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by Mary Moscarello. Photo credit: Mary Moscarello. Banner image by Photo by Natalya Letunova on Unsplash

I have never seen “Enter the Dragon” in its entirety. What I have seen and pretty much committed to memory is that jaw-dropping scene from the 1972 film where an almost unbelievably fit, Bruce Lee flexes before fighting Chuck Norris. Lee’s back muscles appear as if from nowhere and fan out to either side. That in itself is enough to inspire anyone to at least do a modicum of research into the legendary and iconic person that is Bruce Lee.

Recently – my family, in a search for some distraction during a night of this lengthy quarantine, watched the ESPN 30 for 30 episode “Be Water” about the all-too-short life of Bruce Lee. It is so worth your time, by the way. Among many memorable moments of that show was something his daughter, Shannon Lee, shared about what she knew about her father who died when she was only four years old. I forget her verbatim quote from the special, but I remember grabbing my phone (for lack of pen and paper) to take note of one part of what she said.

She said, “I knew what it meant to be loved by him. I knew him energetically”.

I believe that is how we know all beings around us at first. It is most certainly how dogs know us. They are color blind, so they don’t see us in the way we see each other. Of course the sense of smell is something they very much rely on to identify one human from another. For sure, dogs get to know our voices and understand the patterns of our day. But it is their ability to respond to a person’s energy that I believe make them such loyal friends.

Bongo was a charmer. He was definitely attached to me in a special way apart from the other members of my household, but he made sure to greet everyone equally. As an example of this across the board diplomacy – when Huz would come home, Bongo would go greet him with such joy. Immediately after that, he’d check in with me as if to say, yes and I love you too. Sometimes he’d even go back to check in with Huz. It could go on and on if he was feeling spry.

A friendly and submissive dog, Bongo never bit a person. But that’s not to say he didn’t meet humans he didn’t like. We’ve often told the story about Bongo being protective of me at a festival for our family business (for which Bongo was our mascot). The festival allowed dogs, so Huz and I had brought him along. As together we manned the booth selling pet collars and leashes, Bongo was our official “greeter” and model, wearing the Italian flag collar as an homage to my family heritage on my father’s side. He was so good at this job, we left the leash off. He was a hit and sales were brisk.

At one point during the course of the day, Huz took a break to go get us something to eat from the many food vendors you find at these types of events. I stayed behind with Bongo to keep selling. Little did the next potential customer to enter our booth know that Bongo took Huz’s departure to mean that he was now on duty – and Bongo would not let him in. That dog stood in front of me and barked a warning – do not enter. Not once had this happened – until I was alone. Was that customer a threat to me? Bongo most certainly thought so. He was not taught this behavior, he just picked up on an energy. Suffice it to say that I made all the remaining runs for refreshments after that.

I believe it was a shift in energy – or Prana, in the yogic perspective – that Bongo detected. Shannon Lee recalls her four-year old energetic memory of her father – and I’ll bet if you try, you can do the same about someone from your past. A smile comes to my face every time I remember my second grade teacher, Mrs. Sadler. I frown when I think of my fifth grade teacher Mr. Byington – who gave out “hot hands” (a rap on the hands with this splintered ruler he kept at his desk) as a means of discipline. Maybe it isn’t always a pleasant energy – certainly energy can be threatening or ominous. We don’t always tap into this part of our “sense abilities”, but they are there.

I do not pretend that the bond between Shannon Lee and her father Bruce Lee is on the same level as mine with my dog of nearly 14 years. But I feel as though it is of a very similar essence. Bongo and I communicated through energy so often. Dog owners reading this are probably nodding in agreement when I say there were many times I might have been in a lousy mood and he seemed to accommodate it. He’d adjust his proximity to me, be persistent about asking to go for a walk or come lay on top of my feet just because he could.  

I do hope I’m correct in thinking he knew me energetically – and that it was an energy he would recall with a doggie smile. I hope he knew what it meant to be loved by me. 

I definitely knew what it meant to be loved by him.  

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!