Erica Taxin Bleznak, CYT, M.S.W:
I began my yoga practice in 1995 in the Ashtanga yoga tradition, after suffering an injury while training for a marathon. That injury, unbeknownst at the time, was a gift that led me to the path of Yoga. In 2005, I met my primary teacher Yoganand Michael Carroll and completed the Pranakryia Yoga Teacher training. I have been teaching classes and private yoga for over 11 years, and am continually amazed at the transformative aspects of the Practice. I believe that with patience, awareness, breath, and sincerity that each asana becomes an invitation to know who we Truly are.
I am deeply grateful for my teachers who have always guided me back to myself-to find the answers within- and continue to support me on this incredible journey: My primary teacher Yoganand Michael Carroll, Connie Beaudoin, Paul Hedderman and Adyashanti.
Michelle Baldino is the manager of Main Line Yoga Shala. She started practicing yoga over 10 years ago when her mother encouraged her to join in on a semi-private yoga class. It was love at first (deep) breath. She loved how the movement and stillness made her pay attention to what was happening in the present moment. Michelle found that yoga helped her to strengthen her body in ways she never thought possible while also offering space and quiet that has served her mental and emotional health tremendously. In 2012, with two young children, Michelle decided to go for her 200-hour yoga teacher certification at Verge Yoga in Wayne PA. While it was a busy time in her life to say the least, she felt that teaching yoga was her calling and has been doing it full time ever since. Michelle is a heart-felt teacher that loves to offer a balance of alignment cues to keep her students safe as well as a quality of playfulness and lightness to allow students to have their own experiences on their mats.
Lakshmi Faith Devi
Lakshmi Faith is the Founder and Heart-Centered Spiritual Mentor of Violet Lotus. She is a gifted Sacred Songstress, Embodiment Alchemist, Visionary Empath and Intuitive who offers herself as a compassionate guide into the ways of your heart. As a Sacred Witness, Lakshmi holds the space of infinite love for you to unravel into your truth. She ignites the fire in the darkness to bring in the light. She fearlessly enters the realms of shadow to unfold and rise into the truth. She is passionate and unyielding in her search for essence in all things. She walks the Earth with reverence, deep humility, and gratitude for the sacredness of life. Lakshmi bows down to honor her greatest teachers, Amma and Life itself.
Lakshmi’s offerings support you to live a blissful, authentic life aligned with your deepest wisdom and truth. Lakshmi’s visionary work helps shift the pain of past traumas and limiting belief systems into joy, awakening, and awareness by combining grounded every day guidance with deep spiritual insights, energy work and sound healing.
Julie began practicing yoga when she was pregnant with her third child. What began as a physical practice has evolved into a life devoted to yoga and its principles. Julie has been teaching yoga since 2001. Her first yoga teacher training was with Baron Baptiste. She received her 200 hour teaching certification from Corina Benner at Wake Up Yoga and her 500 hour teaching certification from Yoganand/Michael Carroll founder and director of the Pranakriya school. Julie is also certified to teach Yin Yoga and Restorative Yoga. Julie’s classes infuse breathing techniques into a variety of creative flows in order for students to gain access and ease within the poses. In her classes, Julie challenges your perceived physical and emotional limitations in order for students to find more space and freedom in all aspects of their lives.
Britt Tagg has been teaching and practicing yoga for over 12 years. Yoga has given Britt a quality of life that she is enthusiastic to share. Her classes emphasize the importance of practicing safe alignment, body awareness, and deep breathing, and she also tries to keep her classes light-hearted and creative. Britt is a life-long artist and painter and her style of teaching yoga is clearly informed by the fluid stroke of a brush on canvas. She believes that allowing people to enjoy their practice and to be comfortable with themselves is an essential way to foster a long-term yoga experience where the benefits are an evolution of physical and mental self- improvement.
Britt has been RYT-certified since 2005 and has amassed a wealth of knowledge studying under internationally-known yoga teachers, as well as many esteemed local instructors throughout her travels. She believes that education never ceases and that wisdom can come from unlikely sources and this compels her to continually engage in new workshops and classes. Though rooted in Ashtanga, Britt has found a niche in the limitless dance of Vinyasa where she truly feels anything is possible!
