Poh and Reba Share Their Favorite Self Care Practices

A conversation with Reba Gray and Poh Teng about their must have self care practices:

Poh: I love seeing what you’re up to on Instagram. Your self-care practices are random mid-day reminders for me to do self-care. What are some of your favorites?

Reba: Asana practice of course! Also massage, reading in a quiet space, and getting pedicures. In general, doing things more slowly and mindfully.

Poh Teng getting strong!

Poh: You do always have nicely pedicured feet! And you went to southern California this summer?  

 Reba: Yep, my hubby and I went to San Diego & Santa Barbara. My favorite moment was lunch on the beach with my toes in the sand, laughing with good friends and enjoying the sea breeze. We also got to visit Cold Spring Tavern, a saloon from the 1860s. We shared a really delicious cold beer. Having moments like that are so rejuvenating for me, creating sense memories, you know? I can remember the feeling of toes in the sand, the taste of that cold beer after traveling on a hot, dusty day… Tell me about your favorite self-care practices.

 Poh: My favorites are yoga, massage and hiking with my dogs. But really, anything that helps me let go of stress buildup in the  body, heart and mind.  Last week, I took an hour-long savasana in a sensory deprivation tank. It was my first float. I had the best  rest in a very long while. It was much needed as I had recently struggled for a few weeks with minimal sleep due to a nerve impingement injury. The injury is related to my history of neck and shoulder trauma, and was triggered when I broke up a dog fight on a hiking trail. Early this year, I started a new job that requires a long commute, which aggravates the injury. During recovery, I practiced yoga and self-massage daily in addition to receiving regular bodywork. Super thankful for my personal practice, the support of friends in my wellness community and for the body’s ability to heal. What are you working on in your yoga practice?

REBA handstand
Reba Gray handstanding it up!

Reba: I’m really inspired by breath work and meditation lately. I’ve been taking 5-30 minutes a day to sit and observe my breath, or to do some favorite breath practice, like kumbhaka pranayama (breath retention). Breath retention helps me feel less anxious, helps me stay present – I tend to get ahead of myself with planning stuff that’s way off in the future. 

Poh: I’ve been really inspired by breath and meditation, too. There’s two parts to the practice for me right now: 1) dharana – resting the mind on the rise and fall of the body, using the body as home base; and 2) svadhyaya – contemplating the habits of the mind that I noticed from the meditation practice.  

Reba: And I love sweaty vinyasa with inversions. Home practice is sweet, but I really like the energy of practicing with a whole bunch of yogis in a studio.

Poh: Me, too! Throw in a handful of arm balances and I’m happy.

Reba: You know what else is also self-care? Always having my favorite foods in the fridge. Buying or growing food we like is a really important way to take good care of ourselves. It’s something I struggle with, but when I take the time to slow down and carefully prepare my own food, it is so worth it. I always have spinach, yogurt, Frog Hollow apricot conserve, cheese, and eggs in the fridge.

Poh: Yum! I always have eggs, too. And coconut water, kale, several varieties of hot sauce… and soy milk or soy pudding. My constitution is predominantly pitta-vata. I was advised by ayurveda practitioners to decrease intake of hot sauce and soy, to be careful I don’t go into pitta and vata overdrive. I struggle to give up hot sauce because I’m a child of Malaysia, and I can’t give up soy because it’s a part of my family’s diet for generations. I’m practicing mindfulness and moderation of my habits, slowing down to notice if the foods I choose nourish me or deplete me. It’s all a practice. 

Make time for yourself – join Reba and Poh in Power Up + Power Down, an extended, self-care practice. You will power up with joyful and supported back bends, and power down with guided meditation and deep hip openers. Discover stillness in power, and power in stillness.

Get to know Poh at pOhmYoga.com and instagram.com/pohmyoga.  

Get to know Reba at rebagray.com and instagram.com/yogawithreba.

