Clinton Township psychologist combines psychology, yoga
Published October 3, 2012
CLINTON TOWNSHIP — On a quiet fall evening, Mary Jane Gazda sat cross-legged on a mat in a dimly lit room as soothing Gregorian chants drifted from an iPad in the corner.
Across from her sat three of the pupils that have joined her yoga class, including her husband and a longtime friend.
Her instructions came in a soft tone: “Today, as you close your eyes and start to think of your intention, start to think of ‘What can I balance in my life?’ and ‘How can my light shine on the darkness that might be there?’”
In the ancient language of Sanskrit, the term “yoga” comes from the word meaning “to join” for its ability to connect the body, mind and spirit. At its core, Gazda said, yoga is about finding joy and peace.
Helping people find peace from depression, anxiety and grief is something the 58-year-old Harrison Township resident has been doing since 1984 as a full-time clinical psychologist. She’s been practicing at her office building at 36389 Harper Ave. in Clinton Township since 1996.
Gazda first became acquainted with yoga in the mid-1980s. But it wasn’t until 2010, when a hip injury left her in extreme pain, that she began taking it seriously. She started going to Bodhi Seed Yoga in Mount Clemens on a regular basis.
“It’s actually what got me through my surgery and my recovery,” she said. “I was back to work in two weeks after my hip replacement.”
She hasn’t stopped doing yoga since.
In May, Gazda took her yoga practice to the next level, completing a 16-week training program that certifies her to instruct yoga.
It wasn’t long after that that she founded Asha Yoga Therapy Center in what was once a storage room in the office she shares with two other psychologists and an acupuncturist. She had made the decision to open up the studio only a few weeks before.
Asha Yoga now hosts free yoga classes in the redecorated room four times a week on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.
Gazda says the studio isn’t about making money. For her, it’s about promoting yoga and a sense of wellbeing.
“I just love yoga, and I think it’s so beneficial,” she said, adding that yoga can help reduce anxiety, depression and blood pressure. Some of her students even do yoga to reduce the impact of muscular dystrophy, she said.
While there is no cost to attend Gazda’s yoga sessions, the students can drop donations into a box as they walk in the door. She doesn’t track who is donating, she said.
Donations go to help pay for rent and utilities; anything left over goes to a charity of the students’ choosing. The center, for instance, donated $100 to the Arthritis Foundation in July.
She said Asha Yoga won’t be siphoning business from other yoga studios that charge because it doesn’t host enough classes to replace a full-time studio. Plus, that’s “just not the way yoga people think,” she said. “We link to each other’s websites.”
Friend Sandy Wettergreen, of Clinton Township, said she got into yoga after Gazda opened the studio in May.
“I’ve always stretched a lot, and I’ve been doing yoga poses unknowingly,” Wettergren said. “It goes along with our spiritual practice too. It helps me get grounded and centered.”
The stretching involved in yoga helps her with her back pain. On a mental level, she added, the meditation aspect has made her conscious of unresolved forgiveness issues.
“Some things are coming up that I thought I had healed on a spiritual level, but obviously not because they come up again,” Wettergren said. “I’m aware of it, and I can clear it.”
Gazda introduced her husband, Kenneth Jamrozy, to yoga about two years ago.
“It makes you more aware of your choices,” he said. “It instills a level of calmness in your life.”
For more information about Asha Yoga, visit www.ashayogatherapycenter.com.
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