Learn From Leaders in Yoga, 
Social Justice & Accessibility


Inspiring Keynotes | Expert Workshops | Accessible Classes

Conference Host

Jivana Heyman (he/him)

Jivana Heyman, C-IAYT, E-RYT500, is the founder and director of Accessible Yoga, an international non-profit organization dedicated to increasing access to the yoga teachings. He’s the author of Accessible Yoga: Poses and Practices for Every Body (Shambhala Publications, November 2019). He lives with his husband and two children in Santa Barbara, California.

Jivana has specialized in teaching yoga to people with disabilities with an emphasis on community building and social engagement. Out of this work, the Accessible Yoga organization was created to support education, training and advocacy with the mission of shifting the public perception of yoga. In addition to offering Conferences and Trainings, Accessible Yoga offers a popular ambassador program with over 1000 Accessible Yoga Ambassadors around the world.

Jivana coined the phrase, “Accessible Yoga,” over ten years ago, and it has now become the standard appellation for a large cross section of the immense yoga world. He brought the Accessible Yoga community together for the first time in 2015 for the Accessible Yoga Conference, which has gone on to become a focal point for this movement. There are now two Conferences and over thirty-five Accessible Yoga Trainings per year, as well as a strong underground yoga community supporting them.

Over the past 25 years, Jivana has led countless yoga teacher training programs around the world, and dedicates his time to supporting yoga teachers who are working to serve communities that are under-represented in traditional yoga spaces.

Keynote Speakers

Dianne Bondy (she/her)

Dianne Bondy is a social justice activist, author, accessible yoga teacher, and the leader of the Yoga For All movement. Her inclusive approach to yoga empowers anyone to practice—regardless of their shape, size, ethnicity, or level of ability. Dianne is revolutionizing yoga by educating yoga instructors around the world on how to make their classes welcoming and safe for all kinds of practitioners.

Dianne is the author of Yoga for Everyone (DK Publishing, Penguin Random House) and a frequent contributor to Yoga International, DoYouYoga, Yoga Girl, and Omstars. She has been featured in publications such as The Guardian, Huffington Post, Cosmopolitan, and People.

Dianne’s commitment to increasing diversity in yoga has been recognized in her work with Pennington’s, Gaiam, and the Yoga & Body Image Coalition, as well as in speaking engagements at Princeton and UC Berkeley on Yoga, Race, and Diversity. Her writing is published in Yoga and Body Image Volume 1, Yoga Renegades, and Yes Yoga Has Curves. Find Dianne online at diannebondyyoga.com, yogaforalltraining.com, and yogaforallstudents.com.

Keynote | The Future is Ours to Embrace

Susanna Barkataki (she/her)

An Indian yoga practitioner in the Shankaracharya tradition, Susanna Barkataki is the founder of Ignite Yoga and Wellness Institute and runs Ignite Be Well 200/500 Yoga Training programs online and in person. She is an E-RYT 500, Certified Yoga Therapist with the International Association of Yoga Therapists (C-IAYT). With an Honors degree in Philosophy from UC Berkeley and a Masters in Education from Cambridge College, Barkataki is a diversity, accessibility, inclusivity, and equity (DAIE) yoga unity educator who created the ground-breaking Honor {Don’t Appropriate} Yoga Summit with more than 10,000 participants. She is the author of the forthcoming book Embrace Yoga’s Roots: Courageous Ways to Deepen Your Yoga Practice. Get a free chapter on how to embrace the roots of yoga and trauma informed yoga at www.susannabarkataki.com/book

Keynote | Embracing the Roots of Yoga Can Help Make Yoga Accessible

Michelle Cassandra Johnson (she/her)

Michelle C. Johnson is an author, yoga teacher, social justice activist, licensed clinical social worker, intuitive healer and Dismantling Racism trainer. She approaches her life and work from a place of empowerment, embodiment and integration. With a deep understanding of trauma and the impact that it has on the mind, body, spirit and heart, much of her work focuses on helping people better understand how power and privilege operate in their life. She explores how privilege, power and oppression affects the physical, emotional, mental, spiritual and energy body.

Keynote | Meeting this Moment with Liberatory Practice

Matthew Sanford (he/him)

Matthew Sanford is an expert in the process transformation through the healing power of yoga. Paralyzed from the chest down at age thirteen and beginning yoga at age twenty-five, Matthew knows firsthand the transformative effect that yoga can have on the mind-body relationship. He is an internationally recognized yoga teacher, a sought-after public speaker, and founder of the non-profit Mind Body Solutions. He is the author of the critically acclaimed WAKING: A MEMOIR OF TRAUMA AND TRANSCENDENCE (Rodale: 2006). Matthew has also emerged as a leading voice in the integrated health movement. He won the 2010 Pioneer of Integrative Medicine Award from the California Pacific Medical Center’s Institute of Health and Healing. Previous recipients include Dr. Deepok Chopra, Dr. Dean Ornish, and Dr. Mehmet Oz. For more information: www.mindbodysolutions.org.

Keynote | Yoga, Disability, and Asana

R. Nikki Myers (she/her)

An accomplished speaker, teacher, and practitioner, Nikki Myers is an MBA, C-IAYT Yoga Therapist, Somatic Experiencing Practitioner, Addictions Recovery Specialist, and Health Coach. Born from her personal struggle with addiction and work with countless students, Nikki is the founder of Y12SR, Yoga of 12-Step Recovery. Based on its theme ‘the issues live in the tissues’, Y12SR is a relapse prevention program that weaves the art & science of yoga with the practical tools of 12-step programs. Y12SR meetings are available internationally and the curriculum has rapidly becoming a feature of addiction recovery treatment centers. Nikki’s work has been featured in the New York Times, Black Enterprise, The Huffington Post, Origin Magazine, CBSnews.com and countless podcasts. She is honored to be a co-founder of the annual Yoga, Meditation and Recovery Conferences at Esalen Institute and Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health. Nikki has been featured as a keynote speaker at the International Association of Yoga Therapist (IAYT) conference and the International Conference on Integrative Medicine held at Harvard Medical School. She was named a Yoga Journal Game Changer iand is an honored recipient of the esteemed NUVO Cultural Visionary Award. Web: www.y12sr.com

Keynote | Addiction and Healing During a Pandemic

Amber Karnes (she/her)

Amber Karnes is a yoga teacher trainer, ruckus maker, the founder of Body Positive Yoga, and a lifelong student of her body. Amber trains yoga teachers and movement educators how to create accessible and equitable spaces for liberation and belonging. She also creates community for folks who want to build unshakable confidence and learn to live without shame or apology in the bodies they have today. Amber is the co-creator of the Accessible Yoga Training School and Yoga For All Teacher Training, an Accessible Yoga board member, and a sought-after contributor on the topics of accessibility, authentic marketing, culture-shifting, and community-building. She lives in Baltimore, Maryland, with her husband Jimmy. You can find her at bodypositiveyoga.com.

