“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/.