SHINE Yoga + Barre + Cycle is relocating to Lincoln Center in the summer of 2019. Lincoln Center is home to many local businesses such as Market Table, Tio Pepe’s, and POMP Salon, as well as several franchises like Nekter Juice, Nothing Bundt Cakes, and Noah’s Bagels. They also have community events in the shopping center’s outdoor space like their summer wine stroll in June, a Veteran’s Day event, and live music and movies throughout the warmer months.
I first met Alyssa last year in her intimate downtown studio, followed her to her Quail Lakes space that had a second-story view of the lake, and will be checking out her new place when it opens. Who am I kidding, I will be there…and a lot!
I graduated from SHINE’s Yoga Teacher Training program this past spring. The day before I signed up for the program, Alyssa told me: “Let your wings fly”. And once the program began it was as if I jumped straight off the edge. I had nothing to depend on but my own wings to catch me. Needless to say, the program was a challenging one. I got a true look at myself, face to face, with all of the good and the bad, whether I liked it or not. I walked away from each session knowing exactly what I needed to work on.
For over a year, I had been averaging three SHINE visits per week. During teacher training this number quickly escalated to 5 to 7 visits per week. It was WORK. But the really good kind (in my opinion). I felt a sense of balance and calmness as I continued to stretch out of my shell and grow into a fuller version of myself. Progress is GOLD.
Remember our motto here at AHS:
Create a Healthy Lifestyle, One Shelf at a Time !
I am not the only one who has been positively influenced by Alyssa and her commitment to service in Stockton. Alyssa continues to nurture an extremely strong sense of community at SHINE. And I learned from her one-on-one that that is exactly the vibe she intends to foster when she opens the doors at her new studio.
Leading up to the big move, Alyssa Marty, Founder of SHINE, was gracious enough to give me a few minutes of her time (in between teaching her morning Phenomenal Flow yoga class and leading an evening cycle session with the new instructors she’s training). Talk about strength, this woman is as fierce as they come!
Here’s my Q&A with Alyssa Marty, founder of Shine Cycle + Yoga + Barre in Stockton, CA, a woman living out her truth and bringing together a community of like-minded individuals, who are strong, inspirational yoga warriors.
ABOUT YOGA & ALYSSA
AHS: Who is Alyssa Marty?
Beyond being a yoga teacher or a business owner or a girlfriend or all of the labels that I am, I believe that at my core I am a person who loves to connect with other people. So that makes all of the titles that I am a little bit more of a natural fit. I am a sharer of yoga because I love people. That has always been something that has come very natural to me. I’ve always been close to my friends and family. I really care about the people that I meet. I always give them an ear to talk to, and now with SHINE, provide them with a space where they can be themselves, find an outlet, and experience happiness and joy. So, I think at the core that is who I am and that is what has led me to do all of the things in life that I am doing.
AHS: When did yoga find you?
In college (Arizona State University), I joined a couple of different groups and clubs. I wasn’t really finding my niche there. I was still feeling a bit disconnected. I was trying to build friendships and make a home away from home and I just wasn’t finding it. One of my friends convinced me to go to a Bikram Yoga class, and I was miserable through it. My mind just kept spinning with all of the things that I needed to get done for the day. I did not want to be in that hot, sweaty room. And then I left and was like, you know what? That is exactly where I need to be because it was so hard for me. Not physically, per say. I mean it was hard physically, but mentally I was just not getting it. I was so in my head for everything. How did I look in the mirror, where did I have to be after, who are the other people in the room? Which are also all of the things that yoga tells you to let go of. So, I kept with my practice.
Years later I found yoga teacher Anton Mackey and he instilled the confidence in me to be a teacher. I never thought I could teach yoga, ever. It was never on my radar. I had never considered it. And he spent a month convincing me that this was my path. I decided to pursue it and it was the best decision I ever made. Yoga has built my confidence in ways that I could have never imagined it would.
AHS: That brings me to a point I wanted to talk to you about. You mentioned that yoga provided you with much more than just the physical component. In your opinion what is a common misconception about yoga?
