Yoga & Yoga Therapy

Teaching at Malcolm X Park, photo by Pamela Tomksi

 

 

 

 

 

I was fortunate to find yoga in my mid-20s in the midst of a crisis of faith and identity brought on by recurring chapters of loss and trauma. My particular story led to a specific brand of idealism, embodied rage, impulsiveness, self-destructiveness and chronic pain. Yoga was one of the most important tools that helped me peel back layer by layer of my story.  Twenty years later, I’m still recognizably me — sharp, irreverent, caring — but with edges that are considerably smoother, and consistently happier.  I hope to be practicing yoga until the last exhalation.

Because of the power of own practice (and a dozen years of teaching, and 1,000+ hours of training — 200 in yin yoga and 800 in Integrative Yoga Therapy), I believe everyone can benefit from yogic approaches and practices, particularly to help get through times of transition, stress and loss.

In addition to group yoga classes (see Schedule & Upcoming Events), I offer workshops, retreats, and private yoga therapy sessions. which can take place at either The GW Center for Integrative Medicine, your home or office, or a yoga studio in Chevy Chase, Washington, DC.

In yoga therapy, I work with you to find ease and learn the skills that will make you feel more resilient in this particular chapter of your life. I recommend committing to 3-6 private sessions to get the most from the process.  Our yoga therapy work together begins with a comprehensive intake assessment. Together, we will learn more the issues and conditions you’re facing from the yogic perspective, as a way of complementing what you know from the medical.  From here we’ll design simple mindfulness, breathing and postural/movement practices that you can do on your own at home. As importantly, weaved into subsequent sessions are suggestions for lifestyle improvements, which are key to help the “yoga” stick.

Likewise, if you have a regular yoga practice that no longer feels like it used to — or you’re recovering from a specific injury and want to learn how to best care for yourself in your practice — consider booking an individual session. A yoga practice that’s sustainable — and it takes sustained effort to produce long-lasting healing — will require regular recalibration. How depends on an ever-shifting matrix of any number of factors — the current state of your health, your anatomical structure, your constitution, what you eat,  the quality of your relationships, how satisfied you feel with what you’re doing in life, the season, your living situation, even where you live, since the earth’s energetic arteries can affect your own energy. Investing in this sort of learning support can yield tremendous results.

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Offering a gentle assist. Photo by Lisa Helfert

For those that need extra convincing, the benefits to a compassionate and consistent practice can be enormous.

At the physical level, yoga improves flexibility, strength, endurance, lung capacity, concentration, moods, and posture, with studies demonstrating positive effects for medical conditions ranging from hypertension and heart disease to immune function to mood disorders to asthma, back pain and arthritis.

Yoga outside is especially yummy. Photo by Anna-Maria Garza

At the emotional level, yoga can make you feel a sense of increased equanimity, grace and support. You might find it easier to roll with the punches or withhold reacting when something or someone pushes your buttons.  With a regular practice, you might even begin feeling a grounded sense of spaciousness, of being at home in your own body.  Eventually, you might even feel more freedom in making choices that reflect autonomy, integrity, and authenticity.

Energetically, yoga helps us align with natural rhythms (“ritam” in Sanskrit, the root of the English word “rhythm”), increasing vitality and creativity, and helping us find a state of alert relaxation. It’s juicy!

Here’s what some people say about my teaching:

“I was introduced to Yael and yin yoga by accident. I immediately loved Yael’s spirit and dedication to the practice and to her students. I found her so amazingly supportive and therapeutic, both physically and emotionally, that I retained her services for private sessions. It changed my life, by helping me find a stillness that I did not know existed for me…” Mary T.

“Yael’s classes range from upbeat energetic flow to meditative inward journeys, always punctuated by Yael’s contagious charm.  Yael epitomizes fusion and is a natural healer.  The healing journeys she guides her students through are always enjoyable, yet still challenging, and frequently quite profound. Don’t be fooled by her New York humor–you are in a serious yoga class when traveling with Yael.”  — Glenn S.

“If Yael’s yoga classroom were a public television station, it would never be pledge week. It would be like a great episode of Julia Child where you ended up understanding how to make a good bouillabaisse. Yael writes a joyfully irreverent kind of poetry during each 75 minute class. Each session is spicy and fresh—why else would I go there at 8 PM in midwinter?—-but for me what makes the “Y” stand both for yoga and unmistakably Yael in one of her classes is that she always leads with her heart, playfully urging us to dig and breathe deeply, to literally inspire as we perspire, not just into the sweaty underbelly of a pose but equally into what lies beneath each moment of repose. — Z.

Thank you, thank you, thank you for coming into my life.  I cannot begin to compliment you enough – my health has improved immensely since I began learning yoga from you.  Your sense of humor and knowledge about how to accommodate my limitations with each session means so much.  Not only do I have more energy, but I also have a better sense of how to relax,  as well as more strength. Each week I look forward to seeing what new activity I will learn. I am forever grateful for your teachings. –– Alison

2 Comments

  1. I’m so happy for you, Yael! I’ve missed you at IWWG, but as I can see, there are more important things going on in your life . After our session of playing with energy in Sandra Balint’s class, you have made it into my heart book. I’m just beginning the marketing to agents, so wish me luck.

    ALL the best to you in this new/old ad adventure.

    Marylou

    • I don’t know that there is anything more important than writing — or getting the inspiration to write — from a tribe of beautiful, powerful women — but yes, life has been full and focused in a different way these past few years. I send you wonderful energy for your book, which I’ll be grateful to read when it’s available!

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