a Namaste moment!

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.


Our Milestones:

Our values:

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 Future:

  • 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!

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Teachers Talk: Inspired Winter Rituals for Self-Care

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.

Ada Lusardi

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.

Skeeter Barker

Wrapping up warm and going to the ocean with a hot flask of tea.

Inspired? Find Skeeter’s classes here.

Ken Breniman

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.

Rachel Heron

  1. REST.
  2. Eliminate sugar after the holiday abundance of treats.
  3. De-clutter spaces, get rid of extra stuff and enjoy the spacious beginning of a new cycle.

Inspired? Find Rachel’s classes here.

Naushon Kabat-Zinn

I take baths a lot. I put epsom or other salts and essential oils and float, rest, soak, and zone out. Its very very nourishing.

Inspired? Find Naushon’s classes here.

Elana Morgulis

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!

Inspired? Find Rosy’s classes here and Jill’s classes here.

Margi Young

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.  

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Gifts for Yoga Lovers

(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.

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Gift Guide for Self-Care

This holiday season, give the gift of self-care. Combine any of these therapeutic gift ideas with a workshop or massage, and you’ve got an instant win.

(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!

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How to Inspire Your Afternoons

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.

Rachel Heron

Monday noon at Namaste Berkeley 

Friday noon at Namaste Rockridge



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.

Anj Manitsas

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.


Margi Young

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!



Whitney Walsh

Tuesday noon at Namaste Rockridge

Physically challenging

Kind and playful philosophy

Creative and precise alignment cues


Adam Kurzfeld

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.



David Schlussel

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…”





Lucid Dawn

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!

We can start the day over with any breath.

“I feel like I have just gone to the spa every time I leave Lucid’s class.” ~ Darya




Olivia Huls

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.

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Mudras for Focus with Sonya Genel

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.

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