Our Teachers

Anna Cardoso, RYT-200

Anna began practicing yoga in 2014 as a means of managing her chronic migraines and almost immediately fell in love. Yoga was able to not only help her pain, but touched many other aspects of her life.

Wanting to deepen her own practice, Anna completed her 200 hour yoga teacher training through The New School of Yogic Arts in January 2017. She began teaching shortly after and found a passion in sharing yoga with others. Her classes help students work on building foundation and strength, all while having fun and forgetting about the daily stressors of life!

Chere Jalali, CYT-200

Chere is a certified yoga teacher, childbirth educator, HypnoBirthing practitioner, doula, group fitness instructor and is a student of Vipassana meditation.
She teaches because she loves seeing the light shