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The Yogis of Karma Kids Yoga

The teachers are the heart of our yoga program.
All of our instructors are trained and experienced in teaching yoga to children, prenatal, postnatal or all three.
Some are sillier than others, but they are all extremely creative, nurturing, and fun!

Shari Vilchez-Blatt
Founder and Director of Karma Kids Yoga

Shari was a VP, Advertising Director before completely changing her path. Many of her years in the corporate ad world were spent researching kids and moms for marketing purposes - using CAPS (Child and Parent Studies), one-on-one sessions, qualitative and quantitative research to study childrens' play patterns, socialization, creativity and imagination, family interaction, teen studies and cultural trends, in the U.S. and around the world. She has also developed, named, packaged and marketed toys, games, activity kits and action figures for kids of all ages. She left for the opportunity to combine two things that are close to her heart - yoga and children.

Shari originally trained through the Radiant Child Yoga Program with Shakta Kaur Khalsa, YogaKids with Marsha Wenig, and through Yoga Mom, Buddha Baby with Jyothi Larson. She is also a CircusYoga Ring 3-er with Erin Maile O'Keefe and Kevin O'Keefe, and trained in Yoga Therapy For Children with Loraine Rushton. She completed her Prenatal Yoga certification with Juliana Secches, and Yoga for Kids with Special Needs through Radiant Child Yoga and Zensational Kids, as well as through Every Kids Yoga with Craig Hanauer. More recently, Shari completed Brain Gym 101 and Gogo Babies Infant Development Training with Ellynne Skove. Shari has been teaching yoga to children for over fifteen years.

Kids really respond to Shari, as she communicates with them in a fun and trusting way that will comfort even the most shy child. She knows how to relate and talk to kids on their level, allowing them to sense her friendliness and understanding. Shari can turn any task into something fun and is simply an enthusiastic child in an adult body.

Shari has developed yoga programs for many schools and consultants on various healthy living articles for numerous Parenting Magazines, Target, Nickelodeon, Working Woman, as well as health and wellness and parenting blogs. She can also be found advocating for the Yoga For NY, Wellness in Schools, and Yoga for Peace organizations. She is also a presenter at the National Kids Yoga Conference and Yoga Journal Live. Most recently, Shari has been featured on Sesame Street sharing yoga with Murray and Ovejita at "yoga school"!

Shari is mom to yogini, Layla Moon, and practices yoga with her almost every day. Shari is inspired by the knowledge of her teachers, the creativity of her students, the kindness of her friends, and the love of her family, especially her husband, Jason.

Shari has trained over two thousand people around the world to teach yoga to children through the renowned Karma Kids Yoga Teacher Training Program. Many of them have started their own kids yoga programs. She has also trained hundreds of Preschool, Elementary, Middle and High School Educators through KKY's Yoga in the Classroom and Yoga in the Preschool Classroom courses, spreading the benefits of yoga into the public, charter, and private school systems. She also acts as a mentor to teachers around the world. She also created the KKY Teen Yoga Teacher Training Intensive, and The Business of Kids Yoga Workshop. Shari's latest endeavors are Yoga for Test Prep and Girl Empowerment Series. Next up...online classes...stay tuned.

Shari_crow

Shari's favorite yoga pose is Bakasana, or Crow Pose, because it requires strength, balance, and focus. And because it's fun to jump into!

 

 

 

 

 

Suzanna Neeley Bridges

Born and raised in Wake Forest, North Carolina, Suzanna discovered yoga when the Big Apple started to make her feel small. The peace, mindfulness, and connection that yoga provided were paralleled only by the music in her life. A singer/songwriter and graduate of NYU's Tisch School of the Arts, Suzanna has finally found the perfect marriage of her love of yoga, music, and children in Karma Kids Yoga, where she completed her children's yoga training. More recently, she completed her training in Yoga for Kids with Special Needs through Radiant Child Yoga and Zensational Kids Yoga, as well as with Every Kids Yoga.

Through years of teaching children's enrichment classes she has witnessed first-hand the incredible power of song in early childhood development and beyond. Her classes are always musical adventures designed to nurture the body and soul.

Suzanna almost never leaves her apartment these days without a musical instrument slung on her back. And she certainly never teaches a yoga class without the help of her trusted friend and guitar, Barnaby. When she isn't teaching classes she's either performing in her bluegrass/motown band, "Walking for Pennies", or in her kids band "The Bubble Factory".

Suzanna's favorite yoga poses is Malasana or Frog Pose because nothing beats a really good "ribbit".

 

Janine Bickoff

Janine grew up in Wayne, NJ and began practicing yoga at age seven with her yogi mom and has been hooked on it ever since!

After years of practicing yoga at home, in studios and experiencing the tranformative powers of yoga firsthand, Janine was inspired to share her passion for yoga with others. She has since completed her 200 hour yoga teacher training at PURE Yoga and certification to teach children's yoga through Karma Kids Yoga. She has also studied yoga at Earth Yoga, Sacred Sounds, Ishta Yoga, New York Yoga and Newport Power Yoga.

Janine earned a formal degree in Childcare Management from New York University and has spent the past several years teaching creative movement, dance and gymnastics to children at schools and summer camps throughout NYC. The opportunity to teach yoga to children more often is a natural next step and one that Janine has been dreaming of taking for a long time.

Janine is very excited to be part of the Karma Kids Yoga family. Her goal is to expand opportunties for children to grow and learn yoga in a fun and nurturing environment and is enthused to blend her experience teaching children with her passion for yoga to create classes that inspire confidence, relax the body and spark the imagination.

Janinen's favorite yoga pose is Trikonasna, or Triangle Pose because the hamstring and side body stretch is wonderful and it's the perfect heart opener.

 

Hillary Brylka

Like a shadow, yoga has ingrained itself into every aspect of Hillary's life. As a native New Yorker, she rarely took a minute to breathe until she stumbled into a yoga class by mistake sixteen years ago. She has rarely stepped off the mat since.

