Moon Flow Sequence by Abby Tucker

You’re probably very familiar with “Surya Namaskar”, or “Sun Salute”, but do you know the moon flow? If not, you’ll definitely want to check out the “Chandra Namaskar” or “Moon Flow” sequence below, a beautiful way to bring a sense of grounding and rest to the body when you’ve had too much yang energy or need to cool down heat and fire in the body. Modern yogis looking for a very active practice often seek out flows like Surya Namaskar, which builds heat and allows energy to rise, taking us deeper in to our practice. Chandra Namaskar, on a the other hand, invites in the opposite power of soothing and rest which actually replenishes our energy stores. Therefore, this moon salutation really brings us in to a balanced practice and lifestyle. If you feel like you’re lacking energy pay heed to that feeling and instead of doing a vigorous practice try a more meditative practice like Chandra Namaskar. Your body and mind will thank you!

Our resident “Moon Mama” Abby Tucker brings us this delicious sequence for the full moon and new moon dates, or anytime you feel the call of la lune. We’ve mirrored the flow in the sequence below for easy following along. May your nights be bright, shiny and balanced.

Check out Abby’s Oakland teaching schedule here.

Please follow and like us:
20

Inspire Your Workday: Six Yoga Poses for Any Body

You can take a yogi out of her yoga clothes, but she takes yoga with her wherever she goes. Namaste teacher Poh Teng shares some easy office yoga postures to bring spacious presence into the body, heart and mind.  The best part is that this sequence is good for any body and and takes very little time, squeeze it in between meetings, during conference calls, or a few moments before lunch.

Poh-yogaforwork

Pepper the postures throughout a busy day at the office, or incorporate the entire sequence into your routine by practicing at the same time everyday.  Hold each posture for five, deep breaths. If a posture has a left side and a right side, don’t forget about the second side.

 

To learn more about Poh, visit pOhmYoga.com

Please follow and like us:
20

Namaste Teachers Share the Best Yoga Advice They’ve Received

We asked Namaste Yoga teachers one question: what is the best advice that you’ve received regarding your yoga practice? (spoiler: we have some seriously wise teachers!).

Here’s what they said:

judyrukat

Judy Rukat

When I began my teacher training with the late Larry Schultz, I had NEVER practiced yoga before and was not enjoying the training (to say the least). Yoga broke me down, humbled me and was too much for me in every way. In fact, it felt like a sort of painful death. I approached Larry with my discontent and he told me, “You are on the path to becoming a great teacher,” and GENEROUSLY gifted me my teacher training because he believed in me. That’s real yoga.

richardrosen

Richard Rosen

A friend of my wife is a professional astrologer and psychic and he once gave me a free session. Though I’m not a psychic kinda guy, I went just to be polite and he told me that “as a yoga teacher I’m not working with people’s bodies as much as with their souls” this advice has stayed with me now for many years.

 

Elana Morgulis

Elana Morgulis

I think the best advice I’ve received was a simple reminder mid-pose to notice the quality of my breath. If my breath felt constricted, I could gently back off. It gave me permission to be gentle with myself, and I experienced a profound relief and freedom within. Whew, I feel good just thinking about it!

 

 

rebagray

Reba Gray

Master the practice of ahimsa (cause no injury or harm). Make that the most important thing in your yoga practice right now.”

 

 

 

 

kenbrenimanKen Breniman

The best advice I received from my teacher Darren Main, was when he said: “Ken, teach from your heart!” He really encouraged me to connect to my authentic self and through following his wisdom,  I have focused much of my on-the-mat and off-the-mat healing on connecting to Source so that I can teach what the students want/need without my  worries or doubts getting in the way.

IMG_5196

Annemaria Rajala

I draw constant inspiration from one of my teachers, Sam Chase. He told me that a yoga practice should “meet us where we are and help guide us toward what we desire to become.” I strive to live by this on a daily basis.

