Archive for Meditation

Finding Peace During Stressful Times (Pandemic, Election) Through Nature & Sacred Activism

Dear Friends and Family,

I hope this post finds you safe and well, and finding some peace and tranquility in the midst of these surreal, intense times. If a novelist wrote a book about what we are experiencing, critics would say it was too unbelievable. No wonder we are charged up, yet simultaneously exhausted. It seems every day, moment by moment, breaking news about politics, the election, the pandemic, the environment and climate, gets more distressing and anxiety-provoking.

And yet, we can, and hopefully do, experience moments of transcendence during our days during our spiritual and artistic practices, walking in nature and parks, listening to beautiful music, observing flowers and  plants, watching the sun set and the full moon rise, connecting with loved ones, joining with others towards a mutual goal, and many more ways. 

I always find it amazing that we can experience seemingly contradictory emotions during stressful times. However, it is a reminder of how multifaceted we are, and that situations are more fluent than we may realize. During challenging times, it helps to realize how resilient we truly are.     
Photo by Melissa Elstein
In terms of finding a more spiritual perspective even for our country’s upcoming election (which is a stress trigger for me), I have found the courses and meditations by David Nicol, a sacred activism author and teacher, very helpful. I have signed up for a daily meditation that arrives in my email box from entitled “May Wisdom Prevail in the USA”. Click here to join in these beautiful, transcendent meditations.

July Schedule: Sun Salutation, Balancing Poses, Core Strength Yoga Workshops; Zoom & Phone Yoga, Qigong Classes; Spiritual Declaration of Independence; Meditation During Pandemic

I hope that this email finds you and your loved ones remaining safe and well, and enjoying the holiday weekend. This month in addition to my Zoom Yoga & Qigong classes, and telephone classes, I will be offering these Zoom workshops: “Sun Salutation – Take It Apart & Put It Back Together”; “Balancing Poses”; and “Strong to the Core – Yoga/Pilates Fusion”. See my website offerings for the full descriptions of these special yoga workshops.

A Berkshires July 4th – photo by Melissa Elstein

     It has been lovely connecting with so many of you on my Zoom and telephone yoga classes! Not only have I been reconnecting with students from my NYC in-person classes, but I am meeting new students from all over the world. This world wide web of support for one another and growing interest in the healing arts has me very inspired. I have noticed that while many aspects of our society have sadly contracted due to the pandemic (the economy, large in-person social gatherings, the live arts and sports, for example), there is also a palpable expansion that is occurring as well. Yoga and meditation classes that would attract a dozen students in person pre-pandemic, are now drawing at least 4xs those numbers. As our external lives have contracted, our internal lives may be expanding in wonderful ways. The universe is always seeking balance (as are we), and I believe the instabilities caused by the pandemic are compelling us to find that deep inner stability and peace.

     In addition to the classes at the studios and centers for whom I teach (Integral Yoga and Dorot), I have been finding wonderful meditation offerings from the Tibet House (via the Nalanda Institute, David Nicol’s sacred activism Heal US, Panache Desai on YouTube, and Cynthia Jurs’ Gaia full moon meditations . I also recommend the meditation sessions offered by these NYC studios: UWS Yoga & Wellness; NY Loves Yoga ; Community Meditation Center; and The Open Center– beautiful places I had attended in person before the pandemic. Additionally, I am a big fan of the cds and downloads (itunes or mp3s) from Belleruth Naperstak’s website that has specific guided meditations on a plethora of topics, such as reducing depression and anxiety, managing specific diseases, increasing immunity, easing pain, reducing insomnia, increasing self-esteem, preparing for surgery, and so many more:  Enjoy your inner explorations!    

    In honor of the 4th of July holiday, I took the liberty (pun intended) to write my own version inspired by and derived from the United States Declaration of Independence: 
“I hold these truths to be self-evident, that all are created equal but unique, and endowed with certain unalienable Rights, such as Life, Liberty, Safety and Security, and the pursuit of Happiness, Love, Joy, Peace, Creativity, Wisdom, Self-knowledge, Spirituality, and Abundance.”

     What would your declaration be at this special time in his/herstory?

Recommending Health Journeys’ Guided Meditations/Affirmations

For some time now, I have been an avid listener of guided meditations but only recently did I discover one of the oldest companies of this helpful wellness modality – Health Journeys. Because of my positive personal experiences, I feel compelled to highly recommend Belleruth Naparstek’s guided imagery CDs (also available in digital downloads on iTunes). Her offerings range from pain reduction to preparing for surgery, stress relief, alleviating tinnitus, increasing self-compassion, reducing depression, and so much more. Belleruth is a psychotherapist whose CDs have been used in over 3,000 hospitals and clinics for years. Guided imagery bypasses the conscious mind, and works on the subconscious to promote healing and well-being. Each CD/download includes a guided meditation with visualizations as well as affirmations – all accompanied by beautiful relaxing music. To maximize the healing benefits, it is recommended that one listens once or twice per day for several weeks. I’ve found listening before sleep is very effective. Of course, everyone is different and voice preferences are subjective.  I enjoy the CDs that are personally narrated by Belleruth. My hope is that you too will benefit from her meditations and affirmations.  Please check it out at or on iTunes – enjoy! 