Ashtanga feeds her inner cario-junkie, Hatha cools her ever-churning mind, and Prenatal continues to awe her with the strength and power of the pregnant mama. After studying yoga in Boston, Chicago and India, Hillary completed her 200-hour teacher training at Pure Yoga in New York City. Her own pregnancy got her on the hunt for a prenatal class where she could actually break a sweat while staying safe, and just like that, her prenatal fitness streak was born (followed by shortlythereafter by her daughter Fiona). When her second daughter arrived, Hillary quickly realized little was as rewarding as teaching a room full of pregnant goddesses so she completed the Prenatal Teacher Training at the Prenatal Yoga Center, and hasn't looked at a flat wasitline since.

Hillary prides herself on getting her prenatal clients to embrace their growing bellies while staying fit, balanced and confident. When Hillary isn't wearing sweatpants and slinging a yoga mat over her shoulder, she is wearing sweatpants and carrying a diaper bag with her little girls in tow. She treasures the perspective that yoga has given her and works to share that viewpoint with yogis old and new, young and old.

HIllary's favorite pose is Ananda Balasana or Happy Baby Pose because it gives you a baby's perspective of the world, face toward the sun, toes wiggle and heart opened wide.

 

Jola Budnik

Jola has been on the yoga journey for years, but the last 9 have been the most significant in her studies. Her daughter, Layla Irene, become Jola's most inspirational teacher.

After years of practicing, Jola became certified through Kristin Leal's Kaya Yoga Teacher Training. She is fascinated by the discoveries she makes during her yoga practice and through observing her daughter practice and it became obvious to her that children are naturally gifted yoginis making tremendous discoveries and developmental leaps thorugh yoga.

Jola became certified to teach yoga to children through Karma Kids Yoga and is thrilled to be part of our teachers dedicated to guide kids through the world of yoga. Jola is always smiling and she's sure to include educational stories, playful poses, singing, laughing and relaxing in all of her magical classes.

Having also received a Masters degree in Psychology from Silesian University in Poland, a certificate in Creative Arts Therapies from the New School University with a concentration in Dramatic Therapy, Jola has endless enthusiasm to teach yoga. More recently, she has completed her certification in Postnatal Yoga with Jyothi Larson's Yoga Mom Buddha Baby course, and Yoga for Kids with Special Needs with Craig Hanauer's Every Kids Yoga.

Jola's favorite yoga pose is Legs Up The Wall Pose or Viparita Karani when she reads to her daughter, and she loves Splits or Hanumanasana when she's getting ready to take a yoga adventure.

 

 

Apryl Dyer

Apryl is a dedicated yogi, dancer and holistic health coach. She holds a BFA in Dance Education (K-12) from the University of the Arts, an MA in Dance Education from Teachers College, Columbia University (K-12 and early childhood) and an MA in Dance Movement Therapy and Counseling from Columbia College Chigaco (concentration in early childhood and eating disorders).

Apryl's passion and advocacy for the arts and education have led her to work in schools throughout New York City and South Africa. Her love of movement led her to the study of yoga and through the guidance of her teachers, Will Duprey, Lisa Benner and Susan Duprey, Apryl is 200-hour RYT as well as a certified Holistic Health Coach. More recently, she completed her certification in Prenatal Yoga.

Apryl seeks to provide nourishment to the body and mind in her classes while at the same time holding space where the student is free and welcome to explore and play. Apryl lives in Brooklyn with her husband Seth and is expexting a baby girl in October 2016.

Apryl's favorite yoga poses is Malasana or Garland pose for the quietude it brings.

 

 

Nino Farruggio

Nino has been working and playing with kids most of her life. She even has two of her own. Her Yoga journey began out of the inspiration to become more connected to herself and the world around her. She was lucky enough to find Ishta Yoga and its amazing teachers. It was clear to her that practicing and sharing yoga was what she needed to do. She completed her 500 hour, Restorative yoga and Yoga Nidra trainings all at Ishta Yoga NYC under the guidance of its founder Alan Finger. More recently, Nino completed the Kids Yoga training at Istha as well.

Nino even wrote a children’s book about yoga. She became a yoga teacher and loved every minute of it. But her love and organic connection to children brought her to Karma Kids Yoga. After a fun filled teacher training at KKY she knew that she wanted to share her yoga with little ones, too.

Nino’s favorite pose is Urdhva Dhanurasana. Because it opens up the heart chakra and makes you feel love and compassion. What could feel better that that?

 

Greta Feit

Greta was raised in downtown Manhattan, and is happy to still call this beautiful city her home. As a kid, Greta was always upside down while using her neighborhood as a personal playground. Whether she was practicing handstands on the piers along the Hudson River, doing flips in community gardens throughout Greenwich Village and the Lower East Side, or perfecting her back walkovers along the Brooklyn Bridge, it was hard to get her to walk on her own two feet.

Greata graduated from Hunter College with a BA ins Studio Art and a minor in Dance. She has been working with kids and families throughout the five boroughs for about 10 years. Whether she's babysitting, teaching dance classes, or introducing art projects, it always makes her day to learn from the inspiring kids she works with. She is ecstatic to join the amazing crew of kids yoga teachers at KKY and loves playing and teaching wonderful and creative little ones!

In Greta's classes, you can always expect to learn fun poses and games, calming breathing exercises, and of course love for oneself!

Greta's two favorite poses are headstands and handstands because it makes her feel liberated and strong - and she gets to hang out upside down!

 

 

 

 

Laura Frye

With a love for the stage, Laura made her way to NYC after completing her Master's in Acting at the University of Houston. Upon arriving, she realized that she also had another love and that was working with and helping children with their confidence, through movement based fun. She realized quickly what a rewarding experience it was to work with kids of all ages nad she knew she wanted to pursue more movement based programs for children.

Laura had been practicing yoga for several years and through a chance introduction, she became part of the KKY family. She completed the Karma Kids Yoga Teacher Training, as well as Jyothi Larson's Postnatal Yoga Mom Buddha Baby Training, and has been lovin' life ever since. Laura has also completed the KKY Teen Yoga Teacher Training Intensive and Prenatal Yoga Training with Juliana Secches. More recently, she became certified to teach kids with specail needs through Every Kids Yoga. Laura finds complete and total joy helping each child grow and learn through yoga. This is extremely evident in her exciting and imaginative classes, as you can tell that she's having as much fun as the kids are. Laura says that this is the happiest she has ever felt.

