July 17, 2013

First Day of Research

Posted in Uncategorized at 7:08 pm by satsanga

Wednesday- Day 1 of Research

 If you have not been able to follow the trip from start to now- here is a quick run through to catch you up.

 Monday-         -We flew from Buffalo to Newark and then to Zurich

Tuesday-        -We flew from Zurich to Nairobi

-Landed in Nairobi and ate dinner and went to bed

 You are all officially caught up.

 We woke up at 6 AM (which in Buffalo is 11 PM) in order to get started on our research mission. We met for breakfast at the Gracia Gardens restaurant. We ate made to order omelets and pancakes among other delicious food choices and a lot of coffee (for me anyway). We headed over to the Shine Center.

 This is information form the AYP page on the Shine Center (http://www.africayogaproject.org/pages/shine-center):

 “Africa Yoga Project Shine Center is a unique education and empowerment school, and a community based social enterprise in the heart of Nairobi, Kenya. Our intention is to be of service by sharing yoga with every body regardless of fitness level, age, experience or background.

The Shine Center is a place where people come together to explore new and healthier ways of being, actively inquire about the issues of their life and put inspiration into practice. We promise an experience that will not only stretch, strengthen and empower you in body and being, but that will be more FUN than you have ever imagined possible. We don’t pretend that our partnership in your empowerment will be effortless—but it will be extraordinarily rewarding. Like the sun, the positive results produced at the Shine Center radiate out into our families, our communities and our globe – allowing you to contribute to a happier and healthier world.”

 At the Shine Center, the research team from the USA met the research assistants from AYP/Kenya. That is, Catherine, Jerry, Jessalyn, Carla, Susan, Steve, Brooke, and Nan were joined by Joyce, Jamo, Louise, Irene, Musa, and Wanji.  We had a long meeting during which we went over the research protocol and answered all the questions that the research team members had. We cleared up a few issues with our demographic form (clarifying questions, etc…). Then, we took a lunch break and practiced yoga with all of the AYP teachers. Wanji and Susan taught an amazing class!

 This is where it gets fun. You see it is Brooke’s birthday today and in Nairobi it is tradition to get “washed” on your birthday. The teachers from AYP had a huge cake for Brooke and then poured two bottles of water over her head. Brooke was a graceful and loving birthday girl! And she may even be able to skip a shwer tonight : ) !

 Next up was the first official brainstorming session with the AYP teachers. They were wonderful and helpful and we learned so much! Tomorrow we will be distilling all of their thoughts and feelings about their experiences with AYP into survey questions that will be administered this Saturday. The transition from Phase I brainstorming to Phase II rating and sorting is a bit tricky. We need to distill the items generated during brainstorming; then, input the items into the computer and create a survey and sorting cards. These must be copied and prepared for the rating and sorting portion of the study. We are very happy to report that AYP purchased two paper cutters so that we can effectively prepare sorting cards.

 Tomorrow is Day 2 of the research. The team is strong, bright, and eager. I am so happy to be working with such a wonderful group of people!

 Send us energy for tomorrow. We love and miss you all.

Catherine Cottone




July 15, 2013

The Night Before

Posted in Uncategorized at 1:51 am by satsanga

The night before…

 It is the night before we leave for Nairobi, Kenya on our research mission. My bags are packed, research materials are ready, and our daughters have detailed itineraries for while we are gone. Grandma is here to make sure it all happens.

 Jerry, my husband, and I are at the edgy point. There are still things that can be done and we are not sure if the extra two bags of donated clothes and books will be free or $200 each—a big swing. We have conflicting information. Truth will be told at check-in tomorrow. We have made arrangements for the girls in the case something happens and we don’t make it back. As hard as it is, those types of things must be done. We also have the repairs to be made due to the car break-in Thursday: (a) I am picking up my new yellow fever card at 9:00 AM at the travel clinic and, (b) the glass repair people are coming between 9:00 and 12:00 to fix the window on the Envoy.  All will be set right just in time for our departure at 1:55 PM.

 The piles of research materials have been distributed across Jessalyn, Carla, Jerry, and me. The two research computers are with Jessalyn and Carla. I have materials to review on the plane. Nothing we need for the research will be checked. It will all be riding with the research team members in the cabin.

