2015 YSC Conference
Rolf Gates is a former social worker and US Airborne Ranger who has practiced meditation for over twenty years. He is author of the acclaimed book on yogic philosophy Meditations from the Mat: Daily Reflections on the Path of Yoga, conducts 200/500 Vinyasa Intensives, Retreats and 200/500 Teacher Trainings throughout the US and abroad and online. Rolf and his work have been featured in numerous magazines including ORIGINS, Yoga Journal, Natural Health and People Magazine and as one of Travel and Leisures’ Top 25 Yoga Studios Around the World. Rolf is also the co-founder of the Yoga Meditation and Recovery Conference at Esalen Institute, Big Sur CA and Kripalu Center, Lenox, MA. Rolf is honored to be a contributor to the upcoming 2014 publications: Yoga + Body Image (with Alanis Morissette, Seane Corn, Bryan Kest and more), Find Your True North: Wanderlust, as well as Survivors on the Yoga Mat. Rolf’s new book will also be released Fall 2015 (Random House).
David Emerson is the Founder and Director of Yoga Services for the Trauma Center at the Justice Resource Institute in Brookline Massachusetts, where he coined the term “trauma-sensitive yoga”. He was responsible for curriculum development, supervision and oversight of the yoga intervention component of the first of its kind, NIH funded study, conducted by Dr. Bessel van der Kolk to assess the utility and feasibility of yoga instruction with severely traumatized adults with PTSD. Mr. Emerson has extensive experience in the instruction of yoga with PTSD in various populations, and has developed, conducted, and supervised yoga groups for rape crisis centers, domestic violence programs, residential programs for youth, military bases, survivors of terrorism, and Veterans Administration centers and clinics. In addition to co-authoring several scholarly articles on the subject of yoga and trauma, Mr. Emerson is the co-author of Overcoming Trauma through Yoga, released in 2011 by North Atlantic Books and Author of the forthcoming, Trauma-Sensitive Yoga in Therapy (Norton, 2015). He leads trainings for yoga teachers and mental health clinicians in North America, Europe, and Asia.”
Sat Bir Khalsa
Since 2001, Dr. Sat Bir Singh Khalsa, Ph.D. has been fully engaged in basic and clinical research on the effectiveness of yoga and meditation practices in improving physical and psychological health. He has also practiced a yoga lifestyle for over 40 years and is a certified Kundalini Yoga instructor. He is the Director of Research for the Kundalini Research Institute, Research Associate at the Benson Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine and an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.He has conducted clinical research trials evaluating yoga treatments for insomnia, ad- diction, back pain, anxiety disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, and chronic stress and a yoga program in public schools to determine benefits in mental health in adolescents funded by grants from the Department of Defense, NCCAM, NIDA, and the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health. Dr. Khalsa actively works with the International Association of Yoga Therapists to promote research on yoga therapy, coordinates the annual IAYT Symposium on Yoga Research, and collaborates with yoga researchers internationally. For the past 8 years he has also been teaching an elective course at Harvard Medical School in mind-body medicine. He is the author of the Harvard Medical School ebook Your Brain on Yoga and lead editor of the upcoming medical textbook “The Principles and Practice of Yoga in Health Care.”
ROXANNE “NIKKI” MYERS is an E-RYT500 Yoga Teacher and Somatic Experiencing Practitioner. She is also the co-owner of CITYOGA School of Yoga and Health. Nikki is an accomplished yoga therapist, teacher and practitioner on the path of Yoga. Nikki’s study led her to The American Viniyoga Institute, under the leadership of Gary Kraftsow, where she received certification as a Viniyoga Teacher and Yoga Therapist. She has completed her second year of study in Somatic Experiencing, the distinguished trauma healing methodology developed by Dr. Peter Levine. She regularly assists and co-teaches with international yoga teacher Seane Corn at workshops and conferences across the U.S. Her extensive travels have lead her to joyous work/study in Africa, Cambodia, India, Thailand and more. Born out of her personal struggles with addiction, Nikki is a cofounder of Y12SR, the acclaimed Yoga of 12-Step Recovery program featured in the New York Times and Yoga Journal. She is quick to tell the world, ‘The 12-step program and Yoga saved my life – one is my lifeboat, the other my launching pad’.
