Archive for zoom yoga

Musings on Noise Pollution & Health; Summer Yoga & Qigong Class Schedule- Zoom & Telephone

Photo by Melissa Elstein – May 2021 Full Moon Over Central Park Reservoir 

Dear Friends and Family,

I hope this email continues to find you safe and well, and staying cool during this heat wave!

Last Wednesday, before my Zoom Dorot class, we had a spontaneous discussion about noise pollution and how the sounds of NYC returning to its pre-pandemic volumes have been challenging for many who had become accustomed to a quieter city during the shutdowns. Of course, we all agree that the sounds of our city recovering from a year of tragedy and trauma is a positive sign that the pandemic is waning, and NYC and other cities are on the road to health and fiscal recoveries. Such sounds indicate a healthy, vibrant, and creative multi-cultural urban environment. The sounds of diners in vibrant outdoor cafes and children playing together evoke happy times. Sport teams in the parks are once again competing before cheering crowds and we experience healthy competition amongst athletes. Returning outdoor concerts, shows and dance performances remind us of the social importance of the arts. These sounds that we had taken for granted in the past, now indicate our resilience and ability to adapt and survive (tempered with the somber knowledge that we tragically lost too many lives to Covid-19).

Yet, as we also discussed, many sounds returning to our urban life are unpleasant, disturbing, unhealthy and I believe unnecessary to city living. Drivers need not lean on their horns while in traffic, and emergency vehicles could have sirens at a lower decibel, such as in European cities. Groups driving loud dirt bikes, illegal ATVs, and souped up motorcycles are not obeying the traffic laws and neither are the drag racing cars that we have all seen and heard during the warmer months. This should not be accepted as the price of urban living. Helicopter tourist flights, for photos or entertainment, are now regularly roaring over residential neighborhoods and our urban parks – all places that should not be subjected to excessively loud aircraft noise. Similarly, helicopters used for commuters to the airports or the Hamptons, among other close destinations, create needless noise as there are multiple cleaner and quieter forms of commuting. These low-flying, fossil-fuel guzzling helicopters are the antithesis of an environmentally friendly urban commuting transportation system. Illegal fireworks are keeping communities up all night with the noise and smoke, and disturbing pets as well. Construction hours could be more limited and banned on weekends; additionally, do we need to be jackhammering our streets open for municipal repairs at 1 A.M. on a weeknight? (Many of us living near West End Avenue experience that all too frequently). We have a city noise code, yet it is rarely enforced and historically it was only minimally discussed by those in power.

However, as a result of the pandemic and residents becoming more aware of the differences between necessary noise and unnecessary noise, pleasant sounds versus disturbances, urban noise may finally be getting the attention it deserves. Hopefully solutions to address and curtail noise pollution will come to fruition soon. A NYC Noise Task Force based in uptown Manhattan has been hosting political candidate Zooms and all their forum recordings are posted to YouTube, including this one-hour event with the Manhattan Borough President candidates  and this one with some Mayoral and Comptroller candidates: They are very much worth watching.

Recently, Mayoral Candidate Scott Stringer has introduced a noise pollution plan called “Hear Our Noise Complaints” and I attended that press conference. You can watch the press conference via the link in this NY Times article:Scott M. Stringer, the city comptroller, released a proposal to reduce noise pollution, in part by banning nonessential helicopter flights and promoting efforts to “curb rampant drag racing and get ATVs off the streets.”
Many of you know that when I am not teaching yoga or other movement styles, I engage in volunteer community work, with my most recent endeavor being a Board Member of Stop the Chop NY/NJ – a nonprofit whose mission is to ban the tourist and commuter helicopters over NYC. We are supporting the federal bill introduced by Congressmembers Maloney, Nadler and Velasquez to ban said helicopters; Disney Land and World have such a ban and we think NYC deserves it as well!  You can read all about us, sign our petition as well as sign up for our email newsletter here: You can also see which candidates and electeds have signed on to our mission (they can endorse us, but as a 501(c)(3) we cannot endorse candidates).

