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  • 17 Nov 2020 8:44 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 for Arthritis impacted your daily life?

    I have developed new levels of compassion through my growing skills and knowledge. I have more compassion towards others and their challenges. Surprisingly, I have also found greater self compassion and understanding. I now laugh at myself more easily, especially during class, and am more confident in being my authentic self throughout the day. I also find myself inviting fun and joy into every practice, whether it is my own or as I am teaching others.

    YFA has opened up a whole new area of learning for me. YFA trainings have helped me to listen deeply and think more creatively. This has enabled me to be more observant to my student’s needs and modify my class plans accordingly. With more specific knowledge and language skills, I now offer modifications and options during a class to address varying levels of experience, discomfort and pain. Through my yoga practice and trainings I am more expansive, creative, fun, and connected. I am grateful for my yoga journey which nourishes me.

    How did you find YFA?

    Part of my initial excitement in becoming a certified yoga instructor was looking forward to serving those closest to me. My excitement quickly turned to frustration because my own parents at the age of 75 were not able to practice yoga on the floor. My base certification did not prepare me for this. I was determined to find resources, help my parents and the underserved aging population (when it comes to yoga). With some help from the universe, I learned about chair yoga and YFA.

    How has YFA helped you?

    After my first certification in chair yoga I started to teach students ranging in age up to 98. Whenever I would ask for a health history, almost every single person wrote Arthritis and several wrote, Osteoporosis, Lupus, Gout, Fibromyalgia. While chair yoga is a good format for these students, it became vital for me to learn about the aging body, arthritis and many of the other conditions. YFA gave me the knowledge, skills and tools to better serve my students. Inspired by YFA, I continue to educate myself about how yoga can positively impact everybody and every body.

    I continue to benefit immensely from my trainings with YFA, teaching opportunities and personal yoga practice. All combined, they have supported me in being the best version of myself and serving others, especially in this uncertain time.

    How have your YFA teachings evolved during the COVID pandemic? 

    When the pandemic hit, I remember questioning “If I feel scared and anxious what must my clients be feeling?” This motivated me to teach virtually via Zoom as quickly as possible. I wanted to continue serving them, be a friendly face, offer a way to stay connected and healthy during this isolating time.

    I was surprised by the interest and participation, starting in March and April I had close to 150 students in each class from all over the globe. The online format required for me to make changes to my teaching style and mindset. There was also a learning curve, with technology and logistical challenges.

    Over the years I have continued to deepen my knowledge of yoga through various certifications and teachings. Along with Chair Yoga and YFA, I have trained in restorative yoga, yoga nidra, meditation, and Yoga for Seniors. Currently I am in the process of completing a T’ai Chi intensive that I hope to incorporate into my classes. I am also completing my Receive Your Life coaching certification.

    During Covid-19 when the brick and mortar yoga studios and in person locations starting closing their doors, my own community of teachers felt uncertain of the future. My husband Brian and I then founded the Present Wisdom Community, a yoga collaborative that brought together teachers to better serve the greater kula or community.

    Yoga has enabled me to more resilient and help others cultivate that for themselves, while being a source of connection for all of us.

    Where can students take your classes and trainings? 

    Mondays 1-2pm Chair Yoga, Tuesdays 5-6pm Yoga for Arthritis, Wednesday 12-12:30pm Meditation, Wednesday 1-2 pm Chair Yoga.

    Go to PresentWisdom.com for full class schedule.

    Alka Kaminer, E-RYT(500), LVCYT, YFA, YACEP

    Alka is a fun and dynamic yoga instructor who inspires her students to play while challenging themselves. She skillfully combines Dharma talk, asana, pranayama and meditation throughout her teachings. Alka is the founder of the Present Wisdom Community that cultivates happiness and health through yoga and meditation. She is a registered teacher since 2012 with Yoga Alliance and certified (E-500RYT) in Hatha Yoga. Alka also specializes and has advanced certifications in Yoga for Arthritis, Restorative and Chair Yoga instruction. She loves making yoga accessible to everyone, regardless of experience or physical restrictions. Having come from India, a culture steeped in the valued traditions of yoga, Alka brings an energetic approach to movement and a passionate dedication to service in every practice. As a lifelong yoga student, she understands the practical and inspirational importance of yoga and meditation for our daily lives. Alka teaches at studios, community spaces, corporate events and online (including popular live chair yoga classes), she hosts workshops and teacher trainings. To learn more about Alka and the Present Wisdom Community visit www.presentwisdom.com

    Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/alkakamineryoga/

    You Tube: https://www.youtube.com/c/alkakaminer.com

    Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AlkaKaminerYoga

    Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/alka-kaminer-3435797/

    Twitter:  https://twitter.com/alkakaminer?lang=en

  • 13 Oct 2020 9:45 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. 

