SUMMIT, NJ - In sanskrit, yoga mean "union". It is in that spirit, and focusing on yoga as a mind and body "lifestyle for today's world," Summit resident Claire Diab -- internationally renowned yoga therapist, fitness specialist, and inspirational speaker -- has brought the American Yoga Academy (AYA) to Summit.
Located on MONDO's third floor, the AYA is not a yoga studio in the traditional sense, it is a classroom for students who want to learn a comprehensive understanding of yoga as a way to live a healthier, more peaceful life. In the average class of 40, less than half will become full-time yoga instructors, with the majority there to simply benefit from Diab's more than 20-years of deep knowledge and experience. "Some students will go on to open their own studios, others want to incorporate yoga into their professional lives as corporate fitness and wellness leaders, but most are individuals who want to be the change that they want to see," said Diab.
The AYA program offers a 360-degree understanding of yoga, and includes instruction on:
- Yoga philosophy
- On- and off-mat movements
- Interpersonal Interaction
Diab is also and educator, serving as a Professor of Asian Studies at Seton Hall University, teaching the popular Zen and Yoga class. She continues to own and operate her AYA location in West Orange, and was the yoga director at the Short Hills Hilton for 14 years. She frequently travels across the county -- and abroad -- collaborating with Deepak Chopra and the Chopra Center. Diab is the Director of the Chopra Center Yoga Certification Program, and also serves on their Advisory Board.
"Traveling is my commute, and I absolutely love Summit, so when this opportunity arose, it made perfect sense to bring the AYA here," she said. Inclusion is a big part of Diab's yoga philosophy, believing that yoga should be, "Loving, nurturing, and that it does not matter what shape, size, or religion you are." Another myth is that, "Every yoga movement has your legs behind your head. If that was true, the best teachers would all be from Cirque du Soleil."
The AYA offers two programs, a 200-hour, seven month program that operates twice-monthly on Sundays, and an advanced -- Master degree in yoga -- program that features 500 hours of training. Students completing either program receive a diploma and instructor accreditation from the prestigious Yoga Alliance.