Laura is also a facilitator of the Karma Kids Yoga Teacher Training course and travels the world teaching adults how to teach yoga to children.

When she's not teaching at KKY, Laura is traveling the country teaching movement and acting at different Theater Academies and festivals. Laura is also the Artistic Director of Promethean Theater Company and a very proud member of Actor's Equity.

Laura's favorite yoga pose is Natarajasana or Dancer Pose, because it makes her feel strong and confident, but mostly because she's been doing it since she was a little girl, when pretending she was an Olympic Ice-Skating champ. This pose still creates a sense of play and fun in her practice.

 

 

Amy Gernux

Amy Gernux grew up dancing in Western MA under the mentorship of Jennifer Dubilo and Rebecca Gamache. Her love for movement took her to Connecticut College where her studies shifted from ballet and jazz to contemporary modern, improvisation and West African dance: training with David Dorfman, Shani Collins-Achille, Lisa Race, Heidi Henderson and Adele Myers. Amy received her BA in 2013 with Honors in Dance (magna cum laude) with a minor in studio art. Her additional training includes: David Dorfman Dance Summer Intensive, Bates Dance Festival Professional Training Program, New York City Dance Alliance, Dance Educators of America, and the New York Dance Teacher Summit, among others, and she has performed the work of Kyle Abraham, Andrea Miller, David Parker, Angie Hauser, Nicholas Leichter, Laura Dean, and Bebe Miller. Amy currently dances for Raja Kelly | the feath3r theory.

With her diverse dance history, Amy draws upon all of her movement experiences to teach imaginative and energetic dance classes with a distinct balance of technique and style to children of all ages. She has taught at Artistic Dance Conservatory, Connecticut College, and many Pre-K classrooms and community events in Western MA.

Amy loves to sing (with band mate and fellow KKY yogi/dancer Skyler Volpe), practice yoga, and make art in all its various forms and volumes. She is so happy to join the KKY family and the Dance Program.

Amy's favorite dance step is fondu which means "to melt".

 

 

Lauren Gleason

After moving to NYC to pursue a career in advertising, Lauren found yoga while searching for a workout that kept her interest. While originally drawn to the physical benefits of yoga, she quickly realized the many ways yoga could evoke a positive change on the mind as well as the body. With a deep appreciation for the balance and positivity that yoga was adding to her life, Lauren was inspired to share this gift with others and completed her 200 hour teacher training at Yoga Vida.

Having always held an interest in the amazing capabilities of the female body, Lauren completed her prenatal teacher training at the Prenatal Yoga Center and has focused on moms-to-be ever since. Lauren's prenatal classes help women find comfort and strength while connecting with their babies and discovering the power of their bodies.

Lauren's favorite yoga pose is Vrksasana, or Tree pose becuase it requires strength and focus but also has the ability to be playful.

 

 

Heather Gobbee

Heather can't think of a better way to spend her day than having fun, being creative and supporting the developmental needs of our children. Born and raised in the California sunshine, she brought her little light to NYC in pursuit of acting.

Heather's educational training, theater endeavors and classroom experience has shed light on the many layered connections between child development, yoga, and the dramatic arts. She believes that when children play, they happily learn.

Heather is a NYS Certified Theater Arts Educator, and has received certifications in teaching yoga to children through Karma Kids Yoga and Little Flower Yoga, and has recently completed the Radiant Child Heart & Soul workshop, as well as completed the CircusYoga Ring Two Teacher Training, and Zenergy's Yoga Therapy for Children. She is also mom to two little theatrical yoginis.

Heather's classes are inspiring, exciting, and always include something unexpected or a wonderous learning experience! Her passion for working with children is obvious in all that she does.

Heather's favorite pose is Vrksasana, or Tree Pose, because she loves the strong and glorious nature of trees and because they remind her of people. Like us, trees are forever growing, and need to stay rooted in a healthy environment with plenty of love in order to survive.

 

 

Corina Gonzalez

Corina began her love affair with yoga in the summer of 2005 when (inspired by her mom) she attended her very first Bikram Yoga class in Chapel Hill, NC. It was a doozy, but she was hooked! Since then, she's practiced many different forms and fusions of yoga, including Hatha, Vinyasa, Ashtanga, Iyengar, Restorative, Buti, Caponyasa and Antigravity.

In 2015, Corina completed her 200 hour yoga teacher training at Three Sisters Yoga in New York City. In 2016, she became certified with Karma Kids Yoga to teach children. She is an avid volunteer for children with disabilities and hopes to promote accessibility, understanding and acceptance in her teaching. In her classes, she strives to create an environment of warmth, playfulness and compassion. Her other passions include aerial and pole dancing, surfing, ice cream, listening to hilarious comedians and solid hugs.
  
Corina's favorite pose is Savasana or Relaxation because it feels great at the end of yoga class!


 

Lindsay Harris

Lindsay Rose Harris is NYC native who first experienced yoga in gym class at LaGuardia Arts High School where she was a vocal music major. She continued to study voice at Goucher College where she participated in musicals such as Animal Farm, playing various animals such as raven, dog, and sheep. A Creative Writing major, she loved participating in the yoga club and going to nearby studios in Baltimore.

Lindsay completed her Children's Yoga Teacher Training through Karma Kids Yoga. She currently studies improv at the Magnet Theater and sings and plays guitar for childrn's birthday parties under the name "The Birthday Fairy". Lindsay's love for creativity makes her open and excited for whatever goofiness and fun a children's yoga class will bring.

Lindsay's favorite pose is Virabhadrasana II, or Warrior 2 because it is a great stretch and feeling of empowerment.

 

Lauren Jacobs

A native New York/New Jerseyer, Lauren discovered yoga during college and became hooked when she realized how much peace, playfulness and openness the practice consistently brought her. She has since completed the Immersion and Teacher Training Program at World Yoga Center and the Children's Yoga Teacher Training at Karma Kids Yoga, and has also participated in intensives wtih Todd Norian of Ashaya Yoga, Elena Brower of Vira Yoga, Jackie Prete of Ram Sangha Yoga and Baron Baptiste of Baptise Power Yoga.

