April 2023 Newsletter

Words of Welcome

Dear All, 

The month of April was named from the Latin word aperio, meaning “to open,” and is appropriate because plants begin to grow during this time, fighting their way from darkness and dormancy to seek the light.

Earth Day is coming upon us on April 22 to honor, heal, and celebrate our planet. This would be the perfect time to join with Mother Nature and reach from within to open to the universal light of the soul and to flourish like the plants.

Our practice of yoga can help us stand up to the despair and doubt that burdens the soul, along with the uncertainties of everything that once offered security and constancy. We have every reason to feel downhearted and scared, but we know and must remember our yoga teachings. These will help us dispel the current sense of doom and gloom, while we use the light to heal feelings of hopelessness and helplessness. These are our real danger, creating self-fulfilling prophecies that turn into self-sabotage!

Optimism and hope are regenerative and renew us as we focus and meditate on the teachings of the Bhagavad Gita: We are Infinite, Eternal, Whole! Let’s move toward an abundance of light, joy, and less stress, remembering that nothing lasts forever and everything changes—good and bad—change is a constant!

We are like our plants, they grow under different conditions and we too can flourish in ways that suit us. Yoga offers us that flexibility and diversity to move toward light, in a self-empowering manner.

The monthly YTA workshops, with their varied presenters, offer us ways to build the muscles we need to change our fear to courage, the harvest of the heart. YTA welcomes you.

Yours in yoga,
Paula Renuka Heitzner

2023 Workshops 

Saturday, April 8
1:30–4:30 p.m.

Via Zoom

Yoga for Your Mood:

Practices to Shift Depression and Anxiety
with Amy Weintraub

Since the pandemic, rates of depression and anxiety have skyrocketed (statistics for depression had been one in ten, it’s now affecting one in four people). What practices can we offer our students and ourselves to establish emotional balance, self-regulation, and resiliency, no matter what we see in the news? Amy will give you the why, the how, and the practices to make a difference. Not only will these practices shift your mood, but they may change your life as they did for Amy and the thousands of students she has trained in LifeForce Yoga. 

We’ll be meeting the mood and shifting it into balance with yoga breathing, mudras, visual imagery, yoga meditations, mantras, and accessible movements. Many of these practices are not taught in regular yoga classes. 

Amy experienced firsthand the relief that yoga can provide and has spent her career helping others who suffer from mood disorders such as depression and anxiety. Now, she offers accessible practices to everyone.

Recommended props: mat, chair, blocks, cushion

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

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Amy Weintraub, MFA, C-IAYT, E-RYT500, YACEP, is the founder of the LifeForce Yoga® Healing Institute, an acclaimed yoga therapist, and a pioneer in the field of yoga and mental health. In 1999 Amy wrote The Natural Prozac, Yoga Journal’s first article addressing yoga and mental health. Author of the best-selling Yoga for Depression, the new card deck from Sounds True, Yoga for Your Mood: 52 Ways to Shift Depression and Anxiety, and Yoga Skills for Therapists, she teaches and guides thousands of practitioners and therapists around the world. Her Silver Nautilus Award winning novel Temple Dancer was released in 2020.


    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.

    Spring Workshops

    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. Learn more and register now!

    June 10
    Yoga and Vision Improvement: How a Modern Life Overtaxes Vision and What We Can Do About It
    with Daniel Orlansky
       Via Zoom    
    In front of your screen too much and feeling the negative effects? Daniel has teamed with Dr. Marc Grossman, O.D., LA.c, practitioner in integrative eye care and founder of naturaleyecare.com, to assemble the best natural eye exercises, gentle yoga stretches, and simple movements you can do every day to relax your body and help soothe tired eyes and strengthen your vision. This workshop will introduce the best of eastern and western methods for improving eye health, and Dr. Grossman will join us for a Q&A session. More to come soon!

    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 March Workshops
    Deirdre Breen and Anjali Rao



    Breaking the Shame of Depression with Compassion

    by Amy Weintraub

    My beloved child, break your heart no longer. Each time you judge yourself,

    you break your own heart.

