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The Yogis of Karma Kids Yoga

The teachers are the heart of our yoga program.
All of our instructors are trained and experienced in teaching yoga to children, prenatal, postnatal or all three.
Some are sillier than others, but they are all extremely creative, nurturing, and fun!

Shari Vilchez-Blatt
Creator and Director of Karma Kids Yoga

Shari was a VP, Advertising Director before completely changing her path. Many of her years in the corporate ad world were spent researching kids and moms for marketing purposes - using CAPS (Child and Parent Studies), one-on-one sessions, qualitative and quantitative research to study childrens' play patterns, socialization, creativity and imagination, family interaction, teen studies and cultural trends, in the U.S. and around the world. She has also developed, named, packaged and marketed toys, games, activity kits and action figures for kids of all ages. She left for the opportunity to combine two things that are close to her heart - yoga and children.

Kids really respond to Shari, as she communicates with them in a fun and trusting way that will comfort even the most shy child. She knows how to relate and talk to kids on their level, allowing them to sense her friendliness and understanding. Shari can turn any task into something fun and is simply an enthusiastic child in an adult body.

Shari has developed yoga programs for many schools and consultants on various healthy living articles for numerous Parenting Magazines, Target, Nickelodeon, Working Woman, as well as health and wellness and parenting blogs. She can also be found advocating for the Yoga For NY, Wellness in Schools, and Yoga for Peace organizations. She is also a presenter at the National Kids Yoga Conference and Yoga Journal Live. Shari is a regular contributor to NY Yoga + Life magazines Kids and Family section. Shari has been featured on Sesame Street sharing yoga with Murray and Ovejita at "yoga school"!

Shari is mom to yogini, Layla Moon, and practices yoga with her almost every day. Shari is inspired by the knowledge of her teachers, the creativity of her students, the kindness of her friends, and the love of her family, especially her husband, Jason.

Shari has trained over two thousand people around the world to teach yoga to children through the renowned Karma Kids Yoga Teacher Training Program. Many of them have started their own kids yoga programs. She has also trained hundreds of Preschool, Elementary, Middle and High School Educators through her Yoga in the Classroom, Yoga in the Preschool Classroom and Yoga For Test Prep courses, spreading the benefits of yoga into the public, charter, and private school systems. She also acts as a mentor to teachers around the world. Shari created the Teen Yoga Teacher Training Intensive, Baby Yoga & Developmental Movement Workshop, Yoga & Mindfulness for Stressed Out Teachers, and The Business of Kids Yoga Workshop. Shari's latest endeavor is her Girl Empowerment Series. Next up...Boy Power...stay tuned.

Certification and Education in Yoga:

YogaKids with Marsha Wenig
Radiant Child Yoga Level 3 with Shakta Kaur Khalsa
Yoga Mom Buddha Baby with Jyothi Larson
Yoga Therapy for Children with Loraine Rushton
Yoga for Kids with Special Needs with Alison Morgan
Every Kids Yoga with Craig Hanauer
Minfulness for Children with Jennifer Harper Cohen
Prenatal Yoga with Juliana Secches
Prenatal Pilates with Brigette Arle
Gogo Babies Infant Development with Ellynne Skove
Circus Yoga Ring 3 with Erin Maile O'Keefe and Kevin O'Keefe
Brain Gym with Mari Miyoshi
The Magic of Music with Kira Willey

Shari_crow

Shari's favorite yoga pose is Bakasana, or Crow Pose, because it requires strength, balance, and focus. And because it's fun to jump into!

 

Suzanna Neeley Bridges

Born and raised in Wake Forest, North Carolina, Suzanna discovered yoga when the Big Apple started to make her feel small. The peace, mindfulness, and connection that yoga provided were paralleled only by the music in her life. A singer/songwriter and graduate of NYU's Tisch School of the Arts, Suzanna has finally found the perfect marriage of her love of yoga, music, and children in Karma Kids Yoga, where she completed her children's yoga training. More recently, she completed her training in Yoga for Kids with Special Needs through Radiant Child Yoga and Zensational Kids Yoga, as well as with Every Kids Yoga.

