September 2018 Newsletter

The Yoga Teachers Association Proudly Presents

Light on Ganesha, 

Remover of Obstacles

with Todd Norian 

Saturday, September 22, 2018 (note date)
1:30–4:30 pm
The Yoga Studio at Club Fit
584 North State Road
Briarcliff Manor, NY

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 they relate to your life. Come join master yoga teacher Todd Norian in this delightful workshop of awakening and transformation as he guides you to discover that Ganesha power is already within you. 

The workshop will be followed by the YTA’s annual Prana Party. Join us for an opportunity to meet board members and other yoga teachers and enthusiasts. 

Todd Norian, E-RYT 500, is the founder of Ashaya Yoga. His style is one of precise therapeutic alignment infused with his passion for the esoteric teachings of tantra yoga. With warmth and humor, Todd creates a sanctuary of sublime transformation in which students step into the power of their own heart. 

To register for Todd’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.



Light on Ganesha:
Remover of Obstacles

by Todd Norian

The goal of all humanity is to free ourselves from the self-created prison of the mind. ~ Albert Einstein 

Ganesha, the elephant-headed deity, is the most widely known and worshipped deity in the pantheon of deities of India. Ganesha has the head of an elephant and the body of a boy, and he rides around on a mouse. He 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 remove the obstacles to bring forth the most benevolent outcome. 

The mouse is Ganesha's vahana (vehicle). It's what he rides around on. All of the Hindu deities have a vehicle, which serves as a metaphor specific to that deity. Ganesha's vahana is particularly important with respect to obstacles—have you ever tried to catch a mouse? If you have, you know it's impossible. Mice can squeeze through very narrow openings. They seem to disappear into thin air. Their skeletons are extremely elastic, which allows them to slip through cracks in the wall or floor without you ever noticing. 

Ganesha rides around on a mouse for several reasons, the first of which is humor. I find it ridiculous and humorous that one of the largest animals on the planet rides on one of the smallest animals. Ganesha just wants to make sure you are laughing. Life is too short to be serious all the time. As a teacher of mine used to say, "Seriousness is the highest crime in the court of God." A great way to find your way back to your heart is through humor. 

On a recent family visit, my sister and I were with my mom, my dad, and his wife. My mom just had back surgery and is recovering nicely. My dad is hard of hearing. It's always a stretch to be in a room with him and several other people sitting around a dinner table. He has hearing aids, but he still can't hear that well. After yelling a communication to my dad three times, my sister broke out into hysterical laughter. Maybe it was frustration or perhaps exhaustion from trying to get through to my dad. Then she whipped out her iPhone and told us all about a Saturday Night Live skit about Alexa, the digital device that responds to your questions, similar to Siri on the iPhone, except this Alexa is programmed for "the Greatest Generation"—seniors. This Alexa includes special features including the ability to respond to any name remotely close to Alexa, such as Amanda, Odessa, and Anita. It also has an "a-ha" feature for rambling conversations. If you want to laugh, please watch this skit: 

Ganesha's choice to ride on the mouse also represents humility. A mouse is considered one of the most lowly creatures. So why would such a great being as Ganesha ride on a mouse? Humility is a virtue of the heart. With humility, all egoism and the need to prove yourself or the need to be right is released. Your burden is much lighter. Also, Ganesha tells us that when you're humble, you'll always have friends. 

The reason I like the most that explains why Ganesha rides on a mouse is that mice can always get out of tight places. Whenever you feel trapped by life or out of options, you remember that, through grace, there's always another way. Because Ganesha rides around on a mouse, he is never in his own way. The biggest obstacle most of us have is between our ears. You need to release self-limiting beliefs such as fear, anxiety, and doubt. This is what gets in our way most often. 

What Ganesha is telling us is that no matter how big you think your obstacle is, you can always rely on the still, small voice inside, the voice of your heart, to get you out of tight places. 

Come join me in listening to your heart in this workshop and discover that the power to remove obstacles is already within you. 



Visit Todd at


2018 Workshops

Todd Norian
Light on Ganesha, Remover of Obstacles
September 22
See details above.

