Teacher Profile: Sarah Brandle

Summer is in full swing, and we’re featuring a new Yoga Nook teacher for the month of July: Sarah Brandle. Read our interview with Sarah below, and come by the Nook on Sundays from 4-5 p.m. Sarah’s Core & Stretch class will be a $10 community class for the whole month of July, so bring a friend!

What originally drew you to the practice of Yoga? How has your practice changed over time?

In 2010, I sustained an injury that was both physically traumatic and emotionally damaging. I saw a Yoga Nook ad in a local paper. I thought Yoga might help me get back on track physically since I wasn’t able to do my usual strenuous workouts. From the minute I walked in the door, I felt like I had come home—home to the space and home to myself.

Why did you decide to become a Registered Yoga Teacher? What inspires your teaching today? 

After practicing for only a few months, I craved more. Jeni mentioned the teacher training at the Nook. It sparked an idea. I had already gained so much from what I learned. If I could learn more and share this amazing feeling with others, then maybe they could heal too. I just had to share once I started learning. It was bubbling out of me.

This still inspires my teaching. I see people feel relief after class. When you see a student’s peaceful face after Savasana, it warms your heart. You know it is important work, and that’s motivation to teach.

How would you describe your teaching style? What makes your classes unique? 

I would say my teaching style is simple. Yoga doesn’t have to be complicated to feel good. I like to offer a refuge in my class. We often push so hard in life; I offer breaks. Not just in Savasana but throughout class, take a break if you need it. Although, I think all Yoga Nook teachers do this!

Are there any particularly memorable or transformative moments from your practice or teaching that you would like to share? 

During teacher training, Jeni said something like, “Remember, it isn’t about you. It is about your students. It’s about the Yoga.”

As someone with a pretty big ego, this was a turning point for me. I think about this when I teach and in my daily life. Often I get caught up in my own mind. This is my reminder to step out of my own thoughts and instead see others, listen to them and help as I can.

What is your favorite pose, and why? 

Parivrtta Anjaneyasana, twisted lunge with the hand on the ground. I love the way I feel strong and open at the same time. It stretches us and yet feels so sturdy. Plus, you can move into so many other poses from here as a transition. It is simple and beautiful.

What advice would you share with a student looking to deepen his or her practice? 

Keep learning. Practice, practice, practice. Do poses in the studio and at home. Do breathwork, meditate.

Take Yoga with you everywhere. Let it permeate your heart and body. Then let it seep out of you for others to see and feel the goodness of it.

If you could choose one quote that best encompasses your approach, what would it be? 

“Be silly, be honest, be kind.” –Ralph Waldo Emerson

Check out past teacher profiles: 
Jess Nilson
Yasa Rasakhoo


Yoga Nook Event: Essential Oils Wellness Workshop

Who doesn’t like the smell of fresh-cut lemons? So energizing, vibrant and refreshing. Lemon balm, or Melissa officinalisis a perennial herb in the mint family that has a delightfully fresh, lemony scent. The plant can grow up to three feet tall, and blooms with tiny white flowers from summer through fall. Bees are very attracted to the pollen produced by the flowers; in fact, the genus name Melissa comes from the Greek word for honeybee.

Essential oil extracted from the lemon balm plant is commonly sold in stores as “Melissa essential oil.” It is one of the rarest, most expensive oils in the world because it requires such a large amount of the fragrant herb to yield a small amount of oil–it takes 95,000 pounds of dried plant material to yield just one gallon of Melissa essential oil. As a result, there are many cheap imitations on the market labeled “lemon balm oil,” which may be adulterated with lemon oil or lemongrass oil. Consumers beware!

Pure Melissa essential oil is generally used to alleviate digestive and respiratory problems originating in the nervous system.* The oils in the lemon balm plant have a calming effect, which also make it useful for depression, menstrual cramps and stress-related conditions.

You can use Melissa essential oil in an aromatherapy diffuser, or chop fresh lemon balm leaves and add them to salads or fruit dishes. You can also make a refreshing herbal tea by adding 2 tablespoons of torn or chopped lemon balm leaves to one cup of boiling water. Steep for up to 10 minutes, strain and drink. Hot or cold lemon balm tea will put a zing in your step!

To learn more about preparing, mixing and using essential oils for health and wellness, come to Yoga Nook instructor Cindi Hunt’s Essential Oils Wellness Workshop at the Nook on Saturday, June 27 from 12:30-2:00 p.m.

In this fun, hands-on workshop, you’ll be able to smell, apply and even taste dozens of essential oils. Cindi will show you how to use oils in your home, in your cooking and for proactive healthcare–for only $15 a person. You’ll get to make and take home your own room spritzer and de-stress with special essential oil combinations.

Hope to see you there!

Essential Oils Wellness Workshop with Cindi Hunt
Saturday, June 27
12:30-2:00 p.m.

*Please note, Melissa essential oil should always be diluted and should not be applied to sensitive skin. To avoid contact with sensitive areas such as eyes and nose, always wash your hands after handling the fresh herb or essential oil.


Image credit: hitomi on Flickr (CC)

Am I Losing My Mind?

I walk purposefully down the hallway, in a hurry to get to the bedroom–but when I get there, I can’t remember why I’ve come. I stand there, faintly embarrassed, like the first person to arrive at a party. I scratch my head and look around at the items on my dresser, thinking perhaps there’s a clue as to the reason for my arrival. What did I come in here for? It’s an absolute mystery. Sound familiar?

