TODAY: Meditation for Anxiety

November 2020 Newslette

Words of Welcome

Dear All, 

Welcome to our third month of being together in the virtual new term, the "new normal." As we turn to the outside world, balance, security, and well-being are sustained in the familiar patterns Mother Nature presents that are not stopped or hindered by the pandemic. Our hearts are warmed with the glow of the Fall colors and their beauty entices us to breathe deeply, stimulating the life force that we are blessed with. 

This breath—deep, full, and rhythmic—is always there waiting to be utilized. It reminds us of our resilience, making us capable of adapting and adjusting to the uncharted waters we are forced to navigate. We can draw from the well of the warrior within that energy to carry us through these stressful times. 

The month of November, with the memories of Thanksgiving, is here, and reminds us of the past and the ensuing holiday festivities that lead to the New Year. We have been strained to a breaking point by the loss of loved ones, livelihood, loneliness, and all of life's changes. Our practice of yoga can help us to maneuver through this grief as we put to use our teachings. The yogic concept of "surrender" has never been more timely or valid in its application. This is not the time to put energy into maintaining the status quo! As we surrender and let go, certainly not giving up, we can appropriately adapt and adjust as each situation presents itself.

Our practice of yoga encourages us to also affirm our lives, to accept what we cannot control, and to acknowledge and approve that which we can use to empower and strengthen ourselves and the world around us.

The world of YTA is still continuing to support our yoga community by bringing to us our monthly workshops via Zoom. These are incredible opportunities to study and grow, enabling us to offer support for the highest good of all and to bring in, together, light to dispel the darkness. 

Yours in yoga, 
Paula Renuka Heitzner

2020–21 Workshops

Sunday, November 1
4–5 p.m.
via Zoom

Meditation for Anxiety
with Gina Callender

Meditation can help ease the stress and anxiety many of us are feeling in this year of change and uncertainty. In this workshop, we will talk about how these emotions show up in our bodies and explore different meditation techniques to help you and your family, friends, coworkers, or students how to manage them. You will leave the workshop with some tools and resources to be better equipped moving forward.

This workshop will be part lecture and part practice.  Please have a space where you can sit in meditation nearby.  We will be doing some writing prompts, so please have a journal or some paper and a writing instrument.

Register Now

Saturday, November 14

Empower Your Practice 
and Your Teaching
with Deirdre Breen

Mudras are gestures—hand mudras (such as Palli Mudra for trusting inner guidance, above) being the most commonly recognized—that shift the flow of prana through the nadis and immediately affect one’s consciousness. Mudras are a powerful tool of self-care that, when paired with pranayama, meditation, and asana, 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.

In this workshop, you will explore the effect of mudras in a pranayama, meditation, and asana practice. Specific emphasis will be on Ayurveda’s Vata Dosha’s air and space elements to ground the physical and mental body. Participants will take home a practical guide for using mudras in their yoga practice and in life beyond the mat.

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 The Zoom meeting link will be sent in your registration confirmation upon receipt of payment.

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

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Deirdre Breen is creator of Dosha Coaching, a system of accessing one’s vital nature by blending the ancient twin sciences of Ayurveda and yoga with the modern neuroscience of behavior. She is an Ayurvedic Health Counselor, Master Yoga Teacher in the ISHTA Lineage, and a board-certified Health and Wellness Coach with over 30 years of experience in holistic health and healing. She is delighted to return to YTA to offer this dynamic workshop.

Register Now

Upcoming Workshops

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 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 liquefies, 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 with a combination of posture and breathwork to balance the five elements.

Bonus Workshop! 
January 30
Yoga for Everybody
with Dianne Bondy
Explore techniques to help 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 Possibilities
with Paula Heitzner

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 the October Workshop
with Karen Lee


How They Can Help Us Heal
by Deirdre Breen, AHC, NBC-HWC, Master Yogi

The marvelous world of mudras is a mysterious one at first glance. Yet with a bit of guidance and information, the mystery is unraveled and their powerful gifts for health and healing become clear. 

Mudra (/muˈdrɑː/; Sanskrit: मुद्रा; IAST: mudra) is defined as a "seal," "mark," or “gesture" and originated in India. It is used in the ritual of yoga, uniting body, mind, and spirit. This article references the mudras created with one or both hands, yet there are mudras that involve the whole body (asana)

Let’s see how mudras work and how they can open a path for personal healing. It is my intent that yoga instructors become aware of how mudras support the teachings of yoga asana and meditation.

