Alana Kessler MS RD CDN CYT, Ayurvedic specialist is the founder of Sangha Yoga Shala, a community nutrition, yoga and conscious living space located in New York City. Steadfast in her passion for healthy living, she continues to deepen her knowledge through her many teachers and life itself, which she firmly believes is the greatest teacher of all. With the integration of nutrition, yoga, mindfulness, and a dedicated personal practice since 1999, Alana provides individuals with the practical tools they need to live more balanced and meaningful lives. She founded Sangha Yoga Shala as a way of reaching a greater scope of individuals on a deeper level.
Eternally grateful to the people, experiences and education which have helped shape her practice and offering, Alana is committed to Ashtanga Yoga as taught by the late Sri K. Pattabhi Jois and is dedicated to a daily mysore style practice since 2007. In NYC, she maintains the connection between student and teacher sharing her practice and gratitude with Eddie Stern at AYNY. She spent the summer 2012 at KPJAYI in Mysore, India studying under R. Sharath Jois, and is looking forward to her next trip in October 2013. A student first and foremost, her passion is inspiring, integrating and assimilating information learned through committed practice into a healing and accessible experience for everyone.
Personally transformed by the cleansing and purifying sequencing of Ashtanga yoga, Alana’s classes are taught directly from her own personal practice, offering an intelligent, compassionately disciplined and introspective environment. Students are invited to embrace and transcend limitations by connecting breath with movement in a dynamic meditative flow.
As a Registered Dietitian and Certified Ayurvedic practitioner with a Masters in Nutrition and Dietetics from NYU, Alana complements her teaching by encouraging and supporting individuals and groups to integrate nutrition, mindful lifestyle behaviors and yoga as an effective means to nurture and achieve their goals.
Prior to coming to Sangha Yoga Shala, my relationship with yoga was casual at best. I practiced on and off, whenever I “felt” like it, or if a friend dragged me to a class. Truth was, I was a cardio junkie, and, while I appreciated the relaxation yoga provided, I didn’t think of it as a legitimate work out. Forever desperate to lose 15 pounds, that’s what I was interested in–a work out.
And that’s how I discovered Sangha: a friend dragged me to an Ashtanga-inspired vinyasa class taught by Alana Kessler, the owner of the studio. I sweated my way through 90 minutes of sun salutations, side crows, and headstands (none of which I could do), and for the first time I thought there might be something to this yoga thing.
Three years later, I have a dedicated Ashtanga yoga practice at Sangha. I travel 45 minutes each way to practice in this space–it feels like no place else. It is a supportive community of people at various stages in their individual yoga journeys–some of us are just beginning, and some have fully dedicated themselves, and still others might be doubting exactly where and how yoga fits into their lives–and everyone is accepted for who they are, exactly where they are.
Alana is not only an exceptional teacher (she guided me all the way through Ashtanga’s primary series, and I have now just started second series), but she is patient and kind, and respectful of all of her students’ individual relationship to yoga. Guided by Alana and the studio, my own path led me to a five day a week practice, huge emotional shifts, and a sense of stabiliy previously unknown to me. That I did lose those 15 pounds with Ashtanga yoga now seem irrevelent (though shopping is now way more fun), and the lightness I feel isn’t from losing body fat, it’s from losing a lot of emotional baggage. Some people practice yoga to see what they can do, and others practice to see who they are–my journey took me to the latter. Now, when I come to my mat at Sangha, I think, “I am home.”
Practicing Mysore Ashtanga with Alana Kessler has been an invaluable experience for which I am tremendously grateful. Not only is she attentive to my needs and abilities as an individual, she leaves me with an equally empowering space to explore my practice on a deeply personal level. Both my body and mind have transformed as a result of her teachings and guidance, and the strength, patience and love I have gained from this commitment have infiltrated my life at large. I feel truly at home in this small, but very special studio, made all the more unique by its warm and dedicated student following. It is such a joy to practice with Alana and to be a part of the Sangha Ashtanga community.
- Emily K
As a beginner yogi just trying to catch my breath after every pose, I had to call on the yoga gods to help me get me aligned. I’m so glad I did! Alana, the owner of the studio, actually teaches the basic yoga classes and she is more than qualified in her craft. She is helping me with my down dog, tree pose and hip opening, all the while focusing on breathing and perfecting my poses. I must admit, it is a bit of a sweatbox especially because its the summer, but the sweat is helping me to release toxins and actually helping me with my poses. The class sizes are small which works even better in my favor, and there is also a shower, changing area, awesome granola for sale and mat rentals. After my trial period is up, I will be signing up for more classes and hopefully leaving this studio doing a full headstand.
I feel deeply grateful that I began my Mysore Ashtanga practice with Alana Kessler at Sangha Yoga Shala. Alana has been a patient, supportive, and wise teacher – something that, as a beginner to the practice when I began six months ago, I know had an enormous influence on my continued and committed practice. My experience in this studio has been transformational in both mind and body, and the benefits continue to change and surprise me. Sangha Yoga Shala is a warm, welcoming, and very special place.
- Emma B