September Teacher of the Month: Abby Denny

Abby Denny.jpeg

Our teacher of the month for September 2017 is Abby Denny, who teaches for Kula at Valley Hospital. We are so grateful for Abby's warmth, generosity, kindness, and dedication to helping others. Here's Abby's story in her own words:

"The combination of my own cancer journey and yoga practice has lead me down a wonderful path in more ways than I ever imagined. When one of my friends told me about Kula for Karma and the volunteer opportunities to help give back, I wasted no time. I did not have the opportunity to experience Kula’s services as a patient, but feel so grateful that I can help give back as a teacher and survivor.

Everyone comes to their yoga mat with their own stories, their own highs and lows, and being able to help guide people through their practice and their journey is a gift I am happy to share. After being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009 myself, I began practicing yoga on a regular basis as a way to navigate life from an honest and open place. I needed to find a way to dig deep, fight and continue to be true to myself as a wife, mother, and most importantly as a woman. Through the guidance of wonderful gurus along the way, yoga became an integral part of my daily life.

At Valley Hospital, I try to give my students a space that is safe, nurturing and peaceful. I remind them that they must learn to trust themselves, to love themselves, to continue to show their brave spirit and be courageous each and every day as they move on and off the mat. I am very honored to share my practice and guide these incredible survivors. I continue to gain so much strength and motivation from them, as I hope they do from me.

I am constantly learning and should complete my 500 hour yoga certification next year, continuing to build on my own core practice. My goal is to create a community where relationships with yourself, your yoga practice and your peers can help you to handle life’s twists and turns from a place of warmth and gratitude.

I enjoy cooking, gardening, golf and my wonderful family. I am proud to support Breast Cancer by participating in AVON39, hoping to walk all 7 cities with the wonderful support of family and friends."

Thank you for everything you do, Abby! 

July Program of the Month: Integrity House

Our program of the month for July is Integrity House.

Integrity House continues to be dedicated to offering yoga to individuals and their families suffering from substance abuse across their New Jersey facilities. Kula for Karma is proud to provide equally dedicated yoga instructors who are willing to share the gift of yoga with both men and women in the Adult Residential program at the Hudson County Correctional Center in Kearny, NJ.
 
This program assists individuals in recovering towards a drug free, positive lifestyle through a wide range of therapeutic and reentry services.
 
Jim Stroker, our former instructor for the men's class, describes his experience as "challenging, but very rewarding." He states that, "Hudson County Correctional Center might contain a parameter that it is a scary or dangerous environment; however under the guidance of Integrity House, the men you are working with are all nonviolent, extremely grateful human beings that are looking for someone to help inspire them through their challenges."
 
The women of this program have reported how much they love yoga and that it helps them move forward in their journey. It is crucial for a teacher to be able to connect with students because they are going through tremendous challenges in their life, and we are so grateful that we have been able to offer this support for seven years!
 

July Teacher of the Month: Sujana Bhattacharyya

Our teacher of the month for July is Sujana Bhattacharyya!

Raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, Sujana has had a longstanding inquiry of how to optimize healing and social justice. As such, her professional interests led her to the East Coast to become a doctor, while her spiritual aspirations led her to yoga and Ayurveda, the ancient Indian system of medicine and well-being. She discovered that practicing yoga brought her a sense of wholeness, and that yogic philosophy provided a remarkable blueprint with which to live life with integrity.

Wanting to extend this healing modality to her patients and community, she completed her 200-hour yoga teacher training at Three Sisters Yoga, a school that encourages teaching yoga to diverse populations. Under the instruction of wonderful teachers and mentors, including Jen Whinnen and Krissy Shields, she learned to teach an alignment-focused and non-judgmental style of vinyasa yoga.

As a physician in training, Sujana believes yoga should be accessible to everyone. Thus she has focused on bringing yoga to communities that cannot access yoga due to limited resources. This passion eventually led her to discover Kula for Karma, which was recommended by a friend and fellow yoga instructor. At Kula, she has primarily taught at Integrity House, which she says has been an utmost privilege. Every week, women in different stages of their recovery are encouraged to show up just as they are. Sujana strives to bring calmness, strength, healing, joy, and an aromatic mini-massage to each of her classes, with the intention that every student leaves feeling relaxed and loved. 

Thank you, Sujana, for the love and care you bring to your work for Kula!

Gerson Feiner, Kula for Karma's Special Grandpa

Gerson Feiner
October 18, 1929-June 28, 2017
 
It is with the deepest regret we inform you that Gerson Feiner, loving husband of Shirley Feiner, father of Penni Feiner, Debbie Feiner, and Philip Feiner, father in law of Francois Giliberti, Larry Rothenberg, and Fred Homer, grandfather of Kestrel Feiner Homer, Cooper Feiner Homer, and Natasha Giliberti, and friend to many, passed away peacefully today. During the course of his life he demonstrated kindness, respect, integrity, wisdom, devotion, humor, compassion, and was an incredible role model for all who knew him. He was a Sweet Gentle Giant and he will be sorely missed.  

