The Stress Management Center (SMC) of Marin is definitely the place to land if you are ready for a holistic approach to increased wellbeing. If you are suffering from any manifestation of stress or recovering from an injury, SMC, tucked into a quiet corner on Magnolia Street in Larkspur, should be your next stop.
The studio space was designed by renowned Vastu master Bhaskar Deva whose task was to create a calming space and calming it is calming indeed. There are soft colors and lighting throughout, an arched ceiling that diffuses natural light in the yoga studio, beautiful photographs, sculptures and cozy rooms for private yoga or bodywork sessions. Robin Gueth opened SMC Marin in 2000 with the intention of creating a place to “empower people to heal themselves.” Her own physical healing was a significant inspiration. A classical pianist challenged with scoliosis, Gueth began practicing yoga when she was sixteen. Her brother’s yoga teacher designed a program for her that ultimately helped pull the curve out of her spine. That was the start of a home practice that continued for fifteen years. Gueth came to her first class at age thirty, pregnant and concerned about protecting her cervical spine. The doors began to open and ultimately she found herself becoming a teacher specializing in yoga therapy.
Based on numerous testimonials from her clients, Gueth is succeeding in her mission to empower clients. Dan Winey, an avid golfer and Managing Principal at Gensler, came to SMC two years ago with a severe spinal injury. After eighteen pain-filled months of unsuccessful medical treatment, surgery was the next step and playing golf again was an unlikely prospect. However after he began working with Gueth in private sessions, he experienced immediate results. “Much to my surprise, my golf game improved to a level equivalent to my college years.” Winey recently stopped by for an early morning session en route to the airport for a business trip and shared that he just “shot [his] best game” ever.
Bob Kristoff, an attorney, suffered from a ruptured disc. He was also facing surgical intervention when a friend recommended Gueth and yoga therapy. “Incredibly, after the first session, the back pain and numbness in my leg disappeared. The stretching sessions have returned me to normal activities and kept me from going under the knife.
”Gueth’s approach is to teach her clients about the healing aspects of yoga while integrating her knowledge of well-established principles from other modalities, including both Western medicine and Ayurvedic medicine. She adeptly synthesizes a vast amount of information about the body and incorporates feedback from numerous local health-care practitioners to develop an individualized therapy plan for each client.
“People often want to practice yoga because it makes them feel better.” Gueth strives to lead people beyond that desire to learning “which pose takes you to that place” of feeling better, and to develop a lasting, beneficial relationship with their bodies.
Gueth’s team of experienced yoga instructors at SMC also provides yoga instruction with “a therapy eye.” SMC Marin offers unique yoga classes and workshops with renowned teachers, including hatha yoga with Patricia Sullivan, Vini yoga with Lynn Weinberger, and Bliss yoga with Kaya and Shu Lin.
Bliss yoga, or Svaroopa yoga, is intended to gently but deeply open the core by moving slowly through therapeutic, supported poses. Imagine being guided to rest in savasana at the beginning of class, comfortably atop soft blankets, knees raised and supported. The teacher provides subtle, hands-on adjustments to position the back on the floor before this pose begins, and again throughout the class. Rising from the floor after class, you will find your mind calmer, your step a bit gentler, and shoulders floating down to where they belong.
SMC is the place to develop a healing relationship with your body. Gueth invites you to “come with your aches and pains to learn how to heal.” Perhaps “Stress Abatement Center of Marin” would be more accurate. Just a post-Bliss class thought.