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.

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“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

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Unlocking the Creative Process Through Yoga

by Jillian Schaivi

Yoga and creativity, for me, are indisputably linked. To flow from posture to posture, using the breath as a guiding force, and allowing the mind to clear itself from thought, is exactly how the creative process works. I start with the urge to move, to create something, anything. And then once that initial gesture is expressed, I’m able to take a step back, reflect, take a walk, look away, and then in coming back, color it in even more vibrantly. I’m able to see the piece as it really is – whether that’s something to continue pursuing, or to move on from.

In yoga, we’re encouraged to move energetically, to feel the body out, to test the waters and our limits within the postures. And then to reflect, to experience our experience, see things – ourselves – for how they truly are, and then to use that knowledge in an empowering way. Either to resist certain postures, or, for the time being, going into a deeper expression of them – or to continue down the path we’d started, accumulating sensation, walking our edge.

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Throughout all of this, both the creative and yogic journeys, the breath is the guiding force. The breath in yoga carries us safely within a physical sequence, it steadies the heart rate, slows the nervous system, it keeps us present. Not only that, but it allows for clarity, for one-pointedness, it takes us towards Dharana – the 6th limb of the Yoga Sutras.

In the creative process, the breath becomes an indicator of whether we’re on to something. Excitement and nervousness may show up through the breath in the same heightened way, but if we can begin to really listen to ourselves, there’s a difference between the forward-propelling breath of excitement, and the knotted-stomach breath of nervousness and hesitation.

Jillian

In creativity, flow is recognized as being in a place that’s beyond thought. The external world disappears, and all that’s prevalent, all that exists is the work before us – whether that be writing, drawing, painting, sculpture, music, etc. Our body takes over, the mind no longer holds the reign. And throughout the process, the breath holds the rhythm, steady, meditative, repetitive. In my own work, hand lettering and illustration, I use the breath to steady my hand, to prepare my body for the work, to ease into that flow.

Having a yogic background makes this a much easier transition, and one that I’m ultimately aware of. I know that when things in my creative work don’t flow quite as easily, or ideas, inspiration, motivation aren’t as flush, there must be a missing link in my yogic practice. That is often the case. On the flip side, I feel most creative and engaged and able to give in to flow in my yoga practice when I’m feeling more creative in my life outside the studio, or off the mat. The two inform each other, they relate to each other, and they create a beautiful sense of balance between the mental and emotional efforts that both yoga and art aim to overcome.


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Jillian Schiavi took her first yoga class seven years ago, and has been continuously inspired ever since. After receiving her BA in English from New York University, she completed a 200 hour yoga teacher training at Yoga to the People (rys) in 2010. After a brief stint in Chicago, where she earned her MFA in Creative Writing from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, she recently relocated to the Bay Area to further explore her yogic journey as both a teacher and student. Alongside yoga, she runs a calligraphy and illustration design studio, jilly ink, and shares vegan skincare and nutrition as an Independent Consultant with Arbonne International. In her teaching, as in her life, she exudes positive energy with a passion for sharing the physical, mental and emotional benefits of yoga, art, and personal health.

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3 Reasons Yoga is Perfect Birth Prep

Preparing to give birth is an incredibly exciting and complex time. At Namaste, we are fortunate to have a thriving community of prenatal and postnatal mommies who continue to gather to celebrate the gift of life and the beauty of yoga. We love finding new ways to help our moms relax and flourish during this period of growth whether it is through our Prep for Birth workshops or creating a sacred space like our Namaste Lounge. Here are our top three reasons why yoga is our most recommended resource when preparing for birth:

Movement

Gentle movement and exercise are important during pregnancy. Many soon to be moms will realize that the exercise routine they had previous to becoming pregnant may no longer work with their new bodies. Yoga is a soft, nurturing way for pregnant women to become re-familiarized with their evolving bodies, increase overall vitality, and enhance both relaxation and mindfulness tools that can prove helpful in the delivery room. Yoga’s intimate way of achieving both exercise and personal connection to this special time in life is a gift which benefits include a boosted immune system, quicker recovery, and better sleep.

Connection

Whether it is a women’s first birth or not, having a new baby can bring up a lot of emotions, questions, and concerns. Having a strong community for support can be a lifesaver for new mothers. Prenatal yoga is a perfect way for women to connect with other like-minded mommies in the neighborhood. Having a community provides new moms with information that is tried and true. A strong network of prenatal and postnatal moms creates a forum where women can learn from each other and share what birth prep techniques have worked and which have not. Having more first-hand knowledge allows for the first time mothers to feel at ease and less fearful of the birthing process.

Love

Love is such a huge part of the birthing experience. Self-love, new love for the baby, compassion and love for your partner and support group all are important for creating a healthy, happy atmosphere for baby’s birth. Yoga teaches how to let go of judgement and criticism and instead practice compassion for ourself and others. Prenatal yoga is optimal for keeping this compassion in the forefront. With a growing and changing body, it is easy for women to sometimes feel not as great as they did pre-pregnancy. Hormonal changes can lead to erratic thoughts, and achy muscles may leave women feeling worn out. A regular yoga practice is a gentle reminder to be kinder to one’s self and to continue to cultivate love and appreciation.