    Why were you personally drawn to Yoga for Arthritis?

    I took yoga for 35 years but I really only began to pay careful attention in the last two years of that when I needed a knee replacement due to overuse, misuse and osteoarthritis. I had excellent training thru a physical Therapy/Yoga center for the year prior to the replacement and the year after. I now have two knee replacements. Their training helped me to understand the biomechanics of alignment and mindful movement and strength building, that is the form of yoga I wanted to share and when I heard Dr. Moonaz present on line I knew that was my fit, that was the kind of Yoga I needed to teach and the group I wanted to work with.

    How has Yoga for Arthritis impacted your daily life?

    The Yoga is my life, my daily life, my teaching and my avocation, All my teaching is influenced by my training in Yoga for Arthritis and Dr. Moonaz's and Ann Swanson's training as well as my first powerful Yoga teacher, Angela Sullivan who is well versed in the biomechanics of yoga. I don't think of my myself so much as a yoga teacher as being a yogi in terms of my daily yoga practice and meditation, how I eat, how I conduct myself in the world.

    What lessons have you learned through your Yoga for Arthritis journey?

    First and foremost that it is a total healing process for the mind and spirit and the body. I began to know Yoga as more than just a physical program. then I began to learn to trulls "see" my students as a whole person and to help them accept where they are in this moment. I learned to help them get in touch with their own range of motion and learn to move in a non harming way to strengthen and maintain mobility. To do the very best you can with what you have today, to live joyfully.

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

    I teach drop-in classes and two workshops on zoom as well as a chair yoga class thru Olli. The drop in classes are Tuesdays at 10 am and Wednesdays at noon PST. Contact me through my email at dunndiane2@icloud.com or through text or phone at( 775 ) 870- 2092 for more information or a zoom link. The next 8 week workshop which meets twice a week will begin in January dates and times to be announced. To join the chair yoga class through Olli you can go to their website at: www.olli.unr.edu. This class is free to Olli members so you need to go to that website and join.

    You can find more information about me through www.theyogacenterreno.com and www.carsoncityyoga.com.

    Diane Dunn-200-RYT

    I began teaching yoga in Reno in 2016. My focus on the biomechanics of yoga began in 2013 prior to knee replacement due to arthritis I had taken yoga in various forms since 1980, but only really began to pay attention when I needed a knee replacement due to overuse and osteoarthritis. It was at this point that the work I was able to do with physical therapists and Angela Sullivan ,the yoga teacher, at Ascent Physical Therapy in Carson City , Nevada, for the year prior to the surgery and the year after gave me the grounding for what I wanted to pass on, In 2016 I completed basic training in Yoga for the Special Child . This introduced me to Integral Yoga and Adaptive Yoga which I began teaching with Kathy Randolph at The Yoga Center in Reno, Nevada. I earned my 200 hour RYTC Yoga teaching training certificate under Amy Joytir and Kelly Gordon with Angela Sullivan as my mentor in 2017. Then I heard and saw Dr. Moonaz presenting online and I knew that was it: It was exactly what I needed to say and how I wanted to teach. From then I just couldn’t get enough ; I just kept wanting to learn more and go deeper and pass it on.

    I went to specialize in Yoga for Arthritis under Dr. Stephanie Moonaz, in Boston, completing Level I Yoga for Arthritis in 2017 .Then mentored with Ann Swanson, whose book , Science of Yoga ,had already been one of my Yoga Bibles. I completed Level III training in 2020 with Dr. Moonaz . I was blessed to have had the zoom teaching tutorial with Ann Swanson also in 2020. This really helped me when it became necessary to go online. In 2020 I began taking my classes onto zoom classes . These are classes which grow out of my own experience, practice and training. Presently I teach two drop -in classes , a Karma chair class through Olli ,(Osher Life long Learning Institute) at www.olli.unr.edu and the 8 week workshop which I offer twice a year, once in the Fall and once in the Spring beginning in Jan uary. You can email me for more information at dunndiane2@icloud.com

    My classes offer a simple yoga with modifications for special needs and an emphasis on the biomechanics of yoga and the relationship of mind , body and spirit. I encourage students to discover how to feel the poses and the alignment in their own bodies , how to make the practice their own and how to integrate breath, movement and the meditative aspects of yoga in a healing manner.

    My Beginning Yoga is a one hour class that works slowly and mindfully through the basic movements of Yoga. It is designed to build strength , flexibility and mindfulness . It is appropriate for beginners to intermediate students with arthritis or for those who just need or want a gentle class.

  • 31 Aug 2020 10:50 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 for Arthritis impacted your daily life?

