YFA Articles

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  • 24 Jul 2021 9:44 AM | Natalie Cummings (Administrator)


    Jamie Boder recently joined the Yoga for Arthritis team serving as the Social Media & Digital Marketing Specialist. In this post, he shares his yoga journey from practitioner to teacher.

    I discovered yoga when I was 18. At the time I was diagnosed with two auto-immune conditions, Crohn’s Disease and Axial Spondyloarthritis (AS is an inflammatory form of arthritis). I (reluctantly) attended a support group: it was an overwhelming experience, where a lot of the people there had visible signs of degeneration but then there was Geoff... A yoga practitioner of 45 years who showed how a consistent practice had meant he was able to maintain mobility and a great quality of life. This was a lightbulb moment as it provided hope and empowerment. That evening I realised I wanted to dedicate myself to this practice. I immersed myself in yoga. I practiced consistently every day and a year later the improvements were huge- more mobility, less pain, and more acceptance of living with arthritis.

    The yoga practice itself provided me with so much, yet I grew increasingly frustrated with the mainstream narrative and perception of yoga. I was left feeling deflated but determined to ensure my classes would seek to never exclude anyone and make any feel less than accepted, respected, and empowered. I became especially fascinated with making yoga more accessible for people living with arthritis.

    After my first yoga practice, I had a vision that one day I would love to share my practice with other people who have arthritis and give to empower. Five years on I co-founded Yoga for AS (www.yogaforas.com ) alongside Geoff, as mentioned above: a friend and inspiration who also lives with AS. Yoga for AS is an organisation that provides modified yoga for people living with AS.

    I aim to make all my classes as accessible as possible. I teach: Hatha, Vinyasa, Yin, Yoga Nidra and Restorative.

    You can connect with me at jamie@arthritis.yoga

    Instagram: @jamieboder

    Or my business Yoga for AS on Instagram @yogaforas

    Website: www.yogaforas.com



  • 24 Jul 2021 7:38 AM | Natalie Cummings (Administrator)

    Welcome to the Yoga for Arthritis monthly blog series that features our YFA members hard work, dedication, & passion. Without the ongoing efforts of these standout members, we would not be where we are today. 

    Please tell us about yourself and your journey to discover YFA?

    I live in beautiful Southeast Missouri, in the City of Poplar Bluff. Our city has a population of less than 17,000, in a county of less than 43,000. I have a background in the real estate title business, having owned and managed title companies from 1987-2003. I started yoga in the late 1990's, on my own with a Dixie Carter VHS tape, and started actual classes in 1998. Yoga helped me through losing my twin sister in 2017. I soon found myself enrolled in a RYS200 teacher training with local Studio 33, receiving my certificate in 2018. I originally just wanted to learn more about yoga and be able to fill in for my yoga instructor at the Rehabilitation Center where our classes were held. My heart spoke to me about leading a gentle yoga class with modifications for the many people who were not ready for anything more. Through internet searching I found Steffany Moonaz's Yoga Therapy for Arthritis and based my teaching on what I learned from her book and videos. Still needing more knowledge and experience, I took the YFA Level l training was with Dr. Steffany Moonaz in Madison, WI, in the Fall of 2018, and then finished the YFA Level II Mentorship Program in March of this year, with my mentor, Christa Fairbrother.

    How did you find YFA? How has YFA helped you?

    As stated above, I found YFA from an internet search. Everything I have learned from Steffany Moonaz and YFA has advanced me forward in my teaching journey. I am now eager to learn all I can about yoga for osteoporosis, and hopefully blend that knowledge into my YFA Level lll Certification training.

    How has yoga impacted your life?

    Yoga has improved all areas of my life. I especially love having the opportunity to meet, connect with, and learn from others in the yoga community. I have found my niche, teaching gentle and modified yoga.

    Is there anything else you'd like to say about Yoga for Arthritis?

    Yoga is such a wonderful tool to help people improve their lives in so many areas. I so appreciate the tremendous amount of work and dedication by everyone involved in bringing YFA to teachers and students.

    Let us know when and where we can find your classes?