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Sadhana: What 21, 30, and 40 Days of Yoga Will Reveal to You

photo 4By Judy Rukat

[Originally posted on www.DoYouYoga.com]
January marks the season for fresh starts and you may see Yoga Challenges sprouting up all around you: at gyms and yoga studios, in your workplace with additions of yoga (office yoga, chair yoga, meditation breaks), and a sea of yoga selfies flooding your social media.‘Tis the season to get back to the mat! Let’s face it, some days (or weeks, or eeek…MONTHS) yoga ranks low on the to-do list. Have you deemed 2015 the year to go for it and deepen your practice by making it to your mat more consistently over the course of the next few weeks?If so, read on to learn more about what you can expect (as well as making room for the unexpected) during this transformative process.

The Meaning of SADHANA

Put simply, sadhana means dedicated practice. Typically, a modern day sadhana lasts 21, 30, or 40 days and will inevitably shake you free from your usual routine by creating new healthier habits.

The radical shift in your schedule will pull you up and out of your yoga slump as you observe your practice climb to the top of your mountain heap of priorities.

Without a doubt, for the willing practitioner, participating in sadhana will, at a minimum, encourage accountability and ensure that by SIGNING UP, you will actually SHOW UP and have a greater likelihood of sticking with it in the days (and hopefully years) to follow.

21 Days Later: From Resistance to Receptivity

Resistance or the “negative” fear of change differs from the “positive” fear that protects and warns of pending danger. Like all creatures of habit, we get used to moving in one direction and eventually become complacent.

When a desire arises and inspires us to change course, resistance slams on the breaks and stops us in our tracks. Critical self-talk, doubt, and rationalizations attempt to persuade us into continuing on our usual travels even when the path no longer supports our spiritual growth.

Receptivity, on the other hand, allows us to navigate life’s windy roads full of scary twists and uncertain turns. You will certainly confront the stubborn roadblocks of resistance that tend to get in your way during the first 21 days of your sadhana. You may even consider quitting.

If you can stick through it, you will discover that you have developed a calminner “knowing” that allows you to receive life as it comes your way and handle those difficult transitions with grace.

30 Days Later: From Grief to Gratitude

There is necessary grief which is part of the healing process when recovering from a loss, and then, there is the lingering grief wrought with shame and regret for the things we cannot go back in time to change.

This second type of grief can paralyze and blind us from seeing anything beyond our identities, stories, and personal histories. Gratitude, however, grants you permission to bow to the past, honor the lessons learned, and release it once and for all.

Practice is repetition, and showing up for 30 days requires enormous patience to overcome monotony and wake up to the universe of subtleties going on during a meditation, asana, and pranayama practice.

From the outside view the practice “appears” the same, but indeed, your internal gaze or “perspective” has shifted and in that way no two practices are ever the same. Wallowing in past failures creates expectations, and so does reveling in the nostalgia of past successes.

Gratitude reveals the new beginning in each moment and makes the tiny details as well as those lightbulb “AHA” moments of revelation visible. These moments keep a yogi coming back to the mat everyday!

40 Days Later: From Strength to Surrender

We all strive to increase strength and flexibility through yoga, and those noble goals certainly benefit the muscular, cardiovascular, and skeletal systems of the body, not to mention decrease stress hormones while increasing energy levels.

However, as you progress towards the 40-day mark of regular practice, you will learn understand what “muscling” through a pose or asana sequence means, and notice that even during a challenging moment, you will use less and less mental and physical exertion.

The term “samadhi” means meditating through movement, and it occurs when you can let go and trust the body to function and perform at optimal levels of efficiency with the least amount of energy expenditure.

Nevertheless, surrendering does not mean giving up,avoiding challenges, or taking the easy route. In order to truly surrender, you must move with and not against your nature.

Sharon Gannon says it best, “You cannot do yoga. Yoga is your natural state. What you can do are yoga exercises, which may reveal to you where you are resisting your natural state.”

The Divine in Me Honors the Divine in EVERYTHING

Ultimately, after you commit to yoga for ANY period of time, you will feel a boost of energy, ease of movement where you used to feel pain, and a pristine mental clarity that will help you seek serenity amidst all life in its terrible gore and tremendous glory.

You will simply know peace in your mind and peace in your heart.

