Ever since I was a young girl I knew I wanted to help others. However, I didn't know how I could make that a career. During high school I discovered psychology. I absolutely fell in love with the field. I even chose my college, Washington College, because of their psychology department. I have my B.A. in Psychology with a concentration in clinical counseling. After college, I attended Lynn University where I received my Masters degree in Mental Health Counseling. I worked as an intern counselor and realized counseling was not my calling. I met incredible people and was actually a good counselor, however, my heart and soul wasn't fully committed. I needed to change, but to what?
I took a break from psychology and jumped into construction... because that makes sense! People laugh all the time about that career transition, simply because I never showed interest in construction before then. I knew very little about construction when I started, but now I know the ins and outs of the industry. I spent nearly 3 years working in construction as a Project Coordinator. There were many highs and lows. It was quite stressful, so I connected with my yoga practice again. I had been practicing yoga on and off for 14 years at that point.
I discovered my passion - my purpose. My purpose was to help others through the power of yoga. I found a 200 hour yoga teacher training program at Zeal Yoga Studio in Jupiter, FL. Immediately, I knew this was my calling. I put in my notice at the construction company, graduated yoga teacher training and a week later, I was on my journey to become a full-time yoga teacher.
I am currently teaching in Annapolis, MD at at Blue Lotus Yoga & Barre Studio and on Kent Island, MD at Foundations Island Yoga. I also offer private individual and group lessons in the Annapolis area. I am fortunate because I have students of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities. My teaching styles are slow flow vinyasa, gentle, yin, and restorative yoga.
I am a firm believer in "Yoga for All." Anyone and everyone can practice yoga. Yes, it will look different from one person to the next, but how powerful and beautiful is that? Yoga helped me become the person I am today. I want to help others discover their OWN power through yoga.
I've met some of the most remarkable people in various yoga communities. I am looking forward to meeting and helping even more people with the yoga community through Yoga for Arthritis.
You can connect with me directly at poseytheyogi.com or send me an email at email@example.com.
Ever since I was a young girl I knew I wanted to help others. However, I didn't know how I could make that a career. During high school I discovered psychology. I absolutely fell in love with the field. I even chose my college, Washington College, because of their psychology department. I have my B.A. in Psychology with a concentration in clinical counseling. After college, I attended Lynn University where I received my Masters degree in Mental Health Counseling. I worked as a intern counselor and realized counseling was not my calling. I met incredible people and was actually a good counselor, however my heart and soul wasn't fully committed. I needed to change, but to what?
I took a break from psychology and jumped into construction, because that makes sense. People laugh all the time about that career transition, simply because I never showed interest in construction before then. I knew very little about construction when I started, but now I know the ins and outs of the industry. I spent nearly 3 years working in construction as a Project Coordinator. There were many highs and lows. It was quite stressful, so I connected with my yoga practice again. I had been practicing yoga on and off for 14 years at that point.
I discovered my passion - my purpose. My purpose was to help others through the power of yoga. I found a 200 hour yoga teacher training program at Zeal Yoga Studio in Jupiter, FL. Immediately, I knew this was my calling. I put in my notice at the construction company, graduated yoga teacher training and a week later, I was on my journey to become a full time yoga teacher.
I am currently teaching in Annapolis, MD at Blue Lotus Yoga & Barre Studio and on Kent Island, MD at Foundations Island Yoga. I also offer private individual and group lessons in the Annapolis area. I am fortunate because I have students of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities. My teaching styles are slow flow vinyasa, gentle, yin, and restorative yoga.
I am firm believer in "Yoga for All." Anyone and everyone can practice yoga. Yes, it will look differently from one person to the next, but how powerful and beautiful is that? Yoga helped me become the person I am today. I want to help others discover their OWN power through yoga.
I've met some of the most remarkable people in various yoga communities. I am looking forward to meeting and helping even more people with the yoga community through Yoga for Arthritis.
It has been my intention to bring yoga to diverse communities that may not feel welcome in the average group yoga class. This heart-centered mission is evident not only in my yoga teachings but in my work as a marketing and web design professional. I share inclusive language and imagery and write for our community devoid of the glossy edits that are all too common in today's yoga media.