    I teach in-person, gentle and accessible yoga Monday through Thursday, 10-11 a.m., at the Ben and Martha Bidewell Fitness Center at Three Rivers College in Poplar Bluff, MO.     

    The Fitness Center can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/bidewellfitnesscenter

    Where can people connect with you?

    Kim Duncan

    website | facebook 



  • 24 May 2021 11:08 AM | Natalie Cummings (Administrator)

    Article contribution by Roberto Popolizio of Yaasa.

    If you live with arthritis, then you know that it can impact pretty much every aspect of your daily life. Changing your career might not be an option, and even on days where your arthritis is giving you a lot of pain, you might have to try and manage the challenges in order to get things done. 

    While you avoid overstretching yourself if you are struggling, there are methods you can use to reduce the strain. This includes managing your office habits if you spend a lot of time at a desk. 

    A little thought about what you’re doing while at the computer, and incorporating a few positive habits, can make all the difference when it comes to preventing flare-ups.

    In this guide you will find some simple tips for pain management and pain prevention that everyone can use right now at the office, even if it’s in your home!

    Let’s start.

    Think About Your Posture

    Ensuring you have healthy posture can be difficult at any time, especially if you are experiencing pain. The temptation can be to slump and slouch in your seat, or even work from the couch. This won’t do your body any favors.

    If you’re sitting at your workspace, try to keep your back lengthened. Lumbar support can help you to stay upright and keep your spine in an optimal position. You should also try to keep your elbows and knees bent at about 90-degrees, and feel your feet planted firmly on the floor.

    It’s strange to think about posture if you haven’t considered it. It is like learning how to sit again. There are risks associated with poor posture beyond arthritic flare-ups, too, like the higher load on your lumbar discs, as shown in this literature review.

    Don’t Sit All Day

    Humans were not meant to be sedentary creatures. In the era of office work we may have got used to sitting, but that doesn’t mean that it’s ideal.

    A standing workstation, or an adjustable sit-stand workstation, gives you the option to change your position throughout the day. It’s even been said that the best position is the next one!

    The ideal ratio of time spent standing and sitting is somewhere between 1:1 to 3:1, as explained on Yaasa’s guide to standing workstation ergonomics

    Switching between sitting and standing has the benefit of resetting your posture so you aren’t slumping and aggravating your joints. But it may also improve your blood pressure and keep the blood sugar levels under control. 

    Stretch and Move Your Body

    Instead of becoming more sendentary with arthritis,  choose some simple and gentle movement,  including yoga poses. These don’t have to be too strenuous, but the benefits are many. 

    You can improve your strength and flexibility and potentially also reduce pain in the process. On top of this, yoga has been shown to help you to relax and manage stress

    In the modern workplace, this can be incredibly valuable.

    Stretching and moving your body throughout the working day is always recommended, whether your arthritis is mild or severe.

    Consider Your Wrists and Hands

    Wrist pain can be aggravated by tapping away at a keyboard all day. If you have arthritis in your hands, then you might find that typing  exacerbates your pain. However, there are products available that can help you.

    Sloped keyboards that are higher in the middle can help to keep your hands in a more natural position. Similarly, you can buy keyboards that are padded to help the wrists, or even split keyboards so that you can keep your hands apart.

    If you have severe pain, you can take advantage of short keys, or software that features word prediction. This can help you to use fewer keystrokes and ultimately reduce the strain. 

    Technology can be used to your advantage. Plus, if you have an understanding employer, they might be willing to help you with the cost of getting the ideal office set up.

    Take Regular Breaks 

    Many doctors will tell you that a problem they see time and time again among people suffering from arthritis is not knowing when to stop and rest. This is a difficult skill. Spending too long not moving can make you feel stiff and cause more pain, but moving too much can also increase pain. 

    The ideal balance between movement and rest is required to manage your arthritis, and learning how to judge this is a real skill. It’s one that you will find extremely valuable if you suffer from arthritis.

    Conclusion

    There’s no denying that office life can present challenges for arthritis management, but that doesn’t mean it has to stop you from achieving what you want to in life. 

    Fortunately, there are more products than ever that can help you make the most of life with arthritis . On top of this, as we start to understand more about what can help with arthritic joints, we also learn more about habits that can help. 

