Ep 16. Turning up the Heat, Yoga for Sports Injuries, Stress, Chronic Pain & Exploring our Wine
In Episode 16 Maria is joined by Marco Sanchez. As a former athlete, Marco stepped into yoga as a means to heal injury and soon found it to also be healing for the stress he faced in his career as an Engineer and Asset Manager for the California Department of Transportation. Marco takes us through the benefits of including heat in our practice, the importance of trying multiple classes and exploring different styles and teachers to find that perfect fit. He shares how heated yoga helps with injuries, detoxification, and even chronic pain. He shares insights into the Birkram Yoga system that he’s been teaching for 10 years as well as his evolution as a teacher to incorporate his anatomy knowledge and continual curiosity for growth. He and Maria chat about his love for Red Wine and then Maria takes us through the 4th step in the Take 5 Mindful Tasting process: Exploring.
Stick around till the end where Maria leads us through a guided relaxation.
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Maria Mayes: [00:00:00] All right. Well, welcome back to Chakras and Chardonnay. I have a treat for the listeners today. I'm really excited to introduce Marco Sanchez. And Marco and I, uh, first met each other in, I think it was 2018. ish. Yes. Perfect balance. Yeah. So I was a new teacher at perfect balance yoga and Marco was a tenured teacher at perfect balance yoga.
And I actually subbed for a few of his heated classes, which is, Which is a story in itself, which we'll get to at some point because I have a sensitivity to heat and I thought, Oh my goodness, how am I going to do this? But I remembered I have this powerful tool called my breath and that let all the anxiety go and I enjoyed teaching heated and from there kind of found a love for, uh, practicing and teaching in a heated environment.
So Marco, thank you so much for being [00:01:00] willing to come on and share some wisdom with our listeners. So thank you,
Marco Sanchez: Maria, again. Um, yeah, it was, it's, it's an interesting thing because a lot of people don't know much about the heat, you know, some people have never practice and just don't know about it. I think, like you said, the breath is what's going to get you through it.
Maria Mayes: If, if you don't mind sharing a little bit with the, uh, the listeners, what brought you to yoga initially, like what prompted you a little bit about your background and,
Marco Sanchez: um, so my, my background actually, uh, I was an engineer by trade and I say it was because I retired last year in June, um, Caltrans. For 33 years, um, I've been an athlete my entire life, played pretty much every sport that you can think of. Uh, mainly the main ones that I think I can say that was soccer, uh, basketball, softball. [00:02:00] Those are the three main ones that I did and then I do a lot of hiking as well. So, so throughout my life, I played everything from tennis to racquetball to you name it, volleyball and everything else.
What brought me to yoga actually was an interesting story is, um, one of my friends used to travel abroad a lot. She was coming back from, from Brazil, and at that time I was playing, I was playing, uh, traveling leagues in soccer, and my ankle had been twisted, and it was really weak, and she actually said, you know, every time she came into, into the States, we got together, spent a couple days together, and she said, I'm going to be doing yoga, do you want to go?
This will help you with healing your ankle, and So I went with her and literally from the first time I went in, it was hot, like I said, but again, it was in the middle of summer. So Fresno being hot didn't bother me because I used to play soccer outside. So that's how I started with yoga, my trip to yoga.
Uh, in [00:03:00] the first class I ever took, it was Bikram yoga, which is a hundred and, you know, 105 degrees, 40% humidity. And it's an hour and a half on top of that. So it was, uh. It was, like I say, it didn't bother me because I played soccer a lot and the heat, you know, it didn't really bother me, but I didn't really enjoy it.
So from that point on, I basically started practicing yoga and kind of giving away a lot of my sports, to be honest with you. And it was a progressive thing and eventually decided, you know what, I want to share some of this with other people. You know, they're at least like myself, that we play a lot of sport, but myself, like I sat at work all day in meetings and never really got to walk a lot.
And I mean, that's what I exercise, I think, because I sat all day for eight to 10 hours a day. And whenever I got home, I had to move. I couldn't go home and sit again. So that's what got me interested in yoga. Um, so I attended my [00:04:00] first training on yoga in 2013. It was the big room in L. A. And then I started teaching there.
