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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What I didn’t know: A journey from Yogi to Teacher to Author!

by Kimber Simpkins

When I first showed up on my yoga mat many years ago, my heart was eager for the poses and the wisdom (Be patient with yourself, one of my first teachers said). My body couldn’t believe that I had finally found a place where the relentless barrage of criticism quieted. Finally I could see, like a ticker tape flowing just under my field of vision, how hard I was being on myself: “Kimber, you never do this right. Why don’t you stick to a diet? Why don’t you go to the gym more? What’s wrong with you, anyway…”

I had no idea that by noticing this habit of self-judgment, and applying gallon-sized jugs of lovingkindness balm to my body and mind, I would slowly undo the damage I’d done to myself through my teenage eating disorder. No one had ever mentioned that, along with flexibility and calm, as a benefit of yoga practice!

But that’s part of the powerful magic of yoga… it helps us find and heal the parts of our heart we keep hidden away.



I didn’t know that once my heart started to open, a loving yoga teacher was there, ready to reach out to others. I also didn’t know I would end up writing a book about my journey, one that I know some of you have read: Full: How one woman found yoga, eased her inner hunger, and started loving herself. And the surprises have continued to unfold this year, when after the book’s self-publishing release in Dec 2013, a publisher (New Harbinger, here in Oakland) approached me to buy the book. Thrilled, I said, “Yes, please!” As a result, the book is no longer available on the market, but will be republished in a revised form in March 2015, and available in bookstores everywhere! And since then, Full also won a 2014 Better Books for a Better World Silver Award in Body-Centered Practices from Nautilus Awards. It’s so cool! Some of my favorite authors, like Brene Brown and Jon Kabat-Zinn have won Silver Nautilus awards, too! Who knew this is where that first step onto my mat would take me? Who knows where your yoga practice will take you? As you keep showing up on your mat, let the magic unfold…

View Kimber’s full Namaste Schedule
Follow Kimber on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter
Check out her website for events and more book updates at kimberyoga.com

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