Hi! I’m Zita, an always active soul and mom of two beautiful strong-willed ladies. I’m also a certified Critical Alignment Yoga & Therapy teacher.
Since 2008, I have been learning from and working closely with Critical Alignment (CA) founder Gert van Leeuwen in Amsterdam (the Netherlands), as a student and a teacher. In 2016, my partner and me decided to move our family to the Bay Area, where I am now spreading out my knowledge on Critical Alignment.
Mt turning point…
My first CA class with founder Gert van Leeuwen, was a real life changer for me. I had been suffering from lower back pain and stress symptoms for years, and had undergone a whole range of therapies to find relief. Although some of the therapies eased my discomfort for a while, nothing seemed to help on the long term. Jumping from one physician to the other made me feel defeated and frustrated, and I was desperate to take life in my own hands again. That’s when a friend introduced me to CA.
“After my first CA class, my lower back was almost pain free and I felt at ease”
Critical Alignment: Yoga based in research and science
Because of my dance academy background, I thought I knew everything about becoming stronger and more flexible. But the first CAY class gave me complete new insights. Insights that were based in research and science, and were also directly palpable in the exercises I was doing. I felt how muscular tension and stress were directly linked to an immobility of the spine. I also experienced how my posture mirrored my unconscious emotional state, showing me how I connected to the world around me, and how I connected to myself. When I walked out of my first CAY class, my lower back felt almost pain free, and I felt very much at ease. I was totally flabbergasted, that a single class could have such an impact.
This first class sparked my curiosity to fully understand the CAY technique, and eventually lead me to follow the 3.5 year CA Yoga and Therapy Teacher Training. Until this day, I keep exploring the CAY technique, both as a student and a teacher. As a busy mom of two young girls, back aches still tend to come up, but I now know which CAY exercises relieve the aches and what to do to feel stronger and lighter again. CAY empowers me to feel at relaxed, stronger and grounded, so I can be calm, active and playful with my girls.
I continue keeping close contact with the source of Critical Alignment Yoga. My yearly workshop intensives with founder Gert van Leeuwen keep me on top of the newest CAY developments, and continue sparking my enthusiasm for the CAY technique.
Critical Alignment for Runners
I grew up in a runner’s family, and have been running my whole life. In the beginning of my 30s, I was diagnosed with sciatica after an accident, and my physician told me to look for another hobby and stop running. I felt disappointed, as I had a dream to run a marathon with my experienced long-distance running mom one day. Stubborn as I am, I would not let that be taken away from me, so I decided to analyze CAY exercises that were alleviating my discomfort, which lead me on the road towards ‘CA for Runners’ and eventually heal the source of my pain. A year later my mom and me ran the Amsterdam marathon, and I’m still thrilled we both made it to the finish.
This journey made me recognize the importance of spinal mobility and strength for runners, to liberate a running style that feels effortless and leaves as little tension in the body as possible. CA for Runners focuses on understanding how posture alignment affects build-up of endurance and ease in your run, as well as how to prevent injuries.
About CA-Founder Gert Van Leeuwen
The start of Critical Alignment Yoga (CAY)
When 16-year old Gert van Leeuwen worked as the receptionist for a nursing home, he found himself wondering if crooked bodies were an unavoidable consequence of aging. Forty years later, his question has been answered time and again by his yoga students young and old, their bodies increasingly supple, and their attitudes to life becoming more open and positive, due to practicing CAY.
Gert van Leeuwen leads his two main CAY studios, in Amsterdam (the Netherlands) and Moscow (Russia), and teaches CAY Intensives and Teacher Trainings in the Netherlands, Russia, France, Canada and Malaysia. His book Critical Alignment: Yoga has been translated into English and Russian, and he is currently working on his second book.
More information on CAY and Gert van Leeuwen, please visit www.criticalalignment.com.
Watch the video of Gert van Leeuwen on “Living in two different worlds”
The Book Critical Alignment: Yoga is available on Amazon.
“Critical Alignment Yoga goes further than ‘what feels good’, it brings structural change.”
CAY-props to break through habitual patterns
Van Leeuwen first developed a length of rubber called a ‘strip’ to relax the upper back, and a headstand frame to further mobilize and strengthen it. A rounded wooden arch, a rolled-up felt mat, and a wide rubber block followed these inventions. All of them were props to assist with relaxation and to strengthen the postural muscles. It was the use of these props, combined with movement, which gave rise to the Critical Alignment Yoga technique.
Gert van Leeuwen: “It’s not enough just to relax; it’s critical that you develop a new (movement) structure through strength and coordination.The CAY props help you do movements, that you didn’t manage to do before with your own coordination. The older people get, the more crooked they become. If you can break through that process, you feel like a different person.”
Work with me
Is Critical Alignment for you?
Critical Alignment is accessible to every ‘body’. It can help someone who is suffering from back-related pain and discomfort, it can help beginners who want to start practicing yoga in a safe way, and it can help advanced practitioners who want to deepen their yoga practice.
Offered in a safe, restorative atmosphere, the CAY practice incites curiosity about the body and how to develop healthy movement patterns and an open, calm and at ease state of being. Both on and off the yoga mat.
Videos showing some of the CAY Props
Become a ‘C.A.Y. with Zita’-insider!
Each month, and truly only once a month, I’ll send you an email with inspiration, education and tips. It’ll be about practicing Critical Alignment Yoga based movements, exercises and consciousness, both on and off the yoga mat. So you can live actively and completely at ease!
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