January 2023 Newsletter

Words of Welcome

Dear All, 

January, the beginning after the end! Will this year be different from all other beginnings of past years? Hopefully the answer will be yes, but not from dwelling on past mistakes, regrets, and disappointments that defeat the best intentions, all too soon. We know that doesn’t work. But yoga philosophies and sincere internal queries can help to overcome the habits, patterns, and mindsets that are simply self-sabotaging, every and all the time!

We inherited our practice from those scholars, wise ones, and mystics who, in the dawning days, connected with Source Energy and recognized the inherent value of integrating every aspect of one’s being, interconnection within and without. Our sincere practice is still bound and grounded to these truths (as our December workshop with James Knight reflected), and when their wisdom is applied, we can  answer our questions, being led with rays of hope and optimism to the paths of personal promise for positive change. 

Learn from the past and leave it behind you! New beginnings are all around us with expanded opportunities as we awaken our own body, mind, and spirit. We can then find our innate inspiration and intuition that was always waiting to be sought and recognized and actualize our birthright, as stated by the Bhagavad Gita: we are “infinite, eternal, and whole” (Devarshi, our November presenter, emphasized this concept).

Personal transformation, a step at a time, is entirely possible holding these thoughts and much easier in the shared collaboration offered by YTA and their chosen presenters each second Saturday of the month. Join the YTA and start the New Year on the path to transformation—even better, volunteer to be part of the YTA board!

Happy New Year!

Yours in yoga,

Paula Renuka Heitzner

2023 Workshops 

Saturday, January 14
1:30–4:30 p.m.

In Person AND via Zoom

Emerging with Equanimity

with Leslie Booker

Equanimity, or Upekkha, is a heart practice from the Buddhist teachings that keeps us still in the midst of chaos. It protects the heart from going into envy, the excitement of joy from becoming agitated, and compassion from sliding into pity. It stays present to whatever is arising without judging or reacting. 

For those of us who are yoga teachers, health care providers, educators, social workers, and in other healing and caretaking roles, we are conditioned and even trained to hold the hearts and suffering of others, when they’re simply not ours to hold. 

As our global community navigates this time of transition, we might be exploring how to emerge with grace as we heal from the impact of a period of collective trauma. 

This workshop will be rooted in the Buddha’s teachings and will include a Dharma talk, formal meditation practice, a Yin Yoga practice, and a dialogue about how we take our practice off the cushion and into the world.

Recommended props: a few blankets (one to lay on; yoga mat optional), and two blocks for Yin practice

A recording link will be shared with all registrants and will be available for two weeks following the workshop.

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The Zoom meeting link will be sent to registrants automatically in the registration confirmation upon receipt of payment.

Please ensure you have the link well before the start of the workshop—check your junk/spam folder. We cannot guarantee technical help the day of the workshop.

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Leslie Booker brings her heart to the intersection of Dharma, embodied wisdom, and liberation. She earned her 200-hour certification with Dr. Jeff Migdow and her 300-hour certification in mindful yoga and meditation. She shared practice with vulnerable populations for over 12 years in NYC serving as the Director of Teacher Trainings for the Lineage Project, and cofacilitated a cognitive behavioral therapy and mindfulness intervention on Rikers Island. She is a cofounder of  the Yoga Service Council, and a contributor to several books including Yoga: The Secret of Life, Black Buddhists and the Black Radical Tradition, Georgetown Law’s report on “Gender & Trauma,” and Sharon Salzberg’s bookHappiness at Work. In 2020, she was voted by her peers as one of the 12 Most Influential Women in the mindfulness movement, was a Sojourner Truth Leadership Fellow through Auburn Seminary, and graduated from Spirit Rock's Mindful Yoga and Meditation Retreat Teacher Training. 

    Register—Zoom Only

    Upcoming Workshops

    February 11

      In person and via Zoom   

    Being Present in Chaos and Peace with Judy Weaver

    This discussion and experiential practice provides a fundamental understanding and awareness of your state of being or state of your nervous system. Learn evidence-based Trauma-Conscious Yoga protocol–asana, pranayama, and meditation–to develop your inner awareness and proprioceptive and kinesthetic senses to develop greater resiliency. 

    Learn more and register now for in person OR Zoom!


