Recently, in conversation with a fellow yogi I uttered something to the effect that the stress of moving through life this year has essentially amounted to seeing other people as potential threats. That idea has weighed heavily, even before I voiced the notion. I find it upsetting that we must see strangers as a threat – potential carriers of a deadly virus. Maybe no one is saying it that way – but that’s what is happening, right?

When you think about it, we must maintain physical distance from those strangers. For our own safety we have to put our fellow humans at arm’s length. We’re covering our faces. We’re limiting contact. Doing so or failing to do so could mean the difference between life and death.  

If that notion doesn’t automatically tense your body – I challenge you to sit with that thought for a minute and really pay attention to how your body reacted to the thought “every stranger I encounter is a potential threat”. I’ll share where I feel it most. My chest. It tightens along with my throat. 

Why does my throat react to a fight or flight response? I think it is because I’m one of those people who voices fear. I scream on roller coasters. I gasp at scary movies. My family loves to tease me for my fear outbursts. There’s a hilarious video of my one and only skydiving experience where I’m screaming open mouthed as I’m free falling having jumped out of a perfectly good airplane with another human being strapped to my back. I’m so terrified, I don’t realize how quickly all the moisture is blown away by the force of air into my gaping maw. The effort it took to swallow is forever on video – and I KEPT ON SCREAMING.

So yeah, a threat causes fear response. 

In my experience, moving from a place of fear results in some not so nice outcomes. I’m amazed that I haven’t had a major fight with anyone. All of my public, albeit extremely limited, interactions with folks have been calm and peaceful if not downright neighborly. I have anecdotal evidence that not everyone can say the same. 

Day to day existing in a pandemic is friggin’ intense.

My apologies if I’ve just stated the obvious. But I’m going to ask you to pause and notice that understatement of the year. Notice the verb. I didn’t say living or thriving – I said existing. Surviving, essentially – staying alive is intense.

I do not have the answers, but boy do I have questions.

How are you doing more than just staying alive?

Where are you finding connection with others?

In what way have you tapped into something greater than yourself – be it nature or a higher power?

Theresa Conlon

Theresa is a Yoga Alliance certified instructor (200-hour RYT) who has been teaching since 2013. She is skilled in various yoga styles including Hatha, Ashtanga, Vinyasa Flow, Restorative, and Meditation. Theresa also brings an extensive dance background to her yoga practice, which includes teaching both modern dance and ballet. She has over 40 years of dance/theater performing experience and currently showcases her choreography as part of Bergen Dance Makers, a dance collective in northern New Jersey. Theresa’s yoga classes offer a calming mix of traditional asana postures and creative movement flows, supported by energy-moving breath. Students of all skill levels are invited to find ease and peace in their bodies/minds/spirits through the joyful bliss of yoga movement.

Carrie Parker Gastelu

Carrie Parker Gastelu, E-500 RYT, has been teaching yoga since 1993. Carrie began her journey when Yogi Raj Mani Finger initiated Carrie into the ISHTA Yoga lineage after training with Mani’s son, Yogi Raj Alan Finger. In addition, she has studied many other yoga traditions as well as anatomy, physiology, movement, and awareness practices to create an eclectic style all her own. She is known for her honest, non-dogmatic yet passionate approach.

Carrie is a regular speaker and contributor at conferences, websites, and print publications and has been featured in Fit Magazine, the Yoga Zone Book, and in the Yoga Zone Video, “Flexibility and Stress Release.”

Lisa Podesta-Coombs

When Lisa found yoga in 2008, she started to find herself again and it set her on a path of health and healing. She received her 200HR RYT certification from Raji Thron of Yoga Synthesis, and her 30HR Chakra Yoga Teacher Training certificate with Anodea Judith and holds a Y12SR (Yoga of 12 Step Recovery) certification. She is also a Holistic Health Coach (certified through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition). Lisa believes we’re all on a journey of learning how to trust ourselves; she helps her clients build that trust by supporting them in creating better habits for a better life through various functional movement modalities like yoga, barre, Pilates & strength training, mindset, and whole food nutrition.

Forever a student with a passion for people, holistic health, and self-actualization, Lisa is always embracing opportunities to advance her education to better serve; Ayurveda workshops & immersions have been of particular interest as she continues to deepen her knowledge of and experience with food as medicine and she recently completed Unleash Her Power Within, a transformational program of rediscovering our truest selves, powered by Tony Robbins.  

As she continues to give herself space and grace to nourish her natural self and actualize her potential, Lisa continues to share the gift of movement as medicine to inspire authenticity & health in body, mind, and spirit. You can expect mindful, accessible, dynamic, playful, and uplifting classes from Lisa.

Tanisha Sutton

Tanisha’s yoga journey began when she was an undergraduate student studying at university. Changes in her health coupled with anxiety over grades, relationships, and life in general, forced her to search for healthy lifestyle choices she could implement to help manage the stress that she was experiencing as a new adult. A friend of hers suggested that she attend some community yoga classes to help with the anxiety and increase her daily physical activity. Initially, she was reluctant and filled with all these false ideas about yoga and the people who practiced yoga. Like many others, she was concerned that her body type and lack of flexibility automatically excluded her from being a student. Curiously yet hesitantly, she journeyed on to her first class and began laying the foundation for a home and public practice that has supported her over the years.

On this journey, she has discovered that yoga has nothing to do with appearances nor is there anything, but an open mind needed to begin. She intends to provide you with a gentle yoga session that is safe, inclusive, and accessible. Her classes are an expression of self-love and are a deliberate choice to tend to ALL the parts of our being that are neglected, ignored, or disregarded during the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Through meditation, deep breathing, and gentle movement we will collectively share space to observe, rest and re-set. Tanisha is honored to share her practice with you and looks forward to seeing you on the mat!