Drishti 101: Balance and Focus Through Gaze | Alameda CA

Alameda Yoga Studio

If you’ve attended one of our classes at Symmetry Yoga Alameda, you’ve probably heard our teachers refer to something called “Dristhi” (pronounced “DRUSH-dee”). This term means “focused gaze” and it refers to a special Yogic way of looking at the world. This tradition was developed thousands of years ago by the ancients to help them focus intently on their meditative practices. Drishtis were valuable parts of their seated meditation sessions as well as their moving “asana” practice. In some schools of yoga (like Astanga for example) there’s a specific Drishti associated with every pose, but Drishtis are a common addition to classes of other styles too.

Using Drishtis is a great way to maintain balance during standing poses. Symmetry Yoga teachers will often advise students to look down at a spot on the floor in order to ground down with their feet more firmly. This is especially helpful in poses like Tree, where only one foot is on the earth at a time, and stability can be extra tricky!

Drishtis are a useful tool for less advanced poses too. Upward Facing Dog is a great opportunity to use the gaze to support a long, graceful arch of the neck and spine. Seated twists are enhanced by a gentle use of Drishti too, as looking over the shoulder helps stretch the trapezius muscles, and complete the rotation around the central axis of the spine.

Drishtis are also very helpful in avoiding distraction during practice. When we control the direction and intention of our gaze it becomes much easier to stay in a focused, intentional space. When the gaze wanders around the room, we can get caught up looking out the window, at other students, etc. but with a strong Drishti it’s easy to avoid those pitfalls and stay focused on your own practice and meditative intent.

The metaphor of the Drishti is a powerful tool in itself: when we keep our focus on the things that support us in succeeding, the distractions fall away and we find ourselves on a clear path to where we want to be. If you’re excited about taking a step in this direction then head over to the Symmetry Yoga Alameda schedule and pick out a class! Your future self will thank you for it!

Setting Intent with Symmetry Yoga | Alameda CA

Yoga Alameda at Symmetry Health Center

Setting Intent is a powerful way to take charge of your life and approach the challenges you face from a place of power. The team at Symmetry Yoga Alameda are the perfect support system to help you set intents that are powerful and authentic, enabling you to stay true to your goals and live your best life!

But what exactly is “Setting Intent”? And how is it different from setting goals?

The biggest difference between Intentions and goals is that Intentions are more general and goals are more specific. Examples of a powerful intention are: “I will welcome abundance into my life” or “I will only eat foods that nourish my body”. Examples of goals are: “I will put 20% of every paycheck in my savings account this year” or “I will stop eating sugar for 30 days”. The actions you take as a result of the Intentions and goals are often the same, but there’s a big difference in how our brains process the different approaches. And here’s the best part: you don’t have to choose between the two! Setting intentions is one of the best ways to help us reach our goals, and stay committed to them when the going gets tough!

Setting Intentions in the context of a yoga class is a fun and inspiring way to workout your mind and spirit as well as your body. Yoga Intentions can be specific to that day’s practice, your own unique yoga journey, your professional or personal life, or even the health and happiness of a loved one. Sometimes the Symmetry Yoga teachers will guide the whole class into a specific Intention, and sometimes they might leave it more open. But no matter what there will always be something in it for you!

The biggest obstacle to powerful intentions is the voice inside that says “I can’t” or “that’s not possible”.  This is where the yoga comes in, because our deepest, wisest selves know that ALL things are possible if we set our minds and hearts to the task! When we set an intent from this kind of Yogic mindset, we gain access to power and determination that we might never find otherwise.

Check the schedule at Symmetry Yoga Alameda for your next opportunity to come set life-changing Intentions with our team of skilled teachers! You have nothing to lose, and everything to gain.

Make Your Bad Knee Your Best Knee

Power Plate Alameda

The concept of a bad knee is on the minds of many people these days. Some focus on pain, inflammation, past injuries, or recent surgeries to name a few challenges.

Let’s consider the Anterior Cruciate Ligament, or ACL as it’s most commonly referred, for example. Just below your kneecap is a protective band of tissue that prevents the leg from moving too far forward so that our bodies can do wonderful things like run long distances, climb stairs, and most importantly traverse dynamic terrain. One reason this ligament is so important is because the nerve receptors within help us to understand what our knee is doing without looking down for visual confirmation. If you’ve ever followed sports that are hard on the knees (Basketball) you’ve heard of a few athletes having surgery to repair a damaged ACL. Enter, the bad knee.