My home studio is 359° Yoga in Wyandotte, Michigan where I teach Yin Yoga and head up Community Outreach Programs. As a trauma survivor, I have become an advocate for at-risk youth by joining the Connection Coalition team of certified trauma-informed yoga teachers. My teachings reflect a path of healing through yoga by including mindfulness practices and gentleness. With a beginners heart, I always teach to my students at any given time allowing for a dynamic flow that is intuitive and ties in elements of playfulness and laughter.
I am a mother of two and I am active in bringing yoga to community schools offering kids yoga clubs, family yoga by donation and trauma informed teen yoga at the community high school.
I purposefully associate myself with yoga non profits and mission driven organizations. I am a proud member of the Yoga and Body Image Coalition Leadership Team and I offer web design and marketing services for the YBIC and for Puresa Humanitarian, a NPO who's mission is to rescue women and children from human trafficking in India. I also offer my services with flexible payment structures to people of all abilities with a strong focus on assisting members of the Accessible Yoga community. Joining the Yoga for Arthritis team is a natural fit as it is a beautiful and seamless extension of what I set out to do in this world, make yoga a practice that is equally available to all.
You can connect with me directly at yogabusinessconnection.com or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Center Photo Credit: Cassie Padula
Yoga is not just something you do, it’s something you are: It’s a state of being, of union between mind, body and more- a connection between and beyond all of the koshas. In the west, we think of this through the paradigm of mind-body-spirit or the biopsychosocial model, which overlaps nicely with the koshas. Interestingly, the social realm is not explicitly present in the kosha model, but one could say that in a state of Bliss, we are all one and all connected. Yoga is a state of union both within and between, not just including some, but including all.
Connecting with that Oneness within and between us is connecting with the Divine nature of all things. Divine nature does not discriminate and a spiritual practice of inclusion isn’t just about feeling Divine connection yourself, but assuring that the connection is felt on the other side. The greatest gift you can give to someone else is to show them that they matter- not just think it, not just say it. Practice it with your actions, with your attention, with the way you consider their experience in the choices you make.
There is too much otherness, too much divisiveness and division and concern about protecting what’s mine. Inclusiveness in thought, word, and deed is a spiritual practice and a radical act of resistance in the face of forces that aim to divide us with fear. We live in an abundant world. There is more than enough food on this planet if only we would share it. There is more than enough water, shelter, kindness, love.
Welcome the stranger.
Open the tent.
Widen your circle of compassion.
The practices of yoga- asana, pranayama, meditation- should be inclusive practices, open to anyone and welcoming to all. But being inclusive as yogis goes far beyond the mat or the cushion. Let your every encounter with friend or stranger be a practice of yolking, of union, or radically transcending imaginary, arbitrary differences and barriers.
We are one. Let’s act like it.
- Dr. Steffany Moonaz
Why teach yoga for arthritis?
by Charlene Marie Muhammad, YTT500, C-IAYT
I have been offered the experience of a lifetime: co-teaching an Y4A teacher training workshop with Dr. Steffany Moonaz! This is a blessing for me in many ways: (1) Steffany has be a mentor to me for the past five years; (2) the practice of Y4A has strengthened my own physical and emotional well-being; and (3) I get to grow good karma points as I share the teacher training with others.
No pun intended, Y4A has transformed not only my personal yoga practice, yet also my yoga-teacher practice. As I was reading the latest edition of The International Journal for Yoga Therapy, I came across a research paper that led me through contemplation about my Y4A yoga teacher practice.
The research paper entitled, The psychology of yoga practitioners: a cluster analysis(1) , explores the “possible existence of a developmental trajectory for yoga practitioners.” The paper proposes that in the United States, there are two main styles of yoga: one that emphasizes the physical benefits of practicing yoga; and the second style that focuses on spiritual explorations of a yoga practice.
