The Faces of Yoga

We wanted to share the stories of Yoga with all of you who practice yoga or are considering starting a yoga practice.

We hope you enjoy our stories.
 Greetings! My name is Paul Bryan.

When I retired I experienced a major shift in my daily life. Retirement came earlier then planned due to major health issues.
I needed to focus on a path of action. A path to a healthier, proactive lifestyle.

At 62 years of age I felt I was living a normal life. I was visiting the local gym on a daily basis, but I was bored with the routine.  I was not a happy participant.

The Satya Yoga Shala had opened in Farmingdale one year earlier. It is in walking distance of my home. My neighbor suggested I give yoga a try. She was certain I would like a class in Gentle Yoga.

I believe my goal in attending the class was similar to many others who start the yoga journey. I would get my exercise and increase flexibility and strength. I quickly found the practice had a profound impact on my life and the benefits went beyond anything I had imagined. Three years later and my practice has never been boring. Far from it!! It has been one of the most dynamic experiences in my life.

The location of the Shala is not only convenient, but it has become my sacred space. In a very short time I realized this space had a profound effect on my mood and my spirituality.

The music, the incense, the wonderful practitioners, and above all, the outstanding yoga teachers, allow me to focus on my practice relaxed, open and fulfilled. It is a sacred space respected by all who come to practice.

The initial desire for increasing flexibility and a new approach to exercise have been a constant achievement. But as I continued to explore I became open to so many new ideas, events, discussions, workshops and readings.

Within the past three years I have participated in the following:

Gentle, Hatha, Kundalini, Yin and Restorative Yogas

Pranayama , Meditation

Readings/ Study groups

Transcendental Meditation

The origins of Yoga

Reiki Healing

Nutritional advice

Coping skills

Connections were made that lead to a proactive health practice using acupuncture and Chinese herbs.

Most important, and most beneficial to me, is my acquired ability to shift focus when confronted with conflict or discontent. My medical issues are in check. I have reduced my prescription meds to none! I have replaced them with supplements and herbs. My “dark times” are few due to practice and meditation.

The practice of shifting my body while working in a posture is a practice that can be applied off my mat and beyond the yoga studio. A strong practice can effectively bring contentment into daily life.

