November Teacher of the Month: Dr. Shari Becker

We are delighted to share that Dr. Shari Becker is not only our “Rising Star” Honoree at our 10th Annual Gala on Nov 6th, but she has also been named Teacher of the Month for November!

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Shari Becker is a licensed clinical psychologist and certified yoga teacher who has spent the last fifteen years integrating her two professional passions. In her work as a psychologist, she brings the wisdom of yoga philosophy, as well as mindfulness techniques, meditation and breath work to her patients.

Shari became a certified yoga teacher and began teaching for Kula for Karma in 2014. She has been teaching a weekly class in the partial psychiatric hospitalization program at Christian Health Care Center since 2015. The “consumers” in CHCC’s partial program struggle with various mental illnesses, including psychotic, mood, anxiety and personality disorders. They come from a wide range of age groups, and vary in physical health and fitness level. Many are on medications that have side effects impacting their energy and balance. Every Tuesday, these individuals come together to practice yoga in a class designed to address their emotional vulnerability while accommodating their physical challenges. Most consumers at CHCC have no prior experience with yoga and some are reluctant to participate.

“Once assured that the class is taught to be accessible to everyone, we begin with a dharma talk incorporating strategies based in yoga philosophy for coping with life’s challenges,” says Shari. “The rest of the class varies from week to week and includes breath techniques, meditation practices, linking simple movements with breath, gentle stretching and playing with balance. Our class favorite is the practice of ‘Breath of Joy,’ in which we inhale to lift our arms overhead and exhale to bend forward and swing our arms down and back with a vibrant ‘HA,’ releasing tension and anything else that no longer serves us.”

Shari has a special interest in the therapeutic application of yoga to issues related to food, eating and body image. She co-wrote Kula for Karma’s manual for our advanced yoga teacher training for disordered eating and body image issues, and co-taught that training in New Jersey and New York City. Shari was Kula for Karma’s “Ask the Yogi” webinar expert on yoga and mental health and spoke at a Kula fundraiser for medical and mental health professionals about self-care for women.

Shari says she is very grateful to be part of the Kula for Karma community, to teach yoga to the special population at Christian Health Care Center, and to share the wisdom she has acquired from her yoga practice with her patients and students. But we are even more grateful to Shari, in return, for the support and kindness she shares with her students, the wisdom and leadership she shares with Kula’s teachers, and the generous Benefactor-level donation she and her husband Dan Becker made in support of this year’s 10th Anniversary Gala. Thank you, Shari, for everything you do for Kula.

Get your Gala tickets now, and come toast our Rising Star and Teacher of the Month, Dr. Shari Becker. http://bit.ly/2yY1og6

Sponsor an Ad in Our Gala E-Journal

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Advertising in our E-Journal at our 10th Anniversary Gala is not only a great way to support Kula, it’s also a great way to get your message in front of hundreds of people affiliated with Kula. The E-Journal displays on-screen throughout the evening, with inspirational messages about Kula and this year's honorees, sponsored ads, and more.

Imagine the possibilities:

  • Congratulate Kula on 10 years of accomplishments in bringing therapeutic yoga to populations in need.
  • Share a message toasting one of this year’s honorees or special guests.
  • Let people know about your support for Kula for Karma and put your company’s logo, ad, or your personal brand in front of an influential audience.

E-Journal ads are available in various formats/sizes, ranging from a full screen ad to a simple line of text. Ads can be placed by individuals, companies, or nonprofit organizations.

Even if you’re unable to attend this year’s Gala in person, sponsoring an E-Journal ad is a fantastic way to support Kula for Karma and have a virtual presence at the Gala.

For more information about ad specs and formats, contact Simone Barfoed at simonebarfoed@gmail.com. To purchase an ad, visit: http://bit.ly/2geUrA5

October Teacher of the Month: Phyllis Rowley

Phyllis Rowley

Our Teacher of the Month for October 2017 is Phyllis Rowley.

Phyllis’ first yoga class was in 1974, when a physics professor put up a note: “Yoga, 4pm, Lecture Hall.” They met a few times, learned a few poses, then the class fizzled away. But it started a life-long practice, which deepened when she found Anusara yoga, and learned to breathe properly. Teacher training with Chaya Spencer, at Shree Yoga, was a dive still deeper into the world of yoga. 

Her classes are light hearted and energetic. “I started teaching for Kula as a brand new yoga teacher, wanting to give to the community at large,” says Phyllis. “Cancer patients were a natural fit, as my husband is an oncologist and sees first-hand the positive effects that yoga has on his patients. My students have been a perpetual joy. The Tuesday morning crew at the John Theurer Cancer Center enjoys being with each other, and it is lovely to see them offer advice and support to each other as well as keep track of visits to grandchildren and other adventures.”

Along with your students, we appreciate your dedication and generosity, Phyllis! Thank you!

September Teacher of the Month: Abby Denny

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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!