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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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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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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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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Coming Late, Leaving Early

Considerations for Group Yoga Class

Reposted with permission by Domonick Wegesin, The Opener

Last week, the New York Times posted an article about parenting entitled, “Which Is Better, Rewards or Punishments? Neither”  In the article, the author described the downside of using punishment in an attempt to shape children’s behavior since “punishments tend to escalate conflict and shut down learning. They elicit a fight or flight response, which means that sophisticated thinking in the frontal cortex goes dark and basic defense mechanisms kick in”.

However, she also points out that reward-use has its pitfalls. Children tend to acclimate to rewards over time and end up wanting more reward for the same work, or want rewards for doing anything, even basics like making their beds or doing their homework. Further, “psychologists have suggested that rewards can decrease our natural motivation and enjoyment…and are associated with lowering creativity”.

Instead, the author highlights the use of corrections that assume that kids naturally have good intentions, are empathetic and want to be team players. Helping them understand the rationale behind why some tasks need to be completed can be motivating enough.

This article was on my mind as I addressed a recurring issue in my yoga classes last week.

During sivasana, the intention is to create an environment of non-doing, a place of quiet and calm. It may be the only moments of non-doing that students experience all day. Despite me repeating this intention over the years, some students choose to leave class during the sivasana period.

When this happened again last week, I got up and followed four students out of the studio and relayed that their disruption was unwelcome. I was frustrated by the disruption, and though I didn’t raise my voice, my tone clearly carried a message of dissatisfaction. This change of vocal tone was enough to be considered punishment, at least by one of the students who later relayed feeling chastised by my remarks. Though my words included the rationale about why it is important to safeguard the quiet, non-doing environment, that message may have been lost if my tone evoked a fight-or-flight reaction. Again, our frontal, logical brain can be highjacked by the more primal fear brain.

In this month’s newsletter I wanted to highlight the rationales for why it is helpful to arrive on time and not leave early to group yoga classes. I do assume that my yoga students have good intentions, are empathetic and have interest in the well-being of the group. However, sometimes ego-driven thought might interfere with those assumptions being manifest.

To follow through with the sivasana example, the ego need to adhere to your schedule may interfere with your ability to perceive that your moving around during sivasana is interfering with the calm of the entire class. In effect, you’ve decided that shaving off a few minutes for your personal schedule is more important than the well-being of a room full of other people. You may rationalize that you are moving quietly, but any movement in a still space is heard and is disruptive. It pulls attention and brings people back into a doing mind. Psychologically, yoga is about ego diminishment, and your decision to prioritize a few minutes for your schedule over the well-being of the entire class is ego aggrandizement.

So what do you do if you need to leave early?

It may be that you have to get home to your kids, or get to an appointment at a time where those last few minutes of class really make all the difference. In this case, let the teacher know before class that you need to leave early and exit the studio before sivasana. Ideally, you will carve out time for your own sivasana before you leave early, even though this means missing some of the closing poses. In this way, you can leave early and not disturb the other students during their sivasana.

On the other side of the class, some students are chronically late. Just as the group has settled in to an introductory meditation or breathing practice, the door opens, foot steps are heard, mats are slapped open, props are fetched, etc. It is hard to not notice these auditory and visual distractions, especially when your own mind is still buzzing from your day.

What to do if you arrive late?

Enter quietly into the studio. If the class is in the middle of a still meditation, then sit or stand by the door until the meditation is complete. Once the class begins moving again, then proceed to set up your mat and join the group.

The other consideration in arriving late is one of safety. Instructors sequence the poses so that early poses warm up and prepare the body for more complicated poses that come later. If you arrive 10-15 minutes late, you may have missed important preparatory poses that make jumping into the advanced poses midstream potentially unsafe. This is rare; over my 12 years of teaching I have asked students on a few occasions not to join the class for this reason.

