Chronic Pain and the Relaxation Response

What does it mean to take a yogic approach to chronic pain? Dena describes the concept here of the relaxation response and why it is so important to pain management.

Yoga for Chronic Pain and the Relaxation Response

What does it mean to take a yogic approach to chronic pain? Dena describes the concept here of the relaxation response and why it is so important to pain management. Learn more in her upcoming pop-up classes and workshops on Chronic Pain at Namaste.

Posted by Namaste Yoga + Wellness on Wednesday, September 25, 2019


The following video describes one movement exercise that is commonly used for those with chronic pain. Going gently into this pelvic tilt with breath can ease you to the edge of your pain response. For many folks with chronic pain, one or the other directions of this pelvic tilt may have pain associated with it. As Dena says, “Motion is lotion.”

The Pelvic Tilt for Chronic Pain

A therapeutic yoga exercise for those with chronic low back pain: The Pelvic Tilt with Dena Saedi. Curious about more? Join Dena on October 20 for her Yoga for Chronic Pain workshop at Namaste.

Posted by Namaste Yoga + Wellness on Monday, October 14, 2019


Chronic Pain and the Relaxation ResponseDena Saedi has worked as a yoga therapist (C-IAYT) and yoga teacher for chronic pain populations, seniors, cancer survivors, and veterans for the last decade. Currently Dena teaches yoga to chronic pain patients at pain management clinics in the Bay Area. Join her for her upcoming Yoga for Chronic Pain workshop on October 20, or for her regular public therapeutic yoga classes at Namaste. View Dena’s class schedule here.

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How this 40 Day Program will Nourish You

In October, Sariah Sizemore will offer a 40 day meditation and Kundalini Yoga program entitled 40 Days of Radical Self Care + Love. We thought you might want to get a better sense of exactly what this program is. No, you won’t meet every day for 40 days! But you will meet weekly in community and you will be given various tools and a meditation that you can practice at home on the daily.

40 Days of Radical Self Care + Love

This program with Sariah Sizemore will encourage you to create a sustainable program of self care and develop a holistic sense of "wellness" that you can apply to any aspect of your life: relationships, family, work, health, and more. Learn more:

Posted by Namaste Yoga + Wellness on Wednesday, October 2, 2019


Does this sound like what you need? Learn more and sign up here for this amazing offering. Program begins October 19, 2019!


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Meet Your Teacher: Lindsay Dombrowski

The newest addition to our teaching community, meet your teacher Lindsay Dombrowski.  As a former dancer and sometimes story teller, she has spent over a decade with yoga; first in New York City, later in Los Angeles, and now in the Bay.

How long have you been at Namaste?

I’m new to Namaste! I recently relocated to the bay.

What inspired you to become a yoga instructor?

The brazen confidence of youth? I was in my very early twenties in NYC and had some deeply feeling experiences with myself moving and breathing.

The newest addition to our teaching community, meet your teacher Lindsay Dombrowski.  As a former dancer and sometimes story teller, she has spent over a decade with yoga; first in New York City, later in Los Angeles, and now in the Bay.

Which teachers have influenced your practice?

Maia Heiss and Julia Planine-Troiani. I’m also inspired by what and how Nevine Michaan, Ada Lusardi, and Annie Carpenter discover and share. Annemaria Rajala is a favorite teacher to discuss all things yoga with…

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

It looks daily and continual. Right now, in terms of yoga asana it looks like ashtanga. I couple this with some restorative yoga when I’m taking good care of myself. Sometimes it just looks like sitting and breathing. I think the practice is the path we take towards understanding life. Life and death, really. And beyond.

What is something you wish your students knew?

We are all light beings having a human experience.

Are you a morning person or night owl?

Since aṣṭāṅga, morning person. Before, night owl.

Meet Your Teacher Lindsay Dombrowski

What is your favorite thing about being a teacher?

Being a student.

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

Ramesh Menon’s modern renderings of classical Hindu stories

What are you involved with outside the studio?

Food. Family. Friends. Nature as much as possible. I’m a New Yorker at heart, so I am reveling in my first yard – planting things, watching them grow, eating them when applicable 🙂

What is your favorite thing about the Bay Area?

currently? Vik’s Chaat.

Lindsay DombrowskiCatch Lindsay on Thursdays at noon at Rockridge and Thursday 7:30pm and Saturday 4:30pm at Grand Lake. View her schedule and sign up for classes here.

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Yoga for Chronic Low Back Pain

By Baxter Bell

I was pretty excited to see the results of a recent study Yoga as Good as Physical Therapy for Back Pain. I even had a chance this spring to hear in person the study’s lead researcher, Robert Sager, MD, talk about the preliminary findings of the study.

This study was looking to see if yoga was as effective for those with chronic low back pain as physical therapy.

