Cool Girls with Tag: New York

Gail Grossman

Name: Gail Grossman
Age: 48
Location: Port Washington, NY
Occupation: Yoga Teacher, Yoga Studio Owner, Author

A thriving business owner and a zen-like yoga practitioner are two spheres that are hard to imagine converging, but studio maven, author, mom, and yogini are all different facets to the same shining diamond that makes up Gail Grossman of Long Island, New York! This bendy and butt-kicking business maven just recently wrote a book, Restorative Yoga for Life, that’s blazing trails for blissing out, and she shares her joy of the practice with her students every day. “I love the practice, and that’s why I wanted to share with others, I truly get “high” from their energy!” she says.

And a “high” is right, as Gail has a self-admitted yoga addiction! “I was practicing Pilates. My trainer thought I would like yoga and took me to a class,” she explains, reminiscing about her first foray. “I was hooked from the first time I came to my mat.”

At Gail’s studio, Om Sweet Om, she teaches five classes per week, in addition to a bunch of private sessions for students, some in their homes. While she loves all styles of yoga, it’s the restorative practice and its ability to ground both body and mind that she’s most known for touting. And learning to back off of a vigorous, athletic practice is what helped her to discover new dimensions of her practice, both as a student and as a teacher. It all began with an injury…

gailardha“I was doing something in a way I shouldn’t have. I was compensating and moved my body in a way that wasn’t very conscious. I pulled my hamstring right at the sitting bones and it took a very long time to heal, so I had to back off from my practice. Ultimately this was a gift! I had a better understanding of the injuries that my students dealt with, and it made me a better teacher,” she explains.

Other than a daily practice, “even just fifteen minutes,” Gail manages a busy schedule of family, yoga, and managing her studio.

“I try to take Mondays off; I’ll take a class and deal with my errands. The rest of the week I work. I have a combination of working from home, answering e-mails, and writing. I handle all of the studio management stuff from home, because I get more done! I try to spend time at the studio just hanging out with students and teachers whenever I’m available,” she says. “Some of the ups and downs I’m learning to get a handle on, and minimize, since I have no control over them!” she smiles. Spoken like a true guru!
In December, Gail’s first book, Restorative Yoga for Life, was published, and since then she’s penned articles for Yoga Journal, and will even speak at the Yoga Journal Conference in New York this coming April. She also leads teacher trainings at the studio and heads international trainings for adults to teach yoga to children through YogaKids.

“I still feel like I have so much more to do, though,” Gail says. “I’m really open to whatever comes my way. I love what I do. I never get bored with yoga, there’s always something to discover. The body is a complicated vehicle for our personal growth; we’re always changing and so are our bodies. That excites me! Constantly discovering new things keeps it fresh.”

For bending but never breaking, we think that Gail Grossman is one Cool Girl!

To learn more about Gail’s work, you can check out her website, and if you’re in the New York area, drop by Om Sweet Om to take a class!

Mary Joyce

Name: Mary Joyce
Age: 32
Location: Long Island, New York
Occupation: Special Education Teacher

Mary Joyce is at the head of the class, not just as a special education teacher, but also as a yoga instructor in her home of Long Island, New York. Growing up, Mary surmounted injuries as well as stereotypes, practicing karate when she was 16, and hitting her yoga mat even after shoulder injuries,. She also refuse to quit on her snowboard even when her tailbone and her pride told her to stay away from the slopes and stay in the chalet.

She credits the endless love and support of her mom and dad for keeping her going, even when the stress of work, graduate school, and a grueling roster of physical activities, threatens to exhaust her. She also is quick to point out that her students are – and have always been – incredibly influential and inspiring.

“All the children I work with, and that I’ve worked with in the past, have each been more of a teacher to me than I could ever explain,” she says.

All the children I work with, and that I’ve worked with in the past, have each been more of a teacher to me than I could ever explain.

Between the deadlines and workload of school, both being at the chalkboard and buried in books as a student herself, Mary has to find a way to blow off some steam. While yoga is great for mellowing her mood, she cites snowboarding with being the biggest stress-reliever. Her arctic air affair began four years ago, when her friends managed to get her on a mountain. Unfortunately, she didn’t start carving turns with grace and ease. “My first experience wasn’t a positive one,” she says. “By the the second time I went I managed to break my tailbone which put me out for the season. I felt very discouraged because I didn’t pick up the sport as easily as others. For years after that my close friend harassed me on a weekly basis, but my fear and aggravation of learning something new and difficult held me back.”

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Wendy Chan

Name: Wendy Chan
Age: 30
Location: Williamsburg, NY
Occupation: soon-to-be emergency medicine resident physician / filmmaker

Wendy Chan began her sojourn into emergency medicine by volunteering at the emergency department in an Oakland, California hospital. At the time she was working full-time as a video producer, but she had no idea how much like a movie her life was about to get.

