Teachers

Mark Nelson, E-RYT 200
Director
Teaching since 2008
Vinyasa Yoga, Ashtanga Yoga, Yin Yoga, Gentle Yoga

Mark has been practicing yoga since 1991. Early on, he fell in love with the feeling of openness and focus that comes from a regular practice. Where the spirit leads, the body will follow, and he soon discovered that he could move in ways he never thought possible. Read More >>

That combination of mindfulness and movement drew him deeper into the practice, studying Ashtanga Yoga with such renowned teachers as David Swenson, Annie Pace and Jill Manning; Yin yoga with Paulie Zink; and Vinyasa Yoga with Corina Benner.

Mark teaches yoga as a personalized healing science and a profound life-changing philosophy. His classes unite the flow of breath with the flow of the body, guiding students to a creative blend of physical exploration, inward focus and real-life philosophy. Mark has directed the Yoga Garden studios since 2010.

 

Dawn Altman, E-RYT-200, RYT 500, CYT
Teaching since 2012
Vinyasa Yoga, Yin Yoga, Gentle Yoga, Restorative Yoga

Dawn began practicing yoga 20 years ago and fell in love with the physical practice. Over time, it calmed her mind, and opened her heart, allowing her to be a better wife, mother, and citizen of the world. When we align our minds with our bodies and our souls, the world opens up in a whole new way. Dawn believes there is not a person alive who cannot benefit from this beautiful and healing practice. Read More >>

Dawn Altman completed her Teacher Training in 2012. In 2014 she completed level one of the Comprehensive Yoga Therapy training at The Yogalife Institute in Devon. In addition to her yoga teacher trainings, Dawn has studied depth psychology, or psychology of the soul, with Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes at her Archetypal and Cross-Cultural Studies Institute in Colorado, and enjoys bringing those teachings into the yoga classroom.

Dawn has a particular interest in the therapeutic and healing aspects of yoga. She believes that conscious awareness is our greatest security and foundation for emotional health. Her classes focus on bringing meditative awareness into the body using breath and movement, and inner exploration.

 

Kristen Cortez
Teaching since 2014
Vinyasa Yoga

Kristen has been practicing yoga since 2008, and has served as the Studio Manager of The Yoga Garden since 2009. After years of helping create peace and tranquility behind the scenes, she was thrilled to be part of the first graduating class of the Yoga Garden Teacher Training. Read More >>

Kristen is a true believer that in life, there is no growth without challenge. Her classes work through a carefully chosen flow to provide opportunities to creatively explore uncharted territories in body, mind, and spirit.

Music has always been a part of Kristen’s life, whether singing in a choir or through artistic expression in color guard, so expect a carefully chosen playlist that will inspire your practice.

 

Kim Eckler
Teaching since 1999
Pre- and Postnatal Yoga, Vinyasa Yoga

Kim began practicing yoga in 1989. As a philosophy student and dancer, the mind-body connection of yoga resonated deeply with her. In subsequent years, yoga remained a useful tool as she pursued martial arts and motherhood, keeping her body and spirit in balance. Read More >>

She became certified through the Yogalife Institute in 1999, studying pre- and postnatal yoga with Patricia Cornielus. Kim is also a postpartum doula. She feels privileged to share in people’s happiness as they grow their families.

Kim believes that anybody can practice yoga. Practicing with intention of purpose and sensitivity to the body keeps one present in their focus, and helps to avoid self-defeating behaviors such as competition and self-criticism. A class with Kim begins slowly and softly in order to synchronize body and breath, then builds in intensity. There is a focus on stability through the legs and hips, and softness in the neck, chest and arms, thus being grounded yet open. For prenatal classes, there is a reinforcement of the connection between mother and child.

 

Terry Fox
Teaching since 2006
Meditation, Mindfulness-Based Stress Management

Terry’s meditation practice is rooted in the contemplative prayer and silent retreats of her youth. As a young adult, she expanded her meditative inquiries to include the spiritual centers of the major world traditions. Read More >>

In the 90’s, she gravitated to the teachings of Zen Buddhist monk ThichNhatHanh, the mindfulness model of Jon Kabat-Zinn, and the supporting research of the scientific community. Terry holds a Master’s degree in counselor education and counseling psychology and has worked as a teacher and counselor in a variety of settings, including schools, sheltered workshops, and social service agencies.

Terry teaches meditation as a journey of self-discovery that’s undertaken by settling into silence and listening with one’s whole being. The journey cultivates a sense of calm, ease, and well-being, deepens insight into self and others, and leads to a realization of one’s true Self. Terry’s classes consist of instruction, practice, and discussion. She encourages her students to embrace their meditation experience with curiosity and kindness and to respect the unique unfolding of their individual journey.

