Body Love: A Deep Connection to Self

And I said to my body. Softly. ‘I want to be your friend.’ It took a long breath. And replied, ‘I have been waiting my whole life for this.’ – Nayyirah Waheed

As I begin this, I feel it is important to give you a little background into my journey into Body Love. If you’ve taken my class, you know I’m a proud plus sized teacher. I cue my students to find the stance, hips-distance, and variations that work best for their unique bodies while letting them know that I personally prefer to go wider with everything to create space for my hips and belly. 

Did I always love and honor my body?! No, I certainly did not. With societal pressures and the insistence of diet culture, I struggled to love my body for years. In college I developed an eating disorder that would take a decade to overcome. 

While there were many factors to my recovery, I always highly credit Yoga for being the stepping stone to loving my Self, both inside AND out. 

So whether you are a strong advocate for Body Love or struggling to find the path, here are some loving suggestions for the practice of loving your special body:

  • Consider Your Body a Vessel for Your Mind, Heart, and Soul ~ I love the concept that we are not bodies with a soul, but rather your soul is housed in your body, allowing your body to simply hold safe your inner being. Take a moment and consider all of You and realize how much of You is housed inside of the body, or vessel. 
  • Give Gratitude For The Inside Body ~ Hold your hand to your heart and feel your heartbeat; take an inhale and feel your lungs expand; pause and think of all the inner workings of your body. Send a little thought of ‘Thanks’ to each of these elements of the body. And take notice if the mind begins to shift to a place of ease and acceptance when thinking of your “body” as including all of those soft, hardworking organs of yours. 
  • Focus on Your Hands During Practice ~ One of my favorite things to cue for my students is to take their gaze to their hand(s) and say “Hello Hand!”. This moment of silliness is also a moment of connection; an opportunity to slow down and focus the mind on just one element of the body. The hands lead us gracefully through so many of the poses that we flow through and taking just a moment to connect to that magic is something special. Give yourself a meditative moment to gaze at your hands, your fingertips, your fingernails. Look at all the little lines in the palm and wiggle your fingers. Connect to this beautiful element of your Self and then see if you can expand the conscious focus into your wrists, up your arms, and eventually throughout the whole outer body. 
  • Honor YOUR Body ~ Most yoga teachers will remind you to make adjustments as needed but occasionally it can be hard to focus on what your own body needs when cues are being given and you can view other bodies taking their shapes. PAUSE — This is that amazing space between Ego and Spirit. Ego may say to Push harder or Take the pose as you are viewing it. Spirit is more loving and will remind you to breathe into YOUR body and make that choice to do what feels right in your unique body. The more you empower yourself to choose to honor your own body, the more you will befriend that beautiful body of yours. 
  • Focus on Today ~ It’s so easy to get caught up comparing yourself to yourself; noticing when a pose feels tighter or less accessible than ‘last time’. It’s ALL GOOD! Today is the only day that matters. Treat each new practice as if it’s the one and only, maybe even like it’s the first time taking it, and notice how your body and mind start working in symphony rather than fighting against themselves. 
  • Marvel At Your Strength ~ No matter what you are doing, you are so strong and that inner strength then speaks to your body and offers to share space within and all around you. As you take any pose, any breath, repeat to yourself: I am a Pillar of Strength Inside and Out. Then watch as your mantra becomes your thoughts then your beliefs, until you know without a shred of doubt that you are Strong through and through. 

There are so many ways to foster love in your body without ever focusing on appearance. In all walks of life, and especially while building deep Body Love, your best bet will always be to focus inward and find your own unique path.

Written by Tiffany Marquez.  Tiffany teaches Early Bird Flow at 6am on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

 

Bringing Magic to the Mundane

 

Do you know that moment when you’re deep into a yoga practice, music blasting, breath and body flowing, and suddenly there just seems to be more light and brightness, more air, more JOY surrounding you. THAT is the magic that we want to find daily. That breathtaking feeling is the harmony of the Mind, Body, and Spirit coming together as One. 

It is my belief that we don’t necessarily need to be participating in something as magical as Yoga to get that overwhelming feeling of MAGIC throughout your body. It is also my goal to find it daily, even for just one special moment. 

