April 2024 Newsletter

Words of Welcome

Dear All, 

April, the Latin word “to open,” leaves no doubt as to the universal intentions for this time of year. As our planet makes its journey around the sun, it brings with these changes, possibilities, and opportunities to activate, celebrate, and unearth our inherent wisdom. Every season reminds us of the different aspects of capabilities that we can access to enhance our existence. With focus, we can fulfill their demands and empower our growth with the accessed courage created by our integrity of purpose.

We are emerging from the deep sleep in the darkness of winter, the time of rest and restoration, allowing us to open fully to the new beginnings of spring with renewed vigor to begin our energized journey to transformation.

Spring allows us to blossom and to open into new beginnings, affirmations, intuitions, and intentions to let go of the barriers of doubts and negative self-judgments. The teachings and principles of our practice of yoga are very much in accordance with these truths and offer us the balance and stability to shift consciousness and reach for our highest and greatest good.

The undertaking of the tasks needed to manifest our highest good are not easily achieved, but please know that although you must do your own work, you don’t have to do it alone. YTA offers guidance, support, and increased knowledge shared by expert and experienced teachers. The monthly workshops, on the second Saturday of the month, are wellsprings of information that light up the path we’re on. Join us and let’s bloom and blossom together.

Yours in yoga,

Paula Renuka Heitzner

YTA Workshops and Events

Saturday, April 13
1:30–4:30 p.m.

At Club Fit and Via Zoom

Starting Off on the Right Foot:

New Perspectives

on the Feet

with Doug Keller

It has been traditional to treat the "foundation" of the feet as having "four corners" that are meant to be equally "grounded." But this idea is static and doesn’t really fit the anatomy of the feet. This session will offer a different, more dynamic perspective on the feet that stands on firmer anatomical ground.

Our feet—and knowing how to use them—provide a key to the health not only of our feet and ankles but also our knees and hips. The most fundamental poses of yoga—the standing poses—are tools for improving wellness in these joints, and strengthening the muscles that maintain their health.

We will link principles of working dynamically with the feet to techniques for assessing movement and posture, and how improvement of these patterns is possible through asana work focused on actions of the feet.

This all-levels practice will further reinforce these simple principles for working with our feet, knees, and hips and involve moving through a series of poses while keeping these principles in mind.

This is both a "learning" and a "doing" experience. You’ll find the explanations insightful and accessible, and you’ll easily be able to incorporate these ideas into your own body, as well as inspiration to carry these principles forward in your own practice and teaching.

Recommended props: Blanket, two blocks, strap

A recording link will be shared with all registrants.

 ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Doug Keller’s background reflects a lifelong commitment to the vast field of yoga. After receiving degrees in philosophy from Georgetown and Fordham University and teaching philosophy at a college level, he pursued a practical experience of yoga at the ashram Gurudev Siddha Peeth in India—which in turn also led him to the practice of hatha yoga as part of his overall experience of yoga. From years of study, practice, and teaching, he has produced widely used and highly respected books on asana, yoga as therapy, pranayama, and yoga philosophy, and he teaches hatha yoga workshops and trainings in North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia. He has been a regular columnist for Yoga International magazine for three years and continues to provide courses and trainings for YI online, and has also written on therapeutic topics for Yoga Journal. His popularity as a teacher comes from his ability to deepen people’s experience of yoga through clear, simple, and direct instructions that are easy to practice and remember. And he does it with lightness and light.

    Register Now—In Person

    Register Now—Zoom

    2024 Offerings

    May 11

    Radiate & Return:

    Relating to Your Core
    Jennifer Brilliant

        At Club Fit and via Zoom   
    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. 

    Krishna Das
    May 16, 7:30 p.m.

    We will be making a group ticket purchase for Krishna Das's Benefit Concert for Tibetan Home of Hope at the Tarrytown Music Hall. Since it is a fundraiser, the music hall could not extend a discount for the group sale. If you would like to be seated with YTA members and friends, you have two options:

    Register online at ytayoga.com.
    Important note:
    While we normally absorb the cost of transactions fees, in this case we have to charge them back to registrants, since we are not bringing in any funds to cover this event. This means by registering this way, you will be paying $73.50/ticket instead of $71.

    Register via email to yta_treasurer@ytayoga.com and pay via Venmo ($71/ticket) to @Lorraine-Burton-3. Please note in your email whether you prefer a seat in the side orchestra or balcony; we will try to accommodate all requests.

    We will be purchasing on/around April 10, so please register or email by then.

    And of course, you are welcome to get your ticket on your own directly from the music hall ($71/ticket, includes all fees).

    June 8
    Quiet Channels: Creating

    a Steady Postural Base

    for Tranquil Asana
    with Aasia Lewis
        Via Zoom    
    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.

    My Path to Yoga

    by Doug Keller

    I came to teach hatha yoga by way of the yoga of meditation and years of academic study of philosophy, both Eastern and Western.

    In my studies of philosophy at the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown and in my graduate work at Fordham University, I gravitated toward the senior Jesuit scholars whose excellence, open-minded intellectual zeal, spiritual fervor, and personal integrity inspired me to dig deeply into my own studies, particularly of the classical philosophers and Christian mystics, and treat them as a personal journey of discovery.