 

Ari Halbert
Vinyasa Yoga, Ashtanga Yoga

Incorporating traditional elements of both Ashtanga and Iyengar yoga, Ari’s classes promote precision and efficiency of movement, and demand a willingness to examine and redefine one’s own habitual movement patterns.

Each class makes evident Ari’s passion for physical expression as a gateway to access the innermost aspect of our being. Through the grace of the movements of the physical body, it is his hope that each student can imbue the same sense of grace and peace within. In the spirit of old hermetic adage: As above, so below; as within, so without.
 

Rachael Hunter
Teaching since 2011
Vinyasa Yoga, Yin Yoga, Power Yoga

Rachael began practicing yoga in 1996 when she moved to Princeton, NJ for postdoctoral studies. Learning an Iyengar-style practice as well as Vinyasa flow, she completed her teacher training at Verge Yoga in Wayne PA. Through her teaching as well as her personal practice, Rachael recognizes the power of yoga heal old injuries as well as prevent new ones. She leads her classes with careful attention to alignment and slow mindful movement.
 

Noah Julian
Teaching Since 2008
Vinyasa Yoga, Liquid Flow Yoga

In the style of Simon Park’s Liquid Flow (which fuses Prana Flow and Dharma Vinyasa) Noah brings a unique and fun approach to the practice by incorporating experience with several movement modalities, spanning over a decade, while adhering to the roots of Vinyasa practice. Read More >>

In a slow and highly challenging flow we will find each movement’s responsibility, creating a dance-like quality to the practice, which transforms an art form into a moving meditation.

 

Gina Molinari
Teaching Since 2010
Vinyasa Yoga, Hatha Yoga, Children’s Yoga

Led to yoga by back pain, Gina started practicing yoga in 2008. Divine intervention brought her from the sweaty studios of the Jersey Shore to Philly in 2013 and placed her in the hands of the Yoga Garden where she completed her 200RYT under the wisdoms of Mark Nelson and Chae Yang. Read More >>

Inspired by rockstar yogis like Rachel Brathen equally as much as the Seekers she encounters in life, Gina quickly learned that yoga is more than asana and is enthusiastic about leading others toward the awareness of yoga as a means of mindfulness, good health, serenity, and love.

Gina’s athletic background and gypsy soul bring energy and a passion for discovery to her sequencing. Expect to move your body and tune into its feedback in her classes. Gina’s classes will integrate the breath with physical alignment and shed light on how our movements can bring awareness to everyday situations. As Gina is energized by yoga and life as ever evolving journeys, you can count on her passionately opening your heart and mind through her classes.

When she’s off the mat, Gina is typically wanderlusting or hula hoop dancing. She’s down to chat about your favorite (plant-based) recipes, work woes, or life dreams. While she is honing the skill of being still, she also hopes to take a world tour someday soon and share her knowledge of yoga along the way.

 

Dena Petruzzelli
Teaching since 2015
Vinyasa Yoga, Gentle Yoga

Dena began her yoga journey in 2008 and was immediately drawn to the natural healing benefits of yoga both mentally and physically. She completed her 200RYT here at The Yoga Garden under the guidance of Mark Nelson and Chae Yang. A lifelong learner, Dena continues to learn and discover more about yoga and self-healing to further herself and what she is able to share with her students. Dena’s classes focus on, alignment, breath, and mindfulness while providing a warm and safe environment for students to reflect inward.
 

Brittany Policastro
Teaching since 2003
Vinyasa Yoga, Gentle Yoga, Restorative, Prenatal, Yoga Babies

Known as a Stevie Wonder-loving, truth-speaking change-maker who bagged law school to pursue a creative thirst; Brittany rarely follows the pack on or off the mat. She believes transformation can be tumultuous- sometimes loud and messy but always packed with guidance and grace. Read More >>

And she leads her students into the heart of the practice from the start of her classes.” reference=”Brittany” more=”With over 6,000 hours and nine years of experience, Brittany teaches from an inspired space of connected consciousness. Her technique is influenced by her 300 hours of training in Anusara, practice in Vinyasa and Restorative Yoga as well as deep study in India.

Inspired to create global awareness, Brittany has traveled to Cambodia, Brazil, Tanzania and India teaching yoga to children and connecting with each culture. In 2010, Brittany founded Beyond Asana and co-created the Beyond Asana Yoga Teacher Training, which combines asana, sacred activism, personal growth work and global travel.

In 2009, Brittany’s blog was published in Yoga Journal. In 2010 she appeared on the 10! Show for a segment for Healthy Backs. In 2011 her poems were featured in The Poetry of Yoga, alongside some of the most recognized teachers in the world and in 2012 LululemonAthletica named her an ambassador for their Philadelphia store.