 

pohteng
Poh Teng

My favorite advice is something passed down from senior practitioners of Eknath Easwaran’s Passage Meditation and the collective wisdom of the satsang. “The spiritual path is not easy. It is similar to climbing a mountain. On our trek towards the summit, the conditions of our journey change all the time.  Sometimes, the sun shines brightly, the weather is fine. Maybe the incline isn’t even that bad.  We experience progress during our travels and we feel pretty good about ourselves. Other times, the weather is dreadful and we cannot find shelter. Maybe the trek around the dark side of the mountain, where the sun is hidden from us, is longer and harder than anticipated. Maybe we come to an obstacle in our path that causes what appears to be set backs. (sic) In our own time, we eventually arrive at the summit where we meet each other. Keep practicing. And all is coming.”

juliabeauchamp

Julia Beauchamp

The best advice I received from a yoga teacher was about how “the inhale is a rising up and the exhale is circling down”. In this way we create an energetic loop around the spine every time we breathe. The change of direction above the head and below the tail bone are important, crucial points of transition– the moments in between when time stops and for a moment we cease to exist until the loop picks up momentum again.David Schlussel

David Schlussel

“Practice less, more often”

 

 

Domonick Wegesin

Dr. Domonick Wegesin

“Just fucking do it” from mindfulness teacher Jon Kabat- Zinn.

 

 

 

Naushon Kabat-Zinn

The best advice I have ever received is from my teacher Baba Hari Dass, who always said “Teach to Learn.”

 

 

rosy schlussel

Rosy Schlussel

My teacher Sofia Diaz has said some things that have stuck with me for many years, here’s a couple of zingers: “Yoga is the willingness to feel what you have committed to through being alive.”

 And a little more complex & shocking, perhaps: “The difference between dragging your body around behind you like a dead dog on a leash and yoga, is the answer to the question: “Are you in love?”

 

Claudia Florian Mccaffrey

Claudia Florian-McCaffrey

The best yoga advice I’ve received from one of my teachers was to “get on my mat for just 5 minutes.” This taught me that all I needed to create a practice was a mat and my breath. After those few minutes I had the choice to stay on my mat or finish my practice and it worked! I never stayed on my mat for just 5 minutes. I got inspired to take care of myself because those five minutes felt great and I wanted to stay longer!

Tara Sullivan

Tara Sullivan

Best advice about my practice was from my teacher Sharon Gannon who said, “The best way to uplift your own life is to do all you can to uplift the lives of others.”

What is the best advice you’ve received from a yoga teacher? Please share in the comments!

Please follow and like us:
20

5 Minutes To Move: A Simple Yoga Sequence to Get You Moving

5 minutes to move is a short yoga sequence for anyone on a tight schedule who still wishes to practice daily: great for the morning or midday. TIP: Pose #3 or “swimming” is a backstroke like motion with the arms while treading the feet in a forward bend. This sequence is appropriate for most students including beginners and (as pictured!) pregnant mamas. 

5-Minutes-to-Move

Please follow and like us:
20

The Perfect Yoga Sequence for Cyclists

By Hannah Franco

I seriously have the greatest grandmother ever. She’s in her 80’s and every year  (basically since it started) she has ridden her bicycle across the state… the state of Iowa.  I tried one year to go with her when I was around 17. I did my best to keep up, thinking I was pretty strong (I was on swim team and I played soccer regularly) but she still left me in the dust… I only lasted 3 days. She doesn’t seem to even notice that she’s 80 now and she still takes down 60 mile days like its nothing.  In honor of her and all the other people who don’t let anything get in the way of living fully I thought I’d pull together a top 10 poses to do pre or post cycle. This yoga sequence for cyclists is perfect before spin class, mountain biking, road cycling or even just a nice cruiser bike ride. Regardless of how you choose to exercise, yoga is a great way to prepare your muscles as well as aid in recovery!

fold
1. Foreword fold with hands interlaced behind back (Uttanasana)

101: Feet are hip width apart. Fold forward. Interlace your hands together behind your back and let the arms hang over your head.

