Teacher Bios

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Elizabeth Johnstone

Elizabeth is a 500 hour Certified Baptiste teacher and 500 ERYT. Elizabeth is trained in Mindful Yoga Therapy for Veterans Coping with Trauma.

Elizabeth enjoys sharing her passion for yoga with the community. She also enjoys helping athletes gain greater strength and flexibility through BPVY. Her love of yoga and her commitment to her true path and to helping others inspires her to be a passionate and caring teacher. As Elizabeth relates,

The moving and dynamic flow and sequencing is fun and accessible to everyone. The breath reminds me that the past is not now, and reminds me of my aliveness. I am so grateful to Baron Baptiste and his family for bringing yoga into my life and the lives of so many others.

Elizabeth has attended workshops with The Anatomy of Yoga man himself Paul Grilley, Mukunda Stiles author of Structural Yoga Therapy, and meditation teacher Sally Kempton, formerly known as Swami Durgananda and the author of the Heart of Meditation. Elizabeth is a member of the International Association of Yoga Therapists (I.A.Y.T.).

Elizabeth is a graduate of Spirit Tree Yoga School with Director Cathy Cesario. Cathy is a Shamanic Practitioner at the Advanced Level and also holds a certificate in Energy medicine. She has been a student of T.K.V. Desikachar, among others. The therapeutic aspect of this training is a compliment to Baptiste Power Vinyasa Yoga, and Cathy’s background with abuse and trauma is very helpful to the population served by Recovery Yoga.

She has completed Level One Thai Yoga bodywork training with Ed Cardinal. Elizabeth was  honored to have trained with Master Yoga Therapist Aadil Palkhivala. She was  awarded a Professional Yoga Therapist Certificate from Aadil Palkhivala.

Shaun English

Shaun English, a yoga therapist, has been a teacher for Recovery Yoga since its inception.  She’s also the owner of Mindful Movement, a yoga therapy practice for people seeking personal yoga instruction.  Shaun is registered with Yoga Alliance through training with Ana Forrest, is a member of the International Association of Yoga Therapists, and is a licensed Marriage & Family therapist. Shaun has been practicing yoga for fourteen years and teaching for eight years.   Shaun has studied with a number of senior yoga professionals including Baron Baptiste, Paul Grilley, Richard Miller and Heidi Sormaz. In 2006, she completed Foundational Teacher Training in Forrest Yoga focusing on healing trauma with yoga. In 2007, she was certified with Itsy Bitsy Yoga International.  She continues to study functional anatomy with Ellen Heed. In 2008, Shaun completed a trauma-sensitive yoga teaching certificate program with Bessel van der Kolk.  In 2010, she completed Level II of Richard Miller’s Integrative Restoration Yoga Nidra, which is body scanning  meditation for stress  relief.  In 2012, Shaun studied with a master teacher from Duke Integrative Medicine’s program for teaching to seniors.

Shaun has been teaching Recovery Yoga programs at Amethyst House for over three years. Previously Shaun taught Recovery Yoga programs for  the teen girls at York Correctional Facility and the mothers and their children at a domestic violence shelter.  Amethyst House is Crossroads’  program for pregnant women and women residing with children in treatment. It is the largest such program in Connecticut,  providing residential substance abuse treatment to 20 women.  This program is now housed in a new, state-of-the-art  residential facility designed specifically for women with children.  Shaun continues to teach mom and baby bonding at Amethyst  House. She also teaches mom and baby bonding at Fresh Yoga in New Haven. The Itsy Bitsy Yoga program is an opportunity  for the women to bond with their babies in a fun way where  they can experience basic parenting skills. Shaun’s goal is for the women to have healthy and happy moments  connecting with their babies. Shaun also teaches a Recovery  yoga program for the adult women at Amethyst House in which  yoga becomes a tool to aid their recovery. Through  deliberate practice on feeling their breath, the women  experience relief from stress.

She believes that through a commitment and perseverance to body awareness, we can gradually reeducate and reorient habits of mind and body. Focusing on the present allows us to access the inner peace available to all of us, regardless of physical limitations or emotional distress. A gift of yoga she shares with others is that problems and pain are just a means to remind you to be aware. Struggles become tools for awareness, not defeat. Shaun is a on the Faculty of the Recovery Yoga teacher training.

Robin LeVine Dezjot

Robin has spent several years as a management consultant and development coach with a proven track record in organizational planning, staff training, course leader/trainer development and project management. Her life is about making a difference and serving others.

She volunteered at York Correctional in 2006, as a mentor. Robin began teaching yoga at York in September 2011 for Recovery Yoga.

Previously, Robin was a senior staff member at Baptiste Power Yoga Institute. She was Director of The Program Leader Body and Director of Assistant Teams worldwide.

She also has spent several years as a management consultant and development coach with a proven track record in organizational planning, staff training, course leader/trainer development and project management. Her life is about making a difference and serving others.
Robin has worked with “youth at risk” and the adults that serve them for over 25 years; managing programs in over 30 cities in the United States and the United Kingdom to transform the lives of the most disengaged , traumatized and troubled youth from all walks of life.

