Planet Granite San Francisco recently sat down with PGSF’s Yoga Program Manager Mary Hayano. We got to chat about the different classes here and Mary’s favorite aspects of Yoga at PGSF.

PG: How long have you been teaching at Planet Granite San Francisco?

Mary: I taught the first class when the gym opened in 2008! It’s been wonderful to see the yoga program grow over the years. The best compliment is when people tell me that our classes are comparable to
those at other San Francisco studios. I am proud that yoga is a big deal at Planet Granite.

PG: What’s different about teaching at Planet Granite San Francisco versus other studios?

Mary: Our members make unique yogis. They are strong and not afraid to push themselves physically, but more to point, they are adventurists. As a result, many have limited flexibility due to over-developed muscles and have injuries to no end. As planet granite teachers, we must be especially careful in choosing poses that cater to these particular requirements.

PG: What would you say to someone who has never tried yoga?

Mary: Yoga is hard! People are often surprised by the challenge. When I took my first yoga class, I was overweight and not athletic. I had very little flexibility and muscle strength. I went to an all levels class and to my beginner’s eyes, it looked like everyone was an acrobat! Rather than feeling discouraged by what I couldn’t do at the time, I was inspired by the potential of what I could do. All this bendiness and strength I’ve got now comes from almost 13 years of a dedicated practice.

Aside from the physical benefits, the time spent on a yoga mat is an opportunity to practice sustaining a deep, consistent breath, to develop an unwavering focus and to find a balance of ease and effort. What I’ve discovered about myself through yoga has helped me through some big life lessons.

PG: How would you describe the yoga program at Planet Granite San Francisco?

Mary: All our classes are all levels. That means everyone is welcome regardless of experience, strength and flexibility. I’ve had people who’ve never done yoga come to my power flow class and loved the challenge of the pace and the amount of poses offered. The great thing about our yoga program is that we have excellent, knowledgeable teachers from different backgrounds and modality. Some of our members take yoga as a workout and for others, it’s a warm-up or cool-down for climbing/other fitness activities. There is a class for everyone! And if one teacher doesn’t resonate with you, try another teacher. That said…Yes?

Well, one can surmise from the name of a class that there are varying degrees of challenge to be expected. I don’t like to identify classes by levels because a person can have “level 3” hamstrings and “level 1” shoulders, whatever that might mean. Also, I prefer not to call out classes as strictly beginner, intermediate and advanced. I wouldn’t want people to be deterred from taking a class because it’s labeled a certain way.

PG: So give us a brief synopsis of each type of class.

Mary: Yin and Yin-Restorative: this is the most beginner friendly out of all our classes. it’s a passive practice, meaning you’re mainly in seated or reclining poses while getting a slow, deep stretch using props for

The Yin-Restorative class incorporates relaxation poses.

Foundations of Flow: this is a slower-paced flow class appropriate for beginners or those with limited joint mobility. The focus is on proper alignment using strength-based and balancing poses.

Vinyasa Flow: this class is somewhat beginner friendly. A series of postures are joined together in a moderately paced flowing sequence to build strength, balance, flexibility and joint mobility.

Power Flow: this style is appropriate for beginners with an open-mind and people who like to workout through yoga. power flow is a faster-paced version of our Vinyasa class. There’s more emphasis on challenging balancing postures and inversions.

Photography by Megan Mack and video by Reinhard Cate.