Beyond the Mat: How Our Teachers Serve

Our teachers inspire us every day with their words, their wisdom, and their flows. Did you know that many of our teachers also do inspiring work out in the world with various populations of people? As part of our Yoga and Service series, we are highlighting the work our instructors do to take their practice off their mats. May we all follow their leads and be of service to the greater world.

Ada Lusardi

“I volunteer teach a weekly class for a local non-profit in service to seniors who wish to stay independent and connected in their later years.  There are several folks in their 90’s in this group. Can you guess which ones? I am inspired to the point my heart nearly bursts!  I learn so much about my future and the future of my younger students by working with these beautiful wise beings.”

See Ada’s class schedule.

Anne Koller

Yoga and Service | Anne Koller

“I have taught at The Healing Well in the Tenderloin for over two years.  When I teach in the mornings on Tuesdays, they drive my theme for my Tuesday night class at Namaste.  I tell Namaste students about what people are going through and talking about at The Healing Well in our meditation and art circle. We open with an emotion share, meditation, art expression, art share, mosaic creation and closing chant of sat nam.”

See Anne’s class schedule.

Sierra Wagner

“Those areas where we notice we have capacity and capability are where we have surplus to give back to our community. ”  Watch the video below to see where Sierra chooses to put her energy. You can view Part I of her video here to learn more about how Sierra describes the relationship between Yoga and Service.

Ask Your Teacher: How do you take your yoga off the mat?

Yoga and service are intimitely connected. In this Part II video with Sierra Wagner, she shares how she specifically serves our greater community. Check out Part I to get the big picture on how yoga and service are connected.

Posted by Namaste Yoga + Wellness on Wednesday, July 10, 2019

 

See Sierra’s class schedule.

Vickie Russell Bell

Ask Your Teacher: How do you serve?

Vickie Russsell Bell teaches through a nonprofit to individuals with Parkinson's, offering the practice of yoga to an underserved population, and making a big impact.

Posted by Namaste Yoga + Wellness on Tuesday, June 11, 2019

 

Vickie shares her yoga knowledge with a group of people with Parkinson’s and tailors a practice to fit their needs. These efforts are supported by PD Active and the Yoga Dana Foundation, a nonprofit that supports yoga in underserved communities.

See Vickie’s class schedule.

Satya de la Paz

Her sliding scale classes for People of Color at Namaste are striving to create a safe space for yoga for this underserved population of people.

Ahimsa, or Non-Harming

Why is Yoga for People of Color relevant and important today? Join Satya for her weekly offering at Namaste Grand Lake.

Posted by Namaste Yoga + Wellness on Monday, January 21, 2019

 

See Satya’s class schedule.

How do you, or how would you like to, serve the greater good? Comment below!

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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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Using Your Yoga for Good

Ask Your Teacher: How do you use your yoga for good?

While there are many personal benefits to a yoga practice, there are also many ways that yoga can benefit the wider world. We caught up with some of our Namaste instructors to see how their yoga steps off their mats.

“Those areas where we notice we have capacity and capability are where we have surplus to give back to our community.” ~ Sierra Wagner

Using Your Yoga For Good

Posted by Namaste Yoga + Wellness on Monday, June 10, 2019

 

You can find Sierra teaching weekly public Gentle Yoga classes at our Berkeley studio. View her class schedule here.

 

“The deepest service is awakening.” ~ Satya Gita Aune

Give Your Life Meaning

"The meaning of life is to be of service." ~ @Satya Gita Aune

Posted by Namaste Yoga + Wellness on Monday, June 10, 2019

 

You can find Satya teaching weekly public Vinyasa classes at our Grand Lake and Rockridge studios. View her class schedule here.

“Yoga is a profound experience for all populations of people.” ~Vickie Russell Bell

Ask Your Teacher: How do you serve?

Vickie Russsell Bell teaches through a nonprofit to individuals with Parkinson's, offering the practice of yoga to an underserved population, and making a big impact.

