Posts

Teacher Spotlight- Cancer Survivor and Mother of two- Winona Farris

Q) What is something most students don’t know about you ?

A) Yoga has helped me through life’s challenges. I practiced vinyasa flow up until a week before my 2nd daughter was born and it made my labor and birth so easy and actually a lot of fun. Yoga also helped me cope when I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015 and helped make chemo and my other treatments a breeze. Proud to say I am 4 yrs cancer free! 

Q) How did you discover the practice of yoga?

A) 13 years ago, after the birth of my first daughter when I was experiencing back and shoulder pains from being a new parent. I decided to take my first yoga class at my local gym to help alleviate the pain I was going through. 

Q) When and why did you decide to become a yoga teacher?

A) I did my yoga teacher training to further my knowledge of the ashtanga branch of yoga but not necessarily to become a teacher. While the teachers in my training encouraged us to start teaching right away, I decided to wait.  After teaching a few free yoga classes in the park to friends and family I started to feel more confident and could begin to see some real benefits yoga had to offer them. My friends and family started urging me to keep teaching; this is when I realized that I was actually making a difference in their lives and I wanted to continue doing so.

Q)  Where did you do your teacher training/s?

A) I received my 200 hour Ashtanga Vinyasa teacher training from It’s Yoga through Asta Yoga in SF.

Q) What makes your style of teaching yoga unique?

A) I like to incorporate pranayama (breathing) and a guided meditation into every practice. I also blend poses from the first, second and third series of ashtanga as well as traditional yoga poses to mix it up. Each class is different just like the playlist. My style of vinyasa varies from class to class depending on the vibe of the students and the requests being made. Some days it’s a more relaxed flow and other days we power it up. I love to incorporate some fun play by doing arm balances and inversions. My beginning students love it.

Q) What types of students generally gravitate towards your classes?

A) I get students who want to challenge themselves. When a beginner comes to my class and they continue to keep coming back, they know that by continuously doing their practice they will reap the benefits of what yoga has to offer. When seasoned practitioners continue to come to my class, they seem to always find something new that they can work on or go deeper on. It’s usually the student that after class comes up to me and says, “thank you so much for that practice, I needed it (which you can interpret  as “it kicked my butt”, “I haven’t practiced in a while and glad to be back”, “it helped with some stuff I am going through”, “my body feels so much better”) and will definitely be back.

After learning that she battled breast cancer (and won) 4 years ago, we wanted to ask her a little bit more about this specific aspect of her yoga story  

Q) What role did yoga play during your treatment and recovery?

A) I practiced yoga every day and it was an incredible stabilizer during this time.  Believe it or not, I had very little pain during my entire chemo schedule and felt pretty good through the whole treatment.  I attribute much of my wellness and positive outlook during this time to the fact I stayed committed to my yoga practice.

Q) What other factors played a role in your recovery?

A) My family, of course.  My husband and daughters were huge cheerleaders and my daughters even did the honor of shaving my head.

Q) Do you mind if we call you a Cancer Survivor in this blog?

A) Not at all.  I didn’t think to highlight this part of my journey when I answered the questions initially, but I can see how sharing story might make a difference to someone going thought cancer or something similarly challenging in their life.  I’d like people to know yoga is a tremendous resource and that if they need specific support, I am here to help.

We had Valerie Tao Marco attend one of her classes to provide some teacher to teacher insights and here’s what she had to say:

  • Winona delivered a beautiful hybrid of ashtanga and vinyasa.  Her cueing was textbook ashtanga and razor sharp.  I knew exactly where my feet and gaze should be at all times.
  • She provided time in each shape, very much in the 5 breath rhythm characterized in a strong ashtanga practice, which allowed me to really sink in while also cultivating a good internal heat.
  • Winona offered lots of options to go deeper into more advanced shapes but also gave lots of options for beginners.  I got a sense that she was really paying attention to the students in the room and teaching from an authentic and in-the-moment place.
  • She seemed to have a dedicated community of students.  Of course there were 1 or 2 completely new students in the room but everyone else she seemed to know by name.
  • She wasn’t afraid to lead students in handstand and headstand.  Teachers that are confident and teach these inversions effectively always stand out in my book.
  • She has a truly authentic and beautiful smile and wisdom behind her eyes.

