Our Instructors

 
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Stephanie Mills

Stephanie Mills grew up in Dublin, Ireland and moved to Boston in the mid 1990’s. Steph grew up running 5k’s, 10k’s, half marathons, playing soccer and her all time love…. field hockey. She arrived in a hot vinyasa class 17 years ago to get a workout and alleviate stress. A back injury and subsequent surgery renewed her enthusiasm for yoga as she discovered the benefits of yoga for the mind and body. Yoga has been a game changer for her, she has found a place of calm and peace on the mat. Steph is a 500-hour teacher trained graduate of Down Under School of Yoga. Steph’s sequencing is thoughtful and challenging. Her hope is that students will come off the mat feeling challenged, refreshed and balanced. She lives in Watertown and has two children, Adam and Saoirse.


Tom Alden

Tom Alden has been a dedicated yogi for 45+years. He has trained directly with with Trungpa Rinpoche, SN Goenka, Ramanand Patel, and BKS Iyengar.  By 1994, he had more than 25,000 hours of meditation and yoga experience.  Since the early 70's, Tom has worked as a teacher and healer. He trained as a chiropractor and has mastered a full spectrum of manual therapy skills. Simply put, Tom is one of the most seasoned, knowledgable, and skilled manual yoga therapists in the West. In conjunction with his clinical and teaching experience, Tom developed the Open Mandala curriculum—a set of programs that teach healing and wellness from a yogi's perspective. He lives quietly, with his wife Patricia Walden.


 

Rebecca Contant, Om Births

Bec has been teaching Yoga classes since 2001, when she finished the teacher training course at OM Yoga Center under Cyndi Lee. Since then Bec has gone on to gain certifications in restorative yoga and her specialty, pre-natal and post-natal yoga. Bec focuses on helping women develop strength, flexibility and confidence throughout their pregnancy and post-partum. Bec has studied prenatal and post natal yoga with Betsy Kase, Janice Clarfield, and Judith Lasater. Bec has also assisted Janice in training future pre-natal yoga teachers at Kripalu Center for Yoga and Wellness. In January of 2007, Bec completed Barbara Benagh's 15 month course: The Art of Teaching Yoga.

Bec began her training as a Birth Doula in August of 2003 during a pre-natal yoga training. Her first birth experience taught her the value of intuition and a calm, steady presence in birth. Bec has attended nearly 200 births —  first in the New York area, and here in Boston since September 2005. Bec is also certified through DONA International.

Through her years of teaching and attending birthing women, Bec has seen a deep connection between the body, the mind and the heart; a connection she hopes to share with her students and birthing mothers. Bec's classes focus on developing strength and flexibility while learning to respect and listen to the body's wisdom. Her gentle teaching style allows students to deepen their practice while working at their own pace.


Lauren Copeland

Lauren Copeland received her 200 hour YTT through Inner Strength Studios in 2014, under the leadership of Roman Szpond and Lauren Star. Under the guidance and instruction of trainings led by Lara Hocheiser, and later, Elizabeth Goranson, Lauren also received the appropriate credits to become a kids yoga instructor; providing children a pathway to connect to their inner selves, and those around them, through creative movement, props, storytelling, music and yoga games. In 2016, Lauren furthered her credentials to become a certified prenatal instructor, from which she had the pleasure of learning under the guidance of Bec Conant. 

Lauren’s classes have  a continued focus on breath, self-awareness and safe alignment, with options for modifications and use of props.  As a teacher she strives to help her students safely grow their own practice from the inside out. Lauren actively teaches both adult and kid classes throughout Boston and surrounding areas. 


Deena Freed

Deena was born in Russia and came to the US at the age of 12, discovering a local Ashtanga studio 10 yrs later. Deena found herself drawn to the mat, and the strength and agility created in class relieved back pain and lead to her lifetime love of yoga and its healing and strengthening benefits. Although Deena took a break from yoga to start a family, she found a studio in Newton and was able to rebuild her practice from the ground up. As a corporate trainer, Deena always wanted to take her training to the mat and completed the 500-hour teacher training at Down Under School of Yoga  with Natasha Rizopoulos in a 300-hour program. As a yoga teacher, Deena feels strongly about giving her students the foundations in alignment, linking breath with movement and challenging her students to find their sacred space on the mat. Deena lives in Newton with her husband and two children, Jake and Mia and their rescue dogs, Cheesecake and Charlie.


Liz Gawel

Liz Gawel discovered yoga at a local Boston gym in 1999, but it wasn't until she moved to Las Vegas in 2001 that she began to consistently study the practice. During almost a decade of living in the desert, Liz studied and practiced traditional Ashtanga, different methods of Vinyasa flow, and eventually immersed herself in the Anusara yoga system. She took a couple of teacher trainings and began teaching regular weekly classes. In 2009, Liz returned to the Boston area - completing both her 200-hour and 300-hour teacher training under the guidance of Natasha Rizopoulos. Liz has had the pleasure of assisting Natasha's weekly classes, workshops, and teacher trainings throughout New England.

Outside of her yoga practice, Liz is a massage therapist - completing foundational massage training in addition to specialized trainings in Myofascial Release and Thai Yoga Massage. She also holds two degrees in public policy—a bachelor’s degree from Northeastern University and a graduate degree from the University of Massachusetts. She is a mother of two, Boston sports fan, a part-time resident of Martha’s Vineyard, and always working become a better cook.


