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articles on what motivates and inspires us to be our best selves

A Moment with Christie Roe

Awakening: Your intention and as I suppose your understanding of yoga is to make yoga enjoyable and useful for everyone. What does it mean?
Christie: I borrowed these words from Desikachar, my teacher’s teacher, who passed away last year. These words ‘enjoyable’ and ‘useful’ are very open to individual interpretation, and they aren’t often found together. A lot of people don’t typically go to most of the yoga classes out there for enjoyment — it’s too much hard work, or they feel like they aren’t flexible enough to enjoy the process of it. But yoga is also something that you are, not what you do. It’s about enjoying your natural state, and practicing with breath in a way that is useful for the whole body, and that starts with enjoying the process.
Awakening: Useful for your body, your being?
Christie: It is very much about your whole being – physical, spiritual, emotional. And what is enjoyable to body, becomes useful to mind and what is enjoyable to mind is useful to body. You can play with these words back and forth together. And in doing so you can find self-guidance in your practice.
Awakening: To understand what we are talking about … yoga is a way of being.
Christie: Yes. There is yoga for everyone, whoever is practicing. Desikachar always said, “If you can breathe, you can do yoga.”
Awakening: The idea to become yoga practice than do it let’s say every Wednesday sounds exciting and enjoyable.
Christie: This enjoyable aspect is so important, because if you don’t enjoy it you won’t do it every day. The consistency gained from enjoyment then becomes very useful.
Awakening: And your teachers… you mentioned – Sri Krishnamacharya and Desikachar – was it your beginning with yoga?
Christie: Yes. All of my teachers go back to them. They are my roots, and began a quite radical tradition of teaching breath-centered yoga as it could be made appropriate to everyone, at a time when access to yoga was very limited in many ways. Krishnamacharya is an interesting character. His mission was to liberate yoga, make it a householder tradition. It became all about adapting practice to individuals, which most often meant teaching one to one. For example, Krishnamacharya offered a very rigorous vinyasa practice to the children of royalty because he saw it was very appropriate to their sedentary lifestyle. Both he and his son Desikachar never branded themselves, and never tried to create any prescribed yoga system, as two of Krishnamacharya’s famous students BKS Iyengar and Pattabhi Jois ended up doing. But thanks to those teachers, this lineage is everywhere, and everyone can share it – it’s very open because it is not a school. Desikachar taught with the prerogative of friendship with his students. He recognized that as a teacher he could only grow by knowing his students, and in that knowing he was able to empower students to be their own teachers.
Awakening: That we are contributing to each other and there is no separation like student and teacher.
Christie: It was not about being an authority in any way, but instead guiding everyone to their own appropriate practice.
Awakening: You also say that yoga is what you are, as you are, in any given breath. It sounds so true because really if you breathe you are, you are alive. You focus a lot on breathing. In June, you and Birdie Lawson will be doing a workshop Wind Ceremony + Restorative Breathwork. Tell us more about this.
Christie: Breath is everything. In this workshop, we will focus on working with breath, but also letting our breath work with us, and settle into the idea that there is nothing to control. Breath, prana, is a tool to access your own self-guidance, knowing, what is inside of you. Birdie will guide a ceremony and meditations focused on the element air, and I then will be teaching pranayama or yoga breathing techniques. And we will emphasize the enjoyable aspects of these useful rituals, and and open the space for everyone to do their own inner work.
Awakening: So, is it for anybody who is willing to breathe deeper and to feel more connected with yourself?
Christie: The great sage Ramana Maharshi said that the breath is the gross (physical, bodily) form of mind. In yoga there is no difference between the mind and the body. I’m always learning that I have much more power than I think in the so-called connection between the mind and body, because it’s in the breath, pure consciousness. By breathing, in an enjoyable way, we can all use the mind to help the mind, simply by becoming aware, the first step to learning how to clarify and calm ourselves. Air is also all about change and movement. Throughout, we will work with an intention to make inner change that we want to see out in the world.
Awakening: Can we also bring our individual intentions, issues, things what we would like to let go of with the breath?
Christie: Yes! Breath practice is especially liberating in terms of patterns and habits that we hold in both body and mind, which again are the same. And so by practicing in a way that is enjoyable and useful, to say it again, we start to feel better right away.
Awakening: We were never taught how to breathe, and there are so many people so limited in their awareness of the ways that they breath. It is so important to realize how much breathwork can help us in everyday life.
Christie: Yes, and energetically your whole body loves the breath. To me, breath is a very personal expression. I teach in very loosely guided way — we never count breaths or anything like that. There are so many kinds of breathing techniques out there that can get very mechanical. Sri Krishnamacharya was always insisting, “yoga is not mechanical.” When you are really paying attention to your breath, you can see and explore and become aware of your habits, needs, and preferences. It’s the perfect way to start from learning from yourself. And it can be challenging! I focus on breath throughout my all classes. And in finding a full breath, whatever a full breath feels like in the moment, breath anchors us in the present. I encourage everyone to let the breath be their first teacher. I always ask, can you enjoy that you have nothing else to focus on beyond your breath? Meanwhile the breath takes us everywhere …
Awakening: It is enjoyable that we will be having this workshop at Awakening and hopefully it will be useful for all participants. Back to yoga … on our schedule, we have two classes with you: Hatha Vinyasa on Mondays and Reiki Restorative Yoga on Fridays. What is the difference and to whom would you recommend these classes?
Christie: Monday morning is all about mindful movement and it starts with breathing. We do standing postures, more strengthening, stretching. It’s a great way to start a week. Then on Friday, the restorative class is more about energy, and letting go of whatever we need to, with the same focus on breathing and finding ease and support through held postures and some gentle movement. For me as a teacher, it’s a wonderful way to open and to end the week at Awakening.
Awakening: To end on any share or guidance…?
Christie: I would share again and again all of the things I’ve said about breathing so far, and one more note: when we really tune in to our breath, after a while the breath starts to guide our practice rather than the other way around. It’s about active participation, making choices based on the guidance we receive from within. When we can let breath guide our practice, and soon enough that same force, that prana, guides us through life. It’s so useful, and such a joy!
Awakening: So, breathing deeply… thank you very much for your time and sharing beautiful guidance. And see you at your classes and workshop.

