Elaine is the founder and president of Akasha Project. She comes from a background in art and architecture and has also worked for nonprofit organizations. Her personal interests include philosophy and self-care of the body and spirit. She completed yoga teacher trainings with Tias Little, Zhenja La Rossa and Ross Rayburn, Restorative Yoga with Jillian Pransky, and Trauma Sensitive Yoga with Bessel Van der Kolk and David Emerson. It is her hope to provide yoga to communities that will benefit form its practice but may not otherwise have access to it. Starting Akasha Project has been a wonderful journey and a coming together of her many passions. She is extremely grateful for this opportunity to give back some of what she has been given from all of her amazing teachers, family, and friends.
After completing her 200 hour in Prana Yoga and her pre-natal yoga teacher trainings in 2007, Booker found her calling to empower youth affected by incarceration through yoga and meditation.
She is a Senior Teacher and Director of Teacher Trainings for the Lineage Project and has presented their work at the first Mindfulness in Education Conference at Omega Institute. Booker also facilitated a Mindfulness-based intervention with the adolescent population on Riker’s Island for two years through New York University, and has taught with the Prison Yoga Project in San Quentin Prison in Northern California. In 2012, Booker completed her training in Mindful Yoga and Meditation through Spirit Rock as a Yoga Dana Foundation Scholarship recipient, and will be on their teaching team in 2014.
She is also the founder of Urban Sangha Project, a collective that supports the sustainability of ChangeMakers. USP presented at the San Francisco Yoga Journal Conference, the Transformative Activism Conference at the Garrison Institute, and offered their services at the 2012 Democratic National Convention in North Carolina. Their work currently serves Activists and Public School Teachers in New York City. She also teaches a 7 week training combining grass roots activism and yoga through Off the Mat, Into the World.
Donna Bouthillier found yoga long ago in her final year of college. She’s quite certain that adolescence would have been a heck of a lot easier if she’d discovered this practice sooner! The way yoga calms the nervous system, allowing us to dwell more fully in our bodies – and showing us that we do actually have some say over how we feel – makes this practice a great tool for young people. Donna is thrilled and honored to bring yoga to middle schoolers at the Chinatown YMCA through the Akasha Project.
As a yoga teacher, LMT, certified Zero Balancer, and Ensemble performer Donna brings to her classes a multi-dimensional knowledge of the body and a great enthusiasm for helping students tap into their natural radiance. Donna’s classes invite a spirit of playful curiosity and aim to balance detailed attention on alignment with a deep experience of the breath.
In her classes for Akasha Project, she uses games as well as a straightforward asana practice to invite young students into the fun of yoga as well giving them tools they can use to find stability and openness.
Eliza Cantor received her 500-hour certification through YogaWork where she currently teaches several weekly classes. Before teaching yoga, Eliza taught awareness and communication skills based in the tradition of nonviolent activism, in prisons with incarcerated individuals. She was drawn to teach yoga as a way to incorporate the body for a more direct path toward transformation of inner, and by extension outer, violence and oppression. Eliza teaches a number of weekly yoga classes with ‘at-risk’ populations in a juvenile detention center, with adults who have experienced domestic and sexual violence, and with teenagers living in underserved and depressed communities. Whether she is teaching at a yoga studio or in a locked facility, Eliza is inspired by the relief that the yoga practice offers its practitioners through the simple but profound experience of touching into the present moment again and again.
Jana was a serious meditation student when she decided to attend yoga classes as a way to enhance her meditation practice. After exploring different yoga styles, she discovered Anusara Yoga. She loved Anusara’s elegant Principle of Alignment and its Heart-centered focus. Jana took Anusara Teacher Training at the World Yoga Center in Manhattan. She is registered with Yoga Alliance as a Registered Yoga Instructor (RYT) at the E-RYT200, RYT500 level.
Jana first experienced working with Seniors when she taught Gentle/Chair Yoga for the Encore Community Center in Midtown Manhattan, where she fell in love with this very special population. She currently team teaches weekly classes to members of the AHRC (Association for the Help of Retarded Children) community of mentally challenged adults and seniors. Her classes are nurturing and full of love with the intention to transmit to her students the true empowerment of yoga practice that comes from aligning and strengthening the body while establishing a deep connection to the inner Self.
Jana was delighted when she joined the Akasha Project and received the opportunity to teach a weekly Senior’s class at the New York Presbyterian Hospital’s HealthOutreach Center, continuing her heartfelt desire to teach yoga as a service to the population that she loves so much.
