September 2020 Newslette

Words of Welcome

Dear All, 

Traditionally, September marks the animated return to activity, welcoming new beginnings, renewed energy to contain the excitement of these states of mind, and an eagerness to take the next step forward.

Realistically, this month will be a continuation, hopefully less severe, of what we have been dealing with in the pandemic. The depression, grief, and assorted life-wrenching tolls inflicted on us by COVID-19 have become phenomena that have taken over all and any traditional patterns of life. We are not even able to define the "new normal"! The havoc wrought by fear and uncertainty, provoked by the virus, is so generally paralyzing that thoughts of taking the traditional next step seem fruitless at this time.

Spiritually, our yoga practice offers the balance we need and want in the midst of this mayhem, helping us to stay safe, sound, and sane. Our teacher population of yogis and yoginis have displayed courage and conviction, personally generated by their practice, and have met the challenges with creativity as well. Their exploration and study, guided by the practices of yoga, continue with utmost integrity, using the world of technology to minimize future damage for all by keeping the therapeutic focus of yoga manifesting wellness and light. They are "walking the talk."

We have to continue to keep the faith by bringing our light and love to our planet and all our neighbors, near and far. Yoga is union, uniting us! Let's all promote the gifts of the heart, care, concern, and, especially, compassion for all, to formulate the "new normal" to dispel the darkness and insure that all we've experienced will not have been in vain.

Yours in yoga, 
Paula Renuka Heitzner

2020–2021 Workshops

Saturday, September 12

Making Your Class a Refuge, Not an Escape 

with Cyndi Lee

2020 has been a game changer for us yoga teachers. With our hearts full of feelings and our minds rocking back and forth between clarity and confusion, we are all trying to navigate the right path forward for ourselves and our students, as well as the best methods and vehicles for offering yoga practices in these new times.  

As yoga teachers, we cannot know what all of our students are carrying inside them, but we know that almost everyone is feeling some level of overwhelm, directionlessness, and lack of grounding. What is the best way to be helpful, appropriate, and sensitively present?

Inspired by the work she experienced while training to be a Buddhist chaplain, Cyndi has developed Three Tenets and Four Guidelines that will help you confidently, safely, and kindly offer your yoga classes as a refuge during stressful times. We will explore refuge, motivation, and knowing/not knowing, as well as practical methods for holding space. The workshop will include asana, pranayama, restorative poses, meditation, and journaling so that all we discuss gets embodied and digested.  And because practice always has to start with oneself, Cyndi will also talk about how to make your own practice a refuge too.

A recording will be made available to participants for 72 hours following the workshop.

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The Zoom meeting link will be sent to registrants on Friday, September 11.

If you register on Friday or Saturday, September 11 or 12,
the Zoom link will be in your registration confirmation.

Please ensure you have it before the day of the workshop—
check your junk/spam folder!

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Cyndi Lee is one of the most influential teachers in the United States and the first female Western yoga teacher to fully integrate yoga asana and Tibetan Buddhism in her practice and teaching. In 1998, she founded the OM yoga Center in NYC, which became a mecca for yogis worldwide. Cyndi’s teaching work is now focused on yoga and meditation and the resiliency that arises when we practice these methods in a sustainable manner.

Known as a “teacher’s teacher,” Cyndi has trained thousands of yoga teachers in Europe, Asia, Central America, and the United States. In 2020–21, she will offer an online 300-hour teacher training called The Dharma of Engaged Yoga and the Practice of Sustainable OM Yoga, a vibrant approach to practice that flows from the understanding that all beings everywhere are interdependent. Cyndi is the author of five books, including the classic yoga text Yoga Body, Buddha Mind; the New York Times critically acclaimed May I Be Happy: A Memoir of Love, Yoga, and Changing My Mind; and OM yoga: A Guide to Daily Practice.

Register Now

October 10
Ancient Insights:
Four Great Attitudes

with Karen Lee

Interested in how to deal with challenging people and situations? The ancients developed four great attitudes that help the yogi maintain mental peace. These attitudes are still as useful today as they were 2000 years ago. We will explore these four great attitudes and practice cultivating them with integrated practices.

