Saturday, March 26, 2016

Self-Care Saturday: Self Reiki with Chona

For Compassion or Sending Energy to Someone Who's Sick: 

Begin by sitting comfortably in a space where you will be undisturbed for 15 minutes or so. You may make this space your sacred space by clearing it before you begin by burning some sage. When you are ready, breathe deeply. You may or may not close your eyes, whatever you feel comfortable with. Next, ask that ______ (name of person) receive this healing you wish to send by the grace of Source Creator. Ask for the person’s healer guides, healing angels, etc. you wish to use to support this healing. Next, ask for healing energy to be sent to this person and that it is in alignment with their Higher Self. When you feel relaxed, imagine this person is happy and healthy. Do not imagine them sick (even though they are). Imagine they are full of positive energy. Once you hold that vision, imagine healing energy flowing down from the Divine above you and flowing up from the Divine below you. Then imagine it flowing out and away from you and into that person. Hold that for as long as you wish - it doesn’t matter how long you do this – just trust that the healing energy has been sent and will work in the way that is best for this person. Conclude with a prayer of thankfulness.


Chona offers Reiki on a donation basis on Thursday evenings at the studio. You can sign up on our workshops page. 

Friday, March 18, 2016

Teacher's Pet: Chris's Ace Frehley

Think you're a teacher's pet? You got nothing on our furry pals. This month, we introduce you to Ace Frehley, one of Chris's two scrumptious feline companions. 
Pet name: Ace Frehley
Age: 5 months
Background: Pasadena Humane Society & SPCA said I'm a Siamese mix and that my sister, Clarice Starling and I were strays that came in with a bunch of kittens. 
Likes: hanging out, playing fetch, napping, terrorizing the humans while they sleep. 
Dislikes: heavy audible breathing in my personal space. 
Special abilities/tricks: sometimes I make dinosaur sounds when I'm excited. 
Favorite toy: anything noisey, shiny, crinkley. preferably in the shape of a ball I can swat all over the house.

Favorite place to sleep: under the bed or beneath mom's makeup desk.
Favorite way to be bad: eating plants that I know I shouldn't. 
Favorite way to be good: snuggling with the fam.
Favorite words: I prefer love bites.
Favorite yoga pose: eka pada sirsasana or leg behind the head pose. 


Saturday, March 12, 2016

Self-Care Saturday: Self Reiki with Chona

For Love: 

Place both hands over the heart chakra, the left hand underneath and the right hand on top. The heart chakra is the place of compassion, and a balance between giving and receiving love. Breathe in white light through the nostrils, down the spine to the base. On the out-breath push the white light up the spine a little, then out to the heart center and exhale the energy into this center. Do this exercise for no more than 21 out-breaths. Conclude with a prayer of thankfulness and then detach.

Chona offers Reiki on a donation basis on Thursday evenings at the studio. You can sign up on our workshops page. 

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Teacher's Book Stand: Shoshana's Anxiety Balm

We asked our teachers to snap a picture of their nightstands and tell us what they're reading. Here is a glimpse at Shoshana's favorites.

If I had to pick one from this stack, it would be Change Me Prayers by Tosha Silver.

This is my favorite go to book for a shift in perspective to a place of peace. It reminds me to surrender to a power greater than myself in a really deep way. It's like a balm for anxiety, gripping and that sense of separateness that I often find myself in this wild life.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Teacher of the Month: Nora Brank

If you came by Namaste a few months into our inception as a studio, you would probably see Nora's smiling face behind the desk. From the get-go, Nora was an ambassador for our community, helping bring more people into the folds of yoga, regardless of their background or interest level. Nora is now a teacher, and her aim remains true: she loves honoring yoga's original intention for self-care, growth and reflection for all people.

Namaste Highland Park: What inspired your move to Los Angeles? Did it meet your expectations?
Nora: My parents lived in San Francisco in the 1970s, and my sister was born there. My family and I moved around a lot, but I went to high school in the desert by Joshua Tree, so I feel a pretty deep connection with California. I came out here again about four years ago after finishing graduate school in New Mexico. I was either going to move to New York and complete my PhD at the New School for Social Research or move to LA and drink smoothies and do yoga. Obviously, LA was the winning choice, and it has far exceeded my expectations.