    Teaching and practicing YFA has impacted my life in many ways, but three main areas stand out for me: I have become more compassionate; more observant; and more creative since becoming a YFA teacher. Teaching students who often are dealing with pain has made me more compassionate towards what they are going through and their strength has been very inspiring. Teaching YFA has made me be much more observant for signs of pain, discomfort and difficulty in performing asanas (I no longer rely solely on verbal reports of pain: I keenly observe how a student moves). Finally, teaching YFA has served to exponentially increase my creativity as a yoga teacher: I am always trying new and different ways to provide propping and support to students whatever their unique needs are and I feel much freer and more expansive in my teaching and thinking thanks to YFA. I will try just about anything to help a student to be comfortable practicing yoga and won’t stop trying until I have found a solution.

    Why were you personally drawn to Yoga for Arthritis?

    I was drawn to YFA because so many students in my yoga classes had Arthritis or pain and I felt that I did not have the skills as a yoga teacher to keep them safe and have them participate fully in my classes. It was a very frustrating situation both for myself and for my students. From my basic yoga training I knew that students should never do anything that caused pain, but I did not have the skills to offer them any alternatives except to tell them to listen to their own bodies. Also, if a student was unable to safely perform a certain asana, I did not have the skill set to adapt the asana to meet the students’ needs. I knew that the YFA training would give me the skills that I needed and indeed it did.

    I have learned many things on my YFA journey, a lot of them about human perseverance and courage and also about the important health benefits of moving. YFA has shown me that anyone can practice yoga. Movement is so important to the maintenance of both physical and mental health but so many people are afraid to move because they have pain or limitations. Teaching YFA has opened my perspective to the reality that everyone can practice yoga. This is such a wonderful gift to be able to share with students.

    What lessons have you learned through your Yoga for Arthritis journey?

    Teaching in the pandemic was very interesting and challenging. For myself, while I had used Zoom before, I had never taught a yoga class before on Zoom. There was definitely a learning curve, mostly about small things like remembering to turn the video on so the students could see me and adjusting to the fact that when I asked the students to do seated forward bends in a chair they all totally disappeared from view until they returned to an upright position. The student response to the online classes was telling: in the first online YFA class in NYC there were 53 students attending! (That was another big adjustment: paying attention to how to keep that number of students’ visually insight and safe). It was also interesting to see elderly students who grew up in the age of pencils, paper and manual typewriters A positive and exciting. The change to online teaching has served as a catalyst for me to examine teaching methods and think about how to accomplish the most effective learning.

    Let us know more about you and your Yoga for Arthritis Journey

    Being a teacher trainer for the Level 1 YFA trainings has been an all-around wonderful experience. I have been very fortunate to co-teach with Nancy Obrien and Livvie Mann: we make a great team (not to mention getting to work with and learn from Steffany and the YFA staff). The preparation for the training is always a hectic combination of immersing myself in the material while at the same time working out the logistics of rooms, props and technology {how do we get the power-point projector to work again? What do we do if the machine gets too hot?}. For some reason, the scheduling of rooms always presents an ongoing and especially tricky challenge. The actual training ends up being a great learning experience as students from so many different backgrounds and experience come together to learn and grow. The whole process is really fun and uplifting.

    As I currently work in a pediatric nursing home New York City, I thought I would share a bit about my experience of the pandemic. Most importantly, none of our residents died. We only had a few residents who got the virus and we were able to successfully treat all of them on-site.

    The beginning of the pandemic was particularly scary—we did not have enough Personal Protective Equipment and as the health industry mobilized to address this pandemic, work became a 24 hour, 7 day a week endeavor. On a daily basis, we would receive guidance’s, directives and surveys from the New York City Department of Health, the New York State Department of Health, the Centers of Disease Control and Executive Orders from the Governor, some of which had conflicting information. The next day we would receive updates on the information we received the day before with different information. Sometimes the Department of Health would send out a one-hour notice about a mandatory webinar on a Saturday night! Information was flying, policies and procedures had to be written, staff had to be trained, residents and families had to be kept informed and reassured. It was a very hectic, confusing and scary time. Of course, all of my friends and family would ask how I was spending all the leisure time I had as the city had been on lockdown, but little did they know that I had NO leisure time.

    Anyway, the good news is that we got through what I hope is the worst of the pandemic and I have definitely learned a lot about how to mobilize in a disaster and about resilience. Life gives us so many lessons.

    Peter Karow

    Peter Karow is a yoga teacher and yoga therapist certified through the International Association of Yoga Therapists. In addition, he is a licensed physical therapist and has worked in the health care field as an administrator for many years. He has taught yoga at the Integral Yoga Institute in New York City since 2011 and has certifications in Yoga for Arthritis, Yoga for Cancer and Therapeutic Yoga. In addition to teaching Yoga for Arthritis classes, he serves as a teacher in the Level 1 Yoga for Arthritis teacher trainings. He is particularly interested in Yoga as a vehicle for self-knowledge, healing and inner balance. He has a special interest in using Yoga Nidra as a therapeutic practice to help students affect personal change and healing in their lives.