“Chair Chi & Prana” Class at IYI NYC

I hope you are having a wonderful Summer!  This Monday night is our final “Chair Chi & Prana” of the season, and I hope to see you there at the beautiful and peaceful Integral Yoga Institute.  After July 16, there will be a short break for August, and I will be looking forward to resuming this class in the Fall. (When the Fall dates are confirmed, I will email you as well.)  See below for more details on this Monday’s class; you may sign up at or simply sign up as a walk-in.  Enjoy the rest of your weekend, and hopefully I will see you tomorrow!

Class Descriptions:  

Chair Chi and Prana is hosted by the beautiful yoga center – Integral Yoga. This fusion class increases our vitality, and improves balance and coordination by combining Chair Yoga, Qigong, and Tai Chi Easy™ walking. Seated and standing Yoga poses strengthen and stretch the body, gentle and flowing Qigong movements enhance our life force energy (chi or prana), and Tai Chi walking increases balance and helps with fall prevention.  Additionally, these practices are a moving meditation that calm the nervous system, increase immune support, focus the mind, and are accessible to all bodies and ages.  We end class with a long savasana and yoga nidra (deep relaxation) to fully relax and absorb the benefits of our practices.  All levels are welcome! No prior experience is necessary.

July 2015 – Personal Independence & Freedom

Wishing everyone a Happy 4th of July, and that you enjoy a safe and relaxing holiday weekend!

In thinking about what personal freedom means, aside from political freedom, I believe that the yogic principles directly apply. In yoga and other spiritual practices, we seek to undo the layers and layers of conditioning that bind us to repetitive thinking and habits. That conditioning mostly comes from our family environment, and even if our caretakers have wonderful intentions, we as little child sponges do soak up the norms, behaviors, and viewpoints of our family environment. Later, as we age, we also become conditioned by society – our friends, schools, media, etc. We continue through our lifetime to be exposed and conditioned by that which surrounds us. Though, as we age and mature, we begin to notice and perhaps question these outside influences. We can become more discerning and notice the effects of our family and societal influences on our selves. In our spiritual practices, we seek a liberation from these external influences so we can at least glimpse who we really are under all those conditions layers. Many of us have had moments, fleeting as they may be, of such peak transcendent experiences. Those moments are glimpses into who we really are – our true essence. For me, the more I can connect to the unconditioned self, my spirit or soul, the more I feel free and at peace. The paths to these momentary awakenings can be varied – yoga and meditation, qigong and tai chi, dancing, walking in nature, chanting, praying, jogging, being with animals or children, listening to music, connecting to art, and many more possibilities. When have you experienced this type of personal freedom?

Also, my wonderful Tai Chi Easy teacher, Roger Jahnke, OMD, will be teaching July 9 – 12 at The Open Center! Many of you have asked about studying this form of tai chi and qigong, and now is your opportunity. Thursday night, July 9 is the free intro and Friday – Sunday is his training. I highly recommend studying with Dr. Jahnke! Check out for more info.

March 2015 – Yoga and Meditation Profoundly Improve Aetna CEO’s Health, Influence His Business Decisions, and Enhance Worker Satisfaction

Spring is right around the corner, we “spring forward” with the clocks next weekend, and before we know it the flowers will be in bloom, and cafes returning to the NYC sidewalks.  I think after this doozy of a Winter, we should celebrate together with an outdoor yoga gathering and picnic in Central Park!  Let’s organize one!  The Spring Equinox is on Friday, March 20 (that could be a possible date, if not still too chilly, or we could do it in April or May). If you are interested, please let me know and we can plan a “Spring Yoga Celebration” together!

In case you did not see this fascinating New York Times article about Aetna’s CEO, and his personal and professional transformation due to yoga and mindfulness practices, here’s the link:

I highly recommend reading this article to learn how yoga and meditation were able to help him recover from a terrible skiing accident, in ways that traditional medicine could not post-surgeries.  Additionally, the spiritual practices have so profoundly affected him that he began offering yoga and meditation classes to his company’s employees (he runs one of the largest insurance companies in the U.S.), conducted a yoga effects study at Aetna, and increased employees’ wages beyond what was required by minimum wage laws.  As one who practices yoga would expect, employees reported less stress, less pain, and better sleep, and were found to be more effective at their jobs.  One might have thought that the company would have suffered financially as a result of the higher wages, but instead the stock was recently at a record high – perhaps in part because Aetna’s health care costs for their employees dropped after the yoga and meditation (and other health-oriented initiatives) were introduced.  How wonderful would it be if all companies began following this model!  And why stop there – how about bringing this approach to government agencies and, where it seems especially needed, to Congress!