Christie’s classes – sign up here
Christie’s workshop – sign up here

A Moment with Yael Krichely

Awakening: Your passion for yoga, spirituality, and dance. When did it all start?
Yael: My passion for dance started when I was in 6th grade. We had jazz class after school and I fell in love with the class and the teacher. My passion for spirituality started when I was younger. Perhaps in fourth grade. I remember my uncle and my mom talking in the kitchen. My uncle asked me, “who are you?” I said, “I am Yael.” Then he said, “no, but who are you?” I again said, “I am Yael.” He then said, “but who is Yael?” I asked him, “what does you mean?”
Awakening: That was a conscious question… Do you remember your answer?
Yael: I remember being puzzled. Wasn’t it enough that I gave him my name? So, it was a moment that stuck with me from childhood. My mother was also very spiritual. Books, lectures and workshops, were things that she did. At some point, she also started teaching yoga. So, I made a connection with my mother. We used to go to yoga and dance classes together. From a very young age I would go with my mother to see the Alvin Ailey Dance Company, who had come to Israel to perform, as well as the Iso Dance Company with Daniel Ezralow. My mom was also an Aquarius so she was always looking at things from all different aspects of life, in unusual and imaginative way.
Awakening: So, she somehow opened your heart to different aspects of life?
Yael: I think so by connecting to the heart. Yoga really started in New York. I came here to go to the Alvin Ailey school for their two year certificate program. When I finished the program, one of my friends told me about a yoga place in the West Village. We went there to take a class and it was so different from dance. Dance had lots of pushing. It felt like you should do more. You should be stronger, faster, more flexible, jump higher. With yoga, I felt like I could allow myself to relax, and lay down between movements. I loved it. After two weeks of taking classes, I started my first training in 1998, at the Integral Yoga Institute in New York. From then on, yoga became a part of my life. There were times when I practiced more and times when I didn’t practice as much.
Awakening: And spirituality. What does mean to you? We talk a lot about this nowadays…
Yael: Going back to my uncle’s question of who I am. Spirituality for me, means to find the essence of who you are as a person. As children and adults we care so much about what other people think. We sometimes change ourselves according to what they expect and we lose ourselves in the process. Spiritualty is finding the way back to the person who probably originally arrived as a baby but had been let go because of all different qualities you learned from what you though people were looking for in you. You may have tried to become them instead of being yourself. This prevented you from evolving into who you were meant to be. It’s like the lotus flower when it opens. It’s not just about the flower blooming and opening. Sometimes, you need to go more to the left or more to the right. Let yourself be.
Awakening: The answer to the question “who I am” is on one handsimple one, but on the other it is difficult to put it into words. What would you tell people to just get the sense of “who I am”?
Yael: I like to say, “I am a spiritual being experiencing life in a physical body.” The physical gives you limitations. However, with limitations there is an opportunity to grow in different ways. I also connect this idea to dance. When you create a choreography, you do not just dance whatever. Sometimes, you create certain movements which can be limiting for the body. Then you have to invent a movement in a new perspective. Through, a limitation, a completely different movement can be created. I feel that with all of the limitations of the physical, the mind, and even ideals and emotions, we can feel like waves in the ocean. We should find the next movement by connecting these or tap the spirit that is inside. We can grow with this physical body to come back to who we were.
Awakening: And does the body and the mind help us in this process or not? It is said that mind is controlling us and the body is limiting us – infinite beings that we are. So how do you perceive it because we are kind of complete: mind, body and spirit, soul, energy.
Yael: Yes, we are complete, but we are in a process. Some people say that you master yoga, if you can sit for three hours without moving and without blinking. Of course, because you are a body, you still breathe and you still have a pain but if you master not moving for three hours, then you got it. The idea behind this is that the mind wants things. When you sit for three hours, the mind still want things like to move a leg because it hurts or to get up and eat because the stomach feels hungry. These wants of the mind are called fluctuations of the mind. They are like little waves. Once the mind starts, the body wants to respond physically, and a first reaction is usually automatic. When you allow yourself just to sit, sit, sit for three hours, you will be able to constrict yourself from doing those impulsive actions. Instead succumbing to the mind’s wants, you begin to train your mind to quiet down, even if it is for a couple of minutes. Ideally, you start to train the mind to quiet down. As the mind becomes quieter, you come closer to who you are without wanting, just being there. It’s a process of coming back to yourself. I think we are in this process all of our lives.
