May 2018 Newsletter

The Yoga Teachers Association Proudly Presents

A Magical Mystery Tour of Yoga Through the Koshas

with Priti Robyn Ross


Saturday, May 12

1:30-4:30 pm

The Yoga Studio at Club Fit
584 North State Road
Briarcliff Manor, NY 

Join a seasoned guide on this experiential journey into your yoga asana practice through the lens of the ancient Koshas.

The Kosha system provides practical yet profound tools for teachers to craft a comprehensive class design to guide their students though a multidimensional experience and a map for students to find their way to the soul of their practice. In this holistic exploration of yoga, Priti will lead you through the five layers that awaken our whole being: Anamaya (physical body), Pranamaya (prana, breath, and energy body), Manomaya (mind and emotional body), Vijnanamaya (witness body), and Anandamaya (the bliss body). You’ll leave with an understanding that will enrich your self-discovery, deepen your yoga practice, and broaden your teaching skills. 

Priti Robyn Ross, E-RYT 500, is a wellness educator and international workshop leader and has taught yoga for more than 25 years. Codirector of four nationally certified yoga teacher trainings and founder of the evolutionary Pranotthan School of Yoga, Priti shares her skills in science and spirit with a boundless passion for the transformative power of yoga with depth, heart, and accessibility. 

To register for Priti’s workshop, click here!

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.



Q&A with Priti Robyn Ross 

Q: Can you recommend some alignment cues for Warrior I? I have a hard time finding the right positioning for my hips—I feel awkward trying to square off and face forward while also being slightly twisted in my stance. 

A: The beauty of yoga is its intention to focus on the body as a whole unit while drawing your attention into the present moment. There’s permission and space to explore what’s right for your specific anatomy. As a teacher, I’ve seen many thousands of bodies practicing, and not everyone’s body is designed to be in the same alignment. 

Warrior I can be practiced with the heel down or up (with the heel up, it’s called High Lunge in some traditions). In Kripalu Yoga, Warrior I is practiced with the heel up, so the feet are parallel and hip-width apart, allowing the hips to square forward more easily. The hips, pelvis, ribs, and shoulder girdle are all aligned, facing forward. Warrior I with the heel up is a bit more of a balancing posture, so you can put a rolled blanket under the heel to help with stability and balance. 

If you practice Warrior I with the heel down, keeping your hips facing front, be aware of the torque in the back knee and ankle. Be careful not to force the back hip forward at the expense of an unhealthy torque in the knee. The ribs and thoracic cavity can rotate gently forward, even if the hips are not facing entirely square to the front of the mat. 

Q: Can you recommend postures to improve flexibility in the hip joints? 

A: In the hips, as opposed to the shoulder girdle, for example, the range of motion is less, because we need stability in order to walk, run, and bear weight. There are a myriad of ligaments and muscles surrounding the pelvic girdle, and these all need to be intelligently relaxed and opened in order to create flexibility in the hips. Think of the hips in all dimensions: anterior, posterior, lateral (front, back, sides), as well as all the surrounding areas: superior (above) and inferior (below) the pelvic region. 

When we’re tight in the hips, it’s important to not only address that specific musculature by assessing weakness and imbalances in the hip flexors and hip rotator muscles, but also to examine the low-back muscles, abductors, and hamstrings. All areas affect the range of motion and flexibility in the hip joints. Sometimes one area is tight and another area is weak, so it’s important to strengthen as well as stretch the muscles in various postures to address specific issues. 

You can explore Pigeon along with its modifications (supine and double) to open the hip flexors and hip rotator muscles. The Butterfly helps open the inner thighs and groin, and Low Warrior I stretches the hip flexors by gently pressing the top front thigh of the back extended leg forward. Postures that explore internal rotation can be helpful as well. Ultimately, exploring the full range of motion in your practice and addressing the body as a whole unit is the most effective way to address tightness in the hips, or any area of imbalance. 

Q: When heading into Savasana, I have a hard time relaxing all my muscles. Any tips for the best alignment in what some call the hardest posture? 

