December 2018 Newsletter

The Yoga Teachers Association Proudly Presents

Laughter, Expression, and Joy!

with Robert Rivest

Saturday, December 8, 2018
1:30–4:30 pm
The Yoga Studio at Club Fit
584 North State Road
Briarcliff Manor, NY

A joke a day might not keep the doctor away, but there’s scientific evidence
that laughter evokes the relaxation response. 

In this playful workshop, Robert will show you how to free your body and mind so that laughter will flow freely, joyfully, and spontaneously. He will share his unique health and well-being practice that blends mindful breathing, Tai-Chi, expressive movement, and Laughter Yoga to create more energy, vitality, and joy for yourself and your students. You will learn how to use your body and facial expressions to convey with positive energy all the excitement and joy that Laughter Yoga has to offer. Robert’s exciting exercises and energizing movement will help you feel more positive, playful, upbeat, and cheerful when practicing and leading Laughter Yoga. 

Robert Rivest is an internationally admired Laughter Yoga teacher and certified master trainer. His teaching style is influenced by a 25-year practice of mindfulness meditation, Tai-Chi, and Qigong. Since 1985, he has given over 7,000 presentations around the world. His keynotes, trainings, retreats, and “Laugh Along” YouTube videos have helped thousands of people around the world feel healthier and happier. 

To attend Robert’s workshop, register now!

Workshops are $45 members / $65 nonmembers in advance ($55 / $75 at the door).
Preregistration is highly recommended in order to guarantee a space in the workshop.
Cancellation within 24 hours of a workshop may result in forfeiture of the registration fee.



How I Became a Laughter Yoga Master Trainer 

by Robert Rivest 

My background is in the performing arts. I have been presenting comic mime, health, literacy, and stress management educational programs in schools, libraries, and theaters for over 30 years. In 2009, Mary Rives and Keith Carlson offered a Laughter Yoga session at my performing arts guild. I loved it. I felt great on the drive home and for several hours afterward. That night, I read online everything I could about Laughter Yoga and Dr. Kataria. I ordered and studied several Laughter Yoga books, CDs, and DVDs. I shared Laughter Yoga with everyone I met. I set up a number of friends that I would call and, without a word, simply laugh together to relieve stress. 

In 2010, I took my Laughter Yoga Leader Training with Rebecca J. Foster and immediately set up a weekly Laughter Yoga club. I started offering classes in senior centers. I also presented free public awareness programs and mini-demos everywhere I could. I started including Laughter Yoga follow-along segments in my comic mime shows, health shows, and stress management programs. I did over 500 of these shows, sharing Laughter Yoga with audiences of 200 to 600 people at a time. From a desire deep in my heart to share Laughter Yoga with people near and far, I created several “Laugh Along with Robert” YouTube videos. To my surprise, they became very popular and increased my laughing audience worldwide by the thousands. 

In 2011, I attended Jeffrey Brier’s Laughter Yoga Teacher Training and began leading two-day Laughter Yoga Leader Trainings and presenting Laughter Yoga in corporations, schools, hospitals, fitness studios, minimum security drug and alcohol rehab facilities . . . you name it. In 2013, I attended and assisted Dr. Kataria’s 5-day Laughter Yoga Teacher Training in Orlando, Florida, and was invited to Japan to share my style of Laughter Yoga. In 2015, I became a Laughter Ambassador and, in 2016, I was trained and mentored by Dr. Kataria to be a Certified Laughter Yoga Master Trainer. I have taught over 30 Laughter Yoga Leader Trainings in the USA and Japan. 

Personally, the real benefits of Laughter Yoga came when I committed myself to practicing pranayama and Laughter Yoga everyday.  I have witnessed myself become more playful, joyful, generous, giving, friendly, peaceful. and relaxed. I am more present with my family and friends. I had a difficult/distant relationship with my father and in his later years he happily attended my Laughter Yoga classes. I believe it may have eased some of the symptoms of his Parkinson's disease. My younger sister occasionally attends my Laughter club and my older sister graduated from my first Laughter Yoga Leader training in 2012.