With each of these suggestions, see if you can connect into the breath, truly feeling the flow of air entering into your body and releasing out. Find your senses – all of them – and see if you can find stillness within even if the body is moving. And finally, bring in a sense of AWE and Curiosity ~ Exploring the moment in detail as if it’s the only moment that has ever existed. 

Try out this mental method of creating Magic while doing the most Mundane of things:

  • Washing Dishes
  • Showering
  • Walking the Dogs
  • Doing Laundry
  • Vacuuming
  • Taking a Stroll Through a Park
  • Taking Your Vitamins
  • Getting Dressed
  • Taking a Seat Mindfully
  • Starting the Car and Preparing to Drive
  • Eating Lunch
  • Drinking Tea
  • Journaling
  • Reading
  • Balancing Your Checking Account
  • Clearing Out Your Phone
  • Cleaning Out Your Purse
  • Folding Towels

These are some of my most favorite times to connect inward and create magic around myself. Play with the sensations you can conjure within yourself during different points throughout the day. Find what feels good and then repeat. See if you can invoke that intense feeling of MAGIC in the most Mundane of tasks. 

I’d love to invite you to come to my class and chat with me about your own journey to Magic. It is a beautifully unique path for each of us and I’d be honored to hear of your magical moments. 

Breathe Well and Shine On. 

Written by Tiffany Marquez.  Tiffany teaches Early Bird Flow at 6am on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

 

New and Updated Classes at Symmetry!

We have some very exciting updates to the Symmetry schedule!

New – 7:30AM Vinyasa Flow on Friday with Heather Feider beginning on Friday, March 6th

New – 7:30AM Vinyasa Flow on Mondays with Kirsten Rogers beginning Monday, March 9th

Update – Hatha Flow on Saturdays with Tatiana Stollman will be 75 minutes long  (previously 1 hour) and will start at 8:15am (previously 8:30 AM) and end at 9:30am beginning Saturday, March 7th

We look forward to seeing you on a mat soon!

Best of Alameda 2020: Vote for Symmetry!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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New at Symmetry! Stacy Lewis Leads 8AM Vinyasa Flow on Sundays beginning 2/9!

We are excited to introduce an extraordinary yoga teacher , Stacy Lewis, to our community! Stacy will be teaching a brand new Vinyasa Flow class on Sundays at 8AM beginning February 9th!

Vinyasa Flow Yoga – Sundays, 8:00-9:15AM 

Enjoy being guided through a strengthening and meditative Vinyasa Flow. Attention is given to your alignment and breath whilst discovering your own inner curiosities and energies.  This is a time to become aware of your endurance and your personal physical strengths. This class is perfect for all levels, whether it’s your first day on the mat in beginner poses to the advanced yogi. There is always time for a juicy deep pose and a restful pose towards the end of class. Feel inspired and surrender!

Learn About Stacy Lewis

“Yoga has been an important  part of my life for over 12 years, and my practice has helped me in ways I never imagined possible when I first started.

Yoga helped me stay flexible when I ran, build strength after carpal tunnel surgery, and stay spiritually grounded when I began a journey with recovery from alcohol addiction. Yoga inspires me to say present in my body so I can live life gratefully aware.

I completed the 200 hour Joy of Yoga Teacher Training and am presently in the 300 hour advanced teacher training Breathe Together Yoga, Los Gatos. I am a dedicated student of the practice and am deeply grateful for the physical, mental, and spiritual rewards I receive in return. As a yoga instructor, my style continuously evolves to include new and updated approaches to yoga, because I believe the journey of learning is a path to understanding lessons in life.

In my classes, I combine creative flow, a playful energy and emphasis on anatomical alignment to bring awareness to your movements during practice. I believe yoga is for everybody and every-body, and my hope is that you step off the mat feeling refreshed, nourished and balanced. Namasté.”

 

Stacy Lewis will be leading a brand new vinyasa flow class on Sundays at 8:00AM beginning February 9th. 

The What, Why, and How of Savasana

Oh, Savasana – our Sacred Stillness Practice. It’s the icing on the cake in a yoga class. The cherry on top, if you will.

Perhaps you are familiar with Savasana or maybe it’s a new concept to understand. Wherever you are in your journey with the art of stillness, there is always much to learn and value in the practice.

Let’s explore Savasana a little deeper.