Keynote | The Audacity of Taking Up Space: Re-imagining Power In The Body

Host | Opening Day Party

Workshop Presenters

Terry Harris (he/him)

Dr. Terry Harris has been practicing yoga for since 2015. A 200 hour registered yoga instructor, Dr. Harris teaches community based yoga classes as well as school based classes. Dr. Harris connects Black history and Storytelling in all of his classes as a reminder of the strength, courage and wisdom of the contributions of Black people worldwide. In addition to the yoga modality, Dr. Harris incorporates Restorative Justice/Circles to create healing spaces.

Workshop | The Beloved Yoga Community: The origins of racial healing

Lakshmi Nair (she/her)

Lakshmi Nair is the founder of Satya Yoga Co-op, a BIPOC owned and operated yoga cooperative in Denver, Colorado. Satya Yoga Co-op grew out of a yoga immersion and teacher training for BIPOC that Lakshmi has been offering in Denver since 2014.

Workshop | Radical Inclusion and Subversion is Yoga:  Reflections on the Historical Bhakti Movement and Honoring our Feet

Zahabiyah Yamasaki (she/her)

Zabie Yamasaki, M.Ed., RYT is currently the Program Director of Trauma Informed Programs at UCLA and is the Founder of Transcending Sexual Trauma through Yoga. Zabie has trained thousands of yoga instructors and mental health professionals and her trauma-informed yoga program and curriculum for survivors is now being implemented at over 25 colleges campuses and agencies including the University of California (UC) system, Stanford, USC, University of Notre Dame, and Johns Hopkins University.

Zabie received her undergraduate in Psychology and Social Behavior and Education at the UC Irvine and completed her graduate degree in Higher Education Administration and Student Affairs at The George Washington University. Her work has been highlighted on CNN, NBC, and The Huffington Post. She is currently writing the book: Trauma-Informed Yoga for Survivors of Sexual Assault which will be published by W. W. Norton & Company and is expected to be released in 2021.

Workshop | Transcending Sexual Trauma Through Yoga

Mary Medellin-Sims (she/her)

Mary Medellin-Sims is the Founder and Executive Director of Guided by Humanity. She is deeply passionate and committed to making yoga accessible to everyone. She believes that ALL human beings deserve equal access to health. Mary has two decades of experience working with individuals with Intellectual and/or Developmental Disabilities in various capacities from direct care, administration, supervision, advocate and friend. With her passion and service in mind, Guided by Humanity was founded in 2017.

Mary as an instructor leads her classes from the inside out with an open heart and compassion. Her style is centered with a gentle approach to movement, flow and breath. Her focus is to empower students for confidence and safety in their practice encouraging the use of walls, chairs, props. She takes inspiration from her teachers, family, friends, and students. 

She is also serving on the Board of Directors for ‘Accessible Yoga’, Board of Directors for ‘Sana Yoga’ Yoga for the Special Child Practitioner and a ‘Yoga and Body Image Coalition’ Partner. She is an experienced 500 HR Registered Yoga Teacher with Yoga Alliance. Mary has additional trainings in Adaptive Yoga, Accessible Yoga, Yoga for the Special Child, Trauma Informed, Restorative and Yin.

Workshop | Creating Safer Spaces for Persons with Intellectual and/or Developmental Disabilities

M Camellia (they/them)

Melanie “M” Camellia (they/them) is a fat, queer, non-binary, neuro-emergent yoga teacher and advocate, called to create profoundly accessible spaces for self-inquiry by integrating mindfulness and adaptive movement practices with the spirit of social justice. They believe that the goal of yoga, as of life, is collective liberation and in turn challenge contemporary yoga practitioners to dismantle the systems and beliefs that hold us all back.

M teaches classes and workshops in the Washington DC Metro Area and as a Founding Instructor on the online class platform Core to Coeur. They train teachers in trauma-informed practices, building a culture of consent, trans and queer inclusion, and accessible teaching for those with disabilities and larger bodies. Beyond their direct work with students, M is a founding collaborator with the Trans Yoga Project, co-leader of the Yoga & Body Image Coalition, and staff member of Accessible Yoga. They’ve been called a “tour-de-force of encouraging radical self-love” (DC Refined) and listed among the “top thinkers and activists in the field of body positivity” (OmStars). M lives in Silver Spring, Maryland with their wife and two cats, Matcha and Chai.

Workshop | Creating a Culture of Consent: Teaching Toward Empowerment & Embodied Agency

Panel | Trans Yoga Project: Creating Accessible Yoga Spaces for Trans & Non-Binary Practitioners (moderator)

Mei Lai Swan (she/her)

Dedicated to the paths of yoga, meditation and community for over 20 years, Mei Lai Swan shares an approach to yoga that is deeply embodied and inclusive with a heart of social justice. Founder of global social enterprise yoga school Yoga for Humankind, Mei Lai specialises in embodied trauma-informed and social justice education and nada yoga (sound, mantra and meditation). She brings to this work a wealth of professional and creative experience as a somatic yoga educator, social worker, body-focused therapist, musician, doula and non-profit leader. But more importantly, she is deeply committed to the path of spirit, which guides her passion for collective wellbeing, community building and social transformation. Mei Lai is dedicated to honouring and making the richness and depth of the yoga teachings and practices accessible, relevant and empowering for every body, heart and mind.

Workshop | From Trauma-Informed to Trauma-Transforming: Yoga, Social Justice & Spirit

Anjali Rao (she/her)

Anjali Rao came to the Yoga mat at nearly 40 recovering from surgery from Breast Cancer. Growing up in Bangalore, India, Karma and Bhakti Yoga was a way of life. She studies, teaches and writes about Yoga philosophy/ history from a socio-political perspective and is deeply interested in the intersectionality of race, culture, gender and accessibility of Yoga practices. She aims to make the practice of Yoga on and off the mat helpful and joyful to people across ages, genders and abilities in various teacher trainings in studios in the Bay Area. She serves on the Board for HERS Breast Cancer Foundation, a non profit that helps survivors and those going through treatment regardless of financial status.

Workshop | No Peon, No Water
Intersection of Casteism and Yoga: A Call to Action

Anusha Wijeyakumar  (she/her)

Anusha is the daughter of Sri Lankan immigrant parents. Being raised in the philosophy of Sanatana Dharma and a lifelong student of Hinduism and Buddhism, she has a vast knowledge in both. Anusha is also knowledgeable in the areas of meditation, pranayama, mantra, and the philosophy associated with yoga. Anusha is very passionate about honouring the roots of yoga and educating people on the importance of decolonizing these practices.

Anusha is a sought after motivational speaker around the world on the science of mindfulness and meditation. Anusha is also the Wellness Consultant for Hoag Hospital in Orange County, CA where she is actively engaged on championing mindfulness and meditation practices for maternal mental health programs, early risk assessment for breast & ovarian cancer prevention programs and breast cancer survivorship programs. Anusha is one of the first people to create a meditation program to be used in clinical research at Hoag Hospital. Anusha has over 15 years of international senior management experience working for Fortune 50, 100 and 500 global corporations, charitable organizations & private companies in three continents.