Awakening: We are usually running, running away from life instead of being present.
Yael: We do this because of the wants as well as the things we don’t want. We push them away. Because of these actions, we are not fully present. So it’s important to allow yourself to be and feel. If there is a pain, then to feel the pain, if there happiness, feel that happiness without pushing it away or bringing more of it.
Awakening: If we are constantly in the state of being we don’t need anything. There is no wanting and maybe it is the state of I am. So, on daily basis what is your practice to stay connected to the body, mind, the spirit and the being?
Yael: in yoga, I sometimes talk about taking the yoga out of the yoga mat. During the yoga class, you are in your Zen, in your peace, in your life movement, quiet and relaxation. However, when you go outside and you should try to keep this state there, no matter what are condition there. It’s a daily practice. For example, I have three kids who go to the school. I am in contact with other parents and teachers regularly. On some days, there are annoying situations and on some days, I have a clear mind. During the day, I try to read books like spiritual books. I sometimes randomly open a book I love and read a message to enlighten my being. I intuitively feel that I pick the right book and open on the right page. Other times, I find that a good conversation with a friend can be contributing. The interaction of sitting with  another woman and just sharing is a heart opening and can be uplifting. I also like practicing yoga and dance. I like yoga movement which is more Hatha Yoga or Asanas. When I go to sleep, I put my hands one on the heart, the other on the belly to connect within at the end of the day. Sometimes in the morning I try to find things I am thankful for. I also try to do some breathing exercises in the morning – just a little bit to connect and remind. When it comes times to come out of my shell or when I don’t like my behavior or actions, I try to forgive myself. I step aside to see again a situation where I was emotional and how I can perceive it without emotions.
Awakening: We are happy that you will have the New Moon Woman’s Circle workshop, on March 31st at Awakening. The theme is Surrender with Trust and Truth. Tell us about it.
Yael: Surrender the ideals of what should be, could be in our life, how we want people to see us. Surrender to the fact that we can just go of all thoughts and see where we were first and how we are now. Knowing that it’s a path that from now on, we can move on. We have first to acknowledge and accept that and then we can trust the Universe so that whatever we wanted can come back to us. Maybe a little bit different from what we have thought. If we let go of holding to the dream of how it should be, we are open to allowing things to happen in ways we have never imagined. It is then that we will find our own truth, our heart truth, our heart question, what is it we want.
Awakening: So, someone who wants to join us for this workshop… do we need to prepare in any certain way?
Yael: It’s nice to bring a journal to write some things down. Maybe think about things like ideals to let go of, but is not needed. We will do it during the workshop. Women can also bring a favorite item for the center altar to be charged with good intentions. It could be a stone, a piece of jewelry, a crystal or anything that comes to mind. We will have also a guided meditation using some imagination to move to a place which is more calm and serene so that it’s easier to find things within. After that, we will find where we can surrender and where we find the trust and truth. We will continue in search of finding where we want to start. As it’s a new moon, we want to put in an intention for the month to come and working with something we are stuck in. Before April comes, which is the spring, we all going to clean our shells from the inside and put new seeds so they can blossom like the flowers in the spring. We will probably work with the ideals of the labyrinth on this workshop and what that would be a part as an art that I will guide us through. This will give us tools to move forward from where we were stuck to the things we want to get to.
Awakening: Sounds interesting. So… is it something you would like to share with? Any thoughts, any message?
Yeal: Yes. Women ask sometimes what is a women’s circle. So, I want to say when women come together, they have an amazing power as a support group, even if they didn’t know each other before. Magic happens in those circles just by coming, being open to other people and listening. It is so incredible how one woman in the circle with her story or her insight can touch someone else. You can hear in these circles, “oh my god, what you just said was so much about my life.” We are all interconnected. We all are here to support each other.
Awakening: We are such an inspiration for each other. This is a beautiful message that women are powerful. Thank you very much and we can’t wait to meet you on Friday, March, 31st.

