Leadership in Action: Prison Yoga Project

What does it mean to be a leader?

Leading the way as a business, as a country, or in an industry is a fearless enterprise. Leadership starts with recognizing where there is a problem, finding solutions to that problem, and finally, taking action to solve the problem. Leadership in action means being and modeling the change you hope to see in the world.

One of the fearless leaders of our time is James Fox, who began teaching yoga and meditation to prisoners at San Quentin Prison in 2002. His years of experience as a facilitator of victim/offender education, violence prevention, and emotional literacy classes for prisoners informed his work with prisoners. These experiences culminated in the eventual founding of Prison Yoga Project.

Prison Yoga Project is working to reform the criminal justice system from the inside out. Their “evidence-supported, trauma-informed approach to yoga and mindfulness supports people to face and release unresolved trauma safely and effectively. We provide resources and tools for recognizing and reducing aggression, impulsivity, reactivity, and despair. With these tools, they have a higher chance of taking personal responsibility and thinking and behaving differently. These tools and resources are the foundation for personal and social transformation.”

The video shared below tells the story of Prison Yoga Project, how James started teaching at San Quentin, the scope of the problem, and the struggles all prisoners have with violence and addiction.

James has since led practices and inspired the establishment of yoga programs in prisons and jails across the U.S. and internationally. Under his leadership, thousands of teachers have been trained to replicate PYP’s methodology in correctional facilities.

Leadership in Action

Our upcoming Prison Yoga Project training on August 10-11 is for anyone interested in creating a more humane and effective criminal justice system: therapists, social workers, lawyers, correctional officers, administrators, and, especially, yoga teachers who are ready to take their practice into the realm of service.

“I attended the Prison Yoga Project training at Namaste last summer and it has changed the way I teach as well as how I perceive my role as a teacher. I greatly respect and admire James Fox for creating this training and for personally doing this work of bringing yoga to prison inmates. My sister and I participated in the training together as we were both interested in expanding from teaching public classes at studios and gyms. This training helped me to understand how to teach anywhere where the majority of students will likely have experienced any form of trauma. It has also opened my eyes to teaching within the yoga studio as I have realized many students that come into yoga studios and gyms have also experienced trauma. I believe this is a great training for all teachers to become more sensitive to the needs of their students in any setting.”Odisa Walker, Namaste Instructor 

Leadership in Action Prison Yoga ProjectJoin us for this transformational program. Learn more here.


Photos courtesy of Prison Yoga Project.
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How To Be a Healer

I believe that most of us humans are equipped with natural, unique talents and abilities that enable us to help others and can reveal to us how to be a healer. Through embracing the lessons we learn from our life experiences and sharing them with others, we become teachers and guides for each other. Our lived experiences are our most valuable training for helping others heal. Surviving a challenging or even traumatic event gives us compassion and empathy for others who have been through similar experiences.

Are you one of these people? Are you like the young woman who walks into my office with a big, open heart, wanting guidance on how to leave her corporate job and make her career spreading love? Are you like the man who so desperately wants create change in his community but lives in fear of not doing it “right” or what others will think of him? Do you know that you have lots of helpful strategies to share but are uncertain how to get your voice out there?

If so, there are some simple things you can do to start offering positive healing energy to your community and beyond. It’s absolutely possible to release whatever blocks and fears you are having about being in service and start helping others now. Here are three ways you can get started.

1. Focus on Healing Yourself

First, let go of the idea that one day you will be completely healed, your work finished, and rewarded with an eternal, blissful utopia of enlightenment. Whoever sold you that bullshit is a charlatan.

How to Be A Healer, This Human Experience

We fall and scrape a knee, a friend passes away, we crash our car, and so on. Regardless of how much healing work we’ve done on ourselves, we must continue to do the ongoing maintenance of cleansing, balancing, and returning to our wholeness after these normal types of difficulties.

As a full-time coach and healer, I have to continually be clear and present for my clients. If I’m bogged down with a physical or emotional imbalance, it’s challenging to do my work in a sound and effective way. Knowing this, I have an amazing team of healers and coaches I work with to help me stay healed and whole. I exercise, do yoga, and meditate regularly to help myself find equanimity and continue with my healing work.

