When John Pierre and Linda Marquez arrived in Coronado in 2000 and established Coronado Yoga & Wellness Center, it was a first for the Crown City.
“We were the first yoga studio on the island,” said Linda. “At the first class I taught, a women with tears in her eyes came up to me and said, ‘you don’t know how much our community needed this!’”
Apparently so… today, 17 years into the new millennium, it seems there’s no end to the island settings where you can get your om on.
Yoga classes embellish the Coronado landscape from stem to stern — you’ll find early morning classes on the grass at Centennial Park with a backdrop of the San Diego skyline and dock yoga at Loews Coronado Bay Resort overlooking the marina. There is yoga on the beach at Loews Coronado Bay Resort and the Hotel del Coronado as well as classes in gyms, on private patios, and even on paddle boards. The new John D. Spreckels Community Center will offer yoga classes for seniors, and yoga is one of the most popular offerings at Sharp Coronado Hospital.
Cynthia Mendolia teaches at the dedicated yoga studio within Sharp Coronado’s Sewall Healthy Living Center, which just celebrated its third year. Typical clients are community members, said Mendolia, ages 60 and up and younger staff members from Sharp Hospital. Mendolia teaches hatha and vinyasa flow, which are basic beginner and intermediate yoga classes offered weekdays. Register by calling Sharp at (800) 827-4277. “What’s great is that you can experience yoga in a small group setting and the cost is just $8 a class,” said Mendolia. “You don’t need to have a gym membership.”
Some people like their yoga hot. Coronado Hot Yoga, at 1330 Orange Ave., can oblige quite nicely. It features the 26 postures of hatha yoga designed to scientifically warm and stretch muscles, ligaments and tendons in a specific order developed by Bikram Choudhury, the founder of the Yoga College of India. Born in 1946, Choudhury began practicing yoga at the age of four, devoting four to six hours a day to yoga throughout his life. At age 13, he won the National India Yoga Championship.
All postures are practiced in an environment of 105 degrees, with the theory that a warm body is more flexible. During the 90-minute class, you can plan on sweating — a lot — and it is therefore recommended that you drink as much water as you can before and during the class, and exercise on an empty stomach. Women usually wear exercise shorts, tank tops and sports bras. Men usually wear exercise shorts or swim trunks with an optional T-shirt. And do bring a towel.
Classes are offered daily, beginning as early as 6 a.m. and as late as 6:30 p.m.; check the schedule at nadohotyoga.com.
Coronado Yoga & Wellness Center offers about 25 classes a week. And while Linda and Jean Pierre both recognize that their studio is a business, their sense of peace dominates all their client relationships. “Our joy, our reward,” said Linda, “is to hear our clients tell us, ‘I sleep better now,’ or ‘I’m nicer to my kids’ or ‘my back has stopped hurting.’”
Like many yoga teachers on the island, the Marqueses also have private clients, several of whom Jean Pierre travels long distances to see. For one week of every month he visits one longtime client, teaching two yoga classes each day to her and her friends and family. Former Hollywood actress, Louise Curry Good, was Jean Pierre’s client for 15 years up until her death at the age of 100 and six months. “She was so limber well into her 90s,” he said, referencing photos in her autobiography. “She was remarkably healthy and beautiful her entire life.”
At her Blue Lotus Studio within the Deep Blue Sanctuary Spa (formerly La Petite Comfort), Lulu Martin works with clients in hatha yoga and restorative yoga to facilitate relief from pain or discomfort and to harmonize and balance energy. “Sometimes, I help them recover from an injury or a major illness, such as cancer or a stroke. Yoga helps us refuel our bodies and provides relief from stress or anxiety.” She sometimes ends her classes by sounding her crystal bowls. The sound of the bowls’ vibrations connect to energy centers in the body called chakras. “Most people find them deeply relaxing and harmonizing,” she said.
The daughter of a former commanding officer at North Island Naval Air Station, Martin took her first yoga class on the lawn behind the Coronado Library when she was 15. In 1992, she began her teacher training at the Master Yoga Academy in La Jolla. Neither the library lawn nor the yoga academy exist today, but Martin and her clients are in tiptop shape.
