April 2022 Newslette

Words of Welcome

Dear All, 

As we look back on the month of March, we were able to view "the lion" and " the lamb," coming and going, but not in the familiar orderly fashion. Freezing weather followed by the warming temperatures of Spring; gusting winds, rains, sleet, and snow, cleared away by sunny skies appearing shortly after the deluges, were additions to our already unsteady grasp on life. 

Nature reminds us, in sync with our practice of yoga, that we must look within and establish our balance and well-being with the resources that are there, awaiting discovery to aid in the appropriate applications of the strength and courage needed to deal with any unexpected situations at hand. We are also reminded that disappointment with failed expectations is fruitless and weakens and wastes our energy!

As April unfolds in the sun's approaching proximity to the planet, solar energy sheds light and warmth. We have the additional gift of daylight saving time to use this light to our advantage, underlining the changing darkness as it is dispersed. We are able to better understand that change is the only constant.

Another promising April change is the cessation of the damage COVID engendered physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. However, these aspects are our human touchstones, and the practice of yoga is geared to balance the anguish, terror, and fear provoked by the pandemic, with the resilience and optimism endowed by the light, life-force, and prana.

The YTA presents a monthly opportunity to strengthen a healing practice, ourselves, and our community. The workshops are a positive source of renewal and a respite for personal alignment and connection to the insight and intentions that support your awakening and affirmative awareness. Affirm the second Saturday of each month, especially this Spring, as your time to grow and bloom. 

    Yours in yoga,

    Paula Renuka Heitzner


    2022 Workshops 

    Saturday, April 9
    1:30–4:30 p.m.

    via Zoom

    The Dowel as a Tool

    for Alignment and Support: Working with a Neutral Spine

    with Alison West

    Understanding how to work with a neutral spine is foundational in the practice of asana and life. It does not mean, however, that we do not flex or extend the spine, but rather we look for ways to balance our efforts as we enter into, practice, and come out of a pose. For example, understanding how to move into pelvic flexion with a neutral spine will help elucidate how you can develop your forward bending and hamstring lengthening.

    The dowel is a wonderful tool in helping us to achieve some of this understanding by simply following its direction or support. It can also be used to add light leverage to a rotation or clarity to pelvic position. The dowel offers,  among other things, the benefits of:

    • Support
    • Traction
    • Alignment clarity
    • Increased challenge/decreased effort
    • A moveable prop that offers support entering and exiting a pose
    • Fun!

    The dowel can be included in Chair yoga and Rope Wall yoga and even used in a flow class as a special point of focus. There are no limits on how to work with a dowel, and you can become your own inventor.

    Recommended Props: Two blocks, two blankets, two belts, a bolster, and a dowel. 

    Note: Please have a dowel for class. Dowels can be purchased from a variety of places, such as Lowe's. The recommended dimensions are 72” (6 feet) x 1.25” (or 1.5”) diameter.

    A recording will be made available to registrants for two weeks following the workshop.

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    The Zoom meeting link will be sent 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!

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    Alison West, Ph.D, E-RYT, YACEP, C-IAYT, is the founder of Yoga Union and the Yoga Union Backcare & Scoliosis Center, now online. She first established Yoga Union in 1996 in SoHo after studying in the Sivananda, Astanga, and Iyengar traditions and teaching yoga in New York for ten years. Her spiritual teachers include Ramana Maharshi and Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj. Alison completed her certification in Yoga for Scoliosis with Elise Miller, and in 2007, she cofounded the first and only dedicated Yoga for Backcare and Scoliosis center in the world in the NoMad neighborhood of Manhattan. In addition to teaching classes in Manhattan, nationwide, and across Europe and the Middle East, Alison also teaches yoga online. Her on-demand course for Yoga Journal, Yoga for Back Health, is available for download. She is currently writing her first book, Yoga for Back Care, which will be followed by Yoga for Scoliosis.

      Register Now

       Bonus Workshop   

      April 30 via Zoom

      Spring Ayurvedic Practice: Yoga for

      Kapha Season 

      with Colleen Breeckner

      Ayurveda looks to uncover the causes of disease by addressing the environment in which the imbalance was formed. Winter invites a quality of stillness that makes way for introspection, but soon the dormant and building qualities of Winter flow into Spring, a time for growth and creation. Ayurveda in springtime encourages growth and makes use of the fertile bed created in Winter. Learn how to apply Ayurvedic principles to your practice and in your daily lifestyle habits.

      Learn more!

      May 14

      Yoga and Lifestyle Practices for Hormonal and Immune Health, Vitality, and Well-Being with Jeff Migdow

      These past years have been unusually stressful because of the changes in our basic life routines that affect our immune strength, hormonal balance, and adrenal resilience. In this workshop we will explore and experience yoga practices that will help us optimize our immune responses, rebalance our hormones, and recharge our adrenals, allowing us to come to optimal health, stability, and clarity.