How to be a Healer, Self-Care

Through engaging in your own healing process, you also become an example for those around you. Your friends, family, and co-workers will notice the changes in you and become inspired to pursue their own transformational work. When I first started practicing kundalini yoga many years ago, I was still working full-time in a corporate setting. I didn’t tell people what I was up to outside of work, but my coworkers noticed and began commenting on the changes they could see me going through. They could see and feel the light I was cultivating in my newfound practice. When you shift to be in balance and feeling well, your energetic state is palpably different. You have more patience and kindness with others, and they will feel different around you. In this way, committing to healing yourself as an ongoing journey automatically helps others heal. It’s like magic!

Your negative ego may tell you that you need to be at a certain place in your healing process to help others. If you listen to this voice within, you may never feel good enough to lend a hand. Be honest with yourself about what you’re excited to share and give. A smile, a hug, or a listening ear can do a lot for someone else. The most important thing is to be honest about who you are and where you are in your process. Authenticity and honesty are refreshing for people and build trust. Being a true ally for someone is immensely healing.

As I prepare for a healer training program I’ll be leading this year at Namaste, I’ve been thinking a lot about why it’s so important to work on healing yourself if you want to help others. The main reason is: integrity. As healers, we need to be in integrity with what we offer others. This means we must always be paying attention to what in ourselves is ready to be healed next, rather than preaching or teaching one thing and doing something else in our personal lives. Taking your own healing work seriously is key to helping others. This is the most fundamental value I hold in my work and encourage in those I mentor as well.

How to Be A Healer, Leading

2. Be Present and Listen Well

Think back to a time when you felt witnessed and acknowledged by another human. I’m guessing that person took the time to listen to everything you had to say without interrupting. They were likely curious, patient, and kind as you shared your experience. They refrained from giving you advice or telling you what to do and instead inquired about the wisdom you gained from the situation. Chances are this experience, whether with an elder, friend, or counselor, helped you remember who you are at your core and reminded you that you are important, wise, and strong.

You don’t have to be a trained professional to offer this to someone else. Being present and listening well should also not be reserved for only our closest friends and family members. Offering this kind of service to someone you barely know or only see casually can be life-changing for them. Why? Because most of us do not get enough of this quality of interaction. There are so many people feeling alone in their struggle; receiving the care of another human reminds someone they are connected to something bigger and aren’t alone.

My first experience of learning what it felt like to be present was through yoga and meditation, and it didn’t happen until I was 23. My energy at that time was untethered and I was self-destructing. While that was many years ago, I see similar patterns in the clients who come to me for 1:1 transformational work today. There are so many addictions that can get in the way of just being, from an obsession with our thoughts, plans, and ego narratives, to a reliance on substances like alcohol or stimulants to manage our internal experience. All of this makes it challenging to pay attention and listen deeply enough to help another person.

You can start helping others heal now by slowing down when you’re interacting with someone. Focus your attention not just outside yourself, but also inside yourself. Take some deep breaths to center yourself in the moment. Feel your feet on the ground and look into the person’s eyes. Consciously open your heart and feel into bringing loving, positive regard to this person. Practice simply being with them. Next, listen to what they have to say. They might say things you don’t agree with. Allow yourself to breathe through the impulse to interrupt and debate. When they finish speaking, ask questions to learn more. If you do have advice for them, ask their permission to give it. You can say something like, “I have an idea about how you can work that out. Are you open to hearing it?” This way of interacting shows the person that you respect their boundaries and what they are and are not open to hearing.

You don’t need to give advice to be helpful to someone. Each person contains so much wisdom within themselves; just being super present with them and giving them the space to slow down and hear themselves can help them to see things differently.

How to be a healer, Be Present

3. Be Radically Generous, to Yourself

A lot of people I talk to who are interested in helping others already have a strong and admirable drive to give, but they end up forgetting about themselves in the process. We need more radical generosity in our world and as healers, we cannot forget ourselves when we consider who to care for.

The truth is that most people are very scared! Fear is a nervous system response meant to let you know that you’re in danger and must do something to protect and survive. It’s very common to be making decisions from a place of fear and survival instinct and not even know it. But we don’t have to move through the world in survival mode.

Look at self-generosity as the practice of taking excellent care of yourself. Freely give yourself what you need to feel at ease in your mind, body, and spirit. Being generous with yourself might look like carving out the time to relax and rest, taking a long walk in nature amidst the beauty there that is so abundant, or getting yourself a treat that feels luxurious. It might mean saying no to socializing, or it might mean giving yourself a night out dancing with friends. It does not need to be expensive in time or money; even ten minutes of deep care for yourself can make a difference in a busy week. It’s up to you to pay attention to what brings you ease, joy, energy, and helps you unlock from the survival mode that is so easy to fall into today.