I started my yoga journey about four years ago in 2012. Initially, I was attracted to the community and the physical practice. Over a short period of time, I started to notice change; not only physical but emotional. I had no idea that for me, yoga was the beginning of a journey that would become more than just a hobby, but a way of life. I completed my 200-hour YTT in early 2015. My goal of teaching is to share my practice with anyone who is interested. Yoga has changed my mind, body, and spirit. Yoga continues to teach me about myself and allows me be open to the world around me. I am forever grateful for my practice and to the people I meet along the way.
When Cicelee first began practicing yoga, it was strictly as a means to cross-train her body. Before long it became her primary form of exercise, as it benefited both body and mind in ways her gym workouts could not. After years of life in New York City working on Wall St. then in the fashion industry, yoga became her path to healing her mind and spirit, releasing struggle, and staying centered. As her passion for yoga grew, so did the idea that she should share it with as many people as she could. To that end she completed teacher trainings with Isaac Pena, Jude English, Mary Dana Abbott, and Schuyler Grant, emerging from them a fully committed yoga teacher. Having returned to Philadelphia, her hometown, she aims to serve her students with classes that purify the body and still the mind through the healing power of breath coordinated with mindful movement.
Johnathan Raiss is the founder of Equilibrium movement. He is a Philadelphia based Yoga and movement teacher sharing techniques and skills for realization of potential on the physical and emotional planes of being, The student base he works with is exceptionally diverse and wide ranging; from dance professionals to corporate businessmen, from young athletes to elders seeking pain relief, and in general-most any human being interested in developing mobility, strength, flexibility, and fluidity. He has trained extensively with Nevine Michaan in Daoist philosophy and Katonah Yoga, has trained over a thousand hours in various flowing styles of Yoga, and has a stable base in martial arts such as Silat and Capoeira. He is currently a senior teacher at several studios in the Philadelphia area, and is a lecturer in the University of the Arts Dance Department.
I am teaching mainly a Vinyasa and origami fitting practice inspired by my teacher Nevine Michaan. The descriptions on websites may say various things, but I strive to offer a class that can be accustomed to any student regardless of their ability, age, or previous experience. Sometimes the flow may be vigorous and challenging, but the primary intent is to teach a practice that will allow attendees to organize their physical bodies in a manner that potentiates stability, flexibility, strength, mobility, and power. I hold firm to the belief that a well structured physical practice run through geometric and periodization principles will influence not only one’s physical health, but also their mental state of being, and how they place themselves within their environment in a positive manner.
Stephanie Beliner, RYT-500
Steph has been practicing yoga since 2001 and teaching since 2011. She offers a precise and alignment-focused flow practice that invites students to challenge themselves while tapping into their inner power and grace. Steph adores backbends and inversions, and she is the happiest when she’s helping students to discover them. As a lifelong musician, one of Steph’s favorite ways to celebrate life is to chant with the harmonium. She is eternally grateful to her lineage of teachers from Wake Up Yoga Philadelphia, Laughing Lotus Yoga Center NYC, and Maha Yoga Philadelphia.
Eleven years ago Lisa received her 200+ hour certification from The Laughing Lotus Yoga Center in New York City with Dana Flynn and Jasmine Tarkeshi. She teaches a dynamic vinyasa flow paired with a meditative cool down that empowers her students to “soften the edges” in the practice of yoga and in the practice of living life. Yoga has provided Lisa with the framework for a life of wellness, authenticity and grace. Along with teaching her weekly yoga classes she is the co-owner of Food Practice, a boutique company that inspires healthy living.
I was first attracted to yoga for the physical challenges, but quickly quickly realized it was so much more and fell in love with this ancient practice. I became more centered, open, connected, and calmer with each class. This love of all that yoga that had to offer and the ways it began to change my entire life led me to teacher training at Main Line Yoga in 2008. Initially I wanted to deepen my own practice, but then I felt compelled to share this amazing practice with others. I am grateful for the opportunity to share yoga with students of all ages, and feel that yoga has a place in everyone’s life – no matter what age or physical condition. In addition to my 200 hr. YTT, I have been certified by Conscious Child Yoga to teach kids yoga and I completed a health coaching certification in March of 2016. It is my strong desire to help people live healthier, happier, more peaceful lives that inspires me daily on and off my mat.