 It was not even a year ago that this began as an idea. It was last August, 2012. I was at Art of Assisting in Cleveland, Ohio. That summer I was finishing up work on a Concept Mapping project that explored the benefits of Cradle Beach, a camp for urban and special needs children in the Buffalo area. Paige Elenson was one of the Art of Assisting trainers. She spoke about the Africa Yoga Project and the exciting things that were happening. I reflected the whole weekend about how the Concept Mapping procedure would be perfect for exploring AYP. Concept Mapping is a qualitative methodology especially good at detailing the effects of novel projects. In this type of research, the researchers go in with no preconceived ideas and hear from the stakeholders and participants exactly what their experiences are. This is called a grounded, bottom-up approach. In this way, we will learn from the perspective of the teachers and students of AYP what it is like for them according to their words, their experiences and not our assumptions or according to our pre-constructed questionnaires. Essentially, the research will amplify their voices.

 After two days of travel, we will begin Wednesday with Phase One Brainstorming. Five teachers from AYP will train with us and become research assistants. Our team and the amazing people of Buffalo, NY and Boston, MA raised enough money to pay these teachers as research assistants. They have already taken and passed the CITI exam assuring human subject protections (as have the members of the team from the US). We are so very excited to work hand-in-hand with the Kenyan teachers as an integrated research team.

 So, tonight we sleep (or not) and are off tomorrow. My next ability to check-in will be late Tuesday. Depending on the Internet, I will be able to give an update. Keep us in your prayers and send energy!



July 13, 2013

Love is a Practice

Posted in Uncategorized at 11:22 pm by satsanga

I have come to realize that real love is a practice, a verb, an action word. We forget that. We say, ‘I love you.’ We say it as if it is a fact– a thing that has happened, a noun. We have said it and it is done. Real love, the love that heals, nurtures, and changes the world, is more than that. Real love is what you do on the easy days and the hard days, when you have time and when you don’t. It is your passion and your commitment. I have come to realize that you either practice love or you don’t– and it is the love we practice that changes everything.” Realized and said by me (Catherine Cook-Cottone)

This was the quote that I read on Thursday morning at 6 AM Yoga. The class was beautiful and sweaty and we all left with smiles. I had a few meetings and then I headed over to the East-side of Buffalo to teach yoga with a group of vounteers. The whole way over I was singing to the radio, window was down, feeling love in my chest—I could actually feel a lightness and warmth radiate from my heart. I parked my car and stopped to take photo of lilies in the garden by the church and posted it on Facebook. I found the other volunteers inside and we were chatting about the plans for our 2-hour yoga class for the summer-camp kids. We decided to play music during savansana, “My Own Two Hands.” I had a Bose speaker in my car (I was teaching yoga later at Amherst High School). I volunteered to go back to out to my car and get it.

As I opened the car door, I saw the glass from my passenger side window all over the seat. It is funny how things move into your consciousness. It was slow and fast. I felt a strange sense of time slowing as the information coming to me through my eyes met my cognitive processing- my car had been broken into at 12:30 PM, midday, right in front of the church, people all around. Then, more thoughts, “My brief case, my purse, my yoga bag,” and then, “Oh no! Our trip to Africa—my passport, yellow fever card…” and more, and more. I reached for my brief case- gone. Then, I reached for my yoga bag- gone. Then, my purse- it was there. My yoga mat was there too.

I grabbed my purse and felt worried, scared, and a little shaken. I live in a very safe and friendly neighborhood. I have not experienced crime in many, many years. Despite seeing it on the news each night, I had forgotten what it feels like. It hurts. It is scary.

Everyone helped. We called 911 and then scanned the neighborhood for the bags. Maybe the thief grabbed the itouch and the Bose speaker and tossed my daily planner (with photos of my children and private practice schedule), the yoga sutras, my book notes and contract, my mantra given to me by my mentor, my yoga notes, and quotes for classes—“Yes,” I thought. “They don’t need that stuff. They will take the stuff that can be easily sold and leave my personal items aside for me.” This wasn’t the case. We never found them.

The miracle, the blessing, was that my passport, driver’s license, credit cards, cash, checkbook etc.… were all in my purse, which was in my hands—not stolen It was in my hands, my own two hands.  We are leaving for Nairobi Kenya Monday at 2:00 PM. It was Thursday afternoon. I had private practice with patients all day Friday that I could not cancel because the schedule as in my now-missing-planner. The likelihood of me retrieving my passport and all that I needed to leave by Monday was slim to no chance. How did someone steal everything BUT what would have completely disrupted our research mission?

