Miss A Columnist

Van Ma grew up in San Francisco. She graduated from the University of California, San Diego with a degree in Human Biology and a minor in French Literature. Having left her heart in San Francisco, she returned to work across the Bay Area as a behavioral therapist, teaching verbal and nonverbal children with ASD. She maintains an active lifestyle by practicing yoga and running daily. In her spare time, she loves to read at local cafes, work on art projects, watch sports, and rock out to country music. Wherever she is, Van loves to try new restaurants and check out events around the city. She lives by the motto: “I work to live and I live to travel,” so she always looks forward to local and foreign adventures.

Yoga With Nick Palladino Of Stonestown YMCA

(Photo Credit: Nick Palladino)

Backpacking through Colombia. (Photo Credit: Nick Palladino)

For Nick Palladino, (RYT, ACT, Holistic Health Coach) former college athlete and current yoga teacher, health and fitness have always played an important role in his life. Straight out of college he landed a corporate management job that left him “stressed out of [his] mind.” Practicing yoga started as a stress outlet but quickly turned into an opportunity to seek happiness and balance. The moving meditation allowed the space and time for him to realize bringing in the big paycheck every month was not bringing happiness. “I owe yoga for saving me from a life of stress and no purpose,” Palladino admits. A year later, he quit his job to travel Asia and Mexico teaching English and practicing yoga.

Palladino lived in a gym while in Thailand. (Photo Credit: Nick Palladino)

Palladino lived in a gym while in Thailand. (Photo Credit: Nick Palladino)

After all the travels and adventures, he returned to the states with a new perspective that well-being is interconnected to mentality, physical fitness and diet. This led him to create a holistic health and athletic training system based on his personal experience and studies. The program consists of four pillars: yoga, strength training, nutrition and meditation. A strong yoga practice builds a strong foundation by creating a flexible body and mind. The sequences help challenge the mind to focus, work hard, relax and practice non-judgment. A complement to yoga is the “heavy” compound weight training to build muscle and bone strength; it helps burn fat and increase positive hormones. Next, there’s a nutrition plan centered on lean organic foods and low sugar intake to keep the body running off stored energy (fat) and a cheat day that makes the diet realistic! Lastly, he encourages meditation for 20 minutes a day to increase mental abilities, reduce stress, lower blood pressure and even improve sex life.


Astavakrasana (Photo Credit: Nick Palladino)

Palladino works with clients on an individual basis, targeting one or all four aspects of the program. Three female roommates have been on his eating plan and practicing yoga – all have lost weight and feel empowered from his teachings. Since starting the heavy lifting component, his boss and a fellow co-worker have reported they feel stronger and have more energy; both have opted to start the nutrition step. His cousin has managed to lose 20 pounds and has become inspired to attend school for holistic health.

Salamba Sirsasana variation.

Salamba Sirsasana variation (Photo Credit: Nick Palladino)

While researching for his program, Palladino learned his vision – to strengthen the spirit, mind, and body – lines up perfectly with that of the YMCA. He has been with the Stonestown YMCA team for the last year, leading his department with a yogic approach. He manages from a place of confidence and calmness but challenges the staff and members to be mindful and to live in the present moment. He gives lectures on health and wellness, including a recent one on the power of fasting. After attending the lecture, a member shared that she was able to reduce her blood glucose level to a pre-diabetic state by following his advice.

As a teacher, Palladino strives to be genuine and open. He tells me, “My goal has been and continues to be to facilitate change and growth in myself and others by sharing my experiences and perspectives on life, health and happiness.” He pushes his students to new limits, using yoga as a way to shine light on mental and emotional habits. In a recent interview, Palladino explains, “In yoga, we measure growth in how much the mind learns to focus, build concentration and spirit. As we become conscious in our practice, we take that consciousness into our lives. I teach that yoga is a tool we can use to overcome obstacles. I practice yoga because I also have questions and need help coping with life’s challenges. I am by no means someone who has it all figured out or claims to understand ‘what it all mean’ but I feel I have the passion, knowledge and experience to help others make changes to live their lives to the fullest.”

Nick being Nick.

Hanging out during work break (Photo Credit: Nick Palladino)

Personally, he has helped me overcome fears, on and off the mat. His insistent yet encouraging nature has pushed me to try and conquer poses I normally avoid. He does not teach poses, he teaches a way of being in each pose. In every class he reminds us to breathe and to keep our eyes open during challenging poses. He always says, “the mind wants to give up before the body.” Since working with Palladino, I have learned to acknowledge a thought, let it go, quiet my mind and find happiness in the present. He has helped me acquire the tools I need to get through this roller coaster we call life.

Often times we see yoga teachers as perfect individuals who have their life neatly packaged with a bow on top. However, Palladino is unique in that he presents himself as a normal guy who gets stressed out from work, has emotional hang-ups and makes mistakes; he just happens to be a yoga teacher. His role in the community is simply invaluable.

To learn more about his holistic health coaching and yoga classes, please click here. Contact Nick Palladino at nick@thebigyogi.com


Stonestown YMCA
333 Eucalyptus Drive
San Francisco, CA 94132
Ph. 415-242-7100

Wheel House SF
1 Embarcadero Center
Lobby Level, R-1213
San Francisco, CA 94111
Ph. 415-666-2288 then press 0


Meditation on Mondays from noon – 12:45 p.m. and Yoga on Thursdays from 6:55 – 8 a.m. at Stonestown YMCA

Yoga on Saturdays from 12:15 – 1:15 p.m. at Wheel House SF

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