Taylor connects deeply with yoga in its ability to always offer more. With a focus on alignment, Taylor offers a playful and precise approach for students to feel expansive through their own unique possibilities. Her enthusiasm to teach grew from a teaching background in dance to a completion of an Anusara teacher training at Virayoga in 2009.
Off the mat, Taylor is the Program Director for Akasha Project, a non-profit dedicated to expanding the reach of yoga in NYC. Bridging her passions of yoga and non-profit work affords her the opportunity to do what she loves every day! She is enormously grateful to her teachers and students who continuously inspire and humble her.
Susan discovered yoga late in her own life. Her first career was in theater, but she moved on to work as a legal secretary while attending law school at night. After graduating, she practiced law for 15 years, two years as a judicial law clerk, followed by 13 years as an Assistant District Attorney in NYC. In her 40’s and stressed out waging daily battle in the Court System, she stumbled upon yoga and discovered a new way of connecting to herself and the world around her. She completed yoga teacher training in 2001 and has been teaching ever since, with no regrets about leaving the law.
She was naturally drawn towards teaching older students and others new to yoga. She strives to demystify yoga so that it is accessible to everyone, and they can discover their own capacity to change and benefit from this ancient practice. Now in her 60’s, Susan is stronger and more flexible than when she was younger. “You can begin yoga at any age, and in any physical condition. If you can breathe, you can do yoga. It’s not just about the poses (asanas), but about developing greater awareness of your own breath and how all parts of your body and mind interact. As we bring the body into better alignment, we can breathe more deeply, improve flexibility, increase strength and stamina, and open to a joyous energy that is inside, just waiting to shine forth.”
Kevin leads one weekly Akasha Project class for the non-profit The Ali Forney Center, an organization providing housing & integrative life skills to homeless LGBT youth. AFC makes a difference each & every day by taking these kids from the dangers of the streets & placing them in safe, homelike environments. To be even a tiny part of this great organization is an honor Kevin values highly, considering it one of his most important teaching experiences to date. Having openly self identified as gay from the age of 17, Kevin has an intimate understanding of the confusion, struggle & pain around coming to terms with & living openly as an LGBT youth, and is grateful to extend loving support to this community, sharing his experiences & education on & off the mat.
Kevin completed his first Hatha Yoga teacher training in ’05 at Yoga on Main in Philadelphia, under the guidance of David Newman, Shiva Das & Dr. Ed Zadlo. From Philadelphia to Hawaii to NYC, Kevin has been expanding his practice and teaching through the years, now blissfully aligned with his own heart’s desire to share the healing properties of Hatha Yoga, it’s stabilizing effects, and how a life can be transformed out of ones willingness to listen within & respond with love. He completed the first level of Anusara Yoga training in August of 2009 studying under Zhenja La Rosa, Eric Stoneberg & Dr. Douglas Brooks at Virayoga.
He offers immense gratitude to his family for all their love and support, without which he would not know the first thing about loving kindness, let alone how to share such a gift with clarity & freedom. Thanks also to his friends and teachers who allow him to see himself more clearly each and every day. Much, much love!
Kelli teaches one class a week at Harlem Renaissance High School and two classes a week at Bread and Roses Integrated Arts High School. She approaches each class knowing that every student has something to learn as well as teach.
Kelli has been teaching in schools since 2000 and has had experience in many educational environments – both public and private. She began the path of contemplative education at Naropa University, where practices such as yoga and mindfulness were integrated into the higher education curriculum. After observing the impact yoga made on her own inner life, Kelli set out to combine her background in education with her yoga training and bring yoga into schools.
Kelli has a M.ED and received her 200-hour yoga certification in 2004. She has trained with both Grounded and Headstand, two organizations working to develop yoga and mindfulness curriculum for youth. Currently, Kelli is working toward her 500-hour yoga certification through YogaWorks NYC teacher training program. One of her favorite mindfulness sayings is “you teach who you are”.
I began my Yoga practice a bit later in life when living in Rome, Italy, where my husband is from. I was 39 and pregnant with my now 14-year-old daughter. My practice continued from there on.
After returning to NY and finding myself in some very unexpected and unfortunate stressful family situations, I began to better realize the psychological benefits to my practice. Not only my practice, but my interest grew. I become a 500-hour registered Yoga Teacher after my training at Ishta in NYC with Alan Finger and Sarah Platt where I now also teach. I am beyond excited to be able to share what I have learned and experienced with so many others.