From then on, that's where we met. And just recently, as of last year, I started training, uh, what's considered chromatic training, which is a little bit, it's a 300 hour Vyjasana training, in a sense. It's just, but they emphasize more into the philosophy. There's three parts to the training. One is being the physical part of it, really learning about the anatomy of the body.
Second part, second part is learning about the philosophy of the yoga. And then the third part is all about kind of applying them both together into your practice and then your teaching as well. So it was really eye opening for me because the Bikram Yoga training was mainly about the physical part of it.
And it was all about getting down, because they're the same poses every time, right? So she was, [00:05:00] by getting the poses down correctly, getting the dialogue, because you follow a dialogue, there's basically a script, memorizing the script to make sure everything else. And this one was a little bit different because you can throw your own little flavor on it.
And whichever, right, you will teach different than I do, and somebody else will teach different than us. And we all come from a different, um, part of it, right? Something that, that got us to yoga. And you can, and I always say, you can learn from every teacher, because every teacher usually, uh, has something in their lives that got them to yoga.
And we tend to emphasize that part of it that got us to there for me, like I said, was the physical part of it, right? That was the part that got me to yoga. So I'm always thinking about people like myself sitting in the office all day. And then come to yoga and how they're going to, how their body's going to react.
So my classes are kind of geared towards that in a sense now, which is the Bikram was a script, right? Got to follow the script. So it doesn't matter what you did. [00:06:00] That's what I'm going to show you, which in a sense, a lot of people say, well, don't you get tired of that? I said, no, it's the same thing, but your body changes every day.
Believe it or not. Right. Why should we. How'd you sleep. I mean, what you did on the weekend maybe had a little bit too much wine, right? And I recall, right? So it all different. So every and then you can. And the only thing I think I said about Bikram is you see the progression, you're going to be a lot of us in the classes.
We change it every time. So you don't really see if I make his do one or two every day. You will see the difference, but that's not the way it is, right? So with Bikram, that's the only thing I can say. It works, it has a plan, it just depends who, what you like and what you do. But I guess, like I said, for me, it's the progression that you see.
Maria Mayes: I love that. So I love the fact that I didn't know that you came to it through injury from sports and soccer. I mean, so I've got a, um, you know, my son's 16 and play soccer all the time on a travel team as well as in the high [00:07:00] school team. And I worked with the high school boys last year, uh, with some yoga.
So I'm definitely going to have to, uh, make them listen to this episode and see, see. What a difference it makes because at that age if we can start folks younger where they can learn these techniques of lengthening the muscles and strengthening in different ways, it can be really amazing because injuries the number one issue with these young players.
Marco Sanchez: And the other thing too is the breathing, right? I always tell a lot of my athletes and I had, you know, a lot of people said, don't, don't stop what you're doing. I'm not, I don't want you to do yoga a hundred percent of the time. Do what you do, but include yoga at least two to three times a week. And I had runners and people there, you know.
Wow, my, I dropped my, my, you know, my minutes on my mile is because they're breathing better. Yeah. And that's one thing people don't realize we, we think we breathe good, but until you [00:08:00] go to yoga and you go through it, and I think that's what I think once you get to do that, and I think. The heat forces you to do that because if you don't concentrate on your breath and you're at the beginning, you just mentioned it, right?
Maria Mayes: That's how I got you through when you were asking to teach my class and you go, what? I'm going to teach it in heat. And I should say, I should put the disclaimer, it wasn't a Bikram class. It was like, it was vinyasa, so it was more like 90 degrees versus 105 or whatever. So, but it was, like I said, but it is that, you know, it helps in that.
Marco Sanchez: Then, like you said, is I wish I would have known that. when I play soccer, right? Because I started playing soccer, varsity soccer in high school and then continued through college. Uh, but you know, so I wish I would have known a lot of that because I think you, you can prevent a lot of the injuries or if you do get injured, you can heal faster as well.
So that's, that's the main thing. I think, like I said, I think there's the injuries versus You able [00:09:00] to twist that, that, that joint or whatever it is that happened to be in the game, right? That, and you might be able to heal it right faster.