After her first yoga class, Meg felt a taste of the joy of what it feels to be truly alive and connected to herself. She has committed her life to the study and teachings of Yoga ever since. Meg was blessed to be initiated into the Sri Vidya Tantric lineage as brought to the West by Swami Rama of the Himalayas and is a dedicated student of Yogarupa Rod Stryker. She also holds certifications as an Ayurvedic Yoga Specialist from the Himalayan Institute and Reiki Master in the Usui Method from the Reiki School of Philadelphia.
These healing modalities that she’s spent over 10 years practicing have helped her live each day brighter and more inspired. Yoga has helped Meg feel stronger, more courageous, steadier of mind, more joyful, and clearer in purpose. She wants everyone to experience the endless benefits these ancient wisdom practices offer and welcomes all bodies and ages into your classes. First and foremost, she teaches people how to breathe, and guides them in the process of reconnecting to their inner sanctuary.
When Meg is not teaching, practicing, or dreaming; you can find her listening to music, singing opera, snuggling her cat Cassio, or spending time in nature. She loves to travel almost as much as she loves Yoga. Recent adventures have taken her to beautiful places like Southern France, Guatemala, the Sahara Desert of Morocco, and two pilgrimages to Northern India in 2013 & 2016. She co-founded Aluna Adventures in 2014 and runs amazing yoga retreats to some of the most energetically charged, healing places on the planet.
Michelle began practicing yoga in 2000 when a coworker invited her to take the class she taught at a local gym. The physical practice was immediately intriguing but it was not love at first class. Michelle continued to be drawn to yoga and began practicing Ashtanga yoga. It was there she realized this was the only activity she had ever experienced that would quiet her overactive mind. In 2011 Michelle competed the 200 hour teacher training at Verge Yoga and in 2015 Michelle completed Wall Vinyasa teacher training with Erica Taxin Bleznak.
While it took some time for Michelle to find consistency in her yoga practice there is no denying she was being called to a journey of discovering her authentic self. Each time on the mat She continues to seek the truth in herself while lovingly meeting others where they are on their journey. The truth cannot be unseen, it can only push, shove and sometimes propel you forward to where you are meant to be. Michelle enjoys deepening her students alignment awareness with playful exploration while providing mindful meditative flows. She wants all of her students to share the benefits of self inquiry and self discovery on their mat while feeling the freedom to be playful and have fun. She believes that yoga is like recess for adults. A place where you can be free to try new things, connect with others or play by yourself and leave feeling focused and energized for what awaits. Michelle lives in Plymouth Meeting PA with her loving and supportive husband, Phil, and 2 amazing and energetic daughters, Sophia and Caelin.
I came to yoga for peace, and I found it. Learning to breathe through the tough times, learning to be patient with myself, learning that my thoughts are not who I am…these lessons from my mat have transformed my life. I am so grateful to this practice which changed my life in such positive ways and I am truly honored every time I have the chance to share yoga with others. I LOVE yoga!
Sarah (RYT-200) has been practicing yoga since 2001 and has been teaching regularly since 2003. Her teaching is influenced by her enthusiasm for the joy that yoga brings and she has a lighthearted and uplifting approach to her teaching. Sarah has a Masters Degree in Counseling Psychology and has a private practice, Transformative Therapy, in Bryn Mawr. She draws on a yogic influence in her therapy work to help clients with personal growth, couples and relationship issues, and in her work with teens and pre-teens. Sarah is also a Cancer Support Educator, a Certified Hypnotherapist and meditation teacher, and a Reiki Master. She volunteers with and is a counseling provider for Unite for HER and is the Reiki provider for Bryn Mawr Hospital’s Outpatient Oncology and Breast Centers.