Mentally and physically, I am much healthier now. I get sick less often, can exercise more, and breathe more easily than ever before. In my early 30s, I suffered from several trauma-induced and stress-related illnesses including post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and allergies. To heal, I practiced mindfulness meditation, Tai-Chi, Qigong, and yoga. Since 2009, Laughter Yoga has been a major part of my healing process and has helped to greatly reduce many of my symptoms.

Socially, things have opened up for me too. I am a better listener now and more understanding and compassionate. People everywhere are friendlier to me. I am absolutely thrilled to be a part of a social network of  laughing, caring, Laughter Yoga friends all around the world!

Professionally, I am much more understanding of my clients’ needs and am able to “go with the flow” with greater ease when "surprise" situations occur. Laughter Yoga has been exceptionally beneficial for me as a performer and speaker. It has given me tremendous control of my breathing and vocal quality. I am able to give more of myself and be of greater service. Laughter Yoga has helped me reach, and truly connect with, an even more diverse group of people, in an ever-widening circle of joy. I have cotaught with several Laughter Yoga professionals and look forward to more laughing partnerships in the future. The ripple effect of Laughter Yoga is amazing and very profound. 

Learn more about Robert at


2018–2019 Workshops

Robert Rivest
Laughter, Expression, and Joy!
December 8
Details and registration info in this newsletter and at

Dan Leven
Shake Your Soul: The Yoga of Dance

January 12
We were born to dance. Human beings have used dance to celebrate, build community, and feel a sense of well-being from our earliest days on this earth. It is time for you to reclaim this birthright. Bring new inspiration and freedom to your body and mind with Shake Your Soul, an integrative dance, meditative movement, and mindfulness-based practice. In this workshop you will learn organic exercises that will open your heart and awaken your soul, connect with the natural dancer within, and transform stress and tension through Dan's unique blend of body-centered mindfulness practices.

Jason Ray Brown: The Karma of Your Verbal Cues
February 9

What is the karma of the verbal cues that you offer in class? While they may be appropriate for them today, will they continue to be healthy cues over time, or will they eventually lead to an imbalance and/or injury? Leading students into healthy postural alignment has as much to do with what NOT to say as it does with what to say. In this workshop we’ll examine several common verbal cues about the pelvis and shoulder girdle that may eventually lead to joint pathology in the hips and shoulders, along with alternative strategies and verbal cues that can help preserve the health of these joints over time.

Deborah Lubetkin: LifeForce Yoga to Meet the Anxious Mood
March 9
LifeForce Yoga interweaves ancient disciplines with current scientific findings to help you release what no longer serves you and become the agent of your own healing. Learn yoga tools not taught in regular classes to support the healing journey for yourself or others. Develop a practice that includes breathing exercises, easy postures, and guided meditations. This program covers evidence-based yogic tools designed to relax and calm anxiety and bring balance to the emotional body.

Ray Crist: Yoga and the Luminous Body
April 13
This is an experiential workshop that offers a direct understanding of yoga and its healing power, as well as an introduction to Shamanic energy healing. Ray has a unique way of making deep knowledge accessible to all. You will understand what shamanic work is all about and you will acquire tools that you can use to heal yourself and others. This workshop tends to the healing and evolution of all three perceptual states: lecture for the mind, yoga asana for the body, and shamanic journeys for the soul.

Paula Heitzner: Beyond the Triangle—Esoteric Poses to Spice Up Your Teaching
May 11
Do you like to be surprised, delighted, and enlightened? Our workshop presenter this month is equipped to offer you these experiences. Be prepared to learn the obscure postures that were gleaned over the years from esoteric studies, ancient lore, and Eastern art and philosophy. Be inspired to spice up your own practice and teaching methodology. Note taking and question asking is encouraged and expected! 

Tao Porchon-Lynch: Celebrating Life!
June 8
Experience 100-years-young Tao Porchon-Lynch’s unique and accessible teachings firsthand. Use the four pillars of yoga—pranayama (breath work), mudras (gestures), bandhas (energetic locks), and chakras (energy centers)—to explore the rich potential of the body to renew, heal, and revitalize. Practice Tao’s special “yoga tango” and learn subtle techniques that are not taught anywhere else. Walk away inspired, strengthened, renewed, and ready to energize your practice and life.


