Breath Practice to Reduce Worry

A quick practice to clear your mind of anxious worries.

For many people, anxiety seems to be an ever-present unwelcome guest.  Anxiety is on the rise, now the most common mental affliction in the United States.

Worry is a hallmark symptom of the anxious mind.  You spin your mental wheels imagining futures full of potential doom and gloom, thinking of the many ways you’re going to mess up or fall short.

Brahmari is a breathing practice that helps clear anxious worry from your mind.  Also known as the Bee’s Breath, it involves creating a humming sound like the sound of bees.   Brahmari helps calm your nervous system and can help induce sleep, which is helpful for anxious folks whose sleep is often disturbed.

Breath Practice for Anxiety

Breath Practice for Anxiety

Breath Practice for Anxiety

You can strengthen the calming effect of the Bee’s Breath by adding a mudra called Shanmukhi Mudra.  For this, bring the first two fingers of each hand together as one, and rest them lightly over your closed eyes.  Let your ring fingers rest on your face just above the upper lip like a mustache.  Let the pinky fingers rest lightly on the chin below the lower lip.  Use your thumbs to plug your ears, by foldinging the little flap of cartilage over the ear canal.

Breath Practice for Anxiety

Dr. Domonick Wegesin is a yogi-neuroscientist-dancer with a bent towards meditation and the healing arts. He moved to the Bay Area from New York City where he conducted neuroimaging research focused on the aging brain, as a Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience at Columbia University. Domonick now trains the brains and bodies of his yoga students, helping them wake up to their mental, emotional and physical experience in a way that cultivates awareness, acceptance and ease. He has a ton of special offerings at our studios coming up in the next few months if you are looking to learn more: Pranayama Intensive, Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training, Yoga for Anxiety, and Rumi + Restoratives Practice.

 

 

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How to Feel Safe: Practices for Soothing Anxiety

Many of us can attest to experiencing a feeling of vulnerability in a yoga class. There are many relationships between yoga and feeling safe, from practicing with good alignment boundaries, to feeling emotionally moved in a class as your physical body opens up. As Eclipse season is throwing many of us into the seas of change, we asked our teachers to share a practice that can help make us feel safe and held when we may be feeling vulnerable or anxious.

Hayley Ebersole

A sense of safety, security and belonging is represented in energetic anatomy by the root chakra. On my life long journey of inner cultivation I’ve yet to find a mantra that is more effective for relieving anxiety than the simple words “I am safe.”

Feel safe

Sarah Moody

Slow down your breathing.

Inhale to a count of 4, exhale to a count of 4.

Repeat several rounds.

Jaimi Patterson

Anne Koller

I hold my hands to a part of my body and chant “I am home in me” and remember that my safe space is within me.

Elana Morgulis

A simple practice to feel safe and held is to first find a really comfy position – this might be a gentle Restorative pose like supported child’s pose, it could be savasana, or it could be laying in bed or on the couch. Start to add cushions and blankets wherever you feel your body could be held and supported such as under your head, low back, under the knees, feet – anywhere and everywhere! The point is to have your body in contact with something soft and supportive. Next, wrap or cover yourself with a blanket – the heavier the blanket the better. Add some weight if that feels good to you, maybe another blanket. Close your eyes. Take several long, slow breaths and bring your attention to where your body feels the support of the cushions and blankets. Breathe that sensation in. Take in the wrapping of the blanket around you and softly say to yourself “Right now, I’m okay. I am safe. I am here.” If you do nothing more than wrap yourself in a blanket and say something kind to yourself, that’s more than enough!

Join these fine instructors for their weekly practice schedule. Click here to see Hayley, Anne, Elana, Sarah, and Jaimi‘s public teaching schedules at Namaste.

