The Power of Malas

Mindfulness isn’t one size fits all, and there are many different paths to the same place of peace that all practitioners seek. Throughout every major religion, there’s one common thread: every faith tradition on earth has incorporated the use of some sort of prayer beads. From the Catholic Rosary, to the Muslim Misbaha, to the Buddhist and Hindu Mala, people all over the globe have used the counting of beads during meditative practice as a way to get centered and present. Symmetry Yoga Alameda is proud to offer a variety of beautiful Malas, so our students can take their practice to the next level.

There are a number of reasons that Malas traditionally have 108 beads (feel free to follow this link to read more about all of them) but one of the best of the bunch, especially for a new yogi’s intent-setting and overall sense of groundedness, is that the Hindu tradition teaches that there are 108 pathways to the heart. As we start a meditation practice, every moment can be a struggle to stay present and resist the ego’s tendency to bring our attention into the future and/or the past. Imagining that each breath (and the bead you touch as you take it) is a re-dedication to the pursuit of heartfelt living can be very empowering!

Malas can also be used in combination with mantras, the sacred repetition of a word or phrase that acts as an affirmation or a prayer. It doesn’t have to be anything specific or even spiritual; something as simple as “I am full of light” or “My body is strong and capable of healing” are wonderful ways to use Malas to enhance your mindfulness routine.

Come by and check out our beautiful selection of Malas today, and while you’re at it don’t forget to ask about our yoga and Pilates classes and workshops! Symmetry is growing by the day and has something exciting in store, whether you’re recovering from an injury or looking to take your physical practice to the next level!

Pilates at Symmetry Yoga Alameda!

We’re all walking a little taller today at Symmetry today, and it’s thanks to the power of Pilates! We’re so pleased to offer FOUR different opportunities each week to get long, strong muscles, build awareness in your body, and tone the core in efficient, exciting new ways!

Our Pilates instructors are trained in the most cutting edge techniques, infusing classes with the intense focus that the practice is known for, offering modifications for new students or those recovering from injury, and developing innovative new approaches to old issues in the body.

Pilates can completely transform the body from the ground up, fixing postural issues that might otherwise be mistaken as chronic/permanent limitation. We’re especially excited to offer Pilates to our current patients who are receiving treatment for scoliosis, disc injuries, S.I. joint issues, and other postural difficulties. Pilates can be a true miracle cure for all kinds of posture problems, from “computer neck” to rounded shoulders.

The key difference between pilates and most other modalities is that it’s all about the inner focus of the student. The movements are relatively simple, and the resistance is minimal, but the mind of the student remains dedicated to the movement, with total awareness of the body’s position in space. This is how Pilates can give you a whole new body: it creates the opportunity for students to become experts in their own physiology, so the student can notice when and how they’re getting “lazy” in their posture, and remember how to self-correct moment by moment.

Pilates is, above all, an incredible tool for rehabilitating injuries. It’s accessible for people of all levels, and can produce instant results in some cases. Chiropractic work is great for putting the bones back where they belong, and pilates is the perfect adjunct therapy, reinforcing the good work of the Doctor and encouraging the muscles and connective tissues to build around the new bone placement. This helps the adjustments become new “habits” in the body.

If you’ve always wanted to try pilates, your first class experience is just a click away! Head over to the class schedule and sign up for your first session today!

Restorative Yoga: Working Smarter Not Harder

We all know how hard it can be to maintain a healthy lifestyle, and it can be very confusing to sort out what the best use of your limited time is. Far too many of us end up skipping meditative practices like Restorative Yoga for the sake of something like Crossfit.

But research has confirmed time and again that Restorative practices are essential for optimal health, weight control, and overall wellness. Whether or not you’re hitting the gym, attending our Power Plate sessions, or sweating it out in one of Symmetry Yoga’s more challenging Vinyasa classes, Restorative Yoga is the missing piece of the puzzle when it comes to losing weight, improving sleep, and feeling your best. And here’s why: The regulatory branch of the human nervous system is governed by two sub-systems: the Sympathetic Nervous System, or “SNS” (better known as the “fight or flight” system) and its partner, the Parasympathetic Nervous System, or “PNS” (commonly called the “rest and digest” system).