Through years of teaching children's enrichment classes she has witnessed first-hand the incredible power of song in early childhood development and beyond. Her classes are always musical adventures designed to nurture the body and soul.

Suzanna almost never leaves her apartment these days without a musical instrument slung on her back. And she certainly never teaches a yoga class without the help of her trusted friend and guitar, Barnaby. When she isn't teaching classes she's either performing in her bluegrass/motown band, "Walking for Pennies", or in her kids band "The Bubble Factory".

Suzanna's favorite yoga poses is Malasana or Frog Pose because nothing beats a really good "ribbit". She is also a new momma to baby Penelope Grace born February 2018.

 

 

Sheilagh Falcigno

Sheilagh has been practicing yoga for more than half her life. She discovered it here in her native New York, and brought it with her to Santa Fe, New Mexico where she pursued an Early Childhood degree and began working in parenting education with at-risk families. She later moved to Florida to begin her own journey as a parent. Upon returning to NYC, she worked in Early Childhood enrichment and Preschool classrooms for The Childene's Aid Society for six years. It was after moving to Rome, Italy that Sheilagh decided to dedicate herself to teaching yoga.

Sheilagh began a year-long yoga mentorship program at Centro Turiya and earner her Children's Yoga certification through Rainbow Kids Yoga. Six years and a lot of pizza later, she came home to New York where she received her 200-hour certification at New York Yoga. After volunteering at Ronadl McDonald House, she became a trained Yoga4Cancer teacher, and went on to receive additional training and certifications in Trauma-Informed Yoga, Adaptive and Chair Yoga. Her absolute favorite is Prenatal Yoga, which she studied with Juliana Mitchell of Carried Downward Breath.

Sheilagh loves sharing what she knows about yoga with all of her students, young and old, and truly believes the practice holds endless possibilities for people of all abilities.

Sheilagh's favorite yoga pose is Vrkasana , or Tree Pose, mostly because she really loves climbing trees!

 

 

 

Laura Frye

With a love for the stage, Laura made her way to NYC after completing her Master's in Acting at the University of Houston. Upon arriving, she realized that she also had another love and that was working with and helping children with their confidence, through movement based fun. She realized quickly what a rewarding experience it was to work with kids of all ages nad she knew she wanted to pursue more movement based programs for children.

Laura had been practicing yoga for several years and through a chance introduction, she became part of the KKY family. She completed the Karma Kids Yoga Teacher Training, as well as Jyothi Larson's Postnatal Yoga Mom Buddha Baby Training, and has been lovin' life ever since. Laura has also completed the KKY Teen Yoga Teacher Training Intensive and Prenatal Yoga Training with Juliana Secches. More recently, she became certified to teach kids with specail needs through Every Kids Yoga. Laura finds complete and total joy helping each child grow and learn through yoga. This is extremely evident in her exciting and imaginative classes, as you can tell that she's having as much fun as the kids are. Laura says that this is the happiest she has ever felt.

Laura is also a facilitator of the Karma Kids Yoga Teacher Training course and travels the world teaching adults how to teach yoga to children.

When she's not teaching at KKY, Laura is traveling the country teaching movement and acting at different Theater Academies and festivals. Laura is also the Artistic Director of Promethean Theater Company and a very proud member of Actor's Equity.

Laura's favorite yoga pose is Natarajasana or Dancer Pose, because it makes her feel strong and confident, but mostly because she's been doing it since she was a little girl, when pretending she was an Olympic Ice-Skating champ. This pose still creates a sense of play and fun in her practice.

 

 

Heather Gobbee

Heather can't think of a better way to spend her day than having fun, being creative and supporting the developmental needs of our children. Born and raised in the California sunshine, she brought her little light to NYC in pursuit of acting.