This amazing space, along with outstanding teachers, supportive fellow yogis and the powers of the universe that brought me to the Shala continue to lead me on. A wonderful journey it is!!!
      My name is Arielle, and I'm 25. My yoga journey began about seven years ago, and like many, I found yoga during a traumatic time of my life. My best friend, a.k.a my mom, passed when I was 18. I spent a majority of the first year or so after her passing, not taking care of myself. With the help of a friend and a local studio - I found yoga. I jumped around different yoga studios, trying all different kinds of yoga, mostly for exercise and distraction. Eventually I stuck with one studio, and practiced there strongly. I was very dedicated to the space, and loved the community so much - but something within me felt so disconnected from the practice after a while, and disconnected to the space. It didn't feel like a practice that was "accessible to all" anymore. I found myself developing an injury, one that even my teacher had at the time. I felt vulnerable, and unsafe. I decided to take a summer off from practicing at studios, and developed a strong home practice. During this time, I explored other forms of movements, like weight lifting and dance. In late fall, I tried going back to the studio and just felt so lost there. Which made me challenge myself as a student, and as a teacher - I questioned whether yoga was something I even connected to anymore, which after finding something that helped me so strongly for so long, deeply upset me. About three months ago, my boyfriend mentioned the owner of a yoga space down the block, Maria, stops into the cafe he works in often. Such good words were told me about her, so I trusted his intuition and decided to take her class. The moment I walked into Satya Yoga Shala, it changed my life. In three short months it has changed my life. I felt like I had been there before, and like I'd practiced there for the past seven years. It was home. Maria was sitting pleasantly at the front desk, which felt like it could be her living room. She was so happy to see me, as if we already knew each other. The class was beautiful, so beautiful I cried. Really. The space is like walking out into nature. Perfectly quiet, inviting, and nonjudgemental. I've often heard the saying, "yoga means unity." While I always thought I believed it and understood it, I really didn't until the moment I walked into the Shala. Just when I wanted to give up, this time around, yoga found me. That is what is so incredible about the practice, to me. It's a journey, with no destination. There is no right way or wrong way. There is just you, here, now. With all of your imperfections, and vulnerability. Satya Yoga Shala, is where I truly have begun to understand that yoga IS accessible to all. No matter who you are, what you eat, what you practice - you are welcomed, with love, compassion, and gratitude. Thank you Satya, for welcoming me to your home, and your community. The love within my being for this space is infinite. I look forward to a long, healthy, and safe journey with you.
   My name is Christine Korn. At 81 years young, chair yoga has helped me to greatly ease the pain in my knees from arthritis. Chair Yoga has greatly improved my balance and strength. I have less pain then I had ten years ago.
    I walked into the shala about 15 months ago, I was 24 years old and I was feeling stuck and confused about life. At this time I was experiencing unmanageable anxiety and I was looking for anyway possible to help myself. I was all tangled up in the material word when I started to question my life purpose thinking "there has to be more to life". I started coming once a week and then twice and week and eventually things started to change! One day the yogasana became something more, something I couldn't explain but something I wanted more of. My mat became my transformational space, a sacred space where I could be with myself and God! I don't know where I would be without yoga which is why I want to spread yoga which led to my decision to sign up for training to become a yoga teacher. I found my way to serve God and the greater good.
The shala has become my safe haven. I place where I know I can come and be with my true self. The teachers of the shala truly care about spreading yoga. I have meet some of the most genuine people at the shala who love yoga. No matter where life takes me I know I always have a home at the shala.
 When I was 16 years old I was experiencing debilitating anxiety and panic attacks. My parents gave me the option of either starting anti-anxiety medication or taking yoga classes. I chose the latter and began developing my yoga practice with Maria Yakkey on and off throughout the rest of my high school and college career. After I graduated from college I completed the yoga teacher training program at Satya Yoga Shala and became a certified yoga teacher. Still, each time I step on my mat is a completely new experience and I love that there is always so much to learn about myself and about yoga. Yoga has empowered me to take control over my breath and my mind rather than letting my mind take control over me. Satya Yoga Shala is a second home for me, a place you can truly be yourself and practice in community with no judgment, no matter if it is your first time on your mat or your hundredth. Yoga is not a scary, mystical practice; yoga is a gift accessible to all. :)   
    I first started practicing yoga with hopes of healing my body and calming my mind. I had been a patient of Acupuncture for many years, and I recently started practicing Reiki. I felt naturally drawn to Yoga as the 3rd element which would harmonize the healing of my body, mind and soul. I was searching for freedom - freedom from fear. Dreaming to have the power to make myself feel good - healthy, peaceful, alive.

Since practicing yoga at the Shala, my entire perspective on life has blossomed. The breathing techniques and poses awakened a sense of lightness, clarity, and strength within me. Yoga significantly lowers my anxiety, stress, and suffering. It has raised my consciousness, awareness, and vibration. Yoga teaches me something valuable each day. It reminds me to live in the moment and to b r e a t h e. It has brought so many beautiful people and opportunities into my life. Yoga connects us with the Breath of the World.

Satya Yoga Shala is the most special place I've had the honor of knowing. The air inside is easier to breathe. The teachers are so kind and knowledgeable. They always make sure everyone is safe and comfortable. The students are genuine sweethearts. The space is filled with magic and lots of love. Satya means Truth. Truth is embodied in every breath and heartbeat of the Shala. I am forever thankful!

Olivia, age 21

 My name is Maria Amador and I've been attending Satya for almost a year. Finding this yoga studio was truly a blessing! When I found Satya I had been suffering with chronic back pain for year. Every doctor I saw suggested yoga as a way to improve the mind and body. Since I'd never taken yoga classes I wanted a place that would make feel comfortable and confident that I could do the "work." I spoke to a few yoga studios and left many messages. None seem to fit my needs until I came across Satya Yoga Shala. That day I spoke to Maria, I explained my situation and she immediately suggested "Chair Yoga." I had no idea what to expect, but I went to a class and met Stella the chair yoga instructor. I have been going to "chair yoga" ever since. Stella is knowledgeable, compassionate and caring. She has built in me the confidence to work hard and listen to my mind and body. Over this last year my health has improved because my mind and body have become stronger. Maria Yakkey has created a community that not only supports the mind and body, but also the soul

