Yoga to the People, Berkeley

YTTP

One of the best parts about visiting the Bay Area is the abundance of high-quality yoga studios and teachers. On my recent trip to Berkeley, I Googled “yoga studios in my area” and found several in walking distance. One studio particularly stood out: Yoga to the People.

Yoga to the People caught my eye for various reasons. First, I liked how the name feels inclusive. It also gives off a sense of going back-to-basics: yoga is for people, period. I also appreciated that they have class on average every two hours from 7am-9pm which fits almost anyone’s schedule. The thing that surprised me the most is that every class is donation based with a suggested $10 donation per student – much less than an average studio’s price.

During my week in Berkeley I attended three classes at Yoga to the People’s Vinyasa Studio. Every class I attended was full. One time I arrived just a few minutes before class started and found it was already full. To my surprise they were able to accommodate everyone by taking the 15 overflow students and an extra teacher to another classroom located at their hot vinyasa studio a few blocks away.

I found their teachers to have consistent teaching styles that allowed the student to completely relax and find both rest and strength on the mat. The classes are not broken down into style or ability; instead every class is for everyone. Before attending Yoga to the People I read their mantra and thought it might be a little idealistic. However, after attending their classes I found it to be a very accurate representation of their space, teachers, and students.

Yoga to the People’s mantra:

There will be no correct clothes
There will be no proper payment
There will be no right answers
No glorified teachers
No ego, no script, no pedestals
No you’re not good enough or rich enough
This yoga is for everyone
This sweating and breathing and becoming
This knowing glowing feeling
Is for the big, small, weak, and strong
Able and crazy
Brothers, sisters, grandmothers
The mighty and meek
Bones that creak
Those that seek
This power is for everyone
ALL BODIES RISE!

Ultimately, Yoga to the People is a yoga community supported and sustained because gratitude for the practice. What a refreshing reminder to us all. I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Yoga to the People and am happy to see they also have a studio on the East Coast in New York City.

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From Istanbul to Boston: Living My Passion and Making New Friends

When you are being your authentic self, when you are patient, the universe provides in ways you can't expect. That's what happened on my trip to Big Sur when I was invited to live with Park Aids for two days. Sharing songs and stories around the bonfire was a highlight of my time there.

When you are being your authentic self, when you are patient, the universe provides in ways you can’t expect. That’s what happened on my trip to Big Sur when I was invited to live with Park Aids for two days. Sharing songs and stories around the bonfire was a highlight of my time there.

Happy October! Six months have passed since I quit my job and started traveling. I owe many thanks to everyone who helped make the last six months possible. Thank you for your couches, spare rooms, homemade meals, and glasses of wine….for all your generosity that collectively made my adventure possible. I learned that life’s best pleasures are the simple ones: friends, authentic conversation, and the occasional circus trick 🙂

Thank you….

Who knew France also has a Grand Canyon? Julie and I spent a day exploring the turquoise waters of the Canyon with our gracious host, Brittany.

Who knew France also has a Grand Canyon? Julie and I spent a day exploring the turquoise waters of the Canyon with our gracious host, Brittany.

My trip started with four days in Istanbul, Turkey. I stayed with a young couple and their 9-month old baby. They fed me so well I hardly needed a second let alone third meal most days. I loved playing with their son, Şan, a pure delight.

Thank you, Amanda and Stefan for hosting me in Zurich, Switzerland where I received their full support both before and after sitting for 10 days in silence. Your love and support have always helped me through life’s challenges.

I shared a three-week French adventure with my college friend, Julie. We met another Gettysburg grad, Brittany, in southern France and had a wonderful stay with her and the family she works for as an au pair. In northern France we had delicious meals, plenty fleur de sel, and a crazy dance party with Cedric and Amelie. In Paris and Bordeaux we stayed with friends of friends who love to travel and gave great advice—thanks Hannah and Mahaut.

After France, I nested with my favorite people in Madrid, Spain: Carmen and Raquel. Days included siestas and nights of yoga followed by tapas, cañas, and live music. A perfect place to celebrate my birthday and the beginning of a 200 mile pilgrimage, Camino de Santiago!

Then I trekked for 14 days through Galicia, Spain and northern Portugal where I met dozens of new faces every day on the Camino de Santiago. To everyone I met: thank you for the company, conversations, Band-Aids, and encouragement.