Christa Rypins
Pelvic Power
October 13
Yoga meets the Franklin Method 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 you and your students and clients. 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
The Practical 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 teachings from the Bhagavad Gita, the Yoga Sutras, and the Shiva Sutras and how you can bring these teachings and lessons into your day-to-day lives and your yoga classes.

Robert Rivest
Laughter, Expression, and Joy!
December 8
Robert will share his unique health and well-being practice that blends mindful breathing, 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 will show you how to free your body and mind so that laughter flows 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, 

In summer, we earnestly bring out our sandals and enthusiastically expose our feet to grass, sand, water, and air, reveling in the gift of the season. This is an appropriate time to appreciate our feet, not only for how they look, but for how they perform for us physically. However, these feet carry us in every season of the year and need to be appreciated as much, even though they go "under cover.” Historically, in yoga the feet have been appreciated for the foundation they provide the body. The posture Tadasana (Mountain Pose) reminds us of the strength and stability of the feet by likening them to the foot of a mountain that is grounded in the earth and whose peak reaches toward the ether.

The anatomical structure of our foot is miraculous, having 26 bones and 33 joints, a design that permits unbelievable feats of mobility, speed, power, and strength to carry us through our lives. The foot also houses meridian points that interact through the nervous system with all the body's physiological systems, keeping the energy portals open, firing, and unblocked, regenerating cell repair, and initiating renewal for maximum wellness. This is the basis of the healing modalities of reflexology and kinesiology. Spiritually, the foot has been the focus of respect and reverence through the ceremonies of ablution and anointment. 

One of the values of a yoga practice is the deepened awareness of our own body that creates appreciation of and gratitude for a hands-on way to heighten the gifts of health, wellness, and vitality. Stand on your own two feet, put one foot in front of the other to get to where you want to be, breathe deeply, and be the mountain of strength that is your birthright.

In fact, direct your feet to the monthly YTA workshops to take care of the rest of you. Please join us for YTA's opening workshop and Prana Party and fall in step with the rest of us on our yogic path. 

Yours In yoga, 
Paula Renuka Heitzner


Your Thoughts

Flexibility: How much is too much?

That question is best answered by the person who is asking it. If your body is tight, stiff, and tense, too much flexibility seems like a gift. If you are too flexible, you deal with issues of being unable to access strength because of being too loose.

A yoga practice creates the balance one needs to be limber and strong. Letting the breath inform the body as to how to access the appropriate ratio of will and surrender is the best kinetic path to follow in your asana practice—one that will allow tension to be released, enabling the body to stretch safely and strength to be accessible without the risk of injury.

As we seek to practice more deeply, we need to be flexible mentally and emotionally to let go of habits and fears in order to be more mindful and focused.

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


Join the YTA at the Himalayan Institute!

We are thrilled to announce our very first weekend program to be held at the Himalayan Institute in Honesdale, PA.

Join us for Paths to Renewal and unplug with this blissful weekend led by Luke Ketterhagen. Discover new paths to renewal through the practices of asana, meditation, pranayama, philosophy, and restorative yoga.

There will be time for walks in the beautiful woods surrounding the institute and nourishing and delicious meals. You will leave renewed from the inside out and take home ideas and practices that will serve you way beyond the weekend.

All food is vegetarian, and there is a full service cafe for coffee, chai, expressos, lattes, etc. 

Friday to Sunday, November 2–4, 2018

Member: Regular – $199 / Early Bird – $169

Nonmember: Regular – $229 / Early Bird – $199

Register by September 15 to take advantage of early bird pricing!

NOTE: Registration and payment through the YTA website are for the program fees only. You must make arrangements for accommodations at the Himalayan Institute separately. Details can be found in your registration confirmation.