Mae_Amelia


 

Learn more about our prenatal offerings here.

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Intro to Yoga: Heartfelt Advice for the New Practitioner

by Bethany Hobbs

1. Keep it simple.

The Intro to Yoga workshops offer the chance to become familiar in our studios, to explore a simple movement practice, to feel through the foundational element of breath, and maybe to get some ideas about which classes might be best for you, going forward.

It’s an afternoon during which a safe space is available for you to meet yourself where you’re at, to blast through the intimidation factor of taking that very first yoga class, and get to ask some questions from a Namaste teacher (in this case, me, who happens to love teaching Intro workshops). Enjoy yourself, make yourself comfy and arrive a few minutes early to put down your mat, have a cup of tea, and feel out the space.

2. Trust yourself.

There are a few things that I know with total certainty. One is that these bodies of ours never lie.

One reason I love teaching introductory workshops is because I get to witness people discovering new sensations and wisdom inside of their bodies. Yoga is largely about paying attention, whether it is your first class, or your millionth. Honor your body. Listen. Trust. The practice of trusting oneself will serve you for a lifetime.

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3. Stay curious.

I will always remember my first yoga class. I will always remember my first yoga teacher, the first yoga mat I bought, the first time I fell in love with a pose, the first time I truly found my breath, the first time I felt anchored into something deep, something real, through the physical practice of yoga.

Whatever your “firsts” are, hold them close to your heart. They matter. Remember the wonderment; hold your first-time self in a soft, kind way, and bring something of that fervor and openness with you each time you step onto your mat or your meditation pillow in the days and months and years to come.

Any disciplined practice requests a great deal of kindness from us. Observe, watch things change and rearrange and show themselves to you– if you choose yoga as a path of study and/or devotion going forward, I promise you this: you will never run out of things to learn. So: stay curious. Stay kind. Keep showing up.

4. Welcome Home.

For me, yoga has been the practice of coming home, coming back to a sense of authenticity and belonging.

After you attend the initial introductory workshop, I encourage you to seek out a class and teacher with which you align. What do you value? Who and what speak to your spirit? What pace does your body crave? You will more than likely find others who value (and teach) those things as well.
And, P.S., you’re already home– just let yoga remind you of that, should you ever happen to forget.


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Bethany Hobbs fell in love with her first savasana in 2003, and her life hasn’t been the same since. She has been committed to her yoga practice for over a decade, first under the tutelage of Rached Malouf in San Diego, and, later, her mentor Alice Joanou in Oakland, along with many other incredible yogis and healers in India and Oakland (including herbalist Atava Garcia Swiecicki and therapeutic yoga teacher trainer Antonia Fokken). Bethany’s classes hold space for the wholeness of each individual through breath, alignment, ritual, and joy.

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Creating a Home Yoga Practice

by Naushon Kabat-Zinn

Do you find it challenging to practice yoga and meditation regularly at home? Join the club!

There are many distractions at home, and so we often just don’t do it. With cell phones beeping at us, children or pets asking for attention, dirty floors that glare at you in downward dog, the list of possible things we can be doing besides yoga is endless! The fact is, once we commit, it can be such a beautiful thing to practice more consistently and be able to listen really to what your body needs. Even for just ten minutes a day. The key is to create a habit and stick with it.

If you feel that a home practice is a luxury, think about it this way: home practice is about listening to your body and catering to your individualized needs, exploring whatever it is that you want to work on for that day.

Going to a yoga class is valuable when you want to check-in on your alignment, learn new poses, or dive deeper with the assistance of an experienced teacher. Classes can provide an encouraging environment where you feel like you can go further and adventure in your practice.

That said, often we are so focused on keeping up with the class or advancing our practice that we start to lose touch with our breath and the ability to tune into our deep inner voice. A home practice opens up a world of creativity and freedom that becomes completely personal and intimate.

Taking your practice home allows you to keep the spontaneity of deciding what you want to work on rather than having to follow the flow of the class. It could be a practice geared toward relieving headaches, or a practice of preparing for handstands, or just a quick wake up and get energized flow to help you start your day right.

Practicing at home can bring more of a sense of balance and clarity and joy to our everyday lives.

So how to get started? Join Naushon Sunday August 24th for a fun and playful exploration of what Home Practice can look like and how we can work through the challenges and move towards a beautiful and rewarding process of getting on our mats at home or when we are traveling.


Naushon_Kabat-ZinnNaushon has been a student of yoga since she was a little girl. Her challenging, yet compassionate Power Vinyasa classes are a wonderful way to cultivate strength, serenity, flexibility and balance. Inspired by her studies with Baron Baptiste, Shiva Rea, Baba Hari Dass, and the teachings of Vispassana (Insight) Meditation, Naushon’s all levels classes emphasize the linking of movement with breath, cultivating our ability to be more fully present and awake in our lives, and navigate the challenges that arise with more grace and kindness.

Check our schedule for Naushon’s class schedule.

 

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