 Whether you start a 21, 30, or 40-day sadhana, the REAL challenge begins by simply getting up and making it to DAY 1, and soon you will discover that EVERYDAY is somehow, for better or for worse, another version of DAY 1. You eventually just do your practice and stop counting the days. Namaste.
Interested in studying with Judy? Her 40-Day Challenge with Whitney Walsh begins this weekend at Namaste. Learn more here.
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Spring Cleanse for the Mind

by Elika Aird

Springtime is the season for celebrating Easter, Passover, doing taxes (ugh), spring cleaning, and maybe an internal detox for the body. But what about the mind?! Unless you are a regular mediator our minds can get clogged with so many thoughts, creating conflict between the body and the mind.

I have been sharing this chant with my students over the past month, encouraging them to release not only the old clothes and paperwork we don’t need, but also the old habits and limiting beliefs that no longer serve our highest Self. Despite all the blissed-out yoga you might be practicing, public classes primarily focus on the physical practice, so a negative thought or two could slip in from time to time. One of the most powerful ways to dispel these thoughts and create  a more elevated mind-state is through the practice of mantras or nada yoga (yoga of sound). Ayurvedic teacher and healer Maya Tiwari, offers a selection of mantras in her book Path of Practice:A Woman’s Book of Ayurvedic Healing. The mantra above is used to help cleanse the mind of negative thoughts and promotes a state of spiritual and emotional tranquility.

Don’t worry about how you sound, just sing with an open heart and mind

In the Vedic tradition, the practice of chanting is used to create a vibration that has the ability to attune our body/mind with nature, creating a harmonious balance with the universe, the primordial wave sound, or the One Consciousness, which is Infinite and all-pervasive. Just try this mantra if you are feeling a little down and see if doesn’t pick you up. Don’t worry about how you sound, just sing with an open heart and mind and the intention to connect with the power of these healing sounds.

Take class with Elika 

Visit her website: blissfulbodiesyoga.com

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Two Versions of Me

by Ashley West Roberts

In Buddhist teachings there is this concept called “the second arrow”. You may not have heard this term before but you have experienced it no doubt. The second arrow refers to our reaction to any suffering in our life. Life can be unbelievably beautiful but it is also unpredictable and painful at times. Often we have no control over “the first arrow” – we catch the flu, our lover leaves us, we lose a job, our body ages and becomes ill. As if these were not painful enough, we often, unskillfully, add judgement, blame or dismissal: the second arrow. The second arrow is usually thought based. Our mind goes on a tailspin, we lose perspective and our entire life boils down to this one event.

Here is an everyday example of the second arrow. Just yesterday I spent no less than three and a half hours working on a new playlist for my yoga classes this week. While I was making the playlist I felt excited and energized about the new atmosphere this would provide. When it came time to transfer the music from my computer to my smartphone, something wasn’t right. The music would not transfer and my playlist would not show up. I only had 20 minutes left to figure this out before I had to go teach and this (tiny, non-problem) ISSUE was driving me MAD! I got panicked and frustrated so I called my husband, the tech genius, at work to ask for his help. He tried but could not help me in the moment and I felt upset that he hadn’t dropped everything for me, causing a little rift between us for the moment. Then, admitting defeat, I went back over my day and recounted how much time I had wasted when I could have been transferring the music. I definitely should not have taken that really amazing walk in the sun with my friend, it would have given me more time to make this iPhone work! Then as my/your mind does, I went into ” I am a bad yoga teacher” and now my class will be boring and uninspiring because of the lack of music. You see how silly all of this is, yes? And all of these second arrows were shot within a matter of seconds. That is how it happens. If we are not mindful and present, we do not even know we are doing this. So here is what I did, and what I do when I find myself shooting second arrows:

STOP THE MADNESS. Move out of the space you are in to another space. Change rooms, switch park benches, take a step to the left and be still and quiet for a moment. Use the RAIN acronym to bring yourself back into presence.


Recognize that you are in a “second arrow” moment. There are key signs in my body/mind that I am about to go there or am already there. My breath is usually shorter, everything feels urgent, suddenly I am doing a lot of blaming. Look for your own signs to tip you off so you can Recognize when you are going there.


Accept your situation, as it is, for the moment. I was never going to have music for my class that day. Accepting that would have put me in a better position to prepare. Acknowledge your current situation and try to be present for a moment.


This one can be difficult, but it makes all the difference. Explore what is happening with curiosity and interest. When doing this, try to feel into the current flavor and quality of your experience and not psychoanalyze yourself based on your past.