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Invest in Rest, Reduce Your Stress

We all know that it pays to take it easy sometimes, whether that is through a restful day at home or a restorative yoga practice. But with the sun shining and the air full of sweet summer smells, our ability to take that life advice sometimes falls to the wayside. Neglecting to slow down comes at a high price though. Over activity and stimulation leads to many of our most common health problems such as back pain, heart disease, weight gain, adrenal fatigue, and mood swings.

The good news is there are simple ways to “mindfully relax” that help the body, mind, and spirit feel renewed and ready to keep taking on the world. These easy techniques are perfect for healing the body of injuries, letting the mind unwind, and giving yourself permission to emotionally just chill out for a few minutes.

Vickie Russell Bell knows plenty about relaxation and restoration. She is leading Namaste’s Restorative Yoga Immersion this summer and is passionate about sharing the importance of mindful relaxation with our community. A little R&R never hurt anybody, and let’s face it, who doesn’t want an excuse to just rest up?

Vickie gave us a few suggestions on how to tune in to tuning out the world. We encourage you to try one of these today!

 

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Three Activities to Help Heal a Bereaved Heart

For many years, Ken Breniman has had the honor to hold space for hundreds of people in his Yoga for Grief workshops in the SF Bay Area. 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.

Ken shares:

I added this subtitle to my Yoga for Greif workshops –Healing Hearts, Healing Bodies – because the grieving process is unique for each one of us and there are a variety of places within our being that unhealed energies or emotions can get stuck. I found that by offering a yoga practice that participants were able to release emotions that had become stuck in the body and helped them move through some very difficult mind states. I also always knew that just a half day of yoga or a 6 week series of yoga sessions could be a safe and supportive space for grieving yogis and yoginis but that it could not ‘cure’ the bereaved heart.   

So what might one do to patiently tend to a healing heart during an extended time of grief?   In my own personal journey and in hearing from participants of these gatherings, I have found that the following three activities have been helpful during the darker days of loss to channel the pain and anguish, and assist in working through the numbness.  These three activities also provide a safe go-to place even after the acute grief response has subsided and we come to realize that there will be waves of grief in the days, months or years to come.   

1. Journaling.

Healing Grief | Journalling

I started journaling when I was a teen and about two years before my mom became ill.  Journaling literally saved my life while I was trying to make sense of my mom’s sudden death. I look back at those journal entries and they were riddled with questions I still don’t have the answers to, but allowed me a space to let my heart’s voice be heard rather than shut down. Over the years, journaling has become my free (and always available) therapist and I continue to write in a journal on a regular basis.  Of course, there are times when the journal sits at the bed side for weeks but for me it has become one of the best tools in times of loss and grief and I highly recommend checking out this website on grief journaling.  

2) Tonglen Meditation     

This can be a powerful practice when done on a regular basis. Tonglen meditation is a Buddhist technique that helps a grieving person find a way to sit with the suffering using the in breath to find a way to release the pain, suffering, despair, anger or other unhealed energies so that we can open our hearts to feel relief, joy, forgiveness, and other healed emotions through the out breath.  Pema Chodron, a great Buddhist nun, has a graceful way of teaching Tonglen.  Check out Pema’s teaching here.

3) Creating an Altar in your home

Healing Grief | Making an AltarAdmittedly, this was the hardest one to begin for me because I somehow thought that a nondenominational eclectic animist like myself who didn’t have any lineage or tradition, didn’t have a foundation for building a sacred space in my home.  Then it dawned on me, that is all the more reason to build one!  No matter what your beliefs or non-beliefs are, if you are mourning the loss of a beloved person, pet or the loss of some thing, (i.e. a relationship, a job, health) you deserve to have an area in your home that helps to ground and center you!  And even though it took me years to find out how powerful my tiny little bookshelf altar would be in my healing journey, I laughed out loud when I searched the web for a ‘how to build an altar in your home’ and found the simplest of instructions. Check out these three steps to creating an altar!

I am prone to borrow Mae West’s wisdom at times like these: “I didn’t say it would be easy, I did say it would be worth it.” I hope you find these tips helpful and if you have any healing tools that you would like to share or if you have any questions on how to deepen your healing practice, please email Ken or share in the comments below!

