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Sandy Gola has been practicing yoga since 1998 and starts a new class on alternating Tuesdays at 6:30 p.m.: Yoga All Levels. The first class is Tuesday, Jan. 29.

What does yoga mean to you?

In my experience yoga is so much more than a physical practice. Yet it is different for each individual and we each experience yoga differently at times and during the various circumstances in our lives. 

No one person’s experience is better or worse than the other, just as no one grain of sand is better or worse than another. All are welcome in my Yoga All Levels class. With my classes I share my experience of yoga through creatively sequenced and guided Vinyasa flows, asanas, breath work, sound and relaxation. 

How did you get started with Yoga?

I started doing yoga in 1998 because of an injury. At the time I was teaching several high impact aerobic classes per week and my shins were really feeling it. I took time off from fitness teaching and searched for something else I could do with no impact.  

How do you structure your class?

The creation happens because of the students. I structure my classes according to the needs of the participants on any given day. So you will find the class works perfectly for you because your presence in the class co-creates the content of the class. Please come for the experience! 

What got you hooked?
I came across some Vinyasa Yoga videos by Bryan Kest. I started practicing with them every day and shortly after I attended a yoga workshop with Paula Tepedino, held in western NJ. I noticed a black and white one-page flyer there for Raji Thron and he was teaching right near me in Montclair at Starseed. I didn’t know anything about yoga schools but he seemed to be offering something quite similar to the videos I was using. He became my main teacher and I went through teacher training with him in 2006. 

 What’s one of your favorite poses and why?
Well, who doesn’t like a good Shavasana? There’s a trick question that goes, “what’s the most difficult yoga pose?” And the answer is “Shavasana,” because it’s not that easy for most people to let go and just be. 

 What makes a private studio different/better than a yoga class at the gym?
It’s easier to have a peaceful vibe and ambiance at a dedicated yoga studio. You can feel the owner’s intention and energy in setting up the studio and the intentions and energy of all the people practicing there. It may have a more coherent purpose than in a gym, where there are a lot of other activities performed. I don’t have anything against gyms though. I’ve been teaching at my Y for many years and there are a lot of things I love about it. 

For someone who’s never tried yoga before, what are the main benefits they may gain from practicing it?

New practitioners transitioning to seasoned practitioners have reported to me of a renewed sense of peace, an ability to better handle life’s ups and downs, greater balance, flexibility, and a sense of strength that comes from within.

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!