    Regular stretches and yoga poses are some of the best ways people are managing their pain, and striking that balance between movement and rest.


  • 24 May 2021 8:04 AM | Natalie Cummings (Administrator)

    About 55 million adults have been diagnosed with arthritis in the United States alone, and the joints of the hands and wrists are some of the most commonly affected. This statistic doesn’t account for the many adults with undiagnosed arthritis, pre-arthritic changes, or other forms of joint pain. 

    Joint pain of any etiology can be exacerbated by long hours at a keyboard or on a touchscreen, and time on those devices is taking up more of our day than ever. 

    As a result, more and more people working from an office or remotely from home may find themselves working longer hours with fewer breaks. This can take a toll on our joints and the resulting joint pain can interfere with productivity, daily tasks, and quality of life.

    Ill-designed work spaces can also contribute to these woes, and ergonomic adjustable desks can certainly help to optimize alignment and reduce joint compression, but there are also some movements you can do during the day to reduce pain, stiffness, and discomfort in the hands and wrists. 

    Steffany Moonaz is not only a yoga therapist and public health researcher who has spent the last 20 years understanding lifestyle management of arthritis and chronic pain, but also someone who lives with joint pain herself, and has to manage it each day. 

    Below you will find her suggestions for five exercises you can try when your hands and wrists need a break from the keyboard or any other repetitive activity.


    1. Finger Wiggle

    If you ever pretended to play “air piano” as a kid, that’s what this movement looks like. Keep all of your fingers loose and wiggle them freely without any particular pattern or intention. Imagine the synovial fluid sloshing around in the joints and lubricating them, bringing ease into the fingers. 

    Once you’ve finished that, you can shake your hands downward as if you just washed them and there isn’t a towel available.

    Read more: what causes numbness in arms and hands while sleeping

    2. Wrist Roll

    Sitting up tall in your chair, hold the hands in front of you with the shoulders relaxed and the elbows at your sides. 

    Roll both of the wrists out a few times and then in a few times. Follow that by rolling both wrists to the right (clockwise) and then both to the left (counter-clockwise). Do this just a few times each so that you don’t experience fatigue or soreness in the wrists. 

    As with the activity above, follow it with a shake of the hands down at your sides to release any tension throughout the arms.

    3. Thumb Tap

    Hold the hands out in front of you (as with the above exercise) or let the forearms rest on the edge of a desk/table. Let the shoulders relax down but sit up tall through the spine. 

    Start by bringing the pointer finger toward the thumb on both hands. They might touch or they might not, which is fine. 

    Next, bring the middle fingers to the thumbs and release. Follow that by bringing the ring fingers to the thumbs and then the pinkies to the thumbs. 

    For a calming mindfulness practice, you can breathe in and then out with each finger touch. You can also repeat a 4-word or syllable phrase. When I lead kids in this activity, they come up with everything from “I love ice cream” to “Peace begins with me”! Find a way to bring some joy or fun to this activity, along with the benefits for your hands and fingers.

    4. Wrist Flop

    Hold your hands out in front of you with the fingertips pointing up, so you’re looking at your fingernails. Let the wrists flex so the hands flop forward and down. 

    Return the fingertips upward and repeat. Try breathing in when you lift the fingers and let out a big sigh Hiwhen they drop down. The sigh can actually help to release muscle tension and calm the nervous system where pain resides.

    5. Hand Spread

    This can be done standing or sitting with your arms down by your sides. 

    Spread the hands so that the fingers are as wide apart as possible and it feels like you are stretching the palms. Bring the hands into loose fists without squeezing tightly. 

    Repeat spreading the hands wide and bringing them into fists. If a fist isn’t possible or comfortable, just close the hands however is available to you. It’s the closing and opening that matters more than the actual shape your hands make. 

    As with the other movements, only do this a few times and then shake the hands out to release any tension. When you are finished with these movements, let your hands rest gently in your lap and see if you notice any differences in how the hands and wrists feel. 

    Try these movements to determine what brings you relief. Everyone is different and no one knows your body better than you. If these movements are helpful, try to use them regularly. If they don’t feel good, let them go and find what works for you. 