Kelly McGonigal, PhD, is a health psychologist and lecturer at Stanford University, and a leading expert on the mind-body relationship. She teaches for the School of Medicine’s Health Improvement Program and is a senior teacher/consultant for the Stanford Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education. Kelly is a founding member of the Yoga Service Council and an advisor to many nonprofit organizations bringing yoga and meditation to at-risk and underserved populations, including Yoga Bear (yoga for cancer survivors) and The Art of Yoga Project (yoga for at-risk teen girls). She is the author of Yoga for Pain Relief (New Harbinger 2009), The Willpower Instinct (Penguin 2012), and the audio series The Neuroscience of Change (Sounds True 2012).
Chelsea Roff is the creator and director of Yoga for Eating Disorders, an not-for-profit program that teaches practical yoga-derived tools for overcoming eating disorders. Chelsea is a nationally-recognized author, speaker, and yoga instructor, and her own story of overcoming anorexia and a subsequent stroke was featured by Sanjay Gupta on CNN. Chelsea integrates her background in science, women’s health, and humanitarian issues in her teaching and speaking. She is known for her intelligent, inspiring, and tell-it-like-it-is speaking style, and for weaving together profound personal experiences with her scientific background to deliver deeply moving insights. Prior to becoming a yoga instructor, Chelsea worked as the lab manager for a Psychoneuroimmunology laboratory and completed two Honors Theses on the effectiveness of mind-body practices like yoga in improving treatment outcomes for women with breast cancer. Chelsea is a fierce advocate for the role yoga can play in mental health treatment and recently raised $46,000 to do an evidence-based study on yoga for eating disorders. She is currently working with The Give Back Yoga Foundation and researchers at UCLA to conduct a clinical trial on the effectiveness of yoga in eating disorder treatment.
Carol Horton Ph.D., is a writer, educator, and activist working at the intersection of mindful yoga, social science, and social justice. Author and co-editor of two books on contemporary North American yoga, Carol contributes to a wide range of online and print publications and is a popular yoga blogger. She offers yoga workshops, teacher training units, and public lectures on topics including modern yoga history, yoga psychology and ethics, yoga and social change, and trauma-sensitive yoga. An experienced teacher dedicated to yoga service and outreach, Carol has taught yoga in a homeless shelter, foster care facility, and jail, as well as several Chicago-area studios. She serves as a Board member with Yoga for Recovery, and as a program development consultant for yoga service organizations.
Traci Childress began studying yoga & mindfulness in 1996. She is Co-founder and Executive Director of the Children’s Community School in West Philadelphia, where mindfulness is a core component of the curriculum for children ages 2-6 as well as of her Teacher Reflection and Mindful Development, for teachers of the school. She is the founder of the Mindful Reflection Project, and offers workshops to parents, care providers, teachers, and yoga communities that support mindfulness skills, listening, self care, and community building.
Booker found her calling to empower youth affected by incarceration through yoga and meditation in 2007. She currently teaches with several programs NYC that serves LGBTQI teens, women in recovery and is the Director of Teacher Trainings with the Lineage Project, an organization that brings awareness-based practices, like yoga and meditation, to incarcerated and court involved youth in New York City. She’s facilitated a mindfulness-based intervention on Riker’s Island through NYU, and has taught with the Prison Yoga Project in San Quentin Prison in Northern California. She is also the founder of Urban Sangha Project, a collective that supports the sustainability of front line ChangeMakers through Mindful Yoga, Meditation and Dialogue. She has become a regular presenter at conferences around the country, and offered her services at the 2012 Democratic National Convention in North Carolina. She is committed to collaborations that support bridging the gap between yoga, mindfulness and grass roots activism. You can find her at: LeslieBooker.com.
Joanne Spence is a social worker, yoga teacher, and an international speaker/trainer for health and wellness. She works primarily in schools and hospitals and is known for her ability and pas- sion to empower, encourage and motivate teachers. Self-care and self-awareness are the hall- marks of her trainings. Joanne brings 20 years of social work experience to her work. She is the director of Yoga on the Square, a state-of-the art yoga studio in Pittsburgh’s East End and the founder and Executive Director of Yoga in Schools, a non-profit organization that currently reaches over 20,000 children with innovative children’s yoga programming as part of Physical Education to schools both locally and nationally. She also works part-time at Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic teaching yoga and staff developer.