Posted by Namaste Yoga + Wellness on Tuesday, June 11, 2019

 

Find Vickie on your mat in public classes here, or take your experience with her even deeper in her upcoming Restorative Yoga Training, where you can truly learn how and why it is important to be at ease in every moment.

Because we know the benefits of yoga are plentiful to each and every human, another way to pose this same question is, how can yoga benefit people who don’t have access to the practice or are part of underserved populations? Our upcoming program, Prison Yoga Project, led by James Fox, takes this question to task. This program is designed for anyone interested in creating a more humane and effective criminal justice system should take this training: therapists, social workers, lawyers, correctional officers, administrators, and, especially, yoga teachers who are ready to take their practice into the realm of service.

Yoga for Good | Prison Yoga Project

Are you interested in using your practice to serve in a bigger capacity? Learn more about the upcoming Prison Yoga Project and take your life’s meaning to a new level.

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Beyond the Mat: Yoga and Service

Service is a key component of yoga, and is often considered the greatest form of spiritual practice. There are many forms of service: donating time or energy to a cause, being a teacher, being a parent, performing work with love and integrity… Service is a beautiful component of a practice because it innately perpetuates a bettering in the world. Doing good carries forward — the compassion you extend toward others can keep reflecting outward.

But how do we serve? How can we find what is meaningful in service?

Sean Feit Oakes says below,

For service to be part of our practice, we have to feel it, and connecting with others is the strongest way to feel something.

Over the coming months, we want to shine a light on all the ways in which our teachers weave service into their lives.  May it inspire us to find the ways in which our own hearts desire to serve and to take our own practices off the mat.

Sean shares,

“Service shines a light on connection and relationship. Service both creates meaning and reflects the meaning that is already there in a person’s belief system. Acts of service are also intrinsically generous, and so manifest the deep wisdom teachings around giving, renunciation, non-grasping, and letting go. Service is deeply impersonal. It’s not about the one who serves. “

With gratitude to Dr. Sean Oakes for both his service and for sharing these thoughts with us.

Q: Where do you see the intersection of Yoga + Service?

A: Yoga as I use the word refers to physical and meditative practices that make us stronger, more resilient, and more able to maintain a warmth and clarity of presence through the storms of our lives. If they work, these practices should liberate energy throughout our life: energies that instead of being bound up in vigilance, fear, and overwhelm become available for other things. And when the heart isn’t afraid and overwhelmed, our life energies naturally turn toward service. There’s so much pain and suffering in the world! The open and strong heart naturally wants to ease that pain if it can. It naturally wants to help. The intersection of Yoga and service should be obvious: if you don’t have an urge to help others find relief from suffering and oppression in this world, what good is all that practice? If there’s no service, there’s no relationship, and without relationship, even a beautiful Yoga practice is in danger of being narcissistic, of just being entertainment.

Q: In what ways do you bring the concept of service into your life and practice?

A: I teach as much within the model of Gift Economy as possible, I volunteer my time for Dharma and social justice projects whose ethics and missions resonate with me, and I ask myself before embarking on any project: who will this serve, and in what way? Is this a good use of my time in service of the end of suffering? (I’m also raising a child, so I am primarily in service of his deep education and well-being, and the well-being of our family system. That service underlies all the others.)

Yoga and Service: Sean Feit Oakes

Q: How can the act of service lend meaning to our lives?

A: Meaning in life is the experience of connection: actions connected to results, people connected in ethical bonds of relationship, experiences connected to concepts of rightness, justice, purpose, or holiness. Service shines a light on connection and relationship, and so both creates meaning and reflects the meaning that is already there in a person’s belief system. Acts of service are also intrinsically generous, and so manifest the deep wisdom teachings around giving, renunciation, non-grasping, and letting go. Service is deeply impersonal. It’s not about the one who serves. In all these ways, if we connect with the deeper implications in service, a wisdom shines forth. Ultimately for Yoga practitioners connected to Yoga as a spiritual practice, all of life must become service because Yoga is and never was about gratification of individual desires.