I have worked with all age groups throughout a 30-year working career in High End Retail Management on Madison Ave and in the nonprofit sector – The Metropolitan Museum of Art. I created and ran my own business while living in Rome and here in NYC. I enjoy working with different age groups as well as those from different backgrounds and cultures. I have been involved in volunteer work – specifically community organizing. Helping others of all ages reach a level of satisfaction and find contentment within themselves is very fulfilling.
Teaching Chair Yoga to seniors at DOROT is extremely rewarding! It is the missing link to all that I have done in the past. I am amazed at their motivation and am very thankful to the AKASHA PROJECT for allowing me this opportunity. As I leave class each week, I am thanked by wonderful people in our community, and I thank them for showing up and inspiring me!
I am an artist and have now found my way back to my life drawing at The Arts Students League after many years. I believe that my Yoga practice has brought me there. I continue to move through the constant challenges of raising an adolescent, taking care of my aging mother, facing middle age, and being a wife while focusing on attaining balance through my own practice. My adopted dog, Nutella, amazes me every morning with her perfect alignment in her downward facing dog!!
Sara Neufeld – Groundwork Inc.
Sara leads two weekly Akasha Project yoga classes at the non-profit Groundwork, Inc. in East New York, Brooklyn. One class is for teens in their after-school program, and the other is a community class where participants range in age from young children to parents and even grandparents.
Sara developed her passion for working with urban youth while covering public education as a newspaper reporter for over a decade. She continues to write about education – and now yoga – as a freelancer. In addition, she serves on the board of the Lineage Project, which provides yoga to at-risk and incarcerated youth in New York City.
She is also a teacher at Abhaya Yoga in Dumbo, where she helps to lead immersions and mentors teacher trainees. She has accumulated thousands of hours of yoga-related studies, primarily in Anusara, and completed youth-specific trainings with Street Yoga and Full of Joy Yoga. She is proud to be a third-generation yogini: her mother is a yoga teacher in Connecticut, and her grandmother is her mother’s most loyal student. saraneufeldyoga.com
After practicing yoga for many years, Lora was drawn to the heart-centered and life-affirming approach of Anusara yoga. She is proud to have completed her teacher training in Anusara yoga with Zhenja La Rosa at Virayoga in 2009 and is thrilled for the opportunity to teach at Validus Preparatory Academy, an Outward Bound Expeditionary Learning High School in the South Bronx. This class, sponsored by Akasha Project, combines her passion for the transformative power of yoga with the rewards and challenges of her work with young people at New York City Outward Bound.
Lora is honored for the chance to impact the lives of these students, as well as her own, through a practice of yoga that challenges and supports us to recognize our own true nature. She feels much gratitude for the Anusara Kula and, in particular her teachers and fellow students at Virayoga and Akasha Project.
Julia would like to thank Akasha Project for the opportunity to work one-on-one with students who are unable to attend public classes. These sessions have been an incredible space of transformation as she meets the student’s willingness and effort with the therapeutic tools of Anusara Yoga. The result has been the student experiencing joy, strength and fulfillment by successfully increasing their range of movement and accessing their deep inner well-being. Julia has studied Anusara Yoga for over 8 years and has also completed over 250 hours of anatomy studies with Amy Matthew of the Breathing Project and Tom Myers of Anatomy Trains, integrating the profound revelations that are on the forefront of holistic research into her teaching.
Tim Seiwerath learned the deepest and most powerful aspects of yoga from his family, people who do not study the Indian discipline but who live their lives serving others. He was carried by this spirit of service into founding the Yoga for People with Parkinson’s program, which for the past five years has brought daily classes to students in Seattle who have Parkinson’s Disease. He came to New York City to share adaptations of the physical yoga practice that are accessible to and beneficial for everyone, regardless of ability. His three formal paths of study have been through Samadhi Yoga, Acro Yoga, and as servant to the “Teacher’s Teacher,” Dharma Mittra.
Ola loves yoga because it allows her to share the gift of compassion and commitment to service. Her classes combine the knowledge of yoga, science and human anatomy to explore the power of the body. Her students learn how to use their inner resources, breath and internal awareness to discover their full potential. She often includes storytelling and metaphors, so they can imagine their bodies working towards a common goal and are inspired to overcome obstacles. She would only hope that yoga becomes available for everyone and would like to help to make that happen.
Her first training was in vinyassa at Sonic Yoga Studio in New York. That led to her studying Ashtanga Yoga under Pathabi Jois in India. Finally, the elegant arrangement of the principles of Anusara Yoga became her foundation and passion. She continues to deepen her study of yoga under the guidance of a great community of teachers: Zhenja La Rosa and philosophy teacher Douglas Brooks.