Plastic Free Living with Melissa King

Hey #NOWfam!

Melissa here, sliding into your inbox and the NOW blog with some thoughts on an issue I am super passionate about - PLASTIC - or rather LESS PLASTIC!

Let’s get real about it - like REAL real.  Have you given any thought to our dependence on this fossil fuel using, hormone disrupting, ocean pollutant?  Landfills are overflowing, beaches are crowding, and little animal bellies are filling up with it.

It’s time to think outside the plastic packaging.


Like most mindful Portlanders, I’m sure you bring your reusable bag to the market, but do you bring produce bags, mason jars, and other containers for deli counters and hot food bars?  What about grabbing your reusable water bottle and coffee mug before you run out the door?

Taking our mindfulness practice off the mat and into our daily routines can help create new habits that involve less plastic.  Here are just a few things we can do to minimize our footprint on this beautiful earth. 

Skip the Straw. When ordering all the things - cold brew, smoothies, juice, cocktails, water (!?) Rumor has it they give you wrinkles anyway and no one wants that. Sea turtles are getting them stuck in their nose and whales are eating them along with their big mouthfuls of krill. So next time you are out and order a drink, add “no straw.”  Feel good about the minimal impact you’re making as you sip that delicious beverage!


Go Topless. If you forget to grab your reusable coffee tumbler when you leave home in the morning and you can’t quite make it through your day without a little caffeine. First off, I feel you, and secondly, take that coffee from your beautiful barista topless!  Ask for no lid next time and avoid placing them in the landfill where they will never break down.

Shop Bulk. Plan ahead when grocery shopping.  Make a list prior to going and figure what you can purchase from the Bulk Section. I buy all of my pantry essentials there, from quinoa to sugar to masa to nut butter. Also snacks!  Most bulk sections have yummy treats ready for devouring without the plastic packaging like other aisles. Shopping in bulk sections has helped me discover new foods and challenged my creativity in the kitchen.

Making little changes, one at a time will slowly make a difference. A difference on your body. A difference in your community. A difference on the planet we leave for further generations.

I am just beginning to document my plastic free transition. Please follow along and share how you’re doing it too!


IG: @mking_yoga  

Here’s to us saving the world, one plastic container at a time!


Melissa King

Want to learn more about going plastic free?! Melissa is leading a Plastic Free Living Workshop at Namaste on Williams on Saturday, May 19 at 1:00pm. In this workshop, you'll learn simple steps you can take to reduce your use of plastic. 

Melissa appears regularly on the schedule at Namaste on Williams, Monday/Wednesday 7:30pm & Thursday 9:30am




Journey to wellness - Lauren B's story.

By Augusta Fishman, studio owner and Lauren Bielenberg, Portland, OR based yoga instructor.

For this month's NOW Blog post we sat down with Lauren Bielenberg to learn more about what yoga means to her, her journey to health and wellness and some other fun tidbits! 

AUGUSTA: Tell us about yourself, where did you grow up and how did you wind up in Portland?

I grew up in Santa Rosa, CA with my parents and older sister.  I did competitive gymnastics for about 10 years.  I moved to San Francisco in 2008 to finish my college degree in Liberal Studies. After graduating college, I went to cosmetology school and became a licensed hair stylist.  I worked in the hair industry for about 5 years before transitioning to personal training.  I was a personal trainer for about 2 years (up until my move to Portland) where I worked with clients one on one and taught a weekly bootcamp.  I became a certified yoga teacher July 2017.  

I came out to visit my close friends in October 2016 and absolutely fell in love with Portland.  I knew I was ready to move and be in a location that was surrounded by nature, a healing energy, a slower pace, and a place I could feel more grounded (and eventually get a dog!). I felt like my quality of life would be more supportive for what I wanted in my future.  I sold everything that didn’t fit in my car (I have a Toyota Corolla so not very big) and made the drive up at the end of July 2017!


