Books & Articles

Books by Alena

In A Wellness Handbook for the Performing Artist: The Performer’s Essential Guide to Staying Healthy in Body, Mind, and Spirit, Alena Gerst examines issues that go beyond the importance of training or navigating the business of performing. It is the first book to prioritize the performer’s well-being, your ultimate key to a long and satisfying career.

Articles by Alena
5 Ways You Hold Yourself Back (And What To Do About It) - Do you ever hear about someone's success and wonder, How did they get there? Do you sometimes feel like you're on the outside looking in?
What Happens When Your Dreams Come True? - When I moved to The Big Apple in 1998 to pursue my dream of dancing professionally, I was singlemindedly focused on one thing and one thing only: To make it.
Why Anger Is Good For You - You know the feeling. Your face becomes hot, your heartbeat gets faster, you don’t know whether to scream, or cry, or tell someone (anyone!) off. You feel ANGRY, and since most of us are taught that anger is a bad thing, you’re not sure what to do about it.
How To Deal With A Debbie-Downer Friend - Ever found yourself standing on the cusp of an idea, about to crack open a long held dream, but you're feeling ready to take it on? And then what do you do? You pick up the phone and call your nearest and dearest Wet Blanket friend.
Why Having More Time Won’t Solve Your Problems - If she were handed more time, like an unrecovered addict with a sudden windfall she would fill up her extra hours as quickly as they were bestowed upon her. What she needs goes beyond more time.
Why Everything You Do Matters - I had fantasies of her joining us for a late dinner or coffee, and telling me all about her trajectory in the business, offering advice and guidance. But instead she said we could walk her to her car.
3 Ways Prayers Can Help You Heal - The grieving man stooped in sadness, accepting condolences from friends, loved ones, strangers. He wept over his sister's untimely passing. She was my colleague and a friend, so I attended her funeral to pay my respects. I admit, I also went for another reason.
Why Being Kind To Yourself After Failure Is So Important - As young children, we innately think we're the best, most deserving, wildly captivating humans on the planet! When do we stop becoming our own biggest fans?
5 Ways To Deal With Unexpected Change - What is changing in your life right now? Is it a sudden change having to do with a happy milestone? Or was there a call in the middle of the night, an unexpected email, or a closed-door meeting at work?
What Story Are You Telling Yourself? - We all have a victim story. Blame can be laid upon not only strangers, but frequently upon parents, partners, friends, teachers, coworkers, neighbors, and even the government for whatever situation brings discomfort. As a therapist, many of the people I sit with have a story to tell. Often that story boils down to being victimized in some way.
4 Myths About Psychotherapy You Should Know Before You Go - 4 Myths about Psychotherapy You Need To Know Now by Alena Gerst, LCSW, RYT For many people, going to therapy is a hot-button issue. The idea somehow implies that a person in therapy is weak, unable to manage their problems, downright crazy, or just seeking attention. But regardless of where you live, you undoubtedly know […]
7 Steps to Building Emotional Resilience - Many of us spend a significant amount of time and effort on how we appear on the outside. We get haircuts; buy clothes, jewelry, and cosmetics; and even opt for expensive and painful medical procedures to maintain an image of youthful resilience. But what about our internal resilience? While physical appearance is important to many […]
Is It Winter Blues or Major Depression? - All people, at some point, experience one or more of the symptoms of depression. It is normal for our moods to cycle moderately while we balance demands at work and at home, while coping with short- or long-term illness, or when dealing with a loss such as a death or breakup. Mental health professionals also […]
Comfort in Community: Finding Support in Unexpected Places - “She’s a little shy,” was our common refrain when someone asked our daughter a question and received no response. But we long suspected she was different. When our new-parent friends were excitedly talking about their baby’s first words, followed soon after by hilarious accounts of nonsensical word phases, eventually giving way to logical conversations they had with their kids, my daughter appeared generally unimpressed. My husband tried to comfort me by reminding me it’s okay that she is an introvert. Still, quiet conversations about what she was saying (or not saying) dominated our pillow talk for many nights. She was born with a life-threatening infection. While she was released after nearly a month in the NICU with a clean bill of health, doctors warned us the infection and the medications used to treat it could lead to complications later on.