Her expertise is in developing staff and coaching trainers that offer personal development and providing operational project management and design in this arena.

Robin is a 25 year veteran of transformational work: education, training and delivery.

She has 2 breath taking, beautiful children, Andrew Kyle, 11 and Kyra Marci, 13. Robin has been teaching yoga since 1997.

Kris Whelan-Griscom

Kris has always been a strong believer in physical health, nutrition and a spiritual practice. She began teaching fitness in 1982 at the John Harris Fitness Center in Vienna, Austria and went on to teach for years in Florida and Rhode Island. Kris started practicing yoga in 1998 and teacher training in 2002.

Kris has 240 RYS hours of teacher training with Baron Baptiste, completing Level I, Level II and Baptiste’s Mastery in Teaching. She is currently working toward her certification with BPYI.

Kris also has had extensive training with Rodney and Colleen Yee, Richard, Ana Forrest and Sean Corne. Further, she has completed training workshops with Shiva Rea, John Friend, Dharma Mittra, Sally Kempton (meditation), Ajahn Thanasanti (meditation) and Gina Sharpe (meditation).

As a certified UZIT* (Urban Zen Integrative Therapist), Kris brings the practices of:
• Reiki
• Aromatherapy
• Rain Drop technique (Lakota Indian detoxifying & pain relief technique with essential oils)
• Vita Flex (Tibetan foot reflexology with essential oils)
• Yoga
• Breathe Awareness
• Nutrition

*The Urban Zen Foundation founded by Donna Karan is dedicated to changing the paradigm of western medicine. The groundbreaking, advanced UZIT program (a 500 hour RYT) includes training in yoga therapy, breath awareness, aromatherapy, reiki, nutrition, and contemplative care education.

Kris’ affiliations and memberships include:
• The American Botanical Council
• National Association of Ayurvedic Medicine

“I feel so grateful and blessed to be part of this amazing journey with all my fellow yogis and community spirits! All have so many powerful golden nuggets and continue to share and shine – Namaste”- Kris

Janice Fifer

Janice is a registered yoga teacher, having completed her 500 hour level training with Coral Brown. She holds a BS in exercise science and her master’s work is in health promotion. Trauma – Sensitive Yoga trained by David Emerson, Jenn Turner, Bessel van der Kolk. Yoga brought peace and self acceptance to her life that she hopes to bring to others. As a volunteer mentor at the Women’s Correctional Institution in Rhode Island she became interested in working with people in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction. She is involved with the Institute for Addiction Recovery at Rhode Island College and taught yoga at Phoenix House, a residential recovery center, in Exeter RI through April 2012. She is currently teaching yoga at the minimum security building at the women’s prison in Cranston, RI.

Veronica Baracco

Veronica Baracco teaches a weekly class for the women at Southeastern Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence. Veronica completed her 200 Hour Yoga Alliance Certification with West Hartford Yoga (WHY). She’s been practicing yoga for over 10 years and attributes her recovery process with a back injury, substance abuse and anxiety to the benefits of her practice. She has found such a peace and a sense of wellbeing, through her practice, that she feels compelled and privileged to share this beautiful gift with others. Through yoga she has learned the tools to quiet the mind, listen to her body and intuition, but most of all yoga has taught her to listen to her heart.

Veronica’s first job, at the age of 17, was teaching aerobics and weight training. She continued her fondness of health for many years in numerous health clubs, but found her passion, when she discovered yoga. She believes that wellness is not only physical, but should include the mind and spirit.

Veronica, by trade is an Accountant. She comments regularly; “corporate by day, yogi by night”. Having a strong yoga practice in her life, she has found balance incorporating both yin and yang into her daily life. She was brought up Macrobiotic until she was a teen, and has found her way back to her roots within a holistic lifestyle.

Katie Ziskind

Katie Ziskind attended Baron Baptiste’s Immersion Weekend, planting the seed and inspiring her teacher training. She is registered through Yoga Alliance for her 200-hour Lifeline Power Yoga Teacher Training and Children’s Yoga. Aiding in assisting and alignment, Katie has taken the course, The Anatomy of Yoga, with Ray Long M.D. FRCSC and Chris Macivor.

Working towards her goals of intertwining psychology and yoga, she hopes to give others an opportunity to cultivate inner peace on the mat and radiate global peace off the mat.  Katie completed a 500  hour Inner peace Yoga therapy training with internationally known and respected Yoga teacher Nischala Joy Devi.

Melissa Rockwell

Melissa is a certified Kripalu Yoga Instructor (200 hour), Let Your Yoga Dance® Instructor (100 hour) and Creative Kids Yoga™ Instructor (30 hour). She also has advanced training in Yoga For Seniors (25 hours) and has studied Yoga for Anxiety and Depression with Bo Forbes. In addition she is a Level 3 Practitioner of Integrated Positional Therapy, a hands on neuromuscular technique that includes assisted stretching for chronic and acute pain relief. She is the coordinator of the Westerly Community Yoga Center (www.westerlyyoga.com), nestled inside the Tower Street School Community Center in Westerly, RI.

