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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.

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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.

 

Mighty Heart Power Plate®

Power Plate Heart Health in AlamedaThere are many fitness goals that are spoken aloud and the most common goal we hear at Symmetry Yoga is, “I just want to get in shape!” While that takes on many different meanings based on the perception of the receiver, many can agree that improved cardiorespiratory fitness can be included in that definition. When your lungs feel capable and your heart feels mighty, you’ll certainly feel like you’re “in shape.” There are several tenets to what defines fitness (and being in shape).

Balance, flexibility, muscular endurance, agility, and cardiorespiratory endurance are just a few. The latter of those tenets is, arguably, the most important because it’s the type of fitness you can feel no matter what.

That’s where Power Plate® can make a difference. Captain Obvious reminds us that we rely on our heart and lungs to get us through even the most sedentary of days. For those that choose an active lifestyle (or those that want to begin one) it’s important to increase lung capacity and the strength of your heart. Do you know your resting heart rate? Check your pulse as soon as you wake up in the morning. If you want you can do this for three days and take an average, that will be your resting heart rate.

The lower the number (within in reason) the better. A low resting heart rate means your strong beautiful heart is pumping so efficiently that it doesn’t have to pump as frequently as other hearts. While most (consistent) efforts to get in shape will result in improved cardiorespiratory fitness, Power Plate® is a more efficient way of going about it. Here’s a quote from a study on the matter. “The results observed in the Power Plate® training group were comparable with the increases noted in those who followed an equal number of traditional fitness training sessions.

However, Power Plate® training was much more time efficient (average 25 min vs. 75 min).” It’s simple, if you want to make your heart efficient, you should train efficiently. Make the time in your schedule for 25 minutes to get in shape. Visit the cutting edge Power Plate® studio in Alameda, Symmetry Yoga, to try one of our Power Plate® classes that’s sure to power up your heart and lungs.

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Mantras: Your Shortcut to Mindfulness

Alameda East Bay Yoga

More than at any other time in history, we are constantly surrounded by distractions of all kinds. Between work, social engagements, family responsibilities, and smart phones, it can be nearly impossible to give anything your undivided attention. But the good news is that there’s an ancient, tried-and-true solution to this problem, and you don’t have to look any further than the teaching team at Symmetry Yoga Alameda to find it!

The ancient yogis described the flighty, distractible wanderings of the human mind as “chitta vritti” which roughly translates into “monkey mind”. Much like an adventurous little monkey (think Curious George) our minds are constantly seeking the next source of stimulation and adventure. We’re almost always reminiscing about the past or wondering about the future, and almost never settled in the present, experiencing the here and now with total attention.

On the surface this may not seem like a problem, but the truth is we miss the best and sweetest parts of our lives if we can never quiet the “monkey mind” long enough to savor what’s right in front of us.

Mantras are an incredibly effective way to cut through the “chitta vritti” and focus the mind on something simple and easy, to help train the mind to chill out and let us just be present. Mantras can be words, phrases, or sounds that are repeated to help us step out of thinking mode and into feeling mode. The traditional yogis used Sanskrit for theirs, but Mantras can be anything that feels right to you. Kind of like setting intentions for your yoga practices, you can focus on a particular word (like “peace” or “forgiveness”) or even a wordless sound, like a hum.

The teachers at Symmetry Yoga Alameda are well practiced at incorporating powerful Mantras into our classes, to help our students “drop in” and get the most out of their meditative experience. The benefits of well-executed mindfulness exercises, like yoga, are far-reaching. Research has shown that mindful yoga lowers blood pressure, increases our tolerance for stress, and makes us more loving partners, parents and friends.

If you’re curious about how Mantras can help you live your best life, check out the schedule at Symmetry Yoga Alameda. The first step to inner peace is as easy as saying “Om”!

 

Yoga 101: What the Heck is a Bandha?

It’s another beautiful week at Symmetry Yoga Alameda, and this time we’re talking about one of the more mysterious and ancient parts of the Yoga practice: the Bandhas!

This is one of the exciting areas of Yoga, where modern science has been confirming ancient wisdom. According to the ancients, the Bandhas are energetic thresholds in the body, where the flow of Prana (aka “life force”) can be harnessed for our benefit through meditative practices. Thermal scans of human bodies have confirmed what the ancient Yogis knew: that different flavors of energy live in specific anatomical places, and that our focused attention can be used to influence that energy’s flow.

This ties in directly with the work of Yoga: to use our breath, focus and movement to “change the channel”, creating freedom and ease in our bodies and lives.

According to the ancient Yogis, there are three main Bandhas that can be consciously controlled with relative ease during practice. There are many other lesser Bandhas that more advanced meditation practitioners can employ, but the most important ones are Mula Bandha (at the pelvic floor) Uddiyana Bandha (at the diaphragm) and Jalandara Bandha (at the throat).

These three Bandhas (or “locks”) can be engaged and released as a valuable part of the yoga practice. Engaging Jalandara Bandha helps us hold energy in during breathing exercises (see the blog post on Ujjayi Pranayama for more information). Uddiyana Bandha helps stretch the connective tissue that anchors the diaphragm, allowing us to take significantly deeper breaths. Engaging Mula Bandha helps us strengthen the pelvic floor and, when combined with Jalandara Bandha, traps Prana and breath in the torso, enhancing the benefits of a number of poses.

Does this sound complicated? Well no worries! The team at Symmetry Yoga Alameda would love to help teach you more about the Bandhas, and how you can use them to enhance your yoga practice, and your overall health and vitality! Check out the current schedule and come give your system a tune-up. Your body will thank you later!