Free Yoga Haven Workshop for Hurricane Sandy First Responders

The Oakland store's owner will hold a workshop for Hurricane Sandy's first responders and collect donations for relief efforts.

Just two days after Oakland's Yoga Haven celebrated its grand opening, Hurricane Sandy slammed North Jersey, but that hasn’t stopped the store's owner Beverly Weed-Schertzer from remaining in positive spirits. 

“The whole idea, for me, of Yoga Haven is really that I wanted to create a sanctuary," Weed-Schertzer said. "It’s more of a healing studio."

The owner will be holding a workshop on Nov. 19 for the Public Service men and women who have been working tirelessly to restore electricity in the area.  

She said she hopes to rejuvenate them after a stressful two weeks.  

There will be no fee for the workshop, but Weed-Schertzer will welcome donations, which will go to the hurricane relief efforts.

Weed-Schertzer truly believes in the healing power of yoga.  It can relieve physical ailments such as anxiety or stress symptoms, and it can help to create an emotional balance, she said.

"Not only do we do the yoga classes, but I’m also the therapeutic acupressure practitioner and I do Reiki too.”

She explained that Reiki is a more hands-off method of healing, whereas acupressure is hands-on. “Between the acupressure and the yoga, to me they all define healing.”

Yoga is close to Weed-Schertzer’s heart because it has helped her to change her life.  After working in IT in the corporate environment for 21 years, her anxiety built.  She slept with a beeper under her pillow and was always working. 

“It was just constant,” she recalled.

One day, she had a severe anxiety attack, and her doctor warned her that next time she could face a heart attack.

Weed-Schertzer was only in her 30s. 

She decided to try her hand at yoga again. 

“Anxiety is what brought me to the yoga mat for the very first time ... it was very aiding in stress management," she said. "I’ve always been a spiritual person, so I just gravitated to that part.”

In order to continue to learn about yoga and help others, she started a small class once a week at her house.  When interest in the class grew, she began looking for a bigger space to hold it. 

She said that she told herself that she would keep the class in one little room, wound up finding an irrisitable space in Oakland, and decided to take the leap and open up a studio full-time. 

“If you believe in synchronicities and things like that... it kind of just fell into place,” she said.

Yoga Haven is open Monday through Saturday.  Classes include restorative yoga, alignment flow, gentle yoga, beginners yoga, private sessions, and open yoga — and the first class is always free.

Classes at Yoga Haven hold about 13 or 14 people, and Weed-Shertzer noted that the beauty of going to a smaller studio is that you get more individual attention and can really modify the yoga to relieve your own individual needs.

“If someone has chronic back problems and then you have the majority of the class that is there because they have headaches or they’re fatigued, I really do go with the majority," she said. "But I will modify for the person with the severe back problems. So when we go into certain poses that could harm or aggravate the back problems, I will walk over to that student and put them either in a prop or give them a different pose or a modified version of same pose.”

She noted that yoga really is for everybody, regardless of their physical abilities. 

“Even my 82-year-old aunt... she sat here and watched grand opening day," she said. "And I told her ‘There’s things you can do.’ And she said, ‘I can’t do that.’ But when she sat here and she watched the class, she was like, ‘I could do that... I can modify.’” 

Weed-Schertzer is a big believer in modifying poses and using props to tailor t clients' needs.

“Your props do all the work... all you need to do is melt into the pose, close your eyes. You’re gaining benefits by the stretching, so you’re actually stretching and gaining flexibility,” she said.

Because yoga has been so beneficial for her, Weed-Schertzer is looking to heal others as she continues on her journey of deepening her yoga knowledge. 

“I would like to get a lot of people from corporations in here, I think they could really benefit from it... It’s difficult, because, can your mind every really shut off? No. But there are techniques you can learn just to quiet down. Just to have it quiet down a little bit.”

Yoga Haven is located at 9 Post Road in Oakland.

Have a question or news tip? Contact editor Joseph M. Gerace at Joseph.Gerace@patch.com, or find us on Facebook and Twitter. For news straight to your inbox every morning, sign up for our daily newsletter.

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