    As I completed my coursework for my PhD and taught at several colleges, I was increasingly aware that I was looking for more than philosophical ideas and systems—I was looking for the experience itself that the mystics were talking about.

    Midway through my studies at Fordham, I met the meditation master Swami Muktananda during his last tour of the West, and he gave me the connection, the practice, the awakening, and the understanding I was seeking.

    With that, it was up to me to step through the door he had opened, not through concepts and theories, but through yoga. The next couple of years combined disciplined academic study with a deepening experiential practice. I halted my academic career just short of writing my thesis, and went to India in 1986 to practice yoga at his ashram and to offer my service.

    I spent a total of seven years in the Ganeshpuri ashram, Gurudev Siddha Peeth, and 14 years of service overall in Siddha Yoga ashrams in the US and abroad, studying and practicing yoga, working in the kitchen and gardens, and teaching hatha yoga.

    It was during my time in Ganeshpuri that I met John Friend while he was yet an Iyengar teacher who had come to study in Pune. We struck up a friendship, and I was able to practice with him when I came back to the states, study further with him, and assist in his classes, workshops, and trainings for the next few years.

    This opportunity came to be combined with opportunities to train with other teachers as well, broadening my experience and understanding of the roots of modern hatha yoga practice—its different styles, as well as its common roots.


    The time of my growth in the practice of hatha yoga was divided between individual practice at the ashram in India, and opportunities to study with teachers and expand during time spent at the ashram in New York state. There I was able to study with other teachers and in a number of styles—but principally with Kevin Gardiner, who is a certified senior level Iyengar teacher.

    Kevin was the most influential to me in my growth, because of his deep insight into anatomy and physiology, his facility with precise instruction and demonstration, and the integrity with which he stays true to his chosen tradition, exploring its depth while exercising his own very individual and discriminating intellect, manifesting the heart of a yogi in his practice and teaching.

    Yet because my own path was more closely tied to Siddha Yoga at the time, I was more deeply involved in the development of the Anusara system. John Friend shared with me the evolution of his thinking based principally upon the alignment teachings of the Iyengar system, and his synthesis of those teachings eventually manifested as the Anusara style of yoga he founded in 1997. I was one of the first teachers certified as an Anusara teacher by John Friend, and taught in the Anusara style for over seven years.

    As a consequence of Mr. Friend's process of consolidation of his system under increasingly limiting conditions, I chose to give up my certification in that style. This freed me to further deepen my study and understanding of the health-oriented wisdom of yoga, as well as explore the yoga tradition as a whole outside of the confines of the Anusara system.


    In addition to teaching the postural practice of hatha yoga, as well as pranayama and meditation, I have chosen as my focus on sharing insights into what yoga has to offer as wisdom in the face of chronic pain and health issues, which is an evolving field that promises to be a vital part of the future of yoga.

    The expansion of yoga beyond the practices taught in more ancient times is, to me, an expression of the freedom at the heart of yoga and of consciousness itself. This freedom was described in tantric philosophy as not simply liberation, or moksha, but Swatantrya—the freedom of consciousness to expand and create through its own inspiration.

    Essential to this was an appreciation of our individual self as ahamkara—literally the I-maker. It is a term that recognizes that the self is a process of making, and this opened avenues for practices that sought a more healthy, integrated emphasis upon living a spiritual life within and accepting of the body.

    This concept itself is something that has slowly evolved, and has arguably come to include modern yoga's emphasis upon health and well-being as part of the aim of yoga—which includes emotional well-being and a well-adjusted attitude toward the world that includes social concern.

    I found the essence of this inspiration to be expressed by Swami Muktananda, who first initiated my journey into yoga: “God dwells within you, as you, for you. See God in yourself and in each other.”

    Yoga concerns our own relationship to the self from whom we came, as well as our relationship to the self we are coming to be. It is deeply personal, experiential, and ultimately unmediated by any system of conceptual thought. The teachings of yoga simply provide us with the introduction to our own self—in both senses. To experientially realize that these two are not really separate is the essence of spiritual breakthrough.

    That breakthrough is what the Christian mystic Meister Eckhart (14th century) described as the breakthrough into our own heart, where the Divine most fully dwells. This is the teaching I want to share, along with the practices and means offered by yoga to support that journey.

    To learn more about Doug, visit doyoga.com.

    Yoga Q & A

    What are your thoughts on meditation versus medication to reduce fatigue?

    Some of the symptoms of fatigue/tiredness are no energy, no interest in life around you, and a desire to withdraw and rest in seclusion. World dynamics as they are today and the aftermath of the pandemic are some external factors fueling fatigue.

    A practice of meditation is a tried and true technique to elevate energy and reduce stress factors and fear. Medication is another approach, but requires medical diagnosis and supervision.

    One can stop or resume a meditation practice at any time, at will. Medication needs medical supervision at the beginning and the end.

    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.

    Automatic Renewals

    Please note that memberships are now set to auto renew. Current members will have to manually renew upon the next renewal period, and then "recurring payments" will be automatically applied to your membership and profile. However, you then have the option of disabling recurring payments in your profile.

    More information will follow soon. In the meantime, we hope you will join us in celebrating this new step to make the renewal process easier for everyone.

    Every month in this space we like to 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

    You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You're on your own, and you know what you know. And YOU are the one who'll decide where to go.

    Dr. Seuss

    Oh, the Places You'll Go!

    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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