Class Series

Fusions Support Group with CJ Shapiro and Martha Carter

MONTHLY on Thursdays, 4:00-5:30 pm on ZOOM:
January 28, February 25, March 25, April 29
Free or by donation
Sign Up Here!

Samamkaya Yoga is pleased to offer a support group for people with spinal fusions for scoliosis (or those considering a spinal fusion for their scoliosis). This group, led by CJ Shapiro, is designed to encourage participants to safely explore the emotional toll and experiences related to their fusion in an environment with other participants who share their experience.  Whether you were a teen when your spinal was fused or an older adult or somewhere in between, discussions within this group will draw out personal reflections, identify successful ways to self-heal, and evolve to reflect the needs of the group.
Please join CJ as she seeks to encourage health and healing through group interaction—free of the shame and stigma associated with scoliosis and related surgeries.

CJ Shapiro understands enduring a lifetime of scoliosis and spinal fusion surgeries. At 16, CJ wore a brace during her vulnerable adolescence creating body image and social issues. In her early twenties, CJ had her first fusion, a Harrington Rod, as her “S” curve and associated pain had progressed. She was told if she wanted to carry children, she would need the surgery. In her, late 50’s, unaware of any issues for 30 years, she was overcome with severe pain and an inability to walk. The unfused areas, upper Thoracic and lower Lumbar discs, had disintegrated from wear and tear. Reconstruction followed and CJ now has 22 screws and 2 cages from T1-S2. Yoga has truly enabled her to be pain free and active, but the emotional scars still require constant attention.
CJ majored in Social Psychology as an SSA undergraduate (Carnegie Mellon University) and then pursued a graduate degree in Social Work and Social Research (Bryn Mawr College). Since she was 16, her passion drew her to jail and prison reform in her quest to help the downtrodden and persecuted.  CJ also majored in art and continues to use her x-rays to express her sense of the fused body’s rigidity and her sense of being “caged and screwed”. Throughout her lifetime, CJ has facilitated many types of workshops and support groups and draws on her background in applied, inclusive research for problem-solving and healing.

Martha Carter 
As a therapeutic movement specialist for scoliosis and spinal fusions, Martha teaches Gentle Yoga and Scoliosis Wellness classes, workshops, and retreats for all ages and abilities in Canada, the US, and internationally. She is a certified teacher of Yoga for Scoliosis, based on the techniques developed by acclaimed Iyengar teacher, Elise Browning Miller. She has also studied (and continues to enjoy explorations in) Pilates for Scoliosis, Essential Somatics, Energy Medicine, and Trauma Release techniques, which she weaves into all her classes to help participants with pain relief while enhancing their movement potential. Martha is the founder and director of the Twisted Outreach Project for Back Care and Scoliosis (TOPS), a Canadian-based non-profit that provides a range of holistic and creative approaches to working with back care and scoliosis. (


Anatomy of Scoliosis with Deborah Wolk

Wednesdays, 4:30-5:30pm EST Dates Below!
Entire Course (eight sessions): $140
Entire Course for IAYT Credit (includes one-on-one mentoring session): $220
One Class: $25

These 1-hour online classes are for teachers. Experienced students who have already been studying Yoga for Scoliosis at Samamkaya for some time are also invited to join.

The classes will focus mainly on anatomy and physiology of scoliosis with some suggestions for yoga poses and sequencing at the end. The sessions will not focus on personal practice nor will we be able to look in-depth at individual patterns of students as we have done in Adjustments, Modifications, and Verbal Instructions classes.

Please have some knowledge of Iyengar style yoga (props, sanskrit pose names, etc.) and some basic anatomy background.

Classes will include anatomy drawings, text, lecture, and discussion.

Anatomy of Scoliosis III:  Winter/Spring 2021
January 6:  Sagittal Vs. Lateral
Jan 27: Muscle Imbalances:  Illiopsoas and Intercostals
Feb 10: Fascial Pull
Feb 24: Shoulders, Arms, and Hands
Mar 10: Hips, Legs, and Feet
Mar 24: Head and Neck:  Tilt & Rotation
Apr 28:  Exteroception/ Proprioception/ Kinaesthesia
May 12: Scoliosis:  Effect on Emotions


Anatomy Courses with Jon Musgrave

Anatomy of Breathing
Wednesdays, July 29th & August 5th – 4:30–5:30pm
Both Classes: $45 – Single Class: $25

In this 2-part class, Jon Musgrave will help you better understand how your organs, bones, and muscles work in the breathing process, and how to apply this information to your yoga practice. The class is appropriate for students and teachers of any level, and will consist of both lecture and practice to help feel the processes happening in your body. It’s recommended that you take both sections of the class, as the second half will build upon the first. Class will be recorded for students who cannot attend live; however, if at all possible please do attend the class so that you can ask questions as they arise.