If you’ve ever had such an injury, what began as a loud pop and immense pain eventually lead to surgery and therapy. Even if you’ve never been injured, we’ve all heard how boring therapeutic exercises can be. Short range of motion, repetitive, sometimes painful exercises that seem to never end until one day you get full use of that knee again. There’s an alternative to traditional boring therapy methods. The alternative begins with a shift in thinking. Neither of your knees are bad and changing those thoughts to honor your body as spectacular and capable is the best place to start your healing. Once you change your mind to know that you are not weak, instead you are getting stronger, you’ll want to find an exciting path to strength.

Step up to the Power Plate®.

A recent study revealed that “Power Plate® training resulted in a greater improvement of joint stability and balance than conventional strength training. Power Plate® training also has the advantage of shorter training time. It should therefore be considered a useful addition to rehabilitation interventions after ACL reconstruction.”  You can read the full details of the study here.

There’s no shortage of information as a testament to how magnificent the Power Plate® is as a healing tool. You should experience Power Plate® for yourself to understand how therapy can feel invigorating. Symmetry is offering classes designed specifically to aid in lower extremity rehabilitation. Increasing bone density and improving blood flow are just a few of the ways that the Power Plate® will aid on your road to recovery.

Even if you’re not recovering from surgery, the Power Plate® can help you to improve your body’s awareness. You may have read that part of the study, linked above, was executed with blindfolds on the subjects.

Lunges will feel like a completely different challenge when you’re able to determine the ideal position of your knee (over the ankle) without compromising your posture and looking down to check. Physical and mental awareness that leads to less stress is a great gift. Your body and mind are great gifts and there’s nothing bad about you.

Taking Your Practice to the Next Level with Ujjayi Breath

The ancient Yogis knew what a huge difference breathing made in their meditative practices, including the physical “asana” practice modern folks practice at places like Symmetry Yoga Alameda today. Of all the many ways we can increase flexibility and mindfulness Yoga is by far the best, because a key part of the practice is focused, meditative breathing, or “Pranayama”.

Pranayama means “energy control”, and there are a number of different styles that practitioners can use, depending on the style of yoga they’re practicing and their specific goals for their practice. Some kinds of Pranayama help energize the body and mind, while others are calming and restorative.

The most common type of Pranayama that modern yogis use is called Ujjayi Pranayama, which translates to mean “victorious breath”. This style of breathing is simultaneously calming to the nervous system, and energizing to the body.  It’s soothing to the ear, and can be heard by everyone in the room when done properly, and helps to create a sense of connection between the individual practitioner, their practice, and all the other yogis in the room.

Ujjayi Pranayama sounds a little like Darth Vader, or waves crashing on the shore, or the sound you make when you fog up a mirror with your breath. It feels like a slight constriction in the back of the throat, using the same muscles you use when you’re whispering in a friend’s ear.

But how do you do it? The best way to learn is to come to a class at Symmetry Yoga Alameda and let our teachers show you the way, but in the mean time, you can follow these simple steps:

  1. Take a deep breath in, and then loudly whisper the word “hello”. Do you feel the breath rushing past the back of your throat, and the feeling of closing off the muscles in the back of your throat? Great! You’re ready for step two!
  2. Find the nearest piece of glass, like a mirror or a window. Keeping the same “whisper” muscles engaged from step 1, use a big open-mouthed exhale to fog up the glass. Then set the glass aside and keep the “whisper” muscles engaged as you take an inhale with your mouth still open. Repeat for 2-3 cycles of breath with your eyes closed, so your body remembers what it feels like.
  3. Last but not least, close your mouth, and take 2-3 breaths in and out of your nose, keeping the “whisper” muscles engaged. Congratulations! You’re practicing Ujjayi Pranayama!

If you’re ready to take your new skills to the mat, check the Symmetry Yoga Alameda website to pick out a class that fits your schedule! We’re excited to help you put this amazing new technique in practice!

To Schedule a Class Sign Up Here!