We know from multiple earlier studies that yoga can lower pain, decrease pain medication use, and improve function in those with chronic low back pain. However, physical therapy is considered the gold standard physical modality for those with chronic back pain, meaning that it has been studied and proven to be effective at lowering pain and increasing function, and is widely accepted for use for those with this condition. Apparently, family doctors refer about 20% of their patients with chronic low back pain to physical therapy as an adjunct to their treatment plan. One drawback of this approach is that physical therapy sessions can be expensive, and if you don’t have insurance, it’s unlikely you will actually go to see the therapist. Yoga could be a good low cost alternative, if it measures up to the effectiveness of physical therapy.

And this is why I am excited: this study says that it does indeed measure up!

Yoga was found to be equally effective to physical therapy.

Yoga for Chronic Lower Back Pain

The study compared 320 participants, who were divided into three groups: those who did yoga, those who did physical therapy, and those given educational materials. Also of interest was that the study group, who were all low-income, low-education, and non-white residents of Boston, Mass., represent a large portion of the population that could use an effective, low-cost option for improving their back pain. And in some areas the researchers looked at, yoga may be superior to physical therapy, such as pain reduction.

My takeaway from this study, (which like all such studies has some downsides, too, which the article highlights for those interested), is that we now have evidence that yoga is on equal footing with physical therapy as an adjunct treatment option for generalized (low back pain with no definitive diagnosis, such as spinal stenosis or ruptured disc, as the underlying cause) chronic low back pain. I’ll be encouraging my students who are able to take advantage of physical therapy referrals by the docs to continue to take advantage of that proven treatment option.

However, I will also now feel more confident than ever to have them add yoga to the mix when back pain is chronic.

If you decide to give yoga for back pain a try and you are also seeing a physical therapist, it is important to let your physical therapist know that you are doing yoga, so everyone knows what you are doing to address your condition. And for those who, for whatever reason, are unable to do physical therapy, I’ll suggest trying an appropriate back care yoga class or scheduling a yoga private with an experienced teacher or yoga therapist to develop an appropriate home practice. Thank you, Dr. Sager for your important contribution to our understanding of yoga’s benefits compared with physical therapy.  

Caution: if you have a newer case of chronic low back pain and have not seen your doctor to have it evaluated, it would be a good idea to do so before initiating any yoga program to rule out more serious causes of low back pain.

Yoga for Chronic Back PainJoin Baxter for his upcoming workshop at Namaste, Yoga for Back Pain, on Saturday, September 14.

*This post was originally published on the Yoga for Healthy Aging Blog.

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Getting Here: A Guide to Oakland Transportation

Getting here is a part of the journey to presence that yoga class affords us.

As we close our Berkeley studio and move much of our programming to our Oakland studios, we strongly encourage our Berkeley based students to maintain their practice by joining us at our Oakland locations. But…how to get there? We’ve shared some parking guidance via emails, but in the bigger picture, there are many ways to get to our Oakland studios and we wanted to share them with you. It feels important to both relish the urban life we have that is full of transportation options, as well as to reduce our reliance on cars.


If parking is a concern for you, consider the many public transportation options available.

As one of our students gratefully pointed out, “Both studios are in incredibly transit rich and walkable neighborhoods.”

The Grand Lake studio is one and a half blocks from  a local and transbay bus stop (on Lake Park, in front of Heart and Dagger Saloon), with many bus lines. The  29 bus picks up about 50 feet from the studio and goes up and down Lakeshore. There is a Bay Wheels bike share station on Lakeshore, a block away from the studio, and scooters are everywhere in Oakland.

The Rockridge studio is a short walk from the Rockridge BART station. Bus routes abound on College Ave.

Carpooling / Rideshares

Of course, there are rideshare apps like Uber and Lyft if your concern is having to find parking in Oakland.

We also encourage saying hello to your classmates in the yoga studio. Have you considered making a friend that you might be able to carpool with? Sit and have a cup of tea after class and strike up a conversation with a classmate. Perhaps you are coming from the same neighborhood!


If you want to or must drive, here are some of our parking tips.

The Grand Lake studio at 3229 Lakeshore Ave has a free parking lot across the street, as well as neighborhood short term parking on surrounding streets (some of our faves to find parking on are Rand Ave, Wickson Ave, Glen View Ave, and Trestle Glen.)
Click for Map

Getting Here: Parking at Grand Lake

The Rockridge studio at 5416 College Ave has ample short term parking on surrounding streets. (Some of our faves are on Manila Ave, Kales Ave, and James Ave.)

Click for Map

We can’t wait to see you at our Oakland studios!


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Sacred Space: In Gratitude to Berkeley

In gratitude for our time at our Berkeley studio, we asked our teachers for their Berkeley memories. We’ve created a space for our students to share their gratitude for this space and how it has served all of us. Please contribute when you come by!