    March 11

    Creating Your Inner Temple for Living with Deirdre Breen 

    This workshop will provide the Ayurvedic and Yogic theories and practice to align you with the forces that govern well-being. Specific mudras, mantras, asana, and pranayama for morning and evening will be introduced. Participants will take home a customized ritual to fit their lifestyle and ultimately align them with the forces of life. Learn more and register now!

      Pop-Up Workshop  

    Tuesday, March 22

    7:30 p.m. EST

    The Light of the Gayatri 
    with Anjali Rao
      Via Zoom   
    Often revered as one of the most ancient and powerful mantras, each syllable of the Gayatri mantra from the Rig Veda has specific significance. Chanting the Gayatri mantra is said to proffer great wisdom and peace, and has lived through the oral traditions for thousands of years. The story has hues of mysticism to being a part of many sociopolitical movements. We will listen to the stories, revel in the sacred sounds, and learn how to chant this potent mantra together. Register now!

    April 8

    Yoga for Your Mood: Practices to Shift Depression and Anxiety with Amy Weintraub

    Amy will give you the why, the how, and the practices to make a difference in your emotional balance, self-regulation, and resiliency. Not only will these practices shift your mood, but they may change your life.

    Unless otherwise stated, workshops are $45 members / $65 nonmembers in advance ($55 / $75 day of) and count toward Yoga Alliance certification requirements. 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 YTA's December Workshop 
    James Knight



    How Setting Boundaries Can Help You Find Balance

    by Leslie Booker

    When something was important, the Buddha made sure it was repeated over and over again throughout his 45 years of teaching. Upekkha, or equanimity—the practice of a balanced heart and mind—is one of those things.

    Equanimity is a heart practice that cultivates a state of mind that does not allow one to be caught in the worldly winds of praise and blame, success and failure, pleasure and pain, fame and disrepute.

    Equanimity keeps us still in the midst of chaos, and is known to be the balancing factor in our faith, our wisdom, and our energy. It protects the heart from going into envy, the excitement of joy from becoming agitated, compassion from sliding into pity. Equanimity is a practice of a fierce heart. It allows us to go directly into the fire. Equanimity is not afraid; it does not back down. It stays present to whatever is arising without judging or reacting.

    Creating tender boundaries

    Equanimity is meant to be known and practiced while being engaged in “the ten thousand joys and the ten thousand sorrows” of being in relationship with other humans. In applying the concept to our interactions with others, I often think of equanimity as love + clear boundaries + tenderness without attachment.

    Boundaries. A lot of us get caught up when we hear the word. We think of cruelty, of kicking someone out. But when you apply love and tenderness, boundaries can create an environment of social harmony because they let us know we’re all playing by the same rules.

    I once worked in a community center that modeled radical hospitality–our commitment to creating an inclusive space for everyone who came through our doors. We were in lower Manhattan, near the site of the World Trade Center and just two blocks from Zuccotti Park, the encampment of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Our guests included Occupiers, folks who worked on Wall Street, tourists, people who were experiencing homelessness, high-school students, and multi-faith leaders who would all converge in this 2000 square foot space at lunchtime. For this collective to coexist, we had to come to agreements that allowed us to treat the space–and one another—with respect. When people weren’t able to do so, my boss would say: “I’m not kicking you out of my heart, but I’m kicking you out of the space today!”

    Holding what is yours

    The classic phrases of the Equanimity Meditation practice say that “all Beings are the owners of their karma; their happiness and unhappiness depends upon their actions, not on my wishes for them.”  This suggests, “I care about you, but I’m not in control of the unfolding of events. I can’t make it all better for you.” It means that I can walk you to the front door of an AA meeting, for example, but I can’t go in and find recovery for you.

    So many of us who work as health care providers, educators, social workers, and in other healing and caretaking roles are conditioned and even trained to hold the hearts and suffering of others, when they’re simply not ours to hold.  Equanimity helps us to know what belongs to you and what belongs to me. (And also what belongs to our ancestors, as we often carry their burdens on top of our own.) I can walk alongside you, but I don’t have to carry all of the baggage.

    A commitment to the health of our community

    As our global community navigates this time of transition—this is a place of, “done with that, but not quite ready for this”—we might be exploring how to emerge with grace as we heal from the impact of a period of collective trauma.

