Meet Your Teacher: Jerry Givens

Namaste Yoga + Wellness is a container for the Bay Area’s best yoga teachers to offer their incredible talent and wisdom to students of all backgrounds. These highly experienced teachers have dedicated their lives to sharing the gift of yoga with others and we couldn’t be more grateful. It is an honor to support them and to connect them with yoga practitioners like you.

We are excited to share this special new blog series focused on celebrating your yoga teachers and hopefully giving you a glimpse into the brilliant team that is the Namaste Yoga + Wellness family. We have over 55 teachers in our community and every single person offers something unique!

Meet Jerry Givens:

How long have you been at Namaste?
About 3 years

What inspired you to become a yoga instructor?
Watching my own growth in yoga, I really wanted to share the experience with likeminded souls. Teaching was the natural next step.

Your favorite literature on yoga or meditation?
My favorite book on yoga is the Yoga Sutra. It’s timeless, a classic, and somewhat hard to read. Though over the years, through trainings and mentorship with other teachers, I’ve come to better understand the Sutra. Every time I return to it, more is revealed. It’s the book that keeps on giving. More contemporary, a great “first read” for aspiring yogis is “The Art of Joyful Living” by Swami Rama, which details “how” to be a yogi in the modern world.

East Bay Yoga Teacher Jerry Givens

Which teachers have influenced your practice?
I’ve had the pleasure of studying primarily with Devidas Karina Mirsky (based in Kalamazoo, MI), who is a longtime student of Yogarupa Rod Stryker. Karina’s background in yoga, massage, mindfulness, and her Masters in East-West Psychology have inspired me to look at my practice and the teaching beyond my own perceptions, attempting to understand truth from a higher perspective.

How often do you practice?
Every morning, I sit in meditation. My asana (physical yoga) practice is more varied depending on the day/week.

What is your morning or evening routine?
Each morning, I practice nauli kriya for 2-3 minutes before settling in for a 20-30 minute meditation practice. After that, I move mindfully through my home as I get ready for the day. This really helps make sure I can be my best self each day.

East Bay Yoga Teacher Jerry Givens

Your favorite self-care practices?
Daily meditation, massage, nature, “me” time, hot springs, personal retreats

What are you involved with outside the studio?
I’m fortunate to have many passions, including writing Adventure Fantasy novels. Over the past 6 years, I’ve published 3 novels and I just finished writing the fourth one this past summer.

Absolute favorite asana?
Savasana for sure. Yes, you’re just laying there, but can be quite difficult to master – to be able to lie there awake, present, but also at complete rest. Practicing Yoga Nidra really helped me to find peace (not sleep) in this pose.

What is your favorite thing about the Bay Area?
Nature meets city. I love it!

East Bay Yoga Teacher Jerry Givens

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Meet Your Teacher: Steph Woods

Namaste Yoga + Wellness is a container for the Bay Area’s best yoga teachers to offer their incredible talent and wisdom to students of all backgrounds. These highly experienced teachers have dedicated their lives to sharing the gift of yoga with others and we couldn’t be more grateful. It is an honor to support them and to connect them with yoga practitioners like you.

We are excited to share this special new blog series focused on celebrating your yoga teachers and hopefully giving you a glimpse into the brilliant team that is the Namaste Yoga + Wellness family. We have over 55 teachers in our community and every single person offers something unique!

Meet Steph Woods:

What is your name and when do you teach?
Steph Woods, Vinyasa at Namaste Grand Lake every Wednesday 9:30am, and Sundays at 11am.

How long have you been at Namaste?
I’ve been subbing for a handful of months, and practicing here for a year and a half. But brand new as one of your permanent teachers!

What inspired you to become a yoga instructor?
So many things! I was most inspired to become a yoga instructor because the practice changed so much within me, I wanted to share that goodness with others.

East Bay Yoga Teacher Steph Woods

Do you have any go-to yoga and wellness books or podcasts?
I love Osho’s book “Contemplation Before Sleep”, and I always enjoy exploring different translations of the Sutras.

Which teachers influence your practice?
Annie Carpenter, Brandon Osborne, and so many more. Also all the dance teachers I’ve ever had.