A: It’s good to understand that Savasana is a posture, not just an act of relaxation, so there are specific alignment cues that are used to support the body to begin to let go and relax. Classically, the legs are about 12 inches apart, with the hips naturally rolled open. The shoulder blades are relaxed down the back body, the shoulders relaxed down away from the ears, and the back ribs relax and broaden. The arms are about 10 inches away from the torso and turned outward to create a soft lateral rotation and opening of the chest and shoulders. The back of your neck is elongated and the weight of the head is released. You can use props to support your body—for example, a low, folded blanket under your head or a support under your neck, or a rolled blanket or pillow under the knees to soften the low back. You can place eye bags gently over your eyes to block out light and help you fully surrender. 

The level of activity in class may determine how easy it is to relax into Savasana. A vigorous class lends itself to ending with a deeper rest for the physical body. When the physical body is relaxed, the breath and the mind will follow. In a gentle or moderate class, the teacher may need to guide relaxation a bit more. It’s also important that the teacher create an environment that lends itself to letting go, with comfortable room temperature, low lighting, and perhaps neutral relaxing music. You can do this for yourself if you’re practicing at home. 

There are many relaxation techniques that can be guided to help you surrender into Savasana. A full body scan encourages each body part to become heavy and relaxed into the earth; in a progressive relaxation, you tense and release your muscles one by one. Or send your breath awareness throughout your body—inhale into your heart, then exhale down your arms and out your fingertips. Inhale into your belly, then exhale down your legs and out through your toes, letting your whole body sink into the floor with each exhalation as you let go with a soft sigh...feeling relaxed yet? 

(Reprinted from Ask the Expert. Kripalu/Thrive: Explore Yoga, Health and Wellness, February 12, 2014. Accessed April 18, 2015.)

For Priti's blog post about the koshas, click here.

Learn more about Priti at


2018 Workshops

Priti Robyn Ross
Magical Mystery Tour of Yoga Through the Koshas
May 12

Details and registration info in this newsletter and at

Tao Porchon-Lynch
Celebrating Life (and Turning 100!)
June 30 (Note Date)
Tao Porchon-Lynch exemplifies her mantra, “There is Nothing You Cannot Do.” Join us to experience Tao’s unique and accessible teachings firsthand. After some yoga practice and Tao’s signature “yoga talk,” we will move to the lounge for an early celebration of Tao’s 100th birthday in August. Refreshments will be served, and Tao will be available for pictures and book signings.

Todd Norian
Light on Ganesha, Remover of Obstacles
September 22
Ganesha, the elephant deity, represents the Lord of auspicious beginnings and is the great remover of obstacles. With belly-breaking humor, he reminds us not to take life so seriously. Ganesha's name is chanted at the beginning of new ventures to invoke blessings of grace and to bring forth the most benevolent outcome. During this workshop, you will explore the teachings and rich symbolism of Ganesha as it relates to your life. Come join a master yoga teacher in this delightful workshop of awakening and transformation as he guides you to discover that this Ganesha power is already within you.

Christa Rypins
Pelvic Power
October 13
Yoga meets the Franklin Method of Imagery in this completely experiential workshop that will use movement, touch, imagery, and humor to develop a picture of the anatomy of your pelvis. The knowledge you embody in this course will bring dramatic benefit to your students and clients as well. You will leave the workshop knowing how to improve posture instantaneously, how to heal the neck via the pelvic floor, how the pelvic bones move with each breath, the exact location of your hip joints and why it matters, how the sacrum moves, how to relieve back pain, and how to feel more alive in your pelvis than you have in years.

Jeff Migdow
Healing, Revitalizing, and Reinspiring Ourselves Through the Wisdom of the Yoga Scriptures
November 10
The Yogic Scriptures come from millennia of human experience and knowledge. They contain keys to reach our optimal health, well-being, and spiritual consciousness. In this workshop, we will explore the essence of the teachings from the Bhagavad Gita, the Yoga Sutras, and the Shiva Sutras. We will also discuss ways for you to bring these teachings and lessons into your day to day lives and your yoga practice classes.