Sacred Space

Margi’s Berkeley haiku:

rooted in Berkeley
ears 👂 dripping over shoulders
my favorite Buddha


Anj Manitsas

Sacred Space


Ken Breniman

Sacred Space

“As both a yoga student and yoga teacher, the Berkeley studio has many fond memories. When I first moved to the Bay Area almost 15 years ago, the studio was still 7th Heaven but it is where I was introduced to Acroyoga and the exciting world of practicing with a partner. It is through those early classes that inspired me to become a yoga teacher. In 2014, I was invited into the Namaste community and had the honor of teaching at the Berkeley studio. In my heart, the Berkeley studio will always be a space of creativity, inspiration and community. In my grief, I acknowledge what is forever changing in our yoga community and I am eternally grateful for the synergy, support and celebration that manifested at Berkeley Namaste.”


David Moreno

Sacred Space

“My first time teaching at the Berkeley location was as a guest instructor when the studio was still 7th Heaven during the mid 1990s. At the time I was living and teaching in Santa Fe. I taught a “Partners Yoga Workshop” which at that time was one of the first—way before there was Acro Yoga! To my surprise, I ended up teaching at that studio for specialty classes for Namaste like “Men’s Kula: Yoga for Guys,” “Bolllywood Dance:Fit”, and teacher trainings.”

Karly Railsback

Sacred Space

“When I moved to the east bay I was pretty sad to leave the SF yoga community. There were so many amazing teachers and studios I had grown to love, that no longer worked living in Oakland. Then I dropped into Richard Rosen’s old Saturday morning class, Vicky’s restorative workshop and Margis noon flow and felt like I was entering the next stage of my practice, rather than losing it. The teachers, the students and the overall vibe of Namaste Berkeley felt so grounded; it was exactly where I was supposed to be.”

Please keep bringing your whole self to the Berkeley space through August 18. Let’s fill it up with all good vibes. Take a minute to share your favorite memory in our lobby.

Sacred Space

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Breath Practice to Reduce Worry

A quick practice to clear your mind of anxious worries.

For many people, anxiety seems to be an ever-present unwelcome guest.  Anxiety is on the rise, now the most common mental affliction in the United States.

Worry is a hallmark symptom of the anxious mind.  You spin your mental wheels imagining futures full of potential doom and gloom, thinking of the many ways you’re going to mess up or fall short.

Brahmari is a breathing practice that helps clear anxious worry from your mind.  Also known as the Bee’s Breath, it involves creating a humming sound like the sound of bees.   Brahmari helps calm your nervous system and can help induce sleep, which is helpful for anxious folks whose sleep is often disturbed.

Breath Practice for Anxiety

Breath Practice for Anxiety

Breath Practice for Anxiety

You can strengthen the calming effect of the Bee’s Breath by adding a mudra called Shanmukhi Mudra.  For this, bring the first two fingers of each hand together as one, and rest them lightly over your closed eyes.  Let your ring fingers rest on your face just above the upper lip like a mustache.  Let the pinky fingers rest lightly on the chin below the lower lip.  Use your thumbs to plug your ears, by foldinging the little flap of cartilage over the ear canal.

Breath Practice for Anxiety

Dr. Domonick Wegesin is a yogi-neuroscientist-dancer with a bent towards meditation and the healing arts. He moved to the Bay Area from New York City where he conducted neuroimaging research focused on the aging brain, as a Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience at Columbia University. Domonick now trains the brains and bodies of his yoga students, helping them wake up to their mental, emotional and physical experience in a way that cultivates awareness, acceptance and ease. He has a ton of special offerings at our studios coming up in the next few months if you are looking to learn more: Pranayama Intensive, Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training, Yoga for Anxiety, and Rumi + Restoratives Practice.



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How to Feel Safe: Practices for Soothing Anxiety

Many of us can attest to experiencing a feeling of vulnerability in a yoga class. There are many relationships between yoga and feeling safe, from practicing with good alignment boundaries, to feeling emotionally moved in a class as your physical body opens up. As Eclipse season is throwing many of us into the seas of change, we asked our teachers to share a practice that can help make us feel safe and held when we may be feeling vulnerable or anxious.

Hayley Ebersole

A sense of safety, security and belonging is represented in energetic anatomy by the root chakra. On my life long journey of inner cultivation I’ve yet to find a mantra that is more effective for relieving anxiety than the simple words “I am safe.”

Feel safe

Sarah Moody

Slow down your breathing.

Inhale to a count of 4, exhale to a count of 4.

Repeat several rounds.

Jaimi Patterson

Anne Koller

I hold my hands to a part of my body and chant “I am home in me” and remember that my safe space is within me.