The police officer arrived and proceeded with his routine. He told me not to go alone if someone called and said they found my stuff. He said, often people are re-victimized when they meet up to get their stuff back. He said, “You are already a victim now. I don’t want you to be a victim twice.”

“What? What?” I thought, “I am NOT a victim. Someone stole my stuff- that is all. I am not a victim. Not now, not ever.”

With my purse in hand, I headed in to help with yoga. A young man from the neighborhood had been searching for my things with his friend and said, “We didn’t find anything. I am so sorry. I am so sorry they took your things. You are helping us with yoga and this happened. I am so sorry.” He hugged me as I said, “It is okay. It is just stuff. You are so wonderful for helping me.” He said, “I hope you come back.” I smiled, “I am coming back. Of course I am coming back.”

In yoga, we danced. We did handstands. We did yoga. We sang in Swahili. We listened to, In My Own Two Hands on my friend’s iPhone with no speakers. Then, we all lied down in savasana. Two little 5-year-old girls were lying down in my arms, eyes wide open. We had been practicing together for the past hour. It was magical. I said to them, “Close your eyes and listen.” One little one said to me, “I am afraid to. I am afraid if I close my eyes you will go?” I said, “Close your eyes. I am here.” They closed their eyes for a moment, only a moment.

And so went Thursday. I spent Friday and some of today getting a new planner and piecing my schedule back together. I found a new brief case online and felt waves of a tug at my gut thinking about my annotated yoga sutras, the mantra note, and the photos of my children. The thing is that I live a life of such privilege that I get attached to things. I really believe these things are mine and they will never be taken from me. I really believe that it is sad if they are taken.

That is the illusion.

These things are not mine to lose. And oh how quickly I am able to re-collect the next version of them. What is mine to lose is my passion for bringing the peace and joy in my heart that I experience with yoga to others who need it most. And the only way I can lose that is by thinking that these other things matter at all.

Monday, we are off to Africa- with wide-open hearts ready to study the miracles of the Africa Yoga Project. Thank you Universe!

“Real love is what you do on the easy days and the hard days, when you have time and when you don’t. It is your passion and your commitment. I have come to realize that you either practice love or you don’t– and it is the love we practice that changes everything.” ccc

Team on the Way to Kenya

Posted in Uncategorized at 1:49 am by satsanga

Team on the Way to Kenya

Kenya We are on Our Way

UB Reporter Covers the Research Team Travels to Kenya

Posted in Uncategorized at 1:47 am by satsanga

UB Reporter Covers the Research Team Travels to Kenya

Cook-Cottone, a certified yoga instructor and licensed psychologist, leads an interdisciplinary group that includes her husband, Jerry Cottone, a psychologist and yogi; Jessalyn Klein, a UB doctoral student who grew up at the Himalayan Institute and is the daughter of two yogis; Carla Giambrone, a UB doctoral student and yoga instructor; Nan Herron, a yogi and psychiatrist who runs an inpatient clinic in Boston, Mass.; Susan Fain, owner of Power Yoga Buffalo; and yoga instructors Steven Procknal and Brooke Easton. 

Africa Yoga Project

Posted in Uncategorized at 1:43 am by satsanga

Africa Yoga Project

On Our Way to Africa Yoga Project

Posted in Uncategorized at 1:40 am by satsanga

On Our Way to Africa Yoga Project


January 25, 2012

Research Opportunity: Help us Learn More about Eating Disorders!

Posted in Uncategorized at 7:41 pm by satsanga

Research Opportunity: spread the word- Helps us understand more about disordered eating. We need people to participate who have been diagnosed with eating disorders. Participation involves a 10-minute phone interview, coming to Farber Hall on UBs South Campus (parking provided), and completion of a 20-minute computer-based attention task and questionnaires. You receive a $10.00 thank you! You must be over 18 to participate. Call 829- 5602 or email UBfoodstudy@gmail.com for more information. Help us learn more about eating disorders!!!!!

August 17, 2011

ANAD Support Group to be Held at Centre Buffalo Starting 9/11/11

Posted in Uncategorized at 4:55 pm by satsanga

Buffalo Centre

95 John Muir Drive
Suite 104
Amherst, NY 14228

Sundays 6-7 p.m.



Carly Hadjeasgari
Phone: (716) 867-5322

Amanda Smith
Email: amssmith@buffalo.edu
Phone: (607) 592-4753

June 27, 2011

Marsha Linehan Gives Hope

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 1:21 pm by satsanga

Hear her story


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