Honoring Ourselves with Yoga
Imagine that it is Thanksgiving. The dog is barking, the phone is ringing, and the children are shouting, “Mom, what’s for dinner?” Maybe at this point you are starting to feel a little overwhelmed. Am I right? Don’t worry, you are not alone. Millions of people feel anxious and a little lonely during the holiday season. Perhaps adding in a practice, such as yoga, can be essential for that much needed self care.
While the holidays may be stressful, the answer to relieve anxiety or worry can be found close by in the suburbs of New Jersey, a hidden gem called Honor Yoga in Pennington. It is a community of loving yoga teachers, volunteers called Energy Exchange members, and active members. This franchise is one of several studios located throughout the state and beyond. According to founder Maria Turco, “We are organic like the earth. Therefore, as we take care of ourselves through yoga we must take care of each other and the earth. That is why we are eco-friendly.” With the majority of course offerings developed for new students, this studio franchise welcomes clients of all ages and abilities. For example, some clients have physical disabilities, injuries, or are in different stages of life. There are various levels of practices and techniques for everyone. Maria said, “Our foundation offers workshops which serve those who need it most, especially those who find mainstream yoga inaccessible.”
The founder told her story of how she became a yoga teacher. She explained, “Honor Yoga was birthed from the passing of a great friend who was a yoga teacher and reiki master, and from the needs I saw in the community. My purpose or dharma is to support healers and yogis.” She continued, “Honor Yoga is not just about the asana practice. 70% of yoga studios closed within 5 years. For that reason, I started Honor Yoga to support yogis so they could serve and grow their own local community.”
Featured at the studio, are workshops focused on stress and anxiety management. It is proven that the practice of yoga greatly improves mood and is beneficial for mental health. With ten or more styles of yoga offered, there is something for everyone at this studio.
One of the exceptional instructors and managers at the Pennington location is Susan Carabello. At an unexpected time of her life, Susan discovered Honor Yoga. She soon became a member, and then decided to join the staff as an instructor. What makes Susan such a unique instructor is that she incorporates ecstatic dance and high energy methods into her class. Within understanding the theories behind ecstatic dance, Carrabello stated, “The energy is alchemized or released” in the process. What she especially notes with ecstatic dance’s innovative and strong cathartic benefits is that it “has helped people through trauma or any experience to move the energy.”
Susan understands the importance of one’s emotions and how their surroundings can affect them, as well as the physical body. She emphasized the connection between daily yoga practice and emotional wellness. Energy centers inside of us, which create a filter for our emotions to be processed, are a focal point of her practice. Emotions become trapped in these energy centers, and are expressed and released through movement. She recalls, “It’s such a fun experience.” Carrabello reminds her clients that, “Dancing can be whatever you want it to be, it’s a personal practice but anyone can do it.”
Sometimes yoga can be a tool to reflect upon the self. With a busy world, yoga can slow things down and allow ourselves to take a breath. When one needs an outlet for self expression and community, a yoga studio can be a welcoming place. The Honor Yoga staff hopes to inspire the community to come practice and find their center.
Honor Yoga Pennington
800 Denow Rd. Pennington, NJ 08534
Photos by: Melissa Antler