    Finding a sense of equipose between our own mental health and our commitment to the health of our extended communities can feel like a balancing act. Equanimity allows us the space to find a sacred pause and to respond instead of react. It’s as if we’re able to slow down the world around us and to see the space in between—a space where we can bring in patience, generosity, and compassion for ourselves and for others.

    Equanimity as a meditation practice

    The first foundation of mindfulness is mindfulness of the body. This includes the physical body, breath, and what Buddhists call the “sense doors” of seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, and touching. So in our formal meditation practice, it’s imperative to take time setting the body up for success so as we incline the heart and mind toward the subject of our meditation, the felt sense of the body can guide the way.

    I will often take a standing posture for this particular meditation because of the strength, stillness, and power it provokes. One of the four classic postures (sitting, walking, and lying down are the other three), standing can also bring brightness to a sleepy or restless body. If standing isn’t accessible, holding the energy or quality of standing will offer the same benefit.

    Feel the qualities of a mountain—strong roots, pelvic bone heavy, collarbones wide, crown of your head reaching toward the sky, while holding a softness and a tenderness throughout the rest of your body. Soft knees, soft belly, strong back.

    Place hands over belly. Feel your belly expand into the palms of the hands as you breathe the breath in; feel your belly reach back toward the spine as you breathe the breath out. Keep exploring the breath this way, or allow your hands to release, fingertips reaching toward the earth, and exhale as if through the bottoms of the feet.

    Feel into the stillness, the density, and the softness of the body, as gravity pulls the body toward the earth. Allow the earth to support you, as the breath might bring some movement or swaying to your practice.

    In the silence of your practice, random thoughts, imagery, or planning might arise. Notice where these thoughts pull your attention.

    Take a breath in. Without judging or manipulating the breath in any way, we begin to know our breath in its natural form. As you breathe the breath in, know that this breath is like this. As you breathe the breath out, know that this breath is like this.

    And when the next round of thoughts arise—maybe there’s boredom or agitation—notice where they pull your attention. Know that it’s okay to open your eyes to bring some brightness to your practice and begin again. Soft knees, soft belly, strong back.

    As you continue this dance of noticing where the mind wanders, feel into the body’s response to this thought: Is there a tightening in the shoulders, energy moving through the legs, sweating in the palms of the hands? Is the breath short and rigid?

    Bring yourself to the present moment. What’s happening right now is that my body is remembering something that has already happened, and is in the past. What’s happening right now is that I can feel gravity grounding this body as it stands or rests on the earth. I am breathing this breath in, and I am breathing this breath out.

    Allow this connection to the stillness of the body, or movement of the breath to be the anchor that brings you back to your practice when the mind begins to wander. As you continue to explore this practice, see if you can find the body coming closer to its center so you’re not living on the edges. Find a softness, and the capacity to stay.

    Reprinted from “How Setting Boundaries Can Help You Find Balance,” by Leslie Booker. Yoga Journal, July 22, 2022.

    To learn more about Leslie Booker, visit lesliebooker.com.

    Yoga Q & A

    Will Attending Classes in Different Yoga Styles Upend Your Practice?

    My friend was told that going to different style yoga classes would interfere with and confuse her practice. I think “variety is the spice of life." All yoga styles, taught by responsible teachers, lead the student to the place of truth residing within their own being. The different lineages and styles present different doorways into the way the body works, but all the paths use the brain, breath, and bones to perfect the practice.

    Yoga, like life, teaches that there are always options and one has to choose what is appropriate for and to a situation, which is always changing. This is the challenge any style of yoga helps us to recognize and address.

    This section is dedicated to answering your questions about yoga—as a student or as a teacher. Questions? Comments? Send them to yta_editor@ytayoga.com 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 nyackyogacenter.com.

    Recipes for the New Year
    Enjoy these treats when you need some warming comfort.

    Every month in this space we will spotlight an individual or studio YTA member, a YTA board member, or an organization that we want to introduce to the YTA community. (Or, in this case, some comforting recipes for cold winter days.)

    If you are a YTA member and would like to be featured, complete this survey as fully as you'd like.

    If you would like to nominate an individual or organization to be featured here, please email yta_editor@ytayoga.com.