NHP: You have been practicing yoga since childhood. What did yoga mean to you then, and how has that changed (if it has changed at all) as an adult?
Nora: My dad was an avid yogi and meditator, and taught me the sun salutes when I was really young, and took me to the local Zen center in Chicago when I was in my early teens. Yoga then meant to me a fun connection to my dad. For kids, yoga can be so playful and challenging! Meditation at that time, though, was very earnest and significant for me. I think when I started as a teenager that was the most focused I've ever been in my whole life. I took my zazen practice really seriously and I it had profound effects on my body and mind. Since then, my yoga practice has become more focused and serious, but my meditation practice has never been quite as strong as it was when was thirteen.

NHP: At what moment did you go from thinking, "I like yoga," to, "I'm a yoga teacher?"
Nora: I still have a hard time seeing myself as a teacher! I know it sounds cheesy, but I think of it more as being with a group of people I really like and us doing yoga together while I do more of the talking. Of course, I have lots of information to share that could help the people who come to my classes, and I do feel authoritative about many aspects of the practice. However, everyone is their own teacher, and everyone is so different ­ I much prefer to let the attendees of my classes find their inner teacher first, and then listen to me for all the extra tips, pointers, cues, and bits of philosophical information.

NHP: What do you hope people take away from your class?
Nora: I hope people leave my class feeling better than they did when they arrived. I hope people find a sense of comfort and nourishment within their bodies. I hope they find strength in their bodies and minds. I hope they find, for at least one fleeting moment, that quiet place where their true self dwells, the self that is eternal, indestructable, without borders, is at the same time one and all things. Getting a good hamstring stretch works too.

NHP: How does yoga go beyond the mat in your life?
Nora: I try my best to practice Karma Yoga as it was discussed by Lord Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita. The main idea behind karma yoga is that we have karmic duties that we must fulfill through our actions. Karma yoga teaches us that it is best to try to not be attached to the outcomes of the actions that we perform along the way, since the actions are being performed to serve our karmic path rather than to serve our individual selves. According to Swami Sivananda, "Karma Yoga... purifies the heart by teaching you to act selflessly, without thought of gain or reward. By detaching yourself from the fruits of your actions and offering them up to God, you learn to sublimate the ego. " Even though we cannot predict or control our futures, we can act in the ways that serve our karma and our path in the most authentic and loving manner by detaching ourselves from the outcome and focussing on doing the best that we can in the present moment with the task at hand.

As I attempt my karma yoga practice, as I go about my actions, I do my best to be unattached from the results. Here, I have to keep the attitude that all work is worship, that my motive to work is not primarily that of seeking reward, that I have a duty to act and I must act well, and that I have to do my best every single time. The idea contained in Karma Yoga that all work is worship is very powerful for me ­ it's a good motivator to stay engaged and do my best.

NHP: What does your personal practice entail?
Nora: It changes a lot. There is a constant undercurrent of reading and thinking about yoga philosophy, and attempting engaged mediation sits with varying levels of success. But the physical asana practice fluctuates so much depending on how my body feels, depending on where I am, and how much I can prioritize the physical practice that day. Tonight I attempted my personal asana practice at home, thinking I’ll do a vigorous vinyasa flow and ending up holding a forward fold for five minutes and then lying down. So I try to take classes as much as I can ­ I need the group environment to help keep me on track! Ideally I’m in class five or six days a week.

NHP: What is something we'd be surprised to learn about you?
Nora: I’m also a champion race car driver.*

NHP: You are starting a new class­style at NHP, incorporating Pranayama and Kriya. What is your intention with this class, & what inspired you to create it?
Nora: I’m SO excited about this class. Vanda, the owner of the studio has been wanting to introduce a Kundalini­-style class to the studio for a long time, and although I am not a Kundalini teacher, I have always loved the kriyas and mantras specific to that discipline. My intention with the class is to simply introduce a few different options of movement to our students besides the typical Hatha or vinyasa methods. The class has been super fun so far. I love kriyas because anyone can do them, they are not too complicated or demanding of the body, but usually end up being the most intense and challenging parts of the class. It’s been really exciting to share this other element of yoga with the wonderful people who come to classes at Namaste Highland Park.

*Nora: I lied about the race car part, but I couldn't think of anything.