Lauren has always had a passion for the arts and arts learning, earning a BA in Theater and English from Oberlin College and an M.Ed from Harvard University with a focus in Arts in Education. She has trained in theatre, and improv with the People's Improv Theater, The Forum Project, LaMaMa & the G.A.T.E. Ensemble. She is a New York State certified and New York City licensed in Theatre & English and has taught theatre, improv, creative writing and anti-bullying courses with The All Stars Project, Plays for Living, The East Side Institute and Prepare Impact Self Defense as well as with the New York City Department of Education.

Lauren is thrilled to be part of the Karma Kids family! She is inspired to blend her loves of practicing yoga, teaching children and exploring creativity into exciting kids' yoga classes where all children can go on imaginative adventures of their own making.

Lauren's favorite yoga pose is Tripod Headstand, or Sirsasana II, because going upside down is lots of fun and definitely offers a whole new perspective.

 

 

Paula Krzystan

Paula grew up in Michigan, moving and playing most of her childhood through gymnastics and dance. She earned her B.S. in Childhood Development and M.A. in Education from Michigan State University. Paula's passion and love for yoga is connected to her belief that we are lifelong learners. She quickly realized the many benefits of yoga for both mind and body, and greatly values the process of the practice.

Paula completed her Children's Yoga Teacher Training through Yogi Bean. She holds her New York State Educatio Department Professional Certification in Early Childhood Education (Birth - Grade 2) and Childhood Education (grades 1 - 6). She has been teaching preschool at Brick Church School for 9 years and integrates yoga into her classroom and summer camp program. Yoga in the classroom has given her students a time and place to move and breathe in a creative, play-based, and non-competitive way. It has fostered confidence, focus, and a greater sense of community in her classrooms.

Paula's favorite yoga pose is Urvda Dhanurasana, or Wheel Pose, because it opens her heart and it is fun to drop back into!

 

Jyothi Larson

Jyothi has been practicing yoga for over 40 years. She has taught in New York and internationally for 25 years. She is certified through Integral Yoga Institute.

Jyothis has adapted yoga for many populations. She specializes Prenatal, Postnatal, Restorative and Terapeutic Yoga teacher, specializing in Prenatal and Postnatal, Restorative and Theraputic yoga. Jyothi teaches at Integral Yoga Institute, Karma Kids Yoga, Prenatal Yoga Center and Stein Senior Center. She teaches Moving For Life classes at Mount Sinai Beth Israel Medical Center and NYU Langone's Initiative for Woman with Disabilities.

Jyothi is an Urban Zen Integrative Therapist, Certified Personal Trainer, Tai Chi Easy Practice Leader and an Interfaith Minster. She is the author of Yoga Mom Buddha Baby (Bantam 2002).

Jyothi is passionate about yoga and believes everyone benefits from it. She enjoys that her students range in age from in utero to over 90 years. She is thrilled to teacher her "Yoga Mom, Buddha Baby" Postnatal/Postpartum Teacher Training at Karma Kids Yoga.

Jyothi's favorite pose is Warrior II or Virabhadrasana, because it makes her feel strong, courageous and grounded.

 

 

 

Melissa Lawson

Born in Thailand, Melissa has lived throughout South Asia, Southern United States, and now calls New York home. Her yoga practice began when she took it as an elective in college and fell in love with it.

She brings a playful aspect to her yoga that carries into her life off the mat. Melissa is a fine artist and Karma Kids own 'artist in residence' ; our murals and paintings of Ganesh and Sita are her handiwork. She leads classes that inspire creativity such as mat painting and yoga art, as well as other children's yoga classes.

Melissa also teaches at St. Ignatius Loyola Day Nursery where her class is part of the curriculum She has become the "Yoga Fairy" to 150 preschoolers. She believes that there is magic in a yoga practice that illuminates people from the inside out and she brings this magic into all of her classes.

Melissa holds certifications to teach yoga through Karma Kids Yoga, Radiant Child Yoga, Yoga for the Special Child,Yoga Mom Buddha Baby, Pediatric Yoga, and is trained in First Aid and CPR.

Her three precious children have practiced yoga and meditation since birth.

Melissa's favorite pose is the Balancing Half Lotus.

 

 

 

 

Annie LeVasseur

Annie, a lifelong southern belle, moved to New York several years after earning her BA in Theatre from Christopher Newport University in Virginia. As she worked and interned at serveral theaters, her yoga practice became more and more important as a tool to acheive balance, peace, flexibility of body and mind. So she dove in to her 200-hr certification through Sonic Yoga, and began pursuing her passion of giving the gift of yoga to anyone open to receiving it.

Inspired by fellow children's yoga teacher, Laura Frye, Annie set her sights on the world of yoga for kids, and completed her Children's Yoga training through Karma Kids Yoga. Working with children has cracked her heart and smile wide open, noticing that it's hard to take life too seriously when you surround yourself with kids. Annie completed her Prenatal Yoga certification with Juliana Secches, and her Postnatal certification with Jyothi Larson. She also completed CircusYoga's Ring One Immersion, and the Teen Yoga Teacher Training Intensive with KKY. More recently, Annie became a certfied Doula through DONA International.

Annie's gentle nature and warm personality make even the most shy child feel comfortable in her classes. She ensures that all kids have fun while strenthening their bodies. Balancing out her high energy yoga adventures with children, Annie is also certified in the healing art of Thai Yoga Massage. More recently, she became a trained and certified labor and birth doula, from DONA International. Annie also manages the studio and makes everything happen.

Annies' favorite yoga pose is Child's Pose or Balasana, because it reminds her that no matter what challenges the outside world can throw at you, you can always curl up, and go inside to find that blissful place that lives inside us all.

 

 

Marc LeVasseur

Born in sunny California, but raised in snowy Massachusetts, Marc discovered Yoga while studying Acting at NYU. After 2 years of intense classes there, he fell in love with its calming and grounding effects. It became an integral part of his acting process.
 
While working the hard, gritty world of New York Stage acting, Marc has done several kids shows. Most recently, he performed in a Musical Panto where he played Lancelot. Marc loves how uninhibited kids are as audience members, and wanted to work with kids more directly.
 