    If you have any questions about what movements are safe and appropriate for you, please consult a trusted healthcare provider. 

    And to learn more about how yoga and movement can help arthritis, visit our home page at www.arthritis.yoga or reach out to info@arthritis.yoga

    About the author

    Dr. Steffany Moonaz, PhD, C-IAYT, is the Director of Clinical and Academic Research at the Maryland University of Integrative Health, and Director of Health Coaching for Corporate Health Solutions in Jamison, PA. She founded Yoga For Arthritis to help people suffering from arthritis and raise awareness in t


  • 21 May 2021 7:23 AM | Natalie Cummings (Administrator)


    Welcome to the Yoga for Arthritis monthly blog series with a special edition that features a yoga entrepreneur and YFA friend.  Without the ongoing efforts of these standout members in our community, we would not be where we are today. 

    What was your experience of RA onset and diagnosis? 

    I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis in 2012, just a few days after my 29th birthday. After a year and half of symptoms that came and went, and visits to various doctors that couldn’t pinpoint what was wrong with me, I finally had an answer - it came in the form of a double-edge sword. At the time, I was in so much physical pain that I was barely able to dress myself, brush my teeth or walk for more than a few minutes without having to stop. I was scared - scared I might never get better, scared that I would keep getting worse. And so began my journey.

    At what point did you discover Yoga for Arthritis and what impact did it have?

    As I navigated my new life with my new diagnosis, I did what I usually do when confronted with something hard and uncomfortable, only this time it was bigger than anything that had come before it. I cried, a lot. I screamed. I got angry. I felt sorry for myself. And resentful of others. I questioned the universe. And then, I got on with my life. I dug deep to face my biggest fears and heal myself - physically, emotionally, spiritually and mentally. Somewhere along the path to my healing I discovered Yoga for Arthritis in some corner of the internet. There weren't yet online classes or DVD’s or books, all of that came later, but as I devoured every article I could find about Dr. Moonaz’s work, I felt hopeful and encouraged. It gave me the strength I needed to seek out a therapeutic yoga class in my own community.

    How do you use the tools of YFA now?

    Yoga for Arthritis taught me how to take care of my body and my needs and has reinforced how powerful the mind-body connection is. Though it’s rare that I have a flare-up these days, I’ve learned to let go of judging myself on the mat - comparing myself to what other people can do or what yoga is supposed to look like. It’s okay that I can’t touch my toes or that I need a few extra bolsters to get comfortable in a pose. Having gone through an unprecedented health challenge has given me so much appreciation and gratitude for my body and physical well-being; sometimes it’s easy to take that for granted but yoga brings me back to a place of awe and honoring. Now when I go to a yoga class, I say, the more props, the merrier!

    What is Good Grief and where did the idea come from?

    My business, Good Grief, which I started in partnership with my sister, was born from my experience of being diagnosed with a chronic illness. My journey was lonely and isolating much of the time as I didn’t have a community that understood what I was going through. Well-intentioned people would often say to me “but you don’t look sick” or “you’re too young to be that sick” – which didn’t help the situation. As I openly and honestly shared what I was going through over the years, I became a resource for others navigating a similar diagnosis. Connecting with others awakened in me, a desire to help others. I didn’t exactly know what that would look like at the time, but over the years - given other hardships I’ve endured and witnessed others endure - the vision for Good Grief slowly took shape and gained clarity.

    What Good Grief boxes might be relevant to the YFA community?

    Naturally, since this business was largely born from my personal experience of dealing with chronic pain and everything that goes with it, we created an entire wellness section that focuses on everything from common colds to chronic illness and the various symptoms that go along with them (headaches, inflammation, fatigue and more). There are two care packages in particular for those dealing with autoimmune issues and/or arthritis. Our Pain is a Pain box features some goodies that help with sore joints and muscles while our Autoimmune Wellness box features a book by the same name and some anti-inflammatory goodies to go along with it.

    Is there a special offer for YFAers on these boxes?