November 14
Mudras: Empower Your Practice and Your Teaching
with Deirdre Breen

Mudras are a powerful tool of self-care that influence the expression of the doshas (kapha, pitta, and vata), the biological forces that govern the expression of nature’s five elements both within and around us.
Experience the effect of mudras in a pranayama, meditation, and asana practice.

December 12
Deep Listening:
Slow Flow Yoga

with Jillian Pransky

Join Jillian for a deep dive into the Sacred Pause, where we will weave together practices to harmonize our bodies, minds, and spirits in order to return to our innate warmth, connectedness, and spaciousness. Taking time to prepare for the winter solstice and holiday season in this way can deepen your sense of wholeness and wellness throughout the season.

January 9
The Five Elements in Yoga
with Colleen Breeckner

AUM arises from ether; ether in action is the air element; action creates friction and heat; through friction and heat arises light, followed by fire… Fire liquifies, creating vapor water; water then flows and becomes solid earth. Based on these principles, the body generates and creates, and it does so most effectively when in balance. Join Colleen to learn how to optimize asana sequencing  to balance the five elements.

Bonus Workshop!
January 30

Yoga for Everybody
with Dianne Bondy
Explore techniques to adapt yoga asana to different body types. This workshop will look at the role of body image, race, diversity, wellness, and diet culture in yoga and will include an accessible asana practice, lecture, and time for Q&A.

February 13
Beautiful Poses
with Judith Rose

March 13
Moving into Stillness:
An Afternoon of Meditation
and Yoga

with Hunt Parr

April 10
Yoga and Bodymind Ballwork for Osteoarthritis
with Ellen Saltonstall

May 8
Kung Fu Yoga with Nina Crist

June 12
Practice to Empower Personal Possibil
with Paula Heitzner

Unless stated otherwise, 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.

From our June Celebration of
Tao Porchon-Lynch's Life


Take Refuge in Your Body*

by Cyndi Lee

My beagle, Little Bit, can sense a storm gathering. The reason I know this is because Little Bit uses the language of her body to communicate her fear. From just the slightest shift in air pressure, her chunky little body starts quivering. Then, at the first clap of thunder, she springs off her stubby legs and torpedoes herself through the air, taking aim for the familiar protection of my arms. I am her port in a storm.

All beings feel a need for refuge or sanctuary at various moments in our life. Some of us look for protection in material belongings, career prestige, or financial investments, or we might look for escape in alcohol, food, or even over-exercising. An authentic spiritual path offers a different kind of safe haven. Instead of the temporary relief of an aspirin or a place to hide from yourself, spiritual refuge offers a path toward feeling one’s own basic goodness.

But first, like Little Bit, we have to start by feeling our mental and emotional discomfort: fear, frustration, anger, hatred, jealousy, pride, or any kind of negative emotion. When we’re doing this, our own body is a perfect vehicle in which to take refuge.

When we humans feel an emotional storm brewing, the adrenaline rush of powerful feelings often renders us unable to control our body, speech, or mind. Holding our breath and quivering, we might find ourselves meeting heat with anger, anger with angry words.  Or we keep our afflictive emotions inside where they fester. Grief in our chest, anger in our jaw, fear in our knees, all eventually reveal themselves via pain in our joints or reduced movement capacity.

Instead of trying to deny these feelings, taking refuge in the body means that we begin to make friends with our body. We listen to our body and treat it the way we would treat someone we care about. Instead of pushing it too hard or being afraid to move it at all, we can walk the middle path of intuiting what is appropriate for our body, which means what is appropriate for us.

Get More Friendly
We have so many goals for our bodies: lose weight, get sculpted, be more healthy, more attractive, keep that youthful glow! Like a dysfunctional romantic relationship where we expect our partner to meet our every need, we don’t relate to our body as our friend, but as the agent for achieving all of our hopes and fears.

To begin thinking of our body as the place where we feel good helps to shift our goal from wanting to jump higher and run faster to feeling better and living a more engaged, vibrant life. Do this in small bites I call “exercise snacks.” Get up and move around for 10 minutes here and there. Circumambulate the house or office, do three sun salutations, walk your dog, turn on music and play.

Instead of unrealistic goals that almost make failure a given, this is just about feeling good more often. This is how you can slowly redefine your relationship with your body, from something outside of yourself that needs to be different, to a refuge that is always there to provide you an experience of integration and well-being.