Brittany cooks and eats consciously, loves to dance and continues to be uplifted by reruns of The Cosby Show.

 

Johnathan Raiss
Teaching since 2008
Vinyasa Yoga, Liquid Flow Yoga, Prana Flow Yoga

Johnathan was introduced to yoga through the practice of Ashtanga and hot yoga at the vulnerable age of sixteen. He has been involved with athletics and martial arts for much of his life, but yoga truly helped to expose him to levels of qualitative, therapeutic, and informative movement beyond what he knew possible. Read More >>

Deep meditative awareness, and self-realization began to become aspects of his life through yoga practice, and he feels these things have served to develop an empathic bond with the planet and humanity as a whole. Simon Park, Dharma Mittra, Phillip Askew, David Regelin, Shiva Rea, Richard Freeman, Ido Portal, and Alex Holmes are great influences in his practice and teaching.

Johnathan teaches a dynamic flow that fluctuates between subtlety and vigor. He seeks to share a challenging yet therapeutic practice that can beneficially transform one’s life both on and off the mat.

 

Nikki Robinson
Teaching since 2011
Alignment Yoga, Vinyasa Yoga, Therapeutic Yoga, Pre/Post Natal Yoga, Restorative Yoga, Yoga Philosophy

Nikki began her love affair with yoga as respite from a high intensity job on a trading floor in New York City. She was immediately attracted to the combination of restoration that yoga provides the heart and mind and the invigorating and empowering effect on the body the physical practice provides. Read More >>

Nikki completed her 200 hour Anusara Teacher Training with Sue Elkind and Naime Jezzeny. She has also completed her Pre and Post Natal training with Sue Elkind and Levels 1 & 2 Restorative Yoga Teacher Training with Jillian Pransky. She has supplemented her teacher training with extensive philosophy training with Susanna Harwood-Rubin.

Nikki uses precise alignment in every class she teaches to empower and encourage students of all levels in the most supportive, safe and loving environment. While she seeks to physically challenge her students during class, her classes are designed to be playful, bright and light-hearted so as to foster the very best in each student. Nikki lives in Wynnewood, PA with her family who continue to be her most challenging and loving yoga teachers.

 

Rebecca Saline
Teaching Since 2006
Power Yoga

Teaching Vinyasa Yoga and Power Yoga since 2003. Rebecca’s yoga journey began in 2001 when her older sister took her to her first vinyassa yoga class. During that practice, Rebecca felt the physical challenge of yoga lead to a spiritual awakening. From there, she devoted herself to yoga under the instruction of renowned yoga instructor, Baron Baptiste. In 2003, she became a certified yoga instructor at Philly Power Yoga. Read More >>

In addition to teaching yoga, Rebecca has a B.A. in Psychology from George Washington University, a Masters Degree in Elementary Education from Temple University and a Reading Specialist Certification from the University of Pennsylvania. Rebecca’s classes embody the belief that yoga is a moving meditation. She strives to challenge her students through a vigorous physical practice while helping them keep a peaceful mind. Rebecca feels her classes are an opportunity for each student to connect with their true inner self and is grateful to guide them.

 

Jennifer Schelter
Teaching since 1998
Gentle Yoga, Vinyasa Yoga

For 17 years, Jennifer had supported over 65,000 women and men from Wharton Leadership and Management Programs, Fortune 500 Companies to breast cancer patients (Co-Founder of Yoga On the Steps for Living Beyond Breast cancer in Philadelphia, Denver and Kansas City) and individual clients as a retreat leader, speaker, yoga instructor, mindfulness-based life coach, writer, actress, and entrepreneur.Read More >>

She is the founder of Mindful Strategies for Living, the premier Yoga Schelter studio, Yoga Unites non-profit, producer of “am awake” CD and “The Art of Vinyasa Yoga” DVD and the internationally recognized Radiant Retreat to Tulum, Mexico.

Currently the yoga instructor & life coach seen on Zliving TV reality show Natural Reboot Named “Best of 2014” Philadelphia Magazine’s Be Well Philly (as the cover model), and “One of the Most Inspiring Philadelphians” by US Airways Magazine.

Every day, Jennifer empowers and inspires health, performance, and creativity through mindful practices including meditation, Vinyasa Yoga, journaling or writing for self-discovery, and inquiring dialogues. Jennifer enhances and champions the intersecting awareness of the mind and body.

Clients report inspiration, clarity, new strategies and actions, as well as appreciating and accepting their potential and themselves in new and uplifting ways.

