Meet Your Teacher: Domonick Wegesin

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 Domonick Wegesin:

How long have you been at Namaste?
10 years

What inspired you to become a yoga instructor?
Yoga helped me face my fears of not being enough. I have always loved to teach, and realized I would love to teach something that had been so impactful in my own life.

Your favorite literature on yoga or meditation?
The writings of Pema Chodron and Mary Oliver.

Which teachers have influenced your practice?
David Goulet, Annie Carpenter, Janet Stone, Richard Rosen, Dylan Werner

How often do you practice?
Daily

What is your morning or evening routine?
Morning pranayama and chanting with my husband. We start each day in sync, every breath for the first 30 minutes of the day in tandem.

Your favorite self-care practices?
Hiking in Nature, soaking in our hot tub under the trees and sky, dancing, yoga.

What are you involved with outside the studio?
Crazy about our Schnoodle, love to dance.

Absolute favorite asana?
Wild Thing – love it’s beauty, curvilinear form and heart-offering expression.

What is your favorite thing about the Bay Area?
The people who are the most accepting of any place I’ve ever lived.

Anything else you want to share?
So grateful to be in the Namaste Community to have a place to share the teachings of yoga and meditation. Thankful for Kimberly and her vision.

Also check out Domonick’s upcoming programming:

Yoga for Anxiety Series, begins Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, begins Wednesday, September 19, 2018

 

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Meet Your Teacher: Simona Balan

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!

How long have you been at Namaste?
About a year and a half – a little over a year as a regular instructor

Bay Area Best Yoga Teachers Simona Balan

What inspired you to become a yoga instructor?
I’m a planner by nature, but I become a yoga teacher purely by chance. Comes to show you some things are just meant to be :).
I was first introduced to yoga as a child back home in Romania. Interestingly, I’ve later learned, yoga used to be banned in Romania, and yoga teachers and practitioners were looked down upon like near-terrorists up until a few years before my mother had me try it out to help with my scoliosis. After those initial lessons, the opportunity to take yoga classes didn’t arise again until I traveled nearly halfway around the world to pursue a PhD at UC Berkeley.

With $10 a semester I was able to take unlimited yoga classes at UC Berkeley’s Recreational Sports Facility (RSF). Thursdays 5:30 pm with Shy Sayar became my regular weekly yoga class (I now have been teaching it for about 10 years). In that massive, loud basketball court, with bright fluorescent lights and stinky mats, surrounded by up to a hundred other students, I fell in love with yoga. I loved how it made my body feel. How it improved my performance in other physical activities. How it helped me deal with the stress of culture shock and the demands of a PhD program. Even though I could only take classes once or twice a week due to my schedule, I right away started practicing daily. Less than a year into my daily practice my teacher was contemplating offering his very first teacher training and gave me a partial scholarship to help make it happen. This fairly unusual teacher training – 100 hours in the sun, wind and hail of Death Valley over Spring Break, and 100 hours on a remote property in Southern Oregon – was truly transformational, and I began teaching yoga soon after.

Bay Area Best Yoga Teachers Simona Balan

Do you have any go-to yoga and wellness books or podcasts?
My favorite yoga and wellness books include Timothy McCall’s Yoga as Medicine and Darrell Wolfe’s Healthy to 100. But my go-to books whenever I need some inspiration, guidance, or clarity are Pema Chodron’s The Places That Scare You and When Things Fall Apart.

Which teachers influence your practice?
My main teachers have been Shy Sayar and the Niroga Institute’s teachers (including Baxter Bell), but pretty much all the teachers I’ve taken classes with have influenced my practice and my teaching to one degree or another.

What does your yoga practice look like and how has it changed your life?
My yoga practice changes organically. The only constant is that I practice asana every morning, even if it’s just for 10-15 minutes before I catch the 6:30 a.m. train to Sacramento for work. I have a mini-studio at home complete with foam roller, massage balls, yoga balls, bosu ball – and I take turns incorporating them into my practice. Some days I explore more restorative or therapeutic poses, other days Vinyasa flows. I have a full time desk job, so I intersperse my day with stretching and moments of mindfulness. In the evenings I tend to practice self-massage and myofascial release.

Yoga has changed my life in too many ways to list here. The most obvious one is that I now live in the Bay Area. It was my introduction to the Bay Area’s yoga community that eventually made me get past the culture shock and feel more at home here than anywhere else I’ve lived before.

Bay Area Best Yoga Teachers Simona Balan

What is something you wish your students knew?
Limitations are impermanent, like everything else. Never underestimate the transformational effects of mindfulness, relaxation, and practice. Yoga poses that seem impossible now may simply be poses that the body-mind doesn’t yet understand.

What is your morning or evening routine? (whichever is your favorite..or both!)
It varies somewhat, but tends to involve yoga asana practice and purring cats.

What is your favorite thing about being a teacher?
Teaching yoga is immediately satisfying for the part of me that wants to heal the world, in particular the human relationship with the environment. I’ve spent years studying and working as an environmental scientist, but I often feel more of service teaching yoga. It’s helped me realize that any transformation of our relationship with the environment must start with an internal transformation of our relationship with ourselves, and with an experiential understanding of our connection to everything else.

