Meet Ellen Gomory!

Today we’re introducing you to Ellen Gomory, one of the newest additions to the Green Yogi instructor team! Ellen teaches here at The Green Yogi Manhattan Beach on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at 12pm. Let’s get to know her with a Q&A, shall we?

ellen gomory

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Princeton, NJ about an hour outside of New York. Geographically speaking Princeton is about as far as you can get from LA, mostly consisting of flat farm land, woods and heavy winter snows. It was a great place to grow up – it is definitely a small town with a close knit community, but because of the university and its proximity to NYC there were always lots of interesting people hanging around town and fun cultural events. So, the best of both worlds… And whenever the boredom crept in NYC was a quick train ride away!

What are your hobbies?

Yoga!!! I definitely spend most of my time either teaching or practicing…But when I’m off the mat I love outdoor exercise – hiking, running, biking and swimming (in warm water!). I find a strong release and sense of freedom through movement and activity and have always been drawn to the physical. I also love to write – I studied creative writing in college and dreamed of being a writer growing up…Unfortunately I discovered that I am a much stronger reader than writer, so I now mostly write for my own pleasure. I love reading, mostly fiction but some non-fiction. My absolute favorite is Faulkner (I am slightly obsessed). I love narrative of all kinds, have to curb my Netflix watching and can binge endlessly on films. I also love cooking – I became vegetarian about 15 years ago to the chagrin of my family (especially my mother) and quickly had to learn how to cook some things for myself. Cooking has become a creative outlet for me and a chance to get grounded and centered around something supremely important – FOOD!

How did you get started with yoga?

I started with yoga when I dropped out of college for a couple years and was struggling with depression and lack of grounding. I was totally lost and directionless at school and came home to figure out my next step. Lucky for me Princeton had an amazing yoga studio and I began practicing regularly. Yoga began to build me back up both physically and mentally and for the first time in a long time I was feeling grounded, confident and strong. Yoga also gave me the courage and inspiration to travel. Because of yoga, I wound up backpacking through India and Southeast Asia for just over a year during which time my practice grew and I was able to complete more trainings. This trip and my practice were truly pivotal to rebuilding a sense of self and being able to connect to the world around me with a sense of gratitude and stability.

ellen1

What pose was most challenging for you to learn?

It’s a bit cliche but I have to say handstand. I got a little taste of flight and became totally obsessed with the idea of getting into a handstand. I probably practiced for a solid year of getting in and falling out before I was able to hold the pose. This learning experience was truly humbling as it wasn’t until I learned to breathe within the pose that I was able to hold it. I knew I had the strength, the balance and an understanding of the alignment, but every time I would exhale I fell out. I still had not formed a relationship with my breath, and thought that muscling through was the way in. Once I was able to soften and work within the pose I was finally able to hold it, and now this is truly my happiest and most comfortable place to be. Handstand taught me how to breathe and changed my practice both on and off the mat. It also taught me the importance of commitment and dropping ego. I probably fell on my bum over a hundred times, usually in crowded classes, terrifying the people around me, before I was able to find balance. Falling on your face is a great practice, and swallowing your pride and embarrassment and getting right back up is even better! We all get knocked down by life at some point; abandoning that expectation of perfection and being able to meet life on life’s terms is a huge part of acceptance and of the practice for me.

What inspires you?

The ocean. Everything about the ocean is so beautiful and huge and soft and harsh and lovely and terrifying. It is deeply meditative but also fun and frisky and dark and dangerous. I can’t get enough of it and spend most of my free time in the sand. I also love art and museums (LACMA is good for some inspiration), being out in nature and seeing live music and dancing!

What are your classes like? What’s your teaching style?

My style is fun, playful and energetic. I like to play around with creative sequencing and different ways of moving around the mat so that the practice becomes an exercise for the mind as well as the body. I definitely love to flow and we spend a lot of time moving and dancing, and I try to find strong energizing music to match that spirit. We work a lot with mudras as a way to center and focus energy at the open and close of class and I always have a theme (often chakra based) for the class.

ellen gomory scorpion pose

Do you have any inspiring stories or moments from your teaching or practice?

