By Jean Stratton
Town Topics posted 23 May, 2012
“I love to see people get into harmony. My aim is to create a safe, welcoming, peaceful environment, and a sense of community. People can come here and feel safe and free and in harmony.”
Deborah Metzger, founder and director of Princeton Center for Yoga & Health (PCYH), is pleased that the center, which she opened in 1996, has been featured as one of the top five traditional yoga studios in New Jersey by New Jersey Life Magazine. It continues to attract many adherents, both longtime students and those new to yoga.
It has recently moved to a new location in the Orchard Hill Center at 88 Orchard Road (just off Route 206) in Montgomery. Ms. Metzger wanted more space for her growing operation, and she also wanted to offer a particular type of setting.
“This location is more like a retreat, with that kind of serene ambiance,” she explains. “You look out of the window and see wonderful views of the countryside.”
The existing building has been renovated to accommodate the various types of yoga, meditation, and holistic services PCYH offers. There is also a shower, changing room, and gathering room for refreshments as well as assorted retail items for sale, such as essential oils, yoga mats and towels, etc.
Clients need only their own comfortable clothes, however, explains Ms. Metzger. PCYH provides all the mats and props necessary for the yoga session as well as complimentary teas and snacks.
Students come to PCYH for many reasons, reports Ms. Metzger. Yoga is a known stress reliever and a chance for quiet and calm, which is certainly a big plus in today’s fast-moving society. Some clients like to stretch and exercise; and still others like the challenge of hot yoga and the more vigorous classes.
Whatever the reason, more and more people are discovering the benefits of this ancient Eastern discipline.
“With yoga, you can find who you are. All the answers are inside — it’s the moment of silence within yourself,” explains Ms. Metzger, who came to yoga herself in the mid-1980s. She trained at the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health in Massachusetts. The experience was so positive, including helping alleviate respiratory problems, that she determined to become a teacher and was certified in 1991.
“Here at PCYH, yoga is not simply a form of exercise, it is a life practice,” points out Ms. Metzger. “By establishing a regular practice, you can realize a deepening connection with your spirit. Each class deepens your connection to your true self. We offer different levels, traditions, and challenges.”
Classes at PCYH offer different levels, traditions, and challenges and are available in many types of yoga, from gentle to vigorous. They are all traditions of Hatha yoga, and they emphasize physical postures, alignments, breathing, and meditation. These postures or poses help to strengthen, stretch, and tone muscles, massage internal organs, and promote relaxation.
Other yoga styles at PCYH include Kripalu, the more vigorous Astanga, Vinyasa, and Soma yoga, among others.
The classes emphasize letting go of the stresses of the day, all those “To Do Lists”, and allowing them to fade away. Concentrating on breathing, on the physical poses helps to focus on “now” — present time consciousness. By doing so, a sense of calm, peace, and well-being is created.
“Be in the moment!” stresses Ms. Metzger. “The past is gone, we don’t have a clue about the future; we really only have this moment. When you focus on the sensation of the body and the breath, it brings you into the present moment.
“A number of things make yoga so popular now,” she adds. “Some people may have a health issue, such as stress, and they decide to try yoga. Or they may be involved in an active sport, such as tennis and golf, and yoga can strengthen and stretch their muscles in a way to help avoid injuries. Yoga also massages the glands and organs — it’s good for the whole body. You feel better afterwords, and it is not competitive. This is just about you.”
Poses can be modified and adjusted so that everyone can participate, guided by a well-trained teacher. As Ms. Metzger notes, there is never a sense of competition or pushing one’s body too far. The focus is on each individual’s sense of what is helpful and appropriate for that person. Therapeutic classes for people with specific physical conditions, such as multiple sclerosis, arthritis, shoulder or spine problems, or injuries, are also offered.
In addition to yoga; meditation classes, singing bowl workshops, and drum circles are available, and all-day retreats will also be offered.
Ms. Metzger co-leads two meditation classes with Dr. Jeffrey Rutstein. These include Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction and Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy for Depression.
In the first case, she helps people prevent stress from getting the upper hand. “I teach people not to be on automatic pilot, but to pause and take time to be in the moment. In the second case, I help give people the tools to learn to prevent a relapse into depression, including by identifying the early warning signs.”
A variety of other meditation sessions is also offered. “Studies have shown that meditation can help the brain to function better, and can even help people become more optimistic,” reports Ms. Metzger.
Classes for yoga and the other services are held throughout the week and weekend, most often in the mornings, evenings, or late afternoon. Drop-in yoga classes are $17, and there are many packages available, offering various savings. A first time try-out class is complimentary.
Approximately 50 classes are held each week, with 20 teachers, all certified in the various specialties. A full schedule of classes, including times and prices, is available on the PCYH extensive website. www. princetonyoga.com.
Ms. Metzger looks forward to introducing even more people to the benefits of yoga. “Each time you do a yoga pose, it’s different because the body is different,” she explains. “We offer a safe, warm, inviting place where like-minded people can meet and explore different paths to health, healing, and personal growth.
“I am so pleased that they are giving me the privilege of sharing what I love with them.”
For more information, call (609) 924-7294. Website: princetonyoga.com.