A Moment with Nicole Lynne Hooley

Awakening: How all this has begun? How did you begin your experience with healing and overall wellbeing? Was it a feeling, calling to you from your childhood or did it come later…? Sometimes it lays dormant within us until awoken, and very often because of a life event. How did your awakening come about?

Nicole: A little bit of both. I was definitely a spiritual child. I spent most of my time asking my parents and family members questions about God when I was little. My mom was not very religious so I would have her set it up so that I could go to church with neighbors, friends and other family members. From a young age I was had tried so many different churches. I went to a Presbyterian chuch, Methodist church, Catholic church, Pentecostal church and even participated in a few Jehovah’s Witnesses services. I was really fascinated by how every church was a very different, but they were all talking about the same things (when I could understand them). Also as a child I spent a lot of time with my grandmother was pretty spiritual and kind of religious. She was also an astrologer and card reader (like cartomancy – playing cards) – she was very gifted. I used to participate in her weekly Psychic night every Tuesday – it was my grandmother, my great aunt, their best friend and sometimes my other little cousins would come. We would work on psychic empowerment. It was just really fun, but I also was kind of afraid of it all. Then I guess came a time when I started to meet people who were against religion and realized that being spiritual was silly or uncool to them. So for a while I shut it off and became interested in boys and partying instead. That was my main focus until my grandmother passed away from cancer when I was about 18 years old.

Awakening: So… it was an important life event to remind you of all those things and bring them back into your life?

