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Ramsey Athlete With Cerebral Palsy Relaxes Muscles, Mind At Zen Family Yoga

Marina Pellicciari is hoping to be back on the turf. Photo Credit: Andrea Pellicciari
Shari Germershausen, left, her daughter Sienna, 9, and Danielle find their Zen together at the Ramsey studio. Photo Credit: Eric De Rosa
Danielle holds 5 year old Luca, left, with Sienna, 9 to her right. Connor plays on the yoga mat next to Shari Germershausen. Photo Credit: Eric De Rosa
Bergenfield native Shari Germershausen stretches out in her Arch Street facility. Photo Credit: Eric De Rosa

RAMSEY, N.J. — June spinal surgery has helped relieve the muscle-tightness caused by cerebral palsy for for 11-year-old basketball and lacrosse player Marina Pellicciari of Ramsey.

Regular yoga practice at Zen Family Yoga on Arch Street with owner and instructor Shari Germershausen is what the Smith School student’s mom, Andrea Pellicciari, says is helping relax Marina's mind.

“The world is her oyster,” Pellicciari said of her daughter .

“She’s doing all of these things that are so good for your body for anyone. But for someone with muscle issues that she’s always had, she’s working so hard to make sure that her body doesn’t rebel against her again.”

Pellicciari is among dozens of young yogis being trained by Germershausen, who became a certified yoga instructor last spring in the midst of a divorce.

The mother of 2, a Bergenfield native, poured out her 401K to open Zen Family Yoga in April 2015 in hopes of it being a place for families to grow spiritually together.

“I saw how yoga transformed my mind my body, and I feel like it was my life purpose to share,” the instructor said. “It was my inner strength coming back to me.”

Zen Family Yoga has grown to offer specialized sessions for children with autism, special needs or who need help refocusing — all for just $15 per class.

For girls like Pellicciari, the benefits are immeasurable.

“It’s a pretty stressful year for her and middle school on its own isn’t exactly a happy environment," the elder Pellicciari said.

“From the physical side of yoga she’s getting to know her body a little bit better… focusing on breathing, being in the moment and not worrying about what happens when you leave the studio.”

Germershausen didn’t want finances or intimidation to pose barriers for families seeking a place to exercise and unwind.

“I wanted it to be different,” she said. “My goal is to share the Zen while becoming a non-judgmental community.”

And Germershausen will be seeing much more of Marina Pellicciari.

“The biggest benefit for Marina has been the stress reduction aspect of yoga,” Pellicciari said.

“Yoga training and therapy make it possible for her hopefully to do whatever she wants — where that’s not always a possibility for her or other kids with cerebral palsy.”

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