Maria Mayes: And leveraging that breath, as you said, to not only help you within your, you know, traveling around the actual field, but also.
You know, when you're ready to hit that penalty kick or after you missed it to just take a breath and release that, you know, leave it in the past and move forward. So I love that.
So Marco, tell us more about, so if someone's listening and maybe they've never tried a yoga ever in their life and they've never tried a heated class, what is the benefit and what is the draw to having heat in our practice?
Marco Sanchez: One of the things that heat does is we talk about healing, right? A lot of people pay a lot of money to go to saunas and sit there. Basically. It's actually harder than 1 0 5, right? So the saunas, and one of the things that I think I, I'm gonna think there's three main things with the heat, right? The heat, [00:10:00] obviously the detoxing, right?
And that's one of the things that people do, the saunas 'cause they wanna detox of the body. Knowing that the, you know, one of the largest organ or elimination is through our skin, right? That's one thing gets rid of all the stuff the body doesn't want. Second of all is when your body's hot, you know, we, you know, the arteries and vein tend to open up.
So what, what arteries and vein carries? Blood. What blood carries? Oxygen. Right. So your body's being kind of cleaned up and oxygenated and going through it. You know, those are the things that I think a lot of people don't realize that the heat helps you. And the other thing I always tell people, honestly, when I get out of a hot class.
It's like I just had a really good, uh, almost like I went to a spa. And you know, you're suffering through the class. I'm not going to say it's easy, you know, because it [00:11:00] all depends. Once you get used to it, it's a lot easier. But I always tell people, don't take just one class, because one class is not going to help.
It's like we're talking about playing soccer, right? If you go to one soccer practice, can you really say that you know how to play soccer?
Maria Mayes: Right. And to your point, we're different every day, right? Depending on how we slept, depending on how long we were in the chair the day before, your body's going to react differently.
Marco Sanchez: How hydrated you are, right? Yes. And the other thing actually makes you drink a lot more water, which a lot of us don't do, right? We tend to supplement it with iced tea or something like that, but we don't really drink the actual water. And you know, water is cleansing out your liver, right? That's another thing, right?
So, so the heat has those benefits that I think are very important to people to realize. It's hard, and I always tell people, if this is your first time, if you need to sit down, sit down. You know, if that's all you do all class, that's fine. If you need to always tell people if you need to walk out, you know, because it can be overbearing for [00:12:00] some people.
Maria Mayes: Yeah, if you have anxiety about it. I know for me, a lot of times I even I find myself still sometimes because of an old habit. Finding that space close to the door to where should I need to make a quick exit, the doors right there. So if someone's coming in with that level of a little anxiety about the heat, just remembering the breath, remembering that you can just that freedom, that permission that you're giving as a teacher right now, it's really empowering for people because a lot of times we go into a yoga studio and we just think we have to do all the things the way the teacher says and we're nervous and we don't want to be the guy that walks out of the studio early and, or passes out during class or what have you, but that's a beautiful approach. I think that welcoming, um, and freedom that you're giving them saying, sit down, lay on your mat, if that's all that and just enjoy it as a warm, warm blanket, right?
Marco Sanchez: And one of the things that I shared with them, this all happened to me, right? I mean, honestly, I had sat down. I had walked out of the [00:13:00] room, I actually passed out of one of the room one time because I needed to go to the bathroom and I was trying to, oh I can finish the class, I can finish the class, and I didn't, you know, so that's.
The thing that I, I remember that, right, we all humans, you know, sometimes we drank too much water and again, I need to go release it. Right. I mean, so, so those are the things that I always tell people, don't worry about it. Just do is your practice is not my practice. And he just to guide you in, like you said, and typically for me, I try to give people, you know, modifications.
If you can't do this, you can do this. If you can't do this, you can do that. And even at the Bikram class, like I said that. Yeah. They are so tricky to what it is. I still get modifications because I remember, I mean, you know, I'm watching the, I'm watching the class and see who who might struggle, you know, again, flexibility is something that not all of us have, right?