    I was so excited to connect with Dr. Moonaz and share my story with the YFA community that we thought it would be wonderful to offer a special promotion. YFA members can use code: YFA15 to score 15% off either of the two boxes mentioned earlier. We would love to bring some comfort to you on your healing journey or help you support a friend who needs a little extra TLC.

    What would you tell someone who was recently diagnosed with arthritis or struggling with their arthritis management?

    For anyone in the trenches - whether they were just diagnosed or are just having a real hard time with their current situation I would offer two things: 1) Be gentle with yourself. Give yourself the space to feel all your feelings. They are all valid and important. And 2) Remember that everything is temporary, nothing stays the same; things will shift, your situation will change. Accepting where you are now and knowing that it won’t be forever can be very powerful. You’ve got this!


  • 9 May 2021 3:32 PM | Natalie Cummings (Administrator)

    EDIT: THIS POSITION HAS BEEN FILLED

    Yoga for Arthritis is seeking a Social Media and Digital Marketing Specialist to sustain and grow the organization’s online presence and work collaboratively with the other members of a small, ambitious team to share our resources, services, classes, trainings, and products with an international audience. The ideal candidate will be able to situate themselves easily into our work at the intersection of yoga, science, and accessibility, and will be able to effectively self-manage, think critically and strategically, and bring creativity and excitement into the role, as well as onto our website and social channels. The ideal candidate would also have extensive experience in digital communication and asset production, social strategy, website blog and content building, and essential traditional and content marketing.  They will demonstrate strong communication skills, experience with digital content creation, and a passion for building community and serving the public. Especially since we are a small team, a willingness and desire to learn on the job, expand existing skill sets, support colleagues, and troubleshoot through new challenges will be vital, and will also provide an exciting opportunity for a strategic, puzzle-loving, and solutions-oriented person to routinely fire up their analytical and creative thinking skills.

    This is a 100% remote, part-time, 1099 contract position, paid at a rate of $15/hour. Work hours are self-managed and completely flexible, with the exception of one weekly staff meeting. The anticipated time commitment is 6 - 8 hours/week. YFA does not offer benefits to contractual team members, though free continuing education is available. Ideally, we’d like the selected candidate to begin work in mid-May, overlapping with the current digital media team to ensure a smooth transition. The selected candidate must be available to start on or before June 1st.

    APPLY NOW

    Job Duties

    Social Media

    • Develop social media strategy, content calendar, and assets for posting in conjunction with executive and communications directors

    • Manage social media accounts, including updating bios and the organizational LinkTree as needed

    • Post to social channels a minimum of three times per week

    • Write and/or edit copy for blogs and social posts

    • Create simple, shareable graphics using Canva or similar software

    • Curate relevant content from other accounts to share to social feeds and stories

    • Interact with relevant hashtags, accounts, posts, and comments

    • Routinely check and respond to comments and direct messages

    • Communicate important comments and/or direct messages with executive director for follow-up

    • Remain attuned to and provide periodic updates on social media analytics, along with ideas and recommendations for improved performance

    Monthly Newsletter & Mass Email Management

    • Curate and create content for monthly newsletters and special announcement emails

    • Write newsletter copy and incorporate any feedback or edits from the director prior to distribution

    • Format the monthly newsletter and special announcement emails in MailChimp and distribute to relevant subscriber lists

    • Manage subscriber database and list segments in MailChimp

    Website Content Creation

    • Create monthly blog featuring YFA Members

    • Design and Update Thinkific Training Landing pages 

    • Add new monthly content to membership categorized pages

    Other

    • Attend weekly staff meetings and report in on relevant work and projects

    • Engage, as needed, with additional communications and/or marketing projects, potentially including but not limited to:

      • Editing and providing feedback on copy drafted by executive director, operations manager, communications manager or outside contributors

      • Managing the planning and logistics of occasional marketing-related events (info sessions, webinars, etc.)

      • Adding captions/editing auto-generated captions on video content

    Required Qualifications

    • Knowledge of front end website updating, and experience with content management systems/website builders

    • Foundation in Increased brand recognition/ Improved brand loyalty

    • Experience with, and both a strategic and technical understanding of, all popular social media platforms (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, etc.)

