Body Work

The Whole World In Your Hands

Next to love and happiness, your health is probably your biggest issue, especially since the first two are so dependent on your fitness and well-being. Or is it the other way around? Perhaps your health depends on your supply of love and happiness. That's what holistic medicine is all about. The idea is that the state of your health, or "wellness", is the whole of the various components of your life: physical, mental, emotional, social, and spiritual.

That the state of your being is the sum of all these parts at first seems obvious. But American acceptance of holistic therapies, or "alternative medicine", has been a long time coming. We associate headache with aspirin, anxiety with valium, back pain with surgery, and cancer with chemotherapy. It has been easier to accept the cause and effect relationship between diet and lifestyle and the onset of illness rather than the ability of non-pharmaceutical, non-invasive treatments to actually cure those ailments.

Because conventional treatments have seemed to work so well for so long it is sometimes more comfortable to refer to holistic "natural" alternatives as "complementary" medicine. After all, in our American world, drugs and surgery are part of the whole realm of caretaking. Bottom line, when most of us get really sick, we go to the doctor.

At the same time, conventional wisdom suggests that things like Stress, Worry, Tension, and Anxiety are both root causes for a plague of alcoholism and drug addiction, and common obstacles to our quest for the good life. More simply, life without stress, worry, tension, or anxiety would be good! That premise is the prime motivation for the practice of yoga in America. While it is true that it is extremely effective in achieving "stress reduction," practiced regularly over an extended period of time, yoga is a powerful healing and transformational tool.

The immense cultural gulf between ancient Indian philosophies and modern American life seems formidable. But, in a way, recent applications of the science of yoga actually begin to span that gap. Sanskrit Sutras created thousands of years ago have found their way into modern American hospitals, specialized wellness centers, even into our homes and offices. Yoga's exercise component is applied as a body tune-up. Gentle postures stretch and tone muscles and joints, relaying positive effects to the entire skeletal system, organs, glands, and nerves. As to its conventional medicinal value, the first rounds of Western scientific studies have already shown yoga's effectiveness in the treatment of asthma, diabetes, weight control, arthritis, arteriosclerosis, chronic fatigue, varicose veins, heart ailments, and various psychological diagnoses.

Then there's that happiness factor. Beyond the riddance of aches and pains, the ordinary performance of yoga's prescribed regime of exercise seems to yield serenity, scientifically measured by an amplified activity of alpha waves in the brain. In our world, the tracks of those alpha waves might lead to something close to spiritual enlightenment. Yoga seems to be the ultimate holistic solution. Yoga means "to yoke together" the body and mind to create a state of internal peace (well being) and integration. Go deeper and the individual can evolve from a state of separation to a self-unity that is flexible, accepting and whole.

It's tough for us Americans to get to that "oneness" thing. Most of us just wanna be happy, but we don't want to be caught chanting. Yoga lets us start by getting rid of the aches and pains, getting in shape, and looking good. Historically, yoga's science comes down to a collection of 195 statements contained in eight "limbs" of practice. The program of physical postures which we commonly associate with yoga are prescribed in the third limb, asana, as designed to purify the body and provide strength in order to embark upon more meditative stages. These physical aspects ­ stretching, breathing awareness and body movement that make us feel good ­ make up the yoga commonly studied in America, known as hatha.

There is a yoga class near you. Whether your schedule allows only a brief one-hour session, a full-blown yoga retreat, or a long term commitment to the discipline there are convenient outlets close by. If you have visions of being twisted up like a pretzel, fear not. Instructor Laura Fagan explains "The great thing about yoga is no matter what your level of physical ability, there is a class out there for you. There is no wrong in yoga. It's about accepting what your body can do on any given day". Fagan wants her Sussex County studio to be "a refuge from a busy world. A place not just to practice yoga, but to relax and refresh yourself."

