YFA Articles

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  • 30 Nov 2018 1:20 PM | Anonymous
    I’m a book lover. I love the contents of books, but I also love the objects themselves- the paper and ink. Perhaps it’s because I came of age before e-books, tablets, social media, and digital everything. Because of that, my fondest memories of discovery are from finding new information in the library archives or the Encyclopedia Britannica. I remember looking for something to do and wandering the shelves of my father’s office bookcase full of psychology texts of every era. When my grandparents passed and we went through their shared belongings, I took more books home than anything else. I especially appreciated the books with handwritten messages inside the front cover. This was a world into my grandparents’ lives and experience. It made the book somehow more special- more of a window into the past. And when the book was signed by the author, I wondered about my grandparents’ relationship to the author and what could be revealed from the way it was signed.

    Having written many articles, chapters, and now a full book, I know how much of an authors’ personhood resides within the book itself. I worked on that book every weekday morning from 5:30-7:30am before the rest of the household awoke- through a major move for my family, a serious car accident and traumatic brain injury, the passing of my mother. Every weekday morning, I sat quietly at my desk and poured my knowledge, experience, and ideas onto the page. There are pieces of me in the ink of every single book.

    And if you are reading this now, it means that my journey and yours are linked in some special way. I hope that you will find something unexpected and wondrous in the pages of this book, and I hope you will let me personalize it with a signature and a message just for you. Whether our paths have crossed personally, virtually, or simply energetically, I wrote this book for you. I hope that whatever is written inside the cover adds meaning to the book. And just maybe someday your grandkids will find it and have another little window into your beautiful life.

     

  • 22 Oct 2018 9:20 AM | Anonymous

    SHOP NOW! AVAILABLE IN PAPERBACK & E-BOOK

    I joined the Johns Hopkins Arthritis Center in fall of 2003. At that time, plans were underway for a small pilot study of yoga for people with rheumatoid arthritis. I came to help design and execute what would eventually expand to become the largest randomized controlled trial of yoga for arthritis and the topic of my doctoral dissertation. As the study expanded, we were able to bring in additional yoga instructors so that I wasn’t the only interventionist leading the 16-class series we had developed. In an effort to ensure the class was consistent, I put together a simple manual with poses and adaptations.

    My husband took photos of me with his point-and-click camera (this is before phones had cameras in them) in our row house living room. We later realized that the manual could be adapted for students in order to assist with home practice. This manual has been in use for the past 15 years as Yoga for Arthritis became an organization with professional training programs around the country.

    With its widespread use, I realized that the research training manual needed an upgrade. I also wanted more chair variations and images of the diverse people who live with arthritis- men and women, young and old, large and small, dark and light. Ann Swanson took the lead in arranging two photos shoots. We brought it people with arthritis who were willing to serve as our models, and we worked to revise the formatting and language for each pose. We also updated the articles in the back that serve as “homework” for students in the 8-week course.

    If you are a yoga professional, we hope this new manual gives you more ideas of pose variations to use with your students and clients. If you are teaching the evidence-based 8-week series, this manual is a must-have for your students. It also is a nice tool for supporting their home practice in between yoga sessions.

    If you are a yoga student, we hope the manual is informative and inspiring. Ask your yoga teacher/therapist which variations might be a good fit for you, and use your own internal compass to play with how they manifest in your unique body-mind. Consider reading the articles for more information about the science and practice of this work, and share it with your doctor as a way to discuss your self-care strategies.

    This new student manual has been a long time coming. We appreciate everyone’s patience through the years it took us to get there. It is just one of the many upgrades you’ll be seeing as we go through a phase of growth and expansion. Let us know what you think of the manual and how you are using it. And please share more ideas of how we can continue to serve you best.

    ORDER YOUR YOGA FOR ARTHRITIS STUDENT MANUAL

    YFA Student Manual (Paperback)
    YFA Student Manual (Paperback)
    YFA Student Manual (E-Book)
    YFA Student Manual (E-Book)

  • 21 Sep 2018 10:00 AM | Anonymous

    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 posey@arthritis.yoga.


    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. 

    You can connect with me directly at poseytheyogi.com or send me an email at posey@arthritis.yoga.

  • 10 Sep 2018 3:26 PM | Anonymous


    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.

    Photo Credit - Cassie Padula

    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 natalie@arthritis.yoga.

    Center Photo Credit: Cassie Padula


  • 11 Jul 2018 3:59 AM | Anonymous

    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

  • 25 Jan 2018 10:41 AM | Anonymous

    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.

  • 30 Aug 2017 12:33 PM | Anonymous

    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.

  • 18 Aug 2017 11:02 AM | Anonymous

    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. 


  • 1 Jul 2017 9:23 AM | Anonymous

    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?

    The search for a pill container that allowed me to organize medications and supplements in one place, that wasn't too huge, that allowed me to label it in someway so I could keep things straight and was not disposable was really hard and I despaired of ever finding anything.  I now understood why people go traveling with tupperware bins of pharmacy containers.

    Being a lupus patient who doesn't know a lot of other lupus patients, I cruise the web looking for support and information.  One day I stumbled upon Sara Gorman's Despite Lupus blog and she runs a business making pillfolds and pillbags.  I finally found something that fit the bill!  

    Since it's labeled, I can keep things organized by day and AM/PM.  Since it's see-though, I can stick little post-its notes in it for myself so I won't mix anything up.  Since it's fabric, I can wash it when it gets dirty.  Not to mention it's light and has super easy open zippers that any hands can use.  Happiness!

    I've had mine for over two years.  It's held up great on multiple trips and busy work weeks and I even bought one for my sister for her birthday last year.  Last but not least, a portion of the sales goes to Lupus charities to support their important work.  While it might cost more up front than one of those dinky little drugstore things it represents a lot more value. 


    Buy one for yourself or a friend at Sara's website HERE.


    - Reviewed by Christa Fairbrother, YFA Program Director

  • 17 May 2017 12:41 PM | Anonymous

    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.

    Prizes:

    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.


    Date

    Pose/Practice

    Notes

    6/1

    Easy Seated

    Show props

    6/2

    Belly Breathing

    6/3

    Neck Stretches

    6/4

    Sun Breaths

    6/5

    Namaste/Prayer Hands

    6/6

    Staff Pose

    6/7

    Leg Lifts

    6/8

    Mudra of your choice

    6/9

    Table

    Any props

    6/10

    Cat/Cow

    Any props

    6/11

    Downward Dog

    Any props

    6/12

    Forward Fold

    Any props

    6/13

    Lying Extended Leg

    6/14

    Mountain

    Flag Day

    Show Chair

    6/15

    Warrior 1

    Any props

    6/16

    Warrior 2

    Any props

    6/17

    Warrior 3

    Any props

    6/18

    Tree

    Father’s Day

    6/19

    Bridge

    Any props

    6/20

    Supine Twist

    Any props

    6/21

    Baby Cobra

    Any props

    6/22

    Chair on Wall

    6/23

    ADL in the kitchen

    Reaching

    Taking a break while cooking for shoulder rolls

    Sitting with long spine in front of meal

    Mindfulness while eating (one thing at a time)

    6/24

    Plank Variations

    6/25

    Seated Head to Knee

    avoid “jumbo shrimp”

    6/26

    Bound Angle

    Any props

    6/27

    Child’s Pose

    Any props

    6/28

    Legs up the wall

    Any props

    6/29

    Breathing practice

    6/30

    Corpse Pose

    Any variation


    About Karen:

    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 facebook.com/thecoreofyourcore. Follow Karen on Twitter @KarenRayCosta and on Instagram @KarenRayCosta.

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