Yoga Teacher

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.



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 Jedynasty


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