Vinyasa Yoga | Symmetry Yoga Studio in Alameda

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In todays’ yoga community, the term “Vinyasa” is used liberally. We see it listed as the name of a class, described as a style of yoga, and we also hear it used to tile a set series of movements – this word takes on multiple meanings, so lets get clear on what we are actually saying when we use the word Vinyasa.

In Sanskrit, the ancient language of yoga, “Vinyasa” means: to place in a special way. The word, place or ‘placement’ is in reference to the body and the breath.

As the aim of yoga it to unite body, mind, and spirit to find holistic wellness, we should not think about the body and the breath as two separate, independent items that can be placed here or there. In yoga the breath and the body are one and the same, inseparable. So Vinyasa means to place the body and the breath in relationship to each other. You can think of this as linking breath to movement, or using the breath to guide movement in the body. Correct ‘placement’ of breath, allows for sooth and graceful movement.

Through this definition, and in the spirit of graceful movement, a style of yoga called Vinyasa Flow is born. A Vinyasa Flow Yoga Class is on the active or athletic end of the yoga spectrum and will lead you through a dynamic sequence of yoga postures, each position complementing and building upon those that precede and follow. The movements are fluid, creative, and dance-like, to an upbeat rhythm, guided by breath. You can expect to build heat in the body and break a sweat while ‘flowing’ in a Vinyasa Yoga Class.

Symmetry Yoga offers several Vinyasa Flow classes throughout the week – each one slightly different from the next, as Vinyasa Flow is a creative style of yoga, open to the interpretation and inspiration of the instructor. Please see our schedule to see which of our Vinyasa Flow Classes fits into your schedule.

Symmetry Yoga is Excited to Offer Something Unique to the Alameda Yoga Community

Symmetry Introduces Its New Yoga Studio to Alameda Residents

Symmetry Yoga is not just another Alameda Yoga Studio. Symmetry Yoga is so much more; it is home to a holistic, healthy lifestyle. From its beautiful and creatively designed studio space, to its all-star team of experienced yoga instructors and state of the art yoga props, Symmetry Yoga is an Alameda Yoga Studio that has it all!

A huge part of what makes Symmetry Yoga unique is that it is located inside of Symmetry Health Center, a health and wellness center dedicated to bringing a healthy lifestyle to the Alameda community through chiropractic care, therapeutic massage, nutrition coaching, and fitness classes. Symmetry Health Center has been offering Alameda these healing practices for nearly 10 years and has developed a wonderful and supportive community that encourages true wellness.

When you walk into the space, you’re instantly welcomed with a relaxing energy that promotes a healthy lifestyle. The room is flooded with natural light, diffused by layers of gorgeous curtains designed with up-cycled Sari fabric from India by studio owner Dr. Cynthia Boyd and her childhood friend/owner of MAAT.Designs. Framed by the lovely curtains, rests a beautiful alter boasting seasonally fresh flowers from neighboring local business, Dandelion, and a perfectly tuned harmonium by Kirtan and Harmonium guru, David Estes. A layer of stress instantly falls from your shoulders when you enter this Alameda Yoga Studio.

Aside from its beauty, the studio is equipt with state of the art yoga props. Yoga props are designed to keep students in safe alignment and bring greater understanding and support to all styles of yoga, which Symmetry offers. With the use of props and in the hands of excellent teachers, Symmetry Yoga offers a class for everyone! Students brand new to yoga, beginners, intermediate students, and advanced practitioners can all find a safe and enjoyable class at Symmetry. Symmetry Yoga offers Vinyasa Flow, Hatha, Forrest Yoga, Restorative, and Gentle Yoga to name a few.

Perhaps the thing that makes Symmetry Yoga the most unique Alameda Yoga Studio, is the fact that the team of experienced yoga instructors were hand selected by Dr. Cynthia Boyd, a trusted health care professional in Alameda for nearly 10 years, with the intention of offering her patients the highest quality of instruction to complement her chiropractic and spinal wellness practice.

The team of experienced yoga instructors has received ample training and certifications while possessing the refined qualities of intuition and awareness in order to understand and safely guide students through the healing practice of yoga. This connection to students, with consideration of potential health issues makes Symmetry Yoga unique, unlike any other Alameda Yoga Studio.