December 2020 Newslette

Words of Welcome

Dear All, 

The month of December traditionally enjoys the status of being the crowning point and crescendo before closure for the year. This year, 2020, is terminating in an atmosphere of COVID-induced despair, the pandemic being planetary and punishing. 

The month of December has also been known as the “month of miracles and mysteries,”

a time of light and joy. Chanukah is celebrated with candle lightings to commemorate the historic, unlikely victory of the Maccabees. Resplendent Christmas lights celebrate the mystery of the holy birth. The annual festivals of Kwanzaa abound with music and dance. 

As part of the human community, let’s put aside all the grievous challenges faced in 2020 and focus on the light and joy associated with this month. It is up to us to highlight 2021 with an energy and eagerness to change the obstacles into opportunities. We can be the necessary source of light and inspiration generated from our own life force, our prana; to not be overwhelmed by unavoidable circumstances, but to overcome the difficult demands we face with focus, faith, and fortitude. 

This is the protocol of the Warrior as yoga teaches us. With this outlook and mindset we can transcend what is toxic and negative and manifest the balance, clarity, and compassion we need to help ourselves and each and every other being. It must start in the place of truth within the self and then be shared with others to spread as efficiently as did the virus. Our yoga practice has never been more relevant by offering the needed guidance and motivation to move through the darkness of 2020 and to actualize the light and possibilities of 2021. 

Recharge yourself monthly with YTA and our Zoom workshops. Join with yogis and yoginis from all over and be uplifted by the teachings of well-known presentersan opportunity to keep growing till we can meet in person again. Enjoy the holidays!!

Yours in yoga, 
Paula Renuka Heitzner

2020–21 Workshops

Saturday, December 12

1:30–4:30 p.m.

via Zoom

Expanding into

the Heart of Winter

with Jillian Pransky

A Mini Retreat to Pause, Restore, Reconnect,

and Return

Join us for a deep dive into the sacred pause, where we will weave together practices that harmonize our bodies, minds, and spirits in order to return to our natural 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.

In Latin, the meaning of solstice is the "sun set still." Historically, many cultures honor the solstice as a time to acknowledge the cycle of life and death, death and rebirth; our greatest contraction and expansion. For after the long dark evening of the winter solstice, the sun experiences a rebirth; it waxes in power and daylight hours begin to grow longer again. It is a very powerful time to pause and reconnect with your own innate luminosity and spaciousness.

In this mini retreat, we will create conditions to rest deeply in this sacred pause using slow flow yoga, meditation, and restorative poses that will calm your body, clear your mind, and open your heart. Weaving in essential teachings from her book, Deep Listening, Jillian will guide you to release blocked energy, surrender layers of deeply held stress and tension, and nurture your capacity for greater joy, compassion, and intuition.

Suggested props: Three blankets (towels can be used as well), one pillow, two blocks, yoga mat.

Note: A recording will be made available to registrants for 7 days following the workshop. 

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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 day of the workshop—check your junk/spam folder!

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Jillian Pransky, E-RYT 500, is the author of Deep Listening: A Healing Practice to Calm Your Body, Clear Your Mind and Open Your Heart and an international presenter, mindfulness teacher, and certified yoga therapist. She is a featured yoga expert for Prevention magazine and Yoga Journal. Jillian is also the creator and presenter of several online courses, including Yoga Journal's Restorative 101 and Restorative 201, and YogaAnytime’s Yoga for Anxiety show. She is a guest teacher at many renowned holistic learning centers, including Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, the Omega Institute, 1440 Multiversity, Mohonk Mountain House, and Blue Spirit Retreat Center. A student of Pema Chödrön’s work since 1998, Jillian infuses her yoga classes with mindfulness practices, compassion, and ease. Her seamless style of working simultaneously with the body, mind, and spirit while attuning with nature and the environment creates inspiring classes and an integrative healing experience.

Register Now

Future Workshops

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

pend a special afternoon taking in the beauty of poses from a variety of Yogic and Jewish Mystical traditions. Experience Vishnu the Sustainer, Lightning Bolt of Shiva, Krishna the Flute-Player, Reclining Buddha, and unique variations of Warrior. Then enter the mystery realm through “Otiyot Hayyot, a lyrical and expressive movement practice based on Kabbalistic understandings of the Hebrew alphabet. Discover ancient wisdom secrets through the embodiment of the sacred.
Come to pose, to play, and to pause!

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

with Hunt Parr

In this three-hour master class, we will look at yoga practice as a way to explore the Buddhist methods of mindfulness and compassion. You can expect direct lineage meditation instruction, an asana class with creative sequencing and transition work, and a gradual transition into restorative yoga and pranayama to down-regulate and send you floating away with a sense of integration. There will be plenty of time to ask questions, explore how things fit together, and insights to add to your own yoga practice, teaching practice, and life.