“On my first or second day in the hospital, a paramedic shoved a bag of ice into my hand and said to me, “Make sure the patient we just brought in from the motorcycle accident gets his gum” and I thought, “Gum?” Then I looked down and saw I was holding the guy’s “thumb”.  The medical team later reattached the guy’s thumb and I remember thinking, “Wow!  It must be wonderful to be able to help people in such a profound way on a daily basis.”

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Courtney Van Nostrand

Name: Courtney Van Nostrand
Age: 35
Location: Long Island, New York
Occupation: Pharmacist

Courtney Van Nostrand does drugs…in a good way! This Long Island pharmacist sympathizes with the difficulties her patients are facing, in part because of her own recently-diagnosed struggle with MS.

Courtney has been a pharmacist for nearly ten years. “Being a pharmacist is hard because you’re constantly torn between having a high work load and wanting to help your patients, which takes time away from production. It’s a constant battle to be quick, accurate, and efficient, and still have time to spend time with them,” she says.

Unfortunately being behind the pharmacy counter isn’t the only familiarity Courtney has had with serious illness. In February of 2010, everything in her life changed.

“I was taking my girls to dance lessons near my home. I was at a traffic light and suddenly everything just started looking double,”

“I was taking my girls to dance lessons near my home. I was at a traffic light and suddenly everything just started looking double,” she explains. “I blew it off thinking it was a headache or the glare from the snow, but it got worse over that weekend. I went to the optometrist thinking maybe my glasses were screwy, and he sent me to the doctor.”

After a series of tests, they recommended an MRI. “They discovered the lesions on my brain,” Courtney says. “Then I went to the neurology clinic at Stony Brook, and they confirmed what the specialist thought…”

It was Multiple Sclerosis, also known as MS.

Continue reading Courtney Van Nostrand

Melissa Farley

Name: Melissa Farley
Age: 33
Location: New York City, New York
Occupation: Certified Holistic Weight Loss and Wellness Coach, CHHC, AADP and Image Stylist

Growing up in Wilmington, Delaware, Melissa Farley dealt with low self-esteem and poor body image as a result of judging herself against her size ‘0’ friends. “As young girls, we want to look like our classmates or what we see on TV,” Melissa explains. “We equate being skinny with being beautiful and happy. It’s hard to see that beauty is so much more than that. It’s about being healthy, not being rail thin. It’s about accepting and taking care of yourself, not comparing and despairing.”

After college, Melissa set a goal to become more healthy and learn about proper nutrition. She tweaked her diet and became more active. Fitness quickly became crucial to her daily life. She loved to sweat away her stress, and her morning workouts helped set a positive tone for her day working in the fashion industry. At around that same time, she began to suffer from a stomach illness. That’s when Melissa found the power of a holistic lifestyle.

She decided to forgo conventional medicine, replacing her prescription with natural remedies. “Through holistic nutrition, supplements, and maintaining my new healthy routine, I was able to find some relief. Eventually this whole-body approach led to me getting better. I’d cured myself!” she says. “I’m really glad I chose the alternative because the medication I was originally prescribed was pulled from the market seven years later for causing strokes, heart attacks and blood clots.”

Melissa took her new-found health even further, competing in a fitness competition for the first time. She won second place in the Best Body Division in the International Natural Body and Fitness North East Regional, an all-natural fitness competition. “It was one of the many experiences that helped me to learn how to love my body,” Melissa gushes.

But good health and a renewed sense of self-esteem weren’t enough for her. She wanted to give these gifts to other women who struggled with their weight and body image.

“I wanted a career where I could help women who felt stuck and unhappy,” she explains. “I wanted to inspire women to make changes towards a healthy lifestyle, and to let them know that they have the power to create the life and the body of their dreams. I know first-hand that negative feelings make it hard to feel in control or to make changes on your own.”

Through sessions with her clients, she’s able to guide them towards achieving their goal weight and a healthier way of life, not to mention overhauling their closets if they’d like some help there, too.

“It’s a unique program because it involves an inner and outer body transformation at the end, you learn how to dress for your body type and play up your assets,” Melissa says. Her clients receive custom designed fitness  and nutrition plans, wellness coaching and a style makeover if they choose.  “Most importantly, I don’t want women to feel like their weight controls them or their happiness. They’re in control. That’s a huge message that gets lost too often today.”

And what about New Year’s, a time so often tied to personal growth, aspirations, and that dreaded list of resolutions?

“I personally believe New Year’s resolutions set people up for failure because all too often the list of resolutions is a mile long. It feels daunting and becomes unrealistic,” Melissa says. “I believe every day is your opportunity to take steps towards your goals and make changes in your life. The amazing thing about life is that we have the power to do and change whatever we want at any time. It’s empowering!”

You can check out her website to read more about makeover guidance, and follow her on Twitter and Facebook for loads of healthy lifestyle tips and beauty tricks.