I think there are a lot of misconceptions about yoga. One of the biggest ones that I hear in the Stockton community is, “I’m not flexible, so I cannot do it.” People’s understanding of yoga is that it is a physical thing first and a spiritual thing second, or, a mental thing second. And it is actually the complete opposite of that in my opinion. I always say that it is a way for you to figure out who you are. It is a way for you to connect with your true self. It’s not about if you can do an arm balance, stand on your head, or balance on one foot. Those all come secondary.
AHS: You were in college, practicing yoga, and becoming more and more involved in the yoga world. The majority of people would just stop there. But you continued on to open up a studio. What brought you to that point?
It was kind of like a perfect storm of things. And it began during childhood. My father had always been self-employed. My mom, on the opposite end of the spectrum, had the same job she reported to day after day. I was and still am very close to both of my parents. In regard to business, I always looked up to what my dad was doing. I had this gravitation towards entrepreneurship.
Fast forward to my college years, I declared a journalism and PR double-major. All of my life I was told that this was the path I should pursue. And I was doing it because everyone was telling me I should. I didn’t have a path that I chose myself.
After graduation, I moved to San Francisco and joined a PR agency. Never in my life had I ever felt such a disconnect from myself and a total immersion in everyone else’s lives. I was working day and night for different clients. My job was to help these businesses grow. For the CEOs and owners of these companies, this was their passion project, and it was my job to care about building their brand.
I went to go visit my dad in Hawai’i, letting him know that I was very burnt out of my PR job in San Francisco. I ended up staying with him for a while in Hawai’i. He, at the same time, was going through health issues, spending a lot of time and energy on trying to get well. And then one day, out of the blue, he said to me that if I wanted to start a yoga studio, he would help me open it. Opening a yoga studio was always in the back of my mind; it was never in the forefront. When my dad offered me his support, it was like a key that unlocked that door for me. And in that moment I knew I had to take the leap.
AHS: What is it about Stockton that made you want to open up a studio here?
Two Things. One, I have always been that person who has been obsessed with their home town. I had always pictured moving back home. It felt natural to me.
Second, I was trying to find a yoga studio in Stockton, and I couldn’t find a community that resonated with me. The boutique fitness scene is just emerging here in town. A lot of studios are on their way in (hint, hint: Orange Theory) but I felt that I didn’t have a place to practice yoga in the way that I had been used to. Having a studio that I felt close to was so life-saving for me in college, and it was a huge part of my life in San Francisco, too. I knew that I needed it. I couldn’t move to Stockton and not have it.
And then…ok, lightbulb moment!
AHS: In SHINE’s 200-hour yoga teacher training, not only did I learn all about the asanas (the physical postures) of yoga, I also learned that the practice of yoga means so much more. What are some of the other aspects of yoga that don’t get talked about as much?
Let’s start off by talking about what yoga actually consists of: the 8 limbs. The 8-limbs of yoga is the path of the yogi. It is all of the components of the practice, from the physical to the spiritual, that teach you how to live your life in a more meaningful, more connected way. Two of these important philosophies are called the niyamas and the yamas. The niyamas and the yamas are basically the ethical guidelines of the yogi: it is how you treat yourself and how you treat other people. The asanas (the physical practice) is only one of the 8 limbs. As a yogi, it is critical you follow the niyamas and the yamas because it gives you this basic outline of how you can live your life in a more meaningful way. When you learn to live more peacefully with other people, it is easier to live more peacefully with yourself as well. The niyamas and the yamas are two of the yoga philosophies that I practice in my daily life. They include teachings such as “non-violence towards yourself” to “cleanliness”. They consist of all of the things you need to live a more connected and more fulfilling life. And I think that without those, if you take those out of the equation, you can’t say that you “do yoga”. They are completely vital to calling yourself a “yogi” or to leading a “yoga lifestyle”. Each of these two philosophies are made up of five teachings. In my opinion, these 10 statements contain everything, which is incredible.
AHS: What is your/SHINE’s yoga lineage?
