February 2023 Newsletter

Words of Welcome

Dear All, 

As the shortest month begins, it is paradoxical in how much potency February offers. The darkness of short days moving toward more light is an example of how we can learn the profound lesson that nothing remains the same, but there are always opportunities to be had and choices to be made for our development.

In the cover of darkness, we are urged to go within and bring to light what is sapping our energy, strength, and well-being. This cover can become the cocoon nurturing our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual development. This is the crux of our practice of yoga, and a choice only we can make to set in motion.

The new year is optimally the time of new beginnings, and this second month can strengthen the resolves made to the self and shine the light on new paths of action to forge the changes we desire and deserve! Remember, change is the only constant! Reaching for and enforcing change helps us to understand how fear defeats courage and how the weaknesses of spirit overwhelm any arena of soundness and stability.

Make a change that can bring an awareness of the opportunities and choices available to brighten and strengthen your life. Joining YTA not only deepens your knowledge of yoga, but offers the support and security of community. Be in the energy that invokes the gifts of Lakshmi, the goddess of opportunities and the god, Ganesh, the remover of obstacles. Become part of the YTA board to solidify your change! Every second Saturday of each month, from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m., is the best choice and opportunity for creating change. 

Yours in yoga,
Paula Renuka Heitzner

Speaking of change, YTA's vision is to create a community that taps into the power of yoga to change attitudes, lives, and ultimately the world.

YTA members can further support this mission by casting your vote for this year's YTA donation recipient. This is YOUR organization, and today is the last day to let your voice be heard.

Please click on the link in the reminder email sent on Monday to cast your vote!

2023 Workshops 

Saturday, February 11
1:30–4:30 p.m.

 Now via Zoom Only

Being Present in Chaos and Peace

Tortoise and the Hare

with Judy Weaver

This workshop will provide a fundamental understanding and awareness of your state of being or state of your nervous system. Being Present in Chaos and Peace is the ability to correctly interpret the bodymind’s messages and respond appropriately under different levels of stress conditions. The basic premise of Judy’s work is the concept that “being present” is physiological not psychological–an individual has a felt sense inventory of all their body parts. Learn how you can develop an internal awareness of when and how to self-regulate by using the bodymind’s GPS, or vestibular system, to manage stress.

Come away with an understanding of what the vestibular system is and how to interpret and integrate the body’s messages. Consciously integrating all these systems is our superpower to self-regulation and the foundation for mindfulness. 

We will use evidence-based trauma-conscious yoga protocol—asana, pranayama, and meditation—to develop your inner awareness by synchronizing breath, movement, and consciousness for greater resiliency. 

Recommended props: mats, blocks, and a strap 

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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Judy Weaver, C-IAYT, E-RYT 500, MCLC, is an author, yoga therapist, and teacher’s teacher with over 35 years of experience. She is the cofounder of Connected Warriors and Bodymind Recalibration, and cofounder of Yoga Unify–a new paradigm for yoga education and professionalism. Judy is an expert in post-traumatic-growth, developed evidence-based trauma-conscious yoga protocols, and participated on Yoga Alliance Standard Review, Advisory Board, and IAYT’s Competency Evaluation team. She serves on two other 501(c)(3) boards: Israel Heart2Heart, which provides mentorship mindfulness in Israel; and South Florida Social Entrepreneurs, a chapter of Social Enterprise Alliance, catalysts for social enterprise and sustainable social impact. She lives in South Florida with her husband and their two Maine Coon cats.

    Register Now

    Upcoming Workshops

    March 11

      In person and via Zoom   

    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 for in person OR Zoom!


         Pop-Up Workshop     

    Tuesday, March 21

    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. Learn more and register now!

    April 8

    Yoga for Your Mood:

    Practices to Shift Depression and Anxiety with Amy Weintraub     Via Zoom   

    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. Learn more and register now!

    May 13

    Adapting Yoga Practice During Pregnancy 

    with Kelly Devi Swails 

     Via Zoom   

    This workshop is designed for yoga teachers without prenatal certification to learn more about the anatomy and physiology of pregnancy, and what every yoga teacher should know to offer informed, safe yoga instruction for pregnant students in general population classes. 

    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 January Workshop 
    Leslie Booker



    Pursuit of Compassion

    by Judy Weaver

    When I was asked earlier this year to contribute my perspectives about the pursuit of compassion for a veteran and fellow yoga teacher’s blog, I immediately said yesfollowed by “OMG! What does compassion mean to me?”  

    Like the nerd I am, I googled compassion and the first definition was “sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others or to suffer together and feel motivated to help.” Next, I looked up pity and found it means “cause for regret or disappointment" or as a verb "to feel sorry for the misfortunes of.” Finally, I looked up sympathy, which means “feelings of pity and sorry for someone else’s misfortune or a mutual common feeling between people.”

    Diving a bit deeper into compassion, sympathetic pity means “kind condescension to another’s situation without action.” Wow, that’s barely a surface level connection to another human being’s situation so there must be more to the meaning of compassion. Expanding my research, I found that the definition of empathy is the "vicarious participation in another’s situation." It seems that compassion can mean feeling bad for someone’s situation and not feeling motivated to helpor it can mean suffering together and feeling motivated to help alleviate the suffering. So confusing! Compassion is either feeling motivated or not feeling motivated.

