Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Young Yogis: Help Students Begin Their Yoga Practice

Young Yogis: Help Students Begin Their Yoga Practice
By Olivia Martinez 

Last summer a friend and I decided to go on a 3 day yoga retreat in Mexico. Between the two of us, we had probably taken 5 classes total. So why did we fly 5 hours to do yoga? Well, the gourmet meals convinced her and the spa’s Margarita Massage hooked me. (#bestmassageieverhad). Yoga was just a side note. However, I ended up taking and LOVING every single class - the energizing morning classes and the restorative sunset ones as well. I was hooked after a couple days. I came back to L.A. and immediately joined Namaste. I fell more in love with yoga and found a new love for the studio and all the amazing teachers. Every class I take I learn something new and push myself to grow both physically and mentally.

It’s been a year now and I am still so grateful for this new part of my life. The next step in my yogi journey is to bring it with me to work. I teach 1st grade at Charles White Elementary in MacArthur Park. P.E. is part of our daily curriculum and I can’t wait to start teaching my students the basics of yoga. Not only do I see the physical benefits of yoga but the emotional ones as well. Giving students the tools and space to be mindful and present will last them a lifetime. 

As you can imagine, funding for public schools is limited and Donors Choose has been such a blessing for teachers who usually pay for many classroom supplies and “extras”. With Donors Choose people can select projects that they feel passionate about and help make them a reality for students and teachers. Please take a minute to check out my proposal “Young Yogis” and consider supporting my plan to bring a little Namaste to my classroom. While there, check out my other proposals and those of teachers around the country! And always feel free to share this with any of your generous friends and family. Thank you in advance and I’ll see you around the studio.  

Please visit HERE for more info and to donate! 
Photo via The New York Times.


Tuesday, May 15, 2018

What is Ashtanga Yoga?

What is Ashtanga Yoga?
by Chris Reed

Did you know that most modern vinyasa practices stem from the Ashtanga Yoga method? Developed by K. Pattabhi Jois, Ashtanga is the sanskrit word meaning eight-limbs as mentioned in the yoga sutras of Patanjali. The practice incorporates breath, drishti or focus, and bandha in a fairly rigorous sequence of postures. Students usually practice the memorized sequence at their own pace in what is called "Mysore style" named after the city where Jois taught. Usually an Ashtanga practice begins with five repetitions of Sun Salutations or Surya Namaskara A and five repetitions of Surya Namaskara B, followed by a standing sequence. After this the practitioner begins one of six series and ends with the closing sequence.

Yoga Chikitsa (Yoga Therapy) or the Primary Series is the most common practiced sequence in Ashtanga yoga. Many students will spend up to a few years learning the entire sequence before moving on to second series. Postures are recommended to be held for at least five full deep breaths through the nose or whats also referred to as Ujjayi Pranayama. Where the practitioner focuses the eyes while is the posture is what is referred to as the drishti. There are few different key drishti's in the Ashtanga practice, mainly the nose, navel, between the eyebrows, thumbs hands and feet. The bandhas are energy locks within the body that we often hear teachers talk about in vinyasa classes. Ashtanga focuses on three main bandhas; the mula bandha or root lock at the pelvis floor. Uddiyana bandha is located at the abdomen 2 inches below the navel and the Jalandhara bandha is found by tucking the chin to the chest.

There are many different opinions and beliefs surrounding the "tradition" of Ashtanga Yoga. One school would say that you must "master" a posture before being given permission to move on to receive the benefit from the practice. I personally subscribe to my teacher's teacher Manju Jois (Pattabhi's son) and his more laid back approach of adjusting the practice to the practitioner. Having done a few workshops with Manju, I have experienced how this non-linear approach allows the student to complete a practice while being safe and not leave feeling completely defeated.

Join Chris for a Workshop: Balances, Bhandas, & Binds on Sunday, May 20th from 2pm-4pm at Namaste Highland Park. Sign up at namastestudios.la/workshops 

Friday, May 4, 2018

Cookin' with Jazz - Rich and Creamy Horchata Muesli

Horchata Muesli 

When I first realized the next Breakfast on the Patio at Namaste falls on Cinco De Mayo, the first thing that came to my mind is Horchata. 

Horchata is a Mexican drink typically made from rice milk, cinnamon and vanilla, and is simply delicious. My husband requests Horchata frequently as he likes to add it to his iced coffee. The only thing I don't like about Horchata is the amount of sugar added, so I decided to sweeten mine with dates, and made it vegan by using almonds and coconut milk. It is time consuming, but is so worth it. The result is rich and full of flavor - making the muesli extra creamy. 