For the past 19 years, Martin has taught group yoga classes at the Coronado Shores’ Roeder Pavilion, where her students are typically upwards of 70 years, and Martin therefore emphasizes balance. “As people age, they tend to collapse inwardly,” she said, demonstrating a hunched position with shoulders leaning forward and knees bent. “I challenge them to ‘Stand in your power!’”
“Movement is life, and when we stop moving, we stop living,” she said. “You must keep moving — no matter what your age!”
In 2000, Dee Sloan was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and adding to its painful flare-ups, in 2011, she injured her back. Shortly thereafter she moved from northern California to Coronado.
“I was walking on the beach and saw people practicing beach yoga. At 61, I got it in my head that I was going to do this,” she said. “I overexerted myself at first, but I stuck with it and after about three months I wasn’t in pain anymore. Moreover, I had learned how to listen to my body, which has become a really important habit for staying healthy.”
Sloan went back to school to become a yoga instructor and now teaches gentle somatic yoga through Adult Education at Coronado High School. “We focus on retraining our brains and muscles to relax and release and become more mindful. Practicing this type of awareness really helps us live a better life.”
Adult Education at Coronado High School features year-round yoga with most classes offered two nights a week. Classes include “Everyday Yoga” (recommended for beginners); “All Levels Yoga Flow,” “Gentle Somatic Yoga” (focused on reversing the effects of pain and a good choice for individuals with limited mobility and muscular stiffness) and “PiYo Live,” a faster-paced combination of yoga moves and pilates; all are priced at about $7 each; the most affordable option on the island.
It would not be overstating things to say that the Marqueses birthed much of the yoga tradition in Coronado. Their studio is recognized by Yoga Alliance as a school that can certify yoga teachers, but their credentials go far beyond that. While studios might earn the certification after five years or so, Jean Pierre has taught yoga for 50 years; Linda for 35, beginning with his Institute of Mind and Body Awareness in Los Angeles. Many Coronado teachers -— and yoga teachers throughout the San Diego region and beyond — were once students of one or both Marqueses.
Danell Dwaileebe began her yoga career 15 years ago, teaching at Coronado Yoga & Wellness Center, then Coronado High’s Adult Education, and for the past 13 years at Hotel del Coronado, both at The Del’s fitness center and on the beach, where she tells her students that “our roof is the sky, the floor is the sand, the water is the music, the breeze is the air conditioner and the sun is the light.”
Dwaileebe recently opened her own studio, transforming the courtyard patio at Discover Wellness (543 Orange Ave.) into a peaceful Zen-like center where she teaches a variety of yoga classes, including restorative yoga. “People call it their sleepy-time yoga. I provide blankets and do readings. “ Also popular is “Vinyasa to Vino,” where the yoga class ends with a glass (or two) of wine.
“Yoga is for everybody,” Dwaileebe emphasized. “People will say, ‘I can’t do yoga — I’m not flexible.’ But I tell them yoga gives you flexibility!
“And yoga makes you awake, aware and alive. You’re more apt to notice flowers and birds. And at classes on the beach, we pause to look at dolphins!”
Coronado resident and business–woman Kate Chan has been practicing yoga at Coronado Yoga and Wellness for 10 years. “”I’m here whenever I’m in town!” she said. The owner of her own signature line of sustainable fashion, Chan is often traveling the world as she develops and extends her brand. She commends yoga as a way to “center my mind, body and spirit. It teaches me to breath.”
Aah, yes, breathing. That is the essential element of yoga, said Jean Pierre, who, by way of illustrating the point, suggested the following exercise:
“Imagine a peaceful setting, like walking on the beach,” he instructed. “Keep that image in your mind while you are breathing fast, huffing and puffing. You just can’t do it.
“Now imagine a stressful situation, like being in heavy traffic. But keep your breathing slow and even. The stress of the situation goes away. It’s impossible to be upset if your breathing is nice and slow.”
“Nobody can control our peace of mind if you don’t allow them to,” he said. “It is our birthright to master our emotions and not let people or circumstances destroy that birthright.”