       Hello, my name is Paul Merkle. I am 54 years old. I started yoga about 18 months ago. The first few months were tough as I had become rather inflexible. However, I could tell from the outset that yoga would benefit me. My first teacher was very helpful and encouraging. She inspired me to improve and stick with it.
Shortly afterwards I found Satya yoga Shala, after trying several other boutique studios. From the first class there I could feel the positive energy that is so abundant, flowing freely through the teachers and the studio. It truly is a sanctuary for the body, mind, and soul. The teachers are welcoming to all levels of yogis. They are attentive to all, ensuring students are not doing anything to hurt themselves, and gently encouraging improvement.
What do I get out of yoga? I get physical exercise, release from negative emotions, and peace in my soul. My body is more supple, and stronger. My mind is calmer, and clearer. My soul has found a contentment it needed.
  I have been practicing yoga on and off for about 7 years, sometimes more regularly than others, 3 of which have been at the Shala. I am a fairly anxious person who has a hard time quieting the noise in my head. I have found I always felt better and more grounded in myself when I took the time for myself to make it to yoga. This is something I have found even more now that I'm a mom. I find it harder than ever to make my "me" time a priority but I also find it has never been as important to do so. I feel like a better me and better mom when I do, and my favorite way to have me time is making it to the Shala. I have never been in such a welcoming and nurturing space before in my life. The teachers are all so supportive and accommodating and really care about the students. Maria has been particularly helpful and supportive of me as I've struggled with some emotionally challenging medical issues. I have done reiki with Maria as well and found it to be such a useful tool for my overall health. I'm grateful that I have found this truly special space to practice yoga for my body, mind and spirit. ~ Marissa  
   I started practicing yoga in 4th grade with my teacher, Maria Yakkey. I still practice for 10 minutes every morning before I go to school. Yoga keeps me flexible and confident in everything I do. Yoga at Maria’s studio, Satya Yoga Shala, has had an incredibly positive impact on my life and my running career. My favorite pose is Downward Dog because it is a full body stretch and works before or after a race. Sun Salutation is also great. ~ Charlie
 I started practicing when my son, who is almost 8, was 6 months old. Maria was running a mommy and me yoga class. I had always been interested in trying yoga but never had the confidence to try. I have been practicing ever since, mostly with Maria. At times of turmoil and upheaval, yoga has provided me a space, physically and mentally to ground myself and given me the ability to face to world. Why at the Shala? Two words, Maria Yakkey. I have followed her to three different spaces, but the her heart and soul are fully invested in the Shala. She had brought people together from all walks of life and created a welcoming community for anyone who walks through the Shala's door. Satya Shala is a unique space that shines brightly and anyone who walks in can immediately feel it strongly the energy of the space. ~ Jess  
   I have been practicing yoga for more than 10 years now, at various locations. My friend and I happened to find The Shala shortly after the studio opened. It has been life changing for me.

At that time, I was struggling to accept that chronic illness had presented itself in our lives, and specifically targeted my teenage daughter. It was emotionally and mentally breaking me. In turn, my health was also being affected.

At The Shala I have met many amazing teachers. All of whom have contributed to my growth in some way. Maria has always been there to help with her knowledge and advice. And for that I am truly grateful. The community of yogis that I have been blessed to meet have become friends and supporters throughout my journey. I feel that The Shala is a safe and nonjudgmental place where I can express my fears and face them, rather than deny them. Each teacher offers something different and unique, and every class is personal.

My practice has strengthened me in many ways. I am physically stronger. I am emotionally equipped to face what each day brings to my door. And I am mentally aware that it is all about the balance and how I react to the situation. Yoga has taught me that my peace comes from within, when my mind, body, and spirit are aligned. I have learned that breathing is key! The teachers at The Shala always focus on breathing and teach different techniques of breathing. This has now become part of my daily practice. Now I always know where my next breath will come from......within. Thank you Maria, and Satya Yoga Shala!
~ Angela