Get Curious
We can take a lesson from the physical practice of yoga. The Sanskrit word for “pose” is asana, which translates as “to sit with what comes up.” Whether you are sitting, walking, or jumping rope, notice what is coming up: joy, resistance, old memories, insights. Include it all. When your mind strays, re-anchor it via the feelings of your body, your emotions, or your breathing.

These sensations occur only in the present, so the body works as a perfect home base for the wandering mind. Notice not just what your body is feeling, but how you feel about what you are feeling. You will discover that while your body has been changing all the time, your ideas about your body, and what it can or cannot do, have become frozen. That’s an interesting insight too.

Maintaining continuous awareness in this way is called “mindfulness of body”—an effective practice for learning to be bigger than we think we are, for expanding our comfort zone, and for lightening up a little bit through the recognition of impermanence.

Practice: Grounding Touch
Grounding touch is a simple micro-practice for taking refuge in your body when you feel stressed and need a time out. It’s a method for connecting to your emotional state through your body, using the warmth of your hands and the calmness of your breath to ground and stabilize your nervous system. You can do this anywhere—sitting on a park bench, walking from the elevator to your desk, in the stairwell at work, and even in the bathroom.

Stand or sit upright with your feet firmly planted. Place one hand on your chest and one at the base of your spine. Inhale through your nose for four counts, exhale through your nose for four counts, and repeat. Feel the movement of your breath beneath your hands. Let your mind ride on the breath, like a raft on the ocean. You can also place hands on heart, belly, forehead, or thighs.

Taking refuge in your body is self-care with a spiritual twist that recognizes we cannot become enlightened without our body. We must love our body and take care of it just as we care for our friends. Then when something frightening or destabilizing happens, we can take refuge in our body as a friend, as opposed to taking refuge in eating, drinking, shopping, or any other avoidance technique. We can learn to trust the refuge of our own body as a place of intimacy, and this allows us to be alive right now, available for whatever is needed in the moment.

*Reprinted from Lion’s Roar: Buddhist Wisdom for Our Times,  March 11, 2020. 

For more information about Cyndi’s teaching offerings, visit

Yoga Q & A

How does yoga benefit 
traumatized body parts?

Yoga is extremely beneficial for traumatized body parts. The very tenet of its practice, to focus on the messages of the body and the problematic trauma, is the first step to reclaim relief and repair damage. The slow entrance into the afflicted area by breath and stretching enhances the healing properties through the circulation of blood and lymph.

Mental and emotional traumas are also addressed successfully by yoga's body of breath work and its philosophies empowering the individual. The emotional environment of yoga promotes feelings of safety and precludes competition and judgmental assessing. 

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 to share your thoughts!

Paula Heitzner, ERYT500, is a master yoga teacher. She has taught yoga for over 50 years and has trained many others in the time-honored principles, practices, and philosophy of yoga. The “teacher of teachers,” as she is called by her students, can be found at her studio at the New Age Center in Nyack. 

Learn more about Paula at

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

Online Yoga and Meditation Offerings from YTA Members

Devi Ma Yoga Prenatal, Sun & Wed; New Mom, Wed; & Women’s Yoga, Sat, by donation

Elisha Simpson (Crossover Yoga Project)
Trauma-informed yoga & meditation. Wed, 7:15 pm, free

Gina Callender
Yin/Restorative, Mon, 7:30 pm; Meditation, Wed, 7 pm

Iyengar Yoga Scarsdale/Nancy Kardon
Asana, restorative, & pranayama, beginning mid-Sept on Zoom

Paula Heitzner/Nyack Yoga Center
Outdoor yoga at Rockwood Lake, Thurs, 9/3, 5:15 p.m.

