Gemma Farrell has studied various styles of yoga, including Iyengar, Sivananda, Jivamukti, Yin, Insight, and Integral Yoga. Her current approach to teaching yoga fuses the precise alignment principles of Iyengar yoga with the freedom and creativity of a Vinyasa Flow practice, and incorporates the deeper release stretching and meditative aspects of Yin Yoga. Gemma sees yoga as a vehicle for self-discovery and a means for increasing awareness of the present moment, an opportunity to cultivate wisdom and compassion, and above all, an invitation to foster a spirit of devotion and open our hearts to love and serve others.
Alaina Villanueva started practicing yoga as a means to cope with anxiety and stress. She was in love from the start. Growing up she was always athletic, playing soccer, field hockey, and running but yoga helped her learn how to breathe again. She completed her 200 hr vinyasa training with Liz Connor at The Prancing Peacock in Yardley, Pennsylvania. She loves teaching and brings her light and airy personality to her classes.
Amy Guinn discovered yoga in the midst of a very stressful culinary career. She dove into her practice head first, and eventually traveled to Rishikesh, India where she received her Hatha Yoga Therapy and Ayurvedic Massage certifications. Amy is grateful to her teachers and most of all to her students who are constantly teaching her and evolving her yoga practice. She hopes to bring the importance of breath and alignment to the students’ practice, and more importantly, the idea that our practices are constantly flowing, changing from day to day, and that there is so much more beyond the physical practice of yoga.
Annie Jain strives to connect her own mind, body, and breath in order to be a better human being and to help her yoga students do the same. She received her 200 Hour teacher training certificate in 2006 from Yogaworks in NYC and her 500 Hour advanced certification in therapeutic yoga in Coonoor, India in 2007. Annie considers the 14 years of yoga she did before last year as prep work for this, her 15th year of yoga. For the last year she has practiced Mysore-style yoga with Samuel Steward who has helped her develop the five elements in her practice so that they have become a deep and constant presence. Annie believes that yoga is the best platform for achieving a healthy body and mind, and for the ultimate goal of overcoming the bonds of Samsara and achieving Bliss. And it is to this end that she loves sharing yoga as a teacher.
Arthur (Ato) Co is a chef and martial artist who has been practicing the martial arts since he was eight years old. Originally Chinese, born in the Philippines, he studied Southern Shaolin style of Ngo Cho Kun kung fu at the Heng Han Kung Fu School in Manila. In his twenties, Ato followed his dream to become an American citizen and immigrated to the US in 1984. He owns Sakura Express Japanese Restaurant in downtown Princeton.
Courtney Leopoldis a Certified Clinical Yoga Therapist and an RYT-500. A dancer for 17 years, Courtney has always been driven by physical fitness and creativity. After beating up her body through dance, she sought a more holistic practice. That is when she stumbled upon yoga! After receiving her initial 200 hours of Vinyasa training in Pennsylvania, Courtney continued her mind-body studies in Los Angeles, where she received her Masters degree in Counseling, as well as her Clinical Yoga Therapy certification through Loyola Marymount University. In addition, Courtney was afforded the opportunity to teach alongside Govind Das & Radha at Bhakti Yoga Shala, Bryan Kest at Santa Monica Power Yoga, as well as obtaining her Yoga Trance Dance Certification with internationally renowned teacher Shiva Rea. Courtney's classes are infused with prana-fueled flows that combine creative transitions and therapeutics, and she often weaves themes of chakra cleansing and energy work into the practice.
Dagmar Anderson warmed up slowly to yoga. Initially considering it simply as an exciting new way to keep fit, it took many hours on the mat for her yoga infatuation to grow into a more thoughtful pursuit. In the course of her teacher training, Dagmar came to appreciate the concepts that govern the various yoga traditions and the wonderful teachers who spread its teachings and keep the practice alive. Dagmar is drawn to group yoga because she loves the collective breath and energy that unfolds in class. Beyond her 200 hour yoga teacher certification, Dagmar is a registered Radiant Child yoga instructor. Off the mat, Dagmar has been a grant officer, a media analyst, a writer and journalist, and radio producer.
For Elizabeth Scura, yoga has become a way of life. After many years of experiencing back pain from scoliosis, she realized the incredible healing benefits of yoga when she replaced her chiropractor with a daily yoga practice. It was then that she decided to become a yoga instructor so she could help others as well. Prior to teaching yoga, Elizabeth spent her time working as a preschool and toddler teacher at Princeton Montessori School and the YWCA. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Art and loves photography, drawing and watercolor. In her yoga classes, Elizabeth encourages students to focus on breath mindfulness, while emphasizing the importance of alignment.