It of course goes much further back than this, but the studio that created the type of classes we offer at SHINE come from At One Yoga, a studio in Arizona. The studio no longer exists. Actually, one of the main people of At One Yoga went off to start Spiritual Gangster, a brand that has grown so big. It is really amazing to see what Ian has created! So, At One Yoga is where 99% of the inspiration for this studio has come from. All of the teachers from At One went on to Life Power, which was part of Lifetime, and that is where I met Anton (Mackey), Desiree Grobstein, Jenn Chiarelli… It was also (Divine Universe!) where I met Ann and MC Sweet, because they took the At One Yoga Teacher Training. The Sweets own Lotus House which has three locations across Nebraska. And so, our lineage goes: At One Yoga, Life Power, Lotus House, and SHINE! And then in the mix of that, other inspiration came from these Arizona studios: The Madison Improvement Club (the complete inspiration for the cycle and yoga combo I am working on for SHINE now) and Modern Yoga (another studio that two of my teachers created).
ON BEING A YOGA STUDIO OWNER
AHS: What is one of the challenges of being a yoga studio owner?
I think pigeon holing yourself into one thing but being careful not to go too broad and do everything and not do it well. You have to find balance between the two. We started with just yoga and just barre, trying to appeal to two different crowds. It was hard to educate people in the beginning. We started the first year with really small classes and a handful of teachers. We had to evolve with what the community was responding to, while staying true to what we were offering. And if you want to get bigger and grow beyond our original studio, which was around 1000 square feet, you have to expand. And you have to invite other types of offerings in that showcase yoga. So, for example, bringing in cycle and bringing in barre, those people who have not necessarily practiced yoga before may see it and want to try it. It invites in a larger group of people that can see the yoga philosophy play out in a different way.
AHS: Can you explain your class names to us?
Phenomenal Flow: inspired by my favorite classes in Arizona, are our heated power classes. So, power, meaning they are the most challenging classes physically and mentally.
Yin: wildly popular for us, which is so great to see because you get this power “yang” side of yoga in our Phenomenal Flow classes, and then you see our students wanting the cool “yin” side of yoga to slow down and relax.
Feel Good Flow: in the middle of a Phenomenal and a slow flow. It is more Hatha-style, offered mostly in the evening.
AHS: Can you talk about your theme of the week and pose of the week?
It is really important to me that SHINE teachers bring (yoga) philosophy and mindfulness into their classes. One of the reasons that I do the theme and pose of the week is because first, I want to support the teachers in feeling confident in bringing philosophy and mindfulness into their classes in a natural way. The other reason is because we want the community to get more out of their classes and their time in the studio than just the physical practice.
Because we always want our students to learn, we want them to be able to learn not only how to do a different pose, or break down a common pose that they do every week, but I also want them to understand, for example: Hanumanasana: what is the story behind the monkey god Hanuman, and why splits pose is called Hanumanasana.
AHS: Very cool. I like that some of the teachers build their class around the pose of the week. It is nice to see how different people interpret the theme of the week as well.
Yes. We try really hard to find that middle path. Teri (La Rue) always says “walk the middle path”. At SHINE, we walk the middle path by giving teachers the space to be creative but also building consistency so that when a student walks through our doors, they know they are going to get a consistent experience. And it is really challenging to find that middle path sometimes, but I do feel like we have gotten closer to it as we have gotten older. We have been around for two years now and we have worked really hard to get our team to a cohesive place. Our instructors and their styles are not carbon copies of one another, but they are all working together to build their classes, sometimes using a common theme or a common pose. And I feel that the pose of the week has been critical for that.
AHS: What is the community like at SHINE?
People always ask me to describe it in one word, and the first word that I want you to feel when you walk in to our studio is joy. I want it to make you feel safe, happy, and welcomed, and I truly want it to be somewhere that everyone feels like they have something.
AHS: Another aspect of your business that you do is corporate yoga. What is that offering like?
Corporate yoga is probably one of the most rewarding things that we’ve done at SHINE. We offer local businesses the opportunity to have our teachers go in to their space and teach their employees yoga. First, we do an analysis of what type of yoga service will fit their group. We then create a specific plan based on their objectives. We take into consideration their experience and understanding of yoga. We offer a shortened teacher training program to corporate personal trainers that teaches them how to lead the basics and fundamentals of a yoga practice for their coworkers. We provide whatever yoga tools the specific business needs!
AHS: Who are your corporate clients right now?