  • 11 Aug 2020 10:28 AM | Natalie Cummings (Administrator)
    The Global Yoga Therapy Day is hosting a free summit featuring presentations for both the Public and Yoga Professionals on August 13 / 14th.

    The following are talks in the 'Public Stream' - (though anyone can register for any talk - it's all free). I thought you might be interested! 

    You can register at the summit here - but all of the following presentations will also be live streamed to the Global Yoga Therapy Day Facebook Page!

    Come and check out how yoga therapy is used to support better health and well-being! Love to hear what you think!




    The direct links to each of these presentations are:


  • 5 Aug 2020 6:18 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 for Arthritis impacted your daily life?

    When a student's face lights up with that "aha" moment after experiencing a new modification or breathing technique , I know this is exactly where I need to be in my life. Yoga for arthritis gave me the courage and confidence to face my fears and pain, It is now my turn to share this gift with others.

    Why were you personally drawn to Yoga for Arthritis?

    I was told to stay away from deep forwards and twisting after being diagnosed with osteoarthritis of the spine. I was shattered and depressed thinking that my physical practice of yoga was over. Unable to find a class that was adaptable and accessible to my needs, I began my research, and to my elation found Yoga for Arthritis, a research and science based program. I am now able to help myself as well as my students with the knowledge gained in the program.

    What lessons have you learned through your Yoga for Arthritis journey?

    To listen more, not take things personally, to soften and accept gracefully the things I am not able to control. To live life in wonder.

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

    Due to Covid-19 restrictions my classes are based on referrals within the Sarasota community. They are private, one on one or small group settings. I can be reached at rcromie22@gmail.com for consultation or a customized class.

    Rajh Cromie

    Trading in a solid career of 25 years in Human resources and recruitment, Rajh is a certified yoga and meditation instructor who now teaches yoga to companies needing to unwind from their busy day. She specializes in Yoga for Arthritis in the workplace as well as being a career and meditation coach . Although her work involves working with a wide range of companies, her enjoyment comes from working with the transportation sector, primarily truck Drivers. She says “these forgotten souls” are responsible for hauling the food that feeds us, the gas that gets us to our destination and the shelter we need to keep us safe and protected. Yoga gives them an opportunity to rest their thinking mind and tired bodies. In her private time, she offers when she can, free yoga for arthritis to individuals who are experiencing financial hardships along with iRest Meditation to individuals with families of mental illness. She is currently enrolled in her 3rd level iRest level teacher certification. Her intention is to share the power of yoga and meditation with women in trauma and abusive relationships.  Connect with Rajh on LinkedIn


  • 27 Jul 2020 2:05 PM | Natalie Cummings (Administrator)

    It is safe to assume that not everyone a yoga professional works with is injury or disease free. As a yoga professional, it is your responsibility to ensure that you provide your clientele with safe and effective programming. The question you have to ask yourself is: are you truly qualified and up to date on the latest information to work with your current (and future)? A second question to ask is are you marketing yourself to those who need you most in this healthcare crisis?  If you're honest, you should at least say that perhaps you are not. 

    Well, this is where the MedFit Network (MFN) can help! MedFit Network (MFN) is both a professional membership organization for yoga, fitness and allied healthcare professionals, and a free online resource directory for the community to locate professionals with a background in prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation in working with those with chronic disease or medical conditions. As a yoga professional, here are three reasons why you should take advantage of the partnership YFA has with the MedFit Network.

    Reason #1: Raising Industry Standards by Becoming a Medical Fitness Practitioner (MFP)

    The MFN is the only organization dedicated to making sure fitness professionals as a whole are highly educated & prepared to work with any health concern. The name given for this person is a Medical Fitness Practitioner (MFP). This includes yoga teachers who specialize in supporting those with health concerns, as well as yoga therapists.

    The MFP can help make the transition from medical management and/or physical therapy to a regular program of self-care following a surgery, an injury, a medical diagnosis or exacerbation of a pre-existing condition. They also possess the training and skills to support people with chronic conditions like obesity, diabetes, hypertension, neuromuscular disorders and heart disease. 

    In addition to yoga professionals, the MFP category may include wellness and health related disciplines such as chiropractors, massage therapists, physical therapists, nutritionists, etc. When standards exist for these non-pharmacological approaches, it improves safety and appropriateness of our care practices.

