Make “Giving” the Real STAR this Holiday Season

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Each year around the holidays at the Village, we come together to support a local charity to give back to.  And this year, like last, we’ve chosen to give back and support Project STAR of the Children’s Institute.  Project STAR was created as a way to help potential adopting families recognize their own abilities, strengths and see all the support available to them when considering the adoption of children with special needs.  Placing these children had been challenging, and Project STAR has helped give these children a better opportunity to be a part of a permanent family.  The STAR in Project STAR stands for Specialized Training for Adoption Readiness and has been very successful at opening the hearts and minds of potential forever families.  This project has been a combined effort through The Children’s Institute, Three Rivers Adoption Council, and Allegheny County Office of Children, Youth, and Families.

Project STAR’s services have expanded to include all children and families in Western Pennsylvania, although children with special needs are still a major focus. The organization opened an office in Beaver County, Pennsylvania, with their primary goal of creating a permanent home for children remaining constant. Because of this, Project STAR has won numerous awards. Project STAR is licensed by the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare as an adoption, foster care and private children and youth social service agency. They are also an affiliate member of the Statewide Adoption and Permanency Network (SWAN) and maintain contracts with local, statewide and out-of-state counties in the areas of placement services and family preservation/reunification services. 

November is also National Adoption Awareness month.  If you or anyone you know is interested in helping a child in need find a forever home, don’t hesitate to get in touch with Project STAR or attend an upcoming informational meeting to find out more. 

The Village, along with Casey’s Family Restaurant, and Salon 13, are hosting Christmas on the Beach Saturday, December 8th.  This fundraising event will be held at Casey’s Family Restaurant in Shaler with generously donated raffle basket drawings starting at 3pm and family friendly activities from 6pm to 10pm.  Activities include, DJ, basket raffles, snow cones, face painting, balloon artist, photo booth, and pictures with Olaf the Snowman.   We invite you to come join the fun and help us give back and support Project Star.  All donations for the raffle baskets will go towards the program.  We ask that you bring an unwrapped gift that will be given to a child in foster care.  Gifts for children of all ages are needed, with an increased need for kids ages 13 – 21.  If you cannot attend the benefit, we will also be accepting drop off donations at both Village locations, Casey’s Family Restaurant, and Salon 13 now through December 7th.  As always, we appreciate your generosity and support!

The Summer Slow Down


As summer approaches and our schedules get less full, we have more time to enjoy the beautiful weather and fun activities that come with it.  There’s something about this time of year where we can slow down and really enjoy life.  And it’s always a good idea to stay mindful of our habits and to create new ones along the way.  While we usually use this time to get into a new book, enjoy the beach, or just relax outside, it’s also a great time to add some yoga and meditation to your daily routine for many reasons. 

To start, it will help you truly savor the moments of summer that you might normally overlook.  The way the grass feels on your bare feet, the smell of the salty beach air, or even the sweet taste of watermelon.  Secondly, you’ll start to notice your self-confidence increasing in situations where you used to feel less confident, because you become capable of doing things you never thought you could before (like sticking to a yoga routine or doing a certain stretch!).  Another benefit is that you may start to crave a good yoga and meditation class rather in place of a sweet treat.  Many people report that the feeling they get from finishing a session is just as enjoyable as the good feeling they get after rewarding themselves with a treat, and this one is calorie free! Lastly, adding a new yoga and meditation routine may help your life perspective change for the better.  You can really start to slow down and see the things that really matter and take the time to appreciate them fully and presently.

If you’re looking to add a new yoga or mediation class to your summer routine, we have many options to choose from this summer.  Check out our class schedule to see what fits your times/needs best.  We are also partnering with Venture Outdoors on Saturday, July 28th for a fun nature hike at North Park, followed by an hour long meditative yoga session with Abby Ritter!  Register for the North Park Hike and Yoga here.

A Celebration of New Beginnings - Saving Animals. Serving Community.

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This spring, the Village is teaming up with Salon 13 as they hold their grand opening and celebrate a new beginning for their salon and a new beginning for the dogs from Gentle Ben’s Giant Breed Rescue.  The new beginnings event will be held Saturday, April 14th between 1:30 and 5:30pm at Salon 13 in Allison Park.  The event will feature raffle baskets, live music, food for sale from Sonny’s Smorgasbord Food Truck, and interactions with adoptable dogs from Gentle Ben’s. Donations needed for the dogs are collars, leashes, non-skid stainless steel food and water bowls, tug ropes, Kong toys, Nylabones, Milkbones, canned dog food, and XL dog beds. 

