Heart of the Village Yoga

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The Team

The Team

Remembering our teacher and dear friend, Juliana Centner. You are often in our minds and forever in our hearts.
January 16, 1937 - October 27, 2012

- Andrea and Jo

Jo Kirsch, E-RYT® 500, Owner/Director

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Jo’s been practicing yoga for 29 years and teaching for 19. She is certified to teach yoga at the 500 Hour level through Yoga Teacher Alliance and the Hard & the Soft Yoga Institute.

Jo’s initial yoga teacher training was in Astanga yoga with Beryl Bender Birch. Since that time, Jo has been certified to teach Adaptive Yoga by Matthew Sanford, Trauma Sensitive Yoga by David Emerson, Yoga Nidra by Jennifer Reis, Yoga of 12 Step Recovery with Nikki Myers and Yin Yoga with Biff Mithoefer. Jo has a deepening love and appreciation for Bhakti Yoga and finds her heart cracking wide open as she studies and practices with Manoj Chalam, Sean Johnson and the Wild Lotus Band, and Gaura Vani. Her studies also include Iyengar and Anusara yoga, with many amazing, inspiring, loving teachers.

Jo’s personal experience with Post Traumatic Stress  (PTSD) inspired her to work with individuals with PTS, to help them manage their stress and heal. Jo’s practice informs her teaching. She’s found that everyone benefits from learning and practicing coping skills to help manage personal stress. She greatly values and teaches stress reduction techniques including posture practice, meditation, focused breathing, and yoga nidra in her yoga classes.

Jo is also a certified professional ski instructor who loves to ski and share her passion for the sport with others. A lifelong learner who subscribes to experiential education, Jo finds that a balanced combination of physical activity, being in nature, practicing the different limbs of yoga, and eating well, leads to a spiritual, mental and physical life of health and happiness. She loves to share these practices with friends, family, and individuals who are in search of healing and happiness.

Bob Speck, E-RYT® 500, Owner

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Bob Speck is a Registered Yoga Teacher (EYT-500), Certified Personal Trainer and Functional Strength Coach. Bob has been practicing yoga for about 20 years, receiving his 500-hr accreditation through Beryl Bender Birch (The Hard and The Soft Yoga Institute) in 2016. Bob has also studied with Eoin Finn (Blissology Vinyasa Flow Yoga); Mathew Sanford (Adaptive Yoga); Biff Mithoefer (Yin Yoga); Sean Johnson (Bhakti Yoga), Manoj Chalam (Hindu Archetypes and Deities); Gaura Vani (Bhakti and Kirtan); Coby Kozlowski (Kripalu Yoga); Nikki Myers (Y12SR), Terry Fralich (Mindfulness), and Love Your Brain. He enjoys creating learning experiences which build supportive relationships, promote health and wellness, bring out the best in people, and provide ways for students to connect with the outdoor natural environment.

An athlete and outdoor enthusiast for his whole life, Bob is also a graduate of the National Outdoor Leadership School (Outdoor Education), Project Adventure (Adventure-Based Counseling), and is a PSIA/AASI Certified Ski, Snowboard, and Adaptive Instructor. He is also an ACSM Certified Personal Trainer, a Certified Functional Strength Coach (with Mike Boyle Strength & Conditioning), and a Pain-Free Performance Specialist (with Dr. John Rusin). Bob has taught skiing and snowboarding for over 40 years, and has worked in the ski industry as a snow-sports school manager, staff trainer, and regional clinician. He has also been instrumental in the development of health and wellness and mentoring programs for disabled veterans in association with the Wounded Warrior Project and Warriors Live On, and with various adaptive sports programs. He has facilitated numerous educational workshops, led bike trips and backcountry hiking expeditions, coached various sports, mentored numerous athletes, and taught middle school health education.

Bob was previously a structural/architectural engineer and timber-frame home designer for over 35 years. Throughout his career, he has been a mentor for young professionals, helping many thrive in their careers. After moving to Vermont in 1996, he focused his work on sustainable design and timber framing by maintaining a small private practice called Gaia Structures. He maintains a lifelong Earth-friendly perspective in his work and in his life. Bob keeps a personal learning journal on his blog: A Mentor Walks With Me.