Q: Is there a specific cause you are devoted to, and why?

A: I’m devoted to climate justice, the restoration of sustainable cultures to our planet, and the conditions for contemplative practice to thrive so that beings can practice and attain the deepest liberations possible in this life. For that to become possible, racism, sexism, colonialism, and the inter-related cataclysms of industrial capitalism must be healed and our course shifted as a species. in this sense, then, I’m devoted to the destruction of our entire way of life in service of an entirely new way of living with our planet and each other. I know that to be a gradual process, and I’m grateful for the teachings on the nature of conditions and complex systems as I hold this impossibly vast purpose in my heart.

Q: Is there an event or Service related offering that you will be taking part in over the next 4-6 months?

A: I will be taking part in events on May 18, the weekend of the Buddhist holiday of Vesak, coordinated by One Earth Sangha and one of my teachers, Thanissara, around a declaration of climate emergency. I also plan to be a part of the yearly Walk to Feed the Hungry organized by Buddhist Global Relief.

Yoga and Service | One Earth Sangha

Q: Can you recommend ways for students to bring the concept of service into their lives or into their practices?

A: Find something to do that helps. It’s best if it’s not solitary, and not just online. For service to be part of our practice, we have to feel it, and connecting with others is the strongest way to feel something.

It’s so easy for service to stay just a concept. Our lives are so isolated, and many Yoga communities only hold together in the form of groups of people we see in class. And American Yoga tends to be politically disengaged. So a first step is to wake up to suffering, to inequality, to the pain all around us. And then connect with any of the thousands of groups of good people doing good work all over the place. And start doing that work with them.

Join Sean Feit Oakes for his donation based Tuesday night Insight Meditation Sangha at Namaste Berkeley.

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In Service: Veteran’s Yoga Project

Our focus on Service this month at Namaste is meant to shine a light on how we can all contribute to a kinder, better world. With Memorial Day quickly approaching, we wanted to highlight the Veteran’s Yoga Project, the work they are doing, and how you can be a part of it.

Perry Chattler is a registered yoga teacher and a certified yoga therapist, and is on the Northern California Regional Director for Veterans Yoga Project. He shared a little bit about why this project is important and how it is shaping the lives of veterans for the better.

Q: What inspired the Veteran’s Yoga Project?

A: Veterans Yoga Project (VYP) came about from the work done by Dr. Dan Libby, who at the time was a clinical PhD psychologist at the Veterans Administration. Dan had a yoga background and began practicing with veterans suffering from PTSD. He saw significant improvements in resilience and well being among the veterans he worked with. Soon thereafter, he created Veterans Yoga Project, a non-profit organization intent on bringing mindfulness practices to veterans, active duty military, as well as to the families of those groups.

What services do you provide as an organization?

VYP’s mission is to support recovery and resilience among our veterans, their families and their communities. We accomplish this mission by providing free mindfulness-based practices to veterans, by providing trauma-informed training for yoga teachers, and by offering healing retreats to veterans and their families. VYP is a nation-wide, non-profit organization offering classes and trainings through out the nation. We conduct nearly 130 weekly yoga classes around the country, serving approximately 2,200 veterans every week. Here in Northern California we provide twenty weekly classes for veterans, including 15 classes right here in the Bay Area. VYP also provides a practice library on our website enabling veterans to see videos and listen to audio guides for asana practices, meditations, and yoga Nidra practices.

Q: Why is this work is so important and valuable?

A: Many veterans return from conflicts suffering from Post Traumatic Stress, Military Sexual Trauma, and long term pain. Many turn to medication or substance abuse to deal with returning to the semblance of a day-to-day life. Vietnam veterans have been suffering in silence for a very long time. Iraq and Afghanistan veterans receive better, albeit limited, support. Mindfulness practices assist greatly in recovery for these veterans, providing practices and tools such as mindful movement (asana), breathing practices (pranayama), yoga Nidra, and meditation to assist in recovery. And, the VA is coming on board with a mission to bring these practices to veterans because the research shows that these practices work. Trauma-informed yoga practices not only improve relationships and help veterans integrate into society, but most importantly, these practices save lives.

