Program of the Month: Care Plus NJ

Our Program of the Month is Care Plus NJ!

careplusnj logo.jpg

Care Plus NJ is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that provides comprehensive, recovery-focused mental health and substance abuse services. Services are offered on a voluntary outpatient basis to adults and children. There are a total of 23 sites, including three outpatient centers, ten residential facilities, offices at three local hospitals, and seven community offices, which make their services convenient to clients located throughout Northern New Jersey. Since 2010, Kula for Karma has been offering chair yoga to the clients at the main headquarters outpatient center in Paramus, NJ. Our instructors over the years have shared with us that clients seem very receptive, and even empowered by the weekly yoga classes. The Kula team has created an atmosphere of safety and respect in the classes, and the staff at Care Plus say: “Kula for Karma cares about the needs of this population. The clients are very grateful to be able to take yoga conveniently at our site (Care Plus in Paramus, NJ) without being judged or charged a fee.” 

With programs still going strong after seven years, Kula is proud to continue offering therapeutic yoga at Care Plus NJ. Learn more and help us expand our programs here:

Infographic: Benefits of Therapeutic Yoga

The physical and psychological benefits of therapeutic yoga, meditation, and stress management are well-documented in medical literature. We created this infographic to summarize just a few of the benefits we observe in students participating in our Kula for Karma programs. Feel free to download and share the infographic to help spread the word about the healing power of therapeutic yoga. 

The Benefits of Therapeutic Yoga

Volunteer of the Month: Deirdre Treitler

Our Volunteer of the Month for March is Deirdre Treitler!

Deirdre Treitler, RN, BSN, RYT

Deirdre Treitler, RN, BSN, RYT

Deidre Treitler (RN, BSN, RYT) has been teaching Hatha Yoga since 2004. She began teaching Yoga at Holy Name Medical Center, where she has been employed as a Registered Nurse since 1997. Deidre has integrated holistic and complimentary therapies over the past 20 years in her work with patients and clients in psychiatry, pulmonology, oncology and cardiology. She currently teaches a gentle yoga class for cardiac and pulmonary patients as part of the stress management component of rehabilitation. She also co-authored, and was the primary investigator, in a research study evaluating the effects of Hatha Yoga on perceived stress and quality of life in phase 2 cardiac rehabilitation patients. This research is presented in the article, “Evaluating the Addition of Hatha Yoga in Cardiac Rehabilitation,” published in MEDSURG Nursing Journal this month:

“When I first heard about Kula for Karma, I immediately wanted to jump right in and work with the underprivileged, and patients with multiple medical needs,” Deirdre says. “I have always believed that the practice of yoga should be available to everyone, free of charge, and that yoga is preventive and rehabilitative medicine. It took a few years before my schedule allowed me to join Kula, but it happened, and the perfect fit for me at Care Plus opened up! My experience with the clients at Care Plus is unique. The clients suffer from a wide variety of mental health issues, in addition to other comorbidities. I love the strength these clients exude! This population is unique in their ability to be completely honest. They say what they feel, they say what they think, the filters are gone, no nonsense, just sheer honesty.  Every week I witness great kindness, love, dedication and so much compassion for one another in this group! I feel blessed to be able to teach, and to learn from this population.”

We are truly proud and grateful for the work you do, Deirdre. Thank you!

Whole Foods Market and Kula for Karma Team Up to Offer Therapeutic Yoga Programs

Free Weekly Classes in Glen Rock and Saddle River are Open to the Community

Whole Foods & Kula for Karma - Yoga

Kula for Karma has partnered with Whole Foods Market to launch two therapeutic yoga programs in Bergen County, NJ. The natural foods supermarket, known for its commitment to improving lives in the communities it serves, is sponsoring the free weekly classes, which began February 7 and 8 and are open to the community.

“Since 2007, Kula for Karma has offered over 600 programs in the Tri-State area, at no cost, to those with physical and mental health challenges, “said Penni Feiner, the organization’s Executive Director. “Our success has been grounded in a community of dedicated volunteers, including yoga instructors, allied health professionals, business leaders and local supporters like Whole Foods Market.”