Inspired by friends, Marc completed his chidlren's yoga certification with Karma Kids Yoga and is thrilled to be part of the great family of teachers and artists at KKY.
 
Despite his ridiculous tallness, children learn quickly that Marc is a very, very silly human. And his classes are designed to engage children’s imaginations and follow their sense of play.
 
Marc’s favorite pose is Marta-Jarjasana-Kawabati or “made up pose”, because…it’s made up. Just kidding. His favorite pose is Eka Pada Rajakapotasan or One Legged Pigeion Pose, because it feels oh so good. 

 

 

Jessica Phillips Lorenz

Originally a movement, dance and theater teacher for children, Jessica decided to incorporate her personal love for yoga into her existing skills. Jessica is certified to teach yoga to children through the Radiant Child Yoga Program (RCYP), Next Generation Yoga, and through Karma Kids Yoga. She is also certified to teach baby yoga through Yoga Mom Buddha Baby and Itsy Bitsy Yoga. More recently, Jess completed her training for working with kids with special needs through Every Kids Yoga.

Jessica works with kids as young as 6 weeks. Children really respond to her sweet and nurturing personality. She's also known to be quite silly.

Jessica is a co-creator of the Yoga In The Classroom Course, a senior teacher, and a mentor to many childrens yoga instructors.

Jess is also mom to yogini's Audrey Mina and Dylan August.

Jessica's favorite yoga pose is Urdhva Dhanurasana or Wheel Pose.

 

 

 

 

Leah Marciante-Mehta
 
 
Leah's passion in life isto offer students ways to connect with their bodies through the practice of yoga. Her classes are infused with a balance of effort and ease with a strong focus on alignment via the breath and safe sequencing.
 
She credits her yogapractice with “introducing” her to her body. It was not until she began to practice asana consistently ten years ago that she began to develop a relationship with her body she never had. This fruits of this relationship have made their ways into life off her mat. Having more respect and compassion for her body has translated into a deeper love for herself. Thus, as the practice continues, the world at large.
 
Following the birth ofher first daughter in 2012, she became certified to teach prenatal yoga as away to share the joys of yoga throughout all stages of pregnancy and birth.  She strongly believes that practicing yoga and meditation during pregnancy can play a pivotal role in a woman’s labor, delivery and journey into parenthood (It tickles Leah to have partners join theexpecting mom in class!).
 
Leah completed her teacher training with Natasha Rizopolous at YogaWorks (Boston) and her prenatal teacher training with Juliana Mitchell at The Yoga Room (Long Island City). In Spring of 2015 Leah underwent a 3-month mentorship program with Juliana Mitchell to further her studies as teacher, focusing on asana and yogic philosophy. Leah attends Natasha’s annual workshops at Kripalu in Stockbridge, MA as well as assists Juliana in a peermentor role for her prenatal teacher trainings. In April 2015 Leah and Julianawere featured in a Mashable.com article about the role of mentor/mentee.
 
Each day she acknowledges and holds gratitude for her greatest teachers in life: her daughters, Simran and Kalkiand, and husband, Saurabh.
 
Her favorite pose is EkaPada Rajakapotasana, or pigeon. Not only because of the juiciness it can createin the hips but because the subtleties of this intricate pose can make it feelvery different in the body from one day to another. It serves as a reminder topractice with a daily dose of open-mindedness and compassion.

 

Ginger Merritt

Originally from Massachusetts, Ginger has been living in New York for half of her life, while traveling the globe singing, dancing, and acting in various Broadway shows. Upon her return to the city, she began teaching dance at a studio that also offered yoga classes, and that is where she experienced the life transforming practice of yoga.

Yoga helped Ginger to become strong both inside and out. She loved this feeling, so she decided she wanted to share it with others so that they might feel the power of yoga as well.

Ginger received her 200-hour certification through YogaWorks. She also completed her Children's Yoga Training with Karma Kids Yoga, and Prenatal Yoga through Samba Yoga, and Special Needs training with Every Kids Yoga. She also teaches adult Vinyasa and Hatha classes throughout the city.

Ginger's students will not only explore challenging yoga postures but they will have fun as they dive into and explore their imaginations. She believes yoga helps build confidence and self-esteem in children of all ages.

Ginger's favorite pose is Crow Pose or Bakasana because it makes her feel like she's flying.

 

Jennifer Moore

Jennifer discovered yoga in 2000 and has never looked back. She instantly fell in love with both the physical and spiritual practices of yoga.

Jennifer is a certified Jivamukti yoga teacher. She has also received training with Street Yoga, which brings yoga to at-risk and homeless youth. After becoming a mother to son Cash and daughter Lucy, Jennifer discovered first hand what a gift yoga can be for children. Her kids join in her daily yoga practice further inspired her to become a children's yoga teacher. After completing the Karma Kids Teacher Training, Jennifer knew she had found her path.

Jennifer is continually inspired by the magic of children's imaginations and enthusiasm. She infuses her classes with this magic and her own silliness and sense of fun and adventure.

Jennifer's favorite yoga pose is Ardha Chandrasana, or Half Moon pose because it's a great heart opener, it feels good and its so much fun!

 



Cassie Naaktgeboren

Originally from Iowa, Cassie moved to Brooklyn with her husband and cat in tow to share her love of yoga and music with students of all ages. With a "mixed bag" of educational, work and teaching experience, she has discovered that teaching kids yoga is a career path that incorporates all of her passions into a single magical discipline.

Cassie taught creative dramatics to preschoolers throughout highschool and early college, worked as a Kindermusik teacher for 5 years, and has taught private voice lessons to students aged 8 - 50. She has also taught week-long kids yoga camps incorporating poses, breath practice and meditation. Cassie received her Undergraduate and Masters degrees in Voice Performance in 2009 and 2012, respectively, and while studying discovered the transformative power of yoga. The practive deeply impacted Cassie's performing and teaching approaches, as well as improving her health and overall mindset. Cassie received her 200-hour certification in Tantric Hatha Yoga from Devanadi yoga in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and her children's yoga certification and Teen certification through Karma Kids Yoga. More recently, Cassie completed Infant Development Training through Go Go Babies.

