Alena Gerst

Wellness for Performing Artists


Alena Gerst, LCSW, RYT, received her BS in psychology from Northern Arizona University with a double major in theater (1997), and her MSW from Columbia University (2009) with a clinical emphasis on health, mental health, and disabilities.

A trained dancer, singer, and actress, Alena moved to New York City from Flagstaff, AZ in 1998 to pursue her dream of being a professional performing artist.

Alena first began practicing yoga as a dancer, for flexibility and mental focus. Following a major illness due to toxic mold in her living environment in 2005, Alena became awakened to the powers of integrative medicine, yoga, and breath work in conjunction with Western medicine. On her journey to healing, she re-gained not just her health, but she discovered what it meant to be truly well. Returning to her performing career, healing and mind/body wellness became her and her life’s work.

Alena became a certified yoga teacher in 2008 at YogaWorks (200 hours) studying with Iyengar Yoga with Tzahi Moskovitz and Sarah Bell. She became a certified level one LifeForce Yoga® Practitioner for anxiety and depression in 2011 studying with Amy Weintraub and Rose Kress.

Alena has deepened her knowledge of mind/body interventions for anxiety, depression, adjustment, injuries, chronic illness, and stress management through workshops in coherent breathing with Dr. Richard P. Brown and Dr. Patricia L. Gerbarg at the New York Open Center, and Kripalu. She completed a one-year yoga therapy training at Beth Israel Medical Center’s Department of Integrative Medicine, working with patients at their hospital bedsides in the Oncology and General Medicine Units under Jillian Friedman.

She is a regular contributor to She the author of A Wellness Handbook for the Performing Artist: The Performer’s Essential Guide to Staying Healthy in Body, Mind, and Spirit (Hay House, 2014).

Alena currently integrates therapeutic yoga and coherent breathing, and provides traditional psychotherapy interventions at NYU Langone Medical Center/Hospital for Joint Diseases in an outpatient mind/body wellness center called Initiative for Women with Disabilities. She also maintains a private practice.

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