Yogis in Service Teachers
(WE LOVE YOU YIS TEACHERS- love YIS Board of Directors)
Marissa Bland is an Occupational Therapist is a self-taught yogini who combines her OT training with her yoga practice to create magic. She is beyond excited to be apart of Yogis in Service, and her heart currently belongs to each and every attendee of the yoga program at Resurrection Church. This is one of her first experiences formally teaching yoga, and she is so grateful to work with such supportive co-teachers
Alyssa Scarano. I found yoga at a time in my life when I was stuck. I had just been diagnosed with a chronic illness and everywhere I looked, I was reminded that I was sick. Upon walking into my first yoga class, I was immediately inspired. While my teachers and fellow yogis provided me the tools to find greatness within myself despite my illness, the classes got me moving both physically and mentally. I began to realize that my illness is something I have, but it doesn’t have me. Over time, this practice allowed me to let go of self-limiting beliefs and the fears that were holding me back. I was not only able to imagine a different life for myself, but I was able to believe it was possible and make it happen! I am so excited and grateful to be joining the Yogis in Service team as I have personally experienced the benefits of the practice and want nothing more than to introduce it to others.
Melissa Abrams is a Social Worker for Catholic Charities. She found Power Yoga Buffalo over 2 years ago and was instantly hooked on the revitalizing and energizing effects of the practice. Since starting her yoga journey, Melissa has attended the Art of Assisting Training. She believes that yoga is possible for all people and is honored to be a part of Yogis in Services. This is one of her first experiences formally teaching yoga, and she is thrilled to be working with such an amazing team.
Lindsay Travers is a kindergarten teacher at West Buffalo Charter School. She has been teaching for several years and loves helping children grow. Lindsay has been practicing yoga for a little over a year. It has impacted her life more then she could ever imagine. She could not be more excited to be a part of Yogis in Service. She is very much looking forward to the opportunity to combine her love for teaching with yoga!
Emilee Philips is passionate and driven in her study of yoga. A natural and inspired instructor, Emilee is eager to share the wisdom of this profound healing art. She aspires to help students find inner comfort and awaken greater mindfulness off the mat. Emilee’s appreciation hatha yoga led her to teacher training in 2014 at the Himalayan Institute, where she earned her RYT-200 certification. Off the mat, Emilee is a creative artisan of jewelry and has earned certification through the Gemological Institute of America as an Accredited Jewelry professional. Emilee also enjoys exploring the connection and communication of Acro Yoga. She is an active member of the Acro Yoga Buffalo group, where she practices, performs, and travels to grow her skills in this playful style. Emilee is compassionately motivated to empower others. Through her intelligent and stimulating teaching style, Emilee infuses the practical matters of life with care and concern.
Michelle Schwach is an attorney practicing family law in Buffalo, NY. Representing dads, moms and children, she has seen what stress can do to a family and community, and believes that yoga and mindfulness can be wonderful tools to help manage life’s challenges. She has been a dedicated practitioner for the last few years and seen how the benefits of yoga extend way beyond the mat. Michelle is excited to be a part of the dedicated Yogis in Service team to share and experience these benefits with the Buffalo community.
Jennifer Todaro in her own words. “I found yoga and mindfulness through my coworker who saw me unfulfilled, overstressed, and struggling daily to get out of bed. Her encouragement and support to join Power Yoga Buffalo has forever changed my life. I had very low expectations of my first class because how can breathing, a few downward facing dogs, and a “nap” at the end of class help me? During shavasana, tears flooded my face. I had never felt so clear, centered, and free from judgment
I began a consistent home practice of meditating and studying with Mindful Schools completing the Fundamentals Course and the Curriculum Training. Mindfulness is paying attention to yourself and bringing awareness to any thoughts feelings that you may be experiencing without judgment. Currently, I am a Mindfulness coach for Tapestry High School Varsity basketball team along with providing Mindfulness for YIS at West Buffalo Charter School. Just Breath.
Megan Townsend, RN-BSN. She was introduced to yoga at the end of a dark period in her life. Being introduced to yoga at such a critical time has been of vital importance; vital meaning “life sustaining.” In conjunction with other avenues yoga has taught her to stay when things are difficult, uncomfortable or at times seem just unbearable. This experience has gone far beyond the mat and into every corner of her life. Once someone consumed by, perceived, limitations, she now feels filled with possibility. Her prayer is that her experience can help at least 1 know they are not alone, face life and then create something new together.
Sheri Curry has worked with children at Camp Good Days and Special Times, volunteered for SABAH (Skating Association for the Blind and Handicapped), was a devoted ski instructor, worked with Phoenix Adaptive Ski Program, and has taught over twenty-five years as a K-2 classroom teacher. Sheri has competed in running and rollerblading marathons, numerous half-marathons, triathlons and the Tough Mudder. Her husband and college-age sons are constantly keeping her active and challenged! She now enjoys bringing her love of yoga to the young people of our Buffalo Community. Currently, Sheri loves being an active part of Yogis in Service (YIS) which brings yoga to those who would not otherwise have access. She is certified as a children’s yoga instructor and continues to learn from little ones every day. Sheri can’t thank Power Yoga Buffalo enough for giving her the tools to learn, grow, and shine!