As teachers, we attend to individuals, but we also have to safeguard the well-being of an entire group. I think of the Utilitarian philosophy of John Stuart Mill in which our actions are intended to create the greatest good for the greatest number of people. This is integral in yogic thinking where we are going beyond I, me and mine and yoking to a greater US. When you have the well-being of the group in mind, it is easier to navigate your individual needs in a way that accommodates the group, even if it may mean a slight inconvenience to you personally.

I appreciate my students’ efforts in making the classes harmonious for everyone. And, if any of my comments as a teacher come across as punishment, I apologize for any unintended harm-doing. It is natural for the ego to be defensive when it is called out for a perceived yoga foul. My intention is to foster the education of the group, not to belittle the individual.

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Boutique Styles: Spring Trends Now Landing

I’ll be honest – I love Spring for bringing the lightness into our wardrobes again! Let our skin warm with sun rays and the breezes tickle. Spring is the transition zone, so of course, don’t forget to carry your extra layer. Pieces landing now in our boutiques speak to the following trends:

Match Set: Yep. Matching sets and jumpsuits abound. You know the best part of this trend? Less decisions to make when dressing!
(Berkeley Studio Manager Kelsey Garden in new Patrons of Peace jumper (above) and maxi dress (below), available at Namaste Berkeley.)

Maxi and more: Maxi dresses are a thing, especially over tees. We’ve got both flying in to our boutiques.

Pattern: Pattern is a go. Get out of the black and grey wintery doldrums with some sweet flower patterns.
(Below: Yoga Instructor Rosy Schlussel in Gypsy Junkies blouse, Kelsey in Gypsy Junkies flare pant, available at Namaste Grand Lake)

Soft colors: Just think of ice cream colors – sweet and sweeter.
(Below: Rosy in Gypsy Junkies blouse, available at Namaste Berkeley)

More spring /summer trends to come! This is what the future holds:

The Stripe: Is it a nautical thing? The stripe in summer just always feels right.

Silhouette: The silhouette of the season is crop tops with wide legs. Think you can get with it?


 Helene Cotton is our Namaste Boutique Buyer and Manager. She’s keeping her finger on the fashion pulse for all of us, plus taking lots of pics with our community to share our offerings with you.

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Keepin it Rheal

Featured Maker: Made by Rheal

Products we carry: Cast hands, coasters, concrete vessels, votives

Materials: Cast concrete objects

From the moment I saw these hands, I knew they were perfect for our boutiques. They speak of offering, they beg to have some precious object placed in them for reflection, they provide the sense of the sacred. Please don’t let this precious product pass you by. Bring a set home and let it remind you of what you offer the world every day. Or what you want to offer the world. The hands are a beautiful metaphor.

The hands were just the first step on my path of finding Rheal, the man behind the hands. He is inspiring! He is a local Oakland maker, with a little backyard studio on the Oakland/Emeryville border. He is immensely inspired by material – it is what lights him up. Currently concrete is the material he works with most consistently, but he veers off into resin and glass as well. He creates molds to cast his concrete menagerie. The concrete is amazing because it lends everything a weight, a heaviness. The cast object is actually there, in reality. You can feel it and touch it and fill it and empty it and start again. It’s earthy and feels grounding to hold in your hands.

I can’t get enough of his work, but perhaps you need to know what to do with it? It’s sculptural, so just enjoy it. But also…. I’m going to make you a list:

• Put the hands on your altar and put a precious object in them. A stone, a crystal, a leaf, an air plant, a flower, something seasonal, something that you value, something that represents your intention.

• If you get hands without sparkly touches, they are food safe. Offer your guests a dash of salt. Set a unique table.

• His “vessels,” tinged with a touch of sparkle, can be filled with soil and succulents. (Perfect wedding table objects anyone?)

• Clean up your workspace and upgrade to a really nice pen holder.

• Use a set of hands as an incense burner. I purchased a roll of charcoal discs and I break a little piece off of one and put it in the hands, light it up, and then drop little bits of loose flower-y incense on it. It’s heaven and perfect to set the mood before a little home yoga class.

• Moon coasters for your moon party!

