Emily Hedges joined the Symmetry team in the fall of 2019 when she moved to Alameda. She quickly made the transition to teaching online in the spring of 2020 to continue to support her new local community. Join her via Zoom for Gentle Yoga on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 7:30am.
We caught up with Emily from her home studio, where she practices (but tries not to teach) with her cat:
Q) Why do you teach yoga?
A) I want people to feel positively connected to their bodies at any age or stage of life. Yoga has been an integral part of my continued healing from warped body image, depression, and anxiety. Moving helps me process my thoughts and emotions. And I want others to have ready access to these tools.
Q) If you were a student, why would you attend your class?
A) You want steadiness. You want welcoming but detailed instruction. You want to move more slowly than in most vinyasa classes to experience the poses in a new way and to explore alignment for your own body. You want to turn on your relaxation nervous system, while building strength, mobility, and stability.
Q) A little about your background?
A) I’m a retired aerospace engineer, who worked in clean tech for ten years. This career had a “wow” factor to it. I mean I literally got to float in microgravity once. But the best way to describe it is that I had a drawn out, eventually mutual breakup with my old career. Yogic philosophy definitely helped me wrap my head around identity and dharma. It’s a continuing journey, but teaching yoga feels “right” in so many ways that my old career didn’t.
Q) Why do you teach at Symmetry?
I moved to Alameda from SF in 2019 and was immediately drawn to the openness of the Symmetry studio and community. The physical studio is airy, bright during the day, and candlelit at night. Students and teachers know each others’ names and check in with each other about their lives. Connecting with each other is a major part of yoga, so I was drawn to this sweet community. I also love the mix of styles offered here, especially Gentle, Yin Yang, and Restorative classes. It’s so healthy to move slowly and to rest sometimes.
Q) Playlist that captures your essence?
I want music to melt into the backdrop of students’ experiences yet be there to help them focus when they need it. My playlists often have soft underlying beats with frequent journeys into jazzy, lounge vibes. I’m drawn to nature sounds like flowing water or birdsong. I try not to play music with too many vocals, unless it’s a mantra or super subtle. Or unless we’re having a yoga dance party. Here’s a favorite playlist, Yoga: Connection.
Q) What’s your favorite student review?
A) I was really tickled when a student told me their inner dialogue after class one day: “She [Emily] says it so sweetly…how can it be so hard?”
I love slipping in sneaky strength-building for students who are feeling up for it. I love the juxtaposition of sweetness with grit and grace with strength. It’s interesting because I practiced Ashtanga and Iyengar yoga for many years, and these teachers generally use commanding language to direct students very precisely. When I started teaching, I quickly realized that those teaching styles just didn’t mesh with my own personality. My approach is to cultivate a feeling of relaxation and connection in my class from which to explore challenges with lighthearted, compassionate attention.
We also asked fellow Symmetry teacher Anne Gregory for her insights about Emily’s teaching:
- I’ve taken Emily’s classes in person and online and have always left with that feeling of warmth in my heart like after receiving a big and energetic hug!
- Emily is open, down to earth and brings such lightness to the depth from which she teaches. Her classes are sweet, soulful, and nourishing and can be challenging or chill depending on how I feel.
- Her sequencing is intentional and thoughtful, her cueing is strong and she provides a safe and healing container to explore, get curious and do what feels good in your body.
- She plays tunes that are soft and beautiful, with soothing sounds and slow mantras that help you make the journey inwards.
- I always learn something new in her class and as a teacher myself, I am continually inspired by her.
Check out our schedule to practice with Emily.