    ~Swami Kripalu/Vidya Carolyn Dell’uomo

    How many hundreds of yoga classes did I teach, quoting my teacher at the end of each class, before my heart’s mind understood those words? Why did saying them to my students still bring tears to my eyes? Why, after years of meditation, therapy, and medication, was I still so mean to me? Before I began a daily yoga practice in the late 80s, no amount of meditation turned the volume down on that monster in my mind. Every one of us has an inner critic. Mark Twain said that if we talked to our children the way we talk to ourselves, we would be arrested for child abuse. I was particularly hard on myself in the 70s, after my marriage failed. Had anyone been listening to my self-abuse, they would have locked me up and thrown away the key.

    My secret name for myself was “Amy Shamey.” Shame wasn’t just a thought or belief. It wasn’t just an emotion. It was a part of my physical being, a daily visceral experience that whooshed through my body, bringing waves of heat and a deep sense of humiliation and with it, grief. No amount of talking about it in therapy, watching it arise on the meditation cushion, or numbing it out with meds, touched the core of my self-hatred. Of course, my body image had a lot to do with it. I saw myself as chubby, unattractive, and clumsy, compared to my beautiful mother, whose expressive face appeared on the covers of pulp fiction magazines like True Confessions and Romance in the late 1940s. My body was not my friend. It had hair in places it shouldn’t. It had ungraceful hands. It had an embarrassing plumpness in the places that should have been lean and an embarrassing flatness in the places that should have been round. From this description, you might think I wasn’t pretty. We’re talking about self-image here, not reality. Pictures attest to my cuteness as a kid and my downright beauty in my teens. I don’t think my creative dance teacher would have tried to convince my mother when I was eleven to enroll me in a proper ballet studio with daily classes, if she hadn’t seen in me a grace and fluidity I couldn’t see in myself. But whatever the source, I hated my body and nearly everything else that went by the name of Amy.

    So what changed? In the late 1980s I made my first visit to Kripalu Center in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, and took my first yoga class. I had been meditating since the early 70s, and had practiced a bit of yoga asana with a library book and some LPs made in the 70s by an American yoga teacher named Richard Hittleman. But it wasn’t until I was on a blanket at Kripalu for the first time, that a teacher invited me to listen to my body and accept it just as it was. It may have been during that first visit to Kripalu, that a teacher spoke the words attributed to Swami Kripalu but that were actually written by long-time Kripalu disciple and yoga teacher, Carolyn Dell’uomo: “My beloved child, break your heart no longer. Each time you judge yourself, you break your own heart.” I’m sure I wept on my mat, when I heard them, although I don’t remember. What I do remember is emerging from the class feeling a sense of spacious abundance, a touching into wholeness that I had never experienced before. In those moments after class, it didn’t matter what I looked like or what mistakes I may have made in my life. I had touched something deep within me that was absolutely perfect, just as it was. In those moments after class, there was nothing I needed to fix, no way I needed to change. I left Kripalu with a bag full of audio tapes to practice at home, as there were no yoga teachers in my town. I came back to my mat, day after day, sometimes struggling to get there with a head full of self-condemnation. And after every morning practice, of stretching and breathing and staying present to the physical sensations the poses evoked, I felt more at home in my body. I rose from my mat feeling at ease with the Amy who looked back at me from the mirror.

    The self-judgment didn’t cease in the hours I spent off the mat, at least not right away. At first the daily whoosh of shame came weekly, then monthly, and then eventually, it disappeared altogether. The simple attention to sensation, the backing off from a pose when I needed to, the true listening and honoring of my body, began to change me in the most profound way. Compassion for my body was the first thing to change. I listened to my body’s needs on and off the mat, and a lifetime of suffering from constipation disappeared. I began to crave healthier foods, and without dieting, I lost weight. Eventually, when my inner critic attacked, I found myself talking back, instead of believing everything she said. When I rolled out my mat to practice, her voice fell silent. When I made a mistake or fell short of my own expectations, she always had something to say, but I didn’t necessarily believe her anymore. By the early 90s, I was teaching a workshop at Kripalu called, “Befriending Your Inner Critic,” leading others in exercises to find that compassion for themselves, including their shame parts and their nasty inner critics.

    These exercises help bring more fresh oxygen into the body and release old carbon dioxide from the lungs, enabling you to fully sense and be present to physical sensations. This sensory awareness is the portal into finding compassion for all your parts to outshine the weakening voice of your inner critic.

    To learn more about Amyvisit amyweintraub.com.