Nicole: Yeah. I lived with my grandmother from when I was in middle school until she past away my first year of college. When she was getting sick, I started turning away from spirituality, I was really angry, and I just had really bad behavior. It wasn’t really like me at all, because I was always pretty good, angelic… like if kids were bullying me, I would tell them I loved them. And when my grandmother did finally pass away – I – it’s weird – I started to kind of communicate with her. And that was when I came back to spirituality. And at first it was pretty religious, like me going to church, me to listening to religious radio stations and so on, trying to get connected with God and all this stuff. But something happened when I was listening to a radio station and it basically, it was like obsessed with the End of the World and it was really focused on all these sins we all have… it felt like we were all going to hell. It didn’t feel like what I understood Jesus to be teaching. It was just heavy and mean. So when at that time I was in college and I changed my major. I had previously been a History major and I switched to Philosophy and Religion, because I was passionate about figuring out the truth. I started to study all the different faiths, I took a Greek Orthodox Christian Course on the Gospels with a Priest, I studied the Torah with a Rabbi, I took courses on Buddhism, on the Yogic Traditions and of course on Modern and Classic Philosophy as well Existential/Post-modern Philosophy. Out of all of them, I believe Yoga stuck with me the most, because it was a road map to find truth on your own. Thats what I had been searching for. Not to be told what to believe, but on how to figure it out for yourself. Yoga teaches us how to connect directly to Truth, or ”God”, or Source!

Awakening: So like starting to connecting to you. As a part of God is in us.

Nicole: Yes, you’re here to awakening to your truth or find enlightenment! All the traditions hint to this, but there is a lot of confusion, because of all the rules that end up putting people in a box. But really It’s all so simple. The idea of yoga is just getting into your body and removing distractions. Through practice and finding clarity you start to tap into your truth and start to feel your direct connection to everything around you, and something stronger and more powerful than you. Its really so beautiful!

Awakening: Was this idea vibrating with you so much?

Nicole: Yes, there were little things back then too like “The Secret”, I remember watching it and my mind being blown. And when I was taking that yoga course my teacher said yes, the ideas from “The Secret” are from India, but it’s not about money, it’s about something much bigger. I was at the time was really living my life within the flow Universe, it was all magically unraveling. And that explained when I thought I was communication with my grandmother it was synchronicity. Things that felt almost magical would happen like I would crying and needing help and then I would look up and see a book with a beautiful message from her highlighted or just at exactly the right time something perfect would happen.

Awakening: You felt that magic was real?

Nicole: Exactly. I felt enchanted, like world was more colorful all of a sudden. So I started just flowing that way, magical things would just happen… and still do.

Awakening: And that was when Reiki appeared?

Nicole: It was a little bit later. Since I was little I knew I could put my hands on someone to help them feel better. I remember just holding my friend’s ankle to make it better. Just as like an intuitive thing. Then later on, one time a yoga teacher adjusted me in a yoga pose and then I realized she was across the room and I felt like she was still touching me and I was like WHAT IS THAT? And I asked her about it and she said “Oh, that’s just Reiki.” My mind was pretty blown.

Awakening: What is exceptional and specific with Reiki versus other methods?

Nicole: Reiki is basically the shortcut to get into a vortex, to get into a flow of the Universe. It took me 10 years to do all these other things, studying, figuring out, realizing. With Reiki you just tap in and then you get it.

Awakening: So just hands-on and you are there.

Nicole: Yes, and you need just to relax. There is a higher force that does the rest.

Awakening: And the class we have on our schedule Reiki Restorative Yoga is it your idea? I really like it! It takes you deep inside…

Nicole: Thank you. I decided to change the class to restorative a few years back and at some point I had an insight that it should be definitely Reiki Restorative Yoga. This has been a great way for me to feel that I am helping to awaken people on their path to healing. I learned Reiki combined with yoga from the same yoga teacher I learned Reiki from, Summer Quashie. I’ve taken a lot of what I’ve learned from her and many other teachers and made something of my own that is always growing and changing based on what I feel is needed.

Awakening: It is said in your description that a healing with you is like ‘an hour of unconditional love’. What is unconditional love for you?