WHAT:

Savasana, often called “corpse pose”, is a restorative (resting) pose where you lay in stillness. This pose is nearly always the final pose of a yoga class.

“That’s it?” you may ask … well, yes and no. Laying in stillness sounds simple, but it can be quite complex. Some say that Savasana is actually the “hardest” pose because it requires a level of willingness that not all poses do. The willingness to fully honor the pose even when it’s difficult.

There is a known fact that as the body slows down, the mind speeds up. If you struggle with anxiety or any restlessness you may first experience a resistance of your mind and body to participate in Savasana. THIS IS NORMAL!

Savasana can feel vulnerable, unfamiliar, and strange in the beginning. But over time, with practice, your stillness can become welcomed and even desired.

WHY:

So, why do we Savasana? By continuing to participate in and honor this pose, we send gratitude into your own body and mind for moving through our practice. It is also a loving way to send gratitude to your teacher for guiding you and holding the space for you to connect inward.

Practicing at the end of a complete yoga practice helps to integrate the beautiful elements that were found in the practice: the connection to your own breath, finding joy in mindful movement, and practicing self-love. Consider other fitness classes that you may have taken, are these special elements factored in? Typically not. And when you’re done with your aerobics, what do you do? We may often move on with the day no longer thinking of the class. But with Yoga, you get this incredible connection to your Self through the practice as well as a built in stillness practice that allows all of those elements to solidify in the mind, body, and spirit. All of this allows you to take that positive energy with you out into the world. This is why it is so Sacred.

There are lots of physical benefits to the pose as well! It calms the brain and helps relieve stress and mild depression. It relaxes the body and can reduce headaches, fatigue, and insomnia. It has even been known to help to lower blood pressure!

With all those perks, let’s get right into the pose!

HOW:

Your best bet for a happy Savasana is to move through the body and mind first with a practice that honors all elements of your being. This sets you up to honor stillness with a stretched out body and a connected mind. (I like to tell my students to get their wiggles out before settling in).

With the classic understanding of Savasana, the pose is to be taken laying flat on the mat with the arms and legs spread slightly out to the sides of the body, no addition of props and in complete silence. That’s one way to do it!

Many modern yogis take their own approaches to the Sacred Stillness Practice of Savasana . In my classes, I remind my students that Savasana is always yogi’s choice for my class. I encourage the use of props (particularly a bolster under the knees, a blanket under the head, another blanket over the body for warmth, and an eye mask to darken your vision and sink in deep). My students will sometimes take their Savasana laying on their side bodies or even move to the wall for a legs-up-the-wall stillness practice. Anything goes when you honor the essence of stillness .

I also play music for my students. This helps to quiet the mind and the atmosphere no matter what is going on outside the studio. In particular, I play a song that is scientifically known to calm the body and reduce anxiety: Weightless by Marconi Union. I recommend this song to anyone seeking stillness and needing a guide to finding a calmed mind to do so.

And how do you quiet the mind when it doesn’t want to be still?! The first step is to commit to keeping the body still. This teaches the mind that it is safe to just Be. And then as you learn to stay still in the body, you can honor yourself by allowing the mind to either focus solely on the breath, to think of things you are grateful for, or perhaps to simply watch your thoughts float by like clouds in the sky, never focusing on or judging any thought that passes. In time, your mind will learn its own unique path to Stillness.

The bottom line of “how” to Savasana is that you allow yourself to find balance between honoring the practice and honoring yourself. Everything else will find its way.

Practicing the Sacred Stillness of Savasana is a beautiful way to honor your mind+body+spirit, to complete and solidify your practice within you, and to send gratitude inward and outward. Try different styles of it until you find what feels best to you!

Namaste .

Written by Tiffany Marquez.  Tiffany teaches Early Bird Flow at 6am on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

How To Begin a Home Yoga Practice

My home practice is truly where I fell in love with, not just yoga, but with my Self as a yogi. It has also been an essential part of my healing with my mind’s journey and for my brain as I live with Epilepsy. I have learned that oxygenating my brain and body with conscious inhales and exhales, paired with mindful, self-nourishing movements has been immeasurably important to my daily functioning.

To Yoga in the comfort of your own home is a beautiful way to honor yourself, your journey, and to bring all that positive energy right into your living space!

