Inner peace: a lovely vision and an impossible goal, at least for those of us living in the “real world” of work and responsibilities. Right?
Wrong, say Lawrenceville yoga studio owners Romy Toussaint from Romy Yoga, Natalie Wexler from Firefly Yoga and Wellness, and Bethany Diddle from Shaka Yoga. While each of their studios has its unique offerings, the owners all have at least one common goal—to take yoga beyond the mat into everyday living.
These Lawrenceville yoginis are not saying that yoga will instantly transport you to an unending state of bliss, but yoga can help you meet every day challenges with more energy in a more mindful, if not peaceful, manner.
The practice of asanas (yoga poses), helps you to become more centered and to develop a greater sense of awareness, says Wexler. Yoga students often find that as they develop the qualities of flexibility and stamina on a physical level, they deepen these same qualities on emotional and mental levels.
Yoga gives you the staying power to complete challenging projects. It re-energizes and centers you, Diddle said. After completing a yoga session, you feel invigorated and ready to move on.
Yoga helps you be more realistic when making decisions, Toussaint said. Whether you are approaching a difficult yoga pose or facing a personal life challenge, you might need to extend yourself beyond your comfort zone. And there are other times when you need to step back and acknowledge your limits.
Yoga develops flexibility that helps you see different perspectives in any situation and make more insightful decisions, Wexler said.
All three women balance their roles as teacher/studio owner with work and family responsibilities.
Wexler, a resident of Ewing, works full time from home managing marketing projects for pharmaceutical companies. Her husband Mike helps run the studio on his days off from University Medical Center of Princeton at Plainsboro.
In addition to teaching at the studio, Wexler runs yoga and wellness programs in corporate settings. To get accepted into profit driven companies, you have to show management that these programs help the bottom line, Wexler said.
Using her marketing background, Wexler quotes research from Harvard and M.I.T. and from companies that offer mindfulness and other programs, including Google, Deutsche Bank, Apple, Yahoo, Johnson and Johnson, and IBM, to name a few.
Companies report that wellness programs make them healthier and more profitable, reduce absenteeism and resulting costs, and increase productivity.
Wexler’s students appear to agree.
“As a visual artist who has several projects and deadlines, the yoga and meditation classes …. help me to focus, be grounded and prioritize,” student Maria Madonna Davidoff said.
Firefly Yoga and Wellness offers a variety of classes and services. Select classes include music. The studio name, Firefly, reflects Wexler’s desire for her students: to find your inner light and illuminate your community.
Diddle, who works in marketing for an apps developer, finds that yoga gives balance to her life.
“As we continue to advance technologically, it is good to regather and restore. Yoga is a moving meditation. You’re in touch with your breath and in touch with yourself,” Diddle said.
Diddle has practiced yoga seriously since 2007 while in grad school. She said that in the midst of a demanding schedule, yoga was the one thing that brought her back to her center.
Classes at Shaka Yoga primarily focus on an athletic form of power yoga modeled after Baron Baptiste. This yoga is practiced in a heated room and focuses on a rhythmic flow of breath and movement. Students say that Shaka classes make them feel stronger, cleansed and more alive, and they experience a deeper connection of mind, body and spirit. Friday night “happy hour” classes include music.
Marni, one of Diddle’s students, goes to classes for the physical challenge.
“I am pushed beyond what I thought I was physically capable of practicing,” she said.
Toussaint, a wife, mother of four boys and a personal trainer, teaches yoga from her studio and local gyms as well and other settings including Bristol-Myers Squibb and Notre Dame High School. She also runs a kids’ summer camp program and teaches at an alternative school for teen mothers and mothers-to-be. She’s even worked with cancer and arthritis patients.
Toussaint teaches several styles with an emphasis on the spiritual and philosophical aspects of yoga, and often weaves music, poetry and dance into her sessions. Her classes include teachings from Pantanjali’s Yoga Sutra involving the eight-fold path which includes yamas, or ethical restraints; and niyamas, or lifestyle observances.
Alison, one of Toussaint’s students, describes her teaching as “a blend of mental and physical conditioning … so, I feel both centered and strong after each practice.”
Learn more about the Lawrenceville yoga studios:
Firefly Yoga and Wellness: firefly-wellness.com, 2500 Brunswick Pike, Suite 200. (609) 403-6679.
Romy Yoga: romyoga.com, 26 Tamar Court. (732) 991-6607.
The Lawrenceville yoga studios will be participating in community events this spring: Jubilee, May 5, Gordon and Phillips Avenues; Relay for Life, May 17, Lawrence High School.