Bay Area Best Yoga Teachers Simona Balan

What are you involved with outside the studio?
I’m an environmental scientist working as a civil servant for the state of California to implement the Safer Consumer Product Regulations. Basically, my group researches chemicals of concern in consumer products to regulate them as needed. Most of my work thus far has been on a class of fluorinated chemicals used in a wide variety of consumer products, including in stain- or water-resistant clothing and furnishings, and in greaseproof food packaging. If you’re interested, you can learn more about my work in this short webinar: https://www.healthandenvironment.org/partnership_calls/95944

What is your go-to movement (asana, dance, hiking, etc.) that allows you to feel the most connected to yourself?
Yoga asana, with its many forms, and Aikido, a Japanese martial art focused on achieving harmony to resolve conflict. I’ve had the opportunity to travel twice to Japan and train in the little town of Iwama, where the style of Aikido was developed. I train several times a week at the Aikido Institute in Emeryville.

What is your favorite thing about the Bay Area?
The diversity of people and activities. The Bay Area vibe resonates so well with me that I’ve chosen to make this my home, even though I didn’t intend to when I first come here to start my graduate studies.

 

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Meet Your Teacher: Sean Feit Oakes

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 Sean Feit Oakes:

How long have you been at Namaste?
4 months

What inspired you to become a yoga instructor?
I was on Buddhist retreat in India and they wanted a yoga practice on the retreat but there were no yoga teachers around. I volunteered, and it turned out to be easy and pleasurable. Coming from both Insight Meditation and vinyasa Yoga lineages, it became a core part of my work to emphasize embodiment for the meditators and mindfulness and concentration for the yogis. I started teaching in both forms around the same time, and they have always woven together for me.

Do you have any go-to yoga and wellness books or podcasts?
I still love Vanda Scaravelli’s classic, “Awakening the Spine” as a book about yoga that weaves together reflections on postural practice and some of the more meditative or philosophical concepts about yoga. I have been deeply inspired and challenged in my ideas about yoga by Matthew Remski’s research and writing, and for beginners in contemplative practice, I recommend my teacher Jack Kornfield’s overview of spiritual life, “A Path With Heart”.

Which teachers influence your practice?
My first formal teacher was Joshu Sasaki Roshi in the Rinzai Zen tradition (1993-99). In 1997 I started Ashtanga with Larry Schultz and Alice Joanou, Authentic Movement with Bill McCully, and postmodern dance with Keith Hennessy and Kathleen Hermesdorf. I did yoga teacher training with David Moreno in the Bihar tradition in 2007, and the Spirit Rock Mindfulness Yoga and Meditation program with Anne Cushman and Jill Satterfield. My Buddhist teachers have been Jack Kornfield, Eugene Cash and Sylvia Boorstein (Theravāda & Insight Meditation), Anam Thubten (Tibetan Mahāyāna), and Sayadaw U Janaka (vipassanā). In 2008 I started studying trauma resolution and systems theory with Steven Hoskinson (Somatic Experiencing, Organic Intelligence®), and have been strongly influenced in my recent work on the integration of trauma, mindfulness, and yoga by Dr. Stephen Porges.

What does your yoga practice look like and how has it changed your life?
Recently my practice looks mostly like parenting and providing for my family, which means that the “practice” part of it consists of mindfulness of emotions, speech, and actions, as well as the maintenance of my energy through attempting to balance work, sleep, physical exercise, and family connection time. The best formal practice support I have right now is prānāyāma, which changes my energetic state quicker than meditation can. When I get a chance to sneak away for some actual āsana, it’s fantastic, and brings me back to myself. It’s always done that, and it’s why I kept with it. Yoga, Buddhism, and inner inquiry saved me, slowly, from being an existentially depressed loner. Now I’m an existentially curious philosopher with better relationships and coping strategies. And I look forward to years of unfolding further along this path.

Sean Feit Oakes Namaste Yoga + Wellness Mindfulness

What is something you wish your students knew?
I wish students knew more deeply that they’re not alone in their struggles, and that way more is possible in life than mainstream culture, including yoga culture, suggests. I wish teachings of renunciation and liberation were more common in the Yoga and Buddhist communities, so that these gorgeous practices wouldn’t be reduced to surface interventions that help people survive our current inhumane social systems but don’t uproot the systems themselves, either from global power or from our own hearts.

What is your morning or evening routine?
Morning: up before dawn awoken by a toddler saying “Mama, Papa!!”, sitting and Refuge Puja while our boy nurses, then playing with him and making breakfast while his mama sleeps some more. Evening: after everyone goes to sleep, if I’m not exhausted, I get some quiet time to drop into my body. I do whatever feels good.

What is your favorite thing about being a teacher?
The relationships that form as a class or practice space becomes consistent, and how those consistent communities and practices start to affect people’s lives in real and meaningful ways. I love deep discussion about the implications of practice and the teachings on people’s lives.

What are you involved with outside the studio?
I teach Buddhism, Yoga, and Organic Intelligence® in various places, including Spirit Rock. My main work is individual sessions for yoga and meditation practitioners where we work in various ways to deepen practice, including counseling, trauma resolution, subtle bodywork, and inquiry. Other than work, I try to write as often as I can, and the rest of my time is for family.

What is your go-to movement (asana, dance, hiking, etc.) that allows you to feel the most connected to yourself?
A slow, intuitive vinyasa is still my most grounding movement practice, but I also love running as a meditative energy practice, and my long-time deep movement home is the postmodern dance form Contact Improvisation.

What is your favorite thing about the Bay Area?
It’s my home! I grew up here, and I don’t have a favorite thing specifically, though the main thing that makes it hard to move away is the depth of connections I have made over the decades. I’m grumpy about the Bay Area nowadays and can barely afford to live here anymore, but nowhere else feels like home, and that’s still a precious, subtle feeling.

Anything else you want to share?
I want to offer my blessings to everyone who calls Namaste home, and say that I’m thrilled to be bringing my teaching work here. I’m excited to meet many of you over time, and to contribute whatever I can to deepening the practice and study being offered at the studio.

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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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