The authors further defined the findings of their cluster analysis of yoga practitioners congregating into three distinct groups. Group 1 are yoga practitioners that hold high spiritual ideals, enjoy a positive body image due to their commitment to health and fitness, yet do not focus on their overall appearance. Group 2 also enjoys a positive body image due to their commitment to health and fitness, yet this is their main focus and may not concentrate on the spiritual aspects of yoga as much. Group 3 hold the lowest appreciation of their body image, are unhappy with their overall appearance and body size and are not yet focused on the spiritual aspects of yoga. The analysis concluded with the question: could yoga practitioners evolve through the groupings?
My muse led me to contemplate the developmental trajectory of yoga teaching. As a newbie, my teaching style was akin to leading the class like a cheerleader. Although I knew enough to keep my eye on students so they would be safe, my goal was for students to have fun. My YTT200 class prepared me for Group 2 type-students: those physically fit and eager for a challenge, but not necessarily a “deep” practice spiritually. I did not anticipate students who had not moved in years or who have physical challenges like arthritis. Yet as my teaching practice grew, so did my confidence. This growth in confidence is predicated on my desire to understand the practice of yoga as a holistic lifestyle- body, mind and spirit.
And as I grew in my teaching practice, more challenging students seemed to appear in my classes. I have learned that emotional and spiritual growth requires such challenges. Before I knew it, my classes were filled with Group 3 type-students: those with low self-esteem, unhappy with overall body image and size and in lots of physical pain!
For me, the Y4A teacher training merged the two styles of yoga practices described in the research paper. I gained a deeper understanding of human physiology and the impact of pathophysiology on students– physically, mentally and emotionally. I learned how to keep students safe by encouraging them to move in mindful ways with props and other modifications. I gained an appreciation of the Yamas (Ahimsa, Sateya, Asteya, Brahmacharya and Aparigraha) and the ability to offer the practical application of them in order to encourage students to be patient with their bodies. And, most importantly, I am humbled as I observed my Group 3 type-students gain acceptance of their bodies by evolving into a deeper yoga practice.
I hope you will consider joining Steffany and I at our Y4A Teacher Training Workshop in March!
Be well. Namaste.
You can register for the March 4th 1-5PM workshop on the Yoga Center of Columbia's website HERE.
(1) Genovese, Jeremy E.C., Fondran, Kristine M. The psychology of yoga practitioners: a cluster analysis. International Journal of Yoga Therapy, Vol. 27, Issue 1, pages 51-58 2017.
We are so excited to announce our partnership with Yoga International. This course is available for free to existing Yoga International members or free with a new monthly membership HERE.
More than 50 million Americans—including 50 percent of adults over 65—are living with arthritis.
How can yoga help?
In this workshop, Yoga for Arthritis founder and director Steffany Moonaz explains how yoga benefits people with arthritis and provides an educational, practice-based resource for yoga teachers and students who want to learn more about an adaptive yoga practice.
Steffany explains that “Arthritis is a whole-person disease. It’s a musculoskeletal condition that affects the joints, but also the whole person and aspects of life that go beyond the physical.”
Yoga is a whole-person practice. And when approached in a safe and supportive way, it can be an accessible, natural tool for easing the discomfort that arthritis causes.
In this workshop you will learn:
What it means to have arthritis and what people with arthritis experience.
How yoga can help alleviate pain during arthritis flares.
How yoga can help improve physical health, psychological health, and quality of life for people living with arthritis.
Signs yoga teachers can watch for in class as potential indicators of arthritis and how to respond to them.
Gentle asana sequences that can be practiced lying down, seated, and standing every day or when experiencing pain and stiffness.
How pranayama (breathwork) can provide relaxation for people with arthritis.
How props such as chairs, blankets, and bolsters can support the joints and help create feelings of ease during yoga practice.
How practicing yoga can help people with arthritis become more attuned with their bodies, allowing them to implement self-care even at the earliest sign of a flare.
Let this course be your opportunity to better understand arthritis, and to bring more ease into your life and the lives of others living with arthritis.
Get the course HERE from Yoga International.