You can have a thought and not be that thought. You can have an experience and not be that experience. We all know that, but in the moment we often connect the dots in a way that attaches our entire being to this one dilemma. Because I do not have music to play today, I am a bad yoga teacher incapable of helping people. Or, because I forgot to bring cupcakes to school, I am a bad mother who lets her child down. We so easily go there. There is a lot of spaciousness and freedom when we learn to take a step back from being our thoughts and experiences.

My teacher refers to this process as making space for “the one who knows”. The one who knows is you. It is just the version of you who remains present and mindful and has perspective no matter what you are experiencing in the moment. Next time you are troubled try this mini-meditation:

Use RAIN to explore what you are feeling. Then imagine yourself (your body/mind image) split into two. Now there are two of you. The one who is experiencing pain, panic, anxiety, depression and the one who has perspective. The one who can softly remind you to take a deep breath. The one that reminds you another breath is another moment, making space for a new experience.

Read more from Ashley on her website ashleywestroberts.com

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Ayurvedic Tips for a Vibrant Spring

by Kameko Shibata

Welcome to Spring! The undeniably most popular season of the year is here.  As winter melts into spring, the birds, bees, flowers, trees and human hearts are all nourished by more and more sunlight. We may bask in that sunlight, but often we find ourselves still sluggish from winter, with too much on our plates and seasonal allergies to boot!  The wisdom of Ayurveda is here to help us balance the shift of seasons and get us glowing, not sneezing all spring.

Spring is also about new beginnings, setting roots that sustain us in summer and fall. This spring, let’s commit to sustaining and thriving- through balance, deep breaths, clean closets and cleansed bodies!

In Ayurveda, the Indian classical Medicine used by yogi’s for thousands years, spring is ruled the elements fire and water, which combine to make pitta dosha or bodily constitution. In spring we work to shed the excess of winter and balance the amount of fire AND water in our systems. Too much water combined with excess earth leaves us feeling heavy, muddy and full of toxins (ama). Too much fire and we’re angry, over heated, over doing, full of allergies and without enough time. Too much fire and water at the same time leaves our bodies taxed, inflamed and pressurized (think sinus headache). Spring is ruled by the organs of liver and gallbladder, our main organs for cleansing and processing toxins. Our liver processes allergens that come from pollen and pollution, but if our liver is taxed, it has a hard time working as smoothly. Using Ayurveda we cool our heat with water, and cleanse with fire. When we are balanced we have healthy fire, creativity, action and ideas, and the coolness of water to stay hydrated and go with the flow. The wisdom of Ayurveda helps us live in balance with the season and the natural world around us, which is ultimate challenge in our modern urban world — however it is so worth it!

Here are 3 basic tips to get you going.

1. Clear out your closet – Clean your house.

It sounds basic but de-cluttering your space will help you de-clutter your mind. They say the body is the temple of the mind, and it’s much easier to clean the temple of the body and mind when the literal temple of the home is clear. Get new plants and increase the amount of fresh green things in your living space.

2. Clean out your body.

Spring is the perfect time for a mild Ayurvedic cleanse to reduce toxins (ama) from winter. Since spring is ruled by the organs liver and gallbladder, it the perfect time to give those organs a break. It’s like an oil change for your body.

Try cutting out sugar, alcohol, dairy, caffeine, cooked oils and red meat for 2 weeks just to give your body a break. The first 3 days are the hardest – it gets easier after that! Getting a friend or partner to join helps a lot too. Increase your intake of water, yoga, rest and alkaline foods (green veggies, fruits, whole grains, raw olive oil, avocados). If you have allergies, increase your intake of bitters, sours and astringent. Bitter veggies (arugula, mustard greens, dandelion greens) support the liver and gallbladder, helping to cleanse the system.  The excess of winter is all about sweet, heavy comfort foods. Now is the time to cleanse those out of the system.

3. Simply breathe!

The simplest is often the hardest. When we simplify our days, our desks, our dreams, we have more space just to be. Too breathe, to rest, to delight in the moment. Find 10 minutes in your day to do pranayama (breathing practices) and then just sit (or put your legs up the wall if you feet feel tired, hot or swollen). If you find pranayama challenging from sinus congestion or allergies you need a neti pot and a steam inhalation (more in class about that).