Holly Westergren completed a 200-hr yoga teacher training at Vibrant Living Yoga in Bali, Indonesia where she studied with Daniel Aron, David Williams, Edward Clark and Emil Wendell. She has taken classes and workshops with Dharma Mittra, Mark Whitwell, and Lilavati. Holly has taught yoga to middle school children with The World Yoga Project, bringing yoga to inner city schools in the City of Brotherly Love. Holly grew up in Princeton and is delighted to be back in her hometown, where she is finding her own restoration.
John Samerjan considers himself "simply a seeker who has done some finding." Over the years, through small group study, prayer and meditation gatherings, retreats, study at the New Brunswick Theological Seminary , and most recently the guidance of Bhagavad Gita scholar and teacher, Vineet Chander, in our Gratitude Gita Study, John feels his heart has been opened to the practice of devotion. Whether at the Bhakti Center in New York or a Christmas Concert at the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia, John believes our lives can be transformed by the sharing in the name, sound and teaching of the Divine.
John has served in major public affairs and public policy positions in government and politics and is currently the principal of his own consulting firm. He also teaches at the Rutgers University School of Communications.
Jordan Faigen was an avid half marathoner before a running accident caused her to search for activities with less physical impact. After finding yoga classes as a means to stay fit, Jordan fell in love with the spiritual nature and physical and mental discipline of the practice. While living abroad in Israel, Jordan enrolled in a yoga teacher training course focused on Ashtanga yoga in order to deepen her knowledge and master proper alignments. During this yoga journey Jordan learned she had a passion for teaching others and she is excited to share the practice of yoga at Gratitude Yoga.
Lorraine Edwards found her various paths come together through the Baptiste yoga practice and discovered a method to give up controlling things that cannot be controlled, take action, and face fear head-on. She learned the tools of being present, choosing her reactions, and knowing that the lesson is always love. Lorraine wants to share this shift in vision that saved her many times. She has completed a 200 hour training with the Baptiste Institute and is currently a yoga teacher, fitness instructor and personal trainer in the Princeton area. Lorraine has also taught classes in Austin, Texas, San Cristobal de las Casas, Mexico, Madrid, Spain, Brooklyn, New York, Savannah, Georgia, and Rome, Italy.
Manisha Narang embraces the holistic approach to asana, where we fit the poses to our individual bodies, not our bodies to our poses. She approaches her students with compassion and sensitivity always, and aims to make yoga accessible to all, especially those who can’t practice traditional yoga due to physical limitations. Manisha was exposed to yoga from an early age through her grandmother. However, it was when she began her regular practice in 2005 that she realized the deep power of a meditation, breath, and yoga practice. As an instructor, Manisha is dedicated to guiding you in your path towards relaxation, peace, and good health. Manisha, MPH, RYT-200, received her Vinyasa training from Honor Yoga in Pennington.
Andrea Mecquel ("Mecquel") is a yoga practitioner and dancer who has been teaching yoga and movement in the Princeton area since 2002. With her degree in Psychology and years of work as a behavioral therapist, Mecquel addresses aspects of the whole person, body and mind, in yoga practice and movement. Rooted in Ashtanga, Iyengar, Jivamukti, Saraswati, and Bhakti traditions, and influenced by the study of modern dance and improvisational techniques, Mecquel seeks to train the body and mind for freedom in movement which comes from strength, range of motion, and awareness. Mecquel is currently studying dance and functional anatomy , Ideokinesis, and improvisational movement.
Meg Mowrey, Ed.S., R.Y.T., R.N., L.Ac., Dipl. O.M. (NCCAOM), holds National, New Jersey and Pennsylvania licenses and degrees as both an Acupuncturist and Herbalist. She has advanced degrees in psychology, rehabilitation, and nursing and has many years of clinical practice. She is a certified yoga teacher and taught as a children's yoga instructor in local school districts.
After thousands of hours of practice Mia Lim has discovered that yoga is about surrendering and letting go of the ego. She believes that finding space and openness in yoga is more important than forcing the body into asana. Mia focuses on strengthening the core not only to avoid injuries and become physically strong but also to build inner strength. She received her 200 Hour Yoga Teacher certification through Honor Yoga and is currently completing her 500 Hour training at Dig Yoga.