 

A Journey Through the Chakras: Speaking your Truth

symmetry yoga alameda oakland yoga studioVishuddha Chakra

Common Name: Throat Chakra

 

Color: Blue, light blue, turquoise

Element: Space (akasha)

Sense: Hearing

Mantra: HUM

 

“I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love with have the final word” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

The Vishuddha Chakra Is the energy center that governs communication, our primary tool for relationship building.  Vishuddha means purity in Sanskrit, in other words, clarity of communication. This includes speaking from a place of truth and honesty while holding the intention of non-harming and non-violence. The throat chakra also includes the expressive uses of the voice such as chanting, singing, and recitation.  

 

Balancing the chakras usually begins from the roots on up, and when doing so the throat chakra is supported by the lower foundations of stability, creativity, confidence, and love derived from the lower energies.   However, with the throat chakra there is a unique function of the voice. It is believed that through expressing the voice creatively you can transcend the limitations of the lower chakras and experience alignment from the roots on up.. This is one of the reasons why mantra, spoken affirmations, kirtan, audible breath work, and chanting is a common tool used in yoga classes and can feel so amazing.

 

The throat chakra includes the neck, vocal chords, trachea, and mouth but the sense associated with the throat chakra is  hearing. So if we get into the practice of telling ourselves lies internally or externally, we unleash a sound wave of untruth to crash down within us and we end up out of balance. If the lines of communication breakdown between the heart and the outer world you will feel disharmony.  In other words, if the harmony of the outside does not match the inside your harmony will be out of tune. When our mouth speaks what our heart and guts know is not the truth, we get into a practice of breaking our own heart over and over again. Delusion can set in if we habitualized speaking untruths into the world and keep listening to our own lies as though they are true.  

 

Just as heartbreaking is when we have things to contribute, inner wisdom or perspectives to share, and we bury them in fear and remain silent. This is not to say silence is not a powerful tool, it is, when it is a chosen state, not a petrified one. Our ears want to hear our voice resound in the world.

 

You may feel the somatic clues of a disturbed throat chakra if you have chronic neck pain, hold tension in the neck and shoulders, grind your teeth at night, tend to slump your posture especially in social situations, have a dry or phlegmatic throat, or suffer from thyroid problems.  

 

Here are some questions you may ask yourself:

What am I not saying?

What am I swallowing down?

What do I want to express and to whom?

What do I want to cough up?

Am I saying anything that is meant to harm?
Do I use my voice as a weapon?

 

A few helpful affirmations:

 

I communicate freely and with ease

I release doubt over what I say and did not say

I am a compassionate listener

I create speech that expresses my loving thoughts

Being honest will free me from my current situation

 

A few other helpful things to try are drinking lots of room temperature water, singing in the shower, reading to yourself or someone else out loud, or reciting a favorite mantra.  

This piece was written by Valerie Tao Marco.

Valerie will be co-leading a workshop series called A Journey Through the Chakras. The next workshop of this seven part series will be on Sunday, March 17th from 12:30pm-2:30pm.  Sign up for this very special offering here.

 

Breath and Movement : Sun Salutations with Mary Smith

Sun Salutations yoga workshop in alameda oaklandSaturday September 8th 1:30-3:30pm 

This workshop will kick off our Elements of Yoga Series!

The sun salutations awaken, warm and prime the body for a strong yoga practice. In this workshop we will learn and review breathing techniques that support the sun salutations as well as break down each element of sun salutations A & B. This class will teach both beginners and experienced yogis basic anatomy, mobility and how to self-adjust with intention and intelligence. By moving through postures that support the sun salutations and learning how to use props, yogis will walk away with more knowledge of how their own bodies can get the most out of the sun salutations.

