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Natural Awakenings Central New Jersey


The Graduate (2020)

Jun 03, 2020 03:40PM ● By Nicole Zornitzer

This is a picture of my cap and gown for completing my Ayurvedic Graduate Studies at The Maryland University of Integrative Health.

This cap and gown will never be worn. So many of our children and possibly ourselves are affected by the cancellation of ceremonial graduation events in 2020; me included on both fronts.

Today, I am choosing to honor myself for the hard work and dedication I put into receiving this certification. And I congratulate my fellow classmates on this feat that was much more intense than I think we each could have predicted.

My graduate school experience was one I waited over 14 years to complete. Ayurveda was first introduced to me in 2006 when I began my formal yoga training program at Yama Therapeutics in Maryland. I was immediately drawn to the concepts presented and the idea of creating wellness in the human body naturally. My experience at MUIH was nothing short of amazing between the professors I trained under to the group of women I became virtual sisters with. 

When I registered for my program, I had no idea my mother would be diagnosed with terminal cancer six weeks into my program. There were many moments that I believed I would need to postpone this education. My graduate school ended up happening not only at MUIH; my studies and experiences occurred at Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Delray Beach Memorial Hospital, St. Barnabas Hospital and Kessler Rehabilitation Hospital; all while holding my mother’s hand and becoming an energy of presence next to her. I was applying the knowledge I was gaining while studying; it was extraordinary. I helped patients at Sloan Kettering meditate while advocating for my mother’s health. I became the therapeutic yoga practitioner I had always envisioned while practicing Ayurveda and finding comfort in my teachers and classmates.

My graduate experience was unique, it prepared me for so much more than what I signed up for. Ayurveda and yoga are my calling and the universe spoke volumes to me during this time. I would change nothing about this experience, it was beautiful and exactly as I was meant to learn a modality that is going to help save humans.

So today, I do acknowledge my hard work and perseverance. I believe as adults we must celebrate our moments, even if we are a party of one. Becoming an example for my own children and most importantly my son, who also will not experience a formal graduation ceremony from high school, this is a bittersweet time in our journey. Life is full of deviations from our plans—this is part of the human experience. The lessons we take, the knowledge we gain, the connections we develop and the pride we feel during all of these moments is what is vital to our existence.

My message… Never give up. Dreams do come true. Just be willing to humbly adjust as they come to fruition.

Nicole Zornitzer, ERYT 1000, yoga therapist, founder of Niyama Yoga & Wellness Studio in Randolph, New Jersey.

Tick Talk

Spring officially sprung on March 21. We have turned our clocks ahead. We are looking forward to warm winds, sunny skies and the smell of fresh cut grass. The daffodils and tulips have recently bloomed and we are just starting with the yard work that comes with the warmer weather.  Sadly, another season has started ramping up.  Tick season.

•             The best form of protection is prevention. Educating oneself about tick activity and how our behaviors overlap with tick habitats is the first step.

•             According to the NJ DOH, in 2022 Hunterdon County led the state with a Lyme disease incidence rate of 426 cases per 100,000 people. The fact is ticks spend approximately 90% of their lives not on a host but aggressively searching for one, molting to their next stage or over-wintering. This is why a tick remediation program should be implemented on school grounds where NJ DOH deems high risk for tick exposure and subsequent attachment to human hosts.

•             Governor Murphy has signed a bill that mandates tick education in NJ public schools. See this for the details.  Tick education must now be incorporated into K-12 school curriculum. See link:

•             May is a great month to remind the public that tick activity is in full swing. In New Jersey, there are many tickborne diseases that affect residents, including Anaplasmosis, Babesiosis, Ehrlichiosis, Lyme disease, Powassan, and Spotted Fever Group Rickettsiosis.

•             For years, the focus has mainly been about protecting ourselves from Lyme disease. But other tick-borne diseases are on the rise in Central Jersey. An increase of incidence of Babesia and Anaplasma are sidelining people too. These two pathogens are scary because they effect our blood cells. Babesia affects the red blood cells and Anaplasma effects the white blood cells.

•             Ticks can be infected with more than one pathogen. When you contract Lyme it is possible to contract more than just that one disease. This is called a co-infection. It is super important to pay attention to your symptoms. See link.

A good resource from the State:


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