Q: Can you share any inspiring stories?

Veteran's Yoga ProjectA: The stories are almost too numerous to count. I personally witness transformations taking place nearly every week in my classes.

Here are some words from a Vietnam veteran who struggled with alcohol and depression for far too long, finally diagnosed with PTSD, he says,

“Some words come to mind as I think about the positive effects yoga has had on my life – centered, balanced, breathing, being – being in the moment..being conscious and aware, not melancholy or depressed, but calm, hopeful and confident in how my day will unfold. Yoga has opened the door to a new way of life, to live in every moment. Yoga has benefited me greatly.”

Q: How can our community of students help?

A: Your students can help by donating to Veterans Yoga Project (VeteransYogaProject.Org). Donations go directly to supporting our programs, and being sure to earmark donations to help support our work right here in Northern California. We are always looking for volunteers (administrative tasks, marketing, fund raising, photography, video, etc.) to help support our efforts.

Q: How can our community of yoga teachers help?

A: Teachers can help in three ways.

  1. Bring awareness to how the practices of yoga (movement, pranayama, mediation) can serve veterans suffering from PTSD, insomnia, opioid addiction, and long-term pain.
  2. Second, by considering taking the VYP trauma-informed Mindfulness Resilience Training for yoga teachers, a 15-hour (CE) program where teachers learn about PTSD and how and why these practices work, and then joining our Northern California team.
  3. And finally, consider holding a donation-based yoga class either during the period around Memorial Day, or Veterans Day, or any time, or simply donate one of their regular weekly classes. Many students during these donation-based classes find inspiration in donating more to support our veterans.

Tell us about your upcoming events in the Bay!

Memorial Day event on June 2, 2019 on the USS Hornet in Alameda. We will have a veteran-led yoga practice on the flight deck of the Hornet, overlooking the SF Bay. Please come join us!

We will also offer our yoga teacher training in the Bay Area in the fall of 2019.

Please visit our website for details.

All photos courtesy of Veteran’s Yoga Project.
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20

Sustainability for Your Closet

Earth matters. We’ve really taken our time to try to curate our boutiques with care and concern wherever possible to find low-impact products and to offer sustainability for your closet, home and practice. That’s why, in honor of Earth Day, we are so pleased to be sharing the three sustainable companies we are proudest to be selling in our boutiques right now.

Back Beat Rags

Sustainability in Your Closet Back Beat Rags

Back Beat Rags is committed to the planet and to giving you better choices when it comes to what you wear. Made here in Los Angeles, this company buys locally knitted fabric and works with small, family owned businesses. That way, BackBeatRags supports local makers and creates jobs at every rung of the supply ladder, while also minimizing their environmental imprint. They also use low-impact goods like GOTS-certified organic cotton, recycled cotton, hemp, and tencel.

This video elaborates on the process and concerns that go into making a Back Beat Rag garment.

Groceries

Sustainability in Your Closet | Groceries

Groceries Apparel is a vertically integrated, environmentally friendly and socially responsible company. All of their fabrics are 100% organic, recycled or closed-loop tencel. They use non-toxic or low-impact dyes, are locally made in the USA in their own California factory, ensuring quality and responsible production. Groceries is redefining industry responsibility by supporting family farms, localized manufacturing, living wages, and Monsanto-free, organic ingredients. Its operations empower human beings through fair-trade, fair conditions and fair treatment across its entire supply chain and provide full traceability to its customers.

Girlfriend Collective

 

Girlfriend Collective makes all of their clothing from recycled bottles and recycled fishing nets. They believe in ethical manufacturing, full transparency, and recycled materials.  They believe in body positivity and that health and wellness come in many shapes and sizes, and that representation matters. They believe in taking care of the people who make your clothes, and never putting our bottom line before what’s best for the planet. Their recycled polyester is sourced from Taiwan from post-consumer water bottles.