Children are enthralled by Cassie's loving and energetic nature, which she brings to every class in full. She loves working with kids because of their unpretentious honesty and their constant willingness to take imaginitive risks in any activity. Being a part of bringing the powerful and fun practice of yoga to the littlest of yogis is a dream come true!

Cassies's favorite poses are Vasisthasana, or Rainbow Pose because it makes her feel strong, balanced, and flexible, and Eka Pada Rajakapotasana, or Pigeon Pose, because it quiets her mind and just feels so good!

 

Kate Jetri Pollock

When Kate moved to New York City in 1998 to teach 4th grade she was introduced to yoga. Since then, yoga became a perpetual exploration. During her 13 years teaching elementary school, she began training as a yoga teacher, labor support doula and childbirth educator. Kate has had the privilege of attending births in New York City and her home state of Ohio. Since the birth of her daugther Luna, Kate is focusing on motherhood, teaching prenatal yoga, and preparing couples for labor and birth.

Kate aims to teach in a meditative yet light-hearted way. Her prenatal classes guide women through a gentle and fluid practice honoring the changes in body and mind that come with pregnancy. By blending physical postures with breath, Kate helps women alleviate common discomforts of pregnancy and connect to inner wishom for labor and motherhood.

Kate received her Hatha, Prenatal Yoga, Yoga for Labor and Delivery, and Theraputic Yoga certification from the Integral Yoga Institute. She is certified in Postnatal Yoga through Jyothi Larson's Yoga Mom, Buddha Baby. Kate studied Vinyasa with Shiva Rae and is trained in Yoga in the Classroom with Karma Kids Yoga. She is a certified labor support doula (Niara Healing Arts) and is working towards certification as a childbirth educator.

Kate's favorite pose is Eka Pada Rajakapotanasana or Pigeon Pose because it is a perfect blend of the "ha" and "tha" - the sun and moon energies. Initially it requires effort and then allows surrender. The pose makes her smile because she pictures her daughter on wobbly little legs chasing pigeons at the park.

 

 

Jeannette Prostowich

Jeannette has been a devoted yoga practitioner for the past 18 years. She discovered kids yoga after attending classes with her daughter and loved every single minute of it! With a love of music, movement and children, Jeannette completed her training at Karma Kids Yoga in 2013. She believes that sharing the practice of yoga with children early on can give them a "toolbox" that will grow with them as they face some challenges that life brings.

Jeannette holds a BA in Communications from Adelphi University. She worked in advertising for 12 years as a video editor cutting commercials and corporate videos. During this time, she discovered the practice of yoga. It was exactly what her body needed after sitting in a static position for many hours a day. She became hooked and knew this was something she'd be doing for the rest of her life.

Jeannette feels blessed to share her love of yoga and to be teaching at Karma Kids Yoga! She loves to sing, be goofy and play! Her favorite yoga poses is Virabhadrasana 3 or Warrior 3, because it makes her feel strong to balance on one foot. It's also a really great way to get to an exciting yoga adventure. Jeannette looks forward to seeing you and your kids on the mat!

Jeannette's favorite yoga poses is Virabhadrasana III or Airplane Pose because it makes her feel strong to stand on one foot and balance.

 

Kelly Rector

Originally from Orlando, Florida, Kelly studied movement most of her life through dance, gymnastics, cheerleading and acting. While performing at Walt Disney World, she was surrounded by the contagious laughter and involvement of the young visitors. Since then she has always enjoyed the spontaneity of working with children.

After receiving a BA in Theatre from The College of Charleston, Kelly toured with shows and began taking yoga classes around the country. She developed a love for the mind and body connection and recieved her 200 hour certifcation through YogaWorks, then her children's certification through Karma Kids Yoga, and her postnatal training through Yoga Mom Buddha Baby with Jyothi Larson, and more recently certified to teach children with special needs through Every Kids Yoga with Craig Hanauer. Kelly is also certified in Preantal Yoga and Prenatal Pilates and is currently finishing her 300-hour adult certification through YogaWorks.

Kelly's contagious energy and imagination fill her classes with a joyous sense of self discovery and magic. With every class she teachers, she is inspired by the willingness of a child to explore through movement, music, stories and games. Kids are drawn to her fun, patient spirit, allowing even the timid to come out and giggle. Kelly loves combinign a passion for yoga with a natural ability to have fun with children of all ages.

Kelly's favorite yoga poses is Baddha Konasana or Butterfly Pose because she sees her students as beautiful butterflies.

 

Rose Rouse

Rose is originally from DC, went to The College of Charlgeston then landed in NYC to work in marketing during the day and teach yoga at night. Eventually, she traded in her laptop for bare feet and pursued yoga full time.

She began her yoga journey in 2004 and since then she has studied many different styles and principles of yoga and pilates. She holds certifications through Yoga Alliance, Pilates Institute of America, Prenatal Yoga through The Tree Jewels, Thai Yoga Massage from Integral Yoga and Infant Massage through Loving touch.

Rose teaches with a focus on core strength and is passionate about pre/postnatal health and recovery. She is a true believer that you can find balance, beauty and strength in your pre and post-baby body through your yoga and pilates practice. Rose attributes yoga and pilates to helping her to be a better mother and she hopes to help all of her students navigate through their own path with happiness and confidence.

Rose's favorite yoga pose is Salamba Sirsasana, or headstand because it gives you energy and is tons of fun to proactive with her son, Douggie.

 

 

Jen Schiffer

Originally from Montclair, New Jersey, Jen discovered yoga while attending a cheerleading camp in high school. While cheerleading at the University of Pennsylvania, Jen continued her yoga practice to help strengthen her core and to help her perform countless stunts at football and basketball games.

Jen holds a dual MA degree from NYU and taught Spanish and TESOL in public and private schools until 2007 when she left the classroom for the yoga mat. Jen is an E-RYT 200, RYCT, RPYT and teaches "kids" of all ages, from 6 weeks to 106 years.

Jen holds additional teacher training certifications from Karma Kids Yoga, the Radiant Child Yoga Program, CircusYoga, Yoga Mom, Buddha Baby, Samba Yoga Prenatal Teacher Training, Every Kids Yoga for Special Needs, Silver Sneakers Fitness for older adults, YogaFit Kids, YogaFit Seniors, YogaFit Prenatal, Pilates Fit trainings and is an ACE Certified Group Fitness Instructor. More recently, Jen completed Brain Gym 101 and Gogo Babies.