    • Strong copywriting skills, particularly for digital platforms

    • Demonstrated scientific literacy, including the ability to read and summarize existent scientific literature and relevant new peer-reviewed research as it’s published

    • Knowledge of yoga philosophy and practice, including a working knowledge of the science of yoga/impacts of various practices on the body, nervous system, etc.

    • A commitment to accessibility and equity within and beyond the realm of yoga

    • Basic graphic design skills using Canva or similar software

    • Experience managing subscriber/contact lists, building, and sending email campaigns using MailChimp

    • The ability to work independently, ensuring effective and efficient time and project management without daily oversight

    • The ability to communicate and collaborate effectively using Gmail/G Suite, Zoom video conferencing, and project management software

    Preferred Qualifications

    • Previous experience working within the yoga industry (as a yoga teacher or in another role)

    • Previous experience working within or proximal to the health sciences

    • Existing working knowledge of arthritis and other rheumatic conditions

    • Experience working with HTML

    • Experience with AMO (Associations Management Online) software

    • Experience with Wordpress

    • Experience with Asana project management software

    • Experience with Zoho Social or other social media management applications

    • Experience with Facebook Group moderation and management

    • Additional digital content production skills, such as video editing or more advanced graphic design

    • Experience with and/or understanding of essential content marketing strategies

    APPLY NOW


  • 29 Mar 2021 9:30 AM | Natalie Cummings (Administrator)

    Welcome to the Yoga for Arthritis monthly blog series that features our YFA members hard work, dedication, & passion. Without the ongoing efforts of these standout members, we would not be where we are today. 

    How has yoga impacted your life? 

    A friend introduced me to the practice of yoga in 1988. A young stay-at-home mother of two, the flowing movements reminded me of dancing and I felt a profound sense of coming home to my body and spirit. Needless to say, I was hooked and continued to take classes at the local YMCA as I raised my family, completed a masters degree in education and reentered the workforce.

    My yoga practice became a lifeline, seeing me through cancer, a divorce, shifts in my career, several moves, and many other changes for my family. It is a deep well from which I continue to draw, finding sustenance, strength, wisdom and peace as I navigate life's often stormy waters. I am so grateful to the wonderful people yoga has brought into my life, both as colleagues and students. They have taught me much and I am honored to be able to share the practices of yoga with others.

    How did you find YFA? 

    Finding YFA came as a perfectly-timed gift from the universe. After my initial 200-hr YTT in 2010, I knew I needed further training in adapting asanas to accommodate the needs of my mostly older students. As luck would have it, I connected with Lynn Somerstein, an Integral teacher, through LinkedIn in early 2012. She mentioned she was excited about attending Steffany's training in NYC in a few days. I immediately contacted IYI and learned they had one spot left which, of course, I took.

    The training was transformational. Not only did it shape my current approach to teaching yoga, but it also set me on the path to becoming a certified yoga therapist through IYI-NY. I find I return to the YFA teachings over and over again as I continue to hone my teaching skills in service of my students.

    Carrying Steffany and IYI's teachings forward, my mantra is "how may I serve you?" In every class or when planning new classes and workshops, my first thought is "what do my students need?" and "how can I best meet them where they are?" Armed with the tools and creative problems solving skills gained through in my YFA trainings, I am able to meet my students where they are. It is a great joy to watch them embody the principles of yoga for themselves and find a sense of wholeness, inner peace and contentment.

    YES! THE YFA LEVEL I SELF-PACED TRAINING IS NOW LIVE!

     LEARN MORE

    Earn all 34 YFA Level I CEU's ONLINE in this first of its kind training! You can now enjoy our full Level I program which is masterfully presented and supported by the Yoga for Arthritis faculty and staff. 