To Honor Gerson's life, donations can be made to The Gerson Feiner Memorial Fund.

The Karma Monkeys Friend-raiser Was a Hit!

We are so grateful to all our friends, supporters, teachers, and community members who came out to our friend-raiser event last week in Wyckoff, NJ, with special guests The Karma Monkeys. We had so much fun with all of you. We hope you enjoy this slide show of photos taken by professional photographer Erika Kao. Thank you, Erika!

June Program of the Month: Family Connections

Our program of the month for June is Family Connections!

Family Connections is a non-profit community-based counseling and family service agency. Every day, they help children, adults and families transform their lives for the better through the provision of innovative counseling, skill-building, training and prevention services. Their goal is to serve the complex needs of their communities, which includes early childhood social and emotional development, adolescent development and safety, trauma, mental illness, addiction, unemployment, poverty, domestic violence, child abuse and neglect.

Since 2015, Kula for Karma has been serving children ages 2-8 at Family Connections who have significant emotional and behavioral challenges. Our instructors over the years have made a real difference for these children who struggle with such difficulties as impulse control, history of abuse, delayed development and serious defiance. We are grateful to have such a passionate team of patient and energetic instructors to help spread Kula’s mission to such a special population (including our Teacher of the Month for June, Yukiko Murai).

June Teacher of the Month: Yukiko Murai

ユキコ / Yukiko Murai(村井由起子)

Yukiko has moved back and forth three times between Japan and the U.S. in the last 15 years. Having given birth to four children, she knows more than anyone else how Yoga can assist and support women before and after childbirth. She started teaching “Pelvic Adjustment Yoga” with a wish to help as many mothers as possible. She has earned RYT200, and is a certified trainer of Yoga Ed. Kids Yoga, Maternity Yoga, and Pelvic Adjustment Yoga. 

Yukiko has taught kids yoga (3 to 13 years old) at nurseries, preschools and elementary schools in Japan and the U.S. since 2010.

She has led Teacher Trainings of YOGAed (http://yogaed.com/), and has taught kids yoga at Family Connections since January 2016. Her focus is to teach mindfulness through breathing and centering. Thank you for all you do, Yukiko!

Align, Breathe, and Flow for a Cause

Join us at Athleta's Flatiron location in NYC for a special yoga class and shopping event to benefit Kula for Karma, with yoga teacher and program director Yuliana Kim-Grant. 

This powerful class combines classic Vinyasa with an emphasis on alignment and breath to achieve Ananda/Bliss and Freedom in both body, mind, and spirit. Yuliana believes in creating a safe space for her students to explore, to take risks, and to play in their practice in the hopes of providing a transformative experience for everyone from the beginner to the advanced yogi.

Thursday, June 22
6:00pm to 8:00pm

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER

May Program of the Month: Nyack Hospital

Nyack Hospital’s mission is to provide competent, innovative and accessible emergency and acute care services to the residents of Rockland County and surrounding areas. Kula’s relationship with Nyack Hospital started in spring 2016 when we launched their first weekly Yoga for Oncology program. Seven months later, we launched their first Yoga for Multiple Sclerosis program. We are very excited to celebrate our one-year anniversary with Nyack Hospital, and are looking forward to a very bright future!

May Volunteer of the Month: Yael Sunshine

Yael’s earliest memories of yoga was when her older cousin told her all about the ashram he was living on, much to the concern of older family members.  Shortly after, her high school history teacher handed her a copy of “Be Here Now” by Ram Dass saying he thought she would love it. This began a lifelong study of Yoga, Sufism and Kabbalah, guided by a passion to find the common ground of different spiritual traditions.

Yael has a rich background in fine arts, dance movement therapy, core energetics and special education. She says, “One of the wonderful things about being a yoga therapist is that it lets me draw on my extensive and varied experiences to create practices that are tailored to the profound needs of my students. I see yoga as a practice that aligns the body/mind with the deepest knowing of self. I’ve learned that the body never lies and by listening to its wisdom we can gain access to our purpose, passion and presence.”

Yael has been teaching yoga since 2003. She received her 500-hour certification in yoga/yoga therapy from Yoga Mountain and studied Yoga and Ayurveda with Dana Slamp at Prema Yoga Therapeutics. She is a certified RYT500 with Yoga Alliance and a Certified Yoga Therapist (C-IAYT) with the International Association of Yoga Therapists .

Her classes are gentle, deep and playful. She combines alignment, learning the measure of our bodies, fluid movement, breath and inquiry to find strength, focus and ease. “I want to share the love, joy and healing found in yoga with my students so they can find a greater sense of authenticity, connection and well-being in their lives.”

We are thankful and inspired by all you do, Yael!