Jody Quinn in her own words. “I stepped into a Power Yoga Buffalo class in September of 2010 and kept going for the physical challenges I began to see but fell in love because of how it fed my soul. There is something magical about pressing the reset button during a challenging 75 minute class. Soon after I began practicing I couldn’t stop thinking how great it would be to share yoga with kids. Raising four children I could see their struggles with social media, bullying and peer pressure. Giving kids coping mechanisms like moving, breathing and meditating is key to help navigate the stresses of school, friends and family life .I love creating a fun and playful class with activities, music and stories while leaving space for kids to lead the practice.
I currently teach yoga clubs in after school programs and enrichment days at St. Marks School. Thrive Yoga LLC. allows me to share yoga with other local schools as well as after school programs in areas where children may have limited access to a yoga studio. My volunteer experience at Women and Children Hospital and as Parent Educator for Every Person Influences Children (EPIC) are natural progression for teaching family yoga in the community as well as in a hospital setting. I completed my first children’s yoga certification through OmSchooled in January 2015. In September, I completed the first 95 hour Baptiste Children’s Yoga training program.”
Steve Procknal. In his own words. I believe fully in both the mental and physical benefits of power yoga and wish that I had been offered this earlier in both my sports career and my life. Power Yoga has taken me around the country and the world.
My sports background includes Division 1 All Conference soccer player, 70.3 Ironman World Championships qualifier, Boston Marathon qualifier and competed in the Spartan world championships. I’ve lived and travelled to over 50 countries. I have coached sports and Volunteered in Brazil, South Africa and Kenya. I have completed Level 1, 2, 3 and Art of Assisting Baptiste trainings and 200 E-RYT certified. I have completed Yoga for athletes trainings and trained under Tiffany Cruikshank and Bryan Kest. I currently teach at Power Yoga Buffalo, The University of Buffalo, The University of Buffalo woman’s basketball and soccer teams, The Buffalo Club and CrossFit Buffalo. I also volunteer for meals on wheels and teach at many local yoga events.
Wendy Guyker, Ph.D., is a Clinical Assistant Professor at SUNY at Buffalo.Wendy teaches classes on research methods, assessment, and multicultural counseling and has recently joined the faculty teaching courses in the new Advanced Graduate Certificate program in Mindful Counseling for Wellness and Engagement. Wendy’s research interests are in veteran mental health as well as the areas of mindfulness and self-care, with an emphasis on applications in both clinical and community populations. Service is critical in the fields of education and psychology; yet to Wendy, it does not feel like a responsibility, it practically feels more like being whole. To Wendy, yoga is a perspective, a way of life, a philosophy; a layer of one’s life that does not compete with any other layer; rather, it complements, expands, informs and integrates all else. As a teacher and a psychologist, Wendy strives to embody qualities of compassion, non-defensiveness, and self-awareness with her students and patients. It excites Wendy to help bring yoga’s many qualities and tools of yoga to others in the WNY community through Yogis in Service.
Molly Muffoletto. Molly came to yoga by way of Ballet. During her years as a dancer, yoga helped her stay focused and fit, but at that time she didn’t fully understand its impact. When she left the dance world, she took the yoga with her. Yoga continued to help her overcome
injuries, body issues, life changes, depression- anything that life threw at her, yoga was there. No matter what she asked of yoga, it just kept giving. How could she not share that with others?
After exploring and practicing a multitude of yoga styles, Molly first completed 200 hours of Vinyasa training and 200 hours of Kundalini training. After teaching for several years, Baptiste Power Yoga became her personal practice. She felt that teaching Baptiste yoga would be most authentic because it was her practice. She attended Foundations in Action with Baron Baptiste in 2013, Baptiste Level 1 in 2014, Art of Assisting in 2015 and a host of other Baptiste short programs. She continues on her path to becoming a Baptiste certified teacher and has recently completed another 200 hour teacher training at Breathe Yoga- a Baptiste Affiliate School- in Rochester, New York.
Molly’s classes are challenging, inspirational and fun- sometimes even filled with laughter- as she assists people in building a practice that is structurally sound and right for their bodies. Mostly she believes that each person chooses the outcome of their practice while offering support and encouragement along the way in helping them to see they are more capable and powerful than they realize. Molly is the co-creator of the Yogis in Service Yoga/Break program
Carlos Dueñas My name is Carlos Dueñas, aka Bboy Gage. I’ve been dancing for 8 years. I grew up breakin in SLC Utah, a part of Angels of Death. I moved to Buffalo a little over 3 years ago and been breaking with Differential Flava Crew for 2. My style is a little more catered towards power and style, traveling to many different jams in the past I recently battled in Philadelphia at the udef silverback open.
Yogis in Service Teacher Training Faculty
The Yogis in Service Teacher Training (YISTT) Program is trauma-informed, community-focused program. The YISTT complements other training programs addressing key issues that present when teaching yoga across communities within which yoga access may be lower. Our faculty reflect expertise in yoga, anatomy, philosophy, trauma and self-regulation research, and yoga accessibility.