Especially if you sit all day at work. Your hips are really tight. Yeah, right. That's, that's the main thing. Sitting down or you might have lower back [00:14:00] promises. Yeah.
Maria Mayes: That's another piece with the heat though too, right? In terms of, yeah. If, if we're trying to stretch cold muscles, that's not gonna be as easy as muscles that we've warmed up through some movement first.
Marco Sanchez: Correct. And that's, that's the other point of the heat. Right. So that's the point of the, of the heat also 'cause it help you with the stretching. And I also can make help you get into the pose a little bit deeper than what you would do in a cold room. And I'm not saying, you know, taking yoga in the regular temperature, whatever that might be, 72, 78, whatever in the room is bad.
You know, I tell people, as long as you're doing yoga, I'm happy. I don't, I don't care if it comes to the hot class, at least you got exposed to it. And now you know something about it and just keep doing it. So, but I do request like, you know, people take at least. Three to four classes. And then in a series, don't do it like one today, one next month and one the following month, because basically you're going back again from starting.
Sure. And I go back, I go back to the analogy. [00:15:00] If you practice, if you learn to play soccer. You start one day and then you don't come back for another month. You forgot whatever you learned the first day. So I always tell people, try through the work in the first week, try to take at least, you know, three to four classes that week, and then make a decision based on that.
Maria Mayes: I love that. So I'm just thinking about, I'm wondering for our audience too, in terms of we're talking really about the physical aspect and that's what really drew you to it. And then there's the whole other aspect of the mental component. And so I'm curious with your job as an engineer, high stress, you know, lots of time in the desk, how did your practice help you?
Marco Sanchez: Well, I'll be honest with you, like I, I, and I, I repeat this a lot of many times. My job was very stressful. I used to manage a lot of funding. So I was in meetings from meeting to meeting to meeting, sometimes not even lunch, so I had all this [00:16:00] stress on me and making decisions about where the projects are, how much money you're going to move to that project and vice versa.
Then everybody tried trying to talk to you because you're the money person. Um, so what helped me, it was release all that stress. I made it a point to always attend the 630 class because I used to work to six and go to 630 and then just go release that and then I can like, almost like I got a clean scene.
Remember, I told you when you go to the spa, you come out feeling so good about yourself and I just left it all in the mat, whatever was bothering me at that time or whatever stress I had just went away. It was like, almost like I cleanse myself every day. Honestly, I tell people if it wasn't for yoga, I probably would have gone home and had a couple of drinks every night.
And you know how it starts, a couple of drinks, pretty soon it's a whole bottle and then so on.
Maria Mayes: Yeah, isn't that interesting how this very different... Modality [00:17:00] right can have the same effect, right? And yes, and so I think that's huge. I appreciate you sharing that with the listeners because a lot of them have high stress jobs and the reality is in the year 2023 their stress coming at us from every angle, right?
I'm just curious to for someone who's never tapped into the Bikram world. Can you explain? The, you know, you mentioned earlier how it's much more scripted, not freeform like the vinyasa or some of the other, um, types of yoga, but can you kind of go into a little bit of what that entails so that people know beyond just the fact that it's heated and it's very structured, kind of take it through it because it is a very different type of class than a, than a, a freeform vinyasa class.
Marco Sanchez: Yeah, I think a Bikram was originated mainly because back in India, You know, back in and even probably today, India is very poor country, you know, that there's not a lot of money. So you can't just go [00:18:00] to the doctor because you have to have money. Right? So the way that it was originated was based on health, like if you have problems with diabetes.
Yeah, problems with something else, right? And so, you go see a guru, right, what it's called, that's kind of like the, the medicine man, or whatever you want to call it, different cultures, right? The witch doctor, whatever people call it. So you went to see a guru, and the guru will say, well, do this exercise, and I will help you with you, whatever problems you're having, right?
And so that's how I started. So it got to the point where it was too many people come in. I mean, when you got, you live in a country, there's millions and millions of people, you're not going to have one or two people coming in right a day. You can have probably three, 400, 500 people coming in. So how are you going to see them?
