Dutch-born Marleen Stam-Gibbs is a hydrogeologist- (scientist who studies groundwater) by training. Hydrogeology is an important field where she grew up in Amsterdam, as the Dutch are renowned for their innovations in water management. She was working on her Ph.D. when she and her husband decided to move to the U.S.
Her husband, also a hydrogeologist, had recently landed a job in Concord. On a whim one day, they took an off-ramp to explore Benicia and fell in love with its history and waterfront charm. “As a European, I crave those things,” she says. It’s been 15 years since they moved here to raise their two boys, and during that time Marleen’s plans to get her Ph.D. changed.
“It turned out that when you throw a 6-month old baby in the mix, that doesn't work out so well. Working 40 hours a week as a geologist with a small baby also didn't appeal,” said Marleen. “I still wanted to be able to visit my family in Holland.”
Becoming a Yoga therapist offered her the flexibility she needed, but it all started rather unexpectedly.
She joined Benicia Fitness on First Street to get back in shape after having a baby. “I had a lot of back problems. I tried the yoga class by Linda Barron, and although I couldn't do half the poses, I left feeling like a million bucks! That had never happened to me before with any kind of exercise. Before too long I was doing four classes a week. A year later I started the teacher training.”
Since then, Marleen has become the proprietor of Benicia Yoga & Wellness located in Benicia’s lower Arsenal, and continues to teach yoga while also specializing in Trigger Point Release and Thai Yoga Massage. She recently began pursuing a dream to become a Yoga Therapist through the Niroga Institute in Oakland. When she completes those studies, she’ll restructure her business around that.
“The lovely thing about yoga is that it can benefit anyone. If you can breathe, you can do yoga. It's not about the poses. Your yoga practice can be adjusted to you and your needs so that it can truly become transformative.” She believes, “No matter what condition you are in physically or mentally, we can find a way of practicing yoga that will make you feel better.”