How to Be A Healer, Being Generous with Yourself

Fundamentally, I believe that everybody has the potential to be a healer, and that part of how we’ll need to survive on this earth is to empower and support each other. The more we can move towards a mode where we notice the interconnectedness between all of us that already exists, and use that to help each other, the better.

If any of this resonates with you, I’d love to connect more. Now is the time to wake up to your ability to heal yourself, and be the guru, mystic, healer, and being of light that you choose to be. As you heal yourself and share your gifts and love with others, you create a space for expansion and connection, and in doing that, you change the world.

This post was originally published by Sariah Sizemore on Ritual Work.

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Journey to Teaching

by Elizabeth Conway

Journey to Teaching | Discover wells of strengthAlmost 6 years ago I graduated from Namaste’s first yoga teacher training.   My journey to teaching started with a group of about 20 of us gathered as students. Together with Ashley Sharp, David Moreno, and Baxter Bell for 200 hours from September to March, we learned together and had lasting, life changing results.

While I joined the training with the intent to dedicate time to my practice, hoping to deepen it and not intending to teach, within a month of graduating, I was in a studio, teaching 3 classes a week, which soon turned to 8 classes a week. I have never looked back, teaching classes and workshops at 4 studios since then and co-leading 11 local and international yoga and meditation retreats.

Journey to Teaching: ConnectNamaste’s teacher training gave me the architecture for taking a class through a safe sequence, holding space for 60 -180 minutes, and working with the many different bodies, minds, abilities and emotions that come to class.  The training taught me how to cultivate my own practice, to continually explore through physical and mental changes to return to the mat and remain deeply curious and open.

Journey to Teaching: Gain Confidence

Journey to Teaching

People ask me how I chose Namaste’s teacher training and I said I had a few criteria – experienced, respected senior teachers, a long span of time for the training so that my body could grow in strength (short 200 hour trainings I feared would tax my body and mind, potentially injuring one or the other) and local so I could integrate the teachings week in and week out into the challenges of my real life.  While I have no prejudice against going to a teacher immersion for a few weeks, I knew that for me, the “how” I learned and who I became as I went through the process, would be just as important as the fact of having “done” the training.

Journey to Teaching CohortThere were other unexpected rewards from my teacher training – specifically, I became friends with a community of people I see often and in a world where it is often a challenge to find friendship as an adult, this was invaluable. Spending 7 months studying the body and spirit and breathing together is a great cultivator of those connections. I also like to point out to people, that before completing the training, despite several yoga immersions, I did not have the faith in my practice that I do now.  The teacher training gave me a foundation of safety to explore teachers and studios and practices all over the world.  Once I knew that I was among my own best teachers for my body and mind, I trusted that I was at home anywhere in the world. I now practice anywhere, knowing that my asana practice is responsible and responsive.

While I am sometimes troubled by the Western yoga industrial complex and the for-profit models of studio operating, I balance this against the many benefits studios offer for sanctuary, especially in today’s world.  I look at the other ways we find to disconnect and fritter away our time, and in listening to some of the questions from people considering joining this year’s cohort, I was inspired (not asked) to write.

Are you interested in deepening your practice and finding your way to a Teacher Training program that suits you? We have two structures for our teacher trainings: a summer intensive format, and an extended weekend format.

Learn more about our teacher training programs here.



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5 Questions to Ask Before a Yoga Teacher Certification

If you’re on the mat regularly you know the power of the practice. But are you ready for a yoga teacher certification and training? Trainings have become increasingly popular – with different focuses on everything from social justice to healthy aging. If you know that you are ready to go deeper but are unsure if you need a yoga teacher training to accomplish this, reflect on some of the following questions:

1) Do you have a regular meditation or home practice?

Having a regular yoga or meditation practice is an important first step towards deepening your practice. Although maintaining a regular home practice can be difficult, it is something that most studios encourage before making a commitment to a teacher training. You don’t need to be practicing yoga every morning at 6 AM  – but you should spend time exploring a home practice and make a concerted effort to practice on your own as much as possible.

A good way to gauge if you have a healthy home practice is if you can say, with confidence,  that whenever you feel the need to tap into your body you know how to get there on your own, in a personal, sacred way. Learning how to make yoga personal and how to practice on your own are crucial building blocks for developing a practice that is meaningful and rich.

yoga teacher certification

2) Have you felt cues from other areas of your life encouraging you to dig deeper?