Wondering How To? Let’s jump right in!

1. Start NOW – As with any new habit, the best time to start is exactly when the Spirit calls for it! So if you’re wondering about whether or not you can make a home practice happen~ The answer is YES and the time is NOW. You can do this!

2. Begin Where You Are TODAY – Whether you are a seasoned studio yogi who wants to extend practice to the homestead or if you are newly beginning your yoga journey and want to try it in your comfort zone, you are already prepared for the ideal home class. Pay no mind to poses you “used to do” or poses you “hope to do” because what you CAN do right now is beautiful! Honor the Present moment by allowing yourself to begin exactly where you are.

3. Choose Your Favorites First – Taking a yoga class or following a video is a wonderful way to try new poses, challenge your efforts, and to allow yourself to be led. But your home practice is for YOU. Love standing poses and get frustrated when it’s time to come back down to the floor?! Stay standing! Despise the burn of ( my nemesis! ) Chair Pose? Skip it! Wanna stay in Savasana for an hour?! Doooo it! Fall in love with YOUR unique yoga practice.

4. Bring In A Little Special Something – What makes you feel joy? What brings your heart happiness? Bring a little of that into your practice by setting the scene: Light a candle or start your essential oil diffuser for aromatherapy. Play some music! Or if you have a special keepsake, place it lovingly on the top of your mat where you can see it and reach for it. Allow yourself even just one small *something* that creates a sacred space to practice.

5. Use Whatever Props You Have – Like being creative? Perfect! Use a towel for a mat, an upside down stock pot for props, fuzzy couch blankies for knee support, and a couch cushion for a bolster! You don’t need the fanciest materials to make your time on the mat worthwhile! You just need you and your openness to the experience . All else will naturally follow.

6. Choose Timing that is Ideal for YOU – Make your practice work for you by gravitating to when your body calls for it. If you are an early bird, set your alarms even earlier and use that time to roll out your mat. If you’re a night owl, own it and utilize that moonlight for your meditative movement! Whenever feels right (and logistically makes sense for your life and schedule!) is the perfect time for your practice.

7. Establish a Routine – Aww routine, my favorite! Why? Because routines are reliable! And in its essence isn’t that what our practice provides? A sense of reliability, something we can truly count on. Once you have taken steps towards creating a home practice, keep it going by establishing consistency for yourself! Keeping this small promise to yourself will strengthen your consciousness and allow you to create magic at home.

There is no limit to how deep your practice can go when you do it in the comfort of your own home. Perhaps it may feel a bit out-of-element to begin but trust me, the awkwardness of starting a home practice is minimal when you weigh it against potential benefits.

Watch as your relationship to the process shifts. Be present as your relation to Self grows. And know that you are doing beautiful things for YOU.

Written by Tiffany Marguez.  Tiffany teaches Early Bird Flow at 6am on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

 

Early Bird Catches The Flow: 10 Joys of an Early Morning Yoga Practice

I was never a morning person growing up. Even as a young child I wished to sleep ever-later and needed sufficient time to begin functioning as a human.

So when I signed up as a volunteer to open a yoga studio and check students in for the 6am class– and stay to take it– not even I believed it would last longer than a moon cycle.

Flash forward 4 years and I’m not just still committed to 6am, I’m the one teaching now, generating energy and awakening my students in mind, body, and spirit as they begin their days. And I love it. Perhaps you might too!

I present for you ~ 10 Joys of an Early Morning Yoga Practice:

1. Connecting to the Breath Before Connecting to the World – To know oneself is the first step to living in kindness. Begin with the Breath to awaken your energy source then interact with others. Watch as your connections become more genuine and your energy reserved.

2. Lean into your Day with Compassion by First Feeling Compassion for Self – How can we be prepared to walk a mile in another’s moccasins? We must first walk in our own. To offer ourselves compassion is to remove self judgment and self criticism, to give ourselves the benefit of doubt, and to accept ourselves as is. Do this before the sun rises and you are prepared to meet others with the same acceptance throughout your day.