Charlotte Alexander, RYT® 200

Charlotte Alexander took her first yoga class at Heart of the Village Yoga when she was eleven. It was love at first vinyasa! Four years later Charlotte enrolled in Heart of the Village Yoga’s 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training and Advanced Studies Program. From the start Charlotte discovered a love of teaching and helping others grow their own practice.

Charlotte enjoys fast paced hatha practices, as well as ashtanga yoga. She has explored many styles, including restorative, acro, slackline, and aerial yoga. Homeschooled by her parents, Charlotte has a true love for learning. In her spare time she enjoys being out in nature, hiking, skiing, fly fishing, and horseback riding. Charlotte’s energy, curiosity, and fun approach to yoga motivates everyone around her.

Dina Bronson, RYT® 500

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Dina became a committed yoga student in 2003, while practicing therapeutic Iyengar yoga one on one with Rebecca Weisman. The profound healing that occurred on the mat moved yoga from an exercise practice into a lifestyle. As Dina’s practice deepened, her longing to share this work with others grew, inspiring her to become a certified yoga teacher. Dina completed her 200 Hour Teacher Training offered at Heart of the Village, in conjunction with Beryl Bender Birch’s The Hard and the Soft Yoga Institute, in 2016; and then completed her 300 Hour Yoga Teacher Training with Heart of the Village Yoga in January 2020.

Dina’s work with energy and spiritual healing inform her classes, and they are a synthesis of body and mind, heart and soul, play and focus. Finding the “and” on the mat helps us bring it to our lives.

In addition to being a RYT 500, Dina is a graduate of the 4 year program at The Barbara Brennan School of Healing, as well as the 4 year non dual healing program at A Society of Souls.

“I am so very grateful to Jo, and Heart of the Village Yoga. I am absolutely thrilled to have the opportunity to teach here. I look forward to seeing you on the mat.”

Lela Hughes, RYT® 500

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Lela has been practicing yoga for 18 years, becoming increasingly dedicated over time. Heart of the Village Yoga has allowed Lela the opportunity to advance her practice both on and off the mat. Lela enjoys the challenge of a rajasic yoga practice and sequences that build heat from the inside out. She is excited to share her love of the practice with new students – honing in on alignment and breath work. Lela, an interior designer, can be found spending time outside with her family – snowboarding and sledding in the winter, and gardening and exploring nature in the warmer months.

Claudia Dekany

Claudia Profile.1Claudia began her yoga practice in 1989.  With a strong ballet background from her childhood she found herself experimenting with a variety of dance classes in her twenties.  None of them felt quite right until she went to her first yoga class.  After receiving a teacher training from a small yoga school she went on to study at the Iyengar Institute of San Francisco.  There she participated in another teacher training and spent time assisting with several of her favorite teachers.  Moving to Vermont in 1994, she began to teach.  She continues to this day to work with many different teachers, most of them with strong Iyengar backgrounds.

Although staying with many of the Iyengar principals her style has slowly shifted both internally and spiritually over the pass twenty years.  She wants her students to work with a deep knowledge of their own body and to understand the importance of your own breath.  To work with honor and respect toward this amazing body we have the gift of moving through life with.  Every life is an unbelievable journey.  She feels our yoga practice can help to awaken every part of our being, so we can be present and fully aware of our journey.  Through mindful intention we have the ability to make physical, spiritual and emotional changes within ourself.  We may even be able to release some of our unwanted discomfort that we may be carrying a around from our past.  She hopes to help you meet your body, feel your body and appreciate who you truly are.

Claudia teaches with emphasis on correct alignment and creating  a balance between flexibility and strength.  She has a hands on gentle touch approach to help guide you into a safe alignment or suggestions for deepening awareness with movement and breath.  Based on the natural principles of gravity and breath she wants to inspire you to release and ground into the earth while allowing the spine to lengthen and become spacious.

Alexandra Langstaff, RYT® 500

Alexandra Langstaff

Although perhaps more well known for creative movement with children, Alexandra Langstaff has led programs for adult learners for skiing, dancing and yoga for decades. (Not all at the same time!) Because of her patient and playful teaching style plus an interest and knowledge about bodies in motion she provides a relaxed, safe, fun and conscientious learning environment.