It's only 24 hours in a day. And if you're going to spend 20, 30 minutes with each one of them, you're never going to see everybody. So they Bikram his guru develop actually the guru [00:19:00] develop this system. And this is kind of like an antidote to help you. I'm not going to say cure you because we can't claim that, right?
But it's going to help you. It's going to help you with some of this, like we were talking about the stress today, right? The stress, maybe some injuries, something that you injure yourself by working or playing or whatever it might be. So that's what the series, the 26 poses, are based on that, based on both healing and prevention in the same thing.
Right. So kind of like one post prepare you for the other.
Maria Mayes: And it really goes through almost every part of the body. Correct.
Marco Sanchez: Yeah. So the, the idea is to hit every joint. Hit every muscle, and at the same time, kind of hit every organ in a sense, right, because of the twisting and the things that you do, that's what you're going to do.
And you do the same thing with Viyasana as well, but I think it's, once it's scripted a little bit more in detail. I think. [00:20:00] I think that's what the class is an hour and a half versus most of us in the classes are only an hour, right? and so And so like I said, it is I like I said, I I love the class the the thing works But I think we can improve it a little bit better as well now that I have a little bit that i've been practicing more And learning a little bit more about the anatomy of the body and what the muscles do and how they engage them, you know, there's there's stuff that you can improve with it.
And that's what I actually had done with my class. When I do teach it, it's a little bit different. I kind of went off the script in a sense and kind of put my own flavor in it. Because based on the knowledge, you know how it is, right? When you learn something, you're following whatever the book is telling you, right?
And then as you start practicing and applying it, and then you're learning from yourself, right? You grow, right? And that's the part of it. As a teacher, you got to grow because If you tell everybody that you know everything, you really don't know everything.
Maria Mayes: Yeah, yeah, there's [00:21:00] a, uh, oh, it's saying that if someone claims to be, um, the guru or know it all run, right?
But the humble, the humble teacher, as, as you're describing, right, is the one that is always evolving and is always a student, right?
Marco Sanchez: Yeah, you have to, I always tell people, especially when they come into the, to my class, I say, please take all the classes with other teachers. Because you learn from everybody, remember at the beginning I said we all have something that drew us to yoga, whether it may be stress, whether it may be what's injury or whatever happened, we all started there and that teacher might say something that resonate with you and hit you right at the point, might be something similar to what you have, right?
And so I always tell them, don't stick with one teacher because honestly, you're not growing in yoga either. Like myself, I take classes everywhere I go with different teachers and I'm paying attention what they're saying and I go, Oh, wow, I can include that in my class. Well, that makes a little bit more [00:22:00] sense.
And to me, that's when I said, that's what we got to keep learning and growing. And I can't say that I just because I've been practicing bickering yoga for now, cause starting 2008. So 14 years that I'm going to say I'm an expert on it, right? So it's not, not such a thing as that, like I said. So for me, I'll keep growing.
Maria Mayes: That's awesome. Well, I think, you know, for anyone listening just that and encouragement to one, look at it from all these different aspects, right? We might come at it from a mental health standpoint. We might come at it from a spiritual need standpoint or. An injury standpoint as you did, but then to keep trying, if you try one class, try another one and try another one consecutively, right.
As you said, to really determine if that's a fit for you. And, um, I just, I love the, the encouragement you're offering the listeners to just try it out and try with different teachers and see what works for you, so.
Marco Sanchez: For me, it's like I said, we all, [00:23:00] like I said, we're all different. We're all humans, right? We're all different. We come from different backgrounds. We come from different things. And so, for me, I always encourage everybody, just keep growing.
Don't, don't, don't stay there. And I'm doing it as a teacher, right? Even though I've been teaching now for almost 10 years. November will be 10 years that I've been teaching. Doesn't mean that I know everything. Right. So I still want to keep growing and I think, you know, that's the way it should be because I mean, I mean, we know the yoga has been around for how many hundreds of years, right?
For me for saying 10 years, I know it all, it would be a big lie, right?
Maria Mayes: Yeah. But the amazing thing to me, though, even though if we look back at these, you know, up to 5000 years, 6000 years, depending on what you read, right? It's applicable now as it was back then, but when we, when we know more, we do better, right?