Sue Jones, Founder and Executive Director of yogaHope has practiced yoga for over 14 years and is a leading voice in the subject of mind body practices for self regulation and personal empowerment. For the last six years Sue has trained, inspired and lead hundreds of volunteer yoga teachers who have donated their time in substance abuse rehabilitation centers, domestic abuse safe houses and homeless shelters for women. She dedicates much of her time to researching the effects of yoga and mindfulness practices on survivors of trauma and those suffering from traumatic stress response. Sue’s life and work have been profiled in Yoga Journal, The New York Times, Shape Magazine, Body + Soul Magazine, Martha Stewart Whole Living Magazine, CNN Headline News.
Jacoby Ballard is a white working-class queer transperson who has been teaching yoga for 14 years. He is the co-founder of Third Root Community Health Center, a worker-owned cooperative holistic health center in Brooklyn that opened in 2008. He is also the Program Coordinator of Third Root Education Exchange, the non-profit branch of Third Root, which conducts diversity trainings for contemplative practitioners around the country facilitated by a pair skilled yoga teachers and social justice facilitators. Jacoby has been working with Off the Mat, Into the World and the Yoga Service Council around issues of diversity and skill-building for yoga teachers to be agents of social change. He has received training by Kashi Atlanta, Kripalu, the Northeast School of Botanical Medicine, the Dinacharya School of Ayurveda, the Lineage Project, Off the Mat, Into the World, Street Yoga, and the Challenging Male Supremacy Project. Currently, primary inquiries in Jacoby’s healing justice work is around making this work both accessible to various communities and sustainable for practitioners, and in examining and experimenting with t”he role of healing trauma (individually and collectively) in social justice work.
Elisabeth Garrett founded gMoxie consulting and coaching to help others align their external goals and their inner paths. Garrett collaborates with Strategies for Social Change to offer a series of Leadership Coaching Circles in New York City, while working with esteemed professionals from different sectors of nonprofit management through Roadmap Consulting. Garrett is a martial artist and certified FearlessYoga Instructor. She is currently co-chair, of the board for stone circles at the Stone House in Mebane, North Carolina. Drawing from her experience as an accomplished martial artist and certified fearlessYOGA instructor, Lisa works with various practices to bring awareness to how we truly “embody” our commitment to change”
Melissa Kleinman, LCSW-R, RYT, CRYT has over 10 years of experience providing comprehensive care to children, adolescents and families. She holds a Masters in Social Work from Syracuse University, is dual licensed in the states of New York and Massachusetts and has her psychotherapy privilege in New York. In addition to her clinical training, she is a RYT 200 and a CRYT. Committed to providing a safe and supportive environment for children to play, dream, connect and thrive she integrates her yoga and mindfulness training into her clinical practice. With an expertise in the fields of trauma, dating violence, chronic illness, eating disorders and early childhood social and emotional development she has worked in medical, non-for- profit, home and school based settings empowering children to identify and regulate their emotions, form trusting relationships and develop a felt self of control. She works collaboratively with US and Haitian non-for-profits to develop curriculum based programming to be used in training Haitian educators and community leaders and has traveled to Haiti twice to deliver such train- ing. Melissa is known for her approachable style, capacity to engage, passion for the field and ability to convey her knowledge in a practical way. Melissa is the founder of Hopeful Hearts Therapy, LCSW, PLLC as well as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the Division of Pediatric Neurosurgery at NYU Langone Medical Center.