     Beverly Davis-Baird's Teaching Schedule

    Gentle Yoga for Healthy Aging (Mondays 5-6PM)

    Chair Yoga and Meditation (Tuesdays 3:30-4:30PM)

    Yoga for Arthritis & Chronic Pain (Thursdays 10-11AM)

    Yoga for a Cause (donation-based class to benefit a local service organization; 3rd Thursday of the month at 8PM)

    Strong Bones, Strong Body: Yoga for Bone Health (6-week course starting Wed 3/10/21 @ 9:30-10:45AM)

    Visit Beverly's website Wisdom Tree Yoga & Healing Arts for information on other online courses and workshops for improving posture, better balance, caring for your knees, sleep and back pain


    Beverly Davis-Baird, MA, E-RYT200/RYT 500, C-IAYT

    website | facebook | instagram | linkedin | youtube

    An elementary school teacher for 20+ years, Beverly brings her knowledge of individual learning styles to her teaching, providing instruction that is clear, concise and inclusive. A certified yoga therapist (C-IAYT) and member of the International Association of Yoga Therapists, her teaching encompasses a wide variety of yoga styles, with an emphasis on adapting each class to suit individual needs. She teaches group classes, workshops and offers individual yoga therapy session. Her background includes working with special needs populations, such as disabled teens, seniors, and young children.

    Beverly adapts her classes to meet the spiritual as well as physical needs of her students. Her teaching expertise encompasses vinyasa, therapeutic, restorative, gentle, children and chair yoga as well as key teachings from Iyengar, Kripalu, Anasara, Kundalini, Integral and Viniyoga. She is certified in Yoga for Osteoporosis, Gentle Yoga for Low Back Care, Yoga for Healthy Aging, and Yoga for Arthritis™.

  • 15 Mar 2021 11:40 AM | Natalie Cummings (Administrator)

    Welcome to the Yoga for Arthritis monthly blog series that features our YFA members hard work, dedication, & passion. Without the ongoing efforts of these standout members, we would not be where we are today. 

    How has yoga impacted your life? 

    I have been blessed to be in the yoga practice for one 30 years. My mother, a professional ballet dancer, introduced me to yoga, and continues to practice herself, attending my weekly virtual Hatha class. As a yogini, I am grateful to be able to share this wonderful practice that I have grown to cultivate and love in my own life. I am especially grateful to share yoga with members of my own family and black community.

    During the COVID-19 pandemic, the virtual yoga space is prime for peeling back the taboos of practicing yoga as folks can do so with some amount of anonymity. I can use my voice and knowledge as a member of our community to subtly align yoga with the spiritual practices and beliefs of my family and friends that is greatly missing from the average commercial yoga studios. Since my family and friends basically trust me as their daughter, mother, sister, cousin and confident, they are willing to try the practice and are marveling at the ways their bodies and minds are benefiting through asana and pranayama. My joy? Watching them feel empowered by the strength of their beings regardless of their age and ability.

    How did you find YFA?

    I met Dr. Steffany Moonaz in 2015 while serving as the yoga "interventionist" in the NIH feasibility research study "Yoga as self-care for arthritis in minority communities." Steffany invited me to participate in the Level I training that began my journey teaching yoga for arthritis and other yoga therapy classes. I continued on to complete Level II Y4A training, became a mentor for new Y4A teachers and now provide Y4A trainings and workshops. Y4A has broaden my understanding of the human existence and developed my confidence in working with students of mixed abilities.

    I appreciate Y4A because it is a practice that blends scientific research with traditional yoga philosophy. My clients and students blossom as they gain a better understanding of their bodies, explore the benefits of mindfulness, and resonant with the spiritual yoga principles because Y4A brings a practical application to these teachings.

    Charlene's Regular Teaching Schedule

    I am teaching solely on-line: a weekly Chair Yoga Class and Hatha I class. I also serve as the Lead YTT200 Trainer for a small Black-owned studio in Maryland: Love Yoga Studio. This is the second cohort of YTT200 I have led for Love Yoga Studio.

    Charlene teaching  Yoga for Mixed Abilities Workshop for the United Yoga Studio


    Praise: "Today's session was illuminating, informative and so, so empowering. Thank you for your sattvic energy and for sharing your wealth of knowledge with us."

    Charlene Marie Muhammad

    Charlene Marie Muhammad is a traditional healing practitioner, who focuses on supporting clients with a practical application to optimal health by using the healing tools that she has grown to embrace in her own personal life: herbal medicine, nutrition and yoga.