    Reason #2: Continuing Education

    The MedFit Education Foundation (MFEF) is an arm of the MedFit Network dedicated to elevating the quality and amount of available education for the yoga professional and the entire fitness and wellness community. For example, there is a Multiple Sclerosis Fitness Specialist and A Women's Health, Fitness and Hormone Specialist course that are both one of a kind. Continuing education is required for all their specialty courses.  This is typically not the case. It is usually continuing education only for your certification. All of their continuing education courses are approved by a medical advisory board of some of the brightest professionals in the nation. 

    MFEF also has weekly educational webinars that are included with your membership. These webinars are presented weekly (50 in total) by industry experts on such topics as medical fitness and active aging. 

    Reason #3: Networking

    The MFN is an organization filled with people from all walks of the wellness professional spectrum. For example, they have MD's, PT's, chiropractors, dieticians, fitness & massage therapists to name a few. As a result, opportunities to network are endless. Because of this, current members have developed their own educational courses and even started their own blogs. Also, members have been able to designate their facility as medical fitness facilities by working with a member who specializes in helping people achieve this status.

    LISTEN TO MEDFIT PODCAST WITH DR. MOONAZ

    The MedFit Network is a unique organization dedicated to improving the standards of the fitness and allied healthcare professional. The ability for the those with health concerns to use a directory of diverse, qualified health professionals is something unavailable elsewhere. The three reasons given are just the tip of the iceberg as to why you should be a part of this movement, the MFN! 

  • 30 Jun 2020 7:34 AM | Natalie Cummings (Administrator)


    I just finished participating in a survey for the PRIDE Study, which I have been participating in for several years. The PRIDE Study is the first large-scale, long-term national health study of people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, or another sexual or gender minority (LGBTQ+). Those of you who know me as a cis-gender woman, happily married to a cis-gender man with two beautiful biological children may wonder how I qualify as a research participant for the PRIDE Study. And you’d be correct in assigning me each of those labels. I am also bisexual. I identify as the B in LGBTQ+, which puts me squarely in the middle of the target audience for the PRIDE Study. But how would you know that? You wouldn’t. And that’s sort of the point.

    There is an infamous research study that we teach about in research ethics training called by various names including The Tearoom Trade Study. In it, a researcher observed men having sex with men in public restrooms without their consent. He volunteered to be a “lookout” in case police or strangers entered but was in fact collecting data, both personal and behavioral. There is much debate about whether the knowledge gained from unethical research, such as the Nazi experiments on unwilling subjects, should be used or shared. And while the methods in the Tearoom Trade Study were deplorable, they dispelled widely held myths and stereotypes about human sexuality. An important finding was that many of the men in the “tearooms” were married to women. (It should also be noted that we can largely credit this study among a few others with the current procedures for informed consent by any human research subjects.)

    Because I am a cis-gender woman who is happily (and faithfully) married to a cis-gender man and has two biological children, you might make assumptions about my sexuality and my identity that are untrue. In fact, when I came out to my parents, one of them inquired why I felt it was important to share this information, since I was already happily married to a man and my bisexuality was therefore largely irrelevant. But my identity is not irrelevant, no matter my family structure or my life choices. I am who I am and that continues to matter. It influences how I see the world, even if it doesn’t influence how the world sees me.

    You might similarly ask why I am sharing this with you. What does this have to do with arthritis? With yoga? With Yoga for Arthritis?

    First let’s start with arthritis. When you look at someone, can you tell if they have arthritis? Maybe they require a cane or a wheelchair. Maybe their hands are visibly stiff. Maybe their knees are swollen. But maybe they aren’t. When you look at them, do you know if they are in pain? Fatigued? Depressed? If they are twenty years old and appear able-bodied, would you consider that they might have been living with arthritis since age two? We are all more than meets the eye. We all have stories to share. We are all only ever partly seen. We all should consider how our assumptions shape our behaviors toward each other and whether or not those assumptions might be harmful.

    And now yoga. Sadly, yoga in the West suffers from an epidemic of exclusion. As has been highlighted recently in relation to BIPOC, yoga is far too unwelcoming toward the many kinds of otherness that are not thin, white, young, middle-class and able-bodied. I am all of those things. 

    I am the image of yoga in America. And the fact that I could be in the public sphere for the past 20 years without outing myself as bisexual means that I have benefited from the privilege of straightness even if I don’t wear it as my identity. It is from this privilege that I have the opportunity and the responsibility to advocate for those in my own LGBTQ+ community who don’t feel welcome in heteronormative yoga spaces.

    And finally, Yoga for Arthritis. As a bisexual woman and the founder of YFA, I am committed to advocacy for LGBTQ+ yogis, including those with the intersectional experience of arthritis and disability. Just as BIPOC with arthritis experience worse symptoms and health outcomes, LGBTQ+ persons often have reduced access to quality healthcare and higher incidence of comorbid mental health conditions, which are already elevated in the face of arthritis and chronic pain.