Womxn’s health and social justice is at the heart of all that Anusha is involved with. Anusha is on the Board of Directors for the non-profit MOMS Orange County and is very engaged in working with inner city communities to bring the power of yoga for a healthy mind, body and spirit into these localities to nurture and impact change from within. Anusha co-founded the movement Womxn of Color + Wellness which is focused on decolonizing yoga and making wellness more equitable, accessible, diverse and inclusive. Anusha’s first book Meditation With Intention: Quick & Easy Ways to Create Lasting Peace will be released in January 2021 by Llewellyn Worldwide. 

Workshop | Womxn of Color Voices: Representation in Publishing Matters

Ryan McGraw (he/him)

Ryan McGraw approaches every class with the belief that everyone can do yoga. As a person with cerebral palsy who has been practicing yoga for 15 years, Ryan is well aware that yoga poses can be adapted to meet the needs of the student, no matter what their ability level is. Ryan earned his 200-hour yoga teaching certificate in 2011 and has completed two adaptive yoga teacher training with Matthew Sanford. Ryan received his Master’s Degree in Disability and Human Development from the University of Illinois at Chicago, in 2013. For his Master’s Thesis, Ryan created an adapted yoga manual for people with disabilities. He has written about his yoga experience in Yoga and Body Image, a collection of essays from people who are not the average yoga practitioner and recently published an article in Yoga International why it is essential to teach accessible yoga in 200 hour teacher training courses. As a member of the disability community who has worked in the disability advocacy field for 12 years, Ryan advocates for the full inclusion of people with disabilities in all aspects of society.

Workshop: Looking Beyond Physical Accessibility

Kyla Pearce (she/her)

Kyla serves as the Senior Director of Programs at the LoveYourBrain Foundation, overseeing the design, implementation, and evaluation of yoga and mindfulness programs across the United States and Canada. By turning inward through yoga, Kyla believes we learn to live as our whole selves with greater clarity and compassion, which is fundamental to wellbeing and inspiring positive social change. Kyla has blended her expertise as a yoga and mindfulness teacher and practitioner, researcher, and advocate to develop evidence-based, traumatic brain injury-centered yoga programming, which she trains yoga teachers and clinicians to deliver through yoga studios and health care facilities. She teaches the LoveYourBrain Yoga and Mindset programs and co-facilitates LoveYourBrain Retreats across the country. She is also a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Dartmouth College investigating the effectiveness of yoga and meditation interventions for people with neurological conditions.

Workshop | LoveYourBrain Yoga for the Brain Injury Community

Hala Khouri (she/her)

Hala Khouri, M.A., SEP, E-RYT, has been teaching yoga and movement for over 25 years and has been doing clinical work and trainings for 15 years. Originally from Beirut, Lebanon, she has dedicated her life to the study of trauma, justice and building resilience. She earned her B.A. in Psychology from Columbia University and an M.A. in Counseling Psychology and an M.A. in Community Psychology from Pacifica Graduate Institute. Hala is trained in Somatic Experiencing, a body-based psychotherapy that helps resolve trauma and its symptoms.

Hala is a co-founder of Off the Mat, Into the World, a training organization that bridges yoga and activism within a social justice framework. She leads trauma informed yoga trainings nationally. Hala also works with A Thousand Joys training direct service providers and educators to be trauma informed and culturally responsive. She leads a monthly, online membership program called Radical Wellbeing. Her first book, Peace from Anxiety: Get Grounded, Build Resilience and Stay Connected Amidst the Chaos, comes out in April 2021.

Workshop | Trauma Informed Yoga and Neurodiversity (with Laura Sharkey)

Laura Sharkey (they/them)

Laura left the corporate world in 2011 for health-related reasons and used the challenge of chronic illness as an opportunity to shift their focus to their life-long interest in social justice. They teach meditation and have participated in several of the Yoga and Body Image Coalition’s campaigns, including a spotlight in YBIC and Yoga International's ""This is What a Yogi Looks Like"" series and Mantra Yoga + Health's ""Every Body is a Yoga Body"" feature. They are passionate about working to make yoga and meditation more accessible and welcoming to everyone, with a special focus on dis/ability and neurodiversity.

Workshop | Trauma Informed Yoga and Neurodiversity (with Hala Khouri)

Pamela Stokes Eggleston (she/her)

Pamela Stokes Eggleston, along with Amina Naru, is the Co-Founder of Retreat to Spirit, the former Co-Executive Director of the Yoga Service Council, and a board member of Accessible Yoga. While both are heavily immersed in trauma-informed yoga, Amina works with the jail and prison populations through POSH Yoga, and Pamela works with veterans, service members and their families and caregivers through Yoga2Sleep. In their collective work with Retreat to Spirit, Amina and Pamela focus on the subtle, energetic, and soul-inspired aspects of yoga, connection, leadership, and wellness.

Workshop | Retreat to Spirit, Expand into Service and Leadership (with Amina Naru)

Amina Naru (she/her)

Amina Naru, along with Pamela Stokes Eggleston, is the Co-Founder of Retreat to Spirit, the former Co-Executive Director of the Yoga Service Council, and a board member of Accessible Yoga. While both are heavily immersed in trauma-informed yoga, Amina works with the jail and prison populations through POSH Yoga, and Pamela works with veterans, service members and their families and caregivers through Yoga2Sleep. In their collective work with Retreat to Spirit, Amina and Pamela focus on the subtle, energetic, and soul-inspired aspects of yoga, connection, leadership, and wellness.

Workshop | Retreat to Spirit, Expand into Service and Leadership (with Pamela Stokes Eggleston)

Sarah Garden (she/her)

Sarah Garden, C-IAYT, ERYT-500, has been a yoga therapist for almost two decades. Through her career, she has developed a thriving local yoga therapy practice, has trained hundreds of yoga teachers locally and nationally, and internationally. Sarah regularly speaks at medical conferences about the benefits of therapeutic yoga as a whole person modality to compliment conventional treatment or to treat when conventional treatment fails. She believes yoga can play a valuable role in the treatment of everything from persistent pain, to cancer treatment and recovery, to women's health issues. She has forged relationships with many doctors, physiotherapists, massage therapists, and other health practitioners to work co-cooperatively to better serve students.

Sarah's passion lies in deepening student's connection with their body and empowering them to take their health into their own hands with simple accessible yoga and movement practices. Her teachings help students connect with and understand the best practices for their individual body and circumstances. Sarah believes the practice must be co-created with students to meet their needs.

Workshop | The Art and Science of Making Relaxation Accessible for Everyone

Tejal Patel (she/her)

Tejal (she/her/hers) is a first-generation Indian American yoga teacher, social justice educator, podcaster, and community organizer. She is one of the co-hosts of the Yoga is Dead podcast and the creator of the abcdyogi village, where South Asian teachers reclaim the yoga and mindfulness space. She aims to educate and empower individuals and communities around the world through her social justice yoga focused offerings.

Yoga is Dead is a revolutionary podcast that explores power, privilege, fair pay, harassment, race, cultural appropriation and capitalism in the yoga and wellness worlds. Join Indian-American hosts Tejal + Jesal as they expose all the monsters lurking under the yoga mat.

