“Yoga Blend” Brings Yoga to Jersey City’s Latino Community

by Laryssa Wirstiuk

A new class offering at Yoga in the Heights, Yoga Blend is a one-hour, Vinyasa-and-Hatha-blend class with instructions given in both English and Spanish. Instructor Adriana Rambay Fernández teaches Yoga Blend three times a week: on Tuesday and Thursdays at 5:15pm and Saturdays at 11:15am. According to Rambay Fernández, “Yoga Blend offers Latinos a sense of familiarity and a welcoming setting with soft Spanish music playing in the background. It is a way to ease into the practice and open up to the experience of yoga.”

A Kripalu-certified teacher, Rambay Fernández began teaching yoga in 2013 as a means to help people heal and to make yoga more accessible to diverse populations. Through an open, receptive, and gentle approach, she guides students to a place of inner balance, harmony, and union with attention to breath and alignment. Rambay Fernández has also studied yoga therapy and trauma-sensitive yoga. She has taught survivors of domestic violence and women in recovery from substance abuse.

I was curious to know more about her Yoga Blend class, which is the only one of its kind in the area, so I asked her some questions about her motivation and inspiration.

What gave you the idea to teach a Yoga Blend class? Is it something you taught before bringing it to YITH?

When Bridget and Stephanie approached me about teaching in Spanish at Yoga in the Heights, I thought it was a great opportunity to serve the Latino population in Jersey City. Their interest and desire aligned with my own vision of making yoga more accessible to Latinos, which was one of the reasons I became certified to teach in 2013. Before teaching the bilingual class at YITH, I taught in Spanish privately and sometimes switched to Spanish in my regular classes to help guide Spanish-speakers move into a pose.

In what ways do you think the local community could benefit from a Yoga Blend class?

Jersey City is incredibly diverse. Not only do we have an established Latino presence representing a wide spectrum across race, ethnicity, and culture but we also have individuals who have recently arrived from Latin America. Practicing yoga alongside others on a regular basis helps build community as students share in their experiences. Students connect on and off the mat. Offering a bilingual yoga class serves the community by fostering relationships among Latinos while also offering a bridge to connect with others through the practice. The community also benefits overall by having a healthy living practice that builds knowledge and awareness about the body easily accessible to Spanish-speaking residents.

Please describe how you give the cues in both English and Spanish.

The class offers a flow between Spanish and English. I often cue movement on the right side of the body in Spanish and cue movement on the left side of the body in English. I’ll repeat the cue in the opposite language if it looks like a student doesn’t understand but I’ll also demonstrate to provide students with a visual.

Who would be best suited to take your class?

  • Individuals who feel more comfortable practicing in their native tongue.
  • Bilingual speakers who want to enhance their understanding of certain postures by practicing in Spanish.
  • We’ve also had individuals who do not speak Spanish but want to experience yoga in another language for fun. Beginners and all are welcome.

What is your own heritage and your experience with the Spanish language?

I come from a large Dominican family and have an extended Ecuadorian family through my husband who has been a part of my life for nineteen years. My parents were born in the Dominican Republic and migrated to the United States in the late sixties/early seventies. I grew up in Northern New Jersey and have always flowed between Spanish and English depending on the environment. At Rutgers College, Spanish was one of my majors. I spent a summer studying in Puerto Rico and have traveled often to Latin America including extended stays in Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic, and Ecuador.

For more information about Adriana, please visit http://adrianarambay.com/yoga/.

2 thoughts on ““Yoga Blend” Brings Yoga to Jersey City’s Latino Community

  1. Pingback: Making yoga more accessible to Latinos in Jersey City | Adriana Rambay Fernández

  2. FloydArmando

    Reblogged this on ¡Yogay! and commented:
    The opportunity has not presented itself but I hope some day soon I get to practice leading a class in my native Spanish. The relatives that live closest to me are a seven hour drive away and the rest are in Puerto Rico. My friends know that my family is large and very close and we always look for a reason to get together which we manage to do once or twice a year. Those days together are precious to us and accordingly, we try to squeeze in as much as we possibly can. This does not however, leave much room for stillness and mindful breathing.
    As confident I may be in my bilingual skills, when speaking in English I never loose the awareness of the fact that it is not my native tongue. This awareness permeates every part of my being influencing not only the sound of my voice, but the way I carry my entire body as I speak. It manifests itself as low grade tension that is always present and that I constantly try to defuse.
    As a new yoga teacher I am still finding my voice, my rhythms and my cadences. Getting more comfortable and relaxed as I gain experience, seeing as aspects of my personality begin to seep in my patterns of speech when I am leading a class. Still, I am curious to experience how it would differ if that low level tension was not running on the background.
    Something tells me that the opportunity is now gestating somewhere out there, waiting for the perfect time to ripen and show itself. In the meantime, my work is to continue my practice because I will be ready for it when the time comes. ¡Sí Señor!


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