One final practice I can share is this sweet yoga Swan Dive with Intention.

Swan Dive with Intention

A short practice with Ken Breniman for when you are confronted with grief.

Posted by Namaste Yoga + Wellness on Monday, December 3, 2018

 

From my healing heart to yours, I wish you solace and peace in your healing journey. Please join me for my next Yoga for Grief workshop on Saturday, July 20.

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Ayurvedic Spring Practice

As we are interconnected with Mother Nature, we can more powerfully keep in tune with ourselves by attuning to her seasonal rhythms. In Ayurveda, Spring is the season to consider ridding the body and mind of some ‘ama’ to experience the highest and brightest energy of spring.

Ama describes the toxic waste, sticky gooey sludge that builds up in the channels of the body.

This occurs when your digestive fire (agni) becomes weak due to improper food combining, too many cold liquids mixed with your meals, overeating, stress, or a compromised immune system. Our body, just like nature, needs space. The lack of space in the digestive channels eventually leads to slower movement of food down the GI tract and decreased absorption of the essential nutrients from the food we eat. In Ayurveda we believe that protecting your digestive fire is the most important factor in maintaining your physical and mental health and will be the primary discuss for our workshop.

Typical treatments to move ama out of the body include one or all of the following practices:

  • Elimination diet
  • Sweating
  • Oil massages
  • Yoga asanas

Consider including a yoga sequence like this into your practice this month to help improve circulation, increase your core temperature, and reduce ama in the body.

Ayurvedic Spring Practice

Ayurveda for SpringJoin Melina for her upcoming Ayurveda for the Spring workshop, on April 28, which will cover all of the poses listed below and more!

  • Sun salutes
  • Joint rotations
  • Wide leg lunges
  • Kapalabhati breathing
  • Squat variations

Melina Meza has been sharing her knowledge of Hatha Yoga, Ayurveda, and whole foods nutrition with yogis around the world for over 20 years. Melina pioneered Seasonal Vinyasa, an innovative multi-disciplined approach to well-being, and is the author of the Art of Sequencing books, creator of the Yoga for the Seasons – Fall Vinyasa DVD, and co-director of 8 Limbs Yoga Centers 200- and 500-Hour Teachers’ Training Program in Seattle, Washington. Join Melina for her public classes at Namaste.

 

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Manage Stress Mindfully

Stress is something everyone faces on a daily basis. Stressful situations, whether it’s getting stuck in traffic or tripping over the dog, all activate the same fight-or-flight response. This chain of events initiates what is called the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis (HPA axis or HTPA axis). Triggering our HPA axis leads to a flood of stress hormones released by three primary endocrine glands: pituitary, hypothalamus, and adrenal. Stress hormones include cortisol and adrenaline, which act to increase our heart rate and suppress our immune response.

Famed researcher Robert M. Sapolsky wrote a whole book on the subject, titled Why Zebra’s Don’t Get Ulcers. In his book, he says, “A significant percentage of what we think of when we talk about stress-related diseases are disorders of excessive stress-responses.”

Sapolsky emphasizes that our stress response drives illness, not necessarily the exposure to stress itself. Managing stress means understanding how we respond to challenging situations. How can we slow the stress before it starts? One way is with mindfulness. That is where Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) comes into play.

MBSR involves paying attention to your present experience, including your thoughts, emotions and sensory experiences. Mindfulness helps you to be more accepting of what’s happening and struggle less with your experience. MBSR is the perfect blend of scientific and spiritual practices taking techniques from Buddhist philosophy, meditation, psychology, and medicine to create a balanced practice that is scientifically proven to reduce stress-related illness.

mindfulness-based stress reduction

How can you practice more mindfulness? We recommend coming to class on a regular basis, finding a few minutes a day to foster your meditation practice, and considering an MBSR course. To get started right away, here are three of our favorite MBSR Techniques:

  1. Reframe everyday tasks as “a challenge rather than a chore and thus turning the observing of one’s life mindfully into an adventure in living rather than one more thing one “has” to do for oneself to be healthy.”
  2. Meditating in the morning and evening for as long as you can. Don’t get stuck on “not thinking.” Instead, focus on noticing thoughts when they arise and gently letting them float back into the ether.
  3. Take time think about challenging situations and practice the art of non-judgment. See your impulses to react to things with either joy or distaste. Instead, try to practice neutrality around experiences that often prove to be upsetting or stressful.