Variations: Reach down and grab your ankles

Benefits: hamstrings/shoulders/ chest

pyramid
2. Pyramid Pose (Parsvottonasana)

101: Both legs are straight. Spine is long. Hands to the hips, shin, or floor.

Variations: Hands interlaced behind the back.

Benefits: hamstrings

down dog
3. Pigeon / Downward dog (Kapotasana /Adomuka Svanasana)

101: hands are shoulder width apart.  Hips are up towards the sky and your spine is long. Cross your left leg over the right thigh. Flex your left foot and press the left knee out to the left. Bend in your right knee coming up on to the ball of your right foot.

Variations: Normal down dog, both feet on the floor.

Benefits: hips/ hamstring/ quad

hamstring
4. Half splits (Ardha Hanumanasana)

101: (front) Left leg is extended straight, flex your foot. Right knee and ankle are stacked.  Hands are to the hips, shin, or floor. Spine is long.

Variations: Full splits but be kind! No rushing!

Benefits: hamstrings

hips
5. Low lunge (Ashwa Sanchalanasana)

101: (front) Left knee and ankle are stacked. Your right leg is extended behind you and you are on the top of your right thigh not knee. Hands to your hips. Spine is long.

Variations: Reach around and grab the foot of the extended leg bringing it closer to your hip

Benefits: hip flexors/ quad

cat
6. Cat /Cow (Marjaryasana/ Bitilasana)

101: Knees and hips are stacked, hands and shoulders are stacked. Arch the spine up and down with the breath

Variations: Move the spine in a circle around to the right then left.

Benefits: Back

half bow
7. Half bow pose (Dhanurasana)

101: Your right forearm supports you. Reach back for your left foot or shin with your left hand. Kick the foot in to the hand to lift the let.

Variations:  Grab both legs at the same time

Benefits: back / chest

twist
8. Seated twist (Matsyendrasana)

101: Your spine stays long. The bent left leg crosses over the right extended leg. Your left hand is on the ground supporting you and your right arm wraps around the left leg.  Look over to the right. Do both sides

Variations: You can tuck your extended leg up by your hip

Benefits: back/chest

seated fold

9. Seated forward fold  (Janushirshasana)

101: Your spine stays long, you don’t have to touch your toes. The left side foot touches your right inner thigh, lean forward. Do both sides

Variations: Don’t forget to do the second side!

Benefits: hips/ hamstrings

bridge

10. Bridge Pose (Setu Bandhasana)

101: feet hip width apart. Knees and ankles stacked arms by your side.

Variations: The hands can be interlaced behind your back.

Benefits: back /chest /shoulders

cycling sequence

Happy Cycling! See you in class!

Please follow and like us:
20

Yoga Nidra: The Ultimate Healing and Relaxation Practice

Does life seem like it’s just rushing by? Are you left thinking, ‘I can’t keep up! My mind is racing with all I need to accomplish!’. Are you alternating between tired and wired and feeling worn out, run down and out of sorts?  Everyday we go to battle with our life and our problems. We try to fix ourselves with new clothes, new diets and new extremes causing the cycle to continue. Today, we invite you to investigate a new approach and discover Yoga Nidra or “yogic sleep,” a form of deep meditation designed to bring the participant into a state of pure awareness and self-discovery. Simplified, we can achieve complete composure by relaxing, renewing, and just being. We can get in to that!

What is Yoga Nidra?

Yoga Nidra, loosely translated as ‘yogic sleep,’ is a reclined practice designed to bring you to a state of pure awareness and self discovery.  Described as one of the deepest forms of meditation, Yoga Nidra leads to a state of supreme stillness and insight. Through the practice we’re able to find ease and responsiveness through letting go (relaxing) and paying attention to what is here with a kind heart, something that is so unique compared to our usual response to stress.