Her yoga studies, through the talented teachings of Jo Kirsch and Lu French amongst others, include Circus Yoga, Aerial Yoga and Dan Leven’s “Shake Your Soul- the Yoga of Dance ” Training. SYS is offered at the Manchester Community Library.

Alexandra has a Bachelor of Science degree in Early Childhood Education, a Masters degree in Creativity Studies and spent 20 years in the international ski industry developing training materials for instructors. She has had the opportunity to direct, choreograph and perform with her own dance company, “Soulspeak”, as well as many other regional and international companies and groups. Her “Hullabaloo Danceshop” classes, workshops, products and presentations have been spotted globally.

Her blog namastewhatthehay.wordpress.com will give you a glimpse of how she views the practice of yoga both on and off the mat.

Barb Lowes, E-RYT® 500

barb-lowesBarb took her first yoga class in 1987, in Port Washington, New York. She was invited by a friend to take a yoga series in a local community center for 8 weeks. This was not “love at first class”. In fact, after the first class, Barb said, it was more like, “I can’t do this”. But, she stuck it out, finished the series and something amazing happened. She felt wonderful physically, mentally and spiritually! Now, that feeling for a young Mom with two small children, partners with her husband in a commercial photo studio, juggling work, family and a hectic busy life, would be very difficult. Barb found making time to get on her mat and take a yoga class was her sanctuary. Her place to just be.

Barb went along with life! Raising a family, working at Tin Roof Productions, squeezing in time for yoga, tennis, skiing, etc. Over the years, she practiced many styles of yoga, such as, Kripalu, Ashtanga, Hatha, Iyengar and Power. She also enjoyed many workshops in Restorative yoga, Ashtanga, Ayurveda and Reiki Level 3. All during that time, Barb dreamed about becoming a yoga teacher, but, could never find the right time or place.

In 2011, Barb moved her business to the beautiful community of Manchester, Vermont. One day, she was taking a yoga class at the local gym and the teacher no showed. So, rather than cancel the class, Barb offered to step up and guide the class through a practice. It was after 30 years of practicing yoga, a life long yogi, it became very clear, she wanted to teach and get certified.

So, thanks to Jo Kirsch, Heart of the Village Yoga, The Hard and Soft Yoga Institute and the Yoga Alliance, Barb is now certified as an Experienced 500 RYT and a YACEP, (Yoga Alliance Continuing Education Provider.)

“I am internally grateful and I bow in gratitude for the sacred teachings that I have studied and can now bring to my students, a dream come true”.

Mike MacDonald, RYT® 200

IMG_1250Mike MacDonald, RYT 200, likes Yoga to be fun, invigorating, sometimes physically challenging, and spiritually motivating. After dabbling in Yoga in the 1990’s and early 2000’s Mike found Heart of the Village Yoga (HOTVY) where he began attending five plus classes a week. After a year of dedicated practice, Mike enrolled and completed the HOTVY 200 Hour Teacher Training and Advanced Studies Program. A devoted father and avid outdoor enthusiast, Mike has worked in the outdoor industry for 25 years in sales and distribution, teaching Kayaking and Paddleboarding, and earning certifications with the American Canoe Association and Paddlefit Association. Also an enthusiastic Snowboarder, Mike brings his passion for the outdoors to the Yoga Mat. Mike is excited to share his passion for yoga with others, acknowledging the enormous responsibility that accompanies teaching.

Pat Meredith, RYT® 500

Pat Meredith, RYT 500, came to Manchester in 1979 with the intention of staying for only one ski season; work at Bromley, ski and have some fun before settling down to a career and new life out of college. One ski season turned into 40 years of living in this wonderful community. Pat works at Bromley as a Registered Nurse in the first aid room.

Pat dabbled in yoga, but never gave it too much attention. She was too busy hiking, biking and running to pursue an unfamiliar and uncomfortable activity! However, a friend suggested yoga to deal with the stress of family responsibilities and work. Pat headed to Heart of the Village Yoga to give it a try. She worried about not being good enough or flexible to practice. However, her worries disappeared as she discovered that yoga supported her physically, emotionally and spiritually, at any age or with any body type.