Right now, we work with St. Joseph’s Hospital; we do all of their events. We also work with Champion Gymnastics (we teach their gymnasts three days a week), Langston Hughes Academy, Stockton Scholars, Blue Shield of Lodi, The Stockton Police Department (their parole agents), and The Juvenile Hall (parole agents). We work with Delta College baseball team and the Stockton Heat as well. These athletes don’t practice yoga and they think that they do not need the stretching. They spend all day practicing their sport. To have them come in for 30 to 45 minutes , be silent, and practice yoga was so hard at the beginning. And it really was like, “the proof is in the pudding”. As soon as these individuals completed five classes, they started to say, “I feel so different.” “My game has changed.” “My practice has changed.” “My relationships have improved”. We tell our clients “don’t focus so much on what your body can or cannot do. Focus instead on the breathing and the mindfulness”. This shift in mindset has had a much greater impact than just the physical benefits of a yoga practice.
RELOCATION & GROWTH
AHS: What are you most excited about for your move to the new studio in Lincoln Center?
I’m excited to give the whole SHINE community a greater, richer experience. In Lincoln Center we have more space, we have more to offer, and we have more we can do. Also, there are thousands of people who visit Lincoln Center every week so we will have the opportunity to reach more people.
More classes. More amenities. More opportunities for instructors to teach, which is really exciting for me as an owner. I am excited to bring in more teachers as well.
AHS: What type of cycle will you offer in your new studio?
We offer rhythm riding, which is more about riding to and finding the beat of the music, and less about competing with the class to get to a certain calorie burn or RPM. It is very closely connected to our yoga offering. In our spin training, we talk about the chakra system, mindfulness, and the kind of spiritual experience you have on the bike.
AHS: Will you be teaching?
Yes. I love it. It is wildly empowering.
AHS: Can you purchase a drop-in class for cycle?
We have an intro offer: 30-days of unlimited cycle classes for $30. You can sign up for this intro offer one time. (A similar offer is also available for first time barre or yoga students.)
AHS: What does the future of SHINE look like?
If there is one thing that I hope we can do more of, it is to share more yoga practices across the community, such as teaching public classes at events or in parks. I hope that community service can take be a central focus for us as we continue to grow.
AHS: As a lifelong Stockton-gal, what is your take on the current and future outlook for Stockton and our community?
I really feel like Stockton is at this tipping point where we are moving from, honestly, a pretty dark 10 years, and it is not a secret to anyone. All of a sudden, we have all of these amazing leaders, maybe they were here for a while, but the spotlight wasn’t on them, who are now in these places of power and who want to make a change. For example, Mayor Tubbs and his wife Anna Malaika NtiAsare-Tubbs are doing so much great work for our community. And Lincoln Center, who is bringing in all of these new businesses. A lot of these change-makers are from Stockton, and so it is really cool to see that we are taking a step back into the light. More local and small businesses are opening and being supported. Stockton is such a great place: the community and the location of it; you can’t beat it. But it has just gotten such a bad reputation over the years. So, I see us experiencing a lot of growth in the next ten years.
RAPID FIRE QUESTIONS
Favorite Food in Stockton?
Market Tavern – I can never have a bad meal there.
Their mac n’ cheese is so good. I also love their fried chicken. And I love their cocktail menu.
Most underrated place in Stockton?
Just because of its location*: Cast Iron. Cast Iron’s chef is pretty fantastic. It has really good vegan food. You can’t go wrong with the tater tots.
Also Tiger’s Yogurt is a staple in Stockton.
*Note, Downtown Stockton is a shell of an area in Stockton right now. There are currently initiatives that are in place to see it become a fruitful part of the city once again. The infrastructure is all there, it is strong, and it is gorgeous. It is only a matter of time until Stockton once again has a bustling Downtown quarter!
Favorite pose…right now?
Lizard pose, for sure. (Note: as of 5/15/19)
Favorite lulu pants?
Right now, the Align (because I am pregnant). They fit over your stomach well. The Align do not roll down: they stay put!
Your “go to” spin song?
Favorite song to Savasana in?
Any song by the group called Ritual. Their songs are so heavy that I play their music a lot during Savasana.
Favorite words to close a yoga class with, a class that you have just finished teaching?
“I hope you always leave here feeling brighter, stronger, and a little more at peace!”
Thanks Alyssa, for leaving our community brighter, stronger, and MUCH more at peace!