What are the Benefits of Yoga Nidra? 

Throughout our lives we encounter a myriad of challenges. One goal of Yoga Nidra is to create a relaxed mind and in turn increase creativity, spontaneity and awareness.  When our mind is open and relaxed we are better prepared for anything that comes our way, whether it be physical illness, anxiety, loss or grief.  The practice has also been shown to improve Depression, Anxiety, Insomnia, Chronic pain, Chemical dependency and even PTSD in Veterans. Lastly, many practitioners find an overall increase in wellbeing and joy as this practice asks us to welcome our true selves and not try to change anything.

Yoga Nidra Teacher Training

Get a taste of Yoga Nidra in this sample recording with Namaste instructor Ashley Sharp

If traditional sitting meditation sounds too intimidating, this may be just the practice for you, and who knows, maybe you’ll be able to channel The Little Duck in the poem below:

The Little Duck

Now we are ready to look at something pretty special.
It is a duck riding the ocean a hundred feet beyond the surf.
This is some sort of duck, and he cuddles in the swells.

There is a great heaving in the Atlantic,
And he is a part of it.

He can rest while the Atlantic heaves, because he rests in the Atlantic.

Probably he doesn’t know how large the ocean is.

And neither do you.
But he realizes it.

And what does he do, I ask you. He sits down in it.
He reposes in the immediate as if it were infinity – which it is.
That is religion, and the duck has it.

He has made himself a part of the boundless,
by easing himself into it just where it touches him.
I like the little duck.

He doesn’t know much.
But he has religion.

 -Donald C. Babcock

Please follow and like us:
20

The Yoga of Sound by Amber Field

Sound is vibration. Matter is vibration. Everything is sound. Everything vibrates.

throat2b

Singing and the voice are related to expressing yourself and speaking your truth. The throat is the link between the heart and the head. Therefore, you want a clear channel to allow the head and heart to come into conversation and balance with each other. The throat is connected to divine will, being in right relationship to your life’s purpose.

When you can speak, sing and sound your truth, you can move confidently in the direction of your dreams.

Singing is one of the best activities you can do for your health. By taking long exhalations, you calm down your nervous system. You also release endorphins and dopamine (happy chemicals!) and when you sing in group, you release oxytocin, which is the bonding/attachment hormone. In short, singing makes you happy! 

Chanting/toning through the chakras allow you to open up your whole body through sound. This helps bring chakras into balance and alignment. You can literally feel sound opening up your body, releasing tension and knots, helping breath and energy flow through blocked areas, and giving your body an internal massage.sing-b

Group singing is such a powerful way to come together to bring healing energy to the world. Singing spirit songs–songs of love, devotion, hope, and freedom–is such a powerful vibration to put out into the world together. I have watched how free your voice classes have transformed people’s lives, and witnessed my own transformation into a more free, confident, expressive, spontaneous, playful being. It’s infectious to be in a community of people who are freeing their voices, creativity, and spirits together.

Please follow and like us:
20

Learn Forearm Stand with Hannah Franco

I remember the elation and shock I felt when I lifted up into my first handstand! I could not believe that I was seriously on my hands with my feet off the floor. I immediately crashed back down, but the feeling was still there… the knowledge that I could. The power of advanced asana is that they are a physical reminder that we are capable of so much more, and that our power and our spirit are vast. This physical experience helps us connect with our fears, breathe deep, and move through them. It’s a moment of truth. We can take this experience any way we choose or need in that moment; we can embrace the fear and choose to feel alive.

Regardless if you make it up or not, it’s how you approach these poses that brings about a shift in perspective. Heart above the head – literally. With that in mind, let’s embrace one of my favorite inversions.