So now we know so much more about anatomy through all the science and data that we have that we can adjust things [00:24:00] to continue to evolve it and understand that a lot of these postures were created around the bodies of young Indian men. And that's a lot different than a woman in her late forties like me, right?
So yeah, I love it all. So if someone local. to the Central Valley and wants to take your classes. Where do they find you?
Marco Sanchez: Um, I've been teaching a tower yoga for the past three years up there. We, we left from a perfect balance, didn't open up the COVID. So I usually teach on Monday nights at 8 PM and that's a power class.
So that's a little bit more challenging class. There'll be a lot of Chaturanga, pushups and stuff like that. Uh, and then. Saturdays at 11, I've been making it a point to, I call it my chronic pain class. Oh, I love that. So, I ask, I ask students to tell me what they want me to work on that, that, that week. I don't, you know, back, lower back problems, shoulders, [00:25:00] hip openers, you know, breathing, shoulders and back.
So, whatever the students tell me, that's how I, how I, gonna make my class based on what they want me to. So I made it my chronic class because again, like I said, as we get older, we all have chronic pain, right?
Maria Mayes: And the value of being able to take these practices to step out of that chronic pain is huge.
And there's a lot of studies coming out to really support that. And I'll just share that, you know, my personal experience last, last fall, I was working in a medical office, teaching a group of chronic pain patients and to see the progression granted, they had very severe injuries where there's very little mobility, but through a combination of the breath and these postures, the progress they were able to make is so cool.
So I love that you're offering that as a class. at Tower. And I'll include, um, I'll include a link to your classes to Tower Yoga and the show notes too, so that if people are local, they [00:26:00] can come, come check it out.
Marco Sanchez: In the days that I don't teach, I practice as well, because I, like I said, again, I don't want to be thinking that I know everything, so I like to keep my body moving as well.
Maria Mayes: Absolutely. So I've got one more question for you, and that is about wine. What's your favorite type of wine to mindfully enjoy?
Marco Sanchez: My favorite type of wine is reds. Okay. I love reds. And it really, I don't have one red that I said, you know, um, there's, there's thousands of thousands of thousands of wines, right? Sure, sure. To pick one, to me, I think, I think it'd be very unfair. Yeah, so what type of, do you like your reds lighter body? Do you like a more bolder?
I like, you know, it just depends on the day. Okay, nice. I love it. You got a wide open palette. Yeah, I can start with a pinot earlier, you know, sometimes a merlot and then sometimes a cab. I think cabs are one of my favorites, but there's, there's so many nice or, uh, [00:27:00] I mean, you name it a lot. I've been drinking a lot of the blends lately.
I really like, really like that combination of different, different, different types of wine. So it really honestly just depend on the day. Um, you know, so I can't say one bottle, one because again, it's like yoga, too many to choose from, right? Too many to pick one, like I said, and you know, we're so lucky, right?
I mean, if you think about what 20 years the wine industry was, what is today? Oh, my God, it just exploded. And you know, like, like I always tell people, and I don't really concentrate on one region either, because each region has their own little flavor. Absolutely. Like some people say, I only go to Napa. So what you're really limiting yourself if you don't go to Paso Robles, or you don't go to Lodi, or you don't even come here in Fresno, right?
So, so it's like, so to me, it's like every little region has their own little flavor on it too, as well. Just like every style of yoga and [00:28:00] every yoga teacher. Yeah, correct. Just like every style of yoga in every studio in every different city, right? So.
Maria Mayes: I love it. So keep yourself open to opportunities and explore different styles of yoga, different teachers, different wines, different locations.
I love it. Well, I, I'm just so appreciative that we had this time together. Thank you for coming on Marco and sharing all the details about heated yoga, what drew you to it and just your personal story, I think really encourages people to on why you come into something that you're passionate about, and also just the encouragement to keep an open mind and explore, and I think.
I need to come take a yoga class from you soon. And we need to go wine tasting. Yeah. Just whenever. Just let me know. You got my number. All right. Sounds good. Thanks so much, Marco. You're welcome.