May 2023 Newsletter

Words of Welcome

Dear All, 

Now, at this time, let’s banish maya, the Sanskrit word meaning “illusion, confusion, and delusion.” Let’s balance our lives and outlook with the energies of this month, May, that gives permission to feel, hope, and find health and happiness. Our Yoga practice can help us connect with these life-enhancing pursuits, keeping mind, body, and spirit strong and balanced.

The meditation practice of Loving Kindness gives us the opportunity to make a choice to strengthen by seeking light and positivity or to diminish from despair and negativity. Each tenet of this meditative practice begins with the word may and offers us permission to seek out our highest potential, to let go of self-limiting beliefs (maya), and to self-empower ourselves with courage and compassion.

Like the month of May, which supports the flourishing growth ordained by Mother Nature, let’s take our place in this universal arrangement by cultivating our hope, health, happiness, and all else to help us thrive and achieve personal growth.

The YTA is available to support and make this journey with us. The association offers a monthly workshop of varying topics to propagate ideas and trainings, geared to helping us stand up for what we want and to root ourselves in our desire to blossom and grow. “May” we look forward to having you join us?

Yours in yoga,
Paula Renuka Heitzner

YTA Workshops 

Saturday, May 13
1:30–4:30 p.m.

Via Zoom

Adapting Yoga

Practice During Pregnancy
with Kelly Devi Swails

Have you ever had a pregnant student in your regular yoga class and second-guessed whether the asana and techniques you were offering needed further modification? Have you ever wondered why certain modifications are suggested, and how they protect and nurture the pregnant body?

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 who attend general population classes. We will cover information not covered in basic training and will shed light on the most common misunderstandings about asana during pregnancy. We will discuss when and how to suggest modifications (particularly during the first trimester), as well as common pregnancy issues that yoga teachers are often surprised they did not know about. 

This workshop will expose a deeper understanding of how you, as a yoga teacher, can hold space not only for your pregnant students, but also for your own journey of growth, understanding, and reflection in regard to women's issues and reproduction. 

Male yoga teachers are encouraged to attend. 

Recommended props: Mat, 2 blocks, 2 blankets, 1 bolster

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

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

Kelly Devi Swails, ERYT-500, RPYT, CCCE, MA, is the director of Devi Ma Yoga and has taught yoga (and particularly prenatal yoga) for 18 years. She specializes in women's wellness including yin, restorative, prenatal, postnatal, yoga for birth, yoga for menopause, and fertility yoga. Kelly is also a doula and childbirth educator. She provides yoga teacher training in prenatal, postnatal, yin, and basic training. In addition, she is an astrologer offering workshops on this topic, as well as the spiritual and esoteric aspects of yoga practice. 

    Register Now

    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.

    Last Workshop of 2022–23!

    June 10
    Why Are My Eyes So Tired? 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 cofounder of, 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. Learn more and register now!

     Sneak Peek at Our  
      2023–24 Lineup!  

    September 9

    Baptiste Power Yoga and Yoga with Weights

    with Sherri Baptiste

    October 14

    Empowered Embodiment from the Earth and Ether
    with Paula Heitzner

    November 11
    Align with the Divine: Yoga for Body, Mind, and Heart

    with Todd Norian

    December 9

    Self-Regulation and the Bhagavad Gita: Dissecting Detachment
    with Cristal and Pooja Sharma 

    January 13

    So Much More Than Stretching: Teaching Chair Yoga Stretch
    with Beatrice Mattaway

    February 10

    Subtle Yoga: The Science Behind Slow, Mindful Yoga Practice
    with Kristine Kaoverii Weber

    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.

    Lunch & Learn
    with YTA's 2022–23 Donation Recipient

    Tuesday, May 9
    12:00–1:00 p.m.

    Via Zoom

    Exhale to Inhale uses the healing practices of trauma-informed yoga to empower survivors of sexual and domestic violence and help communities develop skills and knowledge to support them. Through their philanthropic support, they are working toward their vision of a world where every survivor has access to the healing practices of trauma-informed yoga.

    Join Executive Director Maggie LaRocca and the Exhale to Inhale team to learn more about the impact of the organization's programs and services and for a brief demonstration of trauma-informed yoga.

    We're asking folks to sign up in advance so we can have an idea of how many people will be joining us live, but we will share the Zoom link with our entire list shortly before the event. A recording will also be available for two weeks following the event.