STRENGTHEN YOUR CORE. There is no question – you have to do core work to go upside down. If your belly is sleeping, you will fall right over. So how do we tackle this problem of core work? My favorite new technique is laughing – seriously, it makes it easier! What can you do to make it fun? Put your favorite song on and go for it! The other key piece is that it doesn’t need to fit in any kind of format. You can do core work while watching a movie or while waiting for the water to boil for your tea. WHATEVER.

ALIGN YOUR SHOULDERS.  A big part of this mastering forearm stand is getting your shoulders into their sockets and onto your back. As I sit here typing, I’m rolling mine back into my sockets – it’s a process. We want to cultivate strong, open, and aligned shoulders.

 SLOW DOWN. Balance never comes from rushing. The key is to feel all the subtle movements, to find that place of ease, sweetness and stillness. In all arm balances, the true flight comes when you use very little effort. Try not to muscle into it; instead, feel into it. It’s the same for your life. How many times have you tried to force something to work? When you allow it to happen, there is a much greater chance to make it stick.

 BREATHE. A good test of whether or not you should move forward is even breath. Can you keep your breath flowing? In my experience a calm breath is a calm mind, which always helps when you face a challenge.

 WARM-UP FOR PINCHA MAYURASANA: SHOULDERS

e6-anahatasana

ANAHATASANA (extended puppy pose): Come onto your hands and knees in tabletop, making sure your hips stay stacked over the knees. Walk the hands out in front of you until your arms are in one straight line from the hips. You can drop your head down to the floor for support (or use a block, your chin or, if you’re very open, your chest). Hold for 5-10 breaths.

sholder-opener-variations

SHOULDER OPENER (on mat or against wall): Lying on the floor stomach down, extend your right arm out parallel to the top of the mat, with your palm flat against the floor. Slowly rotate your body open towards the left, coming onto your side with your knees bent for stability. Take one full inhale and exhale, then go deeper. The next step is to open up the left knee towards the ceiling, placing the left foot on the floor. Then, bring both knees together towards the ceiling, and roll onto your sacrum. Do not rush. Go to the point that feels juicy and hold for 5-10 breaths then repeat on the other side.

For the standing variation, face the wall and extend your right arm out parallel to the floor, with your palm flat against the wall. Slowly rotate your body open towards the left. Take one full inhale and exhale, and then go deeper. Do not rush. Go to the point that feels juicy and hold for 5-10 breaths then switch sides.

 WARM-UP FOR PINCHA MAYURASANA: CORE

e9-table-top

TABLE TOP HUNDREDS: (Thank You Mr. Pilates!) Lying on your back, bring your knees up, stacked over your hips with your shins parallel to the floor. Raise your head (chin down) and shoulders up off the floor, and lift your arms so they are parallel to the floor with your fingers reaching towards your feet. Pump your arms up and down and do ten cycles of breath. Each cycle is five short in-breaths, and five short out-breaths. To make this more challenging, straighten your legs at a 45 degree angle. To make it less challenging, keep your feet on the floor and only lift your head and shoulders.

e10-forearm-plank

FOREARM PLANK: Come to hands and knees, and lower down onto your forearms. If you want fire, bring a block in between your elbows and squeeze. Walk your knees back so you are in one long line from your knees to your crown. For more fire, lift up into plank, but keep squeezing the elbows together!!

PREP FOR PINCHA MAYURASANA

dolphin-dog-variations

DOLPHIN DOG: With forearms and palms on the mat, drop your forehead to the floor with your knees bent. Slowly tuck the toes under and lift your hips up into this modified down dog. The same alignment as down dog applies – keep lengthening your spine and lifting up into the hips. It’s OK to have your knees bent a little so that the spine stays straight.