Anatomy & Physiology of Pain
Wednesdays, September 9 & 16 – 4:30–5:30pm
Both Classes: $45 – Single Class: $25

Many of us with back issues and bone asymmetries come to our yoga practice to help deal with acute or chronic pain. Being in regular pain can be frustrating, overwhelming, exhausting, irritating, and confusing. In this 2-part class, Jon Musgrave will teach you about the healthy functioning of the pain systems in the body and brain, and how these systems can go awry to cause chronic pain. He will also discuss ways to work with these systems, in your yoga practice and other areas of your life, to start calming down your pain. The class is appropriate for students and teachers of any level, and will consist of both lecture and practice. It’s recommended that you take both sections of the class, as the second half will build upon the first. Class will be recorded for students who cannot attend live; however, if at all possible please do attend the class so that you can ask questions as they arise.

Jon Musgrave is a yoga teacher, manager, and founding member of Samamkaya, and has a bodywork practice in Union Square. He has studied Iyengar yoga since 2011, and has focused primarily on yoga for back care and scoliosis. His primary teachers are Deborah Wolk, Julie Brandwein, Genny Kapuler, Debby Green, and Wendy Baranello, and he has also studied in workshops with Elise Browning Miller, Karin Stephan, Sri H. S. Arun, Jaki Nett, Simone Inns, Rita Manos-Lewis, Cator Shachoy, and Kevin Gardiner. He has also assisted Deborah Wolk’s Yoga & Scoliosis class at Samamkaya since 2017. Jon is a former conductor and tuba player, and his interest in bodywork began during his Bachelor’s degree in Tuba Performance at the University of Colorado at Boulder, where he studied the Alexander Technique with James Brody to help deal with the chronic pain associated with two childhood falls, and which became worse during the demanding schedule of a college music major. He has continued to study the Alexander Technique since 2004, primarily with Witold Fitz-Simon in NYC and Jerry Schweibert at the Conductor’s Retreat at Medomak. After completing his Master’s degree in Wind Conducting at Ithaca College, Jon attended massage school to be able to further study the body and to help people live with less pain. He has continued to study extensively, and has advanced training in working with transgendered clients and other members of the Q community, and clients with chronic pain and trauma issues. Visit to find out more about his bodywork practice.


Back to Basics: How To Take Yoga for Back Care Online with Cat Murcek


New Dates Coming Later in 2021!
$25 per class for Samamkaya students
$15 for Students who are new to the studio! Use the code BRANDNEW at checkout to get this special price! New students will also have the opportunity to purchase a class card at a discounted rate after their first class!

This monthly class is designed for brand new beginners to online yoga or returning students who would like to re-discover the fundamentals. These workshops will be slow-paced and accommodating to whoever is “in the room”. This class is perfect if you’re new to yoga for back care and are feeling confused or intimidated by the props or alignment-oriented cuing used in our drop-in classes. Some things you can expect to go over:

-how to set up your tech to get the most out of class
-the standard props and how to work with them
-basic yoga postures you might encounter in our drop-in classes
-gentler modifications for some standard yoga postures
-plenty of time and space to ask questions, look at backs, etc.

Please bring all your questions, and have the following props ready to use:
-three-four 4″ yoga blocks
-one Pune-style yoga belt (8 or 10 feet preferable)
-two or more yoga blankets (or you could use full-size towels and/or throw cushions)
*Please visit Deborah Wolk’s website to source props 

Catherine “Cat” Murcek is a dance artist and yoga instructor at the 500-hr level​. Cat first connected with yoga in Boston after receiving a B.A. in International Economics from Franklin College of Switzerland. ​​What began as a ​supplement ​to ​her ​dance training​ quickly became a vital tool for maintaining tranquility and groundedness in her life.​​ ​Cat​ received her 200-hr certification from Yogaworks with Natasha Rizopoulos in 2009 and did her 300-hr training with Alison West at Yoga Union. She has also completed the Yoga Tune-Up(R) Level 1 Certification, an introductory course in Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation patterns with Irene Dowd, and participated in both parts of Elise Browning Miller’s Yoga for Scoliosis training. She continues to study Yoga for Back Care and Scoliosis with Deborah Wolk and Alexander Technique for yoga teachers with Witold Fitz-Simon. Cat leads retreats in the US and internationally, and continues to perform in dance theatre chocolate-tasting productions with the company “Chocolate Dances.”



It is strongly recommended that you pre-register for workshops and series. If you pre-register for a series, you must cancel 48 hours in advance in order to be refunded for that class series less a 20% administrative fee.

Please cancel via email ( or call 646.964.5772. Even if we receive the message later, we will go by the time stamp and refund your money if appropriate. If you are ill or there is an immediate family medical emergency, we will of course waive the fee. However, please email us as early as possible, and before the workshop begins, to waive the fee or arrange a credit.


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