Chandlee Kuhn is Chief Judge in Delaware’s Family Court. Bringing opportunities and pro- grams to Delaware’s at risk youth has been Judge Kuhn’s passion since she became a judge in 1998. When she found the practice of yoga in 2003, she quickly realized that movement, breath and meditation can be transformational for practitioners of any age. In her role as Chief Judge, she has learned that by bringing the right individuals together any program is possible. Using this model she founded the Delaware Girls Initiative and Gun Court in Delaware. Each of these programs was developed from community ideas. DGI and Gun Court are now fully funded and sustainable programs. Judge Kuhn has helped obtain funding, teachers and facilities to bring yoga, nutrition and healthy food to Wilmington’s inner city youth through RedemptionOne!. She has also facilitated bringing yoga to two juvenile psychiatric facilities in Delaware. She is currently working with the Department of Youth Rehabilitative Services, the YMCA and local
yoga teachers to bring yoga to Delaware’s most secure facility for boys under 18 years of age who have been found delinquent. It is Judge Kuhn’s vision to bring yoga – movement, mindfulness and breath to every corner of the State of Delaware, no matter where one lives or whether o”r not one has the economic means to afford a traditional studio setting”
Argos grew up in Queens, NY and is a product of the NYC public education system from elementary school to his graduate studies. He is a high school English teacher in the Bronx with ten years experience. He also teaches literacy instruction at Hunter College and is finishing his Ph.D. in Urban Education at the City University of New York Graduate Center. After receiving mindfulness training from Mindful Schools, an organization in Oakland CA. that brings mindfulness practices to schools in the bay area and from Little Flower Yoga, an organization bringing yoga and mindfulness to schools in NYC and Westchester, he has become interested in the impact mindfulness can have on teachers and students alike. He is writing his dissertation on the impact mindfulness practice has on teacher effectiveness. He is using his training to teach mindfulness practices to his students in the Bronx and to facilitate and create mindfulness professional development workshops for teachers in public and private schools. He also provides private meditation and mindfulness sessions, and consultation and coaching for educators.
Marshawn Feltus, a Chicago west-side native, just shy of his eighteenth birthday, was sen- tenced to 38 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections for first degree murder. “It was a case of unnecessary, senseless violence.” Having served 18 years and 9 months in prison Mar- shawn used his incarceration as a university. “I lived more time in prison than on the streets,” he reflects. During his imprisonment, Mr. Feltus obtained his GED and completed several years of college courses. Among his accomplishments, Marshawn mentored and tutored fellow inmates in basic education and life skills. While incarcerated, Marshawn was introduced to his first yoga class. There was a level of healing and peace that he realized in the practice, that made him want to share it with his inmates. He later became a co-instructor and helped train more than 800 men in Ashtanga Yoga. Upon his release, he volunteered at a local community center where he gained employment. In 2013, Marshawn opened the first yoga studio in Chicago’s Austin area, ACT Yoga. The company name was inspired by his personal journey to Awareness, Change & Triumph. Marshawn is an alumnus of the Bethel New life entrepreneurship program and also the Chicago Yoga Center, where he earned his certification to teach yoga. As founder and owner of ACT Yoga, Marshawn is on a mission to fulfill his life’s assignment: teach, touch and transmit Awareness, Change & Triumph for the mind, body and spirit.
Jennifer Cohen Harper
Jennifer Cohen Harper, MA, E-RYT is a leading voice in the children’s yoga and mindfulness community, and dedicated to making these powerful practices accessible to all children regardless of circumstance. Jennifer is the author of Little Flower Yoga for Kids: A Yoga and Mindfulness Program to Help Your Child Improve Attention and Emotional Balance. She is the founder and director of Little Flower Yoga , a national organization based in New York, and The School Yoga Project , which brings yoga and mindfulness to schools nation wide. Jennifer is the vice president of the Yoga Service Council. She holds a master’s degree in education and youth development from New York University’s Gallatin School and her thesis work was on the use of yoga in education. Her work has been featured in prominent publications including the NY Times and the International Journal of Yoga Therapy. Jennifer is a talented presenter, offering powerful information in a practical, easy to implement format with warmth, humor and joy.
Rob Schware is the Executive Director of the Give Back Yoga Foundation http://givebackyoga.org/, President of the Yoga Service Council https://yogaservicecollective.org/, and Seva Advisor to Hanuman Festival http://www.hanumanfestival.com/. He has been married to Alice Trembour for 29 years, which, like yoga, is in and of itself a regular commitment to a practice. They have three children.
For Mark, yoga is an everyday survival skill, a practice he has shared with thousands of youth as founder and president of Street Yoga, a Portland, OR based non-profit. His teaching emphasizes cultivation of the best within each of us. Mark has developed many special yoga curricula in addition to the core and advanced Street Yoga trainings, specialized work for young patients recovering from illness or injury in the hospital, for young people recovering from sexual abuse, and workshops for adults moving through entrenched traumas or grappling with high-intensity communication situations.
