March 2020 Newslette

Words of Welcome

Dear All, 

The month of March displays paradoxical weather patterns, extreme and opposite: in like a lion, out like a lamb.

Those of us who are deeply connected to the practice of yoga have come to understand the principals of paradox. While seeking balance we may have to lean one way while preparing to do the opposite, always embracing what is appropriate for any given situation at any given time. This gives us a good reason to live in the moment! 

A perfect example of a yoga paradox is the asana, savasana, known as corpse pose. It sounds like the easiest thing to do, just letting go, but the state of surrender can be traumatic and transformative. It is a pose of rest or re-pose. Surrender is not giving up, giving ourselves over, giving out, or giving in. Surrender is about "letting go"—of habits, patterns, mindsets, and negativities. This asana asks that we give up our "armor" and defense systems and open to the light, those parts of us that are weak, resistant, and painful. From the asana that essentially asks us to rest, we begin our deepest and hardest work, guided by our breath (absent in death). 

We are informed and enlightened by our deep, relaxed breathing bringing life force, light, and prana to every part we used in our practice, enabling us to value its feedback. We are now in a position to heal what is weak, resistant, or painful, honoring where we are in our body, determining where we want to be next—how to be purposeful, not perfect.

Practice being purposeful on two feet. Bring your whole (and holy) self to the YTA workshops on the second Saturday of each month. Meet up with the wonderful yoga community that is always willing to surrender a loving welcome to all attendees. 

Yours in yoga, 
Paula Renuka Heitzner

2020 Workshops

Saturday, March 14 

Mudras: Empower Your Practice and Your Teaching 
Deirdre Breen

This is an introduction to the ancient art and science of mudra. Mudras are powerful tools of transformation. Recognized mostly as hand gestures—anjali mudra, pose of prayer, for example—mudras shift the flow of prana through the nadis immediately to affect one’s consciousness. As such, yogis have been reaching for the assistance of mudras for thousands of years. When paired effectively with meditation and asana, mudras help to regulate the expression of the doshas: kapha, pitta, and vata. The doshas are the biological forces of the five elements that govern life. 

In this workshop, participants can expect a complete yoga practice with pranayama, asana, and meditation paired with mudras to pacify the accumulation of kapha dosha’s earth and water, which is most aggravated in the spring. There will be time for Q&A, as well as a take-home guideline with images of the mudras, their meanings, and effects. 

Read more about mudras from Deirdre below!

Deirdre Breen is creator of Dosha Coaching, a system of accessing one’s vital nature by blending the ancient twin sciences of Ayurveda and yoga with the modern neuroscience of behavior. She is an Ayurvedic Health Counselor, Master Yoga Teacher in the ISHTA Lineage, and a board-certified Health and Wellness Coach with over 30 years of experience in holistic health and healing. She is delighted to return to YTA to offer this dynamic workshop. 

Register Now

Future Workshops

April 11
Tristana: The Three Pillars of Ashtanga Yoga
with Stan Woodman
Be led by the traditional sweet sound of Sanskrit counting through the Primary Series of Ashtanga yoga with emphasis on posture, breathing, and a steady gaze. These three pillars of Ashtanga yoga help develop the witness inside of us. Read more ...

May 9
Yoga for Pain Relief: Steps to an Extraordinary Life
with Lee Albert
Most pain is foundational, resulting from imbalances in the musculoskeletal system. Yoga can correct these imbalances in a relatively short time with the practice of appropriate postures. 
Read more ...

June 14

Workshops are $45 members / $65 nonmembers in advance ($55 / $75 at the door). 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 the February Workshop
with Mona Anand


How I Fell in Love with Mudras

by Deirdre Breen

Mudras were a mystery, and one I didn’t think I was “allowed” to explore. I thought they were only used by the “Grand Poobah” of yoga and, therefore, I didn’t touch them (pun intended) until…well, I am getting ahead of myself. 

At my March YTA workshop I hope to save others from the unnecessary delay in discovering the support available in reaching for mudras in daily life. As the saying goes, having a relationship with mudras has made all the difference in my living. So, if you have any curiosity about mudras, I invite you wholeheartedly to join me! (There’s a mudra for wholeheartedness, did you know that?) 

I first reached for the assistance of mudras as a teacher, not as a student. I was creating a curriculum for an Ayurveda and Yoga Study Group to help yoga teachers and students better understand how these ancient twin sciences can help balance our dosha and access our vital life force. As a health coach, yogi, and Ayurvedic health counselor, it is my job to support clients in creating a personalized approach to meet their individual health goals. Providing accessible and efficient tools are crucial aspects of my work and mudras help my clients and I succeed. 

Ayurveda is the first whole medical system of our world with lifestyle as a founding principle. The study course I was designing included an assessment process to teach individuals to know their dosha and recognize the signs and symptoms of imbalances. This of course is crucial to avoid the disease process that follows chronic imbalances. Mudras are very useful tools to rebalance the elemental matrix. When we consider that in the palm of our hand we can influence our heart rate; in the tips of your fingers we can adjust our thyroid; or with a snap of our fingers ignite our digestion—the power of the mudras, while not as transformative as the breath, run a close second to the tools we carry with us. 