If your life feels like you are ready for a big shift, a teacher training may just be the spark you need. A teacher training will force you to focus, to dig down deep into your inner desires and values, and to learn how to express yourself in more authentic ways.

Often we may feel ready for a lifestyle change but are lacking the right environment or supportive community to help us achieve our goal. A teacher training can be a perfect opportunity to bond with fellow beings who are interested in curating a life of healthy choices and honest living.

3) Do you feel like you are in a supportive, stable place in your life?

A teacher training carries a lot of commitments. Not only will you be investing your money, but you will be investing a good amount of time, energy, and emotions. It is important to feel confident that your living situation, your personal relationships, and your finances are all in a stable place.

If it is a financial stretch, you are going through a rough breakup, or in the middle of moving – then taking a training right now may not be the wisest choice. Although it may sound like a fun distraction – the likelihood of you being able to tap into the inner wisdom you seek will be highly diminished. You want to be in a clear, stable place in your life where you can dedicate yourself fully to the teacher training journey.

yoga teacher certification

4) Are you feeling the desire to learn and become a student again?

Learning is a lifelong process. If you are feeling the burning desire to become a student again, there is no better way to answer the call than to take a teacher training. A yoga teacher training is an opportunity to not only advance your asana practice, but to dig into the philosophy and history of yoga. You will be in a classroom setting again, with fellow students whom with you can study, brainstorm and debate. You will be able to process all of your new knowledge under the guidance of experienced teachers. This will make the learning experience much more valuable than if you were to read the materials alone.

5) Is your yoga studio a place that feels like home?

This is the most important question. Is your yoga studio a place where you feel safe, accepted, and cared for? You will be spending a large amount of time there and will at moments feel very vulnerable. It is important that you vibe with the teachers, the atmosphere, and even the front desk staff. These people will become like family, and the relationships you have with them will either detract or enhance your teacher training experience.

Namaste’s 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training is right around the corner. If you are interested in expanding your teaching, feel free to email us at tt@ilovenamaste.com or call us to find out more. Applications and more information may be found here.

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The Driven Yogi: Wisdom for New Teachers

About 25 prospective teachers go through Namaste’s teacher training every year. These students take their newfound knowledge and promote wellness in their communities by teaching at local studios, opening up their own studio, or even teaching yoga at non-profit organizations. However, one of our recent graduates is using her time, knowledge, and new skills to help other yoga teacher graduates like herself. Keisha Courtney started The Driven Yogi.com, a site that offers free tips and advice to help new yoga teachers land their first jobs after training. We wanted to find out more about Keisha and her company. Read on to learn more!

1. Where did you grow up and at what age did you discover yoga?
​I’m from a small town in Clinton, Utah. Growing up I was a competitive gymnast and power tumbler. The competitiveness I learned at a young age carried into different areas of my life, including my career.

It wasn’t until the age of 26 when I discovered the magic of yoga. I was in a high-visibility, high-stress career as a TV news reporter. I covered a wide range of stories from natural disasters to murders, and my stress and anxiety got to an unmanageable level. Since I use exercise as an outlet, I started experimenting with different classes. I took one yoga class and was hooked! I left the studio feeling grounded, light, and clear-headed. From that moment forward, I knew that yoga would be an integral part of my life.

2. How has yoga changed for you since you began practicing?
​When I first started practicing I was always frustrated when I couldn’t do a pose (the competitive gymnast was still in there). It was 6 months into my practice when I was finally able to dig deeper and really understand that I needed to accept where I was in my practice from day-to-day. Sometimes I wanted to move and move hard, and other times a child’s pose was exactly what my body needed. When I accepted this idea, I was finally able to let things go on my mat and that’s when my practice truly blossomed.Wisdom for New Yoga Teachers

3. What attracted you to take a yoga teacher training?
​As much as I love yoga, it actually wasn’t the yoga at all that compelled me to enroll in a teacher training. I’m a competitive pole dancer and I absolutely love pole. When tackling difficult moves in pole, I use the breath techniques I have learned in yoga to help me get through the moves. Because of the benefits yoga brought me in pole dancing, I wanted to bring it to other dancers and create a class that combined the two forms of exercise. I was halfway through my yoga teacher training when I realized I wanted to teach yoga, as there were soooo many directions I could take it. For now, I’m focused on teaching yoga, improving my teaching skills, and sharing my journey through The Driven Yogi.com. I may still come up with the pole/yoga hybrid class, but for now, I’m just happy teaching yoga and guiding my students in their practice.