While small in stature, Jen's energy in the studio is infectious. She loves to take her students on imaginary trips to places far and wide - you never know where her class will travel to on any given day, and getting there is half the fun!

Jen is our Director of Business Development, a senior teacher, as well as a facilitator of the Karma Kids Yoga Teacher Training, and has developed the Karma Kids Yoga En Espanol Workshop for children's yoga teachers.

Jen's favorite pose is Salamba Sirsasana or headstand because she loves the meditative state of standing on her head.

 

 

 

Juliana Secches

Juliana Secches was born and raised in Brazil, where she was a dancer for many years. It was only after she moved to New York that she found Yoga and in her very first class she knew that Yoga was something she wanted to do for the rest of her life.

Juliana has been a teacher for over 17 years. Having earned a certification from Be Yoga and Karma Kids Yoga, she continues to study with some of the best instructors in New York. Her life-long passion for working with kids also led her to further her studies of childbirth, child development and postnatal physiology.

Juliana currently teaches Vinyasa classes, as well as Prenatal, Mom & Baby and Kids Yoga. Her classes are fun and her nurturing personality always makes even first-time Yogis very comfortable. She builds her classes around what she sees as the most important limb of Yoga: Satya (truthfulness).

Juliana is also our Prenatal Yoga Director and offers a comprehensive Teacher Training in Prenatal Yoga. She is also mom to yogini Bruno, who practices with her almost every day.

Juliana's favorite pose is Eka Pada Rajakapotasana or King Pigeon Pose.

 

 

Amanda Sidran

When Amanda moved to New York from Wisconsin a decade ago, she wouldn't have guessed that the journey would lead her here! But her yoga practice became her grounding force as she established herself in the city, moving through a number of careers before deciding that yoga is what she wanted to do.

Amanda became a dedicated meditator, and earned her 200 hour certification at Bodhisattva Yoga in 2014. After completing the Karma Kids teacher training, she was thrilled to have the opportunity to join the team, and share her love for the practice with a new generations. Her classes are playful and fun and always inspire laughter. More recently, Amanda completed her certification in Special Needs with Every Kids Yoga.

Amanda lives in Brooklyn with her aspiring yogi husband and aspiring yogini daughter.

Since it's too hard to choose just one, Amanda's favorite yoga poses are Ardha Chandrasana or Half Moon Pose for the fullest expression of openness and balance, Sirsasana or Headstand for the sense of resetting, and she loves to work on Titibasana or Firefly Pose since it's so challenging and knows she'll master it one of these days!

 

Ashley Smith Santos

A native Californian who loves to stretch in the sunshine! Ashley moved to New York in 2005 to study at Teacher's College, Columbia University, and to purse a teaching career in the big apple. She brought her love for the practice into her classroom through songs, stories, poses, and mindfulness activities. Ashley is currently teaching students, families, and classroom teachers how to integrate yoga, mindfulness and literacy in homes and schools.

She completed Karma Kids Yoga's Children and Teen Yoga Teacher Training in 2011. Ashley has also completed Prenatal Yoga Training Level 1, Zenergy Yoga Therapy for Kids, Every Kid’s Yoga: Teaching Yoga to Children with Special Needs, and Move with Me Yoga Adventures: Movement and Mindfulness Curriculum.

Children are drawn to Ashley's sweet nature and creative teaching style. Her classes are filled with the joy of learning, inquiry and positive energy. She incorporates singing into her classes and loves to engage children in stories. She sees each child as an individual, and thrives at making everyone feel comfortable in her class, building on each child's strengths while also increasing self-confidence. Ashley’s mantra is play, balance, grow!

Ashley's favorite yoga pose is Sirsasana or headstand, because it makes her feel empowered, and allows her to experience a connection between her mind and body through a different perspective.

 

Erin Urich

Erin is a free spirit adventurer from the heartland, born and raised in Kansas. She has a lifelong passion for yoga and fitness and a genuine desire to help others feel their best. With a move to San Francisco, she turned these passions into a career.

Erin become a certified Group Exercise Instructor, a certified Personal Trainer and also received her 200 hour Yoga Teacher Certification at 'Nosara Yoga Institute' in Costa Rica. Excited by the idea of sharing yoga with the next generation, Erin also completed her Kids Yoga teacher training with Kids Yoga Guide in Denver, CO. She later moved from San Fransisco to Sonoma County where she turned her focus solely to yoga and discovered how much she loves teaching yoga to kids, in part due to their openness, spontaneity and honesty! From there she took it upon herself to start Kids Yoga classes around town; teaching at a school, yoga studio and health club. More recently, Erin completed her certification to work with kids with special needs through Every Kids Yoga.

Erin continues to spread her love of yoga to kids in NYC, wholeheartedly believing that what you do in your older life is largely influenced by what you do as a kid. Erin's classes include imaginative theme exercises, games, songs, breathing and relaxation exercises. She encourages kids of all ages to come bend, stretch and have fun!

Erin's favorite pose is Pigeon pose. She enjoys this pose in her living room on a daily basis, appreciating how it actively stretches and opens the hips, while it also encourages stillness and letting go!

 

Jessica Van Itallie

As a kid, Jessica was afraid to even try a headstand, much less a handstand! That changed when she started practicing yoga five years ago and she eventually realized that she'd much rather spend her days practicing and teaching yoga than sitting at a desk. She received her Yoga Teacher Training at the 200-hour level with Alison West in NYC, is certified through Karma Kids Yoga, the Radiant Child Yoga Program (RYCP), and has also studied with Marsha Wenig of YogaKids. Jessica also completed Jyothi Larson's Yoga Mom Buddha Baby Postnatal Training.

Jessica's big smile, enthusiastic and comforting nature puts the shyest of children at ease. In addition to being part of our family, Jessica also teaches at a pre-school in Union Square.

Jessica is mom to yogini, Caetano.

Jessica's has numerous favorite yoga poses, including Baddha Konasana or Butterfly, Garudasana or Eagle, and of course, Adho Mukha Vrksasana or Handstand.