When I was backpacking in India I spent a few months in the Himalayas, mostly in Dharamasala. I realized that I was staying a short walk from the Himalayan Iyengar institute so I decided to sign up for a 2-week intensive training. I have never been a big fan of Iyengar so I figured it would be a good way to challenge myself and grow my practice. Halfway through the first 10 hour day I almost left. In 10 hours we worked with 3 poses. Each pose was held until every part of my body shook violently and I thought I would crawl out of my skin. The only thing that kept me from leaving (initially) was the fact that I had paid for the training and was on such a tight budget. Over the next few days however I started to soften in and appreciate the benefits of the practice. This is not to say I started to enjoy it; I can’t lie, it really never felt great in my body, however it did teach me a lot about why I was coming to yoga and the patterns of judgment in my mind. In my discomfort I lashed out mentally at the people around me, at my instructor and at myself. The more I resisted the more challenging the poses became and the more miserable I felt. It wasn’t until I surrendered; until I told myself that I wasn’t going to leave so I’d better chill out and figure out a way to find some kind of benefit that I could start to integrate and appreciate the practice. It was definitely an extremely challenging two weeks and I don’t know that I would want to repeat it, but it was a valuable learning experience that I try to apply every time I step onto the mat or into an unfamiliar or uncomfortable situation.

What’s your favorite quote?

“You are the sky. Everything else– it’s just the weather.” -Pema Chodron

Want more of Ellen? Find her on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook!

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12 Tips To Change Your Body From The Inside Out

In honor of our Summer Detox Challenge in Manhattan Beach, Green Yogi and nutrition and wellness counselor Katie Bressack is sharing a few healthy-living tips. Enjoy!

katie bressack

12 Tips To Change Your Body From The Inside Out

1. Eat real chocolate (raw cacao) to help increase your energy levels, balance your mood and reduce your sugar cravings.

2. Balance your belly by adding fermented foods like kimchee, kombucha, sauerkraut and bone broth to your diet.

3. Drink more water! Yes, you hear this all of the time, but how much water are you really drinking during the day? Spice it up and add fresh fruit and chia seeds to help you enjoy it more.

4. Toss the sweets! Sugar is in everything (including breads and pasta) and is only causing you to feel tired and slowing you down.

5. Chew your food! Try and slow down and take smaller bites during each and every meal so you can understand how your food is nourishing your body.

6. Try dry brushing. This helps improve circulation and I suggest doing it before you take a shower.

7. Add hemp powder to your morning smoothies for some extra protein.

8. Add cinnamon to your oatmeal and smoothies to help balance your sugar levels.

9. Add wheatgrass to your juices and smoothies or take a wheatgrass shot! It helps to stimulate metabolism and helps to detox the liver.

10. Eat to decrease inflammation in the body by eating ginger, garlic, kale, sweet potatoes, celery, cucumbers, pineapple, almonds, sunflower seeds and flaxseeds.

11. Make a healthy trail mix with pumpkin seeds and cacao nibs for energy, gogi berries for iron and shredded coconut for some healthy fat.

12. In a journal write down everything you are eating and how you feel two hours later. Then schedule a time to speak with Katie to see how you can increase your energy levels, reduce your cravings and be prepared for The Green Yogi Challenge!

Feel free to contact Katie directly with any nutrition and wellness questions you might have to help you during your 30 Day Green Yogi Challenge!

 

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Green Yogi Of The Month, Berkeley: Beberly Velasquez!

We are so excited to honor Beberly Velasquez as our Manduka Sponsored Yogi of the month for May! Beberly has only been with us at The Green Yogi for five months and she has already taken over 80 classes! She inspires our Green Yogi community with her sweet presence, warm smile, and strong dedication to her practice. For Beberly, “there is no choice but to practice every day”! We’re honored to have you in our yoga family, Beberly!

BeberlyVelasquez BERK YOM May15

OCCUPATION:  Business Development for Commercial Solar Projects

NICKNAME: Beb

WHO IS YOUR FAVORITE INSTRUCTOR AND WHY? Each instructor at some point has been my favorite for different reasons. My first day at Green Yogi was with Kari in her Sunday night Yin Yoga…A friend from work dragged me over, and since then I have been hooked. I felt so peaceful and welcome by the warmth and sincere spirit of each of you that I was compelled to go back the next day…That is how I started. From there, I have visited the studio every time I can. As individuals, every teacher is unique and has a gift to share. Each has one way or the other left a lasting impression on me: “Your heart already knows the journey”, “Clarity of heart, Clarity of mind, Clarity of speech”, “Don’t get attached to hope”, “Avoid daydreaming”, “Like the bark of the tree, strong but soft on the inside”.