Other centers have sprung up all over Northwest New Jersey, conceived as professional holistic centers offering solutions for wellness as well as supplies, educational materials, audio and visual aids, nutritional items, cultural events and seminars. Yoga stands the center of most, as it has to various public programs offered at schools, churches, and YMCAs for free. The case of the free yoga class is the same as most others: you get what you pay for. Yoga instruction is not to be taken lightly and you should regard your teacher much in the way you would heed your doctor's advice as opposed to that which is free. We're talking about practices proven by thousands of years that can absorb a lifetime of study. Most true Indian yogis are busy elsewhere, but you'll be surprised at the availability of local instructors who approach that level of dedication. Instructional methods and institutions have existed long enough in the United States to have established reliable standards for certification. You should take advantage of those criteria.

Shirley Sicsko has been practicing yoga for 35 years. One block from the frantic energy of Route 10 in Succasunna, she and her husband Jack have built a business based on life's "pranic" energies. At Yoga West Holistic and Kripalu Yoga Center, a staff of instructors assists 100 full time students, plus walk-ins, in methods to develop all aspects of the individual. There are also corporate and outside classes, including specific classes for teachers in Roxbury and Mt. Arlington. Shirley prefers teaching at the Center. "Yoga is a very mental. There are areas of your body where, if you connect with a certain muscle it evokes a memory, a past memory, and you're able to release it. And it's so much safer to release it in a place like this where people understand and let you have the experience. That's what Yoga's all about. Relief of tension, relief of stress, release of emotions, maybe emotions that have been pent up for years."

For Shirley, and other wellness professionals, yoga has become a way of life. "It works. It's a whole science that's been practiced for thousands and thousands of years and now we're finding out my gosh, this works! It really does." After a girlfriend dragged her into a private home where a family brought yogis over from India, she taught aerobics and weight control until she went into "heavy training" for yoga at White Lotus in Santa Barbara. She now has over 3,000 hours of certification, most of them from the Kripalu Center in Lennox, Mass.. Although Kripalu once required a candidate's presence Lennox for periods of 28 days to attain levels of certification, the Center has established "satellite" instructional locations. One of those is at Yoga West where aspiring practitioners can pursue the qualifications necessary for teaching yoga in shorter increments of time.

The approach to yoga and holistic health as a "retreat" is becoming popular here and elsewhere as Americans develop a passion for recreation as therapy. Locally, the Appalachian Mountain Club hosts weekend retreats at the Mohican Outdoor Center in Blairstown where yoga, discussion groups and breathtaking hiking trails spur spiritual renewal. Nearby, the StillPoint Schoolhouse Yoga School offers several yoga retreats each year at the bucolic Genesis Farm. Further south in Warren County is the Mount Eden Retreat. The home of the annual Kindred Spirits festival also offers a secluded spot for holistic retreats and workshops. The 189 acres of scenic meadows and hills has a spacious Manor house. The seven bedrooms, 4 full baths, calming meditation room, spacious living room and large terraces make the Manor ideal for indoor and outdoor classes. A spring-fed pond, a Native American Sweat Lodge and a fire pit lead to meandering walking trails throughout the Retreat property. Director Delane Lipka, passionate about her work and her vision, describes her retreat approach as "Love and light filled hospitality. It is the ideal place for a retreat because it is so serene and peaceful and helps people reclaim their wholeness, heal and to renew themselves, in a safe and serene environment".

As if the universe of yoga were not enough, most local facilities offer additional disciplines and therapies. Pilates was developed after World War I by a German boxer and physical therapist looking for a way to help bedridden patients recover muscle strength. A cross between yoga and weight lifting, the system employs specialized machines to teach the body self-awareness and strengthen muscles without straining them. Pilates has proven beneficial for the rehabilitation of injuries and is favored by dancers and athletes for muscle toning. A type of yoga called Bikram, or "hot yoga", closely integrates Pilates techniques. Tai Chi is an ancient yoga-like system of exercises originating in China designed for self-defense and spiritual development. These and other disciplines such as Reiki and dozens of massage techniques are meant to compliment each other and satisfy the needs of a world of clients. You can get started for about $12. Its a whole new world.