Workshop | Yoga is Dead (with Jesal Parikh)

Jesal Parikh (she/her)

Jesal (she/her/hers) is a yoga teacher, movement educator, podcaster, author, and disrupter working on creative solutions for equity in yoga. She is one of the co-hosts of the Yoga is Dead podcast and is the Co-Director of Yoga Teachers of Color. Jesal's mission is to uplift those of us who are feeling isolated and marginalized by the yoga industry.

Yoga is Dead is a revolutionary podcast that explores power, privilege, fair pay, harassment, race, cultural appropriation and capitalism in the yoga and wellness worlds. Join Indian-American hosts Tejal + Jesal as they expose all the monsters lurking under the yoga mat.

Workshop | Yoga is Dead (with Tejal Patel)

Kallie Schut (she/her)

As a yoga teacher with Indian heritage and yoga sadhana for 35 years, Kallie Schut seeks to bring the richness of wisdom tradition and philosophy to the practice of yoga taught in public spaces. She teaches and practices hatha, yin, trauma informed restorative and yoga nidra. She is also a certified gong practitioner and sound healer. Kallie has been a lifelong social justice activist - advocating for those without a voice or presence in places of power and privilege. She seeks to harness the courage of her practice to challenge the yoga industry to co-create spaces which are accessible, inclusive and representative for those who are excluded or marginalized. She is one of the founding members of the UK Yoga Teachers Union and the founder of the Rebel YogaTribe YouTube channel and Radical Yogi book club. She runs teacher trainings to delve deep into the legacy of colonialism in yoga.

Workshop | The Legacy of Colonialism in Yoga

Simran Uppal (they/them)

Simran has been teaching yoga since they were 17, and now teaches full time, alongside their work as a poet and writer.

Although their practice has roots in traditional training across yoga, chant, and Buddhist mindfulness schools, they teach a highly creative, individual-focused, expressive approach to practice, and have become an internationally recognized voice in decolonising yoga. Simran is devoted to making yoga accessible for all, especially LGBTQ people, people of colour, and people who’ve experienced trauma.

Simran works closely with Mosaic LGBTQ Youth Centre in London, as well as with a range of refugee organisations, and give workshops across the UK, as well as educating on a range of online platforms, around decolonisation, building queer spiritualities, and art-making as community-building.

Workshop | Community of care, community of resistance: building radical togetherness through yoga

Hersha Chellaram (she/her)

Hersha Chellaram is a yoga educator and authorised teacher trainer for Integral Yoga and Accessible Yoga. She offers 200-hour, 500-hour, prenatal and children’s yoga training, with an emphasis on working with different abilities and needs. She is founder of YAMA Foundation, a charity that makes yoga, arts and meditation accessible to Hong Kong’s most vulnerable communities. Throughout her teaching career, she has developed and contributed special programs and trainings in Hong Kong, New York, India, Spain, Portugal and Gibraltar. Hersha is a pioneer in bringing accessible wellbeing services to Hong Kong. Her knowledge and experience ideally positions her to advocate for disability and women’s rights, diversity and inclusion in wellbeing spaces. Hersha made the list of the 20 Yoga Teachers of Colour to Watch in 2020, and the 2014 Women of Hope Award as Children’s Advocate, presented by the Hong Kong Adventist Hospital Foundation. (hershayoga.com / yamahk.org)

Workshop | Empowered & Inclusive: The Path Toward Self-Realisation

Luvena Rangel (she/her)

Luvena Rangel is a body positive Yoga Teacher Trainer with a background in Medicine and Holistic Health, teaching credentials in Ayurveda and Meditation & over 15 years of experience in the multinational Energy & Aviation industry. As Founder of The Curvy Yogi, she models inclusive and accessible yoga – going beyond stereotypes of body shape, size, ableism, disability or other exclusive factors. Luvena is one of Bangalore's leading Yoga Anatomy, Philosophy & Ethics educators with expertise in spinal conditions, physiological disorders, thyroid imbalances as well as psychosomatic influence. She is a strong advocate & consultant for belonging and conscious organizational culture with an active approach towards Diversity, Equity, Accessibility & Inclusion. She is the President for WICCI Karnataka State Yoga Council & recently received the Iconic Leader award from Women Economic Forum – Bangalore 2020.

Workshop | The Basic Yama

Yoga Class Teachers

Carey Sims (he/him)

Carey Sims E-RYT500, NASM-CPT lives in Charlotte, NC. His mission is to help students explore their bodies and breath in an accepting and non-judgmental way. He teaches “Gentle Back Care” at NoDa Yoga and offers Chair/Adaptive Yoga classes at various senior living centers and gyms in the Charlotte area. Carey has studied extensively with Adaptive Yoga pioneer Matthew Sanford of Mind Body Solutions and Leslie Kaminoff of The Breathing Project. He is an Accessible Yoga Ambassador, a Love Your Brain Ambassador and leads continuing education workshops on Chair Yoga and Adaptive Yoga. Carey holds degrees in Psychology from Winthrop University and Religious Studies from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte teaches modules on Yoga History and Ethics for several 200Hr Yoga Teacher Trainings.

Led Practice | Moving with Compassion

Nina Boswell Brown (she/her)

Nina is the founder of www.sittingfityoga.com, a graduate of Yoga Vista Academy Chair Yoga Teacher Training Programme, Accessible Yoga training, and a key collaborator on the Wheelchair Yoga Teacher Training and Certification Course for Yoga Vista Academy.

Nina is paraplegic, following a car accident over 30 years ago and uses her own knowledge and experience to ensure her yoga classes are disability friendly. She teaches Yoga to wheelchair users and those with mobility disabilities in her local area and online, has produced some short Yoga videos for Wheelpower UK and is currently studying a Health Coach Diploma to bring in other elements of health and well-being into her work.

Led Practice | Seated Yoga - Progressive Movement Sequencing

Noemi Nunez (she/her)

Noemi is a Latinx Renaissance Woman! She created an innovative bilingual yoga class format and training program, based on the language centers of the brain. The mission of this bilingual yoga format is to provide a cultural bridge to further our understanding and ultimate connection. Her bilingual yoga formula brings diversity and inclusivity to yoga rooms, one community at a time! Noemi feels blessed in wearing interesting hats in this lifetime, among those: lawyer, competitive athlete, performing artist, environmental & social justice activist, beer judge, yoga studio co-owner, and her favorite hat as of late: Multilingual Yoga Educator!

Noemi’s signature Bilingual Yoga program has been featured by NBC Universal as an impactful grassroots community outreach by making accessible this wellness practice to underserved demographics. Editorial articles call Noemi an “Influencer and Inclusionary”, and her work is showcased at art exhibits by world-class cultural and academic institutions as well as sponsored by leading international athletic brands.

Noemi’s teachings foster a challenge to cultivate equanimity both inwardly and outwardly through an array of movement modalities and educational tools. Join her in rising the vibration of your world!