Carmen refers to her Yoga profession as a "calling," a calling which has taken her on an extended journey on many levels: experiential, physical and spiritual . Currently, she resides on Maui and has been teaching there since 2003.
Maui is a magical place for healing and recovery, in Carmen's case, from a painful divorce. In a single year, her life was completely transformed from dejection and disillusionment to happiness and companionship.
But in 2011 Carmen was diagnosed by a rheumatologist with Sjøgrens, an endemic autoimmune disease, which affects every cell in the body, particularly, the moisturizing glands, from the skin to the gums, muscles and joints, digestive tract, the salivary glands of mouth, --even the hair follicles--resulting in excruciating, unpredictable flare-ups that for Carmen resulted in the wasting away of muscle, listlessness and ultimately depression.
Sjøgrens is a not a well-known auto-immune disease. She first heard about it when world tennis champion Venus Williams' public announced she had the disease and dropped out of the circuit until recently making a come-back. In hindsight, Carmen suspects her mother also had the disease but was never diagnosed. Stress is the indisputable trigger.
Carmen experienced symptoms, I.e., extreme dryness of the eyes and vagina, lassitude, indigestion, constipation and diarrhea years before the diagnosis. Although she bravely continued with her active life, she had to cut back on her strenuous practice that accelerated weight loss to 112 lbs.
She then decided to revert to the classical form of yoga comprised of gentle stretching, breathing and meditation. She also turned to Restorative Yoga for relaxation and passive stretching.
Within three years, Carmen transformed the ravages of a debilitating disease into a positive experience, thus giving her hope for full remission and possibly full recovery. Eventually, through nutrition and exercise she has regained her muscle strength and weight. She manages her disease successfully by paying close attention to her diet and is able to recognize early-on signs and symptoms before they erupt, thus, bringing mindfulness to her daily life--all thanks to Yoga.
The upside to all this physical, emotional and mental suffering is the empathy and depth of experience she has gained. On a spiritual level, Carmen has gained even more determination to help others. She looks forward to her Level 2 Yoga for Arthritis certification so that she can pursue this practice as a full-time career.
We are so excited to announce a new affiliate partnership with Sara Gorman Pillbags.
Unfortunately, dealing with arthritis and autoimmune conditions requires medications, sometimes several. When you travel it can difficult to keep them all straight. Airplanes suggest you carry them with you, but for a short trip three pills in a pharmacy bottle takes up a lot of space. Dumping multiple pills into one container is a recipe for disaster. Those plastic pill containers from the drug store hold almost nothing, are hard to open even if you don't have arthritis, and will break nails. So what do you do?
Buy one for yourself or a friend at Sara's website HERE.
- Reviewed by Christa Fairbrother, YFA Program Director
Thanks to Karen Ray Costa, one our newest YFA teachers, for organizing an Instagram challenge for us.
How to participate in this challenge:
Follow @yogaforarthritis and @karenraycosta.
Post a photo of yourself practicing these poses each day of the challenge.
Tag us and use hashtag #yogaforarthritis.
TWO general memberships to the Yoga for Arthritis website which includes amazing resources for both teachers and students.
Each post that meets the guidelines above will count as an entry. Winners will be chosen at random and contacted by July 5th.
Thanks for joining us on this challenge and helping us to spread the word that yoga is for everyone. Make sure to tag your friends and family members who are living with arthritis. Namaste and happy posting.
Mudra of your choice
Lying Extended Leg
Chair on Wall
ADL in the kitchen
Taking a break while cooking for shoulder rolls
Sitting with long spine in front of meal
Mindfulness while eating (one thing at a time)
Seated Head to Knee
avoid “jumbo shrimp”
Legs up the wall
Karen Costa is a writer, yoga teacher, coach, and educator living in Massachusetts. Her teaching is focused on gentle, restorative, and accessible yoga. She is passionate about helping students from all walks of life, at all levels, to connect with the powerful practice of yoga.
Karen leads various yoga workshops on topics such as meditation and personal growth. She completed her 200-hour teacher training with Frog Pond Yoga Centre in Princeton, Massachusetts, is certified in Reiki 1, and recently completed Level I training with Yoga for Arthritis studying under Ann Swanson.
