Elia Nikolaev C-IAYT, YTRX, E-RYT

My curiosity into anything outside of my usual experience led me to find out about Yoga at the age of 22 when I read the great Paramahansa Yogananda’s  “Autobiography of a Yogi”, which was the gateway into the next phase of my life. It wasn’t until about 2 years later that I took my first Hatha Yoga class, officially indoctrinating it into my life as a matter of sheer necessity, than just choice or opportunity. Learning the method and practice of Hatha Yoga through Synergy Yoga® lead to a training and certification in 2006. After nearly two years of teaching at Synergy Yoga® and learning the leadership skills by assisting in trainings and workshops, I wanted to broaden my experience by learning from various other methods, of which Iyengar and Ashtanga Vinyasa have made the biggest impressions. Having found a deep appreciation for the mechanics of postures, precise alignment, utilization of props, and deep breathing, make my classes a constant exploration into creating a stimulating, challenging, and learning environment. Along with the privilege and ability to share what I hold so dear, learning the therapeutic applications of  Yoga from different methods has unveiled yet another dimension of the subject and led me seek out the Yoga therapy training at the Bishnu Ghosh College in Calcutta, India in 2010. As my fascination with the human body and all of its attendant complexities grew, I became evermore intrigued by the work and service of BKS Iyengar, which itself was a catalyst to meet and learn from the brilliant Roger Cole, PhD.

About 2 years later, a continued thirst to develop a sensitive touch and awareness toward the individual needs of people I come into contact with, served as a catalyst to seek out the apprenticeship from Rachael Krentzman PT, E-RYT, who implements a mainly Yoga based approach, informed by Aadil Palkhivala, into her therapy protocol.

In 2013 my impatience to study and train further spurred me to go on to an extended live-study excursion to Mr. Iyengar’s Yoga Institute in Pune, India, less than one year before his passing. My debt and gratitude to Mr. Iyengar and his legacy cannot be overstated.

Having also been a big fan of the work and insight of Richard Freeman, gave me the fortune and privilege to study with him in 2014. His eloquence in disseminating the heritage of Yoga and it’s reference and context in the modern era, has been one of the major underpinnings of my path as a student and teacher.

It was also in 2014 that I endeavored on a two year training in Yoga therapy at Loyola Marymount University with Larry Payne, MD and Lori Rubenstein Fazzio, DPT which culminated in an invaluable clinical internship.

My sincere gratitude to my other beloved teachers and mentors, Carolyn Belko, Usha Devi of Rishikesh, Josh Vincent, all of the teachers at the Iyengar Institute in India (RIMYI). These figures in my life have left an indelible mark in helping me understand and refine my own grasp on the subject in a more clear way, and allow me to lay the framework of the environment I look to create in my own classes.

Of all the knowledge that emerges from the practice of Yoga, the most intriguing part of it is that no matter how deeply the teaching is picked apart and explored, the vastness of the subject seems to spread only deeper and farther than any expectations. My continual sense of awe is constantly refreshed by Yoga’s depth and simplicity and I hope to be able to offer anyone and everyone its relevance and potential.

Therapeutic Vinyasa

Therapeutic Vinyasa is a method of healing and wellness that was born out of a synthesis of the information and knowledge imparted to me by the teachers and authorities, from wisdom of both the East and West. It is a confluence of the millenia old practices and philosophy of the Yoga traditions, and the empirical discoveries of science brought to the fore in the recent century/decades. 

Yoga, like so many other things in our world, has evolved as a definition and a heuristic. The origins of Yoga were developed to assist human beings in unveiling how quality of life may be maximized. Although it has theistic and religious roots as well, Yoga is fundamentally a way of living and engaging with virtually every facet of life, that offers the sustainable satisfaction that is everywhere promised, but rarely provided. The evolution of Yoga has constructed a practice that has become more embedded in the totality of an individual’s daily life, instead of only transcending or relinquishing it. In our modern age, Yoga has been reinforced by the best that modern science has to offer. The science of biomechanics, neurology, psychology, and nutrition have fortified this timeless practice into a state that has never existed before. 

The invention of the concept known as “Yoga Therapy” is one that is less than a century old, and was only coined in order to help students discern/differentiate it from that which is offered in the setting of the common Yoga class. Yoga Therapy is simply the application of any technique from the vast repository of Yoga, to the specific Health needs of an/any individual. 

Health is a word that is invoked more frequently than it is defined. The immemorial lineage of Yogis have molded a definition of health that goes beyond the mere abatement of physical and psychological pain and distress. It is a state that includes human flourishing in every conceivable domain of life, from the personal to the professional, through the growing relationship to the potential seeded in one’s own experience. 