3 Ways To Start Becoming Your Own Biggest Fan - I have two toddler-aged kids. They regularly take my breath away with their often-unexpected highs and lows. But one thing I have noticed remains constant for both: They love themselves! My younger son smiles at himself in the mirror, kisses his own lips, and plays with his reflection. My daughter, a little older, admires whatever she is wearing, whether she is dressed up as Queen Elsa or Iron Man or showing off a wildly mismatched outfit she has put together herself. The radical idea here is we all started off that way.
My Friend Had a Late-Term Abortion: 5 Things She Wants You To Know - She was relaxed into her second trimester, answering all the usual questions from our guests: a boy, due in May, first trimester was uncomfortable but not terrible, totally different pregnancy from her first, totally excited. She joked about the whole “we’re pregnant vs. I’m pregnant” debate with her husband Jeff, who had stopped drinking and even gained “baby weight.” Her family used to live near us. They recently moved to a larger home with the plan of having another child. Just a few days earlier, she had asked me where we bought our Murphy bed. I assumed they were getting ready for family visits after the baby’s arrival. Her text response to my pictures came about a minute later and stopped me in my tracks.
Music as Medicine: 3 Ways Music Can Help Your Wellbeing - I was feeling breezy one afternoon after one of my favorite songs played in my earbuds on my way back from lunch (which always spurs me to call my lifelong best friend and serenade her voicemail because she gets me). So that day I asked the frustrated woman in my office, “What’s your favorite music?” A small smile played on her lips. “Rock and roll,” she said. “1950s. Those were the happiest days of my life.”
How Are Your Feeling? Chronic Illness and Coping with Questions - It is a simple question, but one that can cause more inner turmoil than most of us realize. “How are you feeling?” For countless people living with a longer-term or chronic illness, that seemingly innocent question can be loaded with emotions. As a psychotherapist specializing in living with chronic conditions, I hear countless people wonder aloud if people really want the truth. Or they worry that the truth, some variation of “not so good,” will be followed by awkward silence or unwanted advice.
Truth Is A Quiet Thing - It was quite a shock for me to take my first yoga class, and truth be told, I didn’t appreciate it much. Where were the mirrors? How would I know if I was doing the poses right? Without my body to look at, and my voice to listen to, how would I know my place in this practice?
Layers of Life & Yoga: How Time & Experience Heal. ~ Alena Gerst - When I was 16 years old, my first boyfriend broke up with me at a rock concert. We weren’t together long, even by teenage standards, and it wasn’t exactly a serious relationship, but my heart was nonetheless broken.
Your Health Journal
Is This Right? Lessons From Tree Pose - Some people assume because I was a professional dancer at one time, that yoga must have come easily to me. If you’d asked me what I thought before I began yoga, I’d probably have agreed. It turns out, because of my background, I had a lot to learn (or in many cases, “un-learn”).
All Things Healing
One Step to Less Worrry - In yoga classes we sometimes refer to it as the "front-brain", or as I like to call it, the "Worry Brain". It is the last region of the brain to mature (which may explain the sometimes baffling behavior of teens!), and also what separates us from most other life forms.
Able New York
Yoga and The Mind/Body Connection - Over the past 3 decades, yoga has swept the nation with a health care reform of its own. Yoga has become a multibillion dollar industry, encompassing the weight loss industry, clothing industy, mats and accessories and complete yoga retreats at international luxury destinations.
Dr. Frank Lipman
Being Content With Intent - This book, which had felt so spacious as a place for me to come and rest, was closing in on me. It was becoming a roiling frenzy, consuming my downtime and my thoughts, permeating my dreams when I slept.
The Philosophy Of Pain: A Most Persistent Teacher - Recently, while reading Light on Life by B.K.S Iyengar, I came to a section of the book that focused on pain. I found myself underlining, double underlining, and starring even more than usual. Something about this topic really had my attention!
Sadie Jane blog
The Philosophy Of Pain: A Most Persistent Teacher - Recently, while reading Light on Life by B.K.S Iyengar, I came to a section of the book that focused on pain. I found myself underlining, double underlining, and starring even more than usual. Something about this topic really had my attention!