To take it deeper, straighten your legs and start walking the feet in towards your arms, maybe even coming up onto your tiptoes to bring your weight over your shoulders as much as possible. Then lift your right leg towards the ceiling. Hold for 5-10 breaths then switch.

forearm-stand-facing-wall-variations

PINCHA MAYURASANA (Forearm Stand) FACING THE WALL: Sit down, facing the wall with your feet touching the wall. Place your hands by your hips. This is where your hands will be for forearm stand facing the wall. Your elbows will be closer to the wall, about midway through your thighs. Now turn around to face away from the wall. Move your hands into place where you measured them, and bring your forearms down onto the floor, coming into dolphin dog with feet on the ground against the wall. If you find the need to bring your arms in closer, please do. If you feel comfortable, you can start to walk one leg up the wall, then the other. Eventually, you will bring both legs parallel to the earth, supporting your body with the wall and your forearms.

To take it deeper, start to open your right leg up towards the ceiling or maybe even splitting your legs. The next step is to start to bring your other leg away from the wall, maybe just onto your tiptoes.  Play with the balance here. Hold for 5-10 breaths then switch legs.

e13-forearm-stand-facing-away-from-wall

PINCHA MAYURASANA (Forearm Stand) FACING AWAY FROM THE WALL:  Come into dolphin dog, fingertips about five inches away from the wall. Walk your feet in towards your arms, maybe even coming up onto your tiptoes, bringing your weight over your shoulders as much as possible. Lift your right leg towards the wall, then your left. You can try kicking up towards the wall, but I would recommend steady controlled movement whenever possible. Once you are up, start to lift one leg then the other away from the wall. Hold for 5-10 breaths. The next step is to bring the other leg away from the wall, maybe just onto your tiptoes.  Play with the balance here. Hold for 5-10 breaths then switch legs.

forearm-stand

PINCHA MAYURASANA (Forearm Stand) AWAY FROM THE WALL:

Key points to focus on:

•               Spiral Inward – Imagine squeezing a ball between your legs — the more they are engaged the easier it is to stay up.

•               Engage – Don’t let your ribs or belly fly out; keep them in.

•               Align – Bring your shoulder blades down onto your back.

•               Focus – Gaze can be down at the floor or out straight.

Balance – Your weight will move from fingertips to forearms. Be OK with a little bit of movement!

hand-position

ARM VARIATIONS: they can be parallel, triangular with palms together and elbows angled out, or palms together with elbows angled out.

XOXO have fun playing!

Hannah

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

You can follow Hannah Franco on instagram

Or check out her Website and blogs for more articles and insight

Please follow and like us:
20

Growing Generosity

Growing Generosity with Ashley Sharp

We can understand generosity in two ways.  First, generosity is a spontaneous expression of an open heart and mind.  It is not a matter of deciding to be generous, but instead it arises and simply flows out of us. When we are connected and wholehearted, generosity emerges without thought. Hafiz says:

“Even
After
All this time
The sun never says to the earth,
‘You owe me.’
Look
What happens
With a love like that
It lights the
Whole
Sky.”

The second way to investigate generosity is as a practice.  When we practice generosity we are, as Pema Chodron says, learning to let go.  Generosity helps us connect with others and it generates awareness of our interconnectedness with all beings. In order to give, someone must receive and in order to receive, someone must give.

Recent science coming out of the University of Notre Dame says that being generous causes a person to be happier and healthier.

The ancient teachings of the buddha speak of generosity as a treasure and recommend practicing acts of generosity as a basis of social harmony and personal virtue.

To cultivate generosity, take on the challenge of acting on every generous impulse you have for 24 hours. Give food away 4 times this month.  Give away $20 or $50 dollars to a stranger.

Generosity need not be limited to money and goods.  Practice generosity with your time or your receptivity.  Give a smile and a kind word.

ashley2-mashup

“In the end, though, maybe we must all give up trying to pay back the people in this world who sustain our lives. In the end, maybe it’s wiser to surrender before the miraculous scope of human generosity and to just keep saying thank you, forever and sincerely, for as long as we have voices.”  Elizabeth Gilbert

Join Ashley for her upcoming Growing Generosity workshop on Saturday, April 11 to continue this teaching.

Sign up here for Ashley’s workshop

Please follow and like us:
20