Gentle Ben’s Giant Breed Rescue is a non-profit large breed dog rescue, and runs solely on donations and funds from the owners of the rescue.  Its main focus is to help families who find themselves in unfortunate circumstances such as losing their home, military obligations, divorce, loss of job, medical issue or death of a family member, and can no longer keep their beloved dog. Gentle Ben’s helps give these families peace of mind that their dog will be taken care of in a safe place, fostered, and will be placed in a loving new family.  The dogs that are taken by Gentle Ben’s become like part of their family and will stay in their rescue home until a perfect, permanent home is found for them.  Once they are placed in a new home, the original family is updated on the journey with pictures and updates so they can see their dog is now happy and safe in their new home.  Some dogs may even be placed as therapy dogs.

All dogs are fully vetted, vaccinated, heartworm tested, spayed/neutered, and fully socialized and microchipped before being placed for adoption.  They also take very seriously the placement of each dog, knowing that these dogs have been through enough changes, and need a forever home. 

 If you are unable to attend the event on April 14th, donations are being accepted at Salon 13 and the Village Center for Holistic Therapy beginning April 1st – April 30th.  

We are also collecting shoe donations at both Village locations beginning March 1st through April 30th for another charitable cause featuring dogs, Nittany Greyhounds who partners with Funds2Org.  Shoes of any kind or condition, even slippers and flip-flops, are accepted.  We will bag 25 pairs of shoes to be sent to developing nations where they may help start businesses of shoe repair or recycling or are donated to those in need, especially after natural disasters such a hurricanes.  Nittany Greyhounds is one of the few groups that does not just take healthy dogs, but this can be a big expense.  For every 100 bags of 25 pairs of shoes, Funds2Org will donate $1,000 to Nittany Greyhounds, who uses this money to rehabilitate any sick or injured dogs that they take in to get them ready for adoption, as well as provide a month's worth of food, a collar and least, a coat and ID, which is given to all adoptees.

We appreciate your generosity and kindness in support of places like Gentle Ben’s Giant Breed Rescue and Nittany Greyhounds who help our community and our animal friends.  And don’t forget that National Adopt a Shelter Pet day is April 30th!

Mindfulness - Be. Here. Now.


Mindfulness, which has become a very popular buzzword, is the psychological process of bringing one’s attention to experiences occurring in the present moment, through meditation or other training.  If done properly, it can help improve your health, restore emotional balance, increase your resilience to stress, slow the aging process, improve your concentration, and create better sleeping and eating habits.  Once you create a mindfulness habit, you’ll start to see your stress level reduced and your happiness level increased.  And one of the best things about the practice of mindfulness is that you don’t have to have any special knowledge or skill to do it.  Just your mind.  And by allowing ourselves to stay in the present, we stop focusing on the past which can bring up feeling of regret or longing, as well as the anxiety that comes from focusing on the future and all the unknowns, and we are able to fully enjoy what is happening right now.  We start to feel more alive because we are actually living our life in the moment it’s happening and putting our focus into the present.

The practice of mindfulness has grown so much that there are multiple way to practice it these days, many of which are very easy to incorporate into your everyday life.  One of the easiest to start with is a mindfulness app.  These usually contain guided session focusing on different categories to pull your focus into the present and take you step by step through the process.  Another way is to become aware of your breathing.  This is a very simple trick that can be done anywhere and anytime.  Thought clouds are another mindfulness technique.  It involves stepping away from your thoughts and seeing them from a distance without giving them traction to turn negative.  Meal times can be another easy mindful activity by using all of our senses while you eat and slowing way down during your meal.  Finally, yoga is a great way to incorporate mindfulness and exercise as it allows you to use breathing techniques, body awareness, and to be focused on the present. 

There are so many opportunities to practice mindfulness in your everyday life that can help strengthen our mind, body, and spirit. No matter what you do to practice mindfulness, remember that it will get easier with time and you will start seeing all the benefits being fully present has to offer.