AUGUSTA: We all know yoga has "healing" powers...how has the practice helped you? 

With growing up doing competitive gymnastics, to then becoming a gym junkie (weight lifting, boxing, running, etc.) I found my active lifestyle slowly creeping into an addiction and coping mechanism for my stress and anxiety.  I spent countless hours at the gym and progressively started restricting more and more foods. In 2016, during my improper marathon training, I saw just how disconnected I was to my body.  I was ignoring my body’s signals up until I couldn’t anymore and had physical and emotional push back.  I made a visit to urgent care and the ER due to high pancreas and liver levels.  I went through months of testing trying to figure out what my body was trying to communicate to me. I learned that I was battling orthorexia (an eating disorder with the obsession of having a “healthy” diet and over exercise).  This lead to adrenal fatigue/hormone imbalance, malnourishment, years of amenorrhea with concerns of early osteoporosis, and SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth).  

It was not until I started working with an Ayurvedic practitioner in San Francisco, Kathy Gelhken, and immersed myself with practicing yoga (not just the physical practice) that I realized the importance of reconnecting to my body and intuition.  For the longest time I felt like my body was punishing me, when in actuality it was doing all that it could to keep me alive.  

Yoga has been beyond supportive for my personal growth.  There are many different aspects to the yoga practice and it is about finding that balance and aligning with what your body needs each and every day. Yoga has opened my heart and mind further to acceptance, compassion, patience, the combination of strength and softness, surrendering, and immense gratitude.

AUGUSTA: Tell us about the first time you practiced yoga.

I found yoga as a suggested form of movement for my recovery. It was a restorative class.  I remember the teacher’s presence and energy was inviting, warm, and supportive. I found my mind wandered and I struggled with relaxing. Yoga can be challenging!

AUGUSTA: What kept you coming back to your mat?

Everytime I left my mat I felt gratitude for the practice in its entirety. I experienced new challenges, learned about what I was holding on to, practiced letting go, and really felt my heart beat.  It’s amazing what we can learn about ourselves when we slow down and listen. It was and continues to be the journey- forever a student finding my way :)


AUGUSTA: What inspired you to become a yoga teacher?

The wonderful mentors and community, and the transition, growth, and empowerment I have gone through (and continue to) physically, mentally, and spiritually.  Vulnerability.  To really feel connected to my body, to listen, to pause, to breathe, and the amount that I learned (and of course still learn).   

I aim to empower students to love all that their bodies do and are capable of doing with a beginner’s mind of curiosity and openness, while being surrounded by a supportive community.  I hope to impact people’s lives in a positive, encouraging, supportive, and light hearted way.    

AUGUSTA: What do you love most about teaching yoga?

I love helping people feel a part of a welcoming community, guiding a practice that feels challenging and empowering, and holding space for people to feel safe to explore free of judgement.  I love being a part of supporting human connections, learning about people (as I believe we all have a story), witnessing “aha” moments, and sharing good energy. Also, there is so much room for creativity!   

AUGUSTA:What are some of your favorite songs on your current yoga playlist?

Open by Rhye, Thin by Aquilo, Landscapes by Talos, Your Hand in Mine by Explosions in the Sky, Waterways by Ludovico Einaudi, Miracles (Someone Special) by Coldplay, and anything by Vance Joy and Odesza -  kind of a musical hodgepodge :)

AUGUSTA: We LOVE your Sculpt and Flow class! What's your favorite strength building move?

Recently my favorite has been using the block for strengthening the core: placing it between knee and elbow to engage core while extending the other arm and leg out and back in (many variations can be done with the block).


AUGUSTA: Okay, shifting gears - Rapid Fire Q&A! 