Robert Rivest
Laughter, Expression, and Joy!
December 8
Robert will share his unique health and well-being practice, blending mindful breathing, playful tai-chi, expressive movement, and laughter yoga. In this very playful workshop, you will learn how to use your body and facial expressions to convey (with positive energy) all of the excitement and joy that laughter yoga has to offer. Robert is an expert in mime, tai-chi, and laughter, he is great at sharing how to free your body and mind so that laughter will flow freely, joyfully, and spontaneously. His exciting exercises and energizing movement will help you feel more positive, playful, upbeat, and cheerful when practicing and leading Laughter Yoga.


Words of Wisdom

from Paula Renuka Heitzner

Dear All, 

I think the month of May is portentous because it gives permission. We may enjoy more of nature; we may be more likely to energize with increased outdoor activities; we may lighten our spirits as we lighten our outerwear; and we may experience the burgeoning of mood and joy as we observe our landscapes, inside and out, burgeon with new life and growth, blossoming and blooming.

Our yoga practice gives us an added ability to experience and appreciate these life-enhancing subtleties. As our awareness deepens, we grow more astute to the feelings we encounter in the deepest places of our being, courtesy of the breath. We may also become aware of how our sincere practice can help us transition through the feelings, moods, and negative energies foisted on us by outside conditions, whether it be by the weather, work, or relatives. With this practice we can center ourselves, stand on our own two feet, take our space, stand our ground, and plant ourselves firmly in our own truth and light—just as we do when we introduce new growth into our gardens, whether they be in a pot on the windowsill or in the yard.

Yoga recognizes, as does every creative endeavor, the important need for grounding as the first step toward reaching any goal and the sense of fulfillment made possible from the strength of this support. It is critical if we are to extend our safe boundaries and expand to open ourselves to the unknown beyond our safe borders, to face fear with trust and courage. Yoga offers us a MAP (Mindfulness, Authenticity, Purposefulness) that we can use on this journey through transitions toward transformation.

May we all stand together and take to heart the permission May encourages for our greater good and attend YTA on the second Saturday of each month, through all seasons and regardless of any conditions. You may benefit from the investment made in those three hours.

Yours In Yoga,
Paula Renuka Heitzner


Your Thoughts

Is International Yoga Day a religious event promoting Hinduism?

Is teaching yoga in schools promoting religion?

International Yoga Day is definitely a promotional event bringing to the uninformed and unaware population the beneficial impact of yoga on one's health. The tenets of yoga are about the ways and means one can employ to develop a compatible lifestyle in keeping with the divine plan ordained by higher powers. In the country of origin, Hinduism is but one of the religious paths that people practicing yoga may embrace. To do yoga is to be involved with a spiritual outlook and permits one to practice a religion of choice with greater integrity.

When taught in schools, it does not impair or interfere with a familial religious choice, but has been proved to create a better student with enhanced cognitive abilities, as well as encouraging learning in an environment that is peaceful and nurturing. The meditative practices help to calm and focus the mind and the asanas channel physical energy into constructive channels. 

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 April YTA workshop with Vandita Kate Marchesiello





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 the 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

~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

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

Scoliosis and Back Care with Nancy Kardon 
May 19 (Sat, 2-3:30 pm)
Learn to give space to compression to strengthen, lengthen, and balance your spinal curves. Traction with wall ropes and props are used for this teaching. For beginners, as well as more seasoned practitioners. $25

Pema Chodron 
May 19 (Sat, 4:15 pm)
1st of 3 talks at Omega, Web on Air. Pema is an extraordinary Buddhist teacher who speaks with clarity and humor about our human condition. Free

Iyengar Yoga Fundamentals with Nancy Kardon 
May 26 (Sat, 11:30 am-12:30 pm)
Basic fundamentals. No yoga experience necessary. Good for those from other yoga methods. Free for new students, $25 for others