    During the remainder of June, which may be one of the most complicated and challenging Pride Months in recent years, and in the months ahead, I call on each and every one of us to listen. Let’s listen to each other’s stories without the need to jump in, to relate, to commiserate, to explain. Let us recognize the inherent complexity in the stories we carry without trying to overcategorize or oversimplify. 

    We are more than our labels but our identities matter. We are more than our histories, but our experiences matter. We are all one, but we are also many. 

    Thank you for listening. Thank you for being you.

    Love and Light,

    Steffany



  • 22 Jun 2020 11:21 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. 

    Why were you personally drawn to Yoga for Arthritis?

    I was diagnosed with OA in my right hip and there was a period of time that I was in acute and chronic pain. I took inventory of my situation and asked myself what spiritual lessons did I need to learn from this and how could I impart this knowledge to others? I had a successful total anterior hip replacement in 2016. I met Nancy O'Brien at NY-IYI at an open house for Yoga for Arthritis Teacher's Training and I knew I could learn tools to be proactive in my own longevity and wellness. This enforced my ability and confidence to work with many people who have had total hip and knee replacements, back and neck surgeries. It is deeply gratifying and stirring for me to be a part of their recovery along their journey to wellness and deep healing.

    What lessons have you learned through your Yoga for Arthritis journey? 

    Some disabilities are invisible and this can be very frustrating. Some of the 20 and 30 year olds I've worked with have more pain than my elders. In other words, I do not assume or compartmentalize people. I listen, observe the unsaid and assess. No matter the age, we all have our pride and it is important to treat each individual with the dignity and compassion they deserve. When I work with a new student in a class setting, at the very least we will have had a conversation and a mini intake of their history. I have championed both my personal clients and students to be proactive and voice their needs and they do and it is wonderful because we mutually remain current with one another and there is often dialogue between the PCP, Osteopath, and Acupuncturist which means better care for them.

    What is it like to teach during COVID-19? 

    I stopped teaching face to face classes March 13 which was 4 days before NYC Gov. closed yoga studios and gyms.I just couldn't bring myself to practice business as usual even with the stringent Covid-19 protocols. In good conscience, I cancelled all live classes as I was particularly concerned for those with arthritis and compromised immune systems.

    - What have been your experiences?

    It is amazing and emotional that we literally all stepped up and were up and running our virtual classes within days. My husband supported me in taking over the computer room as my office, yoga studio and virtual gym. I guided many people on how to get on Zoom and over the course of the weeks called and emailed every single one of my students and clients to get current and to make sure they were all right. I log in virtually about 15 minutes early and I learned to keep the class open for about 10 minutes after we've ended our Class Session. On Zoom, when you are the host, instead of pressing end meeting for all, I press leave meeting and this gives me the option of staying on or leaving in case I have another appointment following my class. This is a golden opportunity for students to catch up, make 'dates" with one another and to experience the community connection.

    Please tell us about your experience working with the underserved population. 

    So many stories, so little time...

    While I was teaching at New York Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital, NY-PBM and giving sessions to the hospital staff, it became clear to me what a privilege it is to serve all. The participating NY-PBM students were clinicians, cafeteria food servers, office workers and security. In other words, I witnessed first hand how Yoga was cutting through classism and elitism in the hospital culture and bureaucracy. I was not asking, "Are you a Dr?" I simply needed the student's name and work ID number and the beauty is I could hold them all in the same sacred space of inclusivity. I also was able to genuinely thank the NY-PBM Hospital Staff by saying, "Thank you for saving my Husband's Life, twice."

    During the Group Acupuncture Therapy with Modified Yoga for Chronic Pain ( GAPYOGA) Research Study I witnessed how some of the patient's seemed to warm up to me because I am hispanic, obviously a woman of color and I speak Spanish. I learned that if I shared something appropriately personal and helpful without deviating from their treatment, we could form a genuine bond. 

    I am currently working with Self Help Virtual Classes online giving Sit and Be Fit Adaptive Yoga Classes. VSC has been giving virtual classes for 10 years to the homebound and the services are free.

    All of these experiences are allowing me to be creative, to re-frame and to serve the populations that are nearest and dearest to my heart. Ideally, when I work with people, every student, client, patient and provider will feel, "You are my Favorite." 

    Where others can find your classes?

