Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Teacher's Pet - Solo Vino!

This month, our Teacher's Pet is Solo Vino! His human is our teacher Nora. We asked Nora to tell us the story of this sweet, beautiful dog.

Pet name(s):  Solo Vino   

Age: 4 or 5 

Background:  My boyfriend and I were on a fast, eating no food at all and drinking only water for five days. On day two of the fast, this huge, majestic creature ran into our house from the street. He had no tags or microchip, but was very, very, very excited to meet us and our cats! We looked everywhere for his owners but couldn't find them so we put him in the pound in hopes that his owners would find them there. No one ever came to claim him. 

He is over 70 lbs and at that time was sick and unhappy, so in the pound, he was growling. The city believes that these types of dogs pose too great a risk of liability, so they do not adopt them out to people. Since he was not eligible for adoption he was put on schedule to be euthanized and transferred to "doggie death row".  Back at home, we were so out of it from not eating, we hadn't thought much about him in the pound. We figured his owners had come to claim him since he is so beautiful, and so expensive - purebred red malamutes cost $10,000 to buy from a breeder. On day 5 of the fast, we finally ate some food and both had a "oh my gosh we need to check on the dog" moment and rushed to the pound. 

There are five rooms in the pound - three for dogs up for adoption, two for dogs on death row. The death row rooms are closed to the public, but after not finding our dog in the first three rooms, a volunteer let us sneak into the last two rooms. To this day, being in the death row rooms count as one of the most emotionally difficult time of my life. All dogs there scheduled for euthanasia, most of them taken from fight rings or other abuse. All of them were either wounded, disfigured or sick. All had were very sad. I looked into each cage hoping to see my dog, and  was instead was met with imploring gazes from lost causes. We cried and cried and cried as we looked for our dog! We finally made it to the very last cage and there he was -  in bad shape, very unhappy, very sick. The cage was 4feet by 4feet. The dogs never leave the cages. They pee and poop in the cages. They eat food in the cages, which is poured into the cage from a little slit at the top of the cage, to protect the workers. They are hosed down in cages every night. 

We felt so terrible for putting him there, and resolved to get him out. We didn't want to keep a 90 lb sled dog - we were moving to LA in a few weeks and had three lovely cats, and money was tight. But we knew we had to get him out. Problem was - he wasn't up for adoption, and if anyone who has dealt with the city pound knows, it is not easy to find someone to bend the rules for you. So we camped out there and cried to anyone who would listen. We went there every day for a number of days and begged and pleaded for permission to take him home. No luck. Finally, after multiple days of him being there and us begging to get him out, we met our savior - a woman who was authorized to pull dogs from death row and place them with rescue agencies. She agreed to help us, and to the horror of all of the pound employees who were sure our dog was a lost cause killer dog, she reached in his cage, pulled him out, and he licked her face and howled with happiness! On day 9, he was finally leashed and taken out to the grassy back yard of the pound. On day 15, after paper work after paper work, he was released to us. 

It was a long and expensive road to rehabilitate him from his experience at the pound, and an even longer road to properly train him after his former life of neglect and poor training. We couldn't find anyone else who wanted him, so we begrudgingly kept him ourselves, at first, mostly out of guilt for putting him through that pound experience, but slowly, we grew to love him so, so much. Now, he is our favorite and most beautiful family member, and it seems like all we do is gaze at him, tell him how much we love him, and talk about how beautiful he is. He is the best part of my boyfriend and my life together as a unit. He is such a funny, happy, playful, sweet spirit. He has taught me how to be more patient, how to have better boundaries, how to relax, and how to go for very long walks. 

Likes: Food, walks, pets behind the ears, cats, people in uniforms, especially construction workers, the beach, the mountains, cabbage, tofu, chicken, his best friend Strider, all of our human friends, he LOVES the namaste crew, especially Bethany , Ani, Sondra and Matthew, going for rides in the car, visiting his buddy Nic in his art studio, hanging outside cafe de leche, taking naps, lying in the sun, and most of all, he loves snow.  

Dislikes: Cardboard cut outs of people

Special abilities/tricks: He can howl on command!

Favorite toy: Our cat

Favorite place to sleep: He has a little den - it's a crate where the door is always open and decorated with all kinds of wolf paraphernalia. He goes in there whenever he needs his own space. 

Favorite way to be bad: HE HAS SO MANY WAYS TO BE BAD

Favorite way to be good: Sitting and waiting patiently for breakfast or dinner

Favorite words: Breakfast, Dinner

Favorite yoga pose: Do I even need to say it? Downward Dog, duh!

Namaste, Solo Vino!

Monday, August 17, 2015

Behind The Scenes: NHP Photo Shoot!

By now, we're sure you've all seen the beautiful new NHP website featuring amazing photos of our staff taken by Dave Getzschman. We thought you might like to take a peek into a few candid moments and hear a bit of staff commentary. Enjoy! 

Dave says, "I have a ton of respect for Namasté's teachers and was delighted to get to depict their grace, poise and unique personalities. To develop the triceps you need to hold heavy camera equipment all day, I recommend Ani Raya Flores' early-morning Hatha yoga classes. Plank poses galore."

 The photo shoot wasn't all fun and games… Oh, wait. Yes it was!

 Vanda is the captain of our yoga ship!

 Holding crow for a photo proves to be a bit difficult, but Vanda pulls it off with ease.

 The only time we've had a mirror in the studio!