    Clearly, I was missing something, so I began to think about applying this to real life when suddenly, the Oscars aired and the “slap heard around the world” happened. Like almost everyone reading this I personally don’t know any of the players, but I think it still applies to this discussion. Broadening my outlook related to the players in this scenario I looked at their roles relating to my favorite ancient philosophical text, the Bhagavad Gita.

    This is an allegorical battle between our internal and external selves resulting in the understanding that if you live your dharma, there is no karma. Dharma means "your true nature, purpose in life," and karma is the "fallout of not living your dharma." In other words, when you live your dharma there is no karma. My hope for those in our Connected Warriors world, veterans and active-duty service members and their families, is for them to truly embrace their dharma with self-compassion so they can reduce karmic outcome.

    Let’s start with Jada Pinkett Smith; she was the insulted party. Watching her face as the joke was made, she politely smirkedbut then her expression changed to anger when she felt she was being “dissed” for her disease. When I saw that she was deeply offended, I immediately felt empathy because I too have been made fun of because of the way I look (non-white SoCal gal)I have walked in those shoes. With the lens of dharmaJada is a bad-ass woman; she is an accomplished heavy-metal rocker, wife, mother, and actress and her response was dharma-appropriate being the source of a joke.

    Now let’s look at Will Smith; he was the one who acted out because his wife was the subject of a joke related to her disease. After being horrified and rewinding the video because I couldn’t believe that what I saw was not a set-up, I felt pity for himhe clearly responded from his gut and not his thinking mind. Will’s dharma response was inappropriate to his role as a man, award-winning actor, husband, and father. His karmic outcome was his resignation from the organization that hosted the event. Self-compassion means that he was able to see that his actions were not his truth, and he is now committed to finding that truth so he can truly “show-up” in a way that supports his dharma.

    Finally, there’s Chris Rock. His joke was the reason why the slap happened, and once I realized it was not stagedI sympathized with him and felt compassion for his resultant action. He kept his cool and continued with grace under very trying circumstances. Chris lived his dharma as a comedian, man, father, and husband; he delivered a joke and maintained compassion for Will by continuing to do his job on stage as a presenterno karmic rebound for him. 

    When I turn the lens back on myself, this scenario reminds me that our words and actions matter. Part of my pursuit of compassion is to get in front of myself and have a sense of how my words or actions will land on another before it happens. Self-awareness is the key to this ability, so you are not only aware of how you think and feel, but you take it to the next level and apply it to others. 

    So, a final view through the lens at what happened with Jada, Will, and Chriscan you step in each one of their shoes and feel compassion for the others, as well as self-compassion? Jada for being the object of a joke, Chris for being the recipient of the outcome of the joke, and Will for reacting to the joke without conscious thought. Now can you be truly compassionate to yourself and another person’s circumstances and go beyond mere pity?  

    My last question for you to live in in 2023: Does one nonmindful act define you and your future?

    To learn more about Judy Weavervisit connectedwarriors.org.

    Yoga Q & A

    Why aren’t more men doing yoga when they could benefit from the practice?

    Men are generally drawn to physical activities that are team-oriented and competitive. Solo gym workouts still inspire competition, and both forms of action can be used as a way to measure strength, self-esteem, and self-worth.

    Recently men have been slowly introduced to the aspects of yoga that would and could make their physical pursuits more satisfying and safer, and increase their energetic longevity…flexibility. This benefit enhances the three aspects of the human experience, according to what one needs to achieve a life of balance, joy, and conscious awareness. Now professional athletic teams and dance companies are using yoga as an important adjunct in training sessions.

    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.

    Spotlight on Member and Past Presenter Al Bingham


    Spring Street

    Lee, MA 01238




    How long have you been practicing yoga?

    28 years

    How long have you been teaching yoga?
    26 years

    How long have you been a YTA member?

    Since 2015.

    What is your yoga background/journey?

    I was introduced to the practice of asana, pranayama, and meditation by Alan Finger and his staff of teachers at Yoga Zone. Like many other graduates who dashed to NYC after college, I was adrift trying to figure out what my life could look like and a friend suggested I take a class. I was hooked almost immediately but never expected it would become my full-time occupation. 

    I completed a training program with Alan and shortly thereafter moved to Irvington and lived in an apartment above his garage while continuing my studies and helping Alan/Greta grow the number of Yoga Zone studios, create a more thorough teacher training program, cowrite a couple of books, and codevelop a yoga TV show and a line of yoga videos. 

    In the process of attending yoga conferences with Alan, I met a lot of other senior teachers. I found that I resonated with the teachings of Gary Kraftsow and the American Viniyoga Institute so I decided to pursue my 500-hour training with Gary (now that there was a Yoga Alliance and actual teaching standards).  

