Meet Your Teacher: Dena Saedi

Our instructors are the soul of our studio and they bring their wisdom, education, spirit, and artistry to their teaching. We always want to know who and what has influenced them, what their everyday life is like, and what current things are inspiring them. Aren’t you curious too? This month we caught up with Dena Saedi, who joined the Namaste faculty in September 2018 and specializes in Therapeutic Yoga.

What inspired you to become a yoga instructor?

I began experimenting with meditation in college. Over the years I discovered various practices until being introduced to yoga 20 years ago. 10 years later I had completed multiple trainings including a teacher training, all to simply deepen my own practice. Out of the blue I was offered my own class because a local studio manager, who knew my practice and heard that I had completed a teacher training, was in a bind to fill an open slot on the schedule. Once I started to teach I was so pleasantly surprised at the tremendous impact teaching yoga had on the quality of my practice. I was quickly hooked and already preparing for more training in yoga therapy.

Do you have any go-to yoga and wellness books or podcasts?

Often I will reference Explain Pain by Moseley & Butler during my yoga for chronic pain classes and with privates. I love Joseph LePage’s Mudras book and the way it ties hand gestures to chakras, ayurveda, and the elements. Bo Forbes’ Yoga for Emotional Health speaks to my work as a yoga therapist in a very down to earth and intelligent way. My divination tool of choice is the iChing and I love to do readings for my friends!

Meet Your Teacher Dena Saedi CandidWhat is your favorite thing about being a teacher?

I love holding space for my students in class, I consider it an honor which I do not take lightly. There is so much noise in our daily lives that I consider yoga class a sacred time one carves out for oneself.

What are you involved with outside the studio?

I teach mind/body medicine (i.e. yoga) to groups and individuals with chronic pain at IPM pain clinics around the Bay Area, this has been my passion and expertise since I started teaching. I also work with seniors, and a year ago I learned there is a great need for movement and healing with seniors who are dealing with dementia. I now have several students with dementia who I see weekly for gentle movement, breath work and basically connection. I am also beginning a training in cranial sacral therapy.

What is your favorite thing about the Bay Area?

Several times since moving here I both went skiing and sailing within a single weekend, this makes me giddy. I have always loved San Francisco to visit, but now that I live here when I find myself at an outdoor gathering in January, spending time in Marin Headlands, or hiking in the Oakland Hills I pinch myself that this is home.

Meet Your Teacher Dena SaediDena Saedi teaches Therapeutic Yoga on Friday mornings at 8:30 at Namaste Rockridge. Dena has worked as a yoga therapist (C-IAYT) and yoga teacher for chronic pain populations, seniors, cancer survivors, and veterans for the last decade. She has been a practitioner of yoga since 2000, and meditation since 1990. It is her belief that yoga has an incredible power to heal, indeed all of yoga is a doorway in. Learn more about Dena on her website.

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Meet Your Teacher: Melina Meza

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

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

Meet Melina Meza:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Absolute favorite asana?
Downward Dog

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

Catch Melina Meza on our weekly schedule.

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5 Stress Relief Tips with Sarah Moody

Stress. Ah. That word alone makes me want to let out a big sigh. It’s hard to avoid, nearly impossible these days. And in some ways it’s become our cultural norm; the standard as to how we measure our busyness. If we’re not stressed, we perceive it as a sign that we’re not doing enough, aka not valuable or important enough.

Practice: Next time you ask someone how they’re doing pay close attention to their response; do they reply with something along the lines of, “I’m just so busy!” or “There’s so much to do and so little time!”?

Notice for yourself, are you inclined to respond in a similar way? And maybe taking it one step further, how does it feel in your body when you express these emotions? Notice how the constant pushing feels in the body.

I’ve spent many years letting stress run my life. And I’ve also dedicated many years to studying, teaching, and working with clients on how to channel stress for the better. There will always be some form of stress in our lives, and a certain amount is healthy. The right kind of stress can spur us to go for our dreams, to ace that presentation, to not settle for less than our best. The wrong amount of stress can create dis-ease in the body, harm relationships, and negatively impact our work.

It’s a delicate balance, and like anything it takes practice and a whole lot of patience.