      June 11

      REST (Reclaim, Embellish, Sustain, Transform) and Arrest Stress

      with Paula Heitzner
      Join Paula to experience how the world crisis has led us into a practice effective in reaching the body at its deepest levels to receive its organic teachings, a practice that empowers the body, mind, and spirit as we open completely to our inner being. Our practice can help us fight the COVID chaos and confusion as we gain and sustain our strength and endurance to maintain our safety, health, and productivity.

      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 Workshop
      Carla Stangenberg



      My Life with a Dowel*

      by Alison West

      The first time I encountered dowels in the practice of yoga was on a very small scale—short dowels placed vertically inside an upside-down chair to help stabilize the base of the neck and inner shoulders in headstand in a class with my Iyengar teacher Kevin Gardiner many decades ago. I was instantly interested in the possibilities and began to explore with dowels of different kinds. Some were wider in diameter and much longer, others were slender metal dowels covered in a pleasant padded material, making for heavy but comfortable tools of practice that could also be used as weights; others were as short as those slender and short first dowels I had used but put to different purpose, for example, as spacers for the knees when working toward Lotus Pose. 

      As I began to work with dowels more regularly, I found that they could be used as “hard” belts, long blocks, seatless chairs, and more. In other words, all props share some similarities, but are also separated by significant and useful differences. And even within one kind of prop, there are variations of size and weight that can be exploited to good end. 

      Each kind of dowel has a character of its own. One of the things I love about a long six-foot dowel is its simple physical presence. Hold that dowel upright in front of you between the feet and you will perhaps experience a suggestion of lift, a sense of energy, almost as though it were an externalized mudra. Pull down on the dowel at chest height and it will cause your whole body to lighten and lift and become a tool for both spinal traction and joyful ease. 

      The dowel can be used to challenge range of motion or strength, or on the contrary facilitate a movement by offering a long lever arm or quieting support. If you place a long dowel behind the back and hold it in place with the arms, it will help reveal your true range of motion in a twist such as Wide Legged Pose or Prasarita Padottanasana. This aspect of the dowel as an instrument of proprioception is invaluable—knowing where you are in space and how your body is moving. 

      This tool of proprioception is fundamental for the therapeutic spinal work I do. The dowel is a powerful instrument in helping students sense their body in space and find a balanced posture and clarity in the work to bring relief, healing, and newfound strength and ease in both the practice and life. Indeed our entire yoga practice should radiate out into our daily life as a seamless continuum. Speaking of which, there are even dowels in daily life—canes, walking sticks, hiking poles, and so on. Try a Triangle Pose when out hiking, using one of your poles as a lateral support and enjoy the relief from movement in the sagittal plane for a few breaths to each side!

      One aspect of the dowel that I delighted in discovering was how it could be used as a tool for massage either on its own or in conjunction with another prop such as a chair. When one is seated on a yoga chair for example, the chair can be a point of leverage for one end of the dowel, the other end rolling over the trapezius with more or less pressure. Place the dowel on the floor and the feet can be deliciously rolled over it. 

      In short, the dowel brings lightness and spinal traction, proprioception, muscle release through stretch and massage, range of motion, directionality, and challenge. As it supports it can move, or follow one’s movement, one end fixed, the other traveling with you as you enter and exit a pose such as Triangle Pose. Using a long dowel is ideal for this, with the dowel standing just beyond the toes of the externally rotated foot and the same-side hand placed high on the dowel or at shoulder height depending on range of motion in the hips and legs. It’s then possible to move into Triangle Pose with support and encouragement to avoid laterally flexing the spine as one lengthens into the pose. Support is offered throughout, allowing for an elegant exit from the pose. 

      Other movement traditions use dowels or sticks, sometimes called mobility sticks. Some are flexible and allow for different kinds of work. As always, where there is flexibility, there will be less stability. So each kind has its virtues. All are valuable and fun. 

      *Alison West©, 3.13.2022. This article may not be reproduced without the author’s permission.

      To learn more about Alison, visit yogaunion.com.

      Yoga Q & A

      Is the yoga industry the source of misinformation about the COVID vaccines and related issues?

      I think misinformation is rampant about any issue related to the pandemic. Yoga is not a magical cure-all, but it is an amazing system to reclaim and restore health. I feel that class discussions may have been misunderstood by the students, as no sincere, legitimate, and informed teacher would give adverse pandemic misinformation.

      These mistakes, misinterpreted, are rampantly and readily spread through internet systems where they get attention and notoriety.

      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.

