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  • NYS Writers Institute

Healing through words and movement: Holistic Theory

By J’Vanay Santos and Cassandra Andrusz-Ho Ching

“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, compassion, some humor and some style.” – Dr. Maya Angelou

Holistic Theory is a space + community + mindset designed purposefully to inspire & ignite self-exploration, community & forward momentum to actualize one's purpose and full potential.

J’Vanay Santos
J’Vanay Santos

Entrepreneur J’Vanay Santos is a vibrant spirit with a passion for nature and traveling. She is a certified yoga instructor licensed to direct and create yoga and fitness-oriented programs geared towards personal goal accomplishment. She strongly believes in the limitless potential of an individual given the will and desire to be greater today than they were yesterday.

Santos earned her BA in Accounting and Business Analytics at Siena College. She leverages her education to get a well-rounded perspective of the holistic needs of the individual ranging from lifestyle needs like finances, routine building, risk management, and time allocation. She is competitive and prioritizes always achieving at her highest level.

I met J’Vanay at the A Village South End Farmers Market last summer. She was scheduled to teach a yoga class that morning. Though we had never met before we talked on a bench for over 15 minutes. We moved from the general pleasantries quickly to life philosophies, capitalism, food system inequities and more.

I learned she was hosting a Flow and Glow yoga night at a local farm. After learning about her, her story and business I purchased two tickets. The night was described as collaborative, where members could become moving art through glow in the dark paint and yoga experience at a local organic winery called Stable Gate Farm. It was a night filled with spirituality, connection, poetry, music, yoga, wine, and friendship all elements which speak to the unique approach Holistic Theory offers.

On the Holistic Theory Facebook event page for the Flow and Glow Night, Santos shared “There’s so much power in unity. Coming together as whole individuals to connect. Sharing a mutual path of self-healing and unfolding. “We come as one but stand as 10 thousand” - Maya Angelou.”

The mission of Holistic Theory is to introduce holistic healing through yoga, fitness, habit building, reflection, and breath work. We do this in a way that can easily be understood and applied to daily routines. We also work to spark a curiosity/desire to improve, grow and learn one’s authentic self and full potential.

Holistic Life Coaching is a program of guided steps to intentional living, reprogramming your mind, body, and soul to achieve your goals. Accountability breeds growth. Holistic Life Coaching assists in building habits and skillsets that propel growth and success. We all have the tendency to get caught in the whirlwind of our day-to-day. Holistic Life Coaching aids in getting clear on where you are going, how to get there, and the tools needed for self-empowerment.

Janis Stewart, an Albany resident, took a class by Santos and explained she decided to go because it was taught by a woman of color who brings a personalized and intentional touch. In addition, the class was held in a local, Black-owned and operated business, Root3d. Stewart explained “at my own work no one looks like me or has a similar life experience, and though we are both in different fields we understand the struggles of begin Black working in our own respective industries. I also go to her class because she is a good teacher, who cares, and offers individualized support and guidance.”

Janis stated the classes help to calm her. “My work creates a lot of anxiety, and J’Vanay actively tells me to breath, unclench my jaw, slow down, clear my mind, be open and tranquil. To let everything go. Which is a form of self-care that I don’t do on my own.”

I asked Janis, with the current whirlwind under COVID-19, how has her work changed? She shared, “all of my sessions have been transitioned to an online platform. A surprise was that most of my clients adopted this change quickly. Though, at times it has been difficult as this pandemic has brought different challenges and emotions to each individual. Becoming grounded amongst uncertainty and being confined can be triggering. Many of my clients have begun finding solace in themselves as they are exploring the emotions and frustrations that arise.”

Maya Angelou
Maya Angelou

Santos also shared how the literary arts supports her in the work she does. Her favorite writer, poet, activist, and philosopher is Maya Angelou.

Angelou has often been lauded more for its depictions of Black beauty, the strength of women, and the human spirit; criticizing the Vietnam War; demanding social justice for all.

Santos explained Angelou’s unwavering and unapologetic nature ignites her passion to be first a healer of self and second to be a mirror for other’s healing.

Santos explained “Maya Angelou was relentless in her pursuit of self-empowerment while maintaining great empathy for those navigating their own journeys. Her passion for social justice, sternness, and power to uplift and motivate others resembles the energy I put forth.

The Poetry Foundation states “Angelou’s poetry often benefited from her performance of it, and during her lifetime Angelou recited her poems before spellbound crowds. Her poetry can also be traced to African-American oral traditions like slave and work songs, especially in her use of personal narrative and emphasis on individual responses to hardship, oppression, and loss. Angelou said, “Once I got into it I realized I was following a tradition established by Frederick Douglass—the slave narrative—speaking in the first-person singular talking about the first-person plural, always saying I meaning ‘we’.”

When Angelou states “I come as one but stand as ten thousand”, Santos shared “my soul set on fire knowing that I have the backing of all of my ancestors that paved the way through blood, sweat, love, and compassion.”

Santos shared for anyone struggling to center themselves or practice self-care in the current moment to “Connect to your breath. Take time to breathe obnoxiously loud for 5 minutes and each time your mind strays, give yourself the grace of imperfection and go back to it! Oh and laugh and smile more. Things will be okay.”

Stewart echoed this sentiment sharing what is most unique about the class is that “it is for every body. A bit of a cliché, I know, but when all you see is the mainstream white, long blond, 110-pound bodies, J’Vanay makes you feel different, welcome, no matter your body or skill. When she says it, she means it. You don’t have to push your body to do what others are doing, it is clear that what you need, whether to stay in your comfort zone or push harder, is all ok.”

If you are interested in learning more about Holistic Theory click the link here as well as visit their Facebook page. You can also contact and send any questions to J’Vanay Santos at


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