Kathleen Englehardt. With each chapter of life, Kathleen’s practice has evolved and transformed to support her life. From the post-college-disciplinary days of ashtanga to restful, gentle prenatal practices to simply closing eyes and placing hands to heart in gratitude, yoga continues to enrich Kathleen’s well-being.
The adaptability of yoga–namely, the sweet and continuous dialogue between life and practice–sculpts Kathleen’s explorations on the mat and her unique teaching style. Kathleen’s classes emphasize observation, attention to detail, curiosity and playfulness to discover and nurture connections within the physical and energetic bodies. Kathleen believes that the asanas are the details within an enormously expansive bigger picture. Yet, when broken down into the sum of their parts and explored from every angle, asanas offer us insight into our personal processes, our deeply ingrained habits and ultimately can pave the path toward personal growth. Kathleen is a co-founder of Love in Motion Yoga in Buffalo, New York and a proud Ambassador for Lululemon. Beyond yoga, Kathleen is currently a student in a Doctor of Physical Therapy at D’youville College, a mama to her two little kids and an avid student of any and all movement.
Leslie Rothschild is both a YIS teacher and a YISTT Trainer. Iin her own words. “When people find out that I am a yoga teacher,
I get some really interesting questions. Do I have to be a vegetarian to practice yoga? What if I can’t touch my toes? Isn’t yoga a religion? My answer to any of these types of questions comes from Mark Whitwell’s Heart of Yoga book. All you need to practice yoga is your body, breath and a few good friends. We all have exactly what we need to practice and live full yogic lives. We have these amazing bodies that are nourished and cared for through the beautiful movement of asanas (poses). We have our breath to remind us about one of the most basic lessons we are taught as children – sharing. With each inhale we take in just what we need while each exhale gives back to others. We have our few good friends to teach us about grace, compassion and love. These inspirations are what have guided me through life on and off the mat. See that’s the real beauty of Mark Whitwell’s message. What we learn in practice expands way beyond the mat- it’s weaves into our lives. I am so grateful for the lessons I have learned and continue to learn from yoga.”
Catherine Cook-Cottone, Ph.D., is founder and president of Yogis in Service. She is also a Licensed Psychologist, Registered Yoga Teacher, and Associate Professor at SUNY at Buffalo. Her research specializes in embodied self-regulation (i.e., yoga, mindfulness, and self-care) and psychosocial disorders (e.g., eating disorders, trauma-related disorder). She has written four books and over 50 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters. Her most recent book is tilted, Mindfulness and yoga for self-regulation: A primer for mental health professionals. Presenting nationally and internationally, Catherine uses her model of embodied self-regulation to structure discussions on empirical work and practical applications. She teaches classes on mindful therapy, yoga for health and healing, self-care, history of psychology, and counseling with children and adolescents. She also maintains a private practice, specializing in the treatment of anxiety-based disorders (e.g., PTSD and Generalized Anxiety Disorder), eating disorders (including other disorders of self-care), and development of emotional regulation skills.
Honored Alumni Yogis in Service Teachers
Marta Schoenle was one of the very first YIS teachers. She trained with the Himalayan Institute and donated all of her YIS yoga teaching- refusing to take pay. She is now in Arizona getting her PhD in Chemistry. YIS is so proud of Marta and hopes she comes back to Buffalo once she has her PhD!
Nicole DeSimone is an Occupational Therapist and
graduate school at the University at Buffalo. She found Power Yoga Buffalo and fell in love with the practice over 3 years ago and has never looked back. She has completed Baptiste Level 1 teacher training. She strongly believes in the powerful and therapeutic tool that yoga is and loves sharing her yoga with others. Co-teaching (with some pretty awesome ladies!) at Resurrection Lutheran Church has easily become the most rewarding part of her week.
Sarah Panzica developed a love for the arts when attending The Waldorf School as a child. Directly following high school she moved to Miami to work as a professional ballroom and latin dancer for Fred Astaire Dance Studio. She competed all around the world and won the title of world champion as a rhythm dancer. Teaching dance and working with movement for children with disabilities is a true passion of hers. Sarah is currently finishing her senior year at Buffalo State College as a Dance/Philosophy major. During her time at Buffalo State, she participated in multiple Service Learning Projects with refugee youth at Lafayette High School, CAC, and Autism Services Inc.
Sarah attended a 200 hour teacher training in Africa, in the journey to become certified in Baptiste Yoga. While she was there she participated in multiple outreach programs in the slums of Nairobi, Kenya- to provide yoga and nourishment to the youth. She worked with children with disabilities to improve mobility in their body and minds through yoga. This changed her entire perspective on life in a positive light! Sarah plans on traveling to Africa in January to teach yoga in Uganda.
Sarah is teaching multiple classes and living her yoga in her own community. Also, she hopes to attend multiple yoga trainings and workshops. Yoga has brought her possibility, self advocacy, self-worth, mental clarity, health, friends, community and she hopes to share this passion with the world!