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 otherwise stated, workshops are $45 members / $65 nonmembers in advance ($55 / $75 day of). 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 November Workshop
with Deirdre Breen


Expanding into the Heart of Winter

by Jillian Pransky

Nature is replete with various rhythms and cycles—day follows night, night follows day, seasons come and go. Similarly, there are biological rhythms to our bodies, minds, and emotions. When our inner world is in sync with the natural cycles around us, we feel a sense of harmony and well-being. When we are disconnected in this way, our stress and discomfort increases, we grow discontent, and our vitality diminishes. Yoga and Ayurveda offer us an array of simple tools to help keep us healthy and at peace through honoring and connecting us with the wisdom of the season.

Winter is nature’s time of hibernation, retreat, and contraction. As winter’s cold, wet, dark, and heavy qualities increase around us, they grow within us as well.

Winter demands that we move inward for rest and replenishment, just as the earth stops producing in order to build a new reserve and be bountiful again in spring.

However, balancing with the winter cycle is an art that usually requires some extra loving care as these shorter darker days can leave us feeling a little "heavier." Even the most stable of us can experience the winter doldrums or the all-out blues. Many healing systems look at this normal reaction to the season as helpful and healthy, as it helps us stay put long enough to more deeply recuperate all of our systems. However, while honoring this down time, we need to ensure we don't grow listless in our body or mind. A main tenet of yoga and Ayurveda is that "like increases like.” Therefore, to prevent winter’s contracting elements from "weighing us down," we need to equalize by creating warmth, lightness, and openness in our yoga practice and lifestyle.

Slow-flow yoga and expanding restorative postures (think goddess pose) are a great way to warm the body, create circulation, encourage elimination, and cultivate inward awareness and receptivity—without expending unnecessary energy or depleting ourselves. We can work deeply and mindfully with while not "spending" precious energy reserves. Personally, at this time of year, while keeping up with a morning mindful movement practice and evening restorative, I also draw a bit more on my Metta practices to create a feeling of emotional warmth and wellness.

Lastly, while most of us are experiencing less movement "out and about" in general during these current pandemic conditions—and even while we may be feeling a bit of cabin fever—keep in mind that overexerting, overstimulating, or any kind of over-effort in a yoga practice or physical exercise is not in harmony with a winter healing routine. Think more like the qualities of cinnamon rather than hot sauce right now—keep things steadily warm rather than kicking up temporary spikes of fiery hot. When you take good care of yourself in the cold season, you’re creating benefits for both present and future. How you nurture yourself throughout the winter will dictate how you bloom in the spring.

Winter is a slow, inward, quiet season, not a time of expansion or energy spending.

Chogyam Trungpa reminds that this cycle of down-time is essential: 

There are times to cultivate and create, when you nurture your world and give birth to new ideas and ventures. There are times of flourishing and abundance, when life feels in full bloom, energized and expanding. And there are times of fruition, when things come to an end. They have reached their climax and must be harvested before they begin to fade. And finally of course, there are times that are cold, and cutting and empty, times when the spring of new beginnings seems like a distant dream. Those rhythms in life are natural events. They weave into one another as day follows night, bringing, not messages of hope and fear, but messages of how things are.

For more information about Jillian’s offerings, visit

Yoga Q & A

Does Kundalini Yoga help with sleep disorders? Why? 

More and more, we are hearing about the medical sciences turning to alternative therapies. The times we are living in are highly charged, resulting in not only physical impairment but even more damaging mental/emotional distress, which in turn leads to sleep malfunctioning. Here are three specific Kundalini yoga techniques that were found by researchers to achieve healing, deep sleep. Patients were instructed in how to do this form of yoga with great success.

  • Quiet your thoughts by visualizing worries, ideas, problems, and any stressful issues. Wrap them in a package. Place the package on a shelf in your mind. And be surprised how few are left, improved, or even solved when you wake up. 
  • Lie on your stomach, turn your head so your right cheek is on the pillow. This automatically opens your left nostril to bring in cooling, calming energy. Practice long, deep breathing through the left nostril. Then block your right nostril completely with your left hand (or the right)  and continue the deep breathing practice through the left nostril.
  • Last but not least, when drowsy and relaxed, assume your preferred sleeping position, on your back or side, and put yourself into deep sleep with continued deep breathing.

Sleep is always an important component to health and wellness. To learn more visit:

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, the Nyack Yoga Center, in its new location at the American Legion Hall. 

Learn more about Paula at

Member Offerings 

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


Devi Ma Yoga 
Prenatal, Sun & Wed; Mom’s Hour, Wed; & New Mom, Thurs; & more; by donation
Online Yin and Prenatal trainings starting in January; more info here.

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

Gina Callender
Yin/Restorative, Mon, 7-8 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, $15

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

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

New: Yoga Gifts Online, yoga-themed gifts and teaching tools; gifts can be picked up or possibly delivered to avoid shipping & taxes, 15% off site-wide for YTA members now until Dec 21with coupon code YTA2020. Visit for more info. 

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

Final Thoughts


Just for today, I will release the places I grip.


I will let everything go.

I will allow the knowings of what's meant to stay will,

offering bittersweet thoughts of what really has passed.

Compassion will meet me here,

forgiveness will walk beside me.

I offer my heart to the moment before me.

Tracy Brooks, Soul Beckons, Facebook, November 6, 2020

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 / $75 day of
(Unless stated otherwise)

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, E-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