Featured Teacher: Marisa Toriggino

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Behind Yoga Garden’s tranquil studios, wonderfully curated shop, and lobby full of smiles is a woman who built her dream out of her own home. Meet Marisa, Co-Founder and Prenatal Program Director of Yoga Garden and full time mom of two beautiful daughters. Allow her journey to inspire you as she shares her heartfelt story with us today!

(YGSF) Tell us about yourself! How did you find yourself in this yoga journey?

(Marisa) I started yoga right after I got out of college. It was not popular, no one was doing it, but a co-worker was a teacher and I went to her class. I’ll never forget my first yoga class or my first yoga teacher. As a requirement of my childhood I always had to be doing a sport. Usually it was swimming, but I also loved softball and basketball or really whatever the other kids were doing at the local park. I was a natural athlete. When I took my first yoga class I remember thinking that this was nothing like the sports I had done growing up. I was so much more in my body, feeling my body, directing my body. I remember that first savasana and laying on the floor and feeling the ground beneath me and feeling like I was flying at the same time. I thought then, this is going to help me deal with my life, figure out my life, save my life.

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(YGSF) As the director of Yoga Garden’s Prenatal Program, how has your life experiences influenced your practice and your career?

(Marisa) Almost 15 years later I found myself still doing yoga, studying with one of the best teachers anywhere and pregnant. (I also used yoga to help me become pregnant, as did my husband). During pregnancy I used yoga judiciously and intelligently. By this time I was an advanced yogi, so I did wonderfully long and supported shoulder stands, headstands and other postures that allowed me to go deeply inward. I still love to teach this way, but not everyone is in a place that allows them to do this during their pregnancy. I gave birth, naturally and at home one day after 48 hours of labor and 72 hours without sleep. I was in shock as to how painful and difficult it was to get a baby out of a body and couldn’t believe that this had been going on for millennia.


(YGSF)  As a busy mom yourself, how did you keep a balanced life?

(Marisa) I kept doing yoga but adjusted my practice to keep my priorities at the time in line. Meaning that I had a child to care for, a home to manage, a job to keep and that I did not have lots of time for a yoga practice. So, like many yogi’s before me, I decided that everything was my yoga practice. Washing dishes, changing a diaper, paying a bill, driving friendly, cooking food, doing a forward bend in the hallway, kicking up into handstand between tasks, on and on….One day I was happy to discover that I was pregnant again. Same situation as before, but now everything is more. Toddler to care for, more work, more stress, I was older. I kept things as simple as I could. Which is hard to do. My yoga practice (whatever it was) helped me a lot. It kept my ego in check, it kept my body supple, my mind flexible. Really. This time my birth was different. One night I woke from a very light sleep at 10:30 pm. I had a strong contraction. This contraction rolled into another and another. I gave birth, without a midwife, but with my husband near, 42 minutes later. It was just a little after 11:00 pm. At that time I lived at the Yoga Garden. It was my home. My bedroom was what is now the back of Air studio. It was a few days before Christmas and after the baby was born, the night sky shone in through the windows and we ate cheese, olives, bread,champagne and Christmas cake all on the bed, while our little yogi slept peacefully beside us. That was a great moment.

(YGSF) What’s the next for Marisa?

(Marisa) My kids are in elementary school now. I identify as a yogi at the core of myself. But I rarely talk about it. I’ve done yoga for a long time, I’ve seen a lot of changes in the yoga industry, the Indian yoga teachers that were around when I first started studying have all died. Currently the yogis that are alive (and older than me) are all the aging hippy generation. Hard to relate to them. I am a mother, a colleague, a business women, a teacher, a friend. I don’t know where I am headed as I go forward with my life, but I will keep my yoga with me and I am so grateful.