The name Therapeutic Vinyasa is a convergence of the essence of this revised approach to Yoga. The therapeutic element of looking into a specific region of the body, to zero in on an area of concern, and uncover the way in which it pertains to the rest of the individual, is a fundamental characteristic that cannot be overlooked in the project of Health and Wellness. The organizing principle suggested by the Sanskrit term “Vinyasa”, which denotes a logical and progressive sequence of actions, is the compliment to the therapeutic focus, which ensures a successful outcome. The power of this approach resides not just in the pedagogical instruction of the teacher, but in the clarity of awareness the student/client builds with their aid. It is an undying curiosity and intrigue about how one can broaden the horizons of their beliefs and experience, available to anyone. In our modern world, health cannot exist in the absence of awareness to it. This method is therefore one that builds/cultivates a vantage point that is the essential guarantor of all the derived benefits. The most valuable tool we have is our awareness. How you use it determines the life you live! 

Yoga Wall

To understand the purpose of the Yoga Wall it is first important to grasp the impact of the force it contends with, gravity! Because we all live in it, and all life depends on it, it is virtually inescapable, and easy to overlook the compounding effect that gravity has on the body over the span of a lifetime.
The Yoga Wall allows the individual to be inverted safely and effectively. The consequence of suspending the human body in an inverted/upside-down position, which is to say, changing the orientation of gravity's effect on the body, is that it allows all of the most weight-bearing joints and structures of the body to be unloaded from the typical amount of pressure that is placed on them. This typical amount of pressure is excessive, and essentially degenerative. One of the reasons that it is excessive, is because of the ubiquity of the sitting position. Whether it is for work, transportation, or leisure, modern living has imparted the seat-based lifestyle habits that have left the individual notoriously impoverished in proper movement abilities.
The human body has evolved to engage the physical environment in many different ways other than just sitting. When those abilities are lost and sitting times increase, it begins to stress the tissues and structures in ways that they are not able to tolerate. This is not to suggest that sitting is intrinsically deleterious or should be avoided at all cost, it is to simply point out the lack of balance in posture and movement that such a lifestyle imposes. It is not limited to just sitting however, since even those with an active lifestyle also experience the common side-effects of this excessive pressure. 


Lower Back pain is undoubtedly the most common physical disability that stems from the sedentary lifestyle. Being that it is the lowest end of the spine, the weight of the entire torso is continuously borne upon it, which increases the likelihood of damage. Whether due to a prevalence of sitting, or just being on the feet throughout much of the day, it is difficult to assuage the Lower Back from this circumstance. This is not limited to the Lower back either, as the hips, shoulders, and the rest of the spine suffer similar consequences of living under the constant influence of gravity. Even athletes are known to incur these same insults to the health and function of their structure, by spending so much of their time in an upright posture. Weight lifters and body builders in particular, who regularly support upwards of hundreds of pounds on with their upper body, are exerting even more pressure on the discs of the spine. 


The effect that the Yoga wall has on the lower back, as well as the rest of the spine, is that by flipping the individual upside-down, not only is it unburdened from the habitual amount of body weight it supports, but the body weight itself is exerting the completely opposite effect. This makes this opposing effect, the exact, and most beneficial antidote to the conditions that brought Low back pain about in the first place. This is a clinically verified effect, whereby the discs of the spine have shown the ability to regain the loss of fluidity and hydration that is characteristic of Low back pain, in a process called "imbibition". Lower back is just one part of the multitude of physical structures that the Yoga Wall has the potential to extend these types of benefits to. 


The Yoga Wall allows a secure harnessing of the body, which reduces the potential for injury, and limits the amount of physical exertion necessary to perform any posture/movement.

The Yoga Wall, unlike most other yoga props, is the most dramatic in its capabilities of reorienting a given posture and therefore all of the attendant changes in the skeletal, physiological, neuromuscular, and psycho-emotional systems. 


Having your own Yoga Wall will be the best and most long-lasting investment you can make in your overall Wellbeing. Quality of Life is one of the most prized and sought after treasures, that is universal to all people. When the body is in pain, or functioning improperly, our enjoyment of life is hindered. Not only that, but if the attempt to manage and rehabilitate the body is avoided, pain and dysfunction cause even greater damage that becomes more difficult in turn to manage and rehabilitate later.

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SD Voyager Interview

October 21, 2019

My first induction into a more reflective relationship to my life was through the required intro philosophy and psychology classes that I took concurrently at a junior college when I was about 20 years old. I didn’t know this at the time but, both of those subjects put a spotlight on the fact that there were forces in my life that influenced the way that my mind worked...


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In this episode, Elia describes the importance of yoga and meditation, and how to incorporate the principals derived from those practices, into the foods we eat.

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