From the June Workshop 

with Tao Porchon-Lynch


Member Events 

YTA members (individuals and 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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Iyengar Yoga Scarsdale
Nancy Kardon
74 Brewster Road
Scarsdale, NY 10583
299 Greenwich Avenue, 3rd Fl.
Greenwich, CT

Ayurveda and Yoga: The Health Connection with Dr. Somesh Kaushik 
September 1 (Sat, 3-5 pm, Scarsdale)
Learn about the connection between ayurveda (science of life) and yoga (union). Practiced together, a bridge to a balanced healthy life can be created. Discover how your own body constitution (dosha) influences your balance and health; how to determine if you are out of balance; and specific therapeutic yoga postures to balance your particular dosha. First 6 people to sign up will receive free dosha readings.  Free

Fundamentals with Nancy Kardon 
September 15 (Sat, 11:30 am-12:30 pm)
Learn the basics using alignment as a focus to teach asana. Good for all practitioners new and experienced in other yoga methods. $25 

Scoliosis and Back Care with Nancy Kardon 
September 15 (Sat, 2-3:30 pm)
Learn to work with imbalances and create strength, space, and freedom. Learn to look at and work with your painful situation. $25

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

Pebble Yoga for Young Children (Group 1) with Nicole Alexander
Sept 18 (Tues, 3:45-4:30 pm)
10-week series; ages 3-4. Classes focus on awareness within yoga poses, games, creative exercises, relaxation, and experimental movement. Increase body, breath, and emotional awareness in your little one. Trial class Sept 11 ($10). $200 for series + $5 materials fee

Pebble Yoga for Young Children (Group 2) with Nicole Alexander
Sept 18 (Tues, 4:45-5:30 pm)
10-week series; ages 5-7. Classes focus on awareness within yoga poses, games, creative exercises, relaxation, and experimental movement. Increase body, breath, and emotional awareness in your little one. Trial class Sept 11 ($10). $200 for series + $5 materials fee

Skipping Stones Yoga for Kids with Erin Trapasso
Sept 19 (Wed, 4-4:45 pm)
10-week series; ages 7-10. Students participate in a practice fostering confidence and self-awareness. Led by a certified kids yoga teacher and NYS-certified elementary teacher, this program helps your child become the best version of themselves. Trial class Sept 12 ($10). $200 for series+ $5 materials fee

Yoga for Tweens with Erin Trapasso
Sept 19 (Wed, 4:50-5:35 pm)
10-week series; ages 10-14. Build the groundwork for a healthy lifestyle. Led by a certified kids yoga teacher and NYS-certified elementary teacher, this program helps your child become the best version of themselves. Trial class Sept 12 ($10). $200 for series + $5 materials fee

Movers & Shakers Family Practice with Itsa Aravena
Sept 20 (Thurs, 9:30-10:15 am)
5-week series; adult & child (walkers to age 3). Designed for parents or caretakers and young children who want to experience yoga and mindfulness together through partner poses, touch, expressive movement, and sharing. Trial class Sept 13 ($10). $100 for series + $5 materials fee

Teen Yoga with Nicole Alexander
Sept 23 (Sun, 2:45-3:45 pm)
5-week series; ages 14-18. An opportunity to let go and relax before the busy week begins. Teens participate in a strength and flexibility building practice that ends with restorative relaxation. Start the busy week off right. Trial class Sept 16 ($10). $200 for series + $5 materials fee

Family Practice with Nicole Alexander
Sept 23 (Sun, 4-4:45 pm)
5-week series; adult & child (ages 4-8). An opportunity for your family to unwind before the start of another busy week. Connect in a fun and mindful setting, focusing on yourself and the ones you love. Trial class Sept 16 ($10). $100 for series + $5 materials fee


~ Final Thoughts ~

On the Beach at Night Alone

by Walt Whitman

On the beach at night alone,
As the old mother sways her to and fro singing her husky song,
As I watch the bright stars shining, I think a thought of the clef of the universes and of the future. 

A vast similitude interlocks all,
All spheres, grown, ungrown, small, large, suns, moons, planets,
All distances of place however wide,
All distances of time, all inanimate forms,
All souls, all living bodies though they be ever so different, or in different worlds,
All gaseous, watery, vegetable, mineral processes, the fishes, the brutes,
All nations, colors, barbarisms, civilizations, languages,
All identities that have existed or may exist on this globe, or any globe,
All lives and deaths, all of the past, present, future,
This vast similitude spans them, and always has spann’d,
And shall forever span them and compactly hold and enclose them.



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