Exquisite Pranayama with Nancy Kardon 
May 26 (Sat, 4-5:45 pm)
Learn about the breath essential to all yoga practice. $30

John Jay Homestead
400 Jay Street (Route 22)
Katonah, NY 10536 

Third Annual Summer Solstice Celebration with Paula Heitzner
June 23 (Sat,10 am rain or shine)
KVIS Katonah-inspired in partnership with John Jay Homestead. Remember to wear your sunscreen and bring your yoga mat and towel; water will be provided. Register at
*Sponsored by the YTA*

Mental Health Association of Westchester
580 White Plains Road 
Tarrytown, NY 10591 

Get on Your Mat for Mental Health with Sarah Platt-Finger
June 20 (Wed, 5:30 pm)
Get ready to take your first stretch of summer as MHA’s outdoor mega-yoga event returns! Tell the world you believe #MentalHealthMatters and join us for the fifth annual Get on Your Mat for Mental Health yoga fundraiser. On Court Street in White Plains. For more info, go to
*Sponsored by the YTA*

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

Beginner’s Series with Shannon R.
May 6 (Sundays, 11:30 am-1 pm)
4-week series (off Memorial Day weekend). Learn the foundations of yoga, focusing on breath and posture. Each week is broken down into sets, with the use of props for support in an open-forum setting. Students guide the pace of class and grow in confidence. $95 for all 4 classes

Sacred Spirit Yoga and Healing Arts Center 
Anne Day
(Located on the Campus of South Presbyterian Church)
343 Broadway
Dobbs Ferry, NY 10522 

Collage Quest Miniseries with Donna Thompson
May 1 & June 5 (Tues, 7-9 pm)
Uncover your deep yearnings and tap into your inner artist. As you learn to translate your intuitive nudges into a colorful symbol-filled collage, you also learn to quiet the mind and listen to your innate guidance. Donna's playful, colorful, and meditative method leads you on an adventure of self-discovery. Check website for supplies list. $35 per class 

All Levels of Yoga with Christine Tergis
May 6, 13, 20, 27 (Sun, 4:30-6 pm)
Kripalu-style yoga, focusing on alignment, sensations, mindfulness, and breath. Students may modify poses according to needs and ability. Beginners welcome. $20 drop-in, or 1 class pass

Restorative Yoga with Sound Healing with Patricia Castimore & Celine Daly
May 10 (Thurs, 7-8:30 pm)
Guided positioning of props is used to assist in holding poses for extended periods to experience progressive relaxation, reduce stress and muscle tension, and improve circulation and digestion. For this special evening, Sound Healer Celine Daly will bring the beauty of her gong, crystal bowls, flute, and chimes. $20 drop-in, or 1 class pass (or purchase class pkg online)

Kirtan with Sita’s Light 
May 12 (Sat, 7-8:30 pm)
Unique and inspiring ride through the energy of the chakras with easy call-and-response chanting and the eclectic, empowering sacred sounds of harmonium, guitar, tabla, and didgeridoo—all creating an experience of peace, heart-opening, joy, healing, and love. Sing, listen, dance, recline, or meditate; fully experience the healing power of chanting. All welcome. No experience necessary. $20 preregistration online; $25 at door

Wise Woman’s Yoga Mini Retreat with Petrina Plecko
May 19 (Sat, 2-5 pm)
Reconnect with your inner wisdom and inspire you with a creative feminine approach of interweaving movement and stillness through yoga. Learn how to honor the needs of your body-mind-spirit and how to adapt your yoga practice to address your deepest needs. Learn which sequences of asanas to practice when you are going through hormonal changes, and be guided through dynamic and restorative yoga postures to help you increase your vitality and peace of mind and to stay deeply connected to the full potential of the wise woman you are. $55 by May 14 or $65 from May 15-19


~ Final Thoughts ~

Wild Geese 

By Mary Oliver
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

(Dream Work, The Atlantic Monthly Press, May 1986.)


MAY 2018

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