4. Do you have any advice for people who are just getting into yoga?
​There are a lot of misconceptions that stop people from practicing yoga and the first one relates to flexibility. Since teaching I have had several people say “I can’t do yoga because I’m not flexible,” but that’s not what yoga is about. For me, yoga reminds me to breath, not take certain things in life so seriously, and to come to my mat to find that release and stillness that my body (and mind) need. If people decide to try yoga for the first time I would just say don’t have preconceived notions about what yoga is or isn’t. Try it out and see what happens. Allow yourself to have your own experience.

Wisdom for New Yoga Teachers

5. You have a great presence and have really put yourself out there. Any tips for teachers who may be shy about marketing themselves?
​First off, thank you for that compliment! As for the question, putting yourself out there is scary – I totally get that. But marketing yourself as a new teacher is necessary.
If people don’t know about your classes, how will they be able to come? The studios I work at are super helpful in promoting teachers’ classes, but teachers can’t solely rely on studios to do that for them.

In regards to digital promotion, it doesn’t have to solely​ be about promoting yourself and your classes.​ I find that students actually enjoy getting to know more about their teache​rs outside of class, and they look for ways to relate to them. The posts I put out that don’t have anything to do with yoga tend to get more interaction than the ​posts that ​do​​.​ And ​sometimes, students ​will mention things they’ve seen on my page when they come to my classes – and it’s always the post that don’t ​have to do with yoga.

6. Who are your favorite Namaste teachers and why?
​Oh my goodness, there are so many! I love how much knowledge and experience each one has and I love getting the chance to practice with them. Obviously, I rea​lly enjoyed my teacher trainers: Domonick for his unique yoga classes that combine sequences with dancing, Baxter for his knowledge around anatomy, Vickie for helping me fall in love with alignment-based yoga, and Ashley for helping make meditation bearable (I couldn’t stand doing it before I had her leading me and teaching me certain techniques). On top of the teacher trainers I had, Whitney Walsh (my mentor) is amazing and has such a unique way of leading classes. She drew me in immediately and I HAD to learn more from her. I practice with her weekly and am blown away every. single. time.

Wisdom for New Yoga Teachers

7. Where do you hope to be in 5 years?
​In five years I hope The Driven Yogi is the go-to source for new yoga teachers. Many great and experienced teachers have already contributed to the site by providing insightful tips for new teachers. As the site grows I will continue to reach out to teachers, but I definitely have plans for the future of the site​ – stay tuned!​

8. What is one tip or self-care practice that you can’t live without?
​This is cliche, but I couldn’t live without yoga. I have a Type-A personality and my mind is constantly on the go trying to figure out how I can check more things off of my neverending to-do list. Yoga reminds me to breathe, be present and let little things go, and it also keeps me grounded so that I can get back to tackling lists – in a healthier way of course.

9. Anything else you’d love our Namaste community to know about you?
I​f you’re a new teacher and curious about the next steps you should take after your yoga teacher training, or if you are thinking about doing a training, please visit my website and sign up for our email list so that you are always in the loop when new tips come out – TheDrivenYogi.com.

Wisdom for New Yoga Teachers

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3 Branding Tips for New Yoga Teachers

The yoga industry is booming. In the last year, over 15 million new yoga students began practicing within the US alone, spending over $27 Billion on yoga related products and services. Where it use to be difficult to find a quality yoga class – now, in certain cities, studios outnumber Starbucks. The improved yoga studio business model, an increase in celebrity attention, and the rise of mindfulness practices (especially in tech) have led to a massive boost in popularity.

New students entering this space are often excited, nervous, and overwhelmed by the sheer number of choices, including what style and whose class they should take, and that is once they decide on a studio.

With so much marketing, advertising, and corporate money being poured into the yoga scene – it can be daunting figuring out where to start as a new student, let alone a new yoga teacher. Who are you? How can you communicate your uniqueness to your students?

The good news is this…yoga is still very much about just being yourself.