3. Listen to the Tone of the Inner Voice – When we wake up, we do so with the energy of our night’s sleep still within us. If we experience negativity while sleeping, whether leftover from the day before or due to the sleep itself, we will often wake up projecting that energy. A quick way to get this in check is to listen to the way we are speaking to our inner Self, the way we’re speaking about Life and about others. Having an early morning practice gives you the early advantage to check in, listen, and choose adjustments if needed.

4. Activate Energy First Thing – Imagine your morning yoga practice as a light switch turning on your positivity, your productivity, and your capacity for compassion. Now imagine flipping that light switch on before the sun rises. Visualize how your movements, your interactions, and your choices could be influenced by activating special energy early in the morning, before external influence enters your energy field.

5. Interpret Emotions as Energy – All emotions are full of energy so being able to self reflect on the energy output of your own emotions is a beautiful representation of self study. To easily utilize those Self Awareness muscles, we need to continually awaken them. Awakening your self awareness before the sun rises encourages the muscles to stay activated throughout your day.

6. Identify Negative and Positive Sensations in the Physical Body – So often everything we experience, and the intensity it is felt, is linked to the sensations we are carrying in the physical body. By taking a moment to scan through the body and identify any discomforts, or alternatively- feelings of ease- you can better understand the lens through which you view the outer world throughout your day.

7. Oxygenate Your Entire Being – Juice out your muscles, joints, bones, and brain. Every concentrated inhale brings a dose of oxygen (and dopamine!) to the body and the mind. Set yourself up for success for the day by beginning with an abundance of air and notice how you naturally fill your lungs deeper as your day unfolds, positively affecting everything from your energy level to your mood.

8. Whole Body Movement Regardless of the Day’s To Do List – As the hours move forward on the clock, the ability to move our bodies in various ways often becomes more limited. We get caught in work mode and stuck in one position or else we utilize an entire subset of the body for our work while neglecting the other parts. So whether your yoga practice is fitness-driven or not, recognizing the value of moving the body in a multitude of ways can make all the difference in your physical body’s functionality and comfort throughout the day. And bonus- if you do it first thing in the morning, you get to prepare your body for the day versus undoing the damage of the day later.

9. A Body in Motion Stays in Motion – Keep the momentum of your day going by getting it started as early as possible. If you want to avoid stiff, inactive muscles (Think shortened hamstrings for seated jobs!) Then get them moving before they have the opportunity to slow you down!

10. Connect Mind + Brain + Body + Spirit – If your goal of the day is to find balance within your Self, then there is no better way than to begin with your breath and expand the connection to your mind, your brain, your body, and in turn your Spirit.

No matter where you are in your practice, there are so many benefits of an early morning practice. Even if that consists of sitting on your mat as you yawn and flutter your eyes opened and closed~ An early morning yoga practice could be the magic that starts all of your days off right!

Feeling ready to rise early now?! Symmetry Yoga offers 6am classes Monday through Friday and we welcome you always!

Written by Tiffany Marguez.  Tiffany teaches Early Bird Flow at 6am on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

 

Updates to the Symmetry Schedule!

As we enter and embrace the season of change, we have some important changes to the Symmetry schedule! Check out these updated classes and be on the look out for more!

5:15PM Sundays – Vinyasa Flow with Allison Novello (New Teacher)

7:15PM Mondays  – Vinyasa Flow with Allison Novello (New Teacher)

1:30PM  Tuesdays – Warm Flow with Odisa Walker (New Time, previously taught at 12:30PM)

5PM Thursdays – Warm Flow with Meghan Sciascia (New Teacher)

8:30AM Saturdays – Hatha Flow with Tatiana Stollman (New Teacher)

yoga studio symmetry alameda oakland

Sign up for your next class, here!

Take Advantage of our Happy Holiday Sale!

Grab a 10 Class Yoga Card for Only $108!

108 has long been considered a sacred and auspicious number in Hinduism and yoga. Renowned Vedic mathematicians viewed 108 as a number of the wholeness of existence that connects us to our place in the cosmic order.

This is why you will find that malas, or garlands of prayer beads, come as a string of 108 beads. Also, according to yogic tradition, there are 108 sacred sites throughout India. There are also 108 Upanishads (ancient yogic texts) and 108 marma points, or sacred points of the body.

This number appears again and again in Vedic astrology and similarly to the mantra AUM, connects us to the whole.

Buy Now! Offer ends 1/31/20.