What does your yoga practice look like and how has it changed your life?
My yoga practice involves daily meditation, a daily physical practice of either yoga asana or dance, and mindful eating. The ways yoga has changed my life are too long to list in their entirety. But I’ll give you a snapshot. I used to be a bartender. I worked late hours, I drank every day, I partied a lot. I thought I had life figured out, because I was having “so much fun”. I was wrong. My spirit and heart were unfulfilled and eventually cried out to me, quite loudly. I had been a sporadic practitioner at Exhale yoga studio in Venice Beach, CA. But something shifted and I began to practice daily. I went through a Teacher Training and learned more about the philosophy and history of yoga. I traded my late nights for early mornings. I started reading books on yoga and asking my teachers more questions and letting myself learn internal lessons through the asanas. My heart cracked wide open, and the joy I contained as a child swept in, the love I was looking for embraced me, and my perspective on life shifted. I now live & practice to keep allowing that divine Joy & Love in, and share it with others as much as possible.

East Bay Yoga Teacher Steph Woods

What is something you wish your students knew?
That they are already really, really perfect.

What is your morning or evening routine? (whichever is your favorite..or both!)
I love my morning routine! I wake up and proclaim “Today is a great day!” and usually say a couple things I’m grateful for. I do the usuals like wash my face/brush my teeth. Then I make some adaptogenic tea with coconut milk (so yummy!). Then I head to whichever studio I’m teaching at for the day, arrive before anyone else is there, and meditate until it’s time for me to open the studio and teach. Early mornings are my favorite!

What is your favorite thing about being a teacher?
My heart gets filled over and over again each time I watch people move their bodies. I think movement is one of the most important ways we can connect to ourselves and to life. And so many people go through life completely unaware of their body. So when I see people in movement, waking up to their own body and connecting with it deeply – it’s just one of the most beautiful things in this world.

East Bay Yoga Teacher Steph Woods

What are you involved with outside the studio?
I am a beginning aerial dance student, and I love it so much. It balances strength and flexibility in new ways, and challenges my mind and body.

What is your go-to movement that allows you to feel the most connected to yourself?
Asana and dance. I have a background in Modern dance and love to turn on some music and just flow in a free-form way that feels good to me.

What is your favorite thing about the Bay Area?
The people! And all the trees.

Anything else you want to share?
I can’t wait to connect more with the beautiful community at Namaste Yoga. I moved to the Bay about a year and a half ago and fell in love with these studios. I wanted to enjoy being a student for a while, but now I am excited to be on the teaching end, and give back all the love I’ve experienced here.

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Meet Your Teacher: Rachel Heron

Namaste Yoga + Wellness is a container for the Bay Area’s best yoga teachers to offer their incredible talent and wisdom to students of all backgrounds. These highly experienced teachers have dedicated their lives to sharing the gift of yoga with others and we couldn’t be more grateful. It is an honor to support them and to connect them with yoga practitioners like you.

We are excited to share this special new blog series focused on celebrating your yoga teachers and hopefully giving you a glimpse into the brilliant team that is the Namaste Yoga + Wellness family. We have over 55 teachers in our community and every single person offers something unique!

Meet Rachel Heron:

What is your name and when do you teach?
My name is Rachel Heron on I teach Wednesdays at 5:30pm at Namaste Rockridge!

How long have you been at Namaste?
I began subbing last year and now have two weekly classes!

What inspired you to become a yoga instructor?
I starting practicing in 1992, and was incredibly moved by all aspects of this path. I knew right away that I wanted to teach asana, and share the love of embodied spiritual practice.

Do you have any go-to yoga and wellness books or podcasts?
Tara Brach dharma talks and Jason Crandell’s yoga podcasts

Which teachers influence your practice?
Desiree Rumbaugh, Siri Petersen Cavanna, Abby Tucker, Sianna Sherman, Ana Forrest

What does your yoga practice look like and how has it changed your life?
I practice asana and/or meditation in some form almost every day. These practices have become the baseline of self-inquiry and self-care. Each day is different (of course), but it’s my way of awakening mindful awareness and physical/energetic vibrancy.

What is something you wish your students knew?
That sitting still for just 5 mins a day can be life-changing.

What is your morning routine?
Sit for 30 minutes, 15 mins of flowing sun salutes, 15 chaturanga push-ups!

What is your favorite thing about being a teacher?
I love sitting with people in stillness and silence. I love being able to guide us into potent deep and non-verbal spaces.

What are you involved with outside the studio?
My husband Bill, 12-year-old son Jai, giving bodywork and counseling sessions.