Made by Rheal products can be found at both our Berkeley and Rockridge boutiques. Support local artisans and local businesses and shop at Namaste boutiques!

 

 

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Brooke Brings Art & Love to Oakland

[Photo of Energy Bells created by Namaste Student Brooke Levin]

The Namaste community is full of wonderful and impressive yogis who bring creativity and inspiration to our daily lives. Brooke Levin joined Namaste in 2004 when the Rockridge Studio first opened. Brooke has gained so much from the Namaste community both through classes, workshops and the friendships she has formed. Namaste is so much more than a place, it’s a neighborhood to Brooke! We love Brooke and wanted to share an upcoming event highlighting local businesses and artists in Oakland.

Brooke is sponsoring a group of amazing women in an Artisans and Makers Pop Up Shop on Sunday November 5th from 1-5 pm. It will be held at The Rare Bird Makers Space at 3883 Piedmont Avenue. We are delighted to highlight this special event featuring not only Brooke, but also our Yoga Advisor Bekah’s beautiful pottery (featured on the left below) and Namaste student/friend/vendor Tracy from White Sage Wellness (featured on the right below).

Each Artisan has a unique offering, elegant jewelry, essential oils & wyldcrafts, collage journals, chocolates, hand knit goodies, original ceramic mandalas and hand sewn oil cloth bins.

Brooke’s work, shown here include Art Boxes, Energy Bells & Tins. Brooke’s Art Boxes are created from repurposed cigar boxes and a variety of images. The Monarch Butterfly and Bumble Bee boxes are to honor her commitment and charitable work around pollination and as part of her role as a member of the Pollinator Posse, an Oakland based group working to grow the pollinators.

The Energy Bells are created to be used to clear space of “stuck” energy. It’s a great alternative to smudging and can be done anywhere, home, work or in the car! Just ring the bell in every corner of every space and use as often as needed. All items are made with lots of Oakland Love and handled with care.

We hope you can make it to this great event. Look forward to seeing you there!

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Summer Reading List: Volume 2

Stay Curious! Summer is a great time to catch up on your active desire to read more and be inspired. Here, we’ve collected some top yoga-relative reading from your fave teachers. So, before it’s too late, pick a book up from our boutiques or load up your kindle with some of these brilliant recs.

[bottom left] Carpenter: Richard Rosen’s newest book, Yoga FAQs. Local Yoga Legend, Richard asked his students what they wanted to know, and he answered! Its a fun, accessible and yet remarkably thorough — and profound — collection and everything we always wanted to know about Yoga, its past, present and future.

[bottom right] Domonick Wegesin: One recommendation:  Stumbling on Happiness, by Daniel Gilbert.  It’s more of a mindfulness book, but shares psychological insights into what makes us happy.  Insightful read.

[top left] Baxter Bell: I love the books by Stephen Cope, The Wisdom of Yoga, and Yoga and the Quest for the True Self, as well as Richard Rosen’s Original Yoga and his newest book, Yoga FAQ.

[top right] Julia Alexander: I would recommend poetry – invoking our imagination, reviving the inspiration, speaking the language of the heart…Hafiz, Rumi (of course), Rilke…Mary Oliver, David Whyte…

[bottom left] Nubia Teixeira: Gita Wisdom by Joshua Greene, Yogini by Janice Gates

[bottom right] Siri Peterson:  Awakening Shakti by Sally Kempton, Disease Delusion by Jeffrey Bland

[top left] Vickie Russell Bell: The Mirror of Yoga by Richard Freeman, Yogabody by Mark Singleton (a controversial read!), Yoga FAQs by Richard Rosen

[top right] Claudia Florian McCaffrey: Bountiful, Beautiful, Blissful, by Gurmukh, Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth and Baby Massage, The Calming Power of Touch

Heads down people!

Learn more about our amazing teachers here.

(Including Jaimi Patterson, featured in pics in this post.)

Shop local and visit our boutiques where many of these books are available for sale!

 

 

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