Elana Morgulis

A simple practice to feel safe and held is to first find a really comfy position – this might be a gentle Restorative pose like supported child’s pose, it could be savasana, or it could be laying in bed or on the couch. Start to add cushions and blankets wherever you feel your body could be held and supported such as under your head, low back, under the knees, feet – anywhere and everywhere! The point is to have your body in contact with something soft and supportive. Next, wrap or cover yourself with a blanket – the heavier the blanket the better. Add some weight if that feels good to you, maybe another blanket. Close your eyes. Take several long, slow breaths and bring your attention to where your body feels the support of the cushions and blankets. Breathe that sensation in. Take in the wrapping of the blanket around you and softly say to yourself “Right now, I’m okay. I am safe. I am here.” If you do nothing more than wrap yourself in a blanket and say something kind to yourself, that’s more than enough!

Join these fine instructors for their weekly practice schedule. Click here to see Hayley, Anne, Elana, Sarah, and Jaimi‘s public teaching schedules at Namaste.

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Beyond the Mat: How Our Teachers Serve

Our teachers inspire us every day with their words, their wisdom, and their flows. Did you know that many of our teachers also do inspiring work out in the world with various populations of people? As part of our Yoga and Service series, we are highlighting the work our instructors do to take their practice off their mats. May we all follow their leads and be of service to the greater world.

Ada Lusardi

“I volunteer teach a weekly class for a local non-profit in service to seniors who wish to stay independent and connected in their later years.  There are several folks in their 90’s in this group. Can you guess which ones? I am inspired to the point my heart nearly bursts!  I learn so much about my future and the future of my younger students by working with these beautiful wise beings.”

See Ada’s class schedule.

Anne Koller

Yoga and Service | Anne Koller

“I have taught at The Healing Well in the Tenderloin for over two years.  When I teach in the mornings on Tuesdays, they drive my theme for my Tuesday night class at Namaste.  I tell Namaste students about what people are going through and talking about at The Healing Well in our meditation and art circle. We open with an emotion share, meditation, art expression, art share, mosaic creation and closing chant of sat nam.”

See Anne’s class schedule.

Sierra Wagner

“Those areas where we notice we have capacity and capability are where we have surplus to give back to our community. ”  Watch the video below to see where Sierra chooses to put her energy. You can view Part I of her video here to learn more about how Sierra describes the relationship between Yoga and Service.

Ask Your Teacher: How do you take your yoga off the mat?

Yoga and service are intimitely connected. In this Part II video with Sierra Wagner, she shares how she specifically serves our greater community. Check out Part I to get the big picture on how yoga and service are connected.

Posted by Namaste Yoga + Wellness on Wednesday, July 10, 2019


See Sierra’s class schedule.

Vickie Russell Bell

Ask Your Teacher: How do you serve?

Vickie Russsell Bell teaches through a nonprofit to individuals with Parkinson's, offering the practice of yoga to an underserved population, and making a big impact.

Posted by Namaste Yoga + Wellness on Tuesday, June 11, 2019


Vickie shares her yoga knowledge with a group of people with Parkinson’s and tailors a practice to fit their needs. These efforts are supported by PD Active and the Yoga Dana Foundation, a nonprofit that supports yoga in underserved communities.

See Vickie’s class schedule.

Satya de la Paz

Her sliding scale classes for People of Color at Namaste are striving to create a safe space for yoga for this underserved population of people.

Ahimsa, or Non-Harming

Why is Yoga for People of Color relevant and important today? Join Satya for her weekly offering at Namaste Grand Lake.

Posted by Namaste Yoga + Wellness on Monday, January 21, 2019


See Satya’s class schedule.

How do you, or how would you like to, serve the greater good? Comment below!

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Invest in Rest, Reduce Your Stress

We all know that it pays to take it easy sometimes, whether that is through a restful day at home or a restorative yoga practice. But with the sun shining and the air full of sweet summer smells, our ability to take that life advice sometimes falls to the wayside. Neglecting to slow down comes at a high price though. Over activity and stimulation leads to many of our most common health problems such as back pain, heart disease, weight gain, adrenal fatigue, and mood swings.

The good news is there are simple ways to “mindfully relax” that help the body, mind, and spirit feel renewed and ready to keep taking on the world. These easy techniques are perfect for healing the body of injuries, letting the mind unwind, and giving yourself permission to emotionally just chill out for a few minutes.

Vickie Russell Bell knows plenty about relaxation and restoration. She is leading Namaste’s Restorative Yoga Immersion this summer and is passionate about sharing the importance of mindful relaxation with our community. A little R&R never hurt anybody, and let’s face it, who doesn’t want an excuse to just rest up?

Vickie gave us a few suggestions on how to tune in to tuning out the world. We encourage you to try one of these today!


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