But I promise the more you do it the easier it will get. It’s like any other muscle, you have to use it if you want to get stronger. But remember, once you get in shape you don’t get to stop working out, you have to stay on it if you want to stay mighty.

Below are the top 5 ways I choose to de-stress. In no way is this list exhaustive or all inclusive. Find what works for you, then do more of it.

This is a big one. The more time I spend hunched over a screen the worse my body feels (wrist, shoulder, neck tension anyone?!), my eyes ache, and I actually feel more disconnected. I’m committed to turning my phone off at least an hour before bed and choosing to read or spend time with my partner instead. Use your phone as your alarm clock? Put your phone on airplane mode so you’re not tempted to check your email or IG page for the 73rd time that day (the average American checks their phone 80 times in a day!).

 Water is medicine. Baths can be both soothing and energizing. Try adding different ingredients into your tub for different results. Two of my favorites: epsom salts for tired muscles and an overworked mind; or for a moisturizing soak combine 1 T. coconut oil, 1 T. apple cider vinegar, and 1 t. honey (just make sure to clean the tub afterwards otherwise that coconut oil could surprise the next shower guest, and not in a good way!).

Mother nature heals. Have a picnic in the park; breathe in the ocean air; take a hike or go for a bike ride outdoors. Pressed for time?— even 5 minutes of soaking up the sun can improve your mood and stimulate a foggy brain.

Find activities you love and do them often. Aim to sweat a little every day. Sweating is therapeutic for the body; gives your mood a boost, and helps you sleep sweeter.

Laugh more. Those deep belly laughs. Call a friend, read the comics, watch a movie; get really creative here and let your playful side run free.
Here’s to strengthening your stress-less muscle!

CATCH SARAH MOODY WEEKLY:

Tuesday 4:30pm • Roll + Release • Grand Lake

Thursday 10:00am • Gentle Yoga • Grand Lake

Thursday 4:30pm • Yin Yoga • Grand Lake

Friday 4:00pm • Yin Yoga • Rockridge

Friday 6:00pm • Restorative • Berkeley

Sunday 9:00am • Yoga Basics • Grand Lake

Sunday 6:00pm • Restorative • Rockridge

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Namaste Teachers: Meet Poh Teng

Our Namaste Tribe is a powerhouse of wise, talented, and experienced teachers who have dedicated their lives to sharing the gift of yoga with others. We are constantly in awe of the incredible offerings our teachers bring to this community. We are excited to share a new blog series focused on celebrating our teachers and hopefully giving you all a glimpse into the talented team that makes up Namaste Yoga + Wellness.

Meet Namaste Teacher: Poh Teng

How long have you been at Namaste?
Since September 2013

What inspired you to become a yoga instructor?
I benefitted (and continue to benefit) so much from yoga and I wanted to help others heal and feel good in their bodies. I was inspired onto a path of service by my meditation teacher, Eknath Easwaran. In “Essence of the Bhagavad Gita”, EE says, “… karma yoga is more than service. Service – work that benefits others – is necessary for every human being, the Gita maintains; it is incumbent on us to give back to life as we take from it. But this becomes yoga only when it is selfless: when we forget ourselves in that work and desire nothing from it for ourselves, not even recognition or appreciation. When we learn to act in this way, egotism shrinks and separateness gradually dissolves.” And so, I practice to be of service.

Poh Back Health

Your favorite literature on yoga or meditation?
Meditation by Eknath Easwaran
Feeding Your Demons by Lama Tsultrim Allione

Best advice you have ever received relating to your practice?
“You can flex, but no gripping.” ~ Chandra Easton
“Be present with all that arises.” ~ Mariana Caplan

Your favorite self-care practices?
Yoga retreats, hot baths and full-body scrubs, neti and nasya, and hiking with my dogs!


Join Poh Teng this weekend for her Yoga for Healthy Backs workshop! 