Annual Holiday Benefit


Every year around the holidays, the Village chooses a worthwhile cause to sponsor at our annual benefit.  This year, our hearts and help are going to Project STAR at the Children’s Institute.  Project STAR was created as a way to help potential adopting families recognize their own abilities, strengths and see all the support available to them when considering the adoption of children with special needs.  Placing these children had been challenging, and Project STAR has helped give these children a better opportunity to be a part of a permanent family.  The STAR in Project STAR stands for Specialized Training for Adoption Readiness and has been very successful at opening the hearts and minds of potential forever families.  This project has been a combined effort through The Children’s Institute, Three Rivers Adoption Council, and Allegheny County Office of Children, Youth, and Families.

Project STAR’s services have expanded to include all children and families in Western Pennsylvania, although children with special needs are still a major focus. The organization opened an office in Beaver County, Pennsylvania, with their primary goal of creating a permanent home for children remaining constant. Because of this, Project STAR has won numerous awards. Project STAR is licensed by the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare as an adoption, foster care and private children and youth social service agency. They are also an affiliate member of the Statewide Adoption and Permanency Network (SWAN) and maintain contracts with local, statewide and out-of-state counties in the areas of placement services and family preservation/reunification services.

For everything that Project STAR has done and continues to do, we invite you to come out and support this amazing cause at our annual Holiday Benefit at Casey’s Family Restaurant, Christmas Circus, on Saturday, December 16th from 3 to 11pm.  We will have basket raffles and family entertainment.  We ask that you bring an unwrapped gift that will be given to a child in foster care.  Gifts for children of all ages are needed, with an increased need for kids ages 13 – 21.  If you cannot attend the benefit, we will also be accepting drop off donations at both Village locations, Casey’s Family Restaurant, and Salon 13 starting November 20th – December 15th.  We appreciate your generosity, kindness, and support!

Staff Spotlight - Dr. Nuket Curran, PT

Coming up next month, we are adding a cardio based workout workshop series to our Fall schedule.  Not only is this a new type of workout for the Village, but the instructor is new to us as well.  That's why this month, we are featuring Dr. Nuket Curran, PT in our staff spotlight interview.  Nuket offers both physical therapy and fitness training.  Here's what she had to share with us.


1.  How did you get started in fitness training? What's your inspiration? As a physical therapist for over 20 years, maintaining health is powerful.  Not only does it help someone return from injury but it also improves their mind set by increasing their strength. I found myself in need and sought out fitness training to keep me on track and that is what started it all.

2.  What is your approach to Holistic therapy? Holistic therapy is one that centers on all of the individual’s needs, not just the single one they are coming to you for.  In my role as a physical therapist, developing plans for rehabilitation after injury and fitness programs encompasses the client’s individual set of needs.

3.  What can clients expect when they sign up for a session with you? Focus and attention.  I try to gear the group workouts to match up with everyone in the room. Modification options to decrease impact, range of motion and aerobic effort.  The bottom line is enjoying yourself and as a result, finding yourself committed to getting fit for YOU.

4.  What's your favorite health tip that you practice yourself and that you recommend to clients? Accountability.  Finding someone to commit with you helps so much.  Making your exercise and commitment to your health non-negotiable.  That means doing it even when you don’t feel like it. With my fitness clients, I offer them a check-in system to keep them on track.

If you're interested in checking out Cardio Soul, the upoming cardio based workout workshop series taught by Nuket starting Thursday, October 5th from 12:00pm to 12:45pm at our Shaler location, click here to sign up.

We're Opening Our Doors for Our OPEN HOUSE!

Here at the Village North - Shaler location, we've been awaiting the completion of our expanded space over the summer and now that it's finished, we can't wait to OPEN up our HOUSE to the community!  Join us during the week of September 11th through the 15th for FREE CLASSES, light snacks, and a tour of the new space.  Check out our new Fall Community Class Schedule below as well as pics of the new space. We can't wait to see you there!


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 From top left clockwise - Yoga studio, kitchen space, waiting areas

From top left clockwise - Yoga studio, kitchen space, waiting areas

New Season Comes with a New Schedule

School's almost in session and summer's coming to an end.  It's time to get back to a routine.  At the Village, we've been getting our new space in Shaler ready and anxiously anticipating some exciting events for the fall.  One of the biggest changes to our space is the new, upper level Yoga studio.  We've added some new classes and new times to our upcoming schedule, which will start Monday, September 11th.

