January 2024 Newsletter

Words of Welcome

Dear All, 

“The beat goes on” and the New Year begins! Let’s take the opportunity to meet and greet this beginning with the reserve of our yoga and meditation practice to transform and open us to the universal energy of awakening and well-being.

Let’s reduce the burnout, anxiety, depression, and traumatic stress we’ve experienced these past few years from the pandemic and now the present political turmoil impacting our future. These issues, at best, are distracting and disturbing, but only we can limit the personal damages they might cause with the help and support of our yoga and meditation practices and community.

Let’s increase our stores of compassion and consciousness to focus on what is or is not possible to derive a healing satisfaction enabling us to stay the course and be of service, where and when needed. This is our yoga’s way and January is the chance to rejuvenate our resources to make 2024 a year of growth and stability—one breath at a time.

A constant resource is the YTA workshop offered the second Saturday of each month. Renew your personal health with boosts of optimism and inspiration from our quality programs offered by respected presenters. Become a member and have greater access to the tools that build elevated spirituality and personal motivation. These are the gifts of light we can generate to dispel darkness and fear within and without.

Yours in yoga,

Paula Renuka Heitzner

YTA Workshops and Events

Saturday, January 13
1:30–4:00 p.m.

In person at Club Fit, Briarcliff Manor,

with a Zoom-only option

So Much More

Than Stretching:

Teaching Chair

Yoga Stretch

Beatrice Mattaway

More and more studies are showing how vital the practice of stretching is to our overall health and well-being. No longer is stretching relegated to pre- or post-workout, with its only goal being to help avoid injury from intense exercise. The benefits of deep and focused stretching go far beyond injury prevention.  

In this class, done mostly while seated on chairs, you will learn how to stretch each muscle group deeply and safely, from the head, down to the toes. This type of class is suitable for everyone, and particularly ideal for athletes, seniors, pregnant women, and anyone with injuries that prevent sitting on the floor. Regular stretching will enhance any yoga practice, but is also great for those who have never tried, don't like, or don't think they can do regular yoga, giving yoga teachers and studios an alternative class to  bring in students that normally would shun a “yoga” class.  

In this workshop you will learn: 

  • Why seated in chairs vs. floor or standing? 
  • The anatomy of stretch
  • Dynamic stretch vs. static stretch
  • Reaching while grounding–moving from a powerful base
  • Breath as the energy that moves the muscles
  • The joint’s ambrosia–synovial fluid
  • The importance of checking in
  • Visualization to help deepen the process
  • Contraindications and accommodations
  • The use of props 
  • Adding a balance pose
  • Savasana options

There will be time for practice, Q&A, and discussion.

Recommended Props: Chair, 2 blocks, a strap, and a mat 

NOTE: Club Fit will provide chairs, but there is a limited amount of other props, so please bring your own if you have them.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Beatrice B. Mattaway, E-RYT 500, YACEP, is the founder and owner of Willow Tree Yoga. She received her 200- and 500- hour Yoga Alliance certification through Yoga Mountain in New City. Beatrice took her first yoga class and began meditating when she was 6 years old, living in Japan. In her early 30s, she spent two years living in an ashram in India, where she practiced yoga, meditation, and chanting daily. Beatrice encourages her students to deeply experience the poses by taking time to see how the mind and the body responds to the work done in class. Not one to take herself too seriously, Beatrice’s classes are very relaxed, sprinkled with silliness and humor, allowing her students, from advanced to absolute beginners, to feel totally welcomed and safe to explore yoga in a very personal way. Class intensity varies depending on the experience and ability level of students in any given class.

    Register Now—IN PERSON
    Register Now—ZOOM

    2024 Happenings

         NEWLY ADDED    
    January 28
    Master Class with

    Paula Heitzner

    Learn from our local master yogini, who generously shares what she has learned from her more than 50 years of studying and teaching yoga and related practices.More info to come soon.

    February 10

    Subtle Yoga: The Science Behind Slow, Mindful

    Yoga Practice with

    Kristine Kaoverii Weber

    Learn how slow, mindful yoga practices change the brain–both structurally and functionally–to support greater physical and mental health and well-being. We will also explore specific techniques and principles of asana practice to elicit positive neuroplasticity. Learn more and register now!

    March 9
    Conscious Business Practice: Five Steps to Empowered Growth as a Wellness Practitioner
    with Laura Cornell
    Learn from a pro how to focus your offerings and harness your divine power to attract clients and grow your yoga or other wellness business. Gain tips and inspiration to grow your clientele, increase income, and boost confidence.

         NEWLY ADDED    
    March 23, 2–4 p.m.

    Spring Kirtan
    Jane Slotnick

    Celebrate the renewal of the spring season in community with bhakti yoga, the yoga of devotion. Kirtan is a call-and-response style of singing a mantra invoking the Hindu gods with roots in the Vedic tradition. You don't need to know how to sing or read music. If you are unsure or nervous about participating, you are welcome to simply observe and enjoy!