Words of Wisdom

from Paula Renuka Heitzner

Dear All, 

December marks the end of the calendar, accompanied by the preparations for the holiday season and the beginning of the new year. It can also be the perfect time to look back at the months that passed. Are there issues that we avoided and loose ends to tie up? Now may be the opportune time to review our state of affairs and bring some resolution into the agenda.

Yoga teaches us to be mindful and to focus our awareness and actions toward positive steps in the direction of dealing with issues confronting us. This does not mean that we have to solve a problem perfectly, but to not deny its existence, and to learn what it can teach us so that we can make peace with it and ourselves.

When we explore this opportunity to bring order and balance into our life, our celebrations can be so much lighter and joyous. Balance, as we are taught in our yoga practice, is valuable and necessary in every aspect of our being. Simple physical balance is needed for our standing poses. These teach us clearly the importance of balance—to use all parts of our body dynamically to access its strength and alignment, from the feet balancing on the earth to the head reaching up to the ether.

Mental and emotional balance is crucial to our energy output, enabling us to become more aware of our behavior and more conscious of the part we play in what we manifest. As we become more balanced mentally and emotionally, we develop the inner strength and resources to let go of habits, patterns, mind sets, and negativities and to deal differently with the problems confronting us.

Spiritual balance allows us to open to our heart's energy, to trust our inner voice and instincts, and to understand the power of surrender—not giving up, not giving in, not giving out, but to let go of mistrust and distrust as we trust more and more. 

May the holidays be a time of great joy, peace, and reconnection to all things that help us be strong and that keep us on our path of growth as we seek our own step-by- step transformation. Greet the New Year with anticipation instead of regrets. 

On the second Saturday of each month, YTA offers workshops to help us meet our challenges and to mingle with like-minded teachers and students who are also dealing with "life." Join us. 

Yours In yoga, 
Paula Renuka Heitzner


From our first re
treat at the Himalayan Institute in November


Your Thoughts

How do you use Listen, Observe, Educate, Provide, and Guide in your yoga class? 

Listen, observe, educate, provide, and guide are often used by sincere teachers as they train their students. They are the building blocks of explanation when the asanas are taught. Once one knows the asana being practiced, I think these words should be used by the student to create a greater focus and to question themselves as they deepen their practice. Using these words can make the difference between an organic internal approach to what is being done and doing the practice mechanically as posed gestures.

This section is dedicated to answering your questions about yoga—as a student or as a teacher. Questions? Comments? Send them to or go to our Facebook page. Tell us your thoughts!

Paula Heitzner, ERYT– 500, is a Master Yoga Teacher. She has taught yoga for over 50 years and has trained many others to teach the time-honored principles, practices, and philosophy of yoga. The “teacher of teachers,” as she is called by her students, teaches at the New Age Center in Nyack. 

Learn more about Paula at


From the November YTA workshop with Jeff Migdow


Member Events 

YTA members (individuals & studios) are invited to include their events here. Send details to by the 15th of the month to be included in the following month’s newsletter. Member events are also posted in YTA's online directorythe source for information about yoga teachers, studios, and yoga teacher trainings throughout the Hudson Valley. To be included, individual and studio members may send their information to

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Family Dog Yoga (hosting studio)
Elisha Simpson
12 N Division St, 2nd Floor
Peekskill, NY

Teen Mindfulness for Peekskill Youth
Ongoing (Tues, 3:15-4 pm)
Elisha Simpson of Crossover Yoga Project and Pat Taylor offer free mindfulness sessions to help teens learn how to control impulsive behavior, focus better in school, and develop empathy toward themselves and others. Free for Peekskill youth.

Iyengar Yoga Scarsdale
Nancy Kardon
74 Brewster Road
Scarsdale, NY 10583
299 Greenwich Avenue, 3rd Fl.
Greenwich, CT

A Look at the Big Practice of Yoga with Nancy Kardon 
Dec 1 (Sat, 4-5:30 pm)
Come for tea and let’s take a look at the big practice of yoga. Bring your copy, if you have one, of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. Free

Iyengar Yoga Fundamentals with Nancy Kardon 
Dec 15 (Sat, 11:45 am-12:45 pm)
Learn the basic of this method of Hatha yoga that teaches attention/awareness through the posture practice of asanas. True to the principles of classic yoga, from this practice you learn to realign how you live in the world. $25; free for students new to Iyengar Yoga Scarsdale 