These two halves of the same whole are kind of like the temperature knob on your bathroom faucet: in order for the water temperature to stay within a comfortable range, there has to be enough hot water (SNS function) and enough cold water (PNS function) coming through the pipes. And in order to maintain that comfortable balance, we have to do things that support both sides in functioning optimally. A lot of the general “best health practices” that we’re all familiar with do support both the SNS and PNS, like getting enough sleep, drinking plenty of water, exercising regularly, and eating a balanced diet. But the SNS has a tendency to work overtime, which is why so many of us struggle with Anxiety, neck and back pain, jaw tension, insomnia, muscle spasms, etc. no matter how “clean” our lifestyle is. You can think of these issues as “burns” from an excess of hot water (SNS function) without enough cold water (PNS function) to balance it out: when the nervous system is in that SNS-dominant “too hot” state, there’s no way for the body to “cool down”, lose weight, heal from injuries, or even get quality REM sleep. Without Restorative practices, we end up on an endless hamster wheel of working out and cutting calories, and seeing minimal results. The good news is that Symmetry Yoga offers the best support possible for the PNS: Restorative Yoga! Also, check our schedule regularly for other Yin/Restorative Yoga offerings.

Join Alex Crow for a luxurious 2-hour Restorative Yoga experience on Saturday, April 29th from 1:30-3:30REGISTER NOW! $40 Online / $45 At the Door.

Power Plate Your Way to New Years with Symmetry Yoga!

What if there was a way to maximize the efficiency of your workout? How cool would it be to work out for less than a half hour, but get the benefits of an hour-long workout? Scientists have found a way to make this possible, and Symmetry Yoga is bringing it to the island of Alameda in unique new ways—just in time for the new year!

The Power Plate classes we offer at Symmetry Yoga Alameda are an incredible value, because the specialized equipment magnifies every movement, making each 25-minute class a supercharged experience with lasting benefits. Our instructors bring an expert eye, reliable feedback, and rockin music, making each class so fun and engaging, it’ll be over before you know it.

Research has shown that the Power Plates’ vibrations make every minute spent on them valuable for building muscle tone and flexibility, and supporting skin health. Each of our instructors has a different background, so you’ll get a different “flavor” of Power Plate with every class. Check the schedule to see which will be the best fit for you! ‘Power Plate Pilates’ is a fun new addition to our existing ‘Symmetry Fit’ and ‘Stretch Strength and Balance’ offerings. This way you can fine-tune the exercise experience you want each and every day!

Joint stability is of the utmost importance for all bodies. Especially as we age, it’s crucial to keep our joints strong. And that’s where the Power Plate comes in! Power Plate classes force the smaller “stabilizing” muscles to engage and work much harder than they would without the Plate’s vibrations. Those little muscles keep the joints strong and healthy by bolstering the delicate connective tissues that keep our parts together.

If you’ve never tried Power Plate (or if you’re a regular Power Plate user but haven’t gotten to one of our new Pilates-style classes) then check the schedule for our current offerings! There’s nothing to lose, and so much strength to gain! Sign Up Here!

All-Level Mat Pilates Brought to You by Symmetry Yoga Alameda!

Pilates Classes Alameda YogaGreat news, everyone! Symmetry Yoga Alameda has expanded their offerings yet again with one of the most trusted rehabilitative exercise methods on earth: Pilates! Our experienced teachers are thrilled to bring you a style of movement that works as the perfect complement to your lifestyle, whether you’re recovering from an injury, just getting back to working out after some time away, or a seasoned athlete. Pilates is for every body, regardless of experience level or strength.

Loosely based on Hatha Yoga, Pilates was invented shortly after World War One by Joseph Pilates, a man who spent much of his life sick, injured and weakened by Rheumatoid Arthritis and Ricketts. He knew better than most how frustrating and depressing it is to be weak and out of shape. At the time there were no rehabilitative exercise styles that were accessible to all. Even the Yoga popular at the time required the practitioner to be fairly fit and flexible. Joseph Pilates knew firsthand what it was like to be too weak and pain-ridden to work out, so he knew he had to invent exercise style that was accessible to all.