Poh Teng Yoga with Poh is an amalgamation of her education across multiple yoga lineages and life experiences.  She is trained in the Vinyasa and therapeutic styles, and continues to be inspired and informed by the Power, Shadow, Anusara and Forrest Yoga lineages.  She is also guided by her Passage Meditation practice and her work as an academic scientist.  She has healed from scoliosis, osteopenia and back injury through yoga.  After over 10 years of practice, she is finally a mellow type-A.  Known for her curiosity, playfulness and nurturing style, she leads group classes through movement with breath, awareness, healthy alignment and safe, creative sequencing. With over 500 hours of training, she blends yogic tradition, intention setting, and current findings in biology and yoga therapy. Occasionally, there’s a splash of Bhakti and she sings. Because yoga is not one-size-fits-all, Poh also offers private yoga sessions for your specific wellness needs.

Yoga is a come-as-you-are-party.  Poh invites you to honor your truth in the present moment, and to breathe, strengthen, heal and play.

Poh is a Yoga Alliance Registered Yoga Teacher, a Certified Yoga Therapist for Chronic Physiological Conditions and a Cancer Yoga Therapist.  She is also a UCLA graduate with a PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.  Get to know her better at PohmYoga.com.

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Namaste Teachers: Meet Ken Breniman

Our Namaste Tribe is a powerhouse of wise, talented, and experienced teachers who have dedicated their lives to sharing the gift of yoga with others. We are constantly in awe of the incredible offerings our teachers bring to this community. We are excited to share a new blog series focused on celebrating our teachers and hopefully giving you all a glimpse into the talented team that makes up Namaste Yoga + Wellness.

Meet Ken Breniman

How long have you been at Namaste?
I have been at Namaste since May 2014. I am six months old!

What inspired you to become a yoga instructor?
My first yoga teacher was a 15 year old psychotherapy client that overcame his anxiety with yoga. He taught me so much and inspired me to get trained as a yoga teacher and yoga therapist.

What is your favorite literature on yoga or meditation?
Ishmael by Daniel Quinn. While not a book on yoga, it does have a talking gorilla and asks us humans to live more mindfully on Mother Earth. To me, that’s as yogic as it gets.

1904122_915337828481727_8095162272778721847_nBest advice you have ever received relating to your practice?
“Stop taking it so seriously!”

Your favorite self-care practices?
Daily yoga nidra.

What is your morning routine?
Set an intention, a brief yoga nidra and asana practice and (weather permitting) a bike ride around Lake Merritt.

What are you involved with outside the studio?
I am a yoga therapist and LCSW with a private practice. I volunteer with the Living/Dying project. And I am aiming to be on my HOA Board (and I am certain yoga will help me there for sure!)

How often do you practice?
3-5x/week

Absolute favorite asana?
Handstand

Do you have a favorite yoga story?
It’s more a Buddhist story but I am moved by “the mustard seed” story where a bereaved mother learns how to accept loss as a sacred part of life.

What is your favorite thing about yoga?
It’s the gift that keeps on giving.

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What is something you wish all of our students understood better?
To quote TS Eliot:

“We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.”

What is your favorite part of the Namaste community?
How warm and friendly everyone is!

Thoughts on where the yoga industry is headed?
Yikes. That’s a loooong story that I am happy to share but in a nutshell I will paraphrase the wisdom of Daniel Quinn and say either we will figure out a way to deepen our yogic traditions within a capitalist system or we won’t. I am cheering on and believe that we will!

What is your favorite thing about the Bay Area?
That I can use the words shaman, energy, breath, and journey in one sentence and not be considered too “new agey.”


KenProfileB

In his classes, Ken provides eclectic non-denominational Hatha yoga guidance, honoring a variety of traditions, such as Iyengar alignment principles, invigorating Kudalini Kriya, and playful Acroyoga-inspired partner work.  He invites you to embrace SIMPLICITY, PATIENCE and COMPASSION as you deepen your practice and your connection with your true Self. Ken offers Yoga Therapy workshops on a variety of topics such as restorative yoga, grief, relationships, stress management and coping with chronic illness.  In addition to yoga, Ken also serves as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, clinical supervisor and a private practice yoga therapist in the Bay Area. Daniel Quinn and Paulo Coelho are among his favorite authors.

His life work of service is inspired by Ram Dass’ words:  “We are all just walking each other hOMe.”

Please visit Ken’s website at www.kenbreniman.com  or email him at kjbreniman@gmail.

View Ken’s Weekly Schedule

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