Scoliosis and Back Care with Nancy Kardon 
Dec 15 (Sat, 2:15-3:45 pm)
Learn to recognize and work with spinal imbalances. Learn how to create extension/expansion through traction work using prop aides (belts, walls, ropes). Learn to embrace and accept who you are and create more freedom at the same time. $25 (drop in fine)

Riverstone Yoga

Contact: Jeanette
2 Hudson View Way
Tarrytown, NY 10591
914-332-YOGA (9642)

The Yamas & Niyamas: On & Off the Mat with Lyn Kehoe
Dec 1 & 2 (Sat & Sun, 2-5 pm)
Learn the meaning of each Yama and Niyama, how to apply principals on the mat, and how to carry the practice with you off the mat. Intended for both teachers and students, enjoy a master class followed by in-depth discussion. $125 for both days; $75 for one day

MELT: Forward Head Posture, Dowager’s Hump & Neck Pain 
Dec 15 (Sat, 11:30-12:45 pm)
Have you ever noticed poor posture or that your head is in front of your shoulders? This issue is becoming more prominent due to increased hours sitting at a desk. The MELT method helps you realign your posture and relieve pain. $30 

Yoga Culture
Contact: Kristine Habersang
105 Mill Plain Road
Danbury, CT 06811

Yoga Nidra: Guided Relaxation & Meditation with Allison Ray Jeraci
Dec 2 (Sun, 7:30-8:30 pm)
Experience relief from stress and gain a restful sleep and a greater sense of harmony and balance throughout your daily life. We will explore a receptive state of relaxation through setting an intention, becoming aware of the sensations lingering in the body, feeling the breath and the energetic body around us, and coming to a place of detachment, a time for self-reflection, and deep relaxation. $30

Family Yoga Class with Denise Nobile
Dec 9 (Sun, 2:30-3:30 pm)
Standing poses, sun salutations, partner poses, breathing and relaxation techniques and fun, interactive yoga games. This class is an opportunity for bonding with family while sharing the health and well-being that yoga brings. Appropriate for children ages 4-12 years. Babysitters and dads are welcome too! Try to bring mats; supplies are limited. Children must be accompanied by an adult. $5 per child; $5 per adult

New Year’s Day Special Class with Jenny Schuck
Jan 1 (Tues, 10 am-12 noon)
Ring in the new year! We'll awaken the spine and the soul as we enter 2019. Given at Level 2 with modifications given for Levels 1 and 3. $35 by Dec 31; $45 drop in


~ Final Thoughts ~

Sweet Darkness

When your eyes are tired
the world is tired also.

When your vision has gone
no part of the world can find you.

Time to go into the dark
where the night has eyes
to recognize its own.

There you can be sure
you are not beyond love.

The dark will be your womb

The night will give you a horizon
further than you can see.

You must learn one thing.
The world was made to be free in.

Give up all the other worlds
except the one to which you belong.

Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet
confinement of your aloneness
to learn

anything or anyone
that does not bring you alive

is too small for you.

David Whyte, The House of Belonging. Many Rivers Press, Langely, WA, 1997.



Newsletter design and layout: Lisa Sloane 

Editorial team: Terry Fiore Lavery, Paula Heitzner, Audrey Brooks

Yoga Teachers Association was created by a small group of pioneering yoga teachers in 1979 who saw the need for affordable and continuing education. Today, YTA continues as a 5013c nonprofit dedicated to expanding learning opportunities for teachers and committed students.


$50 annual dues for individual YTA membership
$75 for studio membership

Workshop Fees 

$45 members / $65 nonmembers in advance
($55 and $75 at the door)

Find out about and register for upcoming workshops at

Like YTA on Facebook!


Audrey Brooks

Vice President 
Lorraine Burton

Steven Cownie

Susan Edwards Colson

Board Member-At-Large
Paula Heitzner, ERYT

Program Coordinator
Robin Laufer, MS Ed, RYT 500

Special Events
Gina Callender

Terry Fiore Lavery, RYT

Newsletter Design & Layout
Lisa Sloane, MA, ERYT

President Emeritus
Tao Porchon-Lynch, ERYT, IAYT