Melissa has been practicing yoga since 1997. Progressively integrating yoga into her life over the years, she credits her practice with easing the stresses of motherhood, managing a dual career household, her husband’s military deployments, and major life upheavals. Yoga has been a consistent complement to other forms of exercise and strength training for her. She has experience using yoga to manage chronic pain and various ailments. Melissa credits her practice of yoga on and off the mat with bringing her to a new overall level of health and wellness.

In addition to a keen interest in the anatomy details of yoga postures, Melissa brings extensive experience with the chakra system and knowledge of the stress response system to her teaching. Her teaching style embodies a playful and down to earth spirit with attention to details that ensure personal comfort while building strength and flexibility during yoga practice. Melissa has a personal interest in making yoga accessible to people who have never practiced before for a variety of reasons. Above all there is always an emphasis on compassion for self and others. She also assists Kripalu Yoga Teacher Trainings.

Formerly an analytical chemist, she lives on a small hobby farm in North Stonington with her husband, two children, honeybees, chickens, and three cats. When she is not on the mat Melissa is usually working in the kitchen with her husband canning batches of jam and soups. She can be reached by email at yogachickah@gmail.com or by phone at (860)303-1594.

Courtney Deblasio

Courtney has been practicing Yoga for over ten years and she is honored to be able to pass along her passion and enthusiasm for these practices to her students. A 200-hour RYT, she began teaching in 2010 in New York after completing her training with the Conquering Lion Yoga Teacher Training program. She continues to participate in workshops and trainings under various teachers and styles.

Her recent move to the Mystic area brought her to The Mystic Yoga Shala and to the teachings of the Baptiste method, which speaks to the, “Yes You Can!” attitude that is at the heart of her teaching. She plans to pursue her 200-hour certification with Baron Baptiste in 2014.

Above all, Courtney maintains that the most important part of the Yoga practice is to have fun and play! “When you practice with a strong intention, compassion in your heart (and a smile on your face) the Yoga practice can cultivate more healing and more joy than you ever thought possible.”
Courtney has been teaching a weekly class for the women at York correctional facility on the West
side since March of 2014.

Priscilla Humphrey

Priscilla Humphrey has been a supporter of Recovery Yoga and our mission since its founding. She graciously  taught at our first fundraiser at beautiful Dragons Egg in Ledyard Ct.   ”I deeply honor the work being done by the Recovery Yoga teachers in our community.”

She graciously  taught at our first fundraiser at beautiful Dragons Egg in Ledyard Ct. She is a faculty member of the Recovery Yoga teacher training.

Priscilla  has been teaching and practicing Kripalu Yoga for 14 years. She is gifted at guiding students to an inner space of calm, clarity and release. She teaches classes, workshop and private sessions in Restorative, Vinyasa & Partner Yoga. She is a Thai Yoga Therapist, Attunement practitioner & Energy Coach and she loves what she does.

Sue Stains MacClain

Sue Stains MacClain  volunteers her time as Creative Director of Recovery Yoga and is on the faculty of the Recovery Yoga teacher training.

In 2010, Sue received her 200-Hour certification through the Mystic Yoga Shala & LIfeline Power Yoga (Sid Yoga). She has also completed Level 1 and Level 2 Bootcamp Trainings with Baron Baptiste, as well as Baptiste Art of Assisting and is currently in process of receiving Baptiste Certification. Along with her teacher Baron Baptiste, she has studied with Erich Schiffmann, and considers him to be one of her greatest teaching inspirations. Sue’s most recent training in 2014 was with Jillian Pransky in Resorative Yoga.

Off her mat, Sue studies the art of Thangkga painting and Buddhist Dharma with her teacher, Lama Tsondru Sangpo Butia. Meditation and spiritual practice are the hallmarks of her yoga practice and life.

“I teach because it shows me who I really am. Much of what I am learning about myself and how I move through life, I am learning on my yoga mat and with meditation. Teaching, learning and conveying the experiences of my own living yoga practice inspires me to inspire others.” Sue offers a donation based meditation class monthly at the Mystic Yoga Shala on Sundays at 7:30 pm.

“It has been my sincere honor and pleasure to serve Recovery Yoga in supporting the mission to bring the benefits of yoga to those in need. Elizabeth and her efforts are examples of compassion and dedication – qualities that are inspiring to me and to all she touches.”

Lisa Bragaw

Lisa Bragaw  recently earned her Doctorate of Pharmacy, so, of course, her next move was to open Zen and Now Wellness studio ! Lisa has found a balance between her pharmacy career and her passion for yoga and fitness, and is very excited to incorporate both roles in a wellness center. In her role as consultant pharmacist and providing medication management counseling services to patients, Lisa often recommends exercise and breathing techniques to complement medication regimens in an effort to improve her patients’ health and wellbeing. In fact, Lisa came to practice yoga regularly to improve her own health after suffering repetitive strain injuries in her neck and back related to work. She found yoga to be a great way to release stress, reduce pain and create balance in her body and her life. Zen and Now Wellness studio has held classes and donated mats and clothes from their community for our progams. Lisa is on the faculty of Recovery Yoga teacher training.

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