This workshop will conclude with an open-forum question and answer session — although questions will also be welcomed throughout the workshop.

 

$40 Early Bird | $45 Day Of | 20% Off for Symmetry Members

 

Special price for students who wish to pre-register for the whole series: $175 ($35/session) instead of $225.

Exclusively for Symmetry Members: 20% off each session separately or $165 for the whole series (Email management for promo code)

Sign up here!

Friday Night Flow with Deborah Crooks

Alameda Yoga Studio Vinyasa class with live musicFriday August 24th 7-8:30pm

Celebrate moving like your authentic self with this open level yoga class led by Abigail Rauber. Live tunes by singer-songwriter Deborah Crooks will inspire you to move through your practice, bringing in your weekend with ease.

Whether you are new to yoga or a long time yogi, this class will invite you to deepen your experience of Vinyasa Flow. Through music and movement, you will find a sense of play in your practice, learning to listen to the body’s intuition, and how to move like your most embodied self.

Singer-songwriter Deborah Crooks has released several CD’s of original music drawing on folk, rock, Americana and the blues, including 2016’s Beauty Everywhere and 2013’s Little Bird (described as “a masterful piece of work”), cofounded the Alameda-based Americana/Rock band Bay Station, and performs regularly throughout California with periodic tours of the US. She’ll be playing a selection of songs from her own and Bay Station’s recordings, performing as an acoustic duo with Kwame Copeland on lead guitar, dobro and backing vocals. To hear a selection of her music, please visit: www.deborahcrooks.com.

Reserve your spot and sign up here!

September Sound Bath with Melissa Felsenstein

Sound Bath Meditation in Alameda Yoga studio healing sound Thursday September 6th 7:00-8:30pm

Support your ability to “re-wire” your nervous system and as you lie back in this sound savasana. Experience ultimate relaxation as you are immersed by the blended tones of specially tuned gongs and quartz crystal singing bowls. These instruments can induce meditative like states and are highly effective at nourishing the nervous system, providing relief for chronic pain, digestive issues, insomnia, fibromyalgia, depression, anxiety and more. You will leave feeling completely refreshed and re-tuned for the coming week.

Led by yoga therapist, sound healer and professional relaxer Melissa FelsensteinShe believes more sound infused naps will create a happier world. Learn more about her at www.innersoundsyoga.com

No yoga or meditation experience required, simply wear comfortable clothes and enjoy the sound. All are welcome.

Space is limited and this event usually sells out, secure your spot here!

$25 early bird | $30 day of event | 20% discount for Symmetry Members

Friday Night Flow with Reisender

Friday July 27th
7:00pm-8:30pm

Kick off your weekend with live music that will inspire you to move through an open level yoga class taught by Nikki Borodi. This month we are joined yet again by a reappearance of Reisender!

Reisender began when songwriter Paul Conroy bought a neglected mandolin for 40 euros from a Flea Market in Stuttgart, Germany. The first few songs were written under bridges and on street corners of 20 different cities in Europe. From its origin as “Strassenmusik” (street music), Reisender embodies the spirit of the traveler, who embraces change and transience, especially in the face of adversity and hardship.

Recently, Reisender has performed in San Francisco Venues such as Bottom of the Hill, Neck of the Woods, PianoFight, the Treasure Island Flea Market, and in SoCal at the Redwood Bar & Grill in Los Angeles, & The House of Blues in West Hollywood (since closed).

Whether you are new to yoga or a long time yogi, this class will invite you to deepen your experience of Vinyasa Flow. Through music and movement, we will find a sense of play in our practice, learning to listen to the body’s intuition, and how to move like your best self.

Sign Up Here!

Therapeutic Posture Stretch Focus on Core with Ann Moore

YogaSaturday July 28th
1:30pm-3:30pm

Tired of waking up sore and stiff? Do you miss the strength, flexibility and vitality of your youth? Well then, Therapeutic Posture Stretch (TPS) is for you!