Mikaela Heimer did her Kundalini Yoga teacher training in California. where she was raised. With a background in Baking and Pastry Arts, as well as in 5 Element Acupuncture, she has found that Kundalini Yoga activates the teacher within. Healing through conscious thought, expression, projection and action,sound vibration, exercises and meditation is a constant journey that Mikaela loves to be able to share with others.
Mikhail finds that yoga and meditation help him manage daily stresses and the demands of his job. He is passionate about sharing the practical and powerful tools that he uses daily to enhance creativity, increase focus, and lower stress. His teaching style is uplifting, pragmatic, and compassionate. Mikhail, his wife Nina, (who also teaches at Gratitude) and their daughter Alaia, recently moved to Princeton from Los Angeles, where they had been studying and teaching yoga and meditation.
Nancy Rothman has been on a journey of devotion for many years. However, studying the Bhagavad Gita with Vineet Chander at Gratitude Yoga has ignited a new passion to study devotion in all its forms. Whether reading the Gospel or studying the Mahabharata through Oxford University Centre for Hindu Study, Nancy seeks to deepen her love of the Divine by seeking new insights from many traditions. Nancy has a Ph.D. in Chemistry and is CEO of New Environmental Horizons, Inc., a women-owned environmental consulting firm.
Nina Mongendre teaches Kundalini Yoga, Prenatal Yoga, and Meditation. Her mission is to help students connect to the place within that is all knowing, calm and joyful. Kundalini Yoga is referred to as the Yoga of Awareness. It is a dynamic, powerful technology appropriate for all that is designed to trigger an experience of the unchanging Self. In each class, Nina uses movement, sound current, breath and meditation to relax and heal the mind and body, allowing the spirit to flow freely. Nina grew up in a spiritual household, and from an early age recognized a longing to teach and share this experience with others. Growing up in France, Nina’s early teachers were the books from her parent’s library on yoga, meditation, psychology and philosophy. Later, Nina studied Psychology, Art History and Religion at Brown University, after which she moved to New York, where the connection with Kundalini Yoga was born.
Inspired by the hypnotic, pulsing melodies and rhythms of the cyber hippie state of Goa, India is what brought Samuel Steward to the ancient science of Yoga and Inner Engineering. As a teenager his fascination with God and all things spiritual was influenced by the cultural practices that surrounded the electronic dance music movement of India’s Goa Trance Beach Parties. Through the experience of a collective state of bodily transcendence, similar to that of ancient shamanic dancing rituals, Samuel found that he was able to escape from the stress and anxieties of the common world and unlock the secrets of Love and Joy which were resting deep within his heart. To keep up with the physical demands of all night dancing he adopted the practice of Yoga Asana and soon realized that its benefits offered much more than a great set of abs and unending stamina. With the use of yoga, Samuel has transcended from ordinary living and discovered a way in which to live this life as a Magical Journey of unending Divine Observation and Self Expression. Samuel has studied with some of the most popular teachers in the world but the most powerful revelations of his practice have come from his relationships with students and the people he loves.
Susan Finegold attended many kinds of yoga classes while teaching Engligh Literature in England. She found it enthralling, and decided to learn to teach it herself. Susan's classes focus on precision in the alignment of each posture as well as on creative ways to generate keener awareness in the practice.
Vineet Chander is the Coordinator for Hindu Life at Princeton University and a Religious Life Leader at the Lawrenceville School. He has also served as an adjunct professor, attorney, and communications consultant. His areas of specialty include the Bhakti movement, models of pastoral counseling, and the Hindu-American diaspora community. His writing has appeared in publications ranging from the Journal of Vaishnava Studies to the George WashingtonUniversity International Law Review, and has written regularly for The Hufffington Post and beliefnet.com. Vineet lives in New Jersey with his wife and daughter.
As the nation’s first and only full-time Hindu chaplain and program director, Vineet‘s work with Hindu-American students at one of the world’s premier educational institutions affords him a unique vantage point and powerful experiences from which to draw. Vineet‘s work with the Hindu-American community is also unapologetically autobiographical– he is a second-generation Hindu American, who was born and raised in New York City and discovered his own faith calling in his youth. To further his personal and professional goals,Vineet is pursuing graduate study at Rutgers University in Religion with a concentration in Hindu Studies and Contemplative Studies, under the tutelage of Professor Edwin F. Bryant.