In addition to our previous evening meditation class, we have also added a lunchtime meditation class.  In these classes, you will enter into a state of awareness to reduce stress, promote relaxation and experience mental clarity.  Along with that, we've incorporated more yoga and Piyo classes. Our yoga classes offer a chance to use breath work, work on standing poses, and increase flexibility, while our PiYO class uses bodyweight exercises and Pilates techniques with low impact movements. If you're starting to get your fall routine in order, check out our new fall schedule to see what works best for you. We're hopeful that we can meet your needs better with our expanded options this year!


Out with the Old, In with the New

It's been an exciting time at the Village in Shaler over the last few months as long awaited visions of expansion have finally started coming to life.  After realizing that extra space would be beneficial, Victor Barbetti and Kristy Weidner, Co-Owners of the Village, jumped at the opportunity to expand into the 2nd floor of the Shaler location. "Holistic healing and the mind/body connection are the foundation by which our practice was built, " said Kristy Weidner. "The new space will allow us to offer more services that promote better wellness and self-care to the Pittsburgh community, and we are really looking forward to this opportunity."

Since last Spring, the Village has refurbished the entire 2nd floor and has been able to add more therapy offices, a brand new kitchen and eating space, as well as a beautiful new yoga studio.  And final touches are just a few short weeks away.  The Village in Shaler is very excited to be able to offer more client space for their therapists as well as doubling its class options and other holistic services, which will start this fall.  An open house to showcase the new space and our new services will be Friday September 8th.  More information to come!

Add Some Green to Your Exercise Routine

We all know the many benefits of exercising and meditating, especially their stress reducing effects.  But did you know that bringing these practices outdoors and into nature can add even more beneficial elements to your life? Nature by itself is good for improving your focus, making you more relaxed, improving cognitive function, and making us happy.  Add in some exercise and meditation, and you’ve got a winning combo!

When we are in nature, we are able to use all five of our senses to their full ability.  The sight of the green trees and plants around us, the sounds of birds and other creatures, the feel of the wind on our face and grass beneath our feet, the smell of all the plants around us, and even the taste of the air.  Everything becomes more vibrant and alive.  It’s also much easier to find yourself being fully grounded when you are outside and can connect with the earth and the present moment. When we exercise outdoors we are also able to gain some sun exposure, giving us some necessary vitamin D.  Being outdoors for exercise can also hold a restorative benefit in that we don’t have to give our direct attention to nature, giving our minds a chance to fully relax and recover from mental fatigue.  Another benefit to exercising outdoors is that it seems easier than an indoor exercise.  Going on a jog around the lake is more stimulating and fun than just running indoors on a treadmill, thus tricking our minds to see it as not as strenuous which could lead to exercising more.  And that’s always a benefit!

This month, the Village is partnering with Venture Outdoors to host a hike to the West End overlook and will be offering a yoga class in nature, taught by Abby Ritter, E-RYT 200, RYT 500, Sunday July 16th from 10am to 1pm.  The hike will begin at our West End location.  Venture Outdoors is a local program whose mission is to help as many people as possible have the chance to get in nature and experience how fun outdoor recreation can be.  Come join us and experience all the benefits that exercising in nature has to offer!

May - Mental Health Awareness Month

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This month, we’re focusing our attention on a subject that’s close to our heart at the Village; Mental Health Awareness.  Mental illnesses can affect people of any age, race, religion, or income. It is a medical condition that disrupts a person’s thinking, feeling, mood, and ability to relate to others and daily functioning. Statistics show that at least 1 in 5 people will experience a mental health issue in their life.  Because of this, it’s important that we all work together to learn how to recognize a problem, provide support, and fight the stigma that can surround mental health problems. 

When someone you care about is suffering from a mental health disorder, it may or may not be as obvious as it seems.  Some symptoms to watch for could include sadness, sudden change in moods, change in performance at work, change in weight or appearance, changes in sleep patterns, and withdrawal from socializing.  The person suffering from a mental health issue may also have hallucinations, suicidal thoughts, be in denial of very obvious problems, or turn to drugs and/or alcohol as a coping mechanism. 

If any of these symptoms are present, your loved one may need help.  In some cases, just having someone to talk to about what they’re going through is helpful and in some rare cases, can be enough.  Most of the time though, professional treatment needs to be sought.  Many times, a loved one will need to help set up and take them to the first therapy session.  Another important point to remember is that there should be no judgement towards the person seeking treatment. Express your concerns, listen to them genuinely, and encourage them to continue seeking treatment.