Nicole: Unconditional love is for me the understanding that every single person in the entire world is sharing this same experience with you and we are all sharing collective consciousness and we all have our own presents, pasts, futures and at the end of it we all have the same feelings at some point. When I’m in that space I cannot help but feel and think, ’You are beautiful’, ‘I love you’, ‘I understand that you are so special’. I try to always, understand and recognize that person standing or laying in front of me is incredibly special.

Awakening: Like Namaste says ‘I celebrate the place in you where we are one.’

Nicole: Yes. And I try to hold the idea (and sometimes is hard because we are stuck in negative bubbles) that whoever shows up in front of me is meant to be there. Like whatever is happening is happening on purpose, it’s needed and it is a lesson. And the lesson is always coming as a reminder that we are all connected to the idea of unconditional love and to trust in source. That was the message in my opinion, that the Bible was supposed to teach.

Awakening: In this outside world there is more conditional love, and we all need to open our hearts for this unconditional which is completely different.

Nicole: Yes. And there is an understanding when giving Reiki that it is coming from the Source. I am only passing it along. Reiki teaches unconditional love in that no matter your state of mind or place on your journey you will receive exactly the amount of healing that you are ready for. For me that means that at the end of the day you are exactly where you are supposed to be other wise you would not be here. The universe is pure love and we are just remembering to tap into it regularly so that we can support each other. It is the universe’s love (or the love of the collective) that makes this all possible.

Awakening: Tell us about Intuitive Healing, what is about? Is it a little bit different than Reiki?

Nicole: Yes. For my Reiki Sessions the treatment is just very traditional and I follow a pretty standard sequence for placing my hands and what not. While for Intuitive Healings I don’t follow any particular sequence or rules. My Intuitive Healing sessions I incorporate crystals therapy, aromatherapy, reiki hands on healing and own personal guidance from Source and Experience. With Reiki I might give some hint of guidance, but I try not to because it is not really about that or me for that matter. But in Intuitive Healing I spend more time on guiding the client either through personal insights, practices that I think will help them and the like. This is because I trust that they are there for that reason. My intuitive guidance has kind of been my gift since I was a child when even adults came to me for advice. I am an old soul. So mostly Intuitive Healing sessions are kind of intuitively guided sessions. I think of them more like a channeled session. I often start to pick up on the clients energy up to 48 hours before the session. Each session is very unique are really special to me.

Awakening: If there is anybody who is willing to have a healing with you and who is not so familiar with energy healings. Is there any special need or requirements to prepare for the session?

Nicole: I think the best way to prepare for any spiritual work is to cleanse yourself a little bit. So  for the day before try to not to eat any animal products like dairy or meat, avoid fried foods and drink only water. I would also advice to try and clean up and organize your living space by removing all clutter. We don’t always realize that our surroundings reflect what is going on with in you or that they are impacting you energetically. What you want is to have some extra clarity (this clearing of the body and space will help). This clarity will help you understand why you are getting Reiki/Intuitive Healing session, like what is the point? When we have the clarity we are more likely to see results. But it is also important to release any expectations, and know no matter what, reiki and intention setting is serving you and your highest good. It’s not working in normal time and space. It’s a multidimensional experience.

Awakening: And what life issues are for healings?

Nicole: I think all of them, I do have a lot of clients who come to me because of blockages and who need their Energy or particular areas of life to be flowing better. I also have a lot of people to come to help with their creativity, depression or anger, more emotional things. There are also people who come to me who are having physical pain who get relief from Reiki and restorative yoga. I have never healed anyone’s cancer or anything like that, but have helped people with cancer feel more at ease during their treatment process. Honestly, from my understanding, Reiki is healing you on a soul level and a lot of elements, difficulties and obstacles are on our path are connected to our soul or whole self. So when we get sick it’s because we are not connected to our truth. So every obstacle coming in our way is a reminder to connect the truth, to tap in. A lot of times we forget or we don’t know that theirs more to life then what we are seeing in front of us. There is usually a message or lesson to seek for to be happier and Reiki helps to facilitate this learning/understanding.

Awakening: To end on a constructive note… do you have any guidance or message for all people who will be reading our interview?