Heather's educational training, theater endeavors and classroom experience has shed light on the many layered connections between child development, yoga, and the dramatic arts. She believes that when children play, they happily learn.

Heather is a NYS Certified Theater Arts Educator, and has received certifications in teaching yoga to children through Karma Kids Yoga and Little Flower Yoga, Radiant Child Heart & Soul workshop, CircusYoga Ring Two Teacher Training, and Zenergy's Yoga Therapy for Children. More recently, Heather completed KKY's Baby Yoga & Developmental Movement training. She is also mom to two little theatrical yoginis.

Heather's classes are inspiring, exciting, and always include something unexpected or a wonderous learning experience! Her passion for working with children is obvious in all that she does.

Heather's favorite pose is Vrksasana, or Tree Pose, because she loves the strong and glorious nature of trees and because they remind her of people. Like us, trees are forever growing, and need to stay rooted in a healthy environment with plenty of love in order to survive.

 

Lauren Jacobs

A native New York/New Jerseyer, Lauren discovered yoga during college and became hooked when she realized how much peace, playfulness and openness the practice consistently brought her. She has since completed the Immersion and Teacher Training Program at World Yoga Center and the Children's Yoga Teacher Training at Karma Kids Yoga, and has also participated in intensives wtih Todd Norian of Ashaya Yoga, Elena Brower of Vira Yoga, Jackie Prete of Ram Sangha Yoga and Baron Baptiste of Baptise Power Yoga.

Lauren has always had a passion for the arts and arts learning, earning a BA in Theater and English from Oberlin College and an M.Ed from Harvard University with a focus in Arts in Education. She has trained in theatre, and improv with the People's Improv Theater, The Forum Project, LaMaMa & the G.A.T.E. Ensemble. She is a New York State certified and New York City licensed in Theatre & English and has taught theatre, improv, creative writing and anti-bullying courses with The All Stars Project, Plays for Living, The East Side Institute and Prepare Impact Self Defense as well as with the New York City Department of Education.

Lauren is thrilled to be part of the Karma Kids family! She is inspired to blend her loves of practicing yoga, teaching children and exploring creativity into exciting kids' yoga classes where all children can go on imaginative adventures of their own making.

Lauren's favorite yoga pose is Tripod Headstand, or Sirsasana II, because going upside down is lots of fun and definitely offers a whole new perspective.

 

 

Paige Johnston

Paige recently moved to NYC from her hometown of Calgary, Canada. She's a designer, writer and sustainability enthusiast who is currently pursuing a Master's degree at the Parsons School of Design.

Paige grew up dancing, and has worked as a dance teacher to the littlest of ballerina's, tappers and jazz dancers. She began practicing yoga at a time when the last thing in the world she wanted to do was to slow down adn breathe, but she is so grateful she did! Paige completed her 200 hour Teacher Training in 2014 and quickly went on to do her 50 hour Kids Yoga Teacher Training. She recently completed Every Kids Yoga for Special Needs.

Paige has been teaching yoga for 4 years. She loves leading children, families and adults through tree poses, handstands and giggling savasana - throwing in a few dance moves and twirls along the way!

Her favorite yoga poses is Mermaid pose.

 

 

 

Melissa Lawson

Born in Thailand, Melissa has lived throughout South Asia, Southern United States, and now calls New York home. Her yoga practice began when she took it as an elective in college and fell in love with it.

She brings a playful aspect to her yoga that carries into her life off the mat. Melissa is a fine artist and Karma Kids own 'artist in residence'; our murals and paintings of Ganesh and Sita are her handiwork. She leads classes that inspire creativity such as mat painting and yoga art, as well as other children's yoga classes.

Melissa also teaches at St. Ignatius Loyola Day Nursery where her class is part of the curriculum. She has become the "Yoga Fairy" to 150 preschoolers. She believes that there is magic in a yoga practice that illuminates people from the inside out and she brings this magic into all of her classes.