What is your go-to movement (asana, dance, hiking, etc.) that allows you to feel the most connected to yourself?
Anything that gets my heart pumping. I love it all and do it all.

What is your favorite thing about the Bay Area?
Easy access to nature, beauty even in my urban environment, and ease of getting around by bike.

Anything else you want to share?
Practice is my passion. I feel most blessed to be sharing this passion with my students and clients at Namaste.

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Meet Your Teacher: Danielle Woermann

Namaste Yoga + Wellness is a container for the Bay Area’s best yoga teachers to offer their incredible talent and wisdom to students of all backgrounds. These highly experienced teachers have dedicated their lives to sharing the gift of yoga with others and we couldn’t be more grateful. It is an honor to support them and to connect them with yoga practitioners like you.

We are excited to share this special new blog series focused on celebrating your yoga teachers and hopefully giving you a glimpse into the brilliant team that is the Namaste Yoga + Wellness family. We have over 55 teachers in our community and every single person offers something unique!

Meet Danielle Woermann:

When and where do you teach?
I teach Nia Dance at Namaste Berkeley!

How long have you been at Namaste?
5 years

What inspired you to become an instructor?
I was inspired to become a Nia teacher when I began taking classes 17 years ago in Oakland from Shelly Ross.

Do you have any go-to yoga and wellness books or podcasts?
I enjoy Gabrielle Roth’s Maps to Ecstasy.

Which teachers influence your practice?
My teachers are Debbie Rosas and Carlos Rosas who inspire me every day through their routines and teachings.

What does your Nia practice look like and how has it changed your life?
When I began my Nia practice, I wasn’t fully aware of my body’s sensations. Nia has taught me to be in sensation and to be able to heal myself emotionally, physically and spiritually.

What is something you wish your students knew?
I wish they knew that access to their self-healing potential is completely available.

What is your morning or evening routine? (whichever is your favorite..or both!)
I practice the Nia 5 Stages in the morning which is a short physical routine which increases mobility, strength and stability.

What is your favorite thing about being a teacher?
Being able to share music, magic, and joy.

What are you involved with outside the studio?
Home life, beekeeping, volunteer work.

What is your go-to movement (asana, dance, hiking, etc.) that allows you to feel the most connected to yourself? *
I dance, hike and practice hula hooping. I attend weekly yoga classes and also enjoy the subtle healing of Breema technique.

I can never get over the diversity of the Bay Area and Oakland in particular. Best weather anywhere!

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Meet Your Teacher: Sita Devi

Namaste Yoga + Wellness is a container for the Bay Area’s best yoga teachers to offer their incredible talent and wisdom to students of all backgrounds. These highly experienced teachers have dedicated their lives to sharing the gift of yoga with others and we couldn’t be more grateful. It is an honor to support them and to connect them with yoga practitioners like you.

We are excited to share this special new blog series focused on celebrating your yoga teachers and hopefully giving you a glimpse into the brilliant team that is the Namaste Yoga + Wellness family. We have over 55 teachers in our community and every single person offers something unique!

Meet Sita Devi:

What is your name and when/where/what do you teach?
Sita Devi. I teach vinyasa and power vinyasa and lead kirtan at Namaste Rockridge and looking forward to starting classes at Grand Lake next year.

How long have you been at Namaste?
2 months

What inspired you to become a yoga instructor?
Seva: selfless service.

Do you have any go-to yoga and wellness books or podcasts?
I love the calm app. Awesome daily meditations and nighttime sleep stories. Best wellness app hands down.

Which teachers influence your practice?
Govind Das, Bryan Kest, Janet Stone

What does your yoga practice look like and how has it changed your life?
My practice is constantly evolving and transforming. I was a dancer and performer for many years and yoga was my rock, my foundation. Yoga reminds me how precious every moment is. It is my greatest teacher.

What is something you wish your students knew?
The Beatles were Hare Krsnas.

What is your morning or evening routine? (whichever is your favorite..or both!)
Dinacharya, my morning practice consists of 10 minutes of meditation, oil pulling and abhyanga.

What is your favorite thing about being a teacher?
Hearing, “this is exactly what i needed” after class. Helping people heal.

What are you involved with outside the studio?
Nature, Retreats, Festivals, Travel.

What is your go-to movement (asana, dance, hiking, etc.) that allows you to feel the most connected to yourself?
Ecstatic Dance

What is your favorite thing about the Bay Area?
Everything.

*Monday, Friday, and Saturday classes begin January 1, 2018!