Karen has worked in higher education for over a decade and holds a master's of higher education and a certificate of advanced graduate studies in educational leadership. Her higher education work is focused on helping first-year, non-traditional students, to achieve academic success. She is a staff writer at Women in Higher Education and calls Central Massachusetts her home. Her ideal day starts with a cup of coffee and is spent at home with her husband and son, playing board games, reading, and writing. Two of her favorite places on Earth are Long Beach Island, New Jersey, and the amazing Kripalu Yoga Retreat Center in Western Massachusetts.
Learn more about her work at www.thecoreofyourcore.com. You can find her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/thecoreofyourcore/. Follow Karen on Twitter @KarenRayCosta and on Instagram @KarenRayCosta.
I remember the moment that my chronic back pain moved from a one on the pain scale to a ten. It was July 2016 while taking a walking tour that involved hills, starts and stops for conversation, not much time to complain and no time to sit down. When I got to my car I was in tears.
But the journey to this place of extreme pain started years before, if not at the beginning of my life. In 2010 I was diagnosed with a level 2 spondylolisthesis at L5 – L6 (transitional vertebra) which is the forward or anterior displacement of one vertebra over another. I may have been born with it. In 2014 I learned that back bending too far could break my back and from that time on I was always very careful. In 2015 I experienced a traumatic event to my back and my spirit that probably accelerated the degeneration in my back, at this point my pain went from infrequent to chronic but moderate. Then, a little over a year later, on the walking tour, my back finally said “UNCLE!”
I wasn’t sure what to do. I started with my family doctor. MRI showed Degenerative Disc Disease with an extruding disc. I was told to select a neurosurgeon. This process took months, all the while I was in pain. To cope I began researching what I could do to help myself. I could go to a pain doctor for injections, but I was still going to need surgery, so I decided against that expense. As a Yoga Therapist, C-IAYT, I reached out to my community of colleagues. After much trial and error, I came up with a routine that worked for me. As part of my research I became a Level 1 Yoga for Arthritis Teacher. I also consulted with books, doctors, friend and associates that suffer with back pain too.
The routine I eventually came up with takes 15 minutes of Yoga Therapy Poses and 15 minutes of meditation and breath work each day. I went from not being able to walk even 1/8 of a mile in September to walking up to ½ mile before the surgery in December. Since surgery I have walked as much as 8 miles without sitting down! But I still have my routine that I am slowly integrating back into my day.
Beth’s Routine for Chronic Low Back Pain:
I was honored not long ago to be a guest blogger for the Cochrane Collaborative. Their mission “is to promote evidence-informed health decision-making by producing high-quality, relevant, accessible systematic reviews and other synthesized research evidence. [Their] work is internationally recognized as the benchmark for high-quality information about the effectiveness of health care.” Cochrane was releasing a systematic review of studies on the use of yoga to treat non-specific low back pain which showed yoga as promising. Unfortunately, there wasn’t room to include my daily routine, I’m so glad to share it above. Since writing the blog post for Cochrane the American College of Physicians have published a new guideline for the treatment of low back pain which lowers the use of opioids and increases the use of complementary therapies, including yoga therapy.
I’m so thankful for yoga therapy. It has truly saved my life. To find a certified yoga therapist in your area go to the International Association of Yoga Therapist’s website. Please reach out to me if the routine above is confusing.
Relaxation Response Meditation Video:
Prone Decompression Video:
Book and Thanks to:
Yoga for a Happy Back by Rachel Krentzman, C-IAYT
Core work adapted from the work of Marlysa Sullivan, C-IAYT
Bio: Beth Novian Hughes, MS Yoga Therapy, C-IAYT,eRYT500 is a yoga therapist in Rome, Georgia. Learn more about Beth at her website www.romega.yoga or contact her at email@example.com
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been interested in the mind/body connection.