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mary jane dittmar
07 Mar 2016, 10:16
I am looking for a class near zip code 07644 for senior.
Shannon Gingerelli
02 Aug 2015, 10:42
Looking for a yoga class for me and my 4 year old daughter. We are in Sussex County-Highland Lakes NJ. You can contact me at 973-222-6414. Thanks!!
Carolyn Nelson
07 Jun 2014, 09:09
I am looking for classes near Hoboken, NJ. I am 70 years old and in the beginning stages of osteoarthritis.
03 Apr 2012, 06:44
If anyone is interested in private yoga classes please contact me! Caters to all levels! Indoor/outdoor.. My place, your place, the park.. We can practice anywhere convenient for you! :) Also LIKE our facebook page at for more info and to stay in touch! <3 Namaste!!
28 Mar 2012, 06:00
for those in Union, Morris and Essex counties in NJ. We are very lucky since we have Studio Yoga in Madison. There are only couple of studios like this in NJ. I practice yoga for 8 years, and do have neck and shoulder problems. Once I joined Studio Yoga 2 years ago, I never stopped practicing because one of my injuries bothered me. I got stronger, and I know how to avoid injuries. This is real gem
19 Feb 2012, 08:57
hi. I am looking to become a certified yoga instructor. I live in bergen county, NJ. I would like to go to a school near my home that would offer payment options. Can ;you suggest any. Thankyou.
Laurie Minasian
03 Sep 2011, 01:42
hello, seems to me I'm having a tough time finding a center for yoga in the bergen county area. Especially any listings for OSHO yoga , If anyone can help, and point me in the right direction, I would be very greatful. Namaste' Laurie
10 Aug 2011, 12:41
Yoga In The Park!!\r\nWhen: Every Sunday @ 9am\r\nWhere: Berdan Grove\r\n Berdan Ave. & Sunnyside Fair Lawn NJ 07410\r\n\r\n**All classes are donation based and cater to all levels. Email for any additional info.**\r\n\r\nHope to see you there!
30 Jul 2011, 08:13
hello. i live in east hanover,nj. desperately need to get back on an exercise and good eating regiman. i am 57, overweight and in good health. very interested in starting yoga as soon as possible. where are the nearest classes evenings and/or early morning. thank you.
27 Jun 2011, 13:22
hello, \r\n\r\nI am seeking a weekend yoga/spirutual retreat in New Jersey in July 4th weekend. Do you have a listing of centers that offer this?\r\n
sandra ford
29 May 2011, 07:53
hello, I am seeking a weekend yoga/spirutual retreat in New Jersey in either June or July. Do you have a listing of centers that offer this?\r\n\r\nBest,\r\n\r\nSandra Ford
penny haug
22 Mar 2011, 17:37
Where can I find a tai chi instructor or Thanks Pennyclass near Chester nj or Flanders nj?
Mary Capodice
20 Mar 2011, 14:07
looking for a begginers yoga arthritis class anywhere in the Cranford, Union, Clark area in New Jersey
kimberly maitland
01 Mar 2011, 17:34
I am looking for a yoga and or palatis class in randolph,nj thank you for your help. Sincerely, Kimberly Maitland
20 Jan 2011, 13:52
Hi,\r\nI live near Bergen/Passaic county and am looking for an exercise class that I can take with my 7 year old twin girls. Do you know anywhere that offers that? Please let me know. \r\nThank you, Karen
04 Nov 2010, 12:43
I am looking for yoga classes near Matawan, NJ.
Lauren Vaia
01 Nov 2010, 07:17
I have back and neck problems and have been told by my chiropractor, physical therapist and massage therapist to look into doing yoga for relief. Can you tell me where I can get into a beginners class in morris or sussex county that is free? I cannot afford to pay for a class at this time. my friend got me a home kit, but im afraid Im going to hurt myself and feel that I need instruction. Thank you
14 Sep 2010, 17:10
I have been taking yoga classes in Denville at Health E Motion for about 6 mo. The instructor is extremely knowleable and the studio atmosphere is perfect!! Check out Christine's web site and tell her Debbie sent you!! See you there.