As a yoga and qigong teacher and practitioner, I seek peacefulness within and hope to contribute to a more peaceful world. An external quiet world does not necessarily mean than our internal state of being will be peaceful. But, it certainly is more conducive towards ones practice of mindfulness and the healing arts if our environment is not filled with noise pollution – a known stressor that has been linked to numerous diseases.
Here is a descriptive chart from the American Public Health Association’s Noise & Health Committee Environment Section (of which I am honored to be a new member) of how noise pollution negatively affects us:

With so much of the external noise pollution triggers beyond our control, I do hope that our calming and meditative practices learned in yoga, qigong and meditation can help us deal with the stress of noise and to reduce its harmful effects. Additionally, finding other pleasant alternative noise can assist with countering the fight or flight nervous system response. I have been enjoying these two meditation music videos as a beautiful visual and auditory counter to stressful noise: Jason Stephenson – Chakra Healing Music and Meditative Mind
Enjoy and let me know what you think of all the above.

Please see my schedule for all my offerings this Summer, including class descriptions. Thank you for your support of my teachings!    

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?

May 2020 Zoom/Telephone Yoga & Qigong Classes; Balance & Ground

Dear Friends and Family,   

  I hope that this email finds you and your loved ones remaining safe and well. It has been lovely connecting with so many of you on my Zoom and telephone yoga classes!  

Chair Yoga/Qigong/Tai Chi Easy™ Fusion Class on Zoom – photo by Eric Katzman

  For those of us staying at home during this time of mass social distancing, amazing technological advances haves allowed us to stay connected to one another and the outside world. Museums, arts organizations, theaters, fitness and dance studios, retreat centers, community groups, parks and botanical gardens, spiritual centers, academic organizations, non-profits, and so many others have all transitioned to online. Even before the pandemic, it was easy to go down that rabbit hole of never-ending internet searches, You Tube, Ted Talks, 24/7 news, and social media platforms. Now, there is even more content online that is educational, interesting, meaningful, or simply distracting and entertaining. Days can easily pass in front of an electronic screen and before we realize it, our eyes are strained, we’ve sat all day, and we’re suffering from screen fatigue. I don’t know if you can relate, but I have to combat my FOMO tendencies – fear of missing out on the latest news analysis, educational seminars, spiritual talks, dance and theater offerings, and the desire to stay uber-informed.

  I have observed during this time, that it is even more important to accept that, as stressful as it may be to not know all that is currently transpiring, we need to unplug and absorb less from the external world. That if we are fortunate to be safe at home, this can be a blessing to take more time for reflection, inner work, quiet time, non-electronic endeavors by engaging in creative outlets such as writing, arts and crafts, gardening (even in one’s city windowsill).

  For type A doers, this global shutdown can offer us the valid excuse of doing nothing, letting go of striving and releasing goals and seeing what transpires within us. What flows when we shut down the computer, and take pen to paper to journal or draw, without judging the outcome. For myself, reducing exposure to the digital life makes me feel more grounded and more embodied. So finding the balance of Zooming, emails, online work, etc with shutting it all down is something I have been observing and reflecting on this past month. As always, it seems the old adage “moderation is key”  and finding balance in one’s life continues to hold true no matter the circumstances.

  I know it may be slightly ironic that I am writing this on my laptop, and letting you know about my Zoom classes! But again, it comes down to balance and mindfulness. Making choices of when we will disconnect from our busyness and electronics, and just be in the world as human beings, not human doings. And most importantly, to be ok with that choice that may fly in the face of social conditioning. For so many of us in Western cultures, we were taught to be rewarded for keeping busy, being productive, accumulating rewards and material items, and achieving our lofty goals. Now, we have a basically mandated break (unless we are a frontline worker), from the hamster wheel of our repeated habitual doings and tendencies. Can we, even in the midst of much global suffering, see this as an opportunity to all slow down, consume less, reflect more, send out positivity to the planet through visualizations and meditations, and see the true value in that way of living. Can we not simply shift our pre-pandemic busy, hectic lifestyles from in-person to online, but instead truly create a new way of being in the world? For me, that will be my exploration, knowing I have the luxury to do so, while being grateful for those frontline every-day s/heroes working so hard for all of us.               