After the war, Joseph offered his brand new exercise style (at the time it was called “Contrology”) to veterans who were bed-ridden, helping them regain the flexibility and strength they lost due to their injuries. It was a huge success, and he started to develop a following within the dance and gymnastics communities in New York City. The ballerinas and gymnasts loved the way the Pilates method helped strengthen their cores, recover from training injuries, build stamina, and create lean, dense, flexible muscles from head to toe.

As regular exercise became popular in the mainstream, more and more people turned to Pilates to give themselves a strong start towards their fitness goals. The rehabilitative community (chiropractors, physical therapists, massage therapists, etc.) recognized Pilates as the perfect addition to the healing regimens they laid out to their clients. They knew that the style is highly adaptive, with numerous modifications for people of all levels. This is why a beginner can work side by side with an experienced Pilates student in the same class, and they’ll both be equally challenged!

Check the schedule at Symmetry Yoga Alameda, and let our teaching team help you take your fitness regimen to the next level with Pilates!

Pranayama: Breathe In to Charge Up

Before you read any further, close your eyes and take three deep, slow breaths.Pranayama | breathe in to charge up

Do you feel what a difference the simple act of deep breathing makes? That’s the power of Pranayama, and the team at Symmetry Yoga Alameda is proud to offer all the guidance you need to make the most of your breath.

The word “Pranayama” is made up of two ancient Sanskrit words. “Prana” which means “life force” and “Yama” which means “control” or “extension”. Taken together, “Pranayama” means “controlling the flow of life force for maximum longevity”. Much like the yoga poses themselves, different styles of Pranayama can be used to support specific goals for the practice. This can be anything from bringing energy and focus to a specific area, energizing the system, heating or cooling the body, or helping us wind down and rest.

We covered the most popular style of Pranayama in another post, but Ujjayi Pranayam deserves a special shout out here too. Known as the “Victorious Breath”, this style of Pranayama is great for building heat, increasing balance during the asana practice, oxygenating cells, and grounding the Yogi in a meditative mindset. Check out our post on Ujjayi Pranayama for a breakdown of how to do it, then come to one of our classes for hands-on coaching!

Another highly effective and relaxing style of Pranayama is known as Sivananda Breath. This style is great for grounding at the beginning of practice, winding down at the end, and centering during restful moments in Child’s Pose.  The slow, methodical pace of Sivananda Breath has been shown to lower the heart rate, activating the “rest and digest” circuits in the brain, and focusing the mind on the subtle sensations of the breath.

And last but not least there’s Kapalabhati Breath, also known as “Skull Shining Breath”. This style of Pranayama is energizing and enlivening, warming up the diaphragm at the beginning of practice to clear the way for deep Ujjayi breaths through practice. This style is generally always performed as a lead-in to the Asana practice, as it gets the heart rate up and can leave the body feeling a healthy buzz.

Want to learn more about Pranayama, and how it can power up your yoga practice? Our teachers would love to help you find that extra boost you need.

Click here to check our current schedule and come deepen your practice today!

Chakras: Mapping the Emotional Body

Chakras mapping the emotional body

“Chakras” is one of those terms that gets tossed around a lot, like “Karma” and “Low-Carb”. But what does it really mean?

The “Chakras” are an interrelated string of energy centers in the body that the ancient Yogis located and documented many thousands of years ago. Each one of the energy centers appears in the sacred Hindu texts as a swirling mass of energy. Each Chakra lives in a very specific place in the body, and serves a specialized purpose for the whole system.

This may seem like a vague, antiquated concept with little if any significance in today’s world, but here’s the coolest part: modern science has located bundles of specialized nerve tissue in the body in the exact locations where the ancient Yogis mapped the Chakras. This means that the ancient Yogis were onto something big: that the body itself has intelligence, fueled by electrical energy, and that we can tap into in key places throughout the body when we need to in order to heal, get stronger, or gain insights about our condition.

