“Health is a state of complete harmony of the body, mind and spirit. When one is free from physical disabilities and mental distractions, the gates of the soul open. Yoga is the golden key that unlocks the door to peace, tranquility and joy.” B.K.S. Iyengar
“Physical and mental therapy is one of the most important achievements of Hatha Yoga. In ancient times it was practiced for many years as a preparation for higher states of consciousness.” Swami Muktibodhananda
Yoga Training: I am a certified Yoga Shanti-Hatha Yoga Instructor, trained in a unique restorative and therapeutic method combining Iyengar & Raja-Hatha Yoga styles, as distinctly taught by my internationally acclaimed teachers and former students of B.K.S. Iyengar, Colleen Saidman and Rodney Yee. The NY Times christened Colleen “The First Lady of Yoga;” and Rodney is regarded as one of the foremost recognized yoga pioneers and teachers in the world – author of dozens of instructional GaiamTV videos, books, and DVD’s. Both are the founders of Urban Zen Integrative Therapy (UZIT) in collaboration with Donna Karen’s Urban Zen Foundation, a ground-breaking restorative healing yoga method designed for therapeutic application in clinics and hospitals, and developed specifically for healthcare providers and caregivers, now implemented in top hospitals nationwide.
Additionally, I am a LifeForce Yoga® Practitioner: Yoga for Mood Management, Anxiety & Depression, and trained with Amy Weintraub, author of Yoga for Depression and director of LifeForce Yoga® Healing Institute. LifeForce Yoga® , is used in the treatment of emotional or mood imbalances or neurological disorders, including trauma and PTSD. It is based on integrative Vedic combining methods from Hatha Yoga, encompassing Mudras, Mantra Yoga (Affirmations) and Yoga Nidra, within an Ayurvedic framework. I have been studying ancient Vedic philosophy and the classical scientific applications of Yoga and Ayurveda for decades, as disseminated through the cannonical texts of the Upanishads, Rig Veda, and the Bhagavad Gita and the other sacred writings comprising the ancient Hindu canonical texts knows as the Vedas. I have also studied and practiced Buddhist and Tantric meditation techniques. In 2013, I became initiated into the ancient practice of Kriya Yoga Mediation through Self-Realization Fellowship, founded by Sri Paramahansa Yogananda founded on the unifying principles of Adveita philosophy (non-duality) and Raja Yoga (The Royal Path of Yoga) as a path to ultimate enlightenment or moksha. I observe a balanced sattvic vegetarian diet and lifestyle, and a daily sadhana (spiritual practices) in observance of the traditional practice of Yoga, which I gratefully teach and also strive to fully embody.
Claudia’s Integrative Vedic Yoga: Due to my formal training in Raja Yoga (also known as Classical Yoga or Pantajali’s Eight Limbs of Yoga) which comprises Hatha Yoga, and my additional studies in the therapeutic application of Ayurvedic Yoga, I teach yoga as it was originally intended in its original therapeutic context as a means of mind-body-spirit purification preparing the practitioner for a higher state of consciousness. Lower states of anxiety, emotional stress, and restlessness, as well as physical imbalances are cleared. Ayurvedic Yoga, known as the ‘yoga of healing’ (specific poses are prescribed for various ailments or blockages) emphasizes balancing the gunas and doshas. Each person has a unique doshic constitution. Whereas some can handle an intensive ‘heating’ asana practice, those who have a Pitta (fire element) constitution will aggravate their condition and become even more agitated. This will induce high blood pressure, adrenal stress, anxiety, insomnia, and lowering of immune functions. Ayurveda is known as “yoga’s sister science” designed to balance and treat ailments of the body, whereas Yoga was designed to purify and ‘overcome’ the mind propelling one into higher states of consciousness (after the body was purified) and Self-Realization or attunement with the Atman (Higher Self). Ayurvedic Yoga or Yoga Therapy is geared towards achieving perfect health through balancing and eradicating physical, emotional, and mental imbalances. Yoga and Ayurveda were designed to be used together, as part of an integral therapeutic and scientific healthcare system, culminating in transcendence and complete mastery of the body and mind.