Finally, we have to learn how to remove the stigma that comes with mental health disorders.  Many people who live with these conditions end up feeling isolated and ashamed.  We have to realize, just like any other disease, mental health is a real disorder that requires help and there should be no shame in receiving it.  And the more stories that are shared from people suffering from mental illnesses, along with their loved ones, the more we can spread the awareness that it is a real problem and that there is real help available, with no need to feel bad about it.

If you or someone you know needs help, don’t put it off.  Below are some useful links for receiving support and more info on mental health.

Staff Spotlight - Angie Phares, Yoga Instructor, Health Coach

As we approach the summer months and start to peel off the layers we’ve been wearing all winter and spring, many people get inspired to make major health changes and start new fitness goals.  Which is why our featured staffer, Angie Phares, couldn’t be more perfect.  Angie has been a yoga instructor with the Village, but as we expand our services, she is now offering integrative health coaching.  Health coaching is a relatively new approach to reaching health and fitness goals.  It’s similar to a personal trainer, but with a focus on the whole self, not just the physical aspect.  We caught up with Angie to find out more and here’s what she had to say:

1.  How did you get started in health coaching? What's your inspiration?  I have been interested in health and wellness since I was in high school.  I majored in biology in college and then went on to be a physician assistant.  After about 6 years of life within the medical system, I realized that medicine was more about sickness than health and I was doing very little to improve people's quality of life.  When I discovered Health Coaching, I felt like I finally found where I was meant to be and I really enjoy helping people feel better.  

2.  What is your approach to Holistic therapy?  Integrative Health Coaching sees the whole person, including where they work and live, their relationships, and their health behaviors and evaluates it within the individual's vision of the ideal health.  Longer term goals are broken down in to smaller steps so that long lasting behavior change can occur, not just a quick fix.       

3.  What can clients expect when they sign up for a health coaching session with you?  Anyone who is interested in Health Coaching can get in touch with me to have a complementary consultation where we'll review the client's ideas about what they'd like to change.  Coaching works best with people who would really like to change a health behavior, but have had trouble succeeding in the past or just need a little extra support.  If we both agree that it's a good match, we'll meet 8 times over the course of 3-4 months for about 30-45 minutes each time.  This can be done in person or over the phone.

4.  What's your favorite health tip that you practice yourself and that you recommend to clients? Health coaching is a little different in that I really don't make recommendations.  Each client is seen as the expert on their own lives and I'm there to help them live achieve their goals.  What works for me may not work for them.  If someone needs new ideas we brainstorm or I offer them resources and guidelines to explore new possibilities.  That being said, I have two health practices that have helped me the most:  practicing mindfulness and 'eating close to the earth', meaning simple whole foods that have been minimally processed. 

If you are interested in a health coaching session or would just like more information, you can contact Angie Phares at or by phone at (412)860-2630.


Positive Mind, Positive Image

It’s easy to get pulled into the social media trap of seeing perfect bodies everywhere and feeling less than perfect about your own.  Posting pictures to receive more likes and followers and validate our worth is becoming an addiction and it can wreak havoc on our self-image if we’re not careful.  According to Common Sense Media, adolescence are experiencing pressure to be camera ready at all times, leading to an increase in dissatisfaction with their bodies, causing a rise in self-destructive behavior.  Our body image is not something we are born with, but is a very complex subject that is influenced by many factors such as our friends, social media interaction, and our families. 

So how can we turn this negative body image into a more positive one?  We have to practice healthier ways of looking at ourselves and our body, and continually reinforce these positive thoughts.  We have to appreciate our body for everything it CAN do for us.  Remind yourself that beauty isn’t about what’s on the outside, but rather is more about having a sense of self-confidence, self-awareness, and liking who you are as a person.  See yourself as a whole person and not just certain body parts.  Surround yourself with positive people who are supportive and loving of the authentic you.  Step back from social media when you feel certain images and messages are bringing you down.  Do something nice for yourself every day, such as making time to do an activity you love or taking time to just relax and be yourself.  Finally, make a positive change in someone else’s life by finding time to reach out and help others.  Nothing makes you feel better than doing something for someone else. 

If you’re looking to do something to positively improve your body and mind, check out one of our yoga or meditation classes we offer each week here.  We are also offering two amazing meditation workshops this month as well.

Village in the News!