Self portrait – photo by Melissa Elstein, May 2020

  See below and side bar for more details on my classes this month and descriptions. Please email me any questions you may have about my teaching schedule, and I would also love to hear from you with the sincere hope that you and your loved ones are safe and well. 

Melissa Mati

April Online and Telephone Classes for Yoga, Qigong/Tai Chi Easy™; Isolating & Connecting During Surreal Times

Dear Friends and Family,  

 April 2020 Full Moon  – Melissa Elstein

It has been a month since my last email to you, and during these past four unimaginable weeks, it has been remarkable watching the world reorient to a completely different way of being; loved ones and strangers have battled the corona virus (some successfully, others unfortunately not), the economy has basically shut down with humanity sheltering in place (even the stubborn non-believers in science have come around to endorsing social isolation), mundane activities like food shopping have become the week’s most stressful endeavors, and delivery workers, store personnel, transportation employees (in addition to medical workers) have rightfully become our every-day super heroes. Daily, we learn of the numbers of those afflicted with the virus rising exponentially along with the unemployment levels, and conversely retirement savings and the stock market dropping to new lows. NY Governor Andrew Cuomo has become the country’s “governor” with his daily fact-filled press conferences as well as his spiritual words of wisdom, even as his younger reporter brother hallucinates in his basement while recovering from the virus. We are in the midst of a once in a century pandemic – the enormity of which is hard to even truly comprehend. Yet, this is our new normal.

Amidst this planetary crisis, we have observed the amazing adaptability of humanity as social and business connections have moved online. Families are celebrating holidays over Zoom calls with little computer screen boxes substituting for the communal table. Newscasters are broadcasting from their homes, often with their young children interrupting their news report to climb on their laps, adding an adorable human element we have not seen before. With the invention of different types of videoconferencing, society has stayed connected in ways we never could have imagined a mere five weeks ago before the strict stay at home orders were implemented. Often during this time of social isolation, I have been thinking about the last global pandemic, the Spanish Flu of 1918, which occurred before our technology and information age. It is hard to even fathom how that generation managed their crisis without all our modern amenities that are truly keeping us connected and supported.   

Fortunately for many of us, such connectivity and support are still being provided by yoga, pilates, meditation, and dance studios as they have transitioned from in-person classes to Zoom or YouTube group sessions. It is truly impressive how quickly these independent, local businesses shifted their teaching model so that students and teachers are able to maintain their practices and hopefully keep the studios in business. In NYC, we have bemoaned the loss of small businesses even before the pandemic (due to internet shopping and high rents), but now more than ever we must support our mom and pop stores and studios. During this stay at home period, I have been both a student and a teacher participating in live Zoom classes and I have been pleasantly surprised at how lovely the group connection is, and how effective the teaching has been. To take class with my fellow NYC teachers and students, even in this new format, has brought a semblance of normalcy during these abnormal times, and for that I am very grateful. Participating in the healing practices of mindful movement modalities (such as gentle yoga, qigong, tai chi, pilates), as well as meditation and dance is even more beneficial, and necessary, during these stressful times.  


Although my in-person classes at Dorot for Seniors, Integral Yoga Institute, and the Children’s Dance Program at Steps on Broadway have been cancelled until further notice, my Dorot University of Walls telephone series starts mid-April. I have years of experience teaching seated qigong and Chair Yoga over the phone, combined with meditation and visualizations, and I find this medium works very well – especially if you already have experience with those modalities. My in-person Wednesday Chair Yoga and Tai Chi Easy™ fusion class for Integral Yoga is now a Zoom class held on Fridays noon-1pm.  See below for more details on these classes and descriptions. Please email me any questions you may have about my teaching schedule, and I would also love to hear from you with the sincere hope that you and your loved ones are safe and well. 

Melissa Mati