We’ve all lost our car keys, put the milk carton in the pantry instead of the fridge, or forgotten the name of a neighbor when we see them out of context. But having a complete blank when we enter a room to get something feels a bit like you’re losing your mind.

The good news is that, unlike aging, memory loss is not inevitable. Day-to-day glitches are not the same as dementia. Most of the time, short-term memory losses are normal and nothing to worry about.

It’s true that at middle age, it takes a bit longer to learn new concepts or retrieve a colleague’s name, but as we enter our 50s, 60s and beyond, our brains are still capable of creating new brain cells. The “use it or lose it” principle applies. Your lifestyle choices, exercise habits, and cognitive stimulation have a huge impact on the health of your brain.

Celebrating the brain is not something we’re used to doing; rather we just get frustrated with it when it’s not as quick as it used to be. But let’s take a moment to review the talents of a middle-aged brain: Life skills are much improved by middle age. We are often able to manage emotion more effectively, communicate more efficiently, and ask for what we want. Our experience allows us to project the outcome of our actions, helping us avoid pitfalls that younger brains just don’t see coming.

Frequently we are caregivers to aging parents, helping our kids graduate, and rolling with the highs and lows of menopause or other crises. We juggle all that life throws our way, and do it with an optimistic smile. Perhaps the secret to our cheery outlook is that we know “this too shall pass” and “tomorrow is another day.”

Of course, it’s not all a bucket of roses. There are days when we get it wrong, make stupid mistakes, and pay the price for doing so–but so does everyone else. We all misplace our cell phones, call our kids by the wrong name, and write notes to ourselves so we don’t forget things. But instead of complaining about our forgetful brain, let’s be grateful for the gifts of a brain that’s more creative, has a huge amount of life experience, and recognizes life patterns more quickly. Welcome to middle age!

A great book on coming to terms with our middle-aged brains is “The Secret Life of the Grown-up Brain,” an easy, educational, and fun read by Barbara Strauch. I highly recommend it.


Image credit: Allan Ajifo on Flickr (CC)

Yoga Nook Member Profile: Patti Grammatis

In the last couple of months, we’ve taken a closer look at some of our beloved Yoga Nook teachers here on the blog. So far we’ve profiled Yasa Rasakhoo and Jess Nilson. To spice things up a bit for June, we’re turning our attention to YOU, our Yoga Nook members—and one fabulous member in particular: Patti Grammatis. Read on to find out more about Patti’s journey with Yoga, AIM and of course, Yoga Nook.

What originally led you to begin practicing Yoga in general, and at Yoga Nook in particular? 

I began practicing Yoga over three decades ago to develop a peaceful and calming hiatus from a very busy life. Through Yoga I found that serenity, and also found it to be a healthy exercise to keep me in shape.

When Jeni opened up the Nook minutes from my home in Simi, I was beyond thrilled. At both of her studios, she has developed a nurturing, friendly environment that welcomes newcomers and makes everyone feel at home. It’s a place that encourages friendships, and all the classes are taught by well-trained professionals who keep us safe. I feel so lucky to have the Nook so close by, and recommend that everyone tries it out!

How has practicing Yoga and AIM (either group classes or one-on-one) benefited you? 

Yoga has helped me cultivate a body/mind connection of awareness and flexibility that is a guiding light in my daily life. Yoga keeps me grounded, centered and calm. Three years ago, when I experienced a very painful frozen shoulder, it was Jeni’s gentle, one-on-one AIM sessions that helped me develop the full range of motion that no other therapy seemed to be able to, including acupuncture and traditional physical therapy. AIM teaches patience and a slowing-down that is the antidote to today’s fast-paced life.

Are there any stories you would like to share about your journey with Yoga? 

Several years ago, I decided to go through the Nook’s RYT 200 Teacher Training program. Our cohort was only the second to pass through Jeni’s skilled teachings, and we formed a special bond as we delved into the philosophy, anatomy and techniques of Yoga.

I was petrified (literally petrified) to teach my first five-minute portion of a class, although I had been a classroom teacher for over two decades by then. Slowly, all those fears subsided and I enjoyed teaching a 20-20-20 class on Sundays. Then as a physical education teacher, I was able to lead over 60 middle schoolers in yoga classes that soon became my students’ favorite unit. Without the skill and support of Jeni, and the members of my Yoga Nook family, I know this would not have been possible.

What do you value most about being a member at Yoga Nook? 

One of the things I value the most about being a member of the Nook is the friendly, happy, welcoming environment. We always look out for each other and try to help newcomers feel at home so they too can reap the benefits of Yoga. In addition, Jeni and her teachers are constantly innovating and modifying techniques as we age to keep us safe and injury-free–that is very important to me, and the teachers at the Nook take great care to ensure our well-being.

What is your favorite class at Yoga Nook, and why? 

Every class I attend becomes my favorite class the minute we take our first deep breath. It took me quite awhile to develop this attitude, but it really works. I especially enjoy the meditation class on Mondays at 7:45 a.m. with Pat, because she grounds my day with wisdom and courage. I also enjoy classes with Kelly, Robin, Allison, Rachel, Yasa, and of course Jeni–to name just a few.