WHAT IS YOUR INTENTION FOR YOUR YOGA PRACTICE? Intentions are not fixed. They evolve and revolve with every practice. That said, I will share a story about how I learned to set intentions, and it’s magic. Earlier in the year, I had the opportunity to take Christy’s workshop on how to set intentions. I was expecting a manifesto coming out of the class, but we actually started by shouting to the world” “I am AMAZING”…I had my eyes closed, of course, as instructed, but I could sense the giggles in the room. It felt awkward at first, but then we moved on through a list of 150 positive words, from which we selected ten that resonated with us. From those ten, we went down to one. That one for me was UNLIMITED. Even though I couldn’t grasp the concept of the word, I didn’t question my choice. I simply rolled with it. After setting the intention, we started the practice by repeating the word to myself with each pose…Fast forward to a few months later, as I was driving to work and the crispy air of a shy spring was sneaking through my window, there was a feeling of well-being that struck me: I am not hostage of my thoughts anymore…I really feel free. If I am not hostage of my thoughts anymore, WHO AM I? That was when the world UNLIMITED landed on my heart. That day at that particular moment, I was not trying to grasp a concept, I was actually feeling Unlimited.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE YOGA POSE? Ummm, I don’t know the name of the poses…But the one resting at the end. Like a squeezed lemon, when all the juice has come out, I feel tender and connected. Although it only lasts for a few seconds. It is all worth it…I will drop beads of sweat to experience those few seconds.

WHAT SONG SHOULD BE ON EVERY YOGA PLAYLIST? Ahh, I have to give that one to Guastucci…Her playlist is awesome. It will be hard to trump Patrick Watson’s Lighthouse.

WHAT INSPIRES YOU? People…Humanity.

HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN PRACTICING AND HOW HAS YOGA IMPROVED YOUR LIFE? I am NEW. I know nothing. All I know is that Yoga has been like that spark plug on an old rusted engine that created a “chispa”.

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How to Create a Yoga Space at Home

You know that feeling when you’re rushing around like crazy, just trying to get to your yoga class on time? Or when you’re scheduling your day and your studio’s class times sadly don’t work? We’ve been there. Sometimes you just can’t make it to the studio. Even though we’d love to see your smiling faces, we’ve still got you covered with The Green Yogi Online!

online yoga

Still, finding a quiet, relaxing place in your home can also feel overwhelming. It’s tough to stay centered when your dog is barking or you can see those dirty dishes sitting in your kitchen sink. More often than not, we skip savasana all together! We admit, we’ve even gotten up during a yin relaxation video to get a snack. (GASP!)

Since you’re probably the only person there to hold yourself accountable, the key is a comfortable, quiet environment that allows you to focus.

Here are our tips for creating a peaceful yoga space in your own home (or right outside it, if that’s an option!) with limited distractions.

outdoor yoga

  • Find an open space. Lay down your mat and test out your favorite poses. Make sure you won’t hit a wall or piece of furniture. Clear away any clutter.
  • Be bright! Because light brings energy, make sure the space is well lit. If you don’t have a ton of natural light, scatter candles around the space.
  • Keep props close by. Eliminate the chance that you’ll have to leave the space to get something like a block, bolster, strap or towel. Keep a water bottle handy, too!

bkr water bottle on yoga mat

  • Stay away from technology as best you can. You’ll need a TV or computer for our online videos, but stash away your phone and get rid of any other distractions that might side-track you.
  • Check the room temperature. Make sure it will still be comfortable once you start moving.
  • Make it beautiful! Just as a new outfit can motivate you to get your downward dog on, a beautiful space can also be inspiring. Decorate with flowers, plants, candles, and/or a colorful blanket.

home yoga studio

Recommended Items:

Yoga mat

Towel (we’re a fan of YogiToes by Manduka!)

Bolster or blanket

Strap

Blocks

Water bottle

Candles

Plants

Essential oils (we love lavender and always have it in our studio!)

Fresh flowers

Share your home studio on Instagram and tag @thegreenyogi and #GreenYogiAtHome and you’ll be entered to win a free month of online classes! A winner will be drawn on June 8th. Good luck!