    April 13
    Starting Off on the Right Foot—New Perspectives on the Feet and Why They Matter with Doug Keller 
    Join master teacher Doug Keller to discover how actions based in the feet can affect sacral/low back health.

    May 11

    Radiate and Return: Relating to Your Core with 

    Jennifer Brilliant 
    Anchoring your limbs to your core in yoga practice can support you in feeling whole and guide you to move with more fluidity and ease. In this workshop, we will discuss and explore what parts of your body to include in your concept of your core. Jennifer’s eclectic approach is informed by in-depth and decades-long work in dance, personal training, Pilates, Alexander Technique, yoga, and more. 

    June 8
    Quiet Channels: Creating

    a Steady Postural Base

    for Tranquil Asana

    with Aasia Lewis
    The groins connect the pelvis to the legs, and due to their intimate, subtle nature, have the capacity to disrupt the orientation of the pelvis, which impacts the core of standing poses and the foundation of seated ones. In this workshop, we will explore the quieting of the inner groins and thighs during standing and seated postures to experience the effects of a soft abdomen and a widened base (specifically the glutes and backs of the thighs). The quiet channels of the groins bring us into a state of ease, equilibrium, and equanimity, supporting us far beyond the asana practice.

    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.

    Yoga from the Beginning

    by Beatrice Matttaway

    It was the late 1960s, and I was living in Kamakura, Japan, where my parents were doing research for their degrees in Asian art history. Each Saturday, we would go to our local Zendo of the Sanbo Kyodan lineage, where Zen-Buddhist master, Yamada Roshi resided.  To prepare our bodies and minds for a full hour of this rigid and disciplined form of meditation, my mom had a local yoga instructor give us a weekly private class in our home, beginning when I was six years old.

    Upon our return to North America four years later, my parents continued their spiritual quest, exploring numerous world religions and traditions, even moving us all into a commune that we later realized was a cult that they had to kidnap us from in order to escape!! Crazy times, for sure.  

    But between all this exposure to different religions and ways of thinking and seeing the world, the one thing that became solid within me was the knowledge that at the core, the true teachings are all the same. No matter the external package, the message is universal. And so it was with ease that I slid into Hindu philosophy and, more specifically, the traditions of Kashmir Shaivism, when I met my own spiritual teacher, in my mid 20s.  My on and off lifelong meditation practice became steadier, and I now had a sangha to study and grow with. I had been working as an actor in LA for a number of years, and after being cast as and playing the role of Amanda Kruegerthe mother to horror icon Freddy Krueger in A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream ChildI found that my opportunities suddenly became limited to horror films only, which was not at all the kind of work I had wanted to do For that, and a few other personal reasons, I decided to, at the height of my career, walk away from it all. I then moved to an ashram in Ganeshpuri, India, where I chanted and meditated and did yoga daily, and offered my seva working on their mobile hospital, where we would travel from village to village, serving the Adivasi population, providing basic medical care and nutrition. My job was education through storytelling, with the aid of an interpreter. 

    I was learning all about the Yamas and Niyamas, taking wonderful yoga classes with world class teachers, and blissing out on nightly kirtan, rising before dawn for sublime meditation, and chanting the Guru Gita. I also was undergoing so much Tapasya, as layers and layers of my outer shell was being annihilated. It was the most blissful and the most difficult two years of my life. One morning, I awoke to discover a deep transformation within me. I felt completely ready to dedicate the rest of my life to the seva I was doing, and to commit to a monastic life, living full time at the ashram. I hadn’t spoken a word to anyone about this shift that I felt, but I just felt certain that this was where I wanted to spend the rest of my life.  

    But that very morning, seemingly out of the blue, one of the monks found me during breakfast and asked me to follow him to his office. Once there, he informed me that my guru had, just that morning, instructed him to “let me go.” “What do you mean by let me go?? Am I being kicked out?” “It is time for you to leave the ashram,” I was told flatly. “You haven’t done anything wrong, but you can no longer stay here. You are to pack your things. You will be taken to the airport and sent to the ashram in New York, USA, where you will have one week to find a place to live. Your time in the ashram is done.”  I was shattered. Shattered to the core. And NY of all places? I had spent most of my young adult life on the West Coast, and knew only one person in NY, an author I had met in the ashram in India. I rented a room in his apartment and found myself a temp job with a Fortune 500 company of all places, and at their holiday party, I met the man that, two years later, became my husband. Fast forward a few years and my husband and I moved to Rockland County, NY. We bought a lovely home and began to create a family. I was taking prenatal yoga at Yoga Mountain, and a few of the teachers suggested I take their teacher training program, and the rest is history. I received my 300- and 500-hour certifications there, and opened my own studio, Willow Tree Yoga, in 2006.  

