HEALTH CARE PROVIDERS
In the fall of 2017, I left Baltimore with my daughter and moved in with my parents in Doylestown, PA. My mother was in her 5th year of a cancer that was predicted to take her life after just 18 months. We left my husband and son in Baltimore and drove back to spend every weekend with them. I set up a makeshift office space in their rec room, which is why many of my videos that year have Eagles signs and/or a bar in the background. That was the year I wrote my book, the year I was hit by a truck, the year I lost my mother. In the fall of 2018, after a summer back in Baltimore, I brought both kids to Doylestown. They adjusted to a new school, new community, new activities. We continued to spend every weekend in Baltimore with my husband. This time, I set up in my mother’s office, now left empty.
I felt surrounded by her energy in that office--her many years of design accolades handing on the walls, her image at a lectern or shaking a hand. The room was lovely with a view of the front lawn and a bookcase behind me--far more suitable a backdrop for video conferences and recordings.
Last week, I packed up again and moved back to Baltimore for the summer. It was bittersweet. My own family would be again reunited for the summer. I would be spared the grueling drive to Baltimore in Friday rush hour traffic. I could show up to my university for meetings instead of calling in by phone or Skype or Zoom.
But I also left behind the chapter in which I showed up for my mother and cared for her until she passed. The chapter in which my father and I supported each other through our greatest loss. The chapter in which I returned every morning to my mother’s office chair.
For those of you in the Baltimore area, I am glad to be closer to you again this summer. Please connect with me if you’d like to schedule a meeting or a session of any kind. I will also be traveling quite a bit this summer, with trainings scheduled in New York, Madison, San Francisco and Santa Barbara. I hope to see some of you there, and if you live near any of those locations, please reach out or come visit. For those of you who are only able to connect remotely, you will once again see the pillars of my Baltimore row house in the background.
As I will be doing, I hope that each of you can find time this summer to reconnect with the people and activities that feed your soul and make you feel most alive, no matter where you are.
With Love from Baltimore,
Jenn, pictured above, was diagnosed with arthritis at just two years old. Her pediatric rheumatologist recommended yoga.
In our research, we have found that yoga decreases pain, improved mood, and bolsters quality of life for adults with arthritis. Less quantified, but perhaps more importantly, we have heard many stories describing how yoga can transform one’s relationship to the disease, to the body, to life with arthritis and even to life overall. While some of this transformation may happen in the natural course of living with arthritis, imagine growing up with arthritis--yes, from childhood--and with all of the tools of yoga right from the beginning.
The first research study I was involved with after undergrad was a sibling-donor cord blood program. When a family had a young child with a transplant-treatable illness and was pregnant with a second child, we facilitated cord blood collection at birth and, if the blood was a match, it was used for a transplant in the older child. I learned a lot during that project about the challenges of multi-site research, the importance of standard operating procedures, and the power of research to save lives. I also learned about the remarkable resiliency of children with chronic diseases.
In the decades since, I have been actively involved in Arthritis Foundation events targeted toward the 300,000 American children with arthritis and their families. July is Juvenile Arthritis Awareness Month. While most people are familiar with osteoarthritis, which increases in prevalence with age, injury, repetitive motion, and body weight, systemic forms of arthritis are more likely to emerge in middle-age or younger. In addition to these events, which focus on arthritis from birth to young adulthood, I’ve also worked with adults who have had arthritis since their youth.
One thing that strikes me about these children is their level of comfort with medical care and the healthcare system. While my 11-year-old daughter still cries in anticipation of an occasional vaccine and has to be held during the procedure, I recall very small children holding out an arm for a routine blood draw or the insertion of an IV needle as though it were nothing. This bravery strikes me as both remarkable and quite sad.
The other observation I’ve made about such children is the wisdom they carry, far beyond their years. Their illness has forced them to accept certain realities and challenges that most children will never consider, let alone endure. A friend in her early 30s who has had arthritis since age 2 told me that she was more prepared for aging than her peers because early in life she has already dealt with most of the physical and emotional ramifications of aging.
The Arthritis Foundation did not always have mechanisms for bringing young people with arthritis together. A former student recalled that when she was diagnosed as a teen, she would have been grateful just to know that there was someone else out there like her. Today, there are many ways to do so.
When I attend events for children with arthritis, I don’t just walk them through yoga poses with animal names. I teach them how changing their breathing can change their pain. I show them poses that can help them feel strong during challenges, I talk them through a relaxation practice that can help them with sleep and practices to use when they are feeling fatigued. I teach them about listening to their bodies, making choices that are non-harming, and replacing negative thoughts with positive ones.
I once asked a middle-aged woman with rheumatoid arthritis why she hadn’t tried yoga sooner, because it had changed her life so profoundly. She responded that no one ever told her she could. Working with children is my way of showing them they can. They can practice self-care along with their medical care, and they can even teach their parents how to use these practices.
Whether you are a yoga professional or an adult with arthritis, consider contacting your local Arthritis Foundation office to find out how you can serve kids with arthritis near you. I promise that you will learn more than you teach.
Dear YFA Sangha,
For those of you who are new to this community or just starting to explore, welcome. We look forward to serving you and getting to know you better. For those who have been following us for a while, you may have noticed that our 3 levels of training recently attained status as Approved Professional Development (APD) courses with the International Association of Yoga Therapists (IAYT). This matters, and I’ll tell you why.
If you are a yoga student, it means that our teachers can be trusted. We offer high quality training programs that are grounded in both scientific evidence and ancient traditions. These trainings started with cutting edge research and have continued to develop and evolve over time to stay current and continue improving. The same, of course, can be said about the resources we offer to students- our DVD, book, online classes, and student manual. If you haven’t explored those, consider doing so.
If you’re a certified yoga therapist, if means that you can use our trainings as continuing education as it becomes a requirement with IAYT. This is true for all 3 of our training programs, which I will explain below. If you decide to continue growing with us and become a mentor or a teacher trainer, you can trust that we will continue to expand our offerings and therefore your opportunities going forward.
If you’re a yoga teacher, it means that our trainings are more likely to be accepted as transfer credits in yoga therapy programs, should you consider pursuing that in the future. It also means that more yoga therapy programs are likely to consider including our content as a training module.
Because of this, we have decided to rename the program levels for clarity. The content has not changed, just the names. Whatever status you now enjoy with YFA will continue. Below are the changes:
Level I: Teacher’s Intensive
Yoga for Arthritis Level II- Mentored Practicum
Level II: Certification Course Yoga for Arthritis
As you can see, the Mentored Practicum is now considered Level II, while the former Level II is now Level III. This is to make it clear that the Mentored Practicum is required between the other two trainings and is an essential component of our comprehensive training. Level III is will still result in YFA certification, but we changed the name to avoid confusion with IAYT certification. You’ll now see these changes reflected on the website and on our promotional materials. Please see here for more detail about each training, and email me directly with any questions you may have.
Thank you for being a part of our evolution.
Love and Light,
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.
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
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.
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