The bottles are sorted, cleaned, and chipped into feedstock at the center. The processing center is pretty special. It’s owned by a respected Taiwanese family that has been at the forefront of the recycling industry for decades. Once the color sorting is done, we shred them down into tiny chips, wash them again, and place them in transport bags to be shipped to our manufacturing facility. The full story is amazing, and I encourage you to read more about the fabric specifics on their website, where the process is broken down into minute and caring detail.

Please consider shopping locally with us to support these innovative fashion brands that care about the environment. We want to continue supporting these companies that are producing clothing with care and concern, but that takes our consumers caring through their purchases as well.

The purchasing power is in your hands. Buy sustainable with us! Visit our boutiques to see these lines in person (Girlfriend Collective is carried at our Grand Lake boutique, Back Beat Rags and Groceries can be found in our Rockridge location).

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15 Years of Service in Action

It’s crazy to say it, but Namaste has been serving the East Bay community for 15 years now!

Do you remember us way back when?

Our schedule looked a little something like this. We opened the first one room studio at our Rockridge location with about 15 classes on the schedule. We’ve now grown into a full schedule of over 165 classes a week at 3 locations.

Send us a message with your memories of our beginnings, or use hashtag #makeeverydaysacred on Instagram to post a new or old photo of a Namaste moment!

Some Things Stay The Same:

  • Some of the teachers from those first schedules are still here with us, like Ashley Sharp, Naushon Kabat-Zinn, David Schlussel, and Vickie Russell Bell!
  • Some of our students have been with us from Day 1 and continue to be passionate supporters of Namaste. We are so grateful to our whole community, but especially to these folks who believed in us from the very beginning, trusted us to find them amazing teachers, and stuck by us as we evolved into ourselves.
  • Our passion for and commitment to bringing yoga to all people will never change.
  • The heart and soul of Namaste as an urban refuge and sanctuary remains true.
  • We continue to be locally-owned and family-run. From the beginning, owner Kimberly Leo’s dad worked at the front desk. Even while we’ve grown, we still rely on Vera Leo, Kimberly’s mom, to keep our studios connected and humming.

 

Our Milestones:

Our values:

Namaste has been blessed with an incredible tribe of teachers, staff, and students. Our tribe recognizes our commitment to consistency, integrity and community, and we have therefore been able to attract the best teachers in the East Bay. Our front desk staff is phenomenal. They are passionate about bringing yoga to every human.  The industry has changed dramatically over the last fifteen years in that yoga is everywhere and all kinds of people are doing it,  and people resonate with us because we truly put our heart and soul into the studio.

Our Future:

  • Our yoga and wellness offerings will continue to expand.
  • We will become a stronger resource for yoga teachers and provide education and offerings to help them to refine their craft.
  • We will continue to support our diverse community with more specialty classes that resonate and inspire.

We can’t wait to see what’s next. Follow along on social media and stay in touch!

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20

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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20

Don’t Leave Good Vibes on a Loaner Mat

Yoga mats are like magic carpets. The first few moments of being on your mat may inspire a sense of being home. But like a magic carpet, your mat has the ability to transport you to an entirely new internal landscape. This 6ft by 2ft piece of seemingly benign material can become a sacred space, a portal that unlocks the deepest feelings of serenity, insight, and growth.  Whether you finish your practice sweaty and tired or calm and rejuvenated – it is rare you leave your mat feeling the same as when you first stepped on.

Your mat is like a friend you can carry with you throughout your health and wellness journey. It absorbs everything from good vibes to happy tears… and all the other less palatable buggers like bacteria, viruses, and dirt. This is why we can’t stress enough how important it is to GET YOUR OWN MAT!

So where do you start in finding the perfect practice companion? Follow our handy flow-chart and find your perfect match!

Namaste Yoga + Wellness Find Your Perfect Yoga Mat

Try a B Yoga Mat

• The stickiest mat we’ve found!
• A combo of natural and synthetic rubber, this increases durability and longevity of the mat.
• Synthetic rubber is a by-product of the plastics industry, reducing landfill waste.
• Mat finishing process is more environmentally-friendly than other methods of curing.