Led Practice | Bilingual Yoga Class

Ashley Williams (she/her)

Ashley Williams, MS, C-IAYT is a Yoga Therapist and Mindfulness Educator with experience in the fields of education, behavioral and mental health and community programming in Richmond, VA. As a builder and weaver, she bridges mindfulness, diversity, wellness and inclusion on micro and macro-levels to achieve equitable, socially stable and conscious spaces for individual and collective care. She is the Founder of both BareSOUL Yoga & Wellness a community-based organization initially created to offer accessible yoga offerings, and Mindful on Life and Mindfulness and Movement, both curriculum-based programs dedicated to transforming community through the practice of mindfulness education. She is full of inspiration, light and experience to guide efforts in creating spaces for people of all ages and backgrounds to be educated and empowered through the practice of awareness. She is a dog mom, an outdoor explorer and loves all things food-related.

Led Practice | Mindfulness + Movement: Breath, Movement & Meditation

Liz Oppedijk (she/her)

Liz Oppedijk (RYT-500, E-LVCTT, MSc) came to yoga in her fifties, following serious illness and injury. Through yoga, her recovery became a transformation. But she was left with a question: how to bring the healing practice of yoga to people for whom the mat is a barrier? She found her answer in Lakshmi Voelker Chair Yoga. Since training with Lakshmi, Liz has taught chair yoga to people with varied abilities, including those with Parkinson’s, MS, stroke, and cancer, as well as those with dementia, learning disabilities, and their caregivers. Her commitment to accessible yoga led her to establish Accessible Chair Yoga CIC, a non-profit social enterprise. ACY is dedicated to bringing yoga to everyone, regardless of age, ability, or physical or mental condition, in particular to UK nursing homes, by training others to teach chair yoga and by sponsoring research into yoga’s effectiveness in the social care sector. Liz is currently training in yoga therapy with The Minded Institute in London, is the official Lakshmi Voelker Chair Yoga teacher trainer in the UK and Europe, and is the European coordinator for Jivana Heyman’s Accessible Yoga charity.

Led Practice | Get Fit Where You Sit! Doing Yoga the Lakshmi Voelker Chair Yoga Way

Natasha Chaoua (she/her)

Natasha Chaoua is the founder and owner of Dubwise Yoga Denver, LLC., as well as a graduate and Member-Owner of Satya Yoga Cooperative, Colorado’s first 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training program for people of color, and the nations first BIPOC member-owned yoga cooperative.

She is a certified Hatha and Accessible Yoga teacher and an Accessible Yoga Ambassador and Supporting Organization leading online offerings for Black, Indigenous, People Of Color (BIPOC). Her classes range from journaling, gentle, vinyasa flow and chair yoga practices. She also leads all abilities yoga classes for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) and an open community flow class in partnership with Guided By Humanity.

Alongside her own business, Natasha is a yoga instructor and Marketing Manager for Satya Yoga Cooperative, and a yoga instructor, Media Director and Studio Manager for Guided By Humanity.

Led Practice | Accessible Flow

Marc Settembrino (they/them)

Marc Settembrino (they/them) is a fat-queer yoga instructor based in Hammond, Louisiana. Their goal is to support people who are typically excluded from wellness spaces. Therefore, Marc is committed to creating accessible, weight-neutral yoga asana classes that cultivate radical acceptance. Specifically, their work centers people in larger bodies as well as transgender and queer people. Marc is the founder of Fat Kid Yoga Club, an online yoga community offering a variety of pre-recorded and live yoga practices. Marc is also a member of the Trans Yoga Project. In addition to their work as a yoga instructor, Marc also holds a Ph.D. in Sociology and is an Associate Professor of Sociology at Southeastern Louisiana University.

Led Practice | Fat Kid Yoga Club: Creating Space for Joyful Movement and Liberation

Adrian Molina (he/him)

Adrian Molina has been teaching yoga continuously since 2004. He is a well-known and respected instructor in Miami and New York, with an extensive worldwide following through his platform and school of yoga, Warrior Flow. Adrian is a writer, massage therapist, Reiki healer, meditation teacher, sound therapist, End-of-Life Doula, Mental Health First Aid facilitator, and a Kriya yoga practitioner in the lineage of Paramahansa Yogananda. Adrian is recognized for the community-building work he does in Miami and New York as founder and executive director of The Warrior Flow Foundation, which brings the benefits of therapeutic and accessible yoga, mindfulness, and stress reduction tools to schools, shelters, hospitals, first responders, and hospice care.

Led Practice | The Freedom of Movement

Allé K (they/them or he/him)

Allé K (they/ he) is a queer, fat, trans non-binary activist, educator and certified Yoga Instructor. He provides LGBTQIA++ inclusive, trauma-informed, weight-neutral yoga classes online and in-person. They teach a weekly meditation class on IG live and a pay-what-you-can Queer/Trans/Non-Binary Yoga class. All rates are sliding scale and classes are free to BIPOC. Small group and private options are available.

Certifications: Dharma Yoga 200-Hour Teacher Training Graduate and 500-Hour Teacher Trainee, Reiki I, II, III

Led Practice | F Your Gender Norms Fat Yoga

Michael Hayes (he/him)

Michael Hayes, Licensed Massage Therapist and proud owner of a “Buddha body,” has more than 20 years experience teaching and has studied extensively in the following traditions: Iyengar Yoga, Ashtanga Yoga, Thai Yoga, Om Vinyasa Yoga and Yoga Anatomy. In addition, Michael has traveled regularly to Thailand to study with master teachers. His class will benefit anyone regardless of their individual anatomy, flexibility, age, or yoga background.

Michael has also practiced massage for more than 20 years as a licensed massage therapist in New York City.

In my daily practice of yoga I find nuances within the experience of a whole practice. I bring that experience into my classes in my teaching. Yoga is an unfolding journey into myself. When I teach, that experience is shared with my students. The nuances of discovery are beneficial to my understanding of how to practice. There are many roads to the center

Led Practice |  TWO CHAIRS AND ME 


Accessing the Benefits of Yoga in Pain Management

Shelly Prosko (she/her)

Shelly Prosko, PT, C-IAYT, is a physiotherapist, yoga therapist, educator, author and pioneer of PhysioYoga with over 20 years of experience integrating yoga into physiotherapy within a variety of specialty areas including helping people with chronic or persistent pain, pelvic health issues and professional burnout. She guest lectures at numerous yoga therapy and physiotherapy schools, presents at yoga and medical conferences globally, contributes to academic research and writing, provides mentorship to health and wellness providers, and offers onsite and online courses and resources for yoga and healthcare professionals and the general population. She considers herself a lifelong student and emphasizes the immense value gained from clinical experience and learning from the patients she serves, the professionals she teaches, and the colleagues with which she collaborates. Shelly has authored book chapters in yoga therapy and integrative rehabilitation textbooks and is the co-editor/author of the textbook Yoga and Science in Pain Care: Treating the Person in Pain. She maintains a clinical practice in Sylvan Lake, Canada and believes compassion is the foundation of pain care, healthcare and overall well-being. Please visit www.physioyoga.ca to learn more.