Melissa holds certifications to teach yoga through Karma Kids Yoga, Radiant Child Yoga, Yoga for the Special Child,Yoga Mom Buddha Baby, Pediatric Yoga, and is trained in First Aid and CPR.

Her three precious children have practiced yoga and meditation since birth.

Melissa's favorite pose is the Balancing Half Lotus.

 

 

 

 

 

Annie LeVasseur

Annie, a lifelong southern belle, moved to New York several years after earning her BA in Theatre from Christopher Newport University in Virginia. As she worked and interned at serveral theaters, her yoga practice became more and more important as a tool to acheive balance, peace, flexibility of body and mind. So she dove in to her 200-hr certification through Sonic Yoga, and began pursuing her passion of giving the gift of yoga to anyone open to receiving it.

Inspired by fellow children's yoga teacher, Laura Frye, Annie set her sights on the world of yoga for kids, and completed her Children's Yoga training through Karma Kids Yoga. Working with children has cracked her heart and smile wide open, noticing that it's hard to take life too seriously when you surround yourself with kids. Annie completed her Prenatal Yoga certification with Juliana Secches, and her Postnatal certification with Jyothi Larson. She also completed CircusYoga's Ring One Immersion, and the Teen Yoga Teacher Training Intensive with KKY. More recently, Annie became a certfied Doula through DONA International.

Annie's gentle nature and warm personality make even the most shy child feel comfortable in her classes. She ensures that all kids have fun while strenthening their bodies. Balancing out her high energy yoga adventures with children, Annie is also certified in the healing art of Thai Yoga Massage. More recently, she became a trained and certified labor and birth doula, from DONA International. Annie also manages the studio and makes everything happen.

Annies' favorite yoga pose is Child's Pose or Balasana, because it reminds her that no matter what challenges the outside world can throw at you, you can always curl up, and go inside to find that blissful place that lives inside us all.

 

 

Shell Merrill

Shell Merrill has always enjoyed using her imagination and expressing herself physically; from the first plays that she wrote and performed with her sister as a child, to her career as a modern dancer and later as a zany Spinning instructor in her hometown of Minneapolis, MN.

Shell has a huge belief in the knowledge gained through trying new things, learning to "practice" rather than trying to be perfect and most of all, being able to laugh through the whole experience. She brings a sense of fun, play and compassion to all of her classes, for both adults and kids.

Shell is a 500 hour certified RYT trained at BeYoga/Yoga Works and calms her inner "bouncing off the walls" big kid energy through her own yoga practice. She is also certified to teach yoga to children through Karma Kids Yoga. Her classes are engaging and hysterical, always filled with laughter. She is also mom to Tessa, another born-yogini.

Shell's favorite pose is Trikonasana or Triangle Pose.

 

 

Svenja Ostwald

Svenja was born and raise in Germany and fascinated by NYC from her very first visit. She is a fashion designer who has moved to this magical city a few years ago and pursued her dream to become a yoga teacher. She is a creative mind and enjoys accompanying pregnant students during this unique journey of becoming a mother! After completing the 200 hour teacher training at YogaWorks in NYC, she wanted to dive deeper into the world of Prenatal and Postnatal Yoga. Inspired by taking Prenatal Yoga classes on her own and realizing how her practice has deepened the connection with her baby and the awareness of her body changes, she completed her training with the Prenatal Yoga Center in 2016 just before giving bitht to her daughter Matilda Claire. More recently, Svenja completed KKY's Baby Yoga & Developmental Movement workshop.

Svenja loves to empower her pregant students by building strength - both physically and mentally. Her authenticity, kindness and humor make her classes challenging and joyful at the same time.

Svenja is very excited to be part of the Karma Kids Yoga family and loves spending time on the mat - either teaching or together with her daughter.

