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Blog post by Mary Moscarello

Mary’s home Yoga space

This was my setup for teaching yoga from my living room during the first week of isolation – when yoga studios and other non-essential businesses were ordered to close. In order to make this happen, my family had to allow for a significant level of disruption to an already disrupted life.

I thank them.

But what you don’t see are the massive dust bunnies that lurked underneath where end tables and easy chairs once sat. My living room floor, at the moment that picture was snapped, had probably never been cleaner.

I don’t have photographic evidence of it, but other rooms in my house have withstood similar cleaning frenzies. My whole family is acutely aware of how necessary it is to keep things neat, tidy and clean. We are not slobs, but our house can get messy at times. My poem, “In This House” describes some of the home environment in which we live. There were days before COVID-19 isolation when I’d be horrified if I had surprise visitors. If we had a gathering to host, there was frenzied cleaning to make our home “presentable”.

Now, at any time, I’d welcome anyone gladly. Mostly because I’m missing physical contact with friends and loved ones but also because those visitors won’t see a mess. Cleaning my kitchen, my living room, my bathroom has become a daily task. By the way, my mom was right, if you clean a little every day – the job never gets too big.

Yet, the irony of cleaning as if I were going to have company when no company is coming is not lost on me.

How does this relate to yoga? Funny you should ask! The Niyamas rest on the second limb of Pantanjali’s eight-limbed path of yoga. First on this limb is the concept or practice of Saucha, or cleanliness, also thought to point to purity. For many yogis, Saucha refers to cleanliness of body, mind, spirit and surroundings and is a necessary aspect of life in order to live happily and fulfilled.

In one of the last classes (a yin/yang class that I wholeheartedly and enthusiastically RECOMMEND) I took before yoga studios had to close, the instructor, Nicola Watson had us focus on Saucha. She used it to help us get ourselves into our asana in a clean and pure way – while also helping us to understand that creating a clean environment extends beyond our physical experience. Throughout that practice,with her help, I got into one of my deepest ever expressions of humble warrior and – not at the same time, mind you – I became aware of how the first environment we have is our own body, our own mind.

When I stopped to think and compare the two actions – cleaning the sink and “cleaning the mind”, I observed that cleaning a bathroom sink is for all intents and purposes simple and easy, but disinfecting our own mind can be extremely difficult. Yet, we spend way less time in contact with that bathroom sink than we do with our own minds over the course of our lifetime. The human mind has an average of 60 to 80 THOUSAND thoughts a day. How many of them are pure? I don’t mean that in the prudish sense of the word – I mean, not negative, not self-harming or self-deprecating. How many of those thoughts are clean and free from infection of rage, envy or any thoughts that fail to lift us up?

You deserve to live in a tidy and neat space on the daily – obviously – but you will ALSO be ready at a moment’s notice to receive surprise guests into your home.

You deserve to live in a mind that is free from pollutants like negative self-talk, worry and fear. Cleaning the mind of these toxins has some obvious benefits.  

So the point of this reflection my dear reader, is to clean your house for you and clean your thoughts for you. Both aspects (the literal cleaning of a thing and the metaphorical cleaning of your thoughts) of Saucha will help you in the long run. 

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!