Marlysa Sullivan (she/her)

Marlysa is a physiotherapist and yoga therapist with over 15 years of experience working with people suffering with chronic pain conditions. She is an Assistant Professor in Yoga Therapy and Integrative Health Sciences at Maryland University of Integrative Health and holds an adjunct position at Emory University, where she teaches the integration of yoga and mindfulness into physical therapy practice in the DPT program. She is also the author of Understanding Yoga Therapy: Applied Philosophy and Science for Well-being and co-editor of Yoga and Science in Pain Care: Treating the Person in Pain as well as several peer-reviewed articles. Marlysa has been involved in the professionalization of the field of yoga therapy through the educational standards committee of IAYT, which helped to define the competencies for the field, and in characterizing the yoga therapy workforce through research. Her research interests focus on defining the framework and explanatory model for yoga therapy based on philosophical and neurophysiological perspectives.

Matthew Taylor (he/him)

Matthew J. Taylor, PT, PhD, C-IAYT has been leading integrative rehabilitation since 1994 and is the editor of the graduate textbook, "Fostering Creativity in Rehabilitation.” He is past-president of the board of directors of the International Association of Yoga Therapists (IAYT) and teaches nationally on business development for yoga therapists. Matt is on the IAYT PubMed-indexed International Journal of Yoga Therapy editorial board. He represents yoga therapy in integrative pain care and addiction policy development on two national interprofessional task forces, as well as IAYT’s interprofessional collaboration business development projects. He’s also authored a book for yoga professionals titled, “Yoga Therapy as a Creative Response to Pain.” He is presently on the AY board of directors and is engaged in a joint venture with a major health insurance company to integrate yoga therapy into healthcare. 

The State of Union (Yoga) Address

J Miles (he/him)

I am a Yogi, martial artist, body worker, retired breakdancer, community activist, and the son of a Baptist minister, and have been learning and studying eastern arts and philosophy for nearly two decades. But movement itself, and creativity and exploration of movement through dance has always been a constant source of curiosity and confidence. From learning how to headstand at five from my father, to walking on my hands and tumbling as an adolescent, to playing sports as a teen, to poppin and lockin. Find me in my hometown of Richmond Va, loving my family and friends, while working to improve my community through my co-founded organization, Project Yoga Richmond (PYR) and partnering with other leaders for positive change in the world. I also co-founded the State of Union (Yoga) Address with Shankari Goldstein. mahavirarva.com/


Shankari Goldstein (she/her)

Shankari Goldstein is a Program Manager at the Mind & Life Institute. Trained in the lineage of Integral Yoga, Shankari has spent years connecting to breath, body, strength, movement, and energy. She is a Certified Yoga of Recovery Instructor, an Accessible Yoga Ambassador, Activist and a founder of The State of Union (Yoga) Address series, Shensara Yoga Festival, The Black Female Farmers Network, and the Black Yogis of Virginia group. An avid Social Justice activist for over a decade, she continues to find ways to help propel the voices of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) forward and share their embodied practices. Shankari lives on a regenerative farm, with her husband and more than 60 animals and livestock. stateofunionyoga.com/

Dana A. Smith (she/her)

Dana A. Smith is the founder and owner of Spiritual Essence Yoga and the creative visionary behind the international YES! Yoga Has Curves movement. She is a wife, mother, certified yoga instructor, author, yoga teacher trainer, master life coach and holistic health practitioner. For almost 20 years, she has been a pioneer for inclusive yoga in the West with a simple, yet profound, message: “Yoga is for EVERYbody!”.

As the creator of Jiivana (L.I.F.E.) Yoga®, a National Yoga Alliance approved and registered yoga style, Dana guides students and teachers-in-training in a dynamic experience of yoga as a powerful tool for total life transformation. Even though she has trained nearly 300 yoga teachers since 2008, she considers herself a lifelong student and continues to seek inspiration through workshops and advanced studies. Dana’s style of teaching draws on Ashtanga, Iyengar, and Vinyasa roots with the aim to usher practitioners to live inspired, fearless and empowered every day—on and off the mat. Her work has been featured on NBC4, FOX5, The Examiner, Essence Magazine, WHUR, NPR, and Black Enterprise.

Dana loves to travel and enjoys sharing her love of yoga and the healing arts all over the world!"

Kiesha Battles (she/her)

Kiesha Battles, E-RYT 500, Yoga Director at Charlotte Family Yoga Center is a full-time yoga teacher and trainer who studied with Maya Breuer and Kristine Kaoverii. Kiesha has over 100 hours training in Yin Yoga as well as a specialty training in Restorative Yoga for Race Based Trauma with Dr. Gail Parker.

Kiesha earned a graduate degree in Asian studies, with a certification in international business and a focus on Asian philosophy, religion, and modern language. Through her academic studies, she was exposed to Taoism, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Yoga.

In 2016, Kiesha was honored as an inaugural Self-Care Charlotte Ambassador. In her role, she promotes self-care for the purpose of nurturing healthy lives and relationships for individuals, families, and communities. In 2018, she was appointed Co-Director of the Yoga Retreat for Women of Color™. In 2020 Kiesha joined the Board of Directors for Amplify and Activate, as well as the Development Committee for You Call This Yoga. Both local North Carolina yoga non-profits.

Trans Yoga Project: Creating Accessible Yoga Spaces for Trans & Non-Binary Practitioners

Chris Johnson (they/them)

Chris Johnson (they/them) is CEO & founder of Rest in Power Yoga and Reiki LLC. Their soul's divine purpose is to nourish the trees that bear the fruits of freedom. They build sacred + radical communities that harness ancestral power, accelerate collective healing, and ignite fearless creative expression. Their practice + teachings leverage yoga, reiki, and meditation as tools for Black liberation and general decolonization. You can learn with them in 1:1 coaching and in courses like Yoga for NonBinary Folx + Those Who Love Us, in Reiki Certification Trainings, and in various public yoga, sound healing, Reiki, and meditation classes. You can also catch them online on apps, like Unplug and ManifesTrack as well as in their monthly Becoming Ancestral Community. Learn more at https://restinpower.yoga.

Daniel Sannito (they/them)

Daniel (they/them) moves through this world as a trans, non-binary activist, educator, and yoga facilitator based in San Diego, CA. As a person in constant transformation, Daniel leans into telling their story, finding full self-expression as a trans person, and gaining connection by helping others through activism and facilitating the practice of yoga.

Daniel is rooted in a heart-forward practice and movement in their life, seeing through a perspective of heart-to-heart connection. As Daniel completed their 200-hr and 300-hr YTT, they deepened their relationship to self and found profound healing. Through this healing, they were able to find liberation and full expression in their gender, identity, and community. Daniel dedicates their voice to create inclusive and welcoming spaces for all humans to explore and connect to their own hearts deeply and fully.

Noha Arafa (they/them or she/her)

Noha Arafa, Esq., RYT-200, (they/them or she/her) is a neurodivergent, Queer, non-binary, Afro-Arab, human rights attorney, trauma-informed yoga teacher and activist. They have been practicing yoga since 1997. Nothing has helped them heal or manage their C-PTSD more than yoga. Noha teaches public and private classes, as well as workshops in Los Angeles, CA. They are the founder Our Ancestors' Children, which is dedicated to creating decolonized yoga spaces. Noha is a proud member and co-founder of the Trans Yoga Project.