Svenja's favorite yoga poses is Headstand because she loves to see the world upside down and shifting her perspective.

 

Jeannette Prostowich

Jeannette has been a devoted yoga practitioner for the past 18 years. She discovered kids yoga after attending classes with her daughter and loved every single minute of it! With a love of music, movement and children, Jeannette completed her training at Karma Kids Yoga in 2013. She believes that sharing the practice of yoga with children early on can give them a "toolbox" that will grow with them as they face some challenges that life brings.

Jeannette holds a BA in Communications from Adelphi University. She worked in advertising for 12 years as a video editor cutting commercials and corporate videos. During this time, she discovered the practice of yoga. It was exactly what her body needed after sitting in a static position for many hours a day. She became hooked and knew this was something she'd be doing for the rest of her life. More recently, Jeannette completed her 200 hour adult yoga training and KKY's Baby Yoga & Developmental Movement course.

Jeannette feels blessed to share her love of yoga and to be teaching at Karma Kids Yoga! She loves to sing, be goofy and play! Her favorite yoga poses is Virabhadrasana 3 or Warrior 3, because it makes her feel strong to balance on one foot. It's also a really great way to get to an exciting yoga adventure. Jeannette looks forward to seeing you and your kids on the mat!

Jeannette's favorite yoga poses is Virabhadrasana III or Airplane Pose because it makes her feel strong to stand on one foot and balance.

 

 

 

 

Juliana Secches

Juliana Secches was born and raised in Brazil, where she was a dancer for many years. It was only after she moved to New York that she found Yoga and in her very first class she knew that Yoga was something she wanted to do for the rest of her life.

Juliana has been a teacher for over 17 years. Having earned a certification from Be Yoga and Karma Kids Yoga, she continues to study with some of the best instructors in New York. Her life-long passion for working with kids also led her to further her studies of childbirth, child development and postnatal physiology. More recently, Juliana completed KKY's Baby Yoga & Developmental Movement course.

Juliana currently teaches Vinyasa classes, as well as Prenatal, Mom & Baby and Kids Yoga. Her classes are fun and her nurturing personality always makes even first-time Yogis very comfortable. She builds her classes around what she sees as the most important limb of Yoga: Satya (truthfulness).

Juliana is also our Prenatal Yoga Director and offers a comprehensive Teacher Training in Prenatal Yoga. She is also mom to yogini Bruno, who practices with her almost every day.

Juliana's favorite pose is Eka Pada Rajakapotasana or King Pigeon Pose.

 

 

Amanda Sidran

When Amanda moved to New York from Wisconsin a decade ago, she wouldn't have guessed that the journey would lead her here! But her yoga practice became her grounding force as she established herself in the city, moving through a number of careers before deciding that yoga is what she wanted to do.

Amanda became a dedicated meditator, and earned her 200 hour certification at Bodhisattva Yoga in 2014. After completing the Karma Kids teacher training, she was thrilled to have the opportunity to join the team, and share her love for the practice with a new generations. Her classes are playful and fun and always inspire laughter. Amanda completed her certification in Special Needs with Every Kids Yoga and her Prenatal certification with Samba Yoga. More recently, she completed KKY's Baby Yoga & Developmental Movement course.

Amamda is also a facilitator of the Karma Kids Yoga Teacher Training course and travels the world teaching adults how to teach yoga to children.

Amanda lives in Brooklyn with her aspiring yogi husband and aspiring yogini daughter.

Since it's too hard to choose just one, Amanda's favorite yoga poses are Ardha Chandrasana or Half Moon Pose for the fullest expression of openness and balance, Sirsasana or Headstand for the sense of resetting, and she loves to work on Titibasana or Firefly Pose since it's so challenging and knows she'll master it one of these days!

 

 

Our office is located at 16 Madison Square West, 12th floor • at 25th Street • NYC NY 10010. Our Phone is (646)638-1444 and email downdog@karmakidsyoga.com
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