    For me, yoga is how I live, how I breathe, how I see the world, and how I move through the world. I am an extremely rough work in progress, with faults and blind spots galore, but I am forever grateful to the teachings and practices of yoga, that has seen me through the death of my daughter (who died in my arms moments after her birth), and that has given me the strength to go through my son’s three open heart surgeries (to rework his heart that is missing its left ventricle). Every time I sit on my mat and face a class of students, I am filled with gratitude for the incredible gift and honor that we, as yoga teachers are given, to be able to share this incredible practice with our fellow journeymen on this mystical, challenging, and ever-sacred path of life. 

    So hum.

    Yoga Q & A

    What are the differences between Restorative Yoga, Yin Yoga, and Yoga Nidra?

    The study and practice of yoga is vast in its scope. Everything in the universe can be matched with a yogic concept or practice.

    Restorative Yoga offers the practitioner a way to recognize physical limitations that can be addressed with the use of props (blankets, pillows, blocks, wedges, ties, towels, etc.) to safely reclaim more physical functionality.

    Yin Yoga emphasizes the inner being using breath to release the deep blocks impacting  the energy sources needed for fuller mental and emotional strength. It focuses on the thoughtful performance of the asanas.

    Yoga Nidra leads to a deep release of the physical, mental-emotional, and spiritual energies. It is a completely guided inventory of the entire body into a deep state of meditation.

    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 

     New YTA Member Lisa Cito

        Lisa Cito CRYT, CHHC, CPHT, CRT

        Vibrant Glo Wellness


        166 Route 202

        Somers, NY 10589



        How long have you been practicing yoga?

        Since 1998

        Tell us about your yoga journey.
        At a young age, my father introduced me to meditation and to Paramahansa Yogananda's book, Autobiography of a Yogi. Many years later in my first yoga certification class I discovered this book was on the mandatory reading list! I began watching Yoga Zone on television and started studying with Alan Finger, cofounder of Yoga Zone, in Irvington, NY, for my yoga certification in Be Yoga. I came upon Ayurveda and Deepak Chopra through this certification process and studied with Deepak Chopra to earn my certification in Ayurveda as a "perfect Health Teacher." At the time I realized most people in 2009 were not familiar with Ayurveda and I went on to earn my holistic health coaching certification through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. I then received a certification in yin yoga with Biff Mithoefer. Through a Chopra event, I was introduced to an art therapy technique of`creating mandalas and developed my technique in painting and meditation that I now share with others. I enjoy combining all of the above as a wellness coach, yoga and pilates teacher, and workshop creator. 

        How has your practice/teaching evolved over the years, and what does it mean to you today?

        I began teaching fitness, which then evolved into yoga, learned pilates, Ayurveda, and began health coaching to assist in full spectrum wellness. I am certified in energy healing as well and add this into all my classes, workshops, and coaching sessions, along with my continued education in meditation and mind health.

        Who do you currently practice with regularly?

        I practice with Kathleen Kweskin, CEO and founder of Grow Wellness in Ridgefield, CT. 

        Please share info on your offerings—ongoing classes, workshops, and venues. 
        I currently offer yin yoga classes weekly on Wednesday eves at 7:15 at Universal Healing Arts in Cortlandt Manor, NY. I teach a chair yoga class at 10:30 am every Tuesday at UHA as w
        ell. Starting in January, I will offer monthly chakra balancing workshops at Grow Wellness in Ridgefield, CT, and at UHA. In addition, I will soon offer mandala painting workshops at UHA and Grow Wellness. There is a special offering on January 20 at UHA where I will be presenting my first sand painting mandala class/workshop.

        What are your favorite/life-changing yoga books?
        Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda, Anatomy of Hatha Yoga by Herbert David Coulter, and Light on Yoga by BKS Iyengar.

        What are your favorite/life-changing non-yoga books?

        The Bible, As A Man Thinketh by James Allen, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey, The Seat of the Soul by Gary Zukav, and Many Lives, Many Masters by Brian L. Weiss.

        Anything else you want to share?

        I'm working on being grateful every minute for every lesson. Shout out to YTA, UHA, Grow Wellness, and to all the yoga studios and wellness centers that hold these spaces for teachers to create and thrive and aid in the growth and health of our communities.

        Every month in this space we will share some type of community news—local happenings, volunteer opportunities, member perks or news... If you have something you'd like to share, please email us.

        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. You can also activate your profile in our directory to post your events on our website.

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

        Final Thoughts

        Yoga is about clearing away whatever is in us that prevents our living in the most full and whole way. With yoga, we become aware of how and where we are restricted—in body, mind, and heart—and how gradually to open and release these blockages. As these blockages are cleared, our energy is freed. We start to feel more harmonious, more at one with ourselves. Our lives begin to flow—or we begin to flow more in our lives.

        Cybele Tomlinson

        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)

        Board of Directors

        Gina Callender, ERYT 200, RYT 500, CEP

        Vice President
        Lorraine Burton

        Tony Salmon



        Programming Chair

        Sylvia Samilton-Baker, MA, ERYT


        Terry Fiore Lavery, RYT (Editor)

        Cassie Cartaginese, RYT (Designer) 

        Social Media

        Chantale Bourdages


        Victoria Moya

        Board Member at Large
        Paula Heitzner, ERYT



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