At Namaste, we have a large community of over forty teachers and over a hundred classes per week. Over the last few years I have had an opportunity to watch what works best. Here are my top three branding tips for new yoga teachers:

Yoga takes discipline. Most yoga teachers don’t end up teaching because they have nothing else to do. A large percent of yoga teachers have master degrees, some of them are CEO’s, and some of them have gone through immense life challenges to be here, sharing their path. Let your students in on your life.

Write down or say aloud to yourself why you love teaching and why you decided to become a yoga teacher. Think of it as creating your personal brand’s “About” page. What was the catalyst that led you to this way of life? How has your life changed? You are a living, breathing advertisement for your own product (your class), your content (your own practice), and your brand (your teachings). Streamline this story, so it becomes easily digestible, succinct, and highlights the parts that are unique to your path.

Share this story with your students. They will appreciate your openness; they will feel more connected to you, and they may even share your story with friends (leading to bigger class sizes!). Depending on how succinct you can make your story, you may share intermittently in class, but always have it available online. In addition to having it on your website, consider writing a blog post and posting through social media to gain more traffic. Also, spending time to connect with the front desk staff at your studio will increase the likelihood they also share your story with new students.

New teachers can have a difficult time building yoga classes off the bat. The best technique I have seen for gaining new students is through subbing. In order to sub for popular classes, new teachers must put themselves out there and get to know the other teachers in their community. I highly encourage new teachers to make the rounds. Attend other teacher’s classes and workshops, community events for the studio, and yoga industry gatherings. If your style resonates with another teacher (or vice versa), it works out great for both parties.

Once you have connected with teachers, share your experiences. Share photos of you attending their class, status updates about hanging out with others in the community, and event invites for workshops being taught by other teachers. These types of social media posts are attractive to students. They enjoy seeing your engagement with the community, syncing with more established teachers who they trust already, and will assume you likely teach a high-quality class, since other teachers are actively supporting you.

The more you share other teacher’s works, the more likely those teachers are to promote and share yours. When you are cross-pollinating your promotions with other teachers, you give yourself access to a larger demographic. Students can categorize you and your style of teaching faster when you are connected to another group of teachers, and this allows for faster development of your personal brand.

Deciding to be a yoga teacher means you have chosen a life that is now largely in the public eye. Your regular students will look up to you the same way people look up to some celebrities. As tempting as it may be to shy away from self-promotion, embrace it. It is a necessary aspect to ensuring your career is successful.

Take advantage of all the self-promotion tools available. Set up a Facebook Page (not a personal page) as a public figure. Create an Instagram account dedicated to your yoga practice and teachings. Create a website and make sure to list all of your classes, your bio, and any upcoming workshops. There are several great website services such as Squarespace, Wix, and WordPress that all make it easy (and cheap) to create beautiful sites with minimal technical experience. It is also worth hiring a professional photographer to take a variety of photos that you can repurpose across all of these platforms. A professional photographer out of the budget? Ask a friend or even your studio. Often times studios have access to a nice camera and may be willing to help you take a few pictures.

Once you have established your social media pages, continue to update. Feed your new fan base with recent pictures, new insights, and fresh content such as blog posts and favorite teachings of yours. In order to stay at the forefront of your student’s minds and to attract new students you must stay engaged with your online community.

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How to Empower Your Students

by Abby Tucker

A lot of my students and peers have been asking:

What IS Progressive Teaching and why does it make you a better teacher, empower your students and build a strong community of committed and consistent students?

The answer is really pretty simple.

Progressive teaching connects one class to another while reinforcing what’s been learned and expanding it into more.   Along the way, students become fully engaged in the process of learning, deepening, growing in their practices while developing bonds with each other.  Progressive teaching is sequencing not just over the course of a class, but over the course of a week, a month, a year, 5 years.

Progressive teaching weaves a thread of connection from class-to-class in a way that students can’t wait to find out what’s happening next.

You may have heard of or even become a devoted listener of the surprise runaway success podcast Serial.  Over the course of 12 weeks, journalist Sarah Koenig methodically and charismatically follows a single story.  Each week is built on the next and there’s really no way to just drop-in.  Listeners filled the social media-sphere with conversations, thought about it, tried to solve the mystery at home, and couldn’t wait until the next episode came out a long week later often gathering together with friends to do so.

Compare that, to say, a sitcom on TV. You can sit down, turn it on having never seen it before, watch it, laughing and thoroughly enjoying it, but an hour later, you’ve forgotten it and only occasionally remember to tune in next week.