The Whole Foods Love Your Body Love Yourself class is designed to transform negative body image into acceptance and body love by offering yoga that is accessible, body positive and reflects the full range of human diversity. Classes will take place at The Body Image Boutique, 96 E. Allendale Rd. in Saddle River, NJ, on Tuesdays at 6:30 p.m. beginning February 7.

The Whole Foods Market Healthy Heart class is for those recovering from heart disease. This gentle class focuses on relaxation techniques designed to mitigate stress and promote physical, mental and emotional well-being. Classes will be held Wednesdays at 7 p.m., starting February 8, at Powerflowyoga, 530 S. Broad St., in Glen Rock, NJ.

Kula for Karma is a nonprofit that is pioneering the integration of therapeutic yoga, meditation and stress management into mainstream medicine and healthcare. The organization’s relationship with Whole Foods Market dates back to when the natural foods supermarket opened its Ridgewood, NJ store. Feiner was teaching for Kula at the Woodlea Group Home, a facility for at risk teen girls run by Children’s Aid and Family Services.

“The store’s community’s manager invited the girls to wrap gifts in the Whole Body department,” Feiner recalls. “We set up a table and wrapped until our fingers were raw! Kula’s relationship with Whole Foods Market grew from there.”

Whole Foods Market has donated food to all of Kula for Karma’s major fundraising events, including its annual gala. Five years ago the organization was the designated local nonprofit for one of the Ridgewood store’s “5% Days”, receiving five percent of that day’s net sales.

“This new collaboration is the continuation of a longstanding and mutual admiration for one another’s missions and vision,” said Feiner. “We are grateful for Whole Foods Market’s four Bergen County stores, for continuing to support our passion for sharing the healing power of yoga with our community.”

Whole Foods Market operates Bergen County locations in: Closter, Edgewater, Paramus and Ridgewood.

Registration is required for both classes, and participants can sign up online here. For more information email or call 888-545-9642.

Yoga in One Word: What Yoga Means to Us

As you may have already experienced, yoga means many different things to different people.

Practicing yoga can be about physical care, about emotional well-being, about community, or a multitude of other things. We think this range of meaning is both beautiful and powerful, so we created a video of our amazing team members and friends sharing what yoga means to them in one word. Hear what they had to say:

As a part of the Kula family, we’d like to invite you to share what yoga means to you in one word as well. You can do so by commenting below, sharing on social media (Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram) with hashtag #YogaInOneWord and tagging Kula, or by creating your own short video. We’ll compile your answers, and be sure to share them here.

Thank you for being a part of our community! It is because of you that we can continue our work to ensure that yoga is accessible to all, and we’re incredibly grateful for your dedication and support.

If you’re interested in joining the Kula team as a volunteer yoga instructor, we’d love to connect with you. You can learn more about it and start the process here.

Here are some of the wonderful responses we've received from the Kula community about what yoga means to them:

  • Love
  • Revitalization
  • Happiness
  • Tranquility
  • Yolk
  • Breath
  • Lifestyle
  • Solace

Program of the Month: Jericho Project

Our program of the month is the Jericho Project!

Jericho Project

The Jericho Project provides a Veterans Initiative to over 550 veterans in New York City. Jericho's Veterans Initiative is comprised of housing, employment and supportive services for veterans. 

Providing instruction and practices in yoga and meditation may help veterans lead more successful post-deployment lives, helping them transition back to civilian life and reconnect with themselves, friends, and families.

Kula is proud to have been serving the veterans at Jericho Project for a year! We are looking forward to expanding our programming within this wonderful organization to help more veterans, as well as families and young adults in need.

Volunteer of the Month: Virginia Atkins

Our volunteer of the month for February is VIrginia Atkins! 