TPS was created to remind your body and mind of earlier times in your life when your posture was perfect. You will learn to improve and align your posture, and regain and maintain flexibility. As a result, you will have access to untapped strength that already exists in your body!

You will learn stretches, ball-rolling techniques and exercises that meet your body’s specific needs. This workshop will help you undo the negative effects of sitting, forward-bending and other life stresses that impact your posture, flexibility and strength. Come learn the combination to unlock your neck, shoulders, feet, low back, and more.

It is commonly believed that with aging comes pain. This does not have to be true! Join us in reeducating your body and mind; learn again how wonderful it feels to be pain free, and how to stay that way. Whether you are a novice or seasoned athlete, or new to exercise altogether, this class is for you! All levels of fitness are welcome.

In this session we will be focusing on your core, the low back region and the poses muscles.

$40 Early Bird | $45 Day of | 20% Discount for Symmetry Members

Sign Up Here!

Let Me Fat in Peace!

Fat YogaSaturday July 14
1:30pm-3:30pm

An Afternoon Celebrating Body Positive Wellness + Plus Size People with Valerie Sagun (aka Big Gal Yoga and Misia (Hatha Holistic)!

Social media star Valerie Sagun is a powerful voice in the body positive movement. With more than 100,000 avid followers on Instagram and a constant stream of highly engaged traffic on her website, fans adore Valerie for her fearless acceptance of her beautiful body and her encouragement of self-love. Valerie will have signed copies of her latest book “Big Gal Yoga.

Misia is a licensed Body Positive Facilitare and has attained over 700-hours of professional Yoga Teacher Training. Over the last 20 years she’s studied Yoga, Dance, Integrative Nutrition, Meditation and Urban Permaculture and founded Hatha Holistic Integrative Wellness. Students enjoy Misia’s therapeutic approach to teaching Hatha Yoga! This event is perfect for newbies and also seasoned yoga practitioners.

Early Bird Discount $50 (Includes a Signed Copy of Valerie’s Book “Big Gal Yoga”)
After 6/30/18: $55
*Symmetry Members receive 20% off discount

Sign Up Here!

Friday Night Flow with Mary Smith and Reisender!

Alameda Yoga ClassesFriday June 29th
7:00pm-8:30pm

Kick off your weekend with live music that will inspire you to move through an open level yoga class taught by Mary Smith. In the Month June, we are joined by a reappearance of Reisender!

Reisender began when songwriter Paul Conroy bought a neglected mandolin for 40 euros from a Flea Market in Stuttgart, Germany. The first few songs were written under bridges and on street corners of 20 different cities in Europe. From its origin as “Strassenmusik” (street music), Reisender embodies the spirit of the traveler, who embraces change and transience, especially in the face of adversity and hardship.

Recently, Reisender has performed in San Francisco Venues such as Bottom of the Hill, Neck of the Woods, PianoFight, the Treasure Island Flea Market, and in SoCal at the Redwood Bar & Grill in Los Angeles, & The House of Blues in West Hollywood (since closed).

Music curator Hillydilly.com said about out us in a review: “Reisender has done an excellent job of not doing too much… but still hitting a very pleasant sound.” Whether you are new to yoga or a long time yogi, this class with Mary and Reisender will invite you to deepen your experience of Vinyasa Flow. Through music and movement, we will find a sense of play in our practice, learning to listen to the body’s intuition, and how to move like your best self.

Sign Up Here!

Develop Your Home Practice with Inbal Meron

Yoga in AlamedaSaturday June 2nd
1:30-3:30pm
Deepen your experience of yoga and learn to design a practice of your very own.

Self practice opens a space in your life to participate and embrace the wonder of your very own life force. Dedicating this time and caring of yourself in this focused way will have a profound effect on every level of your being.

For many practitioners the home practice is confusing, elusive and hard to start or maintain. In this workshop you will receive the tools to develop and maintain a simple and effective home practice that is designed specifically for you!

Click here to reserve your spot!

$35 Early Bird | $40 Day of | 20% Discount for Symmetry Members