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Q&A with Instructor Linda

Today we’re getting to know the lovely Linda Baffa! Linda teaches here at The Green Yogi Manhattan Beach on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 4:30pm. She shares extremely insightful quotes in each and every class; you’ll always walk away motivated. She sings, too!

linda smile

Where did you grow up? 

On my yoga mat. All my growth has come from there ;-)

What are your hobbies? 

These days, my hobbies include singing, dancing, puzzles, building sand castles, eating pizza and going to the park…pretty much anything that also involves our 3 year-old.

Bali Retreat 1

How did you get started with yoga?

I took my first yoga class when I was 18 as a freshman at NYU. It was part of our curriculum for drama training. It was ironic because my desire to be an actress was fueled by my desire to be everything other than myself. However, yoga has taught me that I desire to be nothing other than myself.

parivrtta trikonasana

What pose was most challenging for you to learn?

Hmm…probably Downward Dog. I’m still learning this pose! It’s crazy. Every time I take a teacher training or a workshop or even just do my practice, I learn something new about this pose. I think there are probably over 100 alignment cues you give for this pose and you still won’t get it “right”. (Also, holding this pose in stillness for more than a few minutes is a bitch! Haha.) ;-) I love this about yoga. You truly never stop learning any of it. No pose is too basic. I often take take level one classes simply to slow down and fine tune my practice. The more you study yoga, the more you learn how much you don’t know. I love that. I LOVE learning and growing!

badakonasana

What inspires you?

Music. I love how listening to music or chanting can alter my state of being instantaneously… I often listen to meditation music or simple piano playing at home or in my car to maintain peace.

viparita dandasana

What are your classes like? Whats your teaching style?

My classes are mentally therapeutic. I like to offer lots of questions, insight, and inspiration so that class isn’t just about poses… it’s about connecting to who you are, what you want or need in your life, and, more importantly, what you don’t want or need in your life. Yoga is about honoring your true spirit. I hope my classes offer students a chance to find their spirit and to feel lifted, clear, and content. (Editor’s note: They TOTALLY do!)

Whats your favorite quote?

“Wherever you are, be there totally. If you find your here and now intolerable and it makes you unhappy, you have three options: remove yourself from the situation, change it, or accept it totally. If you want to take responsibility for your life, you must choose one of those three options, and you must choose now.”

~Eckhart Tolle, from The Power of Now

(This book changed my life. I would quote the whole thing if I could. It is a bible of peace.)

Do you have any inspiring stories/moments from your teaching or practice?

I was fortunate enough to lead a retreat in Bali a few years ago. At the end of the retreat, I discovered I was pregnant. My husband and I had planned to travel for two weeks after the retreat ended and I sat down one day in meditation and, without searching or knowing what I was looking for, the name “Jones” popped in my head like a bright light. I knew that was our son’s name, and I knew he was a boy…even at being 5 weeks pregnant! (Fortunately, my husband liked the name too!) This is the power of yoga and meditation and getting still enough to just be, to just observe, to just listen…all the answers to all the questions are inside of you.

jones and mama

Want more Linda? Find her on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook!

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Green Yogi of the Month, Berkeley: Martin Taber!

We are so excited to honor Martin Taber as our Manduka Sponsored Yogi of the month for April! Martin has been with us at The Green Yogi since we first opened, and he has taken over 100 classes! He inspires our Green Yogi community with his sweet, welcoming presence as he easily strikes up a conversation with anyone and everyone – making us all feel loved! We are honored to have you in our yoga family, Martin!

MartinTaber

OCCUPATION: Jeweler

NICKNAME: Obiel. As in OBL…of burning leaves. Yeah, I grew up in Berkeley…

FUN FACT ABOUT ME: When I was thirteen I toured Europe with the San Francisco Boys Chorus. I love to sing, I just have a lousy memory for lyrics…hmmmhmmhmmhmmmhuuummmm….I also love swing dancing – doing it, watching it, teaching it. Maybe we’ll put on some music after one of Marina’s Friday night music classes and cut the  proverbial rug.

WHO IS YOUR FAVORITE INSTRUCTOR AND WHY? 