The First Chakra is the Root Chakra, located at the base of the spine. This Chakra governs the elimination organs, as well as the lower parts of the pelvis. This Chakra is all about feeling safe and grounded in our bodies and lives.

The Second Chakra is known as the Sacral Chakra, located in the upper part of the pelvis, sacrum, and lower abdomen. This Chakra governs the reproductive organs, lower GI tract, and lowest part of the spine. This Chakra supports our creative energies and “generative” aspects of our spirit: the parts that enable us to create life (if we choose to) as well as creating art, passion, etc.

The Third Chakra is known as the Solar Plexus Chakra, located in the upper abdomen, just below the solar plexus. This Chakra governs the digestive organs, including the stomach, small intestine, liver, etc. The Third Chakra also supports our powers of discernment, allowing us to take in and “digest” information in an empowered way as it comes to us.

The Fourth Chakra is the Heart Chakra, located in the middle of the chest. This Chakra governs the heart and thymus, and is the place where love and compassion live in the body. The Fourth Chakra supports our sense of connection to the planet and all the creatures who live here (including people!).

The Fifth Chakra is the Throat chakra, located right at the base of the throat. This Chakra governs the thyroid and voice box, and supports our powers of self-expression. The Fifth Chakra can get congested if we’re deprived of the opportunity to speak our truth, but Yoga can help you find your voice!

The Sixth Chakra is located in the skull, encompassing the ears, eyes, and olfactory system. Like the Third Chakra, this area is all about taking in and interpreting information from our surroundings. Clearing any interruptions in our chain of perception (including self-image and body issues) helps us tap into the power of the Sixth Chakra, instead of being limited by it.

And last but not least, the Seventh Chakra! Located at the crown of the head, the Seventh Chakra is where our entire energetic being culminates. The seat of our greatest wisdom, this Chakra rules the brain, and all the beautifully complicated fluids, and tissues that encase it. Accessing our Crown Chakra is a tremendous gift, helping us tap into our highest wisdom and become happier and healthier throughout the system.

If you’d like to learn more about Chakras then come down to Symmetry Yoga Alameda and let our teaching team show you the way! We’d love to have you, and there are lots of opportunities to come share practice just a mouse click away!

Walk It Off | Alameda Yoga Studio

Walk it off Alameda yoga

The elders in the neighborhood used to suggest that the children “walk it off” if they fell and hurt themselves. Such advice can be perplexing as it’s not based on science, rather machismo. “Be tough and never let the world see you buckle” is the underlying message. But, what if there was a way to walk away from an injury? This isn’t meant to over promise the spectacular gift that is Power Plate®.

This post is meant to highlight a recent scientific study that concludes Power Plate® training improves walking function (as defined by walking speed) in spinal cord injury (SCI) patients. It’s worth mentioning that SCI patients range from the moderate (able to rise to standing) to the extreme (quadriplegia). For the study in question, there were “17 subjects with SCI, all of whom had the physical ability to rise from sitting to standing (using upper body support) for at least one minute.” These patients had begun Physical Therapy (PT) and were showing signs of improvement. Then an intervention happened to add whole body vibration to their therapy regimen. “After 12 sessions of Power Plate® intervention, an increase in cadence, step length, and intralimb coordination was noted.”

The intralimb coordination, also known as contralateral movement, is important to an efficient gait pattern as it provides the most balance and stability. Stand up for a moment and take a few steps around your office or apartment. With each step, be sure to move your right hand forward every time your left foot moves forward and vice versa. Exaggerate the movement as you walk around your space. Pay attention to the rotation in your hips. That contralateral movement helps the hips to rotate allowing for a longer stride after the rotation of the hips.

If you want to see more of this, watch some Olympic runners in slow motion. Part of the class curriculum at the cutting edge Power Plate® studio in Alameda, Symmetry Yoga, is coordination. Focusing on contralateral movement and balance through dynamic single-limb support helps class attendees to maintain an efficient gait pattern, increase their walking speed, and walk away from injuries stronger than ever.