Virginia began practicing yoga in earnest when she retired in 2006. At that time, she was practicing almost daily at Dew Yoga in Stamford, CT and reaping the benefits of regularly being on her mat. In 2012, Virginia decided to take her teacher training and enrolled at Kripalu for the 200-hour certificate. Upon completion, she began to teach a Karma Yoga class at Dew each Sunday morning whereby all proceeds from the class and the equivalent of her salary were donated to a local charity. Virginia returned to Kripalu in 2014 to complete her 500-hour certification.

In 2015, Virginia moved from CT to live full-time in NYC – a life long dream. After a few false starts, she found Reflections Center for Conscious Living and Yoga, which she says, “felt like home the moment I walked through the door. After one Sunday morning class I mentioned to the teacher than I would like to find another volunteer teaching position. Through her, I learned of Kula for Karma and the amazing contributions they are making.”

Virginia registered to become a yoga instructor with Kula, and immediately was made aware of an opportunity to teach at the Dublin Cancer Center associated with Mt. Sinai Hospital. Virginia now finds herself happily teaching at a residence associated with the Jericho Project. She says, "I am delighted to be guiding the yoga practice of a group of veterans that is more grateful for the experience than I ever could have imagined.  It is incredibly rewarding.”

Thank you for all that you do, Virginia! We are so grateful for you.

Program of the Month: Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine at HUMC

Our program of the month for January is the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine at Hackensack University Medical Center!

The Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine at HUMC provides a full range of empirically validated psychiatric services to meet the behavioral health needs of their patients. 

Their programming includes specialized treatment tracks appropriate to the age and specific diagnosis of consumers such as substance abuse, eating disorders, thought and mood disorders, anxiety disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder and personality disorders.

Through the The Debra Simon Center for Integrative Medicine, the Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Medicine at HackensackUMC has been able to expand its psychotherapy program. The overall goal of the program is to reduce the unnecessary use of psychiatric medications and strengthen the psychotherapy division to better serve the needs of patients, and help treat the whole person. Kula is incredibly grateful to have been serving both inpatient and outpatient patients since July of 2015. One of our dedicated volunteers described the experience as, “It is an incredibly rewarding experience to be with these patients in their moment of vulnerability and to offer them the opportunity to experience and see themselves differently.  Our class helps them get in touch with their inner resources and resiliency on a whole new level.”

Thank you for your incredible support in making yoga accessible to all who can benefit from the practice!

The Science of Yoga: Why It's Good for Your Body & Mind

When we first started practicing yoga and meditation, we didn’t know where it would take us. Each of our team members started to practice for different reasons, and had different ideas about what our practices would look like. Some were focused on breathing, some on daily meditation, some on rigorous yoga practice, or others on a combination. But one thing was the same for all of us: practicing made us feel better, both mentally and physically.

It made us curious about why that is. Were there studies that could shed light on the positive changes we were feeling after starting our regular practice? We were thrilled to find that there were – and many, in fact.

Some of the many psychological benefits of yoga and meditation include improved self-acceptance, reduced anxiety and depression, reduced hostility, improved impulse control, and learning of healthy coping strategies. On the medical side, practicing yoga regularly can lead to improved sleep, increased immunity, decreased pain, normalized endocrine function, increased musculoskeletal flexibility and strength, decreased blood pressure, and so much more.

Knowing about this research further solidified our commitment to our practice, as well as to making yoga and meditation more accessible to all. We frequently share such research on our blog, and are thrilled to often see members of our Medical Advisory Board sharing pieces of their own as well. To share this information with you, we've rounded up our research here: 

Psychological Benefits

Overall Mental Well-Being



Body Positivity

Post-Traumatic Stress

Medical Benefits

Overall Physical Well-Being


Alzheimer’s & Dementia


Back Pain


Multiple Sclerosis


Spinal Muscular Atrophy

You can also find a number of medical studies on the effects of yoga and meditation for cancer survivors, those struggling with addiction, survivors of domestic abuse, youth with special needs, and more here.

We’re always working to expand our programming to provide free yoga to those in need of its incredible benefits. If you’d like to support that growth, you can do so by joining us as a volunteer yoga instructor or sponsoring a program.