The Heart of the Village Yoga community provides a safe, supportive and kind-hearted space for students to learn and practice. That’s what kept Pat coming to the studio and lead her to teacher training. Pat completed the 200-hour teacher training at Heart of the Village Yoga in 2017 and completed the 500-hour training in August 2019. She is grateful for the opportunity to share her enthusiasm and love of yoga with students at Heart of the Village Yoga.

Lisa May

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Lisa has been working as a Certified Personal Fitness Trainer/Practitioner for over 25 years here in Vermont. As a Fitness Practitioner, Lisa is trained to facilitate overall wellness – often serving as a bridge between the medical community and the individuals she works with. Prior to training in Vermont, Lisa taught at the N.Y. Health and Racquet Club in N.Y.C. She currently works in fitness and yoga facilities, senior centers, schools, corporations and in individuals’ homes.

Lisa became interested in yoga 20 years ago and began teaching yoga a few years later. Yoga infuses Lisa’s teaching. She encourages individuals to listen to their body, practice mindfulness and set intentions to help shift perspective on current habits as well as overall outlook in order to create healthier patterns. Nurturing herself and others, Lisa encourages both eating well and exercising for optimal health and wellness as well as working with techniques to manage stress. She coaches individuals to create lasting lifestyle changes and to take small steps toward the goal of living healthier. Lisa’s classes are derived from a variety of yoga, pilates and many forms of exercise, as well as specific stretches and self myofascial release, which she combines to suit the needs of the individuals attending each class.

Kaitlyn Zwagerman, RYT® 500

KaitZwagermanBio PicKait started serving the Southern Vermont community in 2013; sharing the belief that life should be lived with joy, gratitude, and a dedication to being present in the moment. These feelings inform and guide her teachings, which are rooted in helping students better connect to themselves, their communities, and to the rest of the world. Her focus is on tuning students into the sensations of their bodies with an emphasis on realizing, embracing and working with limitations. Since the birth of her daughter in 2014, yoga has taken on new meaning while she navigates the wonderfully bumpy terrain of motherhood. One of Kait’s greatest joys has been teaching the prenatal yoga and Mommy and Me classes for Heart of the Village.

In 2015 Kait started a sweet little yoga inspired jewelry company, Wandering Sparks, Ltd. Co. This has allowed her to share her love of yoga, mindfulness and connection in a creative new way. In 2016, she created two mala making workshops that she shared with the Heart of the Village community- encouraging the power of intention, prayer and breath when meeting challenges. You can find some of Kait’s ‘om-made’ creations in the boutique!

Kait received her 200 hour certification with Jennilee Toner (Hot Warrior Yoga) in 2013. She is currently enrolled in the 500 hour Heart of the Village advanced teacher training program under the guidance of Jo Kirsch, Bob Speck and Laurae Coburn. Kait also holds her Reiki I certification and has completed 20 hours toward her 50 hour Yin Yoga certification under the guidance of Biff Mithoefer. She is infinitely grateful for all of the wonderful opportunities that have become available through the Heart of the Village community.

Andrea Albrittain Ross, Co-Founder

Andrea_bio_photo“I have practiced yoga for over 30 years. It has been an extraordinary journey into stillness and awareness. 

The practice of yoga open’s one’s heart, mind and body. It benefits our physical bodies by building strength, balance, and alignment. For me, my practice has become a moving meditation where I find peace within the grace of the Asanas. I believe that the practice of yoga has the power to transform and bring peace and well being into one’s life.

Many of the postures practiced in yoga are focused on physically expanding our chests to allow us to focus on and expand our heart centers. This opens our etheric or energetic hearts and enables us to receive healing and increased awareness. The practice of yoga has the power to transform and unify. 

It is my hope that Heart of the Village Yoga will expose others to this practice that enlightens all our lives, individually and collectively. It is my hope that what is taught in our studio can be incorporated in to one’s daily life. That one’s yoga practice can become a part of who one is when confronted by all of the circumstances of life. That one’s mat can always be beneath one’s feet. The practice of yoga in the studio becomes a rehearsal for one’s authentic practice within the greater community.”

In addition to being a mother of eight children, Andrea Ross’ career of community service includes over twenty-five years in clinical patient care; board service and active involvement with local schools, community foundations and family services. She  earned her Bachelor and Masters in Nursing from the University of Pennsylvania.

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