By Sandy Gola

A lot of people are talking about cancel culture these days. I’d like to instead draw attention to “critical culture.” I was reading an extremely negative review that someone left on Yelp for a yoga studio in the area. I got to wondering what type of person leaves a scathing review for an establishment like that. There are plenty of other yoga studios to choose from, so why not just go to one of those (the review was obviously from pre-pandemic days)? 

There has been, I believe, a very strong empowerment of the value of criticism in our culture. But there hasn’t been nearly enough empowerment of the value of praise. So the culture is out of balance. 

I believe that everyone deserves praise – and looking for and finding that praiseworthy thing is on us as individuals. Criticism may be valid and it’s pretty easy to do at times. One could even say it’s a lazy way out. Finding that kernel of something to praise is often a bit harder. But it’s so worth it. Even if it’s just to manage what we are putting out there in the world. To avoid the rubber band of karma bouncing back on ourselves, we need to avoid aiming and releasing it in the first place.

When trying to understand why others are critical or negative in general, we can occasionally perceive that they are crying out from their own wounds. If we can take a moment and step back from taking an attack personally, there is much to be learned. We can look at things from a broader perspective, avoid being drawn into drama, and nip a negative cycle in the bud, rather than escalating it. 

In addition, we need to do more to focus on healing some of these wounds. Let’s look for and find ways to reach out and touch people’s hearts when they don’t even realize they are acting out of a wounded place. If we catch them off guard and disarm them with kindness, we can begin to bring some healing energy. As Leonard Cohen wrote in his song Anthem, “There is a crack, a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.” So next time we come across a crack somewhere, let’s resolve to go to our higher place and see the good. Let’s offer our kindness instead of criticism. Namasté. 

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!