To celebrate Women's History month, the Shaler North Hills Library is putting together some special programs in March.  These programs will be focusing on promoting a positive body image for women.  And our very own Abby Ritter, Yoga Instructor, will play a part in this event by offering a free class on the benefits of yoga on March 20th at 6:30pm at the Shaler North Hills Library.  Read the full article from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette here.


Souls for Soles

Many of us have more shoes than we know what to do with.  We look through dozens of pairs each day to decide which one we’ll wear.  And those are just the shoes we actually keep in our closets.  It’s estimated that there are over 1 billion unworn pairs of shoes taking up space in our closets and storage bins.  Maybe they are out of style or outgrown.  Either way, if they are in good condition, they would be a priceless treasure to someone in a developing country.  The Village is asking you to help us support another good cause and donate your shoes.

Why are shoes so important?  One in two people lives in extreme poverty in sub-Sahara Africa. And with HIV rates at an epidemic level, many children are left orphaned and shoeless.  It’s estimated that there are over 20 million orphaned children without shoes.  Shoes also offer a measure of health and safety, as being barefoot in these regions can lead to cracks, cuts, and injuries on the feet that are never treated and could end up with a serious infection, parasitic, amputation, or death.  Shoes are also required for children to attend school as part of their uniform.  Without them, they are unable to be a part of the classes.  Currently, 40% of children are unable to attend school because they don't have shoes.  This prevents many adults and children from working, as many jobs require walking long distances.  Therefore, their income is also negatively impacted.

Spring is the time to de-clutter and start anew.  Take some time to go through your closets and clear out your old shoes and fill your soul by donating your shoes so that others have the opportunity to live a better life.  Starting March 1st through May 1st,  both Village locations will be gratefully accepting your shoe donations for adults and children in sub-Sahara Africa.  

Your Food & Your Mood


Have you ever noticed how you feel after a bowl of ice cream or a handful of cookies? Maybe a little guilty and regretful?  It’s not just your imagination.  Certain foods can actually trigger certain responses in our bodies.  Because what we put in our bodies fuels us, it can directly affect our brain, which in turn, determines our mood.  We need a certain supply of vitamins and minerals to keep our bodies functioning optimally.  When we feed ourselves food low in nutritional value, our risk of depression and other emotional issues can rise.  So what should you limit to keep your body and brain on a positive path?

Refined sugar is one of the biggest culprits of a bad mood.  At least in the long run.  It may feel good for a few minutes, but leads to fluctuations in your blood sugar, which then causes fluctuations in your moods.  It can also lead to insulin resistance, which plays a large role in mental health. Sugar has also been shown to create chronic inflammation in the long term, which can wreak havoc on our immune system and be linked to a greater risk of depression.  Processed foods are another thing to avoid if you want to keep your mood steady and positive.  They are filled with many chemicals that are connected to irritability and a bad mood. 

So what should you be eating if you want to keep your brain happy?  Eating healthy fats rich in omega-3 fatty acids can play a big role in decreasing inflammation, which promotes good moods.  Fermented foods, such as yogurt or fermented veggies, are another great option, as they promote good gut health, which is directly related to our moods.  Getting in your five a day of veggies and fruit helps ensure you’re getting all the nutrients and fiber your body needs, which keeps our bodies physically and mentally healthy. Complex carbs such as root vegetables and whole grains can also help keep your mood stable, as they digest slowly and create a more balanced blood sugar level.  Getting plenty of vitamin D, especially in the winter months, from some good old-fashioned sunshine can help keep depression at bay.  Finally, keep up your water intake.  Dehydration can cause tiredness and agitation, while staying hydrated can keep us energized. 

For more tips on how better nutrition can improve your health and daily life, check out our upcoming workshop, The Art of Healthy Living Through Yoga & Ayurveda with Bhavna Mehta next Sunday, February 26th. 

Staff Spotlight – Bhavna Mehta, AHC, RYT-500


This month at the Village, our featured workshop is The Art of Healthy Living through Ayurveda and Yoga, where you’ll learn how to incorporate each into your daily routine and the therapeutic benefits they can provide.   We were able to sit down with the teacher of this workshop, Bhavna Mehta, and find out a little more about how she got started in holistic therapy as well as more about using Ayurveda in our daily lives.

