Today is my mother in law’s 96th birthday. She has no idea. She also has no idea there was a presidential election day yesterday or that we still don’t know who won officially at this moment on November 4th 2020. I would be lying if I didn’t say I envied her for that last bit.

For the most part, she’s pretty stable, health-wise. Some might even call her “robust”. But its her mental decline that leaves a whole lot of room for not so nice stuff. Yesterday an all-too-familiar sound wafted up through the floorboards of my office on the third floor of my home. My mother in law was crying. Hard. I could tell this one was a serious sob session. 

At the moment, we’re without any extra help with regard to elder care. Our home health aide has been exposed to a positive case of COVID from someone in her household – so she’s not been here since Friday. For the immediate future we’re not allowing her to be here (even if her own COVID test comes back negative) to keep her from potentially spreading the virus to a very vulnerable Anita. This is why I must go downstairs and see what I can do to alleviate the situation when needed. Huz and I are tag-teaming the day parts so that we both can get our respective work done. Shout out to my clients for being super understanding of my level of distraction these past few days.

Daily sob sessions are routine now. There were times when they first started happening (after making sure she hadn’t hurt herself) when I would just employ the toddler distraction method to get her to stop. Seriously, oh look! something shiny! Or I’d give her tea and cookies or change the TV channel or tell her to sit up and go to the other room for a bit. This worked most of the time because it wasn’t anything linear – cause and effect – that led to the sobbing. 

Her feeble, now 96-year old mind gets suddenly tormented by memories called back from long ago. She recalls times she was wronged. More often, she’d be remembering the times she wronged others. The weeping and wailing for past sins, long ago confessed, never lessening. The forgiveness promised and assured in dark, screened confessionals by whispering priests long ago went unaccepted. Perhaps, because she felt she didn’t deserve forgiveness. We know this is rubbish – yet, we can no longer convince her with mere words that everything is okay. 


Thankfully I found a way to break through and make a difference. In a moment of clarity, I remembered my pranayama training. I stood in front of her and said, “just breathe”. I moved my hand up for the inhale and down for the exhale. The pantomime and gesturing is crucial given her level of hearing loss. She calmed for a moment and I went to the kitchen to make her a cup of tea. Before I could fill the kettle with water, I had to go back to the bedroom to remind her again, just breathe. This went on for four mini-pranayama sessions, until finally she had calmed down. 

Thank goodness for deep breathing and its ability to calm. It broke through and made a difference, not only for her – but for me too.

Breathe in. Breathe out. Sometimes it is all we have.

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!