Kari has such a calming, directive voice. Her classes flow seamlessly from beginning to end. Her explanation of the poses, the movement, and the transitions is very comprehensive and I always feel like the knowledge she is imparting is soaking deep down into my bones. Marina also brings a sense of deep understanding to her flow classes, which are alive and playful while still being wonderfully grounded and balanced. Her joy and encouragement really gets you through (and into!!) your inner edge. The Wednesday evening double header with these two yoga goddesses is not to be missed. I can’t, and I wouldn’t want to, choose between them. I would be remiss, though, if I didn’t also mention Eric, who gave me such a great early role model of a strong male yogi having fun and keeping it real. You are missed, my friend. Mary just seems to draw such a wonderful spirit and circle of teachers to our studio.

WHAT IS YOUR INTENTION FOR YOUR YOGA PRACTICE?

My intention for my yoga practice is to every day find a re-find (refine?) my intention. Each class offers something different, and I try to stay open to what I need and what energy I’m bringing to the studio every day when I arrive. Overall, I would say my intention is to learn to balance out life’s highs and lows, while at the same time training myself to live more deeply and passionately. Yeah, I want to have my cake and eat it too. Whatever that means…hahaha!

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE YOGA POSE?

Tree pose into warrior three during flow. And sleeping swan into mermaid in yin class. It’s all about the transitions.

WHAT SONG SHOULD BE ON EVERY YOGA PLAYLIST?

“Falling Slowly” by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova – the theme song from the movie, Once.

WHAT INSPIRES YOU? 

I am inspired by the small kindnesses I see people do for each other every day. I am inspired by creative solutions to complex problems. I am inspired by simple, elegant design that doesn’t feel like it’s working too hard. And I am inspired by the gentle beauty of wind patterns in the trees, the still silence in vast fields of snow, and the fresh smell of a warm spring dawn. Oh yeah, and water. I love being on the water.

HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN PRACTICING AND HOW HAS YOGA IMPROVED YOUR LIFE? 

Just over one year. I was a yoga virgin before joining TGY. I think I have grown more perceptive of my body’s internal energies, and less focused just on the physical and structural elements of how it works. Specifically, I have become much more interested in how the channels carry both positive and negative energy through seemingly unrelated parts of our body. Kari recently recommended me The Web That Has No Weaver (which I tried reading years ago in college) as a primer on the body’s meridians. I’m finding it much more compelling now that I have more nuanced experiences to connect it to.

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April Yogi of the Month Manhattan Beach: NICK JONES

Our Manduka-sponsored Yogi of the Month for April is Nick Jones! Nick has been a familiar face here in Manhattan Beach for over a year now and we look forward to seeing his smiling face everyday! Not only is he a yogi, he’s a student, personal trainer, high school basketball coach and server at a local restaurant! We’re not sure how he finds the time for everything, but we’re so glad to have him here at the studio in his free time.

manhattan beach yoga studios

Congratulations, Nick!

NICKNAME:

Man Bun 

OCCUPATION:

I’m a full time student at California State University Dominguez Hills majoring in Kinesiology. I am a Certified Personal Trainer. I am a strength and conditioning coach for the boys varsity basketball team at Mira Costa High School. I also am a server and bartender at The Greenbelt restaurant in Hermosa Beach.

FUN FACT ABOUT YOU:

I’m half English (British). My father’s side of the family lives near Manchester, England. Also, I’ve been told I’m a gifted shower singer.

WHO’S YOUR FAVORITE INSTRUCTOR AND WHY?

I have 4 favorite (influential) instructors in my life. Wendy, for her grace, alignment tips, and introducing me to Wall Wednesday. Linda, for her voice. Chelsea for her great energy. Matt, because he’s Matt.

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE YOGA POSE?

I like to work on holding crow to tripod headstand back to holding crow again.

WHAT SONG SHOULD BE ON EVERY YOGA PLAYLIST?

Partynextdoor by Recognize ft. Drake would be nice to listen to while practicing yoga.

WHAT INSPIRES YOU?

My family along with my close friends. I also am motivated to improve gradually in most aspects of my life. I also love the feeling of giving back and helping others (mostly athletes) with my experience playing college football and being a positive example for young men trying to progress in sports.

HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN PRACTICING & HOW HAS YOGA IMPROVED YOUR LIFE?

I have been practicing yoga for about 2 years now, it has helped me find a sense of calm that I lacked playing football and yoga helps me remember to enjoy and be aware of the moment. On top of that it is a great way to workout.

Thank you Manduka for sponsoring our wonderful Yogis of the Month!

manduka yogi of the month

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