1.       How did you get started in Ayurveda and Yoga practices?  What was your inspiration?

I was born in India and was raised by Ayurvedic doctors within my family.  Spirituality was not something separate, but rather a way of life.  Yoga was always practiced in our family as well.  Having grown up with those values, after moving here, I wanted to study Ayurveda and Yoga at a higher level, share those values, and teach those values.

2.       What is your approach to holistic therapy?

There are many schools of thought.  The most common form of therapy focuses on only the physical body. I like to understand each person on a mental, physical, and emotional level to help identify the root causes of imbalances.  Rather than a one size fits all model, I focus on an integrative approach and focus on what that person individually needs.  My goal is to use combinations of predominately yoga, Ayurveda, herbalism, and massage to heal that person.

3.       Tell us more about your upcoming workshop featuring Yoga and Ayurveda.

My workshop has two parts, a combining of the sister sciences, Yoga and Ayurveda, to demonstrate the benefits of a holistic approach.  While yoga has many different aspects, (spiritual, meditation, etc.), I will demonstrate the therapeutic value of yoga.  For example, we will learn about which poses are good for back pain and which poses aid in digestion.  In the second part, we will focus on the Ayurveda diet and lifestyle.  We will discuss which foods are good to eat in each season, and which foods are good for each body type.  We will also enjoy an Ayurvedically prepared meal at the end of the session.

4.      How can we incorporate Ayurveda into our daily lives?

Setting up and following a daily routine is essential.  To do this, start with one thing.  For example, having lemon water in the morning, eating heavier meals earlier in the day, or by avoiding mixing incompatible foods.  While Ayurveda as a whole is much more complicated, I will have handouts during the workshop with a list of items that can be incorporated into your lifestyle that you can build on step by step.  When you go at your own pace, even starting with just 5 minutes a day, you can make a meaningful impact in your life. 

If you want to know more about how Ayurveda and Yoga can benefit you, join us for Bhavna's workshop, February 26th at our West End Village location.


Staff Spotlight: Kristina Lampasi, PiYo Instructor

 Kristina warming up in the studio before teaching her Tuesday night PiYo class.

Kristina warming up in the studio before teaching her Tuesday night PiYo class.

With the beginning of a new year comes a time of reflection and goal setting.  And for many of us, we want to incorporate new health goals into our lives, which often involve starting a new exercise routine.  That's why this month seemed so fitting to catch up with the Village’s Piyo Instructor, Kristina Lampasi, to find out what her exercise class is all about and how she got started. 

1.  How did you get started and what inspired you to start teaching PiYo?

I was introduced to PiYo shortly after having my twins. I had previously been an avid runner, but had stopped during my pregnancy.  Afterwards, I was looking for a low impact workout that I could do at home.  I immediately fell in love with PiYo! Not only did it help me shed the baby weight, but it totally improved my mood for the day! That’s when I knew I had to share it and I began practicing for my PiYo certification, which I completed in December of 2014.

2.  PiYo is a relatively new type of workout. Can you explain what it is and how it's different than other popular workouts?

PiYo is a mind-body workout with the elements of Pilates and Yoga. We combine the muscle-sculpting, core-firming benefits of Pilates with the strength and flexibility advantages of Yoga, while continuously moving to keep up the heart rate. The class is broken down into 10 sections which all use different muscles, giving you the maximum benefits. It’s also low impact which means just about anyone can do it!

4. With a great exercise routine comes other healthy choices.  What keeps you motivated to lead a healthy lifestyle?

My kids! I have three little ones that keep me going and that I need to keep up with every day. I also want to be a positive role model by teaching them that it is important to take care of yourself. A healthier parent makes a happier parent and I think we all have to remember to make ourselves a priority when it comes to making time for healthy habits. Exercise and proper food choices keep us well and prevent common illnesses, and as a parent of three, I don’t have time to get sick, so that’s something I always keep in mind.

5. What advice would you give someone who wants to give PiYo a try?

Give it a shot! This workout really is for everyone! All of the moves can be modified for any fitness level whether you're an athlete or a couch potato.  We will sweat but also have fun while doing it!

Kristina’s PiYo class is every Tuesday evening at our Shaler location from 6:30 to 7:30 pm and costs $5 per class. Wear comfortable clothes, bare feet, and be ready to get in a fun workout! For more info on the PiYo class, other classes at the Village, and a link to purchase a 4 class pass, check out the Village website.