    I'm currently teaching in Dolores' Zoom Room. This is a Spring and Summer none of us will ever forget! I expect to be back to teaching face to face classes in Brooklyn when it is safe and wise for my populations. I will keep my website updated: www.doloresnatividad.com


    Dolores Marie Natividad "Lola" Bio:

    Dolores Natividad is a certified ACSM Exercise Physiologist and earned her BA in Biology at Marymount Manhattan College. She has practiced Yoga since the mid-80’s and is certified by the International Yoga Therapist Association. Her passion led her to be part of the Wellness team at NY-PBM for 4 years offering Stress Management,Chair Yoga, Accessible Yoga and MELT Method to the Hospital Staff. Dolores maintains her private practice in NYC where she offers Strength Training,Yoga Therapy, MELT Method and Gyrotonics. She currently works privately with a wide spectrum of people from the elite athletes to Pre and Post Op, COPD, MS and Arthritis populations. It is Dolores’ privilege to have studied with the founders of these intact systems she implements: Swami Satchidananda, the founder of Integral Yoga Institute Julio Horvath the creator of Gyrotonics and Sue Hitzman, MELT Method innovator. Her personal mission and joy is to bridge verified complementary systems to Health Care.

    Connect with Dolores: Vimeo / Facebook / Instagram / Youtube


     

  • 6 Jun 2020 12:45 PM | Natalie Cummings (Administrator)

    MESSAGE FROM DR. STEFFANY MOONAZ

    Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. has said that "a riot is the language of the unheard". (1) Right now, there are a lot of people feeling unheard. No matter who you are and whatever your relationship to social justice, you may be feeling a multitude of emotions related to the inequality that sparked these riots as well as the riots themselves. This is an opportunity to bring our yoga practice off the mat. Yoga teaches us to sit with discomfort, to notice it, to listen to it, to avoid defining ourselves or our world by the stories it elicits. We are called not to ignore the discomfort, but to be with it as it rises, as it transforms, as it transforms us. But yoga also teaches us to practice ahimsa- non-harming. We are called to right thoughts, right speech, right action. The challenge and the practice is to determine what those are from moment to moment. Actions can harm, but inaction can also harm. In my own religious tradition, we are taught about the sin of inaction and the sin of indifference. The ways in which we are spiritually and ethically called to respond in this challenging moment, amidst such vast inequality compounded in the face of a worldwide pandemic, will be different for each of us. There is no right way to respond, but let us not neglect that stirring in the soul to recognize and act in honor of our interconnectedness and shared humanity. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. also taught us that "the ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy." In these challenging times, I pray that each of you is safe and well, that you find ways to feel connected, and that we are each doing what we can to bend the moral arc of the universe toward ever-increasing justice for all.

    Police brutality toward Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) is able to occur only because it is bred, supported, and/or ignored by a larger environment of systemic racism that plagues every aspect of daily life in America, including healthcare and self-care. Even within our own work, we see that BIPOC experience arthritis at similar rates as white persons, but with worse symptoms, higher comorbidities, more serious outcomes, and less access to quality care. This is true for countless health conditions and it is not okay. Here at Yoga for Arthritis we are committed to increasing access to the tools of yoga for BIPOC with arthritis. This includes a commitment to research initiatives that are conducted for and in partnership with communities of color.(2, 3, 4) It also includes lifting up our BIPOC yoga professionals in the service of their communities. Yoga teaches us that we are all one and that the Divine light in each of us connects us all. We stand in solidarity with people everywhere who are taking the right action toward greater social justice and inclusion in yoga and beyond.

    Reposting on social media is not enough. Signing petitions is not enough. Monetary donations (while important) are not enough. While each of us will be taking personal action in our own neighborhoods during the immediate aftermath of recent events, we will take a long-view as an organization toward an even greater commitment to inclusiveness in general and anti-racism specifically. Below we are listing the specific actions that Yoga for Arthritis will take to be part of the solution because either you are doing something to dismantle the system or you are perpetuating it.

    • We will continue to partner with BIPOC researchers to ensure that our research initiatives are with and for the communities they aim to serve.

    • We will commit to seeking out BIPOC yoga providers to help us provide relevant, high-quality research interventions. 

    • We will publish in journals that are open-access and free of charge, and will disseminate our findings to publications that reach communities of color.

    • We will feature BIPOC YFA Teachers in our newsletter, on our website, and on social media.

    • We will solicit ideas from BIPOC members of our community about how to best increase access awareness, inclusiveness, and anti-racism. 

    • We will provide free content to platforms that will reach BIPOC patients with arthritis who might not otherwise have access to our work.


    If you are interested in taking action toward greater access to healthcare (including integrative health practices) and self-care for BIPOC, here are some ideas to consider:

    • Find and support local providers of healthcare and self-care (such as yoga) that are accessible to BIPOC geographically, economically, in representation, in leadership, and in offerings

    • Campaign and vote to ensure more equitable funding for institutions that disproportionately serve BIPOC

    • Campaign and vote for transportation services that allow access to healthcare and self-care for those without reliable transportation

    • Donate to funds that cover healthcare for those without insurance or who can’t pay for quality care

    • Support BIPOC business that provide healthcare and self-care in your community

    • Volunteer with organizations that provide quality healthcare and self-care for BIPOC

    • Support BIPOC students who are interested in pursuing a career in healthcare, public health, or integrative health practices such as yoga

    • Follow the lead of BIPOC in your community who have been doing excellent and important work in these areas for years. Lift them up and support their cause with your time, your dollars, your voice.