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Meet Your Teacher: Melina Meza

Namaste Yoga + Wellness is a container for the Bay Area’s best yoga teachers to offer their incredible talent and wisdom to students of all backgrounds. These highly experienced teachers have dedicated their lives to sharing the gift of yoga with others and we couldn’t be more grateful. It is an honor to support them and to connect them with yoga practitioners like you.

We are excited to share this special new blog series focused on celebrating your yoga teachers and hopefully giving you a glimpse into the brilliant team that is the Namaste Yoga + Wellness family. We have over 55 teachers in our community and every single person offers something unique!

Meet Melina Meza:

How long have you been at Namaste?
Almost three years in total

What inspired you to become a yoga instructor?
I was asked to be a yoga teacher by a friend who wanted to open a studio in Seattle back in 1996. After much consideration, I said YES and was inspired to do so because of how much I loved yoga and the way it made me feel. After one year of teaching a lot of classes, I took my first pause and moved to Maui to study with Gary Kraftsow for the winter. During my first year of teaching, I felt I taught everything I learned from my first teacher and exhausted my resources. On Maui with Gary, I found what was missing….my home practice. Since then, my home practice is what continues to inspire me to teach.

Your favorite literature on yoga or meditation?
Tough question…but if you’re looking for an entry point into yoga and meditation, I recommend, The Heart of Yoga by Deskichar for yoga and A Path with Heart by Jack Kornfield for meditation.

Which teachers influence your practice?
Kathleen Hunt (Seattle based teacher), Gary Kraftsow, Sarah Powers, Tias Little, Jin Sung, Scott Blossom (listed in the order of when I studied with them)

How often do you practice?
My practice of yoga extends beyond the yoga mat into my life. I consider all the times I wake up and do my meditation + Ayurvedic cleansing routines, hydrate, and eat right for my constitution as part of my practice. When I’m actively listening to another, or walking mindfully by myself, I also consider this part of my yoga practice. The asana portion varies for me but in general, I do sequences at home every other day and outdoor activities like walking or tennis on alternating days.

What is your morning or evening routine? 
The morning starts with tongue scraping, brushing teeth, rinsing eyes with Ayurvedic Rose Water drops, Nasya Oil in the nose, hydrate then meditate for 10-20 minutes. After meditating….a leisure cup of coffee before celebrating the day. Depending on the season or travel schedule, I give myself an oil massage every other day or when traveling everyday before showering.

Your favorite self-care practices?
Eating when I’m hungry and not eating when I’m not hungry, oil massage, 20-minute naps, staying hydrated and eating soup often, being creative every day, getting 8 hours of sleep.

What are you involved with outside the studio?
At the moment….photography, tennis, cooking, and a little guitar.

Absolute favorite asana?
Downward Dog

What is your favorite thing about the Bay Area?
Sunshine and the variety of avocados!

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December Honors The Empowered Life

[Photo of Namaste Teacher Odisa Walker]

What does it mean to live The Empowered Life?

At the beginning of 2017 we committed ourselves to a 12-month journey of empowerment. We spent each month unpacking the practices and elements, from self-care to bravery, that allowed us to live with confidence, compassion, and calm. Our motto in January was “My Practice Gives Me Power”. Now we want to reflect on what we’ve done with this power.

Practicing presence and engagement throughout the seasons of our lives opens us up to a deeper connection with ourselves and the world around us. Our hope, as a studio, is that you have found value in these explorations and been inspired to reflect and grow in your own unique ways.

So what exactly does it mean to live “The Empowered Life”? We believe the definition is unique to each person but ultimately it goes beyond simply feeling empowered. It is a life of unwavering integrity and confidence.

Confidence that we have the power to face whatever comes our way. Integrity to act in ways that empower others. Confidence that we are whole and good. Integrity to live our truth.  The confidence we can tackle the sticky, dark corners of life with grace, patience, and love. The ability to return from the shadows whole and decent.

The Empowered Life means we strive to make every day sacred.

Take a look back on our 2017 year and get ready for an even more amazing 2018!