  Hannah says, "Having pictures taken is often a self-conscious sort of nerve wracking experience - But David made it so fun! I felt like I was just playing the whole time. There was music, and hair-flipping, and Vanda dancing and jumping around behind the camera...so it never felt too serious."

 Bethany says, "To the left you will see the original shirt I wore to the shoot laying on a pile of discarded clothing. When I arrived at the shoot, my yoga friends talked me into wearing a half-shirt to show my tattoos. Those yoga friends, such bad influences."

 Shoshana says, "Vanda is the best yoga mommy!"

 Bethany says, "I'm actually pretty proud of this photo. This is some great foot-action to support my forearm balance. And, my mom would be proud I have a decent pedicure here. Not my strong suit." 

 Dave says, "Literally and figuratively, yogi Nora Brank always brings the glamor pants."

 Hannah's beautiful technique needed very little direction.

Vanda knows that the best way to end any practice is by taking some time for savasana- no matter where you happen to be!

Friday, August 7, 2015

Student Feature: Thelma!

How did your yoga journey start? My journey started with taking just a two week class, not thinking I would really enjoy it, but I was surprised. I am very much into  exercising & yoga became part of my routine. I still have a lot to learn but it is fun learning.

How long have you been practicing at Namaste? I have been practicing for 13 months.

What superpower does yoga give you? The superpowers I get from yoga are  strength and energy.

What is your next goal in your practice? My next goal is to get better with my balance (I really need  it).

What are you grateful for? I am so grateful that Namaste came to Highland Park. I would have never tried yoga (and I mean it, I have always said I wanted to ) if it had not  come to Highland Park.
I enjoy the studio and  all the instructors are great.  Some of my favorite class are Fridays Meditation, and the Yoga Sculpt classes. Don’t get me wrong, they are all great, and I have tried all of them.

What is one way that yoga has changed your life? Yoga has changed my  ways of thinking toward others. I am more calm now and I don’t let just any little thing bother me or get to me. I have learned to tune unwanted noise out  and I find myself more relaxed and  less stressful.

What is your favorite tea served at Namaste? My favorite tea is the EARL GREY!

Member for: 1+ year

Yoga classes attended in the past year: 391

Favorite class: Yoga Sculpt

Favorite teacher: Krysten

I just want to thank Holly & Bethany & Alisa & Matthew, these were the
instructors that I took when I first started practicing yoga in Highland Park.
They had so much patience with me, helping me with my poses and teaching me how to use the blocks & blankets. Thank you all so much, this is what makes my practice very enjoyable! 

Monday, August 3, 2015

Teacher Feature: Chona Bernardo!

I’m from Long Beach, CA.

How long have you been practicing yoga and Reiki?
Yoga 3 years, Reiki 6 years

How did you know that these were things that you wanted to pursue?  
I moved from home and didn’t have the convenience of my chiropractor, so that’s why I first started yoga. I wanted to try something different for my spinal alignment, and yoga has been that alternative healing.  Not only has it helped my back, but it's helped my spiritual and personal growth as well.

After I got laid off from my first career job, I was going through a rough time figuring myself out.  I met an intuitive healer at a gathering and she could sense my need for some energetic healing.  So she laid her hands on me (doing Reiki) and I could feel the old negative energy shaking out of me.  After 10 minutes of this I felt so much lighter, like a load was lifted off my body.  That’s when I realized there was something beyond this physical reality that can’t be seen, and wanted to learn Reiki to heal myself.   

What do you hope people will take away from your sessions?  
I hope people can see that energy is a real thing.  When we go through stress, trauma or any negative emotions, if we don’t process them thoroughly, the energy stays in our bodies and develops into diseases over time.  That’s why it’s important to practice self care to process our roller coaster of emotions.  I hope after a Reiki session, my clients will be mindful of their whole self, and strengthen their self care practice. Some great ways to practice self care are cultivating a regular yoga practice, meditating, or journaling on a regular basis.

What advice do you wish you could give your younger self?
  1. Be  your most childlike self as you are because when you get older, you’ll work on remembering who your inner child was.
  2. Be as weird and wild and unique as you can.  In the art world, originality is what is sought after.
  3. Start meditating.

What do you do when you are not in the studio?
I like to do many things when I’m not at the studio.   Generally, I tend to nourish my introverted self by journaling, drawing & painting, connecting with trees, or going to Korean spas.  I value my alone time and would feel drained and ungrounded if I don’t do that for myself. Sometimes I go to coffee shops to read, or put shades on to secretly sketch the people in my view.

What two or three books would you always recommend to a friend? Women Who Run With The Wolves by Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Life You Were Born To Live by Dan Millman, Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda

Do you have a favorite place to meditate? I usually sit in front of my altar filled with crystals at home.  But if I want change it up, I drive up to Self Realization Fellowship in Mount Washington. Or anywhere in nature I can sit down and tune in.

Where is your favorite place to go camping?
Camp Navarro in Mendocino County.  It has a lot of redwood trees with a river that runs through.  That forest makes me feel like I belong there, as if the trees are my aunts and uncles opening their limbs for hugs.  

What is something that most people would be surprised to learn about you? I aspire to open my own wellness community center that offers energy healing, acupuncture, massage, art therapy, yoga, and so much more. Once that’s well established, I hope to open another one in the Philippines so my family there can have easier access to holistic health care.

Chona Bernardo holds weekly reiki healing sessions for the community on Thursdays from 6:30-7:45pm for students that need to restore, heal and balance their subtle energies.
Chona’s sessions are donation based and suggested donation ranges $40-$80, cash only.