  • Favorite yoga pose: Toppling Tree is my recent fav! I also really like Ardha Chandra Chapasana
  • Least Favorite yoga pose: Revolved triangle (gets me every time!)
  • Favorite local hangout: I am still exploring, but I love spots that I can sit outside with lights and/or a firepit
  • Favorite coffee shop: Townshend Tea
  • Favorite brunch spot: Sweedeedee
  • Favorite park: The fountain and roses at Peninsula Park
  • Favorite hiking spot: Angel’s Rest
  • Morning Person or Night Owl: Mornings are my jam!
  • Favorite season: This is my first time living in a location that has full season changes!  My first visit was in the Fall and I fell in love. With it also being my first time experiencing snow where I live, there is something so magical about the snowfall.
  • Favorite Snack: Eating Evolved Primal Chocolate: Signature Dark or blueberries and frozen cantaloupe … even better all together (another hodgepodge of sorts) :)
  • Favorite Drink: Lemon Ginger Tea

Lauren teaches Sculpt & Flow at Namaste on Williams on Monday mornings at 9:30 and Saturdays at 11:00. Check out her classes! Namaste on Williams offers New Students one full month of unlimited yoga for only $40! Check out our schedule here.



What’s ‘OM’ got to do with it?!

By Carly Manning, Freelance Writer, Portland OR

If you practice yoga regularly or even if you’ve only taken a couple classes, chances are you would have been invited to join your teacher in chanting ‘om’. Typically, this will be a chant repeated three times at the beginning or end of a class.

Now, I’ll be the first to admit that this might sometimes feel a little awkward in a room full of strangers, especially if you’re new to yoga. But although this ritual can feel a little strange, it’s an important part of the yoga practice and once you understand the meaning behind ‘om’ and why it is important, I’m sure you will be singing it from the rooftops in your next class.

So what does ‘om’ mean?

‘Om’ should technically be spelled ‘aum’ and is a mantra and sacred sound that is traditionally repeated at the beginning and end of a yoga practice.

It is a Sanskrit word that translates to ‘source’ or ‘supreme.’ In Hinduism it is said to be the sound of the universe, so by chanting it we are symbolically and physically recognising our connection to all other living creatures and the universe.

Even though it sounds like one sound, ‘Aum’ is actually made up of four syllables: A, U, M, and a silent syllable.

The first syllable is A and it is pronounced as a long "ahhhh" which starts as the back of your throat.

The U, sounds like a prolonged “oooooh”, and here you should start to feel your throat vibrate.

The third syllable is M, “mmmm” which sounds like a lot like the noise you would make if you were drooling over a really good-looking slice of pizza. You will now feel your mouth and lips vibrating.

The final syllable comes as you merge your chant from ‘mmm’ into deep silence. You should feel a powerful energy that fills the room for a few seconds after the chant ends.

Photo by  Erica Kait  

Photo by Erica Kait 

And why do we chant it?

One of the most amazing things about ‘om’ is that it’s actually the sound vibration of the word that is most important. As you chant ‘om’ you should feel the small vibrations ripple through your entire body.

Not only do these vibrations feel great, they also have a very positive affect on the body by slowing down the nervous system and calming the mind in a way similar to meditation. And of course, when your mind is relaxed, your blood pressure decreases, your heart is happy and your overall health ultimately improves.

It is also a great way to separate our practice from the rest of our day, signifying that this time we dedicate to yoga is a special time where we take care of ourselves and practice being mindful. Beginning and/or ending your practice chanting ‘om’ may also help foster a deeper connection than simply just physical yoga poses. 

Photo by  Erica Kait  

Photo by Erica Kait 

Are you convinced yet?

If you ask me, the benefits of repeating this tiny little word far outweigh those few seconds of awkwardness you may feel, and honestly like most things the more you do it the easier it becomes. There’s a good chance you may even start to enjoy yourself, so the next time your teacher begins the class with ‘om’, give it a go and join in the chanting loud and proud. Your body will thank you for it!

Namaste on Williams offers a new student special of 30 days of unlimited yoga for $40 AND also has an unlimited yoga membership for only $65 (limited time offer). You can check out our class schedule at www.namasteonwilliams.com/schedule.