Try a Manduka X

• Designed with some thickness and texture to work for all kinds of mat activities, including yoga, pilates, and TRX
• High-density cushion
• Very grippy
• Made with recyclable materials
• Crafted without toxic glues or solvents

Try a Jade Mat.

• Made of rapidly renewable natural rubber • Made in the US
• Comes in 3 different weights
• Open cell technology for a sticky mat experience.
• Avoid exposure to direct sunlight.

Try a Manduka EkoLite Mat.

• Made of biodegradable natural tree rubber
• Free of toxic chemicals or dyes.
• Finished with a unique texture and gorgeous colors.
• For the longest life span, keep stored in a cool dry place.

Try a Manduka EkoLite Mat.

• Made of biodegradable natural tree rubber
• Free of toxic chemicals or dyes.
• Finished with a unique texture and gorgeous colors.
• For the longest life span, keep stored in a cool dry place.

Try a Manduka ProLite Mat

• Sticky mat takes a little time to break in, but it’s worth it!
• Closed cell technology makes for easy cleaning
• Excellent cushion
• Lifetime guarantee
• Gorgeous colors

In a high traffic yoga studio (we see over 2000 of you each week!) it’s nearly impossible to keep loaner mats 100% fresh and clean before each and every use. While we do our best to keep up – loaner mats are truly meant to be in emergency situations only.

Visit one of our three beautiful boutiques and ask one of our friendly front desk coordinators for help navigating our mat choices. We love to help you find the perfect fit.

Namaste Yoga + Wellness Jade Yoga Mats 1

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20

Spotlight on Seva: RISE Yoga for Youth

Every quarter Namaste chooses a local non-profit organization to support as part of our SEVA program by raising awareness and donating our mat rental revenue. This quarter we are proud to partner with the RISE Yoga for Youth organization. RISE empowers adolescents to be agents of change in the world. Through the physical practice of yoga, wellness education, and community building, students develop inner resources to respond to life’s challenges in constructive ways.

RISE offers a comprehensive education in hatha yoga for high school students, which includes instruction in physical postures, mindfulness, and breathing practices, as well as a series of life skills workshops on non-violence, self-esteem, anger management, conflict resolution, nutrition, drugs and healthy relationships. Unique to the program is a focus on teambuilding activities designed to help students explore their relationships with themselves, each other and their communities.

[This post originally appeared on RISE’s blog]

RISE Meet Sophia Corbett, a RISE Yoga for Youth Teacher at George Washington High School in San Francisco. Here she describes her observations of what yoga has done for her students and why she thinks it’s so important to bring yoga to more youth.

At the beginning of the school year, watching, listening to my students in seated relaxation, I didn’t know how it would be possible to get them to sit still and be quiet. They fidgeted, made obnoxious noises, shouted out at times and were just typical teenagers, trying to get a laugh. Fast forward to May, about 8 months after practicing yoga , 4 days a week, and I saw the transformation. We had decided to start our practice out on the back field that day, as it was beautiful out, and had invited a 9th grade PE class to join us for a little intro to yoga. As my students sat in a large circle in seated relaxation, in the middle of the field, the PE classes started to file out onto the track, noisily running around the field we sat on. And I looked at my students, serenely breathing, eyes closed, bodies still and I knew they had been transformed. That they had developed the ability to find peace among chaos, through the gift of yoga. I welled up with joy and gratitude.

Its important to bring yoga to youth because it provides them incredible life skills. The ability to control one’s emotions, to respond instead of react, to listen to one’s body, and find inner peace amongst a often chaotic world, are priceless skills that are not taught anywhere else in schools (in my observation). Students walk away with an invaluable sense of self-efficacy, that helps provide them the confidence that they can handle any situation, as long as they breathe.

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Learn more about Namaste’s SEVA program or make your own offering to the RISE Yoga for Youth Organization. 

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