Mindfulness Based Stress ReductionIn our upcoming 8-week series, Domonick Wegesin, our resident neuroscientist and 200 Hour Teacher Training faculty member, will share the science behind how mindfulness can change your brain to be more peaceful and less reactive. Research has found that this training increases the density of gray matter in brain regions linked to learning, memory, emotion regulation, and empathy.

 

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This is How We Roll: Piriformis Release

Self massage can be an amazing and inexpensive tool for working with tight muscles and releasing the fascia, which is a thin web of connective tissue that covers your muscles and organs.

Are your spring activities getting you in places you forgot about? One common area that gets tight from cycling and running is the piriformis, which helps with hip rotation and runs diagonally from the lower spine and connects to the upper part of the femur. The sciatic nerve runs underneath or through this muscle as well. Follow along with Sarah Moody and this therapeutic roll out of the piriformis.

This is How We Roll: Piriformis Release

The piriformis helps with hip rotation and runs diagonally from the lower spine and connects to the upper part of the femur. The sciatic nerve runs underneath or through this muscle as well. Follow along with Sarah Moody and this therapeutic roll out of the piriformis.

Posted by Namaste Yoga + Wellness on Monday, April 8, 2019

 

Note: like anything that has the power to heal, misuse and overuse can cause harm. Start with small doses – 30 seconds on each muscle group you want to roll. If you have more time, try doing three sets of 30 seconds, with 10 seconds of rest in between. Also, try to decipher the difference between pain and discomfort in your body. Rolling should feel something like a deep tissue massage, but never painful. Stay in the middle space between effort and ease, making sure that your breath is smooth and that the muscles on your face are relaxed.

 

How We RollJoin Sarah for her regularly scheduled weekly classes, including Roll+Release, Yin Yoga, and Restorative.

 

Spend a little more concentrated time with Sarah and attend her upcoming Roll Release and Restore workshop on Saturday, July 13.

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This is How We Roll: Quad Release

Thighs feeling tight? This is how we roll out the quads.

Rolling is an incredible self-care tool.

It helps you become a student of your own body. As you roll, you learn where you habitually store stress, and in the process start to release those layers of tension.

The top 5 reasons to incorporate rolling into your current movement discipline:

  1. Reduce muscle pain and fascial tension
  2. Warm up your muscles
  3. Boost recovery time
  4. Improve posture
  5. Bolster the immune, respiratory, circulatory and nervous systems

In spring, as we start to pick up our outdoor pursuits like cycling and hiking, it’s our legs that need a little extra loving attention, Follow along with Sarah Moody in the video, as she guides you through the quad release your legs have been needing.

This is How We Roll: Release Your Quad

Grab a massage ball or two and follow along with Sarah Moody as she walks you through a roll-out for your quadracep.

Posted by Namaste Yoga + Wellness on Friday, March 22, 2019

 

Note: like anything that has the power to heal, misuse and overuse can cause harm. Start with small doses – 30 seconds on each muscle group you want to roll. If you have more time, try doing three sets of 30 seconds, with 10 seconds of rest in between. Also, try to decipher the difference between pain and discomfort in your body. Rolling should feel something like a deep tissue massage, but never painful. Stay in the middle space between effort and ease, making sure that your breath is smooth and that the muscles on your face are relaxed.

 

How We RollJoin Sarah for her regularly scheduled weekly classes, including Roll+Release, Yin Yoga, and Restorative.