Vegan Horchata (serves 4-6) 

1 cup white rice
1/2 cup almonds
1 cinnamon stick
1 can whole fat coconut milk
4 dates
1tsp vanilla 
1 1/2 cups almond or coconut milk
dash of salt


1. Start by soaking the rice, almonds, and cinnamon stick in water overnight. Once done soaking, drain out the water, rinse through, and add the ingredients to a blender. Blend on high with the canned coconut milk until well blended and frothy. 

2. Pour mixture into a cheese cloth strainer, or nut milk bag, and squeeze as much of the liquid out as possible. 

3. Add the liquid back into the blender, and blend with dates, vanilla, almond or coconut milk, and a dash of salt! 

4. Store in the fridge for about 3-4 days. 

Horchata Muesli (serves 2) 
1 cup oats
3 tbsp chia seeds
3 tbsp flax seeds
2 tbsp coconut flakes
1 tbsp almond or coconut yogurt
2 - 2 1/2 cups Horchata


1. Add all the ingredients into a bowl, and mix together. If you notice it's a little dry, you may need to add more Horchata. Keep in the fridge overnight. Enjoy with added fruit, nuts, seeds, and extra Horchata! 

Join us for yoga, community, and nutritious food! 

Saturday, May 5th from 10:45 - 11:15am. 
Free to those who attend class before or after. 
Reserve your spot online here.


Friday, April 6, 2018

30 Day Yoga Challenge

30 Day Yoga Challenge
by Steve Arcos 

When you first heard about the 30-Day Challenge what went through your mind? Were you excited? Did you feel overwhelmed? I remember my first time participating in one of these challenges. I thought: how will my practice transform?  Is thirty days a commitment I'll be able to keep?

The first week flew by. Seven classes in seven days? I felt unstoppable!  I could already tell my forward folds were getting deeper and my arm balances getting stronger.  My focus was unshakable.  I felt the solidarity of the yogis. I had this in the bag.

By the second week my momentum was slowing.  I pushed it hard and was sore from over exertion.  Meanwhile my social life kept trying to get in the way: dinner plans, movie date nights, was I always so popular?  I realized I had to mix up my routine with restorative and meditation classes to find a balance between the demands of the 30-day challenge and my personal limits. I also realized that I couldn't keep every one of my social engagements. If I wanted to get to thirty days; this month, my priority was my practice. 

Once the third week rolled around I had found a new source of motivation.  I was starting to see a lot of the same faces around the studio. I would look forward to class because I would also be seeing all of my cool yoga friends.  These were my people now.  A lot of us were having major breakthroughs on the mat and it was awesome being able to share that with my fellow 30-day challengers.  

When I finally reached the end I knew that I had accomplished something amazing.  I completed thirty classes in thirty days!  I had discovered a new level of physical intelligence and self-awareness. Most remarkable though was the realization that I was part of something bigger than myself.  Sharing this experience with so many inspiring yogis, many of which are still my close friends, truly made the 30-Day Challenge memorable. 

Have you signed up for the #30dayNamaste yoga challenge?  Just write your name on one of the poster boards hanging in the lobby.  Every time you take a class place a star sticker next to your name.  Every five classes you will be entered into a raffle for some fun and fabulous prizes including private yoga sessions with many of our teachers, art lessons, ayurvedic assessments, acupuncture, Town Pizza, La Tehuanita tacos, and so much more.  See the full list below, and don't forget to post your journey using #30daynamaste.  See you on the mat. 

Lea Kramer - Ayurvedic Assessment
Dana Kraft - Private lesson, Pre-natal Lesson
Ana Aguire - Photo shoot
Jasmine De La Paz - Homemade Bliss-Balls
Steven Arcos - Private handstand lesson
Nora Brank - Philosophy of Yoga group lesson
Chona Bernardo - Mandala art lesson
Sondra Sun - One free workshop
Meg Shoemaker - Private yoga session
Roxy Lange - Date night Nanny
Jenny - Private yoga session
Town Pizza - $25 and $5 gift cards
Leader of the Pack - $25 gift card
Shorthand - Stationary gift set
Study Hall - Swell water bottle
House of Intuition - May HOI MOON BOX 
La Tehuanita - Gift cards
Joy - Gift cards
Adriana Rizzolo - Healing Shakti Haircut
Amalia Gardner - Pardon my Heart Acupuncture
Jolie Matty - Private yoga session
Dylan Coffey - Herbal Remedies goody basket
More to be added!