    Working with practitioners who had aches and pains led to an opportunity to teach yoga in a physical therapy setting for several years and then to a chance to join an international cohort of physical therapists, strength and conditioning coaches, and athletic trainers in a 10-month fellowship program with the Gray Institute. Those teachings, combined with my previous studies, were the influence behind the PostureTweak method I began applying in my classes at the studio I owned, called Encourage, which opened in 2013 and closed in the summer of 2020.

    In the last 3 years I have been studying with Pandit Rajmani Tigunait, PhD, and the senior faculty of the Himalayan Institute, becoming a certified Vishoka Meditation teacher, taking their 300-hour training, and doing deep dives in the Yoga Sutras and in the Vedic Sukta, Sri Sukta). It has been a joyful "coming home" to the richness and fullness of their offerings. 

    Have the past 2–3 years affected your practice and/or your teaching?

    The short nights and difficult days associated with the COVID-inspired pivot to teaching onlinewhich was happening simultaneously with the need to homeschool my (then) pre-K daughter and to help steer the Encourage community of teachers and practitioners through the pandemic, all the while enduring a move from the Hudson Valley to the Berkshires and kicking off a year-long renovation on our housewas, well, a little intense. When I turned to practice, it was out of desperate necessity to remember that there was a space within me that was not colored by all of that chaos. 

    Amid the churn, it was a boon to be freed from some of the administrative responsibilities of running a studio, to have my teaching schedule limited by the renovations on our house, and to get to dive into online classes with the Himalayan Institute. It was the perfect package of exactly what I needed, and it fueled a resurgence in my passion for practice and teaching. 

    I used to relish walking into a studio without a clue about what I would teach and trusting that as soon as the practitioners in front of me began to breathe and move that the class would reveal itself along the way. But online, since I can’t see the students as well or hear them breathe, I show up with more of an agenda, even though practitioners fill the pre-class chat with their own special requests. So teaching has become a wonderful collaboration. I’ve enjoyed thinking about and implementing a broader curriculum of practice and study and have come to enjoy that as much as the spontaneous/in the moment teaching that I had been used to pre-pandemic.

    Do you have any upcoming events or special offers you want to share with YTA members and friends?
    Ongoing, I teach LiveStream classes at EncourageYoga.com and to members, I offer unlimited access to an OnDemand video library that contains over 100 classes searchable by focus (foot/ankle, knee, hip, pelvic/core awareness, low back, thoracic spine, shoulders, neck/jaw, balance, and/or breath training). The code “YTA” gives YTA members and friends 10% off monthly, quarterly, and annual membership prices. 

    The final details for the May 19–21 in-person retreat at the Himalayan Institute in the Poconos are being worked out. For the latest scoop or to express an interest in attending, please email Al@EncourageYoga.com. Space will be limited! 

    Anything else you want to share?

    Each of us has so many gifts that we’ve been given the chance to steward and share. I’m so incredibly grateful for what I’ve been blessed with and I hope that my contribution will be to share those and to encourage others to access whatever is inside them and to feel empowered to bring their gifts forward into a world that desperately needs them!

    Recommendations: What are your favorite/life-changing/must-have yoga books, podcasts, movies, music, props, quotes, etc? 

    The most worn books in my yoga library are the commentaries written by Pandit Rajmani Tigunait, PhD, on the first three chapters of the Yoga Sutras (The Secret of the Yoga Sutra, The Practice of the Yoga Sutra, and Awakening Power in the Yoga Sutra), Chip Hartranft’s translation and commentary on the Yoga Sutras, as well as Gary Kraftsow’s Yoga for Wellness. Though not technically a book on yoga, Todd Hargrove’s Feldenkrais-inspired book, A Guide to Better Movement, is a well-worn staple, too.

    What are your favorite/life-changing/must-have non-yoga books, podcasts, movies, music, props, quotes, etc?
    Two fabulous books on writing/life are George Saunders A Swim in a Pond in the Rain: In Which Four Russians Give a Master Class on Writing, Reading, and Life and Will Storr’s The Science of Storytelling, which may have additional resonance to students of yoga psychology. Poetry by Kim Stafford, William Stafford, Ellen Bass, Teddy Macker, Gregory Orr, and Denise Levertov, et al, goes a long way toward maintaining the fires of awe, wonder, and gratitude in my belly. And I never turn away beautifully crafted, thoughtfully written books on gardening, cooking, or baking.

      Every month in this space we will spotlight an individual or studio YTA member, a YTA board member, a past presenter, or an organization that we want to introduce to the YTA community.

      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.

      Final Thoughts

      Basic Guidelines for daily living according to the Tao:

      What you do not like from the one above you,
      do not do to the one below you.

      What you do not like from the one below you,
      do not do to the one above you.

      What you do not like from the one in front of you,
      do not do to the one behind.

      What you do not like from the one behind you,
      do not do to the one in front.

      What you do not like from the one on your left,
      do not do to the one on your right.

      What you do not like from the one on your right,
      do not do to the one on your left.

      Stay in your center and remember that the inner essence of the universe is benevolent. 

      Nina Crist, December 31, 2022, Facebook  

      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



      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. We are in urgent need of a programming coordinator. Please spread the word to your yoga and other circles. We would love to talk to anyone interested in sharing their skills, whatever they are—from finance and design to note taking, organizing, and making connections.



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