    Register Now

    From YTA's April Workshop
    Amy Weintraub



    The Far-Reaching Benefits

    of Prenatal Yoga

    by Kelly Devi Swails

    Prenatal yoga is one of yoga’s best kept secrets. Beyond the full range of benefits addressing the physical and emotional transformations of pregnancy, many do not know that the prenatal yoga class also includes key elements that are not found in regular yoga classes. Most importantly, these elements are beneficial right away, from the first trimester onward.

    Let’s take a closer look at some of the aspects of prenatal yoga practice that make it so unique. 

    Building a Mom Community

    Going through pregnancy, labor, and parenthood is momentous and the process comes with a plethora of physical, mental, emotional, and social shifts. This life-changing event truly deserves some support and acknowledgement that is not easily found out there. Fortunately, prenatal yoga is a perfect forum to allow moms to connect.

    In prenatal yoga, time is set aside to ask questions, share resources, learn more about pregnancy, celebrate milestones, and make new friends. This is an invaluable benefit because prenatal yoga is one of the few places where moms-to-be can get together, practice together, and simply talk. I’ve found over the years that the connections made in prenatal yoga class are significant and often last for years to come.

    Reducing Pregnancy Discomforts

    Each trimester of pregnancy presents its own set of joys, as well as discomforts. Prenatal yoga is specifically designed to hone in on the needs of each trimester and to address the common discomforts experienced at various stages of pregnancy.

    Since everyone in the class is pregnant, it is easier for the teacher to target specific issues and help students understand the physiology of pregnancy, which includes ways to manage discomforts when they arise. Specific tips on managing day-to-day challenges are also provided and can include: how to prop for better sleep at night, ways to sit more comfortably at work, positions for round ligament pain, engagements for improved pelvic stability, pelvic floor toning, and many other common pregnancy concerns.

    More Easeful Labor

    Studies indicate that expecting moms who practice prenatal yoga experience significantly less pain (Research Strategies for Normal Birth by Amy Romano and Henci Goer, Lamaze International, 2008) suggesting that prenatal yoga helps prepare moms for the demands of labor. Anecdotally, my own students often comment that prenatal yoga was fundamental in preparing them for labor and consistently report feeling more relaxed, informed, and confident for the birth process.

    Perhaps this is because moms actually practice a wide range of mind-body strategies in prenatal yoga that are directly applicable to the labor room. These include strategic vocalization practices, propping techniques for better support during pregnancy and labor, pregnancy-friendly movements that increase the chance of optimally positioning babies for birth, and ways to reduce contraction discomfort through breath practices, guided meditations, affirmations, and comprehensive relaxation.

    Breath Awareness and Deep Relaxation

    Yoga is all about breath and relaxation. This is as true in regular yoga classes as it is in prenatal yoga practice; however, in prenatal yoga, moms dive more specifically into the process of breath and relaxation within the context of pregnancy and birthing. Training the body exactly how to achieve a state of deep relaxation (while also being in labor) takes time and consistent practice. This is just one reason why starting prenatal yoga sooner, rather than later, in pregnancy can be so helpful! Too often the practice of natural techniques for coping with contractions are not offered until the very last weeks of pregnancy, or even during labor itself. Fully embodying these techniques often takes more practice than just a handful of classes, and obviously labor is never a good time to learn.

    Celebration of Pregnancy

    Prenatal yoga class is a special time to engage in a beneficial practice for both mom and baby. The class is so much more than just yoga. It provides time for connecting with other moms, bonding with the baby, addressing the rapid changes of pregnancy, gathering resources, asking questions, having a laugh or two, and dedicating a time simply to slow down, breathe, and celebrate pregnancy in the company of other moms-to-be.

    Prenatal students do not need any previous yoga experience to participate. I also encourage grandmothers-to-be to attend, as well as curious yoga teachers who just want to know what happens in this class. I look forward to seeing you on the mat!

    To learn more about Kellyvisit

    Yoga Q & A

    Are Some Muscles Magical?

    I think one must define what they think magic is. A yoga practitioner is not a magician, but if involved in a serious practice, it can lead one to the magical places of the highest states of consciousness. This takes a lifetime of practice, study, and devotion, which is a rare realm of existence, but possible.