There are 2 methodologies of Yoga Therapy that I incorporate in my practice:
- Restorative Iyengar-Yoga Therapy for Healing the Body: This gentle, yet highly effective method of slowly stretching, calming, opening the body and relaxing the muscles is comparable to a ‘deep tissue massage,’ and it provides instant relief for those suffering from limited mobility, tension or chronic pain related to injuries or arthritis. A session is comprised of up to 12 restorative asanas or ‘held postures,’ supported by a combination of props (belts, bolsters, blankets, and blocks), in conjunction with gently administered hands-on-adjustments. The latter adjustments are similar to those provided by a Physical Therapist, and encourage proper alignment, a deeper stretch, and the maximum flow of circulation or absorption of prana without tension or risk of injury. Each posture is held for up to 3-5 minutes (which allows the muscle memory to set), while pranayama breathing techniques are incorporated to oxygenate the body (extending to all muscles, brain, tissues, and cells), reducing stress and inflammation and simultaneously balancing and calming the nervous system. Those who suffer from chronic pain, lack of mobility and injuries can expect almost immediate restorative results and relief from pressure, tension, mental and physical stress.
- Vedic Anahata-Raja Yoga for Purifying the Body, Mind & Heart : This integral and deeply healing and invigorating method combines advanced Vedic applications from Ayurveda, Raja & Hatha Yoga, with a big emphasis on pranayama and kriya-hatha-yoga purification techniques to encourage and activate the flow of prana (lifeforce energy or ‘qi’) through the 3 major nadis or energy channels, located inside and around the spine. Short mantras or bijas are incorporated through chanting during specific poses related to the chakra being activated in a specific asana, to recharge and purify the subtle energy centers in the body through sound vibration. This also has a powerful effect on the flow of prana, and charges and awakens every cells in the body with healing life-force energy. The session culminating with a profoundly transformational and healing Yoga Nidra guided meditation session done in shavasana. Yoga Nidra works with and on the Five Koshas, which are also referred to as the five subtle bodies which encase the Soul. One is able to reach a very deep hypnotic like state, and during the process of being guided through the five koshas, is able to transmute and transform deeply rooted negative impressions or samskaras which imprint on the psyche, and are responsible for physical and mental trauma and disease. Personalized affirmations or ‘samkalpas’ are used and formulated at the beginning of this guided visualization meditation, to fully affirm the inherent power of the Higher Self with the sacred intention of Self-healing and Self-realization.
I also provide personalized LifeForce Yoga® For Mood Management yoga therapy sessions which includes Yoga Nidra (highly effective for people suffering from emotional and mental disturbances, including trauma, and PTSD)
The Yoga Shanti Method: The Yoga Shanti Studio, based in the Hamptons and in New York City, was originally founded by Colleen Saidman, is currently co-directed with husband and renowned yoga master, Rodney Yee. Colleen and Rodney have developed the Yoga Shanti method, which is hailed for its innovative therapeutic and sequencing techniques, firmly rooted in the Iyengar tradition and based on The Eight Limbs of Yoga of the Raja Yoga path. The Yoga Shanti method however is uniquely adapted to the needs of modern Western bodies, taking into consideration unique environmental predispositions, and physical injuries and limitations or blockages which affect the body and mind in a unique way. Yoga philosophy, pranayama and mind-body awareness are at the forefront of this deeply restorative and healing method, which set the foundation for the Urban Zen Integrative Therapy (UZIT) training, developed at Yoga Shanti by Colleen, Rodney, and Donna Karan. I also had the honor to study with world renowned yoga experts and scholars, Manorama, Richard Freeman and Richard Rosen. Yoga Journal dubbed Freeman “one of the foremost Ashtanga teachers today,” and Richard Rosen as the leading authority on traditional Hatha Yoga and pranayama.
The Iyengar Method: Iyengar Yoga is unsurpassed as a way to build fortitude, stamina and flexibility while cultivating a sense of inner peace and well-being. The emphasis of Iyengar yoga is on the mind-body connection; slow movements and supported prolonged postures which yield the maximum physical therapeutic benefits, while calming the mind and nervous system. Classical and restorative yoga postures are executed with the aid of innovative supportive props (straps, blocks, bolsters, blankets) to encourage proper alignment and the ease of various poses, encouraging maximum stretching and lengthening of muscles. This method is highly beneficial to anyone suffering from chronic physical pain, injuries, limited mobility, or any kind of physical, psychosomatic, or emotional disregulation.