Sign Up Here!

 

Cellulite: An Optional Part of Life

Alameda Power Plate Treats Cellulite

Summer comes late here in the Bay Area. Sunshine and warmth will continue through September’s end. Your body is ready for the beach. Don’t let any magazine article or social media tell you any different. The muscle, fat, and skin of your body are ready to go out and wear what you want in the September sun.

Whenever the word cellulite is written on a screen or in a magazine, a reference to “suffering” isn’t far behind. (See what I did there.) Women don’t suffer from cellulite. That is to say, there is no physical pain or emotional trauma from the cellulite itself. It’s just a collection of collagen. Women suffer from societal judgment of their bodies. Cellulite is referred to as “orange peel” or “cottage cheese” because of its appearance. To be criticized with such words can cause suffering to be sure. All bodies are beautiful in their individuality.

All bodies are welcome at the cutting edge Power Plate® studio in Alameda, Symmetry Yoga. While cellulite is a naturally occurring phenomenon, Power Plate® classes can make it an optional part of life. We believe in body acceptance. We also support all humans in their physical goals. A study, performed by the German Sanaderm Clinic, investigating the effects of whole body vibration training on cellulite has proven that Power Plate® reduces cellulite significantly. “In six months, the whole body vibration group exercising on Power Plate® achieved a 32.3% reduction of cellulite on thighs and buttocks. The group exercised two to three times per week, in sessions of 8-13 minutes plus 24-48 minutes of cardio.”

As you may know, Power Plate® improves blood circulation. Cellulite occurs “when circulation within [the] web of connective tissues becomes blocked, cellular waste stagnates, and these tissues harden as the skin loses its elasticity. The puckering or “mattress” effect is caused by this act of shriveling, dimpling, and adherence of the skin to tissues underneath.” If you’ve ever been to our office in Alameda or Oakland, you’ve seen the diversity of our staff, clientele, and Power Plate® enthusiasts.

All humans in all shapes have found vitality through whole body vibration training. Weight loss, strength gains, and even a reduction in cellulite has kept them coming back for more of our 25 minute classes, several times a week. Come in and see for yourself how you can achieve almost any fitness goal with the help of Power Plate®. Sign Up Now!

 

The Power Plate® Origin Story | Alameda CA

Alameda CA Power Plate Studio

When people walk into Symmetry Yoga and they see the Power Plate®, they often ask where it came from or how long it has been around. “I’ve never heard of it!”, some exclaim. The shock is understandable when you see a class full of people squatting, lunging, planking, and pressing and you feel a fear of missing out. The last thing that we want to do is keep the Power Plate® a secret. But, some are apt to write it off as a new gimmick.

The Power Plate® is not a gimmick and the technology is certainly not new. If you remember your Physics lessons, it’s no secret that the output of force is determined by multiplying mass times acceleration. In order to improve our force output (i.e. get stronger) we often reach for more mass and lift heavy weights in order to overload our muscles, push them to the point of fatigue, and grow stronger through a detailed workout plan. What happens when you’ve reached your peak and lifting more weight no longer feels safe?

That’s when you boost the acceleration! At least that was the bright idea that Russian scientist Vladimir Nazarov had when he applied the Power Plate® technology to the training of the cosmonauts in the Russian space program. His goal was to help prevent the cosmonauts’ muscles and bones from deteriorating in space.

That was several decades ago and about 20 years ago, the gold-standard in vibration technology found its way into the Olympic training center. Guus van der Meer and others marketed what would eventually become the Power Plate® back in 1999 and everyone that has used it has heralded its results.

Today, there are Power Plate® studios all over the world. You have one in your own backyard on the island of Alameda. Symmetry Yoga has lead the charge in bringing this revolutionary device to the public. Any one of our Power Plate® classes will quickly show you why so many celebrities and professional athletes use Power Plate® to grow stronger and/or rehab from injuries. Take a look at the class descriptions and
sign up for the class that fits you best.