Susan Harris

Susan Harris began studying yoga in 1992 when she was working in the biomedical sciences. She earned graduate degrees in nutrition and epidemiology, became an associate professor and research scientist at Tufts University, and published about a hundred scientific papers, most concerning the effects of diet and physical activity on musculoskeletal health in older adults. Yoga became an increasingly important part of her life and, while still at Tufts, she undertook yoga teacher training. This included a two-year teaching apprenticeship with Iyengar teacher Joseph Satlak, and a 500-hr Yoga Alliance registered teacher training program with Iyengar teacher Karin Stephan and The Lotus Pond, Tampa. Her scientific background and her personal yoga practice both contribute to her strong belief that people of all ages, fitness levels, and body types can benefit from yoga. 


Jess Hicks

Jess started practicing yoga and meditation with her parents as a child, and practiced off and on through college and several careers. She started practicing in a more dedicated way and was inspired to begin teaching after the birth of her own children. She wanted to share the practice as a way to heal and ground and to find new ways to connect to a changed and changing body.  It was these aspects of practice that helped her to work through cancer discovery, treatment, and recovery. Her teaching and practice are informed by her studies with Bo Forbes, Leslie Kaminoff, Judith Hanson Lasater, Liz Owen, and Josh Summers, among others. She has been particularly interested in the use of lovingkindness meditation, and you will experience aspects of this work even in her asana practices which will require both effort and self-compassion. 


Marca Katz

Marca Katz came to yoga 10 years ago during a time in which she was training for marathons, teaching step classes, and raising her 3 sons. Feeling a need for something with less impact but no less challenging, she was initially lured by the physical aspects of the practice, but kept returning to her mat as she experienced the many other benefits yoga brought into her life. Wanting to share this gift with others, Marca completed a 200-hour teacher training at Down Under Yoga in Newton/Brookline with Kate Heffernan, Peter Crowley, Angelina Hawley-Dolan, and continuing education with Natasha Rizopoulos, and Barbara Benagh.  With degrees in both nursing and exercise physiology, Marca’s dynamic yoga classes are intelligently and creatively sequenced, while providing a safe and gentle space for her students to practice at their own pace, enabling them to reach their potential.


Cathleen O’Connell

Cathleen has been teaching yoga since 2010 and a student since 2003. She is a 500 RYT having done her training under the wise instruction of teacher Natasha Rizopoulos.  Always a student, she continues to be influenced and inspired by Barbara Benagh and Doug Keller. Cathleen is a certified Yoga For All teacher - a style of teaching that creates body positive classes for all shapes, sizes and abilities. On her own mat, she has found that the practice of the physical yoga poses, asana, can have a profound and positive effect on the mind and strives to teach in a way that embodies and empowers students to be at home both in their physical bodies as well as in their heads and hearts.


Rob Phillips

Rob Phillips teaches yoga with an emphasis on mindfulness, simplicity, and precision. His active-style classes strongly focus on the use of breath, and draw from both the finesse of alignment-based methods and the fluid transitions of vinyasa flow. When teaching in a Yin style, Rob’s classes offer instruction inspired by classical buddhist meditation, combined with deep relaxation and release.

Since 2007, Rob has had the privilege of studying with some of Boston’s best teachers, including a 200-hour training with Natasha Rizopoulos, a certification in Yin Yoga with Joshua Summers, and several years of Mysore-style Ashtanga with Kate O’Donnell. In addition, he practices Vipassana(Insight) Meditation with instruction from Abre Chen, as well as regular long retreats with some of the nations top teachers at the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, MA.

Outside of his work in yoga, Rob spends much of his time devoted to the performance and production of music; so it is perhaps with some irony that he is now drawn primarily towards practices with a strong focus on silence.


Neil Taylor

Being a musician most of his life, Neil found Yoga the way many people do; looking for a workout.  By the end of his first practice he realized that the physical practice of Yoga was a gateway to a deeper experience.  After years of interpolating his music career with Yoga and meditation practice, the urge to teach grew stronger. 

Neil completed his 200 hour certification under Master Baptiste teachers Gregor Singleton and Claire Este-McDonald.  He then went on to mentor and assist under Masaaki Okamura.  Today, he continues his studies under the steady guidance of his mentors; Dr. Tom Alden and Coeli Marsh.


Leah Thiffault

Leah  has been interested in movement her entire life. She began her career as a dance instructor and performer. Relocating from her native Seattle to Los Angeles, she performed in musical theatre productions across the globe. Leah turned to yoga to find balance amidst the unpredictable lifestyle of a performer and became enamored with yoga as a conduit for physical health and focus of the mind. Drawing on a strong background kinesiology, her classes focus on safe alignment, flexibility, strength and relaxation. Leah is certified RYT-500 and holds a BA from Wellesley College.


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Maureen Walsh

Maureen began her practice with yoga classes at a local gym when a weekend at Kripalu in the Berkshires inspired her to make the practice a part of her daily life.  She soon discovered that yoga calmed her mind, helped her navigate the work stresses of the corporate world, and steadied her through family illnesses. After 10 years of regular practice Maureen decided to become a teacher to share yoga with others and to delve deeper into her own practice.  Maureen completed her 200 hour teaching training with Peter Crowley, Kate Heffernan, and Angelina Hawley-Dolan at Down Under School of Yoga in July 2015.  She completed her 300 hour teacher training with Natasha Rizopoulos at Down Under School of Yoga. In addition to being a yoga teacher Maureen is a second degree Reiki practitioner.