To begin, it may help to think of a mudra as a recipe, and as with all recipes, there are ingredients, instructions, and outcomes. The ingredients are elements of matter: earth, water, fire, air, and space. Just as the natural elements are present in mudras, so are the physical elements present in our bodies. For example, earth expresses as bones, muscles, tissues, and organs; water expresses as blood, tears, urine, synovial fluid, and lymphatic fluid; fire is your temperature of 98.6ish, which fuels the process of metabolism; air is the breath; and space … well, it is there in your cells, your joints, and hopefully, on occasion, between your thoughts. 

Additionally, there is the ingredient of prana, delivered to us through breath as expression and movement of the life force. This movement is known as the prana vayus. Prana’s movement reflects the five directions: north, south, east, west, and center.

In any recipe, once you have the ingredients, you must follow the directions, usually in a sequence and with specific times needed to produce the desired outcome. These aspects are as important as the ingredients themselves. Anyone who has attempted to bake a cake from scratch knows that just having the ingredients, even organic ones, doesn’t guarantee that what comes out of the oven will be light, fluffy, and moist. So too with mudras.

An example: Let’s imagine that you’d like to learn a mudra that could help you digest information, food, and emotion and calm your nervous system at the same time. While that is a tall order, there is a mudra that delivers those outcomes. 


Achala Agni Mudra: the gesture of steady fire for optimal digestion
 Joseph and Lilian Le Page

Let’s first look at the ingredients. The natural elements, discussed earlier, need to express in such a way that the fire element is not too high and not too low. Therefore, in order for this to happen, the air and earth elements need to supply the fire with steady and reliable fuel. Water also needs to be on hand to balance this dynamic. Plus, there needs to be space for all this to take place. The Achala Agni Mudra does just that.

Then there are the instructions: How does the prana need to flow to deliver and support an effective and safe fire? 

In this mudra, the hands, fingers, spine, and breath work in unison and focus fire, the great metabolizer, providing heat for transformation and purification. It may sound too good and too easy, and yet I am confident that with skillful use and respect, anyone can learn this mudra and produce this outcome.

So how does this mudra also soothe the nervous system? Well, it’s all in the prana. A safe, effective fire is one that is contained and centered in a designated place, for example, a fire pit or oven. In the human body, fire’s locale is the center of the body, between the rib cage and pelvis. Its heat metabolizes food, its warmth is circulated through the blood, and its light glows upward to the eyes and brain, producing discernment and clarity. Think of it this way: If the elements are not in balance—the air (wind) moves too fast and is undirected (air pushing fire around) and water is deficient causing dryness—then our bodies would align with a fire gone rogue. (Millions of acres and thousands of people are living the devastation of fire uncontrolled.) Yet when fire is contained, we are mesmerized by it and we gather around and relax and settle. Our nervous systems are calmed.

Mudras are powerful tools for health and healing. While this article hopefully provides a light introduction, mudras require respect. They are not picked up willy-nilly and applied on the run.

For more about this mudra and several other mudras that can support a life that is responsive, compassionate, and purposeful, please join me for my YTA workshop on November 14.

Yoga Q & A

How and why has yoga gained prominence as a healing modality recognized by the scientific community?

The field of neurology has recognized yogic breathing, focus of one's attention, and meditation as beneficial in brain functioning to limit neurological degeneration, such as with Alzheimer's disease, senility, and dementia.Cardiac studies show improved symptoms in patients with arterial fibrillation, a heart rhythm disorder. Yoga asanas, stretching, and breathing helped those who experience palpitations, racing or irregular pulse, and shortness of breath resulting in tiredness, chest pain, and dizziness associated with this condition. Additionally, schools, here and abroad, are adding yoga classes as a way of helping returning students with trauma awareness deal with their anxiety resulting from the pandemic.

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

Devi Ma Yoga Prenatal, Sun & Wed; Mom’s Hour, Wed; & New Mom, Thurs; & more; by donation

Elisha Simpson (Crossover Yoga Project)
Trauma-informed yoga & meditation. Wed, 6:30 pm, free

Gina Callender
Yin/Restorative, Mon, 7:30 pm; Meditation, Wed, 7:30-8:30 pm; Wed, Hatha yoga level 1, 5-6 pm

Iyengar Yoga Scarsdale
Asana, restorative, & pranayama via Zoom

PranaMoon Yoga at the Hat Factory
In studio & Zoom, Mon-Sun, Bhakti pass, $10/class

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

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

Willow Tree Yoga
All-level, Kundalini, stretch, & vinyasa, outdoor & Zoom, $16

Shamani Yoga with Betsy and Charlene
Online classes
$9, with 48-hour replay link 

Final Thoughts


Do not judge each day by the harvest you reap, but the seeds you plant. 

Robert Louis Stevenson

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

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