Enter at the South entrance of Rockland lake (closest to Nyack) and meet at Parking Field #4 at 5:15. Please bring your own mats and props.
RSVP 845-356-5613 or

PranaMoon Yoga at the Hat Factory
Zoom & outdoor classes, Mon-Sun, Bhakti pass, $10/class; Namaste pass, $6/class

Riverstone Yoga
Full schedule of online classes; $15

Sacred Spirit Yoga & Healing Arts Center 
All-levels, with Chris Glover, Tues & Sat, 9:30-11 am, $15

Shamani Yoga
Classes, $9; workshops

Wainwright House 
Yoga & movement classes, $10 members; $15 nonmembers; meditation classes, $5 

Willow Tree Yoga
All-level, Kundalini, stretch, & Vinyasa, by donation

Yoga Culture 
Basic, chair, & dharma & meditation, on Zoom, $9

... from YTA Presenters

Al Bingham,, classes, $5 or free

Alison West,, classes, $100 for 5 class card; new student special, $45 (3 classes only)

Amy, Yoga for Depression and Anxiety, $29

Christa Rypins,, Sat, 11 am PT, free

Colleen Lila, Mon, vinyasa level 2/3 class, free

Daniel Orlansky,, Mon, Tues, Wed; Intro to Qi Gong. 9/22, $35

Deirdre Breen,, Meditation classes, free

Michael Hayes,, Wed-Fri, 90-min classes, Sat, 60 min, online membership

Mona Anand,, daily classes, new student special, $55/2 week unlimited

Ravi,  Wed, Fri, Sun, 9 am PT, $12

Rudy, Dynamic Gentle pranayama chair yoga, daily, 8-8:30 am; Dynamic Gentle chair yoga, Tues, 5-6 pm; Dynamic Gentle yoga mat class, Thurs, 4:30-6 pm, on Facebook or Zoom

Sarah Bell,, Tues, $15; Sat, by donation

Stan Woodman,, Zoom class, Sun, 9-10:30, $20

Todd Norian,, Facebook Live Series, Ashaya Soma Series, starting 9/9 for 10 days; Blankets of Grace, 5-day course, $45; see website for trainings


... from YTA Friends

Eileen, Interactive Live Stream, Resilience, Thurs, 12-1 pm, free

Integral Yoga, classes, $7-28; Accessible Yoga Training, 9/9-/30; 200-hour teacher training, 9/14-12/19

Jennifer Reis,, classes, pay what you can starting at $5

Karma Road,, outdoor and Zoom classes, Bhakti Pass, $10/class; Namaste Pass, $6/class

Radiate Yoga, radiateyoga.comdrop-in, $22; monthly unlimited, $150; new students, 3 classes/1 month expiration, $40

Yoga Shivaya, Tues-Sun, Beginner, all levels, gentle, slow flow, intermediate, & meditation, $20

Final Thoughts

Human Family

by Maya Angelou

I note the obvious differences
in the human family.
Some of us are serious,
some thrive on comedy.

Some declare their lives are lived
as true profundity,
and others claim they really live
the real reality.

The variety of our skin tones
can confuse, bemuse, delight,
brown and pink and beige and purple,
tan and blue and white.

I've sailed upon the seven seas
and stopped in every land,
I've seen the wonders of the world
not yet one common man.

I know ten thousand women
called Jane and Mary Jane,
but I've not seen any two
who really were the same.

Mirror twins are different
although their features jibe,
and lovers think quite different thoughts
while lying side by side.

We love and lose in China,
we weep on England's moors,
and laugh and moan in Guinea,
and thrive on Spanish shores.

We seek success in Finland,
are born and die in Maine.
In minor ways we differ,
in major we're the same.

I note the obvious differences
between each sort and type,
but we are more alike, my friends,
than we are unalike.

We are more alike, my friends,
than we are unalike.

We are more alike, my friends,
than we are unalike.

Yoga Teachers Association was created in 1979  by a small group of pioneering yoga teachers who saw the need for affordable and continuing education. Today, YTA continues as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to expanding learning opportunities for teachers and committed students in the Hudson Valley. We offer monthly workshops presented by the leading yoga teachers of our time for the benefit of the community. All are invited. Membership dues and additional contributions are deductible to the extent allowable by law.

 for individual membership
$75 for studio membership

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

Board of Directors

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, E-RYT 200, RYT 500, CEP 

Terry Fiore Lavery, RYT

Newsletter Design & Layout
Lisa Sloane, MA, ERYT


Copyright © 2020 Yoga Teachers Association. All rights reserved.

Yoga Teachers Association • 21-39 Croton Lake Road • Katonah, NY 10536 • USA