Eat, Drink, and Be Healthy – 5 Healthier Holiday Tips

Can you believe it’s the middle of December already? By now you are probably starting to feel the rush of the holiday season set in.  Shopping, parties, presents, programs, and family gatherings.  And they are all happening on top of an already hectic schedule.  It’s no wonder that we start to put our health on the back burner during this time of year and are craving a healthy change in the New Year!  Why wait for January to take care your health?  Here are five easy ways to get a head start and feel better during the holidays!

1.      Don’t Forget To Eat Breakfast - It’s the first meal of the day and can set the tone for the rest of the choices you make, so choose wisely.  Pick healthy, filling options like a veggie omelet, fresh fruit with yogurt, or oatmeal with peanut butter.  By making good choices early on, you’ll be less tempted to head for the treats later in the day!

2.      Keep the Water Coming – In the winter, it’s easy to forget to drink water consistently.  When that happens, we start to confuse thirst with hunger and end up snacking when all we really needed was water.  Keep a water bottle with you at all times so you don’t forget to keep drinking!

3.      Give Yourself a Break – Try to block out a small amount of time each day where you can sit and soak in your surroundings.  Let the rush and stress of the day fade away and take a moment to just breathe.  Sometimes, just giving yourself 10 peaceful minutes to relax can make a huge difference in how you take on your daily tasks.

4.      Pre-Party At Home – Parties are always on the schedule this time of year, but they can be filled with tempting, unhealthy foods.  Rather than filling up at the party, plan to eat a healthy snack or meal that will keep you full while you’re out.  Then you can focus on enjoying the company you’re with rather than the treats!

5.      Don’t Skimp on Sleep – Keep your nighttime routine consistent and make it a priority to get at least 6 to 9 hours of sleep each night.  Staying caught up on sleep will help you enjoy the season and resist unhealthy temptations.  

I hope these tips help get you through the busy season a little healthier and happier! 

If you’re interested in learning more about a healthier lifestyle, check out our upcoming workshop in January, Ayurveda: Nature's Healing Medicine, featuring a holistic Ayurveda daily routine, along with a grounding yoga practice.


HOPE for the Holidays

With Thanksgiving only a few days away and the rest of the holidays not far behind, let’s take a moment to give thanks for what we have.  A safe place to live and a good relationship with our partners can easily be taken for granted.  That’s why the Village is a big supporter of the Alle-Kiski Area HOPE Center.  The HOPE Center, located in Tarentum, PA, is an organization of social change whose mission is the safe elimination of domestic violence through intervention, prevention, and collaboration.

The Center offers five programs to help victims of domestic violence, including emergency shelter, legal advocacy, transitional housing, medical advocacy, and a 24 hour crisis hotline.  They are also proactive in their stand against violence and offer violence prevention programs including classes for children, teens, and a high school dating violence education program.  The 24 hour hotline provides support, education, and options regarding each domestic violence situation, as well as referrals.  Their 30 day emergency shelter is a secure place for women, along with their children AND pets, who are experiencing domestic abuse and need a place to live or are homeless. Being able to bring pets and provide a safe place for them is a huge relief to victims of domestic abuse, as many choose not to leave their situation for fear of their pets’ safety.  During their stay, weekly education based life skills and goal planning are available to help the women gain confidence.  For longer term, there is also transitional housing option.

The HOPE Center is always in need of our support!  Let’s join together this holiday season and give back to a worthy cause.  If you would like to help out the shelter with a donation, they are requesting unwrapped toys for children. They are also always in need of socks, slippers, underwear, and pajamas for women and children, and pet supplies for dogs and cats such as food, treats, leashes, shampoos, toys, and beds. 

The Village will be taking donations for the HOPE Center at both Village locations until December 18th:

Village North - 1407 N. Mt. Royal Blvd, Glenshaw, PA 15116

Village West – 68 Wabash St., Pittsburgh, PA 15220

There is an Adopt-A-Shelter fundraiser benefiting the Alle-Kiski HOPE Center that will be held at Casey’s Family Restaurant in Shaler, on Saturday December 10th from 6 – 10pm, and will include family fun, a DJ, and raffle baskets.  Donations needed are unwrapped toys for children and pet supplies. 

Resources for Help and Awareness

If you or someone you know is experiencing any form of domestic violence, encourage them to get help!  For more info on what domestic abuse is, read here. 

More information about the Alle Kiski HOPE Center -

Alle Kiski HOPE Center Crisis Hotline (888) 299-4673