What a nice mid-journey reunion with Cecilia, my wonderful communications and web coordinator. Cecilia and I share a love for dancer pose and Perugia, Italy!

What a nice mid-journey reunion with Cecilia, my wonderful communications and web coordinator. Cecilia and I share a love for dancer pose and Perugia, Italy!

After a few more cañas in Madrid I flew to Rome, Italy where I was met by friends and family including the lovely woman and friend who created and manages this site for me! I loved our endless wine and pasta nights Cecilia, Lyana, Mom, and Betsey.

Keeping in mind EU visa rules, I left Europe for Tel Aviv where I reunited with Marcela and Yair, friends I met in Guatemala. Though times were tense, they helped make sure I got to see both Israel and Palestine. In Israel I had the pleasure of spending a week at the kibbutz where Yair grew up. A huge thanks to Yair’s mom and brother who made me feel at home there.

A week in Jerusalem introduced me to even more people and places. I met a comedian/law-student and we tried a famous hummus shop. I shared conversation, a meal, and yoga with Yaara and her friends. I stayed with a family in the Old City’s Muslim Quarter where I learned new recipes and ate amazing food. I joined a group of travelers to hike Masada at sunrise and bathe in the Dead Sea at noon. I met many new friends during my time in Jerusalem which helped me see the city in different ways.

Then I went to Ramallah, Palestine for the last week of Ramadan. The first night my new housemates and I waited for the sun to set before making the biggest burger I’ve ever eaten! I have so many special memories from my time there including long conversations with Hadeel sharing experiences living in our respective countries, dating, and art and architecture.

I found my late-night friends at Ramzi’s house and even when he left for Europe his friends kept coming over, hanging out at La Grotta, and teaching me circus tricks. Thank you Maria for welcoming mi corazon latino to Ramallah. Thank you Marlane and Koaibah your enthusiasm for yoga and sharing it with your community. Thank you Jackson and Kevin, for trusting me and for coming to Ramallah to share the experience with me.

In Palestine I was constantly finding new ways to have fun. My last night there I found out that yoga and the circus have a lot in common with friends from the Palestinian Circus School.

In Palestine I was constantly finding new ways to have fun. My last night there I found out that yoga and the circus have a lot in common with friends from the Palestinian Circus School.

Back in the USA, the gifts continued on couch after couch in northern California, Highway 1, southern California, Boston and NYC. Thank you Natalie, Dan, Lydia, Jacob, Brian, Carbone’s Bar and Kitchen, Trevor, Ali and housemates, Hilary, Binh, Sarah, Reza, Jamie, Erick, Danielle, and Sam for sharing this journey with me and making it possible.

I often ask my students to dedicate their practice to something they are grateful for. When we call on gratitude we remember all we already have is enough. When I remember what I’m grateful for whatever issues I brought to the mat are left there and replaced with thankfulness and a new desire to give back.

I will return to DC in mid-October and continue to share yoga with others, giving back what the practice has given me.

If you do anything in your life, do the Camino

Resting half pigeon helped me throughout the camino

Resting half pigeon helped me throughout the camino

There are many ¨caminos¨ (aka: The Way), both official and unofficial. I choose to start on the more popular Camino Frances that makes its way across northern Spain from the French border finishing in Finisterre. I walked for 10 days averaging 15 miles (about 24 kilometers) per day. Although I was alone for the first seven days (my friend Natalie joined for the final three days), I was never truly alone. There were other pilgrims from all over the world who I could talk to either while walking or at the end of the day over a beer and tapas.

One of the reoccurring reminders I received on the camino (which came with an Australian accent) was to make sure I was doing my camino. This reminded me that there was no right or wrong way to do it.

  • If I needed to only walk 8 miles the second day because of tired, unadjusted feet, it´s okay.

  • If I needed to stay in private hostel instead of a 100 bed per room public hostel, it´s okay.

  • If I stopped for an hour to read a book and eat lunch at 10am, it´s okay.

  • If I needed to take a taxi on the last day because of hurricane-like winds and rains, it´s okay.

These decisions were part of my camino. After a few days walking, observing other´s caminos I found my own rhythm and inner compass. No matter what, I was always progressing.

If you´re interested to learn more about the camino there are many books and a movie with Martin Sheen (who is from Galicia!) called The Way. Paulo Coelho first was inspired to write after walking the Camino Frances. His first book was The Pilgrimage. Maybe you will be inspired by these works, but ultimately it´s up to you to choose your way.