As attorney, Noha worked for Legal Services of NJ, representing survivors of domestic violence, refugees and asylees. They served as a public defender with the Legal Aid Society in Brooklyn, NY. Noha was the co-founder of the anti-policing organization New Yorkers Against Bratton and has worked extensively with family members who lost their loved ones to police violence. It was the desire to bring yoga to these families that motivated Noha to get their teaching certification in yoga.

Community Networking Session Hosts

Alessandra Uma Cocchi (she/her)

Uma is an Accessible Yoga Trainer in Europe, and a C-IAYT (Certified Yogatherapist by International Association of Yoga Therapists) actively engaged in the research field. She comes from the Integral Yoga tradition of Swami Satchidananda. She lives in Italy.

Community Networking Session | Accessible Yoga in Europe & UK

Bill Brown (he/him)

Bill Brown, C-IAYT, is the Executive Director of Prison Yoga Project (PYP), a non-profit organization that supports incarcerated people worldwide with trauma-informed yoga and mindfulness programs. Through his work with PYP, he hopes to promote social change, transforming our systems and culture to create a more inclusive, equitable, and just world. Bill began working with PYP in 2013 and had served in Federal, State, and County facilities. In 2016 he began offering training with PYP in trauma-informed yoga for incarcerated people and assumed the role of Executive Director in 2018. He is a contributing editor to the Yoga Service Council/Omega Institute's book "Best Practices for Yoga in the Criminal Justice System." In his downtime, Bill enjoys the creative outlets of photography and cooking and is an avid reader of science fiction. 

Community Networking Session | Accessible Yoga for Incarcerated Populations

Alison Bologna  (she/her)

Alison is an E-RYT certified yoga instructor, with more than 2,000 hours of teaching experience and the founder of Shri Studio and Shri Service Corps, which together serve more than 8,500 students every year in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Shri serves adults and children living with intellectual and developmental disabilities, veterans, children (in schools, shelters and hospitals), incarcerated youth, men and women in recovery, senior citizens and more. Alison recently completed a master's degree in literature from Harvard University, with her thesis focused on Henry David Thoreau, the first American KARMA Yogi.

In addition to running Shri outreach programs with a team of more than 40 teachers trained on the "Shri Curriculum," Alison and her partner, Dave, developed a nut-free snack line in 2014 called Shri Bark, which is served in schools statewide in free breakfast and lunch programs. The retail line of Shri Bark ("a karma-packed-snack") helps fund Shri's nonprofit arm. And currently, the team is also working on a real-estate development project to create affordable housing units and work-training programs rooted in the Shri philosophy of service. When not at Shri, Alison anchors the morning news on NBC 10 in Southern New England.

Community Networking Session | Yoga Nonprofits - The Path of Service: Building A Sustainable Social Enterprise

Yoko and Teruki Nakano (she/her and he/him)

Led by Dr. Yoko Nakano (board-certified anesthesiologist) and Dr. Teruki Nakano (board-certified geriatric psychiatrist), MEDCAREYOGA combines pertinent expertise from the fields of medicine, care, and yoga with the goal of helping people improve their health.

MEDCAREYOGA supports community development as we visit places like clinics, hospitals, nursing homes, day services, daycares, welfare institutions, and special schools to provide yoga instruction and health education for the elderly and people with disability (and their caregivers) who are unable to visit a yoga studio.

Community Networking Session | Accessible Yoga in Asia and Accessible Yoga for Seniors in the "Covid" Era

Sarah E Helt (she/her)

Sarah E Helt works will all bodies through all forms of yoga. Her specialty is working with students who've experienced trauma of the brain and spine, and/or various neurological and persistent pain disorders. She currently resides in South Pasadena, CA and works as a Yoga teacher trainer with Accessible Yoga.

Community Networking Session | Accessible Yoga for Neurological Conditions

Elizabeth Crenshaw (she/her)

Elizabeth Crenshaw is a Mental Health Advocate and Educator, E-RYT 500, YACEP, a Yoga Therapist, a Holistic Life Coach, Mindfulness/ Meditation Teacher, Personal Trainer, Executive Assistant for Yoga Service Council, and is the Owner and Founder of Yaktown Yoga.

She is a lifelong student of yoga and meditation and is passionate about making yoga accessible to all, meeting her students where they are and providing life tools which allow them to thrive.

Elizabeth has been sharing yoga and mindfulness practices with children, teens, adults, and seniors for over a decade. In addition, she enjoys teaching athletes, educators, coaches in local school districts and universities, leading recovery and addiction classes, and working with patients in local hospitals and hospice care.

She is deeply committed to creating and holding spaces for all to breathe, heal, and to promote self-discovery and looks forward to sharing all that yoga has to offer both on and off the mat.

Community Networking Session | Accessible Yoga for Mental Health

Jacquie “Sunny” Barbee (she/her)

Sunny is 200hr RYT plus sized yogi who tries to create a nurturing and safe environment for students to explore their practice and connect to their bodies.  She encourages the use of props and variations of the asanas so that the practitioner can find the pose that fits their body rather than forcing the body into the pose.  

Community Networking Session | Accessible Yoga for Larger Bodies

Amma Fandino (she/her)

Amma Fandino, RYT500, MSc, has been a devoted yogini for over 28 years and a passionate biologist for 27 years. Certified Integral Yoga and Accessible Yoga teacher. Amma's passion is to share yoga with communities with challenges and conditions of vulnerability on a physical, mental and emotional level. Amma has been dedicated to teaching cancer patients and their caregivers. Her inspiration is to help alleviate pain and support symptom management associated with chronic and terminal diseases, accompanying patients to improve their life quality and their ability to cope with the difficult circumstances of the disease. Another facet of Amma's vocation is teaching yoga to people with anxiety, depression, and addictions. Amma is contributing to the Accessible Yoga Program since 2015 and is a regional representative of the AY group in Spanish. As a Yoga Accessible trainer, she feels honored and fortunate to support the training of yoga teachers in the Spanish-speaking community. 

Community Networking Session | Making yoga accessible to the Spanish speaking communities

Natasha Baebler (she/her)

Universal access and design are at the forefront of every class Natasha teaches. Natasha combined her certification and experience as a yoga teacher with master’s degrees in rehabilitation counseling and special education to develop a universally designed approach that uses yoga as a tool for learning. She specializes in helping students work with their individual strengths and weaknesses providing a multidisciplinary approach to learning. A native of St. Louis Missouri, Natasha has been teaching yoga and mindfulness to students of all ages and abilities for six years. She is usually seen out and about with her Seeing Eye® Dog at her side.

Community Networking Session | Yoga for Blind People, People with Low Vision

Aly Slaughter (she/her)

Aly received her 200 hour yoga teacher training certification in May 2018. She began her yoga journey mainly for the physical practice, and as she learned and experienced more of the mental and emotional benefits, she found yoga could be an important tool for healing both the mind and body.

In addition to her training in yoga, Aly holds a J.D. with a certificate in Health Law, and is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist. Legally blind her entire life, Aly believes in breaking down the barriers imposed by society, and that taking control of one’s health and happiness is a way of doing so. She believes in accessibility and adaptability in all areas of life for people of all abilities, and is hoping to do her small part to form a more inclusive world.

