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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Summer Reading List: Volume 1

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. Keep reading below to find your next favorite page-turner.

[We’ve asked Namaste teacher Jaimie Patterson to model some of our newest summer styles available in the Namaste Boutique. Perfect for lounging around with your favorite book!]

Bottom Left: ELANA MORGULIS, LMFT, E-RYT: Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now was the first big game changer in my life. I felt soothed and transformed just reading it. As I moved more into clinical work with people in my studies of wellness and mindfulness, Jon Kabat Zinn’s Full Catastrophe Living was an informative, experiential read.

Bottom Right: JERRY GIVENS Art of Joyful Living, by Swami Rama. I often recommend this book to beginning yogis who want to know how they can take what they learn in the classroom out into their lives, answering the questions “how do I live like a yogi?” I find it to be inspiring while remaining grounded with layman practical advice for anyone at any stage of their practice.

Top Left: JILL LINDSAY: Living Your Yoga by Judith Lasater!

Top Right: AVA ROY: any and all of the poetry by Hafiz.

Bottom Left: ANNA LANDAUER: A Path with Heart by Jack Kornfield

Bottom Right: MARGI YOUNGYoga of the Subtle Body by  Tias Little, Light on Yoga!!  by Iyengar, anything by Dohna Farhi, The Inner Traditions of Yoga-Michael Stone (in tribute), Atlas of Human Anatomy by Netter, Yoga Sutras by Chip Hartranft

Top Left: SIMONA BALANTrue Yoga by Jennie Lee, When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodron, Healthy at 100 by John Robbins

Top Right: REBECCA ROGERS:  Buddha’s Brain by Rick Hanson, Coming Back to Life (2014) by Joanna Macy, Trauma Stewardship by Laura Van Dernoot Lipsky

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 (and clothes) are available for sale!

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The Scented Life: Meet Tracy of White Sage Wellness

In the spirit of this month’s theme of community, and OUR Namaste community in particular, I wanted to share one local line of delightful products in our retail boutiques. This line is so local that it is created by one of our very own students.

Meet Tracy, the creatrix behind White Sage Wellness (formerly Apsara) and a long time yogi at Namaste.

White Sage aromatherapeutic products represent Tracy’s artistic expression of the healing powers of plant medicine. Each spray, oil or smudge wand is inspired by the seasons, cycles and elements of nature and intended as a ritual tool for mindfulness and creating sacred space.

    

“I have my products stationed throughout my home and use them frequently to remind myself to take mindful moments, to complement my yoga and meditation practice, for energetic cleansing and home cleaning.”

As a graduate of Namaste’s Yoga & Ayurveda teacher training last year, she weaves these philosophies along with nature & art therapy into her holistic counseling practice. Learn more about Tracy at  www.whitesagewellness.com.

Shop local and support the members of our Namaste community! Learn more about our boutiques here.

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Inspiration for Yoga in the Outdoors

Yoga is a practice that stretches beyond the time spent in classes or on the mat. It is a lifestyle, a way of interacting with the world around us. Yoga can help us connect on a deeper level to our breath, our body, and our ability to stay mindful. The weather is warming up and summer is right around the corner. In celebration, we asked a few of our Namaste community members why they love mixing their yoga with the great outdoors!

“We rock climb and I have found such a big connection with yoga and rock climbing. Obviously, being flexible and limber helps, but the more subtleties of body awareness in space and the mental aspect are huge. The only way I don’t totally loose my shit when on a high wall is by coming back to my breath and single pointed focus on what I am doing in that moment.” – Bekah Andrews, Rockridge Studio Manager

 

 

“To create emotional and mental space, to understand my life in a greater context, I turn toward nature. Spending time in the spaciousness of big sky, big trees, and big seas. The grandness of the natural world reminds us where we fit cosmically in the flow of the universe and helps us to gain perspective.” – Jerry Givens, Namaste Yoga + Meditation Teacher

 

 

 

“I love hiking. Going out on backpacking trips is the best way to clear my mind and let go of all the stress of everyday life. Yoga is the perfect complement to a long day of hiking and helps me to savor the moments in between. Taking off my boots and sinking my hands and feet into the earth after a long day of trekking is the best feeling. Literally grounding into nature and finding that moment of ultimate peace.” – Emily Roth, Marketing Manager

 

 

Get inspired by this beautiful video of Bekah and her husband Nick climbing in Sonoma!

 

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Take a Design Cue from your Yoga Studio

When you walk into the yoga studio and you get that special feeling — a sense of peace, or ease — what is it that creates that feeling? It could be the memory of savasanas past. But I have an idea that there are some design elements at play…Below are some design and decorating tips that we can take out of the studio and into our own homes, to carry the ease into our everyday existence.

  • Keep it simple, keep it spacious. Remember that less is always more, and leaves room for your thoughts and spirit.
  • Create a space for “intention” and place little reminders of beauty or happiness there. Like the altar in a yoga studio, create an intentional space to keep a few inspiring tokens on. Light it with candles sometimes.
  • Keep it low — integrating yoga bolsters and floor pillows into your decor provides for some fun recreation and feels like a more constant reminder of the life you want to live. Also — need a quick restorative? Grab that pretty bolster off your couch and just do it.
  • Choose meaningful art for your walls. A little daily inspiration goes a long way.
  • Scent is a powerful enhancer of experience and can bring you back to a remembered time and place. Keep a nice essential oil spray or palo santo on your altar to bring you back to that place of ease whenever you need it.
  • View it clearly. A little vista always sets the soul at ease. Set your furniture up with views to the outside, so that your soul can see what the future holds.

Check out our sweet boutiques at Namaste for some decor inspiration as you take charge of your spaces this Spring.

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