28 Aug 2010, 07:50
I'm looking for a yoga class near Long Valley, NJ (home) or Denville, NJ (work). Thanks for the help!
10 Aug 2010, 07:56
Where can I find free yoga classes in Bergen County, NJ?
12 Jul 2010, 14:21
I live in Sussex NJ and I was wondering if you knew where there are, if any, free yoga.classes. I have been out of work for 15 months. I have arthritis, neuropathy, I am in pain all day, but mostly early morn and late evening. I had four surgeries. Yoga.helps to stretch out my body, but I can't afford the local yoga place that cost $17.00 for just ONE class. Any info would help. Thanks!
21 Feb 2010, 15:41
I've attended the Bikram yoga center in Cedar Knolls. The instruction is wonderful, but I found that the studio was awful. Considering the heat, I did not care for the smelly moldy rug I was lying on!! I felt like a petrie dish!!! I wish they would rip the rug up and use good old hard wood!!!! Having said that, "Does anyone know where I can take a quality "Baptiste" style yoga class in the Chester NJ area??
23 Jan 2010, 17:09
There is an official Bikram Yoga center in Cedar Knolls, NJ ( I haven't been yet but it looks like it follows the same premise as the Bikram Yoga centers in NYC where we moved from. They offer unlimited introductory 7- or 10- day certificates for $25 or $35 respectively.
Laura McLean
04 Jan 2010, 04:47
I am still looking for a studio that offers BIKRAM yoga in Morris County or \r\nSussex County, NJ please.
16 Sep 2009, 17:28
check out (yoga to the people); it's a free yoga center...very professional setting and great instructor... It's located in a college area and they have very flexible schedules... I love it, but it hand up costing me more paying for transportation going to NY than for a membership in NJ...
10 Mar 2009, 17:35
We are located in PA just over the NJ border off of interstate 80 in Stroudsburg. We offer classes 7 days per week and also a 200 hr teacher training program. My friend Delia Quigley also offers yoga classes and a teacher training in blairstown nj.\r\n\r\\r\n\r\\r\n\r\n
11 Dec 2008, 16:05
I'm interested in giving my wife a 'Yoga Retreat' gift where she can take classes with accomodations. Can anyone recommend a place in NJ or PA?\r\n\r\nThanks!
15 Nov 2008, 10:04
Star Seed yoga centers in Montclair and Rutherford NJ are highly recommended. They offer a wide variety of instruction - including prenatal and a 'mommy and me' yoga class - and also run a teacher certification program. great place.
Margaret Panageas
28 Sep 2008, 21:12
I would like to know where I can find a Yoga and maybe Pilates class in the Hunterdon County area, my zip is 08833. Thanks for your help!
06 Sep 2008, 14:05
I am very interested in becoming a Yoga instructor here in Northern NJ. Can you recommend any places which will offer classes and certify me to be able to work in this field?\r\nThank you for your time,\r\nJanis
09 Jun 2008, 10:35
Can any tell where in North Jersey can I find outdoor yoga classes?\r\n\r\nThanks\r\n\r\nJennifer
Audrey B
19 May 2008, 17:39
Hey Shirley,\r\n\r\nMy name is Audrey and I graduated from Yoga Synthesis in 09' ( i think its been that long), I was searching the web for a sweat lodge, and pop there you and Jack were... ( I still dont know why I entered the shirley zone via sweat lodges) I hope you remember who I am so this email makes sense. You look great and I wish you so much grace and peace and love.
Jay Chopra
13 May 2008, 06:41
We intend starting a new Yoga group in Belleville, NJ 07109. Any one interested please contact Jay Chopra 908 578 0934 or, Thanks
15 Feb 2008, 12:44
I would also like to know where i can get yoga classes in NJ. I'm looking specifically in Morris County.\r\n-Michelle
Nancy Morales
06 Jan 2008, 14:42
I would like to know where can I get Yoga classes in Northeast NJ, my zip code is 07036.\r\nThank you for your help, God bless you.\r\nSincerily,\r\nNancy Morales

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