Though it’s not exactly the same, by teaching yoga in a methodic and serial story format, your students are more likely to return week to week and to see their practice progress empowering them and exciting them to learn and practice more.

Students who are new to your class immediately sense that something is happening in these classes and your students become a magnet attracting more.

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Pranayama with Nubia Teixeira plus a Practice Recording

As we each develop and go deeper into our yoga practice we also begin to deepen our understanding of the connection between the breath and the body as well. This connection is absolutely fundamental to our ability to fully practice the yoga poses or Asana to their full potential and experience the most profound benefits. Pranayama may feel like a very advanced concept but fortunately Nubia Teixeira, one of our core teachers and the head of our Teacher Training at Namaste, is able to dissect and break down the meaning and uses for pranayama in our lives in a clear and useful way. Read on for Nubia’s insights on Pranayama and a practice exercise to begin your exploration:


*Excerpts adapted from the Namaste Yoga Teacher Training Manual


The word Pranayama is derived from two Sanskrit terms: prana which means vital energy, the very seed of life within and without; and Ayama, which means to control, to expand, to lead beyond death. The intention of the practice of pranayama is to breathe in a conscious way, to honor the life force in our physical bodies, the grace that breathes us into existence.

Prana is mostly present in the air we breathe (Air – Vayu), the wind and the electrical currents, the light of the Sun (Fire- Agni), the water we drink (Water- Apas), the bodily fluids, the food we eat (Earth-prithvi) and the forces of gravity and magnetism. It is also in the sounds we vocalize (Ether-akasha) and in the sounds we hear.

Developing a relationship with the breath facilitates the withdrawing of the senses (pratyahara) and our communication with the inner world. A pranayama practice supports the awakening of the dormant sensations and memories within ourselves and also teaches us how to heal ourselves by allowing the vital energy to move to the places of joy and sorrow within us. The practice of Pranayama is one of the most effective ways of balancing the energy in the body, mind and emotions.



Humans often are blinded by the ego and uncertain of their true purpose, which can lead to the separation of the self from others, from life and from Source. As a result, confusion rises, despair creeps in and inner wisdom, intuition and sense of Self is forgotten. In this place of loss and confusion, it becomes only natural to grasp on to the material world.

Human evolution is intrinsically connected to spiritual growth, and it is only through our bodies and actions in this world of things that we evolve. Our approach to living our lives, moment-by-moment, fully present, rests on our ability to surrender to the Divine.

This, in turn, ignites our innate Wisdom. Developing the capacity to follow the in and out breath without interfering in the flow, awakening faith and confidence.

This “Thread of Life” that we call breath, is a thread that connects us, each individual soul to the universal soul’s trajectory, beyond time and space, beyond body, beyond the beyond. It is a continuum, without beginning, middle or ending. Life after life. One Love through infinity.

Listen below to an introduction to Bhakti based meditation with an intro “Twameva” – sung by Jai Uttal




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4 Reasons the Namaste Ayurveda Training Is For YOU

We are so excited to announce our second Ayurveda Yoga Teacher Training & Immersion at Namaste. Lead by Kameko Shibata and guest teachers: David Moreno, Adam Kurzfeld Baxter Bell and more. But don’t just take it from us, hear first hand from participants of the training why you should join this experience:

1. “I am so excited to take part in Kameko Shibata’s Ayurvedic Yoga Training. She has been one of the most inspiring and activated women in my life. She is deeply devoted to her practices and to the healing path, and sharing it with as many people as possible. She is walking her talk. I have craved a strong practice in my life for years. I feel having a daily practice is like having a foundation for building a home, the home being your body. You wouldn’t want to build your dream house on a marsh. Another reason I am so excited about her Training is go deeper into the world of Ayurveda. I discovered ayurveda in my life a few years ago and it has changed my life. I am ready to dive deeper into my own holistic health so I may hold that space for myself and my family and community. Alyra Rose (Namaste Student)
2. I am so excited to do this Ayurveda Yoga Training with Kameko. I have done two 40 day yoga challenges with her in the past and have seen her for Ayurvedic care and massage. She is positive, fun, and so knowledgable about Ayurveda and yoga. I have learned so much from her about self-care practices, nutrition, meditation, pranayama, and yoga generally. I look forward to deepening my practice and knowledge base in this training.”
Alissa (Namaste Student)

