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Sue Simring

I took my first yoga class when I was 64, so I came late to this practice. I have been a psychotherapist for 40 years, always interested in finding new approaches to life's stresses and struggles. However, I only signed up for my first yoga class after my ski teacher said it would help with my balance. Coincidentally, a new studio opened a mile from my house.

What I soon discovered was that yoga affected and changed me far more than physically. Its emotional and spiritual components helped me to cope with my own personal challenges, and provided an approach to living that was positive, inspiring, and purposeful, especially as I get older. If yoga could be this beneficial to me, I wanted to integrate its philosophy and practice into my professional psychotherapy practice, as well as teach yoga to others. Teaching for Kula for Karma was one of my incentives to complete a yoga teacher training program.

A new challenge developed when I was diagnosed with osteoporosis. I discovered Dr. Loren Fishman and Ellen Saltonstall, who together modified yoga practice to be safe and helpful with bone diseases. Once again, yoga is helping me deal physically and emotionally with the aging process.

My first experience teaching for Kula was at Englewood Hospital with triple negative breast cancer survivors. For the last several years, Laura Eisdorfer and I have co-taught a gentle chair class on an inpatient psychiatric unit at Hackensack Medical Center. It has been a gift to share the class with her. We learn from each other and enjoy the challenge of leading a group that changes every week.

Frequently, at the beginning of a class, I wonder how I are going to "do yoga" with this disturbed population, all of whom are on major medications. Many are also seriously physically limited, and don't appear to be engaged at all. However, by the end of class, I'm amazed by how many patients respond to our yoga class with appreciation, even if it is not much more than breathing and the most gentle movements. I am grateful for the opportunity to teach for Kula, and to be part of the larger Kula for Karma community.