 
November: Giving Gratitude  | December: The Empowered Life
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The Season of Gratitude

[Photo of Namaste Teacher Danielle Woermann]

November feels like the beginning of the end. Blink twice and the holiday season will be here before we know it. The ceremonial death of one year while the birth of a brand new chapter rests on the horizon. This is the optimal time for inward reflection before the tizzy of celebrations pulls our energy into external events. This is why we’ve chosen, as routine as it may be, to focus on gratitude. Gratitude for the big things in life: family, friends, health in body, mind, and spirit. Gratitude for the small moments too: a warm cup of tea, the silent dark mornings of fall, or a smile from a stranger. We ask you to sit with gratitude in your practice and use it to fuel a more intimate connection to everyday life.

What does it mean to Make Every Day Sacred ?

Every Day Sacred was the name of our first yoga teacher training and the phrase has stuck around because we believe it encapsulates our vision and purpose. Every single day is a gift. We are awake, breathing, and engaged in a world that exists in a temporary and ever-changing realm. How lucky we are to be conscious and to have the power of choice! Each day gives us the opportunity to flex our resilience and perspective in order to shape our reality. Dedication to our yoga practice can be the constant that brings us back to this understanding of our inner strength and power.

To Make Every Day Sacred is to live with mindfulness and non-attachment. We notice, like a soft breeze, when something enters our threshold of awareness and triggers within us joy, pain, or an indescribable emotion. We watch our reaction and give thanks for the experience of connection to this very moment. Then, like an exhale, we release our grasp on whatever it was that came our way. We acknowledge the heartwarming of a kind act and just as simply we let it go – opening to the next experience. We actively choose to see the hidden beauty unfolding in every moment regardless of its tenor.

Community Practice:

Gratitude Meditations

How you can participate:

This month we will be offering journal prompts, inspirational videos, and opportunities to give back to the community. Take your first step by finding a sweet journal where you can begin making your daily notes of gratitude and growth!

Keep up with us on the blog, Instagram, and Facebook where we’ll be sharing tips from your favorite Namaste teachers.

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Empowered by [Practice]

Habits set the tone for our daily lives. Having the courage to look at our habits in an unbiased way can lead to more authenticity and connection. Taking the time to understand why we act transforms habits into intentional practices.

When we align with our core values we reap the benefits of a purposeful life. We have more confidence and power to adapt to whatever changes or obstacles we may face.

This is the beauty of a yoga practice. The ritual of returning to our breath and body allows us to stay present. The effects ripple beyond the edges of our mat and lift us up in the most mundane moments. Yoga opens the door for deeper awareness of our mortality, intuition, and potential. The opportunities created by a strong mind-body connection can heal and prepare us for the journeys our physical bodies take through life.

In the spirit of empowerment, we collected stories from our community to inspire you to reflect on your own practices. Every day we hold space within the studios for our community to live more courageously. We do this so that we may shine with confidence both on the mat and off.

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Living with Courage & Confidence

[Photo of Namaste Teacher Elika Aird]

We’ve entered the final quarter of the year. The air has a new chill as our hearts and minds begin to turn inwards. As yogis and wellness warriors, we have a responsibility to acknowledge the tragedy occurring in our world. The political climate is devastating our country’s ability to make progress on key issues. Natural disasters have wreaked havoc from coast to coast. Last weekend, we experienced the collective trauma of another mass shooting in Las Vegas. It is easy to use our practice as an escape mechanism, and sometimes we may need to, but this month we encourage you to stay present.

What defines Courage & Confidence?

Our Year of Empowerment has been a journey focused on self-love, integrity, and action. Each month we’ve encouraged you to look inside and reflect on different facets of self-care. This month is no different. Living with courage and confidence means that we do not shy away from the tough questions, the difficult events, and the challenging conversations. We choose to practice bravery. We choose to believe that we have the power to change, to help, and to heal. A healthy yoga and wellness practice can empower us to recognize both inner strength and softness. Like a deep breath, we inhale power to exhale love.

We have chosen the focusing question: how does my practice empower me to live with more courage and confidence? 

Community Practice:

Share Your Story

Sharing your story can be the inspiration someone else needs to live with more courage and confidence.

How you can participate:

This month we will be creating community “empowerment” posters around the studio. We encourage you to share your story of empowerment. There will be materials for you to write and paste your statements of empowerment. Share how your practice lets you live with more courage and confidence. Keep an eye out for stories shared by your teachers and our Namaste family.

Additionally, we are working on creating opportunities for our community to give back to the tragedies occurring around the world. We’ll keep you updated on ways to take your practice beyond your mat.

Keep up with us on the blog, Instagram, and Facebook where we’ll be sharing tips from your favorite Namaste teachers.

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