| by Elizabeth Nutig |
As daily life becomes more chaotic and interconnected, allowing time to cool down to be with ourselves mentally, physically and spiritually is essential, and one of the most credible ways to do that is through yoga. Fortunately, a yoga studio in Tarrytown has what’s needed for residents to revive themselves.
With the iconic hum of the Metro North trains in the background and the serene Pierson Park in front, Riverstone Yoga provides its clients with more than just a classroom for Yogis and Yoginis, it is a transformed temple of plasticity. Entering the studio, a garden of herbs meant for sampling greet any visitor as a dear friend, and once inside, the removal of shoes is expected to settle in to an isolated calming space, where the focus is you. With sometimes more than five classes per day, ranging from “Vinyasa Flow” (a class centered around the importance of the breath) to “Aerial Yoga Burn & Bliss” (yoga taught on aerial hammocks) to even Prenatal Yoga classes, Riverstone offers enough yoga classes to keep everyone on their toes.
Initially a Hindu philosophy for creating inner peace through the control of the body and the mind, yoga has been practiced for thousands of years and Riverstone does not disappoint. Its name derives from a jagged rock whose edges become soft and natural after years spent being water-smoothed by river flow. Owner Patricia Fischer Donohue chose the name because of how yoga has affected her own life. She began a career as a lawyer with a stressful Type A personality, but discovering yoga initiated a personal journey of finding her spiritual self, therefore smoothing her jagged edges. She believes everyone has something to gain from yoga, whether that be a type of self-realization that comes from learning how to problem solve through mental and physical challenges that yoga provides, or just a fun community and a fantastic form of exercise.
The health benefits of yoga are many, ranging from an increase in mood to a drop in blood pressure to the maintaining of the nervous system and to even reducing physical pain. But Donohue sees it somewhat differently.
“It’s because your start to learn about yourself. It’s because you take some time to slow down and disconnect from the 24/7 connected world and be with yourself, you have the ability to heal yourself mentally, physically, and spiritually,” she explained.
By taking time to understand your own body through a variety of moves and poses, yoga creates a unique type of intricate awareness. For example, when putting pressure on each side of your body for a Thread The Needle Pose, you may realize that one side is stronger than the other. “It’s through simply paying attention to what you do and how you do it, you have the ability to stay healthier and to heal yourself,” she said.
As many of us are hunched over computer screens, our health is slowly being compromised. Yoga helps alleviate this through the activation of the vagus nerve, which connects the whole body, and the way we stimulate it is through deep breathing. Riverstone and yoga as a practice presents its clients with the tools to handle stress, especially with the power of a breath. Deep breathing is proven to reduce blood pressure, as well as stress hormones in the blood, improve immune system functioning, and balance levels of carbon dioxide and oxygen in the blood, making it one of the most authentic stress relievers out there.
In a world becoming more connected at the cost of interaction and essentially disconnecting from our own humanity, Riverstone tries to heal this by fostering a sense of community. “Even if you are in a room of strangers, if you have 20 people breathing together, there is something on a deeper human level that connects you all, that creates an energy that helps to alleviate stress,” Donohue said.
Riverstone practices two main types of yoga- Asana and Pranayama. Asana connects the physical body to the mind through poses and moves, exploring emotions and testing concentration, while Pranayama’s purpose is to connect the breath, mind, and emotions. Everyone is on a different path and, in turn, has different reasons for practicing yoga; and this mindset of acceptance and non-judgment has always been an imperative part of the traditions and values of yoga practitioners, and it holds true especially for Riverstone.
“Riverstone Yoga is a calm, warm and welcoming studio where the instructors are so helpful and extremely knowledgeable.” said Riverstone student Becky Keitur.
Riverstone is an exciting place to work out and have fun as well as a vibrant community, and Donohue’s zeal for yoga as a lifestyle is unmatched. As she put it, “Everything that happens on the four corners of your mat happens in life.” Visit Riverstone Yoga’s website at www.riverstoneyoga.com for further information.