 

 

 

 

Connie Viglietti

Connie is a fun loving soul hailing from York, PA.  She studied Music Theater at Elon University in NC before making her way to the big city to pursue an acting and singing career.  It was around that time that yoga snuck it’s way into her heart. 
 
Through a dedicated yoga practice, Connie connects to her most authentic self, living life more truthfully and present, more passionately and love filled and inspires her students to do the same.  She sings the praises of her knowledgeable and loving teachers, Lauren Hanna, Jo Bell, Will Duprey, Susan Duprey and Juliana Mitchell.   She enjoys chanting mantra, leading retreats and introducing beginners to yoga.  Connie founded Little Grasshopper Yoga bringing yoga to children.  She teaches prenatal yoga and is a birth doula.  She also is a holistic heath coach. Connie loves to sing, perform, play sports and spend time with her family.  Connie and her husband, Anthony live in Long Island City with their two darling children Maia and Hudson and dog Kali.
 
 
Connie’s favorite pose is Sirsasana II or Headstand because it was the first yoga pose she learned when she was a little girl and her Grandma Ginger taught her!  It’s always so fun to go upside-down and it makes her feel strong!

 

 

 

 

Skyler Volpe

Originally from Port Washington, NY, Skyler is excited to call NYC her new home. She is a recent graduate of Connecticut College, where she triple majored in Dacne, Sociology and French (cum laude). At Conn, she studied with and performed works by Kyle Abraham, Shani Collins-Achille, Susan Connelly, David Dorfman, Heidi Henderson, Nicholas Leichter, Adele Myers, David Parker (the BANG group), Lisa Race, and Derrick Yanford. Skyler studied ballet in Paris under Ncholas Noél of the Paris Opéra Ballet. During her four years, she also had the pleasure of performing improv comedy, a capella, and in student theatre productions. She also choreographed several origingal works and a Theatre Department musical.

When she wasn't doing all that, Skyler used yoga as a way to find peace in the chaotic world of college. She completed her Karma Kids Yoga certification and is super excited to be part of the KKY family! More recently, she completed Every Kids Yoga for Kids with Special Needs.

Skyler's classes are animated and fun, include lots of imagination, creativity and movement. She is also pretty silly.

Skyler's favorite yoga pose is Adho Mukha Vrksasana or Handstand because she loves to go upside down.

 

Tonya Wathen

Tonya has been teaching kids since she was a kid herself.  From teaching the younger kids on the swim team to assisting her mom (a teacher) with summer camps, she has always loved being around younger folk.  They remind her to stay young herself, and open-hearted and full of joy!
 
Tonya came to yoga through her career as a Broadway dancer.  First drawn to it for it’s physical benefits, she grew to love it, too, for its ability to help her stay grounded in a career full of change.  She received her 200 hour teacher certification from Sonic Yoga, where she first heard about yoga for kids and knew this was the direction for her.  She received her kids yoga training from Karma Kids Yoga.  Teacher by day and performer by night (Tonya is in the cast of Chicago, the Musical), she is thrilled to now be sharing all the benefits of yoga with her favorite little people!

Tonya’s classes are full of gentle guidance and goofy fun.  We don’t take ourselves too seriously and we’re always looking for a reason to laugh.  Tonya’s background as a theatre dancer gives her a unique take on body awareness and storytelling, which she hopes to bring into the class in a playful way. 

Tonya's favorite pose is Pigeon, or Eka Pada Rajakapotasana, for it’s reminder to always be gentle and kind to ourselves, and that surrender can sometimes be the strongest choice.


 

Roni Weissman-Gerard

With over a decade of background as a dancer in Israel and NYC and extensive research work with children during her psychology studies, Roni found a way to combine her true passions in life through kids yoga. Roni decided to study psychology in 2003, when her young nephew was diagnosed with Asperger's. In 2010, she tried yoga to release the academic stress and she fell in love with the practice. Roni completed her 300-hour Yoga Teacher Training at Atmananda studio in Manhattan and received her certification for Yoga for the Special Child with Sonia Sumar to work with kids with special needs.
 
Recently Roni taught yoga at the Hebrew Language Academy (HLA) elementary school. There she witnessed the physical, mental, emotional, and academic advancement of her students. Her background in psychology and her experience working with children of all abilities allows her to identify the abilities of each child and modify the classes acordingly. Energetic and patient, nurturing and fun, Roni enjoys inspiring children to improve their overall wellness through the practice of yoga.

Roni's favorite pose is Dancer Pose, or Natarajasana, because it reminds her of her days as a ballerina.

 

 


Janine White

Janine started doing yoga when she was about 10 years old, when her mom organized a kids yoga class at her house. This early expsure planted a seed, and her yoga practice has become a central part of her adult life. Janine shares this practice with children, youth, and adults of all ages and various backgrounds across New York City and New Jersey.

Janine completed her 200-hour Teacher Training at Laughing Lotus in 2013, her Children's Yoga Teacher Training in 2014, and training with the Lineage Project in 2016 on teaching yoga and mindfulness to court-involved youth. Janine also has a Masters degree in International Affairs and Human Rights, and she uses the tols of yoga and mindfulness to support leadership development among diverse groups of youth and social justice advocates.

Janine's classes are playful, fun and creative, and almost always involve dancing in some way! Her favorite yoga pose is Naturajasana or Dancer Pose.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sean Wilkinson

Sean was first introduced to yoga through his movement class when he was training as an actor in college. From there, he started working at yoga studios and practicing daily and eventually found himself a yogi.

After touring nationally with Charlotte's Web, Sean decided it was time to take the plunge and earned his 200 hour certification from YogaWorks. Since then, he has also been trained through Karma Kids Yoga to teach yoga to children.

Sean is very excited to be teaching with the great family of teachers at Karma Kids Yoga. His classes are high energy laugh-zones where crazy voices and fun ideas are highly encouraged.

Sean's favorite pose is Adho Mukha Vrksasana or Handstand Pose.

 

 

 

 

 

We are located at 25 West 23rd Street • between 5th and 6th Avenues. Our Phone is (646)638-1444 and email downdog@karmakidsyoga.com
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