    Yoga Q & A

    Can yoga help relieve back pain?

    A student recently asked me if yoga can help relieve some of her back pain due osteopenia leading to osteoporosis. Her question is actually two questions in one, and the answer to both is “yes.” 

    The first question, about physical structure, can be answered by the gentle stretching, strengthening, and structural support yoga provides to the vertebrae and the muscles and nerves in the weakened areas. This results in less pain as you maintain the practices that undo the collapse. 

    The second question, inferred, is that yoga can help you find the mental and emotional strength that the fear of physical failings provoke, and be proactive in reducing pain and in regaining physical comfort and control as you progress.

    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
    YTA's 2022–23 Donation Recipient:

    Exhale to Inhale

    April is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and we are thrilled to announce that this year's donation will go to Exhale to Inhale, an organization that honors, empowers, and supports survivors of domestic and sexual violence every day.

    Executive director Maggie LaRocca was excited by the news. We'll be setting up a "lunch-and-learn" type of event in the coming months for YTA members and friends to get to know more about the organization.

    YTA is guaranteeing a $500 donation to this wonderful community resource. That amount can be increased by your direct donations and by your participation in YTA workshops—if we beat this year's budget forecast, an extra "bonus" will be included in our donation.

    Please read on for more information about Exhale to Inhale.

    Mission Statement
    Exhale to Inhale uses trauma-informed yoga to empower survivors of sexual and domestic violence and help communities develop skills and knowledge to support them.

    Vision Statement
    Exhale to Inhale works to create a world in which every survivor has access to the healing practices of trauma-informed yoga.

    When was the organization founded, and by whom? What type of entity is it?
    Exhale to Inhale was founded by Zoë LePage while she was a student at Barnard College. LePage identified an unmet need in the scope of services offered to survivors of sexual and domestic violence and worked with volunteers to bring trauma-informed yoga classes to shelters, rape crisis centers, and nonprofits in and around NYC. We're celebrating our ten-year anniversary; see more here.

    We are 501c3, and we are funded primarily by individual donations, corporate sponsors (e.g., Flamingo), and a modest fee-for-service program. We do not receive government, state, or city funding.

    What services do you offer?
    We offer a weekly community class open to survivors everywhere, live on Zoom in English and, through partnerships, in Spanish.

    How do you connect with those who need your services?
    We partner with over 50 nonprofits in New York City and in six states to bring trauma-informed yoga classes to survivors at places they would not otherwise be available. Our online community classes and our training program are available online via Zoom to anyone. We train the NYC Mayor’s Office Family Justice Center staff with a six-hour training. 

    Who provides classes? What training is required?
    Once provided by volunteers, we now hire trauma-informed yoga teachers to join our team. Many have completed our scholarship program, and all are trained in trauma-informed yoga. Our goal is to reflect the communities that we serve.

    Our 16-Hour Trauma-Informed Yoga Training program is open to yoga teachers, healthcare professionals, and other allies. Every graduate of the program is eligible for ten continuing education classes at no charge on an annual basis. These classes are taught by our teachers; sometimes we bring in subject matter experts and then open the class to our broader community.  Our next one is on April 24.


    2022 Impact

    Watch this powerful video to hear directly from founder Zoë LePage and some of Exhale to Inhale's teachers and students.

    Website: exhaletoinhale.org

    info@exhaletoinhale.org (General Inquiries)
    maggie.larocca@exhaletoinhale.org (Executive Director)

    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.

    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

    I've Learned

    by Maya Angelou

    I’ve learned that no matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow.

    I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights.

    I’ve learned that regardless of your relationship with your parents, you’ll miss them when they’re gone from your life.

    I’ve learned that making a living is not the same thing as making a life.

    I’ve learned that life sometimes gives you a second chance.

    I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw some things back.

    I’ve learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision.

    I’ve learned that even when I have pains, I don’t have to be one.

    I’ve learned that every day you should reach out and touch someone.

    People love a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back.

    I’ve learned that I still have a lot to learn.

    I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.

    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, RYT (Editor)

    Lisa Sloane, MA, ERYT (Designer) 

    Social Media

    Cassie Cartaginese, RYT



    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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    Yoga Teachers Association • 18 Derby Lane • Ossining, NY 10562 • USA