Sarah has three athletic teenage and young-adult sons, and enjoys the irony when she hears herself yelling “get him!” When not working with clients, in a yoga studio, or spending time with her kids, Sarah is likely to be found on a running or hiking trail. Sarah coordinates Philadelphia’s Yoga for Peace event in collaboration with Peace Day Philly.
Jenny began yoga by accompanying her older sister to classes at their gym. She was immediately captivated by the way yoga demonstrated the strength she already had within her, and conversely, how it pushed her physical limits. Once she began to move her practice from the gym to a smaller studio, she started to connect with the mental and emotional benefits of her practice. The feeling of being centered and grounded helped her through a tough first year of college, and eventually pushed her to become a certified yoga instructor.
Jenny completed her 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training at Pavones Yoga Center in Pavones, Costa Rica. Since her training, yoga has taken her on a powerful journey of self-discovery and has led her to meet many wonderful teachers and friends. Her classes aim to guide students through a creative practice that enables them to go beyond their preconceived limits and find new perspectives.
Always a mover and a shaker, Stacia was an athlete and a dancer until a knee injury from a soccer game. After several surgeries repairing her torn ACL and meniscus she had to put her passion for movement on hold. In her recovery process she started taking yoga classes as part of her therapy and it definitely struck a chord. Yoga gave her strength in body and in mind. It gave her tools to manage stress and anxiety that were a presence in her life as well as loving the healing process. She pursued yoga teacher training to dig deeper into her practice and in turn felt a call to share what she learned with others. She completed her 200 RYT in 2010 and has been continuing her education since. She completed a 50-hour Dynamic Flow training with Alex Holmes, 50-hour Yoga for Golfers training with Katherine Roberts and 50-hour Aerial Yoga training through Aircats Circus School, 25- hour Yin training and presently finishing her second 200 RYT hour training at Amrita Yoga and Wellness. She is always trying to broaden what she can offer her students and allow her students to love themselves fully as they are.
Christina Fittipoldi Alden
Christina discovered yoga while coping with postpartum depression after the birth of her son. Feeling lost and detached, she longed to find something to anchor her and breathe new life into her sails. Christina fell in love with the asana practice, the movement and flow, and the stability and strength that yoga provided for her. As a former school teacher, she realized that teaching runs deep in her blood, and her heart ached for the opportunity to teach and touch lives again. In May 2015, with the encouragement and support of her teacher, Liz Shanefield, studio owner of Sojourn Yoga, Christina completed a 200 hour Vinyasa Yoga Teacher training and has been happily teaching yoga ever since.
Christina enjoys guiding her students through safe and responsible movement while offering the ability to find freedom, peace, and joy in their yoga practice. She hopes her students can take all these insights and gifts with them as they step off their mat and embrace his or her life journey with more compassion, openness, and love.
“Yoga is a beautiful gift that we can continue to open and discover something new and unique about ourselves each time we step onto our mats. When we acknowledge and embrace all those beautiful discoveries as we move and breathe, then we have created space within ourselves to become more understanding, patient, compassionate, and loving. Imagine the possibilities and how glorious our world would become!”
Asha is passionate about yoga and has been interested in the mind/body connection since she was a child. Yoga and meditation are two components that have helped her experience more joy, peace, and happiness in her life – she loves sharing that with her students! Asha’s classes are infused with breath and awareness and are always grounded in her passion for the yogic philosophy. She’s been teaching for over ten years beginning with a Baptiste practice. In the past five years, Asha has been trained in Prana Flow and Anusara Yoga and has combined the two styles. She now teaches an alignment based vinyasa flow class rooted in Ayurveda.