Nicole:  Just that my services are designed around empowering others. My goal is to turn a light on so you can do it for yourself. And my hope is that as many people receive the empowerment and healing that they need so they go out and pass it on. The idea is to make as many people feel good as possible and help them to find their truth.

Awakening: Thank you so much Nicole, we appreciate you find time. We are happy we have you in our healing center.

 

***

 

Nicole Lynne Hooley

Yoga Teacher, Reiki Master & Intuitive Healer.

Nicole specializes in Teaching Restorative & Therapeutic Vinaysa Flow Yoga for Healing and Empowerment. Her Reiki & Intuitive Healing Sessions have been called “an hour of unconditional love”. Nicole has been highlighted by Huffington Post and YogaCityNYC. She also teaches our Reiki Training here at Awakening Healing Center.

More: http://awakeningny.com/our-team/

A Moment with Steven Prestianni

steven prestianni

 

 

“Breathing. That is the joy of life.

                           After that is everything else…”

 

Steven Prestianni, who also is known as Paz, Anadabhairava, or Pastrami, is a New York City yogi, musician, teacher, theologian, cyclist, and much more. Over a cup of hot lemon ginger tea, he explains these truths of his, simply and genuinely. “Breath is what bridges the yoga of the body to the yoga of the mind.”

 

At Steven’s Thursday evening Hatha Yoga Class at Awakening NY, students are gently guided through a more traditional style of yoga. Contrary to the popular and more modern Vinyasa Flow or Power Yoga, Steven teaches (and practices) the “yoga of the ancients.” His style derives directly from his teacher and mentor Sadguru Sri Mahayogi Paramahamsa, founder of the Mahayogi Yoga Mission.

 

“Yoga is restraining the mind-stuff from taking various forms.”

 

This quote from The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali best embodies Steven’s classes. Poses are held at length, in quiet and stillness, focusing on breath, with intermissions of savasana (corpse pose). Steven’s soft voice methodically instructs how to get into and out of these poses. He glides from student to student, expertly adjusting hips, arms, necks, legs, slipping their bodies deeper into the asana. The class concludes with alternate nostril breathing (or another form of pranayama) followed by silent meditation.

 

Photography by Jannelle McCoy

Please, do not be dissuaded from this more traditional class, as the two hours seemingly float by. Just like when in an extended pose, the moment you may start wavering and thinking you can do this no longer handle it, is the moment it comes to an end. After class you, you will feel as if you are wrapped up in a cloud. You’ll feel fuzzy, warm, and your heart will be filled with this genuinely kind energy that Steven so graciously pours out.

 

Now, Steven was never seeking to become a yoga teacher. He was raised in a Catholic Italian family in New York, to which he attributes his intrinsic interest in religion and meditation. As a young adult, squatting in the Lower East Side with many like-minded, creative people, he made his living as a skilled carpenter and a mover. During this chapter of his life, Steven immersed himself in learning about the different religions and spiritual transitions of the world.  Around this time, he came across Srimad Bhagavatam, which provided him with his first understading of “yoga.” This, in part, lead him to Sri Swami Satchidananda, founder of the Integral Yoga Institute, to whom he was introduced to by a friend.

 

As Steven deepened his practice, teaching opportunities began to manifest. Some remarkable yoga teaching experiences include: teaching female inmates at the Kearny Correctional Facility; physically challenged and wheelchair-bound members of the Multiple Sclerosis Society; and mentally-handicapped individuals at AHRP. Steven explains that is was while working theses communities, that he was able to develop as a teacher, learning how to work, guide, and nurture different types of human beings.

 

sunset-janelle

Photograph by Jannelle McCoy

Over the next decade or so, as New York evolved, Steven’s life gradually shifted. His building became legalized. He started getting work teaching yoga closer to home. And, he no longer needed to work as a carpenter or mover anymore.

 

Though Steven is dedicated to the yogi tradition of renunciation – the elimination of all mundane desire – his life is more the full. Monday through Friday he teaches yoga at studios in Brooklyn and Manhattan, as well as to private clients. On weekends he leads workshops and teaches at Yoga Teacher Training Programs. And, on top of all this, he fits in his own yoga, meditation, and music practices.