      Member Classes and Events 

      YTA members (individuals and studios) are invited to include their events here. Send details to yta_editor@ytayoga.com by the 15th of the month to be included in the following month’s newsletter. Member events are also posted in YTA's online directorythe source for information about yoga teachers, studios, and yoga teacher trainings throughout the Hudson Valley. To be included, individual and studio members may send their information to yta_communications@gmail.com.


      Carolyn Iannone, RYT-200
      Free weekly gentle yoga via Zoom with the “queen of gentle yoga.” Register through Finkelstein Library (Spring Valley) for Monday classes at 6 p.m. and through Pearl River Library for Thursday classes at 6 p.m. Private sessions also available.

      Elisha Simpson
      "Pathways to Healing Through Body-Centered Practice" led by Eiisha Simpson, LMSW, ERYT; Anna Moore, LMSW; and Erica Fross, LCSW, PC. Our trauma-informed yoga teacher training offers resources, instruction, and understanding of how trauma impacts us, offering therapeutic interventions assist in finding stability. Self-paced, online course. 

      Ellen Cohen, E-RYT200, LYCYT

      Fitness Flair in the Chair, a blend of gentle fitness and chair yoga at St. Pius Church, Scarsdale, NY, Thursday mornings at 10:30. $15. This one-hour class is invigorating yet relaxing and set to fun music. For more info, contact Ellen at 914-472-8412.

      Gina Callender
      Yin/Restorative, Mondays, 7 p.m.; Open-level Hatha yoga,
      Wednesdays, 6:30 p.m., via Zoom.

      Jenny Schuck
      Join former owner of Yoga Culture in intermediate and advanced classes with mix of vinyasa and held poses, plus bodywork and ball rolling, on demand on Vimeo; $10/class.

      Lauri Nemetz, MA, BC-DMT, ERYT500, CIAYT, YA and CIAYT Provider

      Monday night via Zoom, 5–6 p.m. The Practice (for teachers) first Thursday of the month 1-2:30 p.m. via Zoom. Privates.  wellnessbridge.com for additional info. 

      Michael Sassano

      Yoga Zoom class on Tuesday nights at 7 p.m. The first class is free, then $10/1 hour thereafter.  Classes are for beginner and intermediate levels. 

      Paula Heitzner
      Mixed-level yoga with the “teacher of teachers,” Mondays–Thursdays, 9:30–11 a.m, American Legion Hall, Nyack.

      PranaMoon Yoga

      Rebuilding, Reconnecting, and Reimagining Together!
      We are still standing! Serving the yoga community since 2013....we have weathered through the challenges of 2020-2021 and continue to offer in-studio + Zoom classes and workshops. 
      We are located at the Hat Factory in Peekskill. In- studio classes are limited! Always Room on Zoom

      Sacred Spirit Yoga and Healing Arts Center

      In-person and live-streamed: Tuesdays, moderate yoga; Fridays, gentle/moderate yoga, with Chris Glover, 9:30–11 a.m.; Saturdays, intermediate yoga, 9:15–10:30 a.m., beginner yoga, 10:45 a.m.–12 noon with Kathleen Hinge. Learn more & register online. 

      Shamani Yoga

      Meditation~Movement~Breath~Self-Reflection; online and in-person classes for all levels with Charlene Bradin and Betsy Ceva.

      Stephanie Petrillo Gould

      IAYT yoga therapist and Kripalu yoga teacher, Stephanie will lead class at Radiate Yoga on Sunday, April 10, from 2-4 p.m, $40. Register on studio’s website.

      Sylvia Samilton-Baker, MA, ERYT
      Vinyasa yoga, Thursdays, 5 p.m.; Hatha yoga, Mondays, 5 p.m., both via Zoom. Vinyasa yoga, Wednesdays, 9:30 a.m., NYSC/Dobbs Ferry (register online at NYSC; if not a member, there is a fee).


      Final Thoughts

      Everything that happens in your life helps you to redefine yourself. When you accept it, you become a fresh version of yourself. When you resist it, you become solidified stagnation! Accept changes. Redefine yourself at every given chance. Evolve. Be shining bright always. Remain fresh and alive. We can call that a life well-lived. Acceptance and Flexibility are the keywords to follow. Success is just a by-product.


      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

      Lorraine Burton

      Susan Edwards Colson

      Membership Chair

      Jenny Schuck

      Programming Chair

      Gina Callender, E-RYT 200, RYT 500, CEP

      Interim Secretary

      Robin Laufer, MS Ed, RYT 500

      Marketing and Communications Chair

      Cassie Cartaginese, RYT

      Terry Fiore Lavery, RYT

      Lisa Sloane, MA, ERYT

      Board Member at Large
      Paula Heitzner, ERY



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