    • Never stop working on your own assumptions, your own biases, your own thoughts, words and actions. Use your yoga to be an example of continuous self-improvement.

    • Let us know what we can do to support you in your efforts above or otherwise.


    1. In sharing these words of Dr. King's, I would like to acknowledge the frequency with which his work is so often taken out of context in ways that are ultimately harmful. I would urge readers to read and consider the full text from which I'm quoting, Dr. King's "Letter from a Birmingham Jail."http://okra.stanford.edu/transcription/document_images/undecided/630416-019.pdf

    2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29484197/?from_term=middleton+yoga&from_pos=3

    3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28434476/?from_term=middleton+yoga&from_pos=6

    4. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26667286/?from_term=middleton+yoga&from_pos=4

    If you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to the Yoga for Arthritis team at info@arthritis.yoga.

    We are here to support you in any way possible.

    Sincerely, 

    YFA Team



  • 18 May 2020 1:03 PM | Natalie Cummings (Administrator)


    Here at Yoga for Arthritis, we have recently been asked for our professional opinion about holding classes in-person now that restrictions are starting to loosen in some locations. Rather than answer these on a case-by-case basis, we are sharing our perspective on this issue for your consideration. Each of you, yoga professionals and yoga students alike, will have to make your own decisions given the information available and your own particular situation. Here are some thoughts to keep in mind as you do so.

    Teaching and Attending in Person Yoga Classes in the Time of COVID with Dr. Steffany Moonaz

    ,

    We have always been an evidence-informed organization based in yogic values, led by a public health researcher. This is reflected in the guidance below.

    1. Yoga for Arthritis classes contain a high proportion of students in higher risk categories. These include: older age, chronic disease, auto-immune conditions, use of immune-suppressing medications, multiple comorbidities, systemic inflammation. What is appropriate for these classes may be different than what is appropriate for general yoga classes. The same may apply for therapeutic yoga, senior yoga, gentle yoga, etc. That being said, there are certainly students in high risk categories that attend general yoga classes, perhaps without disclosing those risks or even without being aware of them.

    2. Some individuals with arthritic conditions (including lupus) are struggling to access their prescribed meditation due to medication hoarding by those who believe such medications might be effective against COVID-19. An inability to access medications for stable disease management creates even greater risk of disease flares and immune dysregulation.

    3. Yoga practice with a mask may be problematic for those with respiratory conditions or anxiety. It may also be physically and/or emotionally challenging to wear a mask during more strenuous practices. If only the instructor is wearing a mask, it does not prevent transmission from one student to another.

    4. Maintaining 6 feet of distance between individuals may be insufficient to prevent transmission when confined to an enclosed space for an extended period of time.

    5. As restrictions are lifted, those with higher risk may still be uncomfortable attending studio classes. It may be beneficial for both studios and students if some classes remain accessible remotely in order to serve these populations.

    6. As the weather changes, it may be possible to hold classes outdoors. Outdoor classes could allow for greater social distancing, improved air flow, less anxiety with extended mask use, and reduced risk of transmission between students.

    7. In-studio classes should take extensive precautions to reduce risk of transmission such as: reducing/limiting class sizes, eliminating use of a waiting room/changing room, spacing out classes to avoid overlap of arrival/departure, removing communal mats/props or using CDC-approved cleaning products between every use, allowing digital pre-pay to remove use of a front desk, etc. Reducing the use of communal props may be an issue for classes that rely heavily on props, which may be another reason these classes stay remote longer.

    8. While we are all eager to feel a greater sense of community than is possible under current circumstances, we don’t want to do so at the risk of our most vulnerable, nor do we want anyone to choose between their yoga practice and their respiratory health. In the unfortunate circumstance that transmission of COVID-19 does happen in a studio setting, we want to be certain that we did everything we could to be responsible and protect our communities from harm (ahimsa).

    9. In all cases, please be diligent with understanding the current laws and guidelines for your own jurisdiction. While it is fine to be more cautious than these guidelines, it is not fine to be less so. Since these may differ across county lines and from one week to the next, be sure to stay appropriately informed and responsive.

    10. There are many different opinions about this virus, it’s risks, policies, treatments, and more. People are nervous, emotional, defensive, and even angry. Let’s use our yoga to reflect and honor our common humanity and be the example of the light we’d like to see shine through these challenging times.

    If you have questions about anything we have written here, if you would like to discuss your particular circumstances, or if there is something you think it important to share, please don’t hesitate to contact us privately. 

    YFA COVID-19 STATEMENT PDF DOWNLOAD


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