    Some muscles may seem magical because they are developed by proper and frequent use with focus on adding strength and balanced ability and flexibility, according to our asana practice. Every muscle has the potential to bring “magic” to the being when they are used in a specific way with the bones creating joints, fueing the body with the breathing muscles and integrating with the brain and nervous system for full organic function.

    The heart is the perfect example of a magical muscle!

    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

    Spotlight on
    Yoga Podcasts

    Looking for inspiration for your teaching, your practice, or your yoga business? Check out the podcasts below, and share your thoughts on these or other recommendations with us on Facebook!

    Interviews with leaders, elders and teachers from the yoga and wider wisdom community on eastern philosophies, consciousness studies, social justice, and the human spiritual condition from the folks at Embodied Philosophy.

    The Connected Yoga Teacher
    Hear from yoga teachers and other professionals connecting you to knowledge, inspiration, stories, and actionable steps. CYT also has an online supportive yoga teacher community, open to yoga teachers from around the world.

    Everyday Ayurveda and Yoga
    Brought to you by Myra Lewin, founder and director of Hale Pule Ayurveda & Yoga. Tune in each month as Myra shares her perspective on the timeless wisdom that defines these ancient sciences. A thoughtful, intuitive teacher and a true healer, Myra will guide you to connect to your spirit, to your heart, and to the sacred space inside where you’ll find peace, truth, and clarity.

    Integral Yoga Podcast
    A podcast filled with conversations about living a life of Yoga and sharing personal journeys of growth and learning. Host Avi Gordon interviews individuals from various yogic backgrounds. Tired of avoiding deeper questions? These conversations are for you!

    J. Brown Yoga Talks
    Candid conversations between J and other independent yoga revolutionists. From yoga philosophy to the business of yoga, J and his esteemed guests always have something interesting to say.

    Mastering the Business of Yoga
    Amanda Kingsmith seeks out yoga teachers who have been successful in the yoga industry to help teach you about the business of yoga and the realities of being a yoga teacher.

    Practice You
    Join Elena Brower in discussion with renowned luminaries and dear friends to explore life's myriad transitions, our understandings, and our responses. What does it mean to be present, to shift our perceptions, to engage with the world meaningfully, with dignity and care? With respect for the ancient practices and the modern wisdom that continue to inform and elevate our exchanges, each episode is an invitation to Practice You.

    Yoga And...
    Ashley Weber, a yoga and embodiment teacher who is constantly curious about all things yoga and..., brings the science and magic of yoga and mind body practices down to earth for the everyday person to help you live your best life! Episodes cover a vast array of topics circling back to yoga, like Yoga and Comedy, Yoga and the Sensitive Person, or Yoga and the Pelvic Floor. You are bound to find something that speaks to YOU and your unique life!

    This down-to-earth podcast by Andrea Ferretti (former executive editor of Yoga Journal) will keep informed and inspired to practice yoga. Topics run the gamut from nitty gritty technique (her yoga teacher husband Jason Crandell often joins to help with this) to down-to-earth conversations about how to apply yoga's lessons and tools to help craft a happy, balanced life.

    The Yoga Teacher Resource
    Episodes focus on clear, relevant and actionable advice just for yoga teachers. Join Mado Hesselink as she interviews world class teachers, up-and-coming innovators, and unsung heroes about our shared passion: changing the world one yoga class at a time.

    Every month in this space we will spotlight an individual or studio YTA member, a YTA board member, an organization that we want to introduce to the YTA community—or something else entirely!

    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, organization, podcast, book, etc. to be featured here, please email

    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

    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

    Chant of the Pregnant Goddess

    by Jana McCarthy

    I am the mother of the moon 

    sister of the stars 
    child of the light in your eyes. 
    I am powerful.

    The geometry of my shape shifts 
    from gently curved lines 
    to expanding circles: earth, moon, sun. 

    I am powerful. 
    I am strong. 

    The tempo of my vibration quickens, 
    increasing from 
    butterfly wings, to floundering fish, 
    to beating drum, 
    erupting volcano, 
    the rhythm as old and constant as 
    the cycles of the sun 
    and the turn of the tides. 

    I am powerful. 
    I am strong. 
    I am beautiful. 

    I hold the hope of my ancestors 
    the knowledge of my time 
    the fate of my future. 

    I am powerful. 
    I am strong. 
    I am beautiful. 
    I am mother. 

    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