Her award winning website: www.jenniferschelter.com

 

Andrea Stagliano
Teaching since 2015
Vinyasa Yoga

Andrea took her first yoga class over 10 years ago and still remembers how she felt afterwards. What started as a physical activity every once in a while turned into a deep inner exploration and a daily way of life, thanks to the freedom and empowerment that comes from being in tune to your body, mind, and breath. That led her to complete her 200-hour teacher training here at The Yoga Garden. Read More >>

Andrea is a student at heart and continues to draw inspiration from each of her own teachers. She views yoga as a pathway to realizing your authentic self, and sees this practice as a parallel to life: a never-ending and ever-changing lesson in finding acceptance and calm in every moment and challenge.

You can expect energizing classes that invite you to challenge yourself while honoring your body’s need in each moment. Andrea also plays ukulele, so expect a savasana that will help you release and bring the feeling of drifting away on a sunny beach, no matter what time of year.

 

Marla Sussman
Teaching since 2001
Vinyasa Yoga, Yin Yoga, Pre- and Postnatal Yoga

Marla was first introduced to yoga in 1990 and was immediately inspired by its spiritual and physical teachings. She began practicing more regularly in 1999 and trained at Yoga on Main where she received her certification in 2001. Read More >>

Since then she’s received certification in prenatal, children’s, and yin yoga. She feels very blessed to have found yoga and is honored to be able to share what she’s learned.

For Marla, yoga is an expression and a part of an individual’s journey. It can fit into any lifestyle. She encourages body awareness and compassion using grace through movement. Her classes blend soft and strenuous movement in a safe, light-hearted and nurturing environment. Breathing, exploration, and joy are at the core of each class.

 

Meg Townsend, E-RYT500, Ayurvedic Yoga Specialist, Reiki Master
Teaching since 2008
Hatha Yoga, Yin Yoga, Vinyasa Yoga, Meditation

At age 15, Meg convinced her High School Phys Ed teacher to allow her and a few friends to do yoga videos during class and from that, a love affair began. While in college, she used Yoga and Aromatherapy to keep her healthy and grounded during her studies in an opera performance program. Now, as a full-time yoga teacher, she enjoys bringing the healing benefits of Yoga and Ayurveda through weekly classes, Real Living Yoga’s “Yoga for Insomnia” program, international yoga retreats, and other specialized vibrant living workshops! Read More >>

Meg’s teaching is influenced by the world around her, the ancient and practical teachings of Tantra & Ayurveda, and her own experience in healing. She is an initiate of the Sri Vidya Tantra lineage as brought to the West by Swami Rama of the Himalayas. Meg is a dedicated student of Yogarupa Rod Stryker and has studied Ayurveda from Kathryn Templeton and the Himalayan Institute in PA.

Meg’s class is a breath-centered, inner-fire stoking, mindfully-paced class that will leave you feeling balanced, grounded, and inspired. She has an uncanny ability to see what her students need on any particular day, and deliver a practice that will meet those needs. Meg is so excited to be a part of the Yoga Garden community and feels blessed to have landed in such a special place on the Main Line!

 

Chae Yang, E-RYT 500, RPYT
Teaching since 2006
Vinyasa Yoga, Prana Flow®, Prenatal Yoga, Therapeutic Alignment Yoga, Hatha Yoga

Chae began studying yoga in 2001 and was immediately drawn to the philosophy and tools yoga had to offer for life. She began her teacher studies in 2006 to complete two vinyasa teacher trainings by 2008 and registered with Yoga Alliance as RYT 500. She began assisting Yoga Alliance approved Teacher Training programs in 2009 to continue on as a participating teacher of trainings. Read More >>

Her commitment to the studentship of yoga include: Sadhana, Ayurveda, Flow, Alignment and Therapeutics. She has completed trainings in Anusara Yoga (200 hours), Vinyasa (700 hours), and Pre(post)natal Yoga as well as numerous Subtle Body Immersions, Therapeutic Alignment and Yogic Scripture courses. Chae is registered with Yoga Alliance as: ERYT 500, RYT 500 (Prana Flow), RPYT (Prenatal). Her classes sew together inspiration from Shiva Rea and Michelle Synnestvedt along with teachings of Himalayan Institute Faculty, Twee Merrigan, Maria Garre, Darren Rhodes, Joan White, Carrie Owerko and Ellen Saltonstall.

Chae teaches yoga full time and is dedicated to serving the community through yoga having lead classes that benefit families of cancer patients and the homeless in Philadelphia since 2007. She has also been leading global Yoga Retreats by the sea since 2009. The private, group and retreat practices offer individual challenges but are filled with laughter, ease and compassion. She continues to study and share yoga full time and is a householder.