Community Networking Session | Yoga for Blind People, People with Low Vision (with Natasha Baebler)

Maya Breuer (she/her)

Maya Breuer is the Vice President of Cross-Cultural Advancement for Yoga Alliance, and she provides support for the advancement of cross-cultural competency across all Yoga Alliance programming and activities. Celebrated as one of America’s distinguished Black Yogis by Black Enterprise Magazine, Maya is the co-founder and Emeritus President of the national Black Yoga Teachers Alliance and a preeminent yoga teacher, speaker, practitioner, author, and community activist. Maya has been training and certifying yoga teachers throughout the United States at her Santosha School of Yoga since 2001. In 1998, she founded the Yoga Retreat for Women of Color™, offered bi-annually at Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, where she is Emeritus Trustee. She has been featured in Yoga Journal Magazine, Black Enterprise, Essence Magazine, Heart and Soul Magazine, Common Ground, Black Women’s Health, Upscale Magazine, and many Kripalu publications. Maya co-authored an NIH study, now included within the Annals of Internal Medicine; “Back to Health: Yoga vs. Physical Therapy for Minorities with Chronic Low Back Pain”. Her mission and dharma (right living) for the past 30 years has been to educate and support people of color to integrate yoga practices and its philosophical perspectives into their daily lives. Maya promotes global equity in yoga to empower all to renew body, mind, and spirit. Stillness and Community”. She has also written articles about the healing benefits of yoga for the New England Journal, Black Women’s Health.com, Feministing.com, and Common Ground. In November 2018, Maya was the recipient of the YWCA’s Women of Achievement Award.

Community Networking Session | Yoga & Resilience in the Face of Adversity with Yoga Alliance Foundation (with Kristina Graff)

Kristina Graff  (she/her)

Yoga Alliance Foundation Managing Director, Kristina Graff, is a global public health professional with a passion for social justice. Over the past 20+ years, Kristina has worked both locally and globally to combat inequities and to contribute to a healthier, more compassionate world. She has pioneered initiatives to expand and improve health services in high-need communities, advancing policy, service delivery, and research. As head of the Yoga Alliance Foundation, Kristina draws on her body of work in the nonprofit, city government, and academic sectors to identify, measure, and scale innovative platforms that expand both yoga’s reach and impact. Kristina earned a Master of Public Affairs degree from the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Duke University. She appreciates yoga’s gifts of mindfulness and centering, and she finds her greatest inspiration through her journey as a parent to her two daughters and as a partner to her husband. 

Community Networking Session | Yoga & Resilience in the Face of Adversity with Yoga Alliance Foundation (with Maya Breuer)

Brenda Bakke and Mary Fuhr (she/her and she/her)

Mary has been a practicing Occupational Therapist specializing in pediatrics for over 35 years.  She has a passion for sharing yoga and pediatric massage with neuro-diverse children and adults and their families.  Mary and Brenda Bakke, M.Ed, PT, C-IAYT are Accessible Yoga Trainers and Yoga Therapists.  They teach workshops throughout the country and internationally on various topics including, "Yoga and Mindfulness for All Children."  Learn more at www.connectablewellness.com

Brenda is an experienced pediatric physical therapist who has successfully integrated yoga methods into her treatment sessions since 1999.  Brenda is a Certified Yoga Therapist through the IAYT and a Certified Accessible Yoga Teacher.  She has her Master’s degree in education, is NDT trained, & has extensive training in Sensory Integration. Brenda enjoys teaching Yoga and PT workshops around the country and especially helping to bring yoga into educational and healthcare settings. Brenda currently works in a school district and private practice, Bakke Physical and Yoga Therapy. 

Community Networking Session | Accessible Yoga for Children with Disabilities

Ericka Harris (she/her)

Ericka Harris is co-founder of The Collective STL, a 501(c)3 non-profit donation based Yoga and Wellness Space located in the heart of Old North St. Louis, Missouri that serves the greater St. Louis Metro area. Since 2018, The Collective STL has supported thousands of St. Louisians and others with mental wellness through culturally aware and trauma informed programming for healing.

Community Networking Session | The collective experience: an affinity group for BIPOC

Rajarajeshwari (she/her)

Kristen Marie Weiner (she/her/hers), now known by her spiritual name, Rajarajeshwari (MA, CYT, RPYT, RCYT, YACEP & E-RYT 500+), is a globally recognized leader and pioneer in the field of Deaf Yoga. Rajarajeshwari is the visionary, founder and teacher of Deafhood Yoga® with 30+ years of yoga experience and a lifetime journey as a profoundly Deaf person. She is an Acharya (master) of Hatha Yoga (Sivananda lineage), known as the Mother of Yoga and completed her Ashtanga Yoga studies in India, which is the Father of Yoga. Rajarajeshwari has built several curriculums incorporating Pranayama, Relaxation, Asanas, Lifestyle (Deafhood and Ayurveda), and Meditation (PRALM). On her path, by communicating yoga through her hands offers spiritual~light language. Sign languages are truly hands of multidimensional light that uplifts the energetic vibrations of humanity and creates a pathway to embody the divinity within.

In 2008, Rajarajeshwari received the divine vision of bringing yoga online to serve our often invisibly oppressed and colonized Deaf communities, worldwide, to decolonize through yoga as a transformative skill in action. In 2010, Rajarajeshwari founded Deafhood Yoga, a customized, global online yoga studio inspiring kindred spirits of all walks of life, to experience collective, Deaf-centered yoga. Both Deafhood and Yoga practice consciousness, becoming aware and staying awake. That divine practice of consciousness brings individuals closer to transformative justice, unity, and universal truth through vibrant love.

Be YogaSelf.

Community Networking Session | Deaf, deaf, HOH Yoga

Marie Prashanti Goodell (she/her)

Marie Prashanti Goodell (RYT500, C-IAYT) turned to yoga to manage stress more effectively after being diagnosed with chronic fatigue and Hashimoto’s disease. After practicing regularly, Marie Prashanti began to experience greater energy, improved health, calmness of mind and deeper peace. With a desire to share the benefits of yoga with others, Marie began teaching yoga in 2012. She now teaches Hatha & restorative yoga at IYI San Francisco, stress management to people with early-stage Alzheimer’s in a research study being conducted by Dr. Dean Ornish, wheelchair yoga at SF Laguna Honda Hospital & Rehabilitation Center, Love Your Brain yoga to people recovering from TBI or stroke at SF Zuckerberg General Hospital, chair & floor yoga to seniors at OnLok Senior Center, and 1-1 yoga therapy sessions to people recovering from stroke, TBI, chronic fatigue, cancer, heart disease, arthritis, Ehlers Danlos syndrome, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis and surgery. Marie Prashanti has been a Board member of the Accessible Yoga Organization since January 2018, where she currently serves as Board President. She is also a Board member of the Integral Yoga Institute in San Francisco. Email: [email protected], Website: marieprashantiyoga.com

Community Networking Session | Q&A with the Accessible Yoga Board

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