The simplest pranayama practice is samma vrtti – count to 5 as you inhale and 5 as you exhale. Take a short pause after the inhale and after the exhale, as a reminder to pause and take space! If you feel especially hot, stressed or need to relax, lengthen the exhale (5 in, 8 out). 12 rounds of breath is perfect. Then sit or put your legs up for the remainder of the 10 minutes.

Learn more about Ayurveda and book an appointment with Kameko here.
For healthy recipes, class schedules and cleanse support visit Kameko’s website www.kamekoarts.com


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Get to know Dr. Day

Right here at Namaste Berkeley, we are lucky to have a Naturopathic Doctor at our fingertips. Dr. Amy is incredibly knowledgable, personable and so passionate about her work. This week we are launching a workshop series led by Dr. Amy called Women’s Wellness Wednesdays. To kick off the series we sat down with Dr. Amy to learn more about what makes her such an amazing practitioner.


What drew you to Naturopathic Medicine?


dramyI grew up in Miami, FL with conventional medicine being the only medicine I knew of. In college, I became interested in alternative healing options like nutrition and herbal medicine. I enjoyed sharing simple natural strategies with my family and friends, such as echinacea to shorten the duration of a cold. Meanwhile I was completing a business degree, never thinking I wanted to go into medicine.

Then, my mom sent me an article about this profession called “Naturopathic Medicine” and I became fascinated by the blend of science and nature. I loved learning about how the body works, including the detailed nutritional and hormonal biochemistry. My medical school training focused on evidence-based natural approaches to treatment while still making room for mind-body-spirit aspects of wellness. Now as a naturopathic doctor, I feel so lucky to practice a type of medicine that treats the whole person and is rooted in promoting the body’s ability to heal itself.


What health topic are you most passionate about?


dramyEmpowerment. I see too many women suffering from symptoms that they assume are “normal” or have been given treatment options that they don’t want to follow (ie RX drugs). Our current medical system is so disease focused that it is not well equipped to help us optimize our health. I love helping women with hormonal imbalance to improve their energy, sleep, mood and weight, especially around perimenopause.

I’m also very involved in the world of endometriosis… as a patient, as a doctor and as a board member of the Endometriosis Association. In all women’s health issues, I take a strong stand for patients to take their health into their own hands, and learn to listen to their own bodies’ signals. If one doctor doesn’t give you the help you need, find practitioners, treatments and self-care practices that work for you, so you can feel great and truly enjoy life to it’s fullest!


How has being a Naturopath Doctor influenced your role as a mother, or vice versa?


dramyMy son just celebrated his seventh birthday, so I have a real compassion for busy women who are trying to balance their own health in the mix of a million other things. After 8-1/2 years in a busy group practice in San Francisco, I’ve shifted my work life to be closer to home and my schedule now allows me to spend more time and focus with each patient. I’m delighted to have my office at Namaste (Berkeley) in a very healing environment with yoga right in the next room.


What do you do to relieve stress?


dramyA great perk of being at Namaste is the short commute to yoga class! I also love my morning walk/jog around the park and I wind down at night with a foam roller neck/shoulder relaxation routine. I’ve been through adrenal fatigue a few times now, so I’ve learned that stress management is a crucial part of everyday living. Other favorite pastimes include playing with my son, throwing the frisbee and spending time outdoors, especially when the sun is shining!


What other women’s wellness support do you offer in addition to your private practice?


dramyMy website DrAmyDay.com is a great place to learn more about my online offerings, such as “The Busy Woman’s 2-Week Recharge” wellness program. I’m also very excited to be bringing together small groups of women locally to learn, heal and create supportive community. I have a one-day rejuvenation retreat in SF on Saturday March 29 with solyogatrips.com and, at Namaste, we are launching a monthly workshop series starting on March 19. “Women’s Wellness Wednesdays” will take place one Wednesday evening per month and will be a great way to get my support on a variety of topics. Attendees will also have the chance to share and learn from other health-conscious women while enjoying herbal teas and chocolate!

Learn more about Naturopathy
Sign Up for Women’s Wellness Wednesdays

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