yogawithjessie ; K followers
Jessie Shapiro, ;; MORRISTOWN
FAVORITE YOGA POSE: Headstand
STUDIOS: Powerflow locations; Summus Body
Mind, Morristown; Be Well Morristown
TRIVIA: Her golden retriever Kaia is an Instagram
celebrity too (@thegoldenkaia).
JANUARY ;;;;;NE W JERSEY MONTHLY;35
tis—the global company’s U.S. head-
quarters—has included yoga as one of
its extensive fitness o;erings for about
10 years, says fitness manager John
Matino, “but it’s only been catching
on recently.” Matino says the company has increasingly been promoting
yoga and mindfulness at the fitness
center—or anywhere that works
for the hundreds of busy Novartis
employees. “The stress level,” he
says, “has gotten higher.” It’s not
just an increased workload, says
Matino; the changing corporate
environment also creates a new
level of tension.
Yoga, Matino says, can
reduce stress, and in doing so, make employees
more productive. “The
more stressed they are, the
more days they’re going to miss,”
Vakili, along with five other yoga
instructors, helps Novartis employees break through the mental clutter
and find peace, o;ering walk-in and
department-specific classes in conference rooms and at the three fitness studios around the campus. “I have really
good yoga instructors,” says Matino.
“They bring their peacefulness into the
environment.” The company supplies
plenty of yoga mats and blocks. Until
recently, employees had to pay for the
classes; now, Novartis o;ers yoga sessions free of charge.
“Anybody can participate,” Matino
sarahshaktiyoga ;; K followers
says. “You don’t even have to change your
clothes.” The no-pressure environment
is a major draw. “Conference-room
classes are booked out every time we
o;er them,” he says, “I’ve seen up to
50 people in a class.”
Vakili’s class structure var-
ies with employee needs, but her
goals are the same: to encourage
participants to get in touch with
their bodies and minds, and combat
stress. “I really can identify with that
corporate environment,” says Vakili,
recalling her days in corporate law.
“We were always on, all the time. The
last thing anyone is thinking about is
getting up to stretch.”
She reminds her students that
the benefits of yoga are only e;ective
when incorporated into their lives.
“We start on the mat,” Vakili likes to
say, “but it’s about really living your
yoga, knowing how to find that peace
despite the chaos.”
Sarah Shakti, 30 BRICK
FAVORI TE YOGA POSE: Triangle Pose
STUDIOS: Xhale Hot Yoga, Point Pleasant Beach;
Center for Health & Healing, Toms River
TRIVIA: Started practicing yoga in 2003 to cope with
symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Originating in India centuries ago, yoga is a
philosophy and science focused on uniting
the mental, physical and spiritual states.
Here is a guide to some of the most popular
approaches practiced today in America.
HA THA: Considered the grandmother
of yoga, hatha yoga provides the building
blocks for other yoga styles. Focused on
basic poses, hatha yoga o;ers the benefits
of improved flexibility and peace of mind.
FOR: The novice.
VI N YASA: This yoga practice creates
a moving meditation by synchronizing
breathing techniques (pranayama) with
postures (asanas). The 20th-century yoga
scholar Tirumalai Krishnamacharya is
credited with developing this fluid-motion
FOR: The physically active who are dedi-
cated to maintaining their yoga practice.
ASH TANGA: Ashtanga yoga gradually introduces students to new movements once
they have reached proficiency with basic
postures. K. Pattabhi Jois, devoted student
of Krishnamacharya, developed this sweat-inducing, high-exertion practice to cleanse
the body of imbalance and build strength.
FOR: Experienced yogis and athletes.
BIKRAM: A form of hot yoga taught in a
studio set to 95 to 105 degrees Fahrenheit.
Bikram yoga is characterized by intense
sweating, which is said to improve flexibility,
prevent injury and detoxify the body.
FOR: Those interested in weight loss.
I YENGAR: First practiced by B. K.S. Iyen-gar, a yoga guru who stressed the importance of maintaining yoga practice, this
discipline often incorporates props such
as straps, blocks and blankets. The use of
equipment allows all students—the elderly,
injured, disabled or just less flexible—to
cautiously approach postures.
FOR: Seniors and people with disabilities
YOGA NIDRA: Yoga nidra, meaning yogic
sleep, is a guided meditation that relaxes
and restores the body. Many yoga classes
end with corpse pose (savasana), or deep
relaxation. Students lie on their backs
listening to the instructor as they scan their
bodies for tension.
FOR: Those in search of mental relaxation
and improved overall well-being.