Bob Altman is the Co-Founder of Centering Youth, a yoga service initiative based in Atlanta, Georgia, with the mission of Empowering Youth with Yoga and Mindfulness. As a yoga practitioner and attorney, Bob began working to establish this yoga service initiative in 2008, culminating in a sustainable non-profit program bringing Yoga and Mindfulness to kids in the juvenile justice system in Georgia, while raising service awareness and training in the Atlanta yoga community.
Heather Ciociola brings to the Yoga Service Council over 20 years of expertise in business strategy, branding, and marketing. Her passion for yoga service led her to offer yoga at Mercer Street Friends in Trenton, NJ from 2010 – 2012, where she was also a home visitor to mothers-to-be and mothers of young children. She is a graduate of Vassar College and is currently pursuing her MSW in Nonprofit and Public Management at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ.
Jasmine is the Founder of Yoga Activist, a nonprofit outreach organization dedicated to improving accessibility and trauma sensitivity in yoga and mindfulness instruction. She has trained with teachers from a wide variety of yoga traditions (Dharma, Power, Vinyasa, Kundalini, and Sivananda) and taught students of diverse backgrounds (from homeless shelter residents to White House staff). In her role as a yoga educator, Jasmine serves on the Faculty at George Washington University, advising yoga teachers in training. She also directs the yoga teacher training programs at the Washington DC-based yoga studio collective she founded, Yoga District. Jasmine believes yoga instructors have a responsibility to adapt their classes with sensitivity to individual student needs, while also dealing with the realities of group instruction and honoring the integrity of their yoga tradition. As an advisor in continuing education yoga programs, to yoga teacher trainees, and to experienced yoga teachers, it’s Jasmine’s goal to skillfully share yoga’s teachings and assist other instructors in doing the same.
Molly Lannon Kenny
Molly Lannon Kenny is the founder and director of The Samarya Center and The Samarya Yoga School, a 501 c 3 non-profit service and training organization dedicated to individual transformation and radical social change. She created, published and trademarked a unique therapy method, Integrated Movement Therapy®, built on these same principles of acceptance, inclusion and healing of self as a means for healing others and our communities. She has written and taught extensively on the topics of Yoga as Therapy and Yoga as a means to individual and social change, and has taught many hundreds of students in her specialized yoga teacher trainings both locally and internationally. She has been featured in Yoga Journal, Yoga Chicago, Wisdom Magazine, and The New York Times, among many others. She is past Vice President of the International Association of Yoga Therapists, and was the board liaison to the international committee on educational standards for the field of yoga therapy. She is currently an advisor to the Yoga Service Council. In her other life, Molly has been the bass player and front person for several local bands over almost twenty years, and is a part of a large, raucous, multi-ethnic and culturally and socially diverse family of origin. She spends about a quarter of each year at her home in a small fishing village in Mexico, thinking about things like cultural relativism, paternalism, social change, and delicious food. Her book, “No Gurus Came Knocking” – a sort of yoga and real life memoir – is due out in early November. Molly is widely known as a vibrant, funny, accessible and super knowledgeable teacher, with a heart of gold and a spirit of fire.
Mary Lynn Fitton
Mary Lynn Fitton has a commitment to young women’s health, empowerment and well-being. She is Founder and Program Director of The Art of Yoga Project, a non-profit that offers a trauma-informed, gender-responsive Yoga and Creative Arts Curriculum to at-risk teen girls in the California juvenile justice system as an integral part of their healing and rehabilitation. Mary Lynn received her Masters in Science and Family Nurse Practitioner degree at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) in 1994. She has been a registered nurse for over 25 years with specialties in neuroscience and women’s and adolescent healthcare. In 2013, she was accepted into the Child Trauma Academy’s train the trainer program for the Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics. A certified yoga teacher since 1998 and founding member of the Yoga Service Council, her work has been featured in Yoga Journal, The San Francisco Examiner, Spirituality and Health, Elephant Journal, The Huffington Post and the International Journal of Yoga Therapy. In 2010, she was nominated for the California Governor and Maria Shriver’s Minerva Award, for women who devote themselves to improving their local community, state or country.