    A graduate of Cornell University, Charlene holds a Master’s of Science Degree in Herbal Medicine from Maryland University of Integrative Health and is a Licensed Dietitian. Charlene is also a certified yoga therapist through the International Association of Yoga Therapists (IYAT), serves as the Chair for IAYT's DEI Taskforce, and Secretary to the Black Yoga Teachers Alliance Board of Directors.


  • 2 Mar 2021 8:51 AM | Natalie Cummings (Administrator)


    1. In preparation, ensure high quality audio-visual equipment, including the ability to hear and see well from a distance and to be well heard and seen (camera, microphone, speaker). Ensure a clear, quiet space with no distractions and set the appropriate intention and energetic awareness before the session.

    2. Ask the client to have a short list of household props available (folded towel, throw pillow, etc) and be sure you have the same props for demonstrating.

    3. Conduct a thorough intake and ask follow-up questions regarding movement limitations that may be more difficult to see without observing the client enter the room and get settled.

    4. Use more verbal instruction and cuing that doesn’t allow the client to watch the screen to observe.

    5. If chanting, avoid complex synchronous chants. Use call and response, ask the client to listen to the chant, have them say the chant in their head or with you while muted.

    6. Ensure the practices are viable in your client’s space and circumstances.

    7. Lean into the non-physical practices (which is wise for any yoga therapy session!).

    8. Record the session (with permission) and send it to your client with any notes and follow-up, images you used, resources you shared (including a copy of the chat function if applicable)

    9. Print a copy of your notes, intake, and plan of care before the session so you don’t have to switch back and forth between the Zoom and other documents.

    10. Have back-up for any possible technology issues:

    1. If zoom is down, have another platform available

    2. If connectivity problems, consider a hot spot

    3. For A/V issues, use backup equipment

    4. Make sure you have each other’s phone numbers if the call drops and you have to reschedule or conduct the session by phone.

  • 12 Jan 2021 11:52 AM | Natalie Cummings (Administrator)


    Welcome to the Yoga for Arthritis monthly blog series that features our YFA members hard work, dedication, & passion. Without the ongoing efforts of these standout members, we would not be where we are today. 

    How has yoga impacted your life? 

    I am grateful that I have a practice that I can turn to in order to heal from pain, to enliven or calm me and connect with all parts of my being. Through these practices, I find clarity, compassion, and courage. Through yoga, I have found community--people who are on the same path.

    How did you find YFA? How has YFA helped you - personally, business-wise, any other facets. 

    I have always been curious about chronic pain and dedicate a lot of time studying it because a lot of the students who come to my classes suffer from it. I am continually looking for ways to teach yoga in a way that is accessible. Yoga for Arthritis was a natural next step in this search. When Ann Swanson came to Chicago to teach a Level 1 training, I knew I had to take it, and the mentorship and Level 3 training that followed just seemed right and timely.

    YFA has given me a structure for working with groups and individuals with pain.

    YES! THE YFA LEVEL I SELF-PACED TRAINING IS NOW LIVE!

     LEARN MORE

    Earn all 34 YFA Level I CEU's ONLINE in this first of its kind training! You can now enjoy our full Level I program which is masterfully presented and supported by the Yoga for Arthritis faculty and staff. 


    If people can see that they have the capacity to free themselves of their own pain, it would be a different world. Yoga can be a way to get there. It does take some effort, but it is worthwhile.


    What is Your Regular Teaching Schedule?

    I teach Yoga for Arthritis 4-week sessions through the Yoga Effect; Gentle Yoga through the Cancer Wellness Center; Hatha Yoga through my website. I also see people privately for yoga therapy. Currently, all my classes are held through Zoom.

    Maribel is an easy going fitness enthusiast and unabashed spiritual seeker. She was first drawn to yoga as a complement to running many years ago. Her experiences of injury and pain have made her realize that wholeness is innate, healing is possible, and well being comes from re discovering that wholeness.

    As a Certified Yoga Therapist, she offers small group classes and one-on-one sessions for people living with chronic pain and arthritis. She teaches yoga to people living with cancer and those in the work place with a focus on mindfulness. www.maribelalesnayoga.com.

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