 

Spend a little more concentrated time with Sarah and attend her upcoming Roll Release and Restore workshop on Saturday, July 13.

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Heart Talks

Valentine’s Day can spark a lot of emotion and feeling for people and not everyone wants relationship advice. 

If you are single, it can bring about feelings of loneliness or longing or celebration as one may be choosing to not be in a partnership at the moment. If you are in a partnership, each may be wondering, “what can I do to make this day special for my partner?”

Which ever is the case, the celebratory day of love and romance is upon us! As a Love Coach, I wanted to share a little relationship advice about how to build intimacy.

Intimacy is all about deep connection, vulnerability, mutual trust, caring and acceptance. It involves feelings of emotional closeness and connectedness with another person and the desire to share each others innermost thoughts and feelings. Intimacy, connection and love are so important in our lives. It is why we are all here. How to build intimacy? Being vulnerable, deep listening and having Heart Talks. 

Heart Talks involve deep listening.  If you have something in the shape of a heart, use it as a talking stick. The person doing the talking, holds the heart. A timer is set for 1-2 minute and the person shares from the heart using “I” statements. Anything that is said during this share is sacred and cannot be brought up during an argument. Any complaint about the partner should be turned into a need and not an accusation. The person not talking listens. When the person talking finishes, the listener, shares what they heard.

Relationship Advice | Heart Talks with Jennevieve Ybarra

Viola! I use this in my relationship and give this as a tool to others to use in theirs and it works wonders to help build intimacy. If you do not speak your truth, a distance will grow between the two of you and love will disappear from your relationship.

I hope you get a chance to build Heart Talks into your relationships. May we all have the life, love and intimacy we desire. We are the creators of our world and not the other way around.

Relationship Advice | with Jennevieve YbarraJennevieve Ybarra is a Love Coach, as well as one your beloved teachers here at Namaste.

Find her for weekly classes at Grand Lake on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, 7:30-8:45pm.

Join her in March for her program “LOVE YOURSELF TO THE BONE-A PATHWAY TO EXTRAORDINARY PARTNERSHIP AND INTIMACY or visit her website for more info.

 

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Slowing Down to the “Slowest Part of Me”

Q+A with Ken Breniman

Ken Breniman teaches weekly Gentle Yoga classes at our Grand Lake and Berkeley studios.

Q: What is one of your favorite practices?

 

A: I practice a tonglen meditation. It is a Buddhist tradition in which one breathes into the suffering or discomfort (i.e. impatience, callousness, anger, jealousy) and transmute the energy with the out breath which honors the complimentary force (i.e. patience, compassion, forgiveness, comparison). It is quite the powerful meditation and helps me find equanimity.

Q: Best advice you’ve been receiving lately?

 

A: I have been singing the chorus from the Karen Drucker song “Gentle with Myself” which goes “I will only go as fast as the slowest part of me.” I find this quote to be chuck full of wisdom in honoring the youngest or most tender parts of self that might otherwise get overlooked in the fast paced society we live in. The song reminds me how important self-compassion is in my on-the-mat and off-the-mat practices.

 

Swan Dive with Intention

A short practice with Ken Breniman for when you are confronted with grief.

Posted by Namaste Yoga + Wellness on Monday, December 3, 2018

Q: Can you recommend one inspiring book or podcast?

A: “Die Wise” by Stephen Jenkinson

 

Q: Can you recommend any favorite self care rituals?

A: Sensory Deprivation or Float Tanks are a great way to warm and relax the body. It is like a 60-90 minute long savasana (corpse pose) and some people describe it like floating in the ‘void’ or returning to the womb. Please note: some folks newer to floating need to confront their discomfort with smaller and/or quiet spaces. It is the ultimate mini-hibernation for cold weather!

 

Catch Ken on our weekly schedule, and join him for his upcoming Yoga for Grief workshop on Saturday, July 20.

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