No matter where we are or what we are doing, we can almost always assume a mudra to calm our anxiety, secure our boundaries, fortify our immune system, or get energized. As I designed the study course, the mudras were teaching me! I discovered they have a consciousness of their own, and like benevolent spirits guiding, they taught me to reach for them. I don’t like to say use them, because just like a friend, we don’t want to use anyone, but rather I appreciate them and relate to their qualities.

In my daily living, I balance my dosha, which usually means keeping vata in check with kurma mudra. This reduces vata’s forces of wind so that my systems don’t dry up or whip my thoughts around hither and thither like leaves on a windy day. I also engage samana vayu mudra before every meal to optimize digestion; I reach for pala mudra before a difficult conversation to calm anxiety; and I always seek pruna jnanam for discernment when making important decisions. I have a holy host of powerful forces at the ready to assist me in meeting life with a stable and confident posture. Until of course I can’t, as Dr. Suess says in Oh the places you’ll go, “…you’ll move mountains kid, except when you don’t, because sometimes you won’t!” And then there’s a mudra for that—despair and depression can be met with nonjudgmental support and the uplifting qualities of vajraprandama mudra.

As the practice and teaching of yoga evolves, She, our beloved Mother Yoga, remains steadfast and true. Her yamas and niyamas are our anchors while her sister, Ayurveda—the first lifestyle medicine—offers her tridoshic philosophy to guide our daily bread and breath. Yoga teachers are more sophisticated and are exploring beyond the physical stretch of asana and into the subtle body. We are hungry to understand how asana, pranayama, kriya, mantra, mudra, and meditation influence our subtle bodies; and how the subtle doshic forces of prana, tejas, and ojas guide the expression of their physical counterparts of vata, pitta, and kapha. These biological forces govern all life on earth; the wind, the rain, and the fire. Our ability to respect and cooperate with them is a great need. 

We’ve seen how the forces of vata (wind) blow the fire element to devastating effect, for example, in Australia, California, and Brazil most recently. And we’ve seen how the earth’s instability (150 earthquakes across the globe in 2019) threatens our most fundamental needs of shelter, food, and a sense of belonging. While I can’t guarantee mudras will save the world, I can provide a comprehensive overview of them. Perhaps with this introduction the living gifts of mudra can enter your life, offering their handy access. And while you may not love them as I do, you will certainly come to appreciate them and one day may even find yourself telling a family member, friend, or student, “You know, there is a mudra that could help you.”

Learn more about Deirdre at

Yoga Q & A

What is the proper course of action if someone gets injured in your class?

The obvious course of action is to attend to the person needing assistance. Have the student calm down with deep slow breathing and dispel any ensuing embarrassment on his or her part. Stretch, touch, massage, or simply examine the injury, getting the student’s input of information as to what happened. Administer first aid (salve, bandage, ice) or call 911 if the situation warrants such extreme action. 

As the one in charge, it is up to you to be very present and to keep the fear and panic of others in the room to a minimum so as not to allow this situation to be worsened unnecessarily. Follow through with the student—checking on his or her recovery, discussing thoughts about what happened and why, and assuring he or she uninterrupted status in the class.

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 at the New Age Center in Nyack. 

Learn more about Paula at

Member Events 

YTA members (individuals and studios) are invited to include their events here. Send details to 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

Crossover Yoga Project 
Elisha Simpson, RCYT, EYRT, YACEP
Executive Director

Poses 2 Pints FUN-raiser with Sylvia Samilton Baker
Mar 1 (Sun, 11:30 am-12:30 pm) 
Take our OMazing vinyasa flow class at Sing Sing Kill Brewery and support CYP’s mission to empower vulnerable youth through trauma-informed yoga, mindfulness, and art! After class, enjoy a homecrafted brew, all for $25! 
Sing Sing Kill Brewery, 75-77 Spring Street, Ossining, NY.  

Crossover Yoga Project’s Annual Fundraiser at Bethany Arts Community
Mar 8 (Sun, 2-5 pm) 

CYP is celebrating the success of empowering over 4200 vulnerable teen girls and women’s achievements at its 2nd annual fundraiser. Champagne reception—meet the artists, silent auction, performances, dance party! $25-150
40 Somerstown Road, Ossining, NY

Devi Ma Yoga 
Kelly Devi Swails, RPYT, E-RYT, CCCE, MA

Adapting Asana for Moms-to-Be
5-Hour Continuing Education Workshop for Yoga Teachers 
March 1 (Sunday, 1:30–6:30 p.m.)
If you teach yoga to the general population, you've probably had a few moms-to-be in your classes. But do you feel completely confident when a pregnant woman arrives in your class? This workshop includes information that is not covered in general teacher trainings and sheds light on the most common assumptions and misunderstandings about asana during pregnancy. You will learn when and how to suggest modifications, as well as common “red flags” that many yoga teachers are surprised they did not know. Appropriate for y
oga teachers who are not prenatal certified and yoga teacher trainees; male yoga teachers welcome and encouraged to attend.  $95
This training takes place at Radiate Yoga in Pelham, NY. Click here to register.

