By Teresa Dornellas

My lovely dad passed away a bit over 2 years ago. We had a very special relationship that had some bumps along the way but we thankfully were able to reconnect and patch things up a few years before he died.

Dad and I back in 2016

He was a very affectionate man, though very quiet. He used to massage my feet when we hung out to watch TV or just chill, and this is one of the fondest memories I have of him. As an adult, I learned to value that gesture so much.

We didn’t spend much time together after my mom passed away but I always remember the foot rubs and they brought me great comfort.

In my late 20’s, I moved overseas, life changed, our contacts became more sporadic, but years later, I went to Kripalu for a weekend of Yoga and relaxation and, at the end of a yoga class, during savasana, while covered with a blanket, the Yoga teacher (I so wish I knew his name!) came around to “tuck us in” and gave us a quick feet squeeze over the blanket.

As yoga teachers, we honestly don’t know what we may do or say that will make an impact. A simple gesture, a word, a touch can leave an indelible mark. Sometimes we think we did a pretty great job teaching and the students don’t seem that impressed. At other times, we may feel like we were not so well prepared, not sure we hit the mark, and folks will be raving about the class. This is because it all depends on what kind of memories frame that experience for each person at any given time. And that’s not something we can predict.

Well, this happened many, many years ago, and I never forgot. I had no idea at the time how much those foot rubs meant to me, but that simple, quick touch brought up so many memories of love and belonging and being important to someone.

Today, when things get hard, when the future seems bleak, when I find myself with more questions than answers… I wish I had that touch again. That feeling of reassurance and belonging. A simple gesture of kindness and warmth – sometimes it’s all we need to believe everything will be OK. No words needed.

That important memory is a big part of my foundation as a yoga teacher. I care so much about our feet, our base. Those who take my classes often have heard many feet references – here’s why. They support us, carry us around, take us to great adventures. 

Like I mentioned before, our personal histories frame everything we experience. 

So, right now, while we can’t connect in person, from a distance I wish you the warmth I feel every time I remember that simple gesture. And I hope your foundation, the very essence of who you are, will always be strong, no matter in which direction the winds blow.

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!