3. “Kameko is truly a gem that radiates knowledge, passion, and grace. My drive to learn more about yogic philosophy and ayurveda runs deep. She continuously offers me an experience that opens veils to hidden truths and clearer understandings in order to be a stronger force in this world. Having this extended opportunity to learn from Kameko is one I would not pass up.”
Suzanne (Namaste Student)

4. “My friend Kameko Shibata is leading an Ayurveda Yoga Teacher Training at Namaste. She is an inspiration to learn from: knowledgeable, fun, genuine, warm, and so passionate about what she does. The lessons she has taught me in ayurveda have truly changed my life, my yoga, and my way of seeing my students. In a sea of teacher trainings, this is the new direction of yoga – personal, attuned, sensitive to the rhythms of the natural world and our bodies. Check it out while you can still nab a spot! (And, did I mention my dear friend and favorite teacher, David Moreno is teaching curriculum for this training too!!!)
Lily Dwyer Begg (Namaste Community Member).”

Training starts June 27 and runs until July 10




Kameko 2Kameko’s love affair with yoga has spanned ten years and five continents! And her teaching reflects her love, curiosity and dedication to yoga and the exploration of  breath.  Her delicious vinyasa classes invite you to come deeply into your breath and body through safe and challenging sequences combined with sound, breath, and core work.

She weaves her passion for the traditional yoga & ayurvedic practices of India with sweaty evolutionary movement, chanting and the occasional swear word for a refreshingly honest experience. Kameko strives to see her students– always offering individual attention and safe adjustments.

Her creative sequencing is inspired by studying the “vinyasa krama” system at the Krishnamaycharya Yoga Mandariam in India. As well as her 650 hours of Yoga Alliance training, from the Ashrams of India, to studying with Mary Paffard, Alice Jaunou and Ana Forest.

WELLNESS TREATMENTS WITH KAMEKO: Kameko Shibata combines her passion for ayurvedic medicine, bodywork and yoga into a comprehensive healing modality that empowers people to heal themselves. She received her Ayurvedic Practioner certification from the Dhyana Center of Health Sciences, where she went on to complete over 1,000 hours in a 2-year internship under her teacher, DeAnna Batdorff.

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Sensory Motor Amnesia: What Have We Forgotten?

by Sadie Chanlett-Avery

Soap operas invoke “amnesia” as a clichéd plot twist that leaves the character vulnerable to old adversaries. Hours of sitting in front of screens generates a less dramatic but possibly more insidious forgetting: sensory motor amnesia.

Thomas Hanna coined this term for the neuromuscular atrophy that results from a lack of movement. Increasing stiffness limits our ability to consciously contract and relax our muscles. Hanna questioned the inevitably of aging and suggested that SMA causes our decline.

When teaching, I witness the consequences of SMA daily. With yoga newbies, I use slow and explicit cues. Beyond competency, out of shape folks need extra time to process instructions. One client actually repeated my directions out loud to figure out the movements.

With conscious training, we reclaim motor control and enliven dull tissues. After most classes, a student approaches me a realization, “Wow, I didn’t know my hips are so tight.”

I contend that SMA is more than a muscular or neurological condition. As we stop moving we lose the joy of dancing, the satisfaction of physical labor, and the rejuvenation of exercise. We no longer hear the whispers of the body. Many of us are paralyzed and stuck in pain. We lose a sense of self.

Even late into life we can dismantle the limited patterns that confine our physical expression. It’s as easy as going barefoot, playing with kids, trying a new sport, or practicing a martial art.

We start by moving and paying attention. Establishing a movement practice may not be as gripping as the soaps. Yet reconnecting our mind to our movements could alter our fate.

SadieProfileBSadie Chanlett-Avery, holistic fitness trainer, yoga instructor, and writer, was named a 2013 Athleta Sponsored Athlete. As the In-house Yogi at Clif Bar & Co. she directs the yoga and perinatal programs, trains with kettlebells, and serves on the Wellness Team. Sadie received her teacher certification from Ana Forrest and has immersed for months in the jungles of Costa Rica with Master Yoga and Meditation Teacher, Glenn Black. Her M.A. in Holistic Health Education and multiple fitness certifications lends antomical depth to her innovative and playful classes.

She appreciates the diverse expression of the human genome with the belief that people of all ages and sizes can benefit from exercise and heal with yoga. Teaching for over ten years, she applies ancient yogic principles to individual needs and modern lifestyles.

Sadie blogs at www.activebodystillmind.com.

Blog posts by Sadie: The Dark Side of Detoxing

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