 

  ….But, he would never claim to be busy, “for being busy, connotes being out of breath, frantic, and unbalanced.”

 

Steven Prestianni teaches Hatha Yoga on Thursdays at 7:15pm at Awakening NY in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Sign up for his class here.

 

 

Past Articles on Steven:

Yoga Sleuth: “Physical Being, Spiritual Existence with Steve Prestianni” (2014).

The Villager: “Finding peace with Paz and $7 yoga on Sixth St.” Laurie Mittelmann (2008).

Awakening Spotlight: Mariola Zaremba

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Mariola Zaremba, Founder of Awakening Healing Center, Energy Healer, Yoga Instructor (Polish/English)

A sparkling light that radiates from within, it’s hard not to notice Mariola from afar. Awakening Healing Center is an extension of Mariola’s own journey of personal transformation. Mariola’s mission is to help change the world for the better by helping people focus on personal growth and awareness to peace and a healthy environment. Mariola practices energetic hands on therapy – Aura and Chakra cleansing, Reiki, Chakra Therapy & Shamanic Healing. Her newest project is her beautiful Chakra Healing Yoga classes on Tuesday’s at 6pm. These classes are focused on activating, cleansing & aligning our Chakra wheels of energy in our electromagnetic field. Chakras are responsible for all aspects of our life & well being. Through special asanas (poses) breath work & chanting connected with each Chakra students learn how to establish balance in their body and how to heal their-selves inside & outside of the classroom. Often Mariola will set up students with a partner/classmate to find a closer connection with each other and feeling their etherial body & emotions. Mariola has been exploring the Chakra world for many years. Anodea Judith encouraged her to proceed with this healing modality. 

Mariola Zaremba came to this country 24 years ago from Poland. As she recounts, “I am a wounded healer because my journey was through my own rocky experiences. The most profound work I offer is Aura and Chakra Cleansing…the knowledge must be in you, ancient wisdom from previous incarnations”.Mariola explains, “I didn’t expect myself to become a healer…the path found me”. Previously, she was a Real Estate Broker and Developer in Brooklyn for 15 years and in a recent interview with Tom Flud, Mariola explained, “I was successful but, empty in my heart, rushing and rushing for more and more.” After a diagnosis of skin cancer, Mariola recognized this as a “wake up call” and began to change her lifestyle. She started first with yoga to calm her body and mind and then meditation and exploration of shamanic practices. Listen to Mariola’s Interview with Open Center’s Tom Flud Here: Conversations with Healers

Three years ago Mariola opened Awakening NY-Healing Center in Brooklyn. Awakening Healing Center is an eco friendly oasis for those who want to disconnect from City life, relax, heal themselves and grow spiritually on a deep level. You can stop in and buy a healing crystal or necklace, take a yoga or Pilates class, book a massage or sign up for a life changing healing session with Mariola or any of the members of her carefully selected team.

Mariola wants people to come to Awakening not only to exercise in a Yoga class, but to heal and to leave more whole and complete. Her studio is staffed with teachers, therapists, healers and staff that uphold her vision for deep healing and relaxation. Awakening Healing Center is Mariola’s gift to her community and it shows. You will meet Mariola at most of the events and workshops held at Awakening. From participating in World Peace Meditations to Leading Healing Cacoa Ceremonies, it is apparent that Mariola is not just the owner of Awakening Healing Center. She is a leader and visionary with a pure heart and a deep desire to see everyone around her thrive with her.

 

This blogger’s recommendation: 

Book a Reiki with Shamanic Healing or Chakra Cleansing Session with Mariola!

I recently traded a healing session with Mariola and the benefits are still unfolding. Mariola caring and benevolent energy safely exposes your shadow side so that you might move forward on a path to more enlightened living. Not only did the session create a huge shift in my life, she also sent me on my way with tools to help support my transition. These sessions will shake something up in you, they are powerful, however in the best possible way! Trust the process and you will be happily surprised by the results. – Nicole Lynne Hooley