    We will continue to share YTA member workshops, special events, and trainings occasionally in eblasts. Whenever you have an event or training to share, please email yta_editor@ytayoga.com.

    If you are in need of a sub, email us at any time and we will get it out to our 800+ mailing list as soon as possible.

    from ElaVegan.com


    • 1 tbsp coconut oil
    • 2 tsp cumin seeds
    • 1 1/2 tsp coriander seeds or 1/2-1 tsp ground coriander
    • 1 tsp fenugreek seeds
    • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
    • 2 tsp fresh ginger grated
    • 1 tsp ground turmeric
    • 1 tsp sea salt
    • Black pepper to taste
    • 4 cups chopped vegetables of choice (e.h. zucchini, carrot, broccoli, spinach, etc.)
    • 1/2 cup (100 g) dried jasmine rice or basmati rice
    • 1 cup (215 g) moong dal (yellow split mung beans) rinsed, or use lentils
    • 4 1/2 cups vegetable broth
    • 1/2 cup (120 ml) canned coconut milk
    • Fresh herbs like cilantro leaves or parsley, to garnish

    1. Heat the coconut oil in a large pan or pot and once hot, add cumin seeds, coriander seeds, fenugreek seeds, and mustard seeds. Fry for about 30 seconds, then stir in fresh ginger, ground turmeric, salt, and black pepper.

    2. Add the hardier vegetables of choice (carrot, zucchini, broccoli) and stir to combine.

    3. Add rice, moong dal, and the vegetable broth. Stir to combine and bring to a simmer. Let simmer over low heat for 20–25 minutes, then cover the pan and simmer for a further 10–15 minutes.

    4. Pour in the coconut milk and stir to combine. Add greens like spinach now, and let the mixture simmer until the desired consistency is reached.

    5. Add more veggie broth or coconut milk for a soupier dish. Taste it and season with additional salt, pepper, and spices, if needed.

    Golden Milk

    from minimalistbaker.com


    • 1½ cups light coconut milk (or sub other dairy-free milk of choice)
    • 1½ cups unsweetened plain almond milk (DIY or store-bought)
    • 1½ tsp ground turmeric
    • 1/4 tsp ground ginger (or 1 tsp freshly grated ginger*)
    • 1 whole cinnamon stick (or 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon)
    • 1 Tbsp coconut oil (optional for richness // see notes for oil-free)
    • 1 pinch ground black pepper
    • Sweetener of choice (maple syrup, coconut sugar, or stevia to taste)

    1. To a small saucepan, add coconut milk, almond milk, turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, coconut oil (optional), black pepper, and sweetener of choice (I usually add 1 Tbsp (15 ml) maple syrup)

    2. Whisk to combine and warm over medium heat. Heat until hot to the touch but not boiling, about 4 minutes, whisking frequently.

    3. Turn off heat and taste to adjust flavor. Add more sweetener to taste or more turmeric or ginger for intense spice and flavor.

    4. Serve immediately, dividing between two glasses and leaving the cinnamon stick behind. Best when fresh, though leftovers can be stored covered in the refrigerator for 2–3 days. Reheat on the stovetop or microwave until hot.


    • If using fresh ginger, use a fine mesh strainer when serving to strain out the ginger for a creamy texture.
    • If oil-free, consider using a coconut milk with decent fat content (canned vs. boxed).

      Final Thoughts

      We spend January 1 walking through our lives, room by room, drawing up a list of work to be done, cracks to be patched. Maybe this year, to balance the list, we ought to walk through the rooms of our lives ... not looking for flaws, but for potential.

      Ellen Goodman  

      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 day of)

      Board of Directors

      Gina Calendar, ERYT 200, RYT 500, CEP

      Lorraine Burton

      Programming Chair

      Jenny Schuck


      Robin Laufer, MS Ed, RYT 500


      Terry Fiore Lavery, ERYT (Editor)

      Lisa Sloane, MA, ERYT (Designer) 

      Social Media (new)




      Board Member at Large
      Paula Heitzner, ERYT

      If you or anyone you know might be interested in joining the YTA board, please let us know! All board roles require some degree of tech literacy; an interest in/knowledge of yoga is ideal but not required for many roles. The social media role is a great opportunity for a student looking for an internship or a YTT looking for a karma yoga project! Please spread the word to your yoga and other circles.



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