Iyengar Yoga Scarsdale/Greenwich
74 Brewster Road
Scarsdale, NY 


299 Greenwich Avenue

Greenwich, CT

Sutra Tea with Nancy Kardon
Mar 15 (Sat, 3-4:15 pm)
Sip tea together while we seek wisdom in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. RSVP, donations (even tea item) accepted

Riverstone Yoga

2 Hudson View Way

Tarrytown, NY

The 3Rs of Relaxation: Restorative Yoga, Reiki, & Reflexology with Jody
Mar 8 (Sun, 5:30-7:30 pm) 
Gentle practices that synergize to enable profound relaxation and release. As you relax into each pose, you’ll be offered Reiki, a gentle, hands-on technique that channels life force energy through the subtle body and deepens relaxation and reflexology. Essential oils enhance the entire experience. $60

Full Moon Ceremony with Sarah Brianna
Mar 14 (Sat, 7:30-9 pm)
Full moons are a time to let go of what is no longer serving you. This restorative practice will awaken your own natural healing capabilities. Leave feeling refreshed and recharged. $25 early bird; $35 day of

Intro to Arm Balances with Jennifer M
Mar 15 (Sun, 1-3 pm)
In the beginning, arm balances can be scary. When practiced safely with proper alignment and taken in stages, they are fun, exciting, and empowering. $45 

Women’s Circle with Larissa
Mar 21 (Sat, 7-8:30 pm)
Be part of something empowering, sacred, healing, and inspiring! As we embark on this new year, rather than fill ourselves with unrealistic, often unrealized expectations and goals, take time instead to create thoughtful and attainable opportunities. We will reflect on the year past and all that has brought us to this moment. Learn to use these human experiences as fuel for transformation. Move from shame to acceptance, from acceptance to joy. $20

Sound Bath Meditation with Gina
Mar 21 (Sat, 4-6 pm)
A deeply relaxing, meditative, and therapeutic experience that can enhance well-being, reduce stress and tension, and balance the autonomic nervous system to promote deep healing. $35

Pop-Up Class: Flips & Tricks Teen Aerial with Larissa
Mar 28 (Sat, 12-1:30 pm)
Aerial yoga gives you the opportunity to explore the mind-body connection on and off ground! The hammock becomes your partner while bringing a new element of challenge to each pose. We’ll blend fun and exciting aerial circus skills like flips and tricks with mindful movements! Face fears and feel empowered. It will be a fun class designed specifically for youth ages ~12-16. $20, cash only!

The Feldenkrais Method: Neck and Shoulder

Relief Workshop with Patricia
Mar 29 (Sun, 1-2:45 pm)
Take a pause for a movement lesson that will engage your curiosity and senses, and leave you feeling relaxed and calm. In the process, learn to improve movement in your neck and shoulders, reducing stress on your muscles, joints, and tendons. $40

Yoga Culture

105 Mill Plain Road

Danbury, CT

Yoga for Pelvic Floor Health Semi-Private with Beth Perlman
Mar 5 (Thurs, 6-7 pm)
Great for women who want to strengthen this region of the body that might have weakened due to childbirth or natural aging. Beth will lead a brief informative discussion followed by an asana practice designed to work this area of the body that supports the entire female lower abdomen and pelvic region. $35

Yoga Nidra Guided Meditation and Relaxation

with Alison Ray Jeraci
Mar 6 (Fri, 7:30-8:30 pm)

Take a deep dive into your psyche. While guided into a state of yogic sleep the body and mind relax allowing you to delve into the layers of consciousness. Tap into what's important, release what's not, and create a state of peace and bliss. $35

Yoga for Lower Back Pain Semi-Private

with Jessie DiMaura Marks
Mar 14 (Sat, 9:30-10:30 am)

Lower back pain plagues many of us. Learn to use your yoga practice to help alleviate pain by building stronger lower back muscles and developing healthy posture. This lesson specifically focuses on strengthening the low back. We are also holding a lesson that focuses on modifying the yoga practice when the low back is acting up. See our schedule to sign up for that one. $35

Candlelit Restorative with Ally Tschinkel

Mar 20 (Fri, 7:30-9:30 pm)
The soft glow of flameless candles creates an unforgettable ambiance in this relaxing, restorative practice. Cultivate joy, embrace the acts of giving and receiving, and release physical

and mental tensions while you create the perfect platform for manifesting abundance and good health. $35

Final Thoughts

Your visions will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes. 

~ C.G. Jung

We'll miss you, Tao!

Painting-in-progress by YTA member Melissa Feinberg 

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 at the door)

Board of Directors

Audrey Brooks

Vice President 
Lorraine Burton

Steven Cownie

Susan Edwards Colson

Board Member-at-Large
Paula Heitzner, ERYT

Program Coordinator
Robin Laufer, MS Ed, RYT 500

Special Events
Gina Callender

Terry Fiore Lavery, RYT

Newsletter Design & Layout
Lisa Sloane, MA, ERYT

President Emeritus
Tao Porchon-Lynch, ERYT, IAYT


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Yoga Teachers Association • 21-39 Croton Lake Road • Katonah, NY 10536 • USA