From age 7, I knew I wanted to be a communicator and use my gifts as a singer and performer. Even then, I was fascinated by the writings of Abraham Maslow and his theory of self-actualization. In high school, I began meditating and dabbling in many of the modalities I now teach, but that was many years before I would return to serious study.
After earning a BFA in Music and Theater, I pursued my performing goals all the way to Carnegie Hall, earning a Bistro Award for my one-woman show, recording a CD and receiving other accolades.
Some twenty years later - after many years of performing - I felt called again to my high school interests and redirected my focus. Interestingly, I was specifically called to therapeutic yoga. This was many years before the advent of Yoga Therapy as a profession in the west. I immersed myself in an eclectic array of studies including Gentle and Therapeutic Yoga, Ayurveda, Pranayama, Anatomy, MBSR, Raja Yoga and Sacred Mantra.
I began a private practice in NYC, which quickly grew. At the same time, I was invited to teach a chair yoga class at a metropolitan Guild for the Blind where I ultimately taught for 6 years. In fact, that time remains one of my most cherished teaching experiences. The work involved a steep learning curve. Since the students had physical and emotional challenges that required attention, much concentration to detail and precise languaging was required. I learned as much - or more - than I taught.
After some time, I founded Resilience for Life®, the business under which I now offer a variety of services aimed to educate and motivate people on their own path towards wellness.
I’ve been blessed to be mentored by extraordinary women like Tao Porchon-Lynch (who will be 99 years young this August) and Judith Lasater, with whom I traveled and assisted for four years. It’s one of the primary reasons I’m now thrilled to be a mentor of the Yoga for Arthritis Level I graduates, as I firmly believe in ‘passing the torch.’
I became a Senior Faculty and co-presenter for the Stress Management Teacher Training program through the Integral Yoga Academy. For the past 10 years, I’ve had the opportunity to teach people from all over the world and provide mentorship to many of the students.
More recently, my connection to Integral Yoga and my work as a Stress Management Trainer led to my being hired by Dr. Dean Ornish, working as an Ornish Faculty on his Program for Reversing Heart Disease.
As a stress management trainer, I’ve long understood the connection between stress and disease. Stress can have a significant and negative effect on arthritis, which is now the leading cause of disability in the US. Becoming a Yoga for Arthritis certified teacher seemed a logical progression. I’d also heard wonderful things about Dr. Steffany Moonaz and her team.
Arthritis has touched my own family. My father and grandmother were both personally impacted by the condition. My Dad had an affected knee from his college football injuries. My grandmother’s swollen knuckles caused her horrible pain and made it increasingly difficult for her to write, open mail or perform the simplest activities. Their experiences shaped my understanding of the devastating effects of arthritis and are a driving force behind my work today.
It excites me to now have the multitude of tools I’ve learned in the Yoga for Arthritis training and to be of service to not only my students but to offer support to my family. I’m equally committed to taking care of my own health as I age so that I can continue to be vital.
In the past several years, I forged a relationship with the Northern California Arthritis Foundation and have presented Resilience for Life Stress Reduction Workshops for Arthritis at their EXPOs. Most presenters at the EXPO deliver a straight lecture; mine is one of the only experiential programs, and, consequently, the feedback has been very high. Given the opportunity to be exposed to the useful practices we offer opens windows of possibility to arthritis sufferers. It gives them hope, and it improves the quality of their lives.
I’m grateful to be a part of the Yoga for Arthritis community. Deep bows to Steffany for planting the seed and creating it! I look forward to continuing to share Yoga for Arthritis with groups, individuals and as a mentor, supporting those seeking the Yoga for Arthritis certification.
Jaymie is the founder of Resilience for Life®. She's a licensed HeartMath provider, Health & Wellness Coach, C-IAYT yoga therapist and Ayurveda Health Educator. In practice for nearly two decades, Jaymie is passionate about helping people learn how to reduce stress, increase resilience and enjoy healthy aging. She has presented at the National Institutes for Health, IBM, Panasonic, and the Arthritis Foundation, among others. Jaymie believes the mind, body, and heart have much to teach us about our internal - and often untapped wisdom. Learn more at: www.resilienceforlife.com
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