Marissa Paino, ERYT-500 & Therapeutic Yoga Teacher
Marissa Paino has been practicing Yoga since 2005. She earned her 200-Hr certification in 2008 and 500-Hr certification in 2012, has since achieved her YA-ERYT-500 professional Yoga Teacher designation having acquired over 2000 hours of studio and private teaching experience. Marissa successfully taught Vinyasa flow classes at several local Yoga studios, and in recent years, she has primarily focused her offerings on corporate yoga classes, therapeutic yoga instruction to individuals, and workshops. In March 2014, Marissa earned a certificate in Therapeutic Yoga from the Pranakriya School of Yoga Healing Arts, founded and developed by Yoganand Michael Carroll, ERYT-500. Marissa’s studies in Therapeutic Yoga instruction have been rooted in the Tantra Hatha Yoga tradition with Marlysa Sullivan, MPT & ERYT-500, and Tra Kirkpatrick, ERYT-500. Additionally, Marissa has studied with Loren Fishman, MD, Judith Lasater, Ana Forrest, Todd Norian, Amy Weintraub, Julie Gudmestad, Robin Rothenberg and locally, Theresa Conroy. Marissa continues to broaden her knowledge of the practice and its therapeutic applications by regularly attending continuing education workshops locally and at Kripalu. Marissa is also dedicated to her path of Svadhyaya and is eternally grateful to her very first yoga teachers, Jack Forgosh, Kris Hanvey, Debra Bosna and Yoganand Michael Carroll, and locally her most influential teachers; Erica Bleznak, Julie Pogachefsky and Corina Benner, all of whose guidance and wisdom shine in her teachings.
Dawn ERYT-200, RYT-500, CYT, is a Registered Yoga Teacher with Yoga Alliance, and a Certified Yoga Therapist. She completed her 200 hour teacher training program at Verge Yoga in March 2012 and began teaching in June, 2012. In May, 2014 she completed Level One of the Comprehensive Yoga Therapy training at The Yogalife Institute in Devon. Yogalife Institute is nationally recognized and certified by the International Association of Yoga Therapists. Dawn has a particular interest in the restorative practice of yin yoga, and has completed teacher trainings in both yin and restorative yoga, and has studied meditation with Clearlight Meditation Group and Sarah Powers of Insight Yoga Institute. In addition to her yoga studies, Dawn studies depth psychology, or psychology of the soul, with Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes at her Archetypal and Cross-Cultural Studies Institute in Colorado, and enjoys weaving those teachings into her classes.
Kristin has devoted hour after hour to her practice and teaching because she believes yoga can be transforming. Like many, she came to class feeling disconnected and beat up by life. She believed that world owed her something because of that pain. As Kristin developed a regular practice, her outlook began to change, and over time yoga helped her to not only to build a better relationship with herself, but with others. Whether it be in her class or someone else’s, Kristin truly hopes that you give yoga a try and reap the positive benefits that accompany the practice.
Candace was first drawn to yoga in high school through the music of The Beatles and George Harrison. She draws from many styles of yoga, is currently studying with Shiva Rea, and specializes in creative, dynamic flows to facilitate mindfulness and introspection.
Candace has a Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology with a specialization in Trauma, and integrates mindful practices into her classes. She has studied with Bo Forbes and Bessel van der Kolk to deepen her understanding of the mind/body connection. She also works privately with students to address mental health concerns (such stress, anxiety, bipolar disorder, etc.) using the body and breath.
For me on Kristin, visit www.kristinpageyoga.com
Xandra first discovered yoga in 2005. She knew nothing about yoga, was intimidated by the idea of going to a class, and decided to sign up for a private session with Corina Benner at Wake Up Yoga. During that first yoga experience, something shifted in her. She had always avoided exercise and in yoga found something that felt like a natural extension of herself. She signed up for a beginner’s series, and from there her yoga practice grew. In the years that followed, as she moved back to the suburbs, got married, became a health and wellness coach and a mama, yoga continued to be an important part of her path. She found that she felt her best when she practiced two or three times a week and she discovered in yoga not just a physical exercise practice – yoga became her spiritual home. After spending years taking classes from teachers including Julie Pogachefsky, Jennifer Nehila, Kayla Fell, and Kate DeRosa Howell, she discovered the common thread that linked them all, and she found her way back to Corina and Wake Up Yoga to complete her 250 hour yoga teacher training in 2015. She has also completed prenatal (with Shiya Furstenau, May 2015) and yin yoga trainings (with Corina Benner, May 2015). She continues to learn and explore through her own life and practice and she brings that into the safe and sacred space where she teaches, connecting every day experiences to the practice and teachings of yoga. Xandra has always believed in the power of taking care of ourselves in order to best take care of others, and her yoga practice has shown her that lesson in action as she has watched her family and those around her soak up so much of what she has learned and come to live through yoga.
Xandra’s yoga philosophy is centered on helping her students realize that they are sacred vessels. Xandra believes that when you come to your mat, you enter a sacred space and time with yourself. Through your practice, you link breath and movement, and you begin to dive deeper and connect with your intuitive nature. The unwavering light that shines at your core finds a path out into the world, and you come away feeling centered and more alive.
In addition to teaching, practicing, and immersing herself in yoga, Xandra coaches women along the path of sacred becoming, writes daily, creates malas and other sacred adornments, gets to the ocean whenever she can, and spends time with her loving and supportive family – her husband, daughter, and their cat.
“You are unique, and if that is not fulfilled, then something has been lost.”
A lifetime kinesthetic explorer Lisa Bardarson brings years of movement discoveries to her mat and her classroom. Lisa leads workshops in yoga and meditation at Penn, teaches privately from her home studio and for the last two years has gently cajoled seniors in experiencing the benefits of modified yoga at the P.A.L.M. in Ardmore. As a professional dancer, choreographer, and teacher she was a vibrant presence on the Philadelphia dance scene for two decades and most recently as a writer for thINKingDANCE.org. A board certified Massage Therapist with a specialty in Zero Balancing (ZB) she has treated over 1,000 clients. Currently concentrating on the power of ZB she guides her clients towards physical and energetic balance helping them feel more grounded and alive. With a deep background in the physical arts, Lisa offers a treasure trove of modalities from which to share with her clients. When not on her mat or seeing clients at her studio in Penn Valley she can often be found walking her dogs somewhere along the Bridlewild Trails of Lower Merion. Lisa is looking forward to moving to Costa Rica with her husband and daughter this January for seven months.
Deb found yoga in 2008 while struggling with post traumatic stress from pregnancy with her third child. It was through her practice that Deb found perspective, allowed to just “BE” in whatever state she was in, the weight of life shifted and became lighter, leaving behind clarity. The yogic path of healing revealed, she began her teacher certification in 2009 in Ashtanga vinyasa. In 2011, she found Alignment based training and in 2012 Pre and post natal training. Always a beginner student, Deb seeks to understand daily life through the practice of yoga on and off the mat, weaving life’s challenges into themes relevant to improving life one moment at a time. Deb’s classes are fueled by the breath, discovered in poses crafted with alignment and intention, and often investigated by changing perspective (inverting) or balancing on hands and arms, playfully. Deb strives to empower students to open up, feel safe, and challenge themselves on the mat so that they too can experience the transformative power of the practice.
After age 40, and to add variety to her fitness routine, Michelle committed to a one month yoga session at a local studio. She had taken a few classes before, but truth be told – didn’t really like it much….However, after dedicating herself to consistent practice on the mat, she began to enjoy seeing and feeling her body change and improve – gaining flexibility and additional strength. But more importantly – and unexpectedly – a true spiritual and emotional awakening occurred that persisted even off of the mat – ultimately leading her to pursue yoga teacher training in 2013, in order to share this new love of yoga with others. Completing her 200 hour Anusara yoga teacher training in Bryn Mawr at Focus Fitness, Michelle’s classes blend eclectic and inspiring music along with dynamic vinyasa flow routines. Often utilizing oracle cards, astrology readings and at times even vision boards – her classes offer a supportive and always friendly environment, allowing every student to safely explore and expand on all levels: mental, physical and emotional.
Certifications: RYT-200; Chair Yoga; Wall Yoga; NECTAR (recovery/addiction/trauma specialization)
Education: B.A. Psychology
Nicole started doing yoga with DVDs. She finally decided to take a class at a studio and it changed her life! She changed her outlook on life, the way she ate, and the way she felt about her body. Because of the mind/body connection yoga gave her, doing yoga became a necessity.
To learn more about yoga she soon enrolled in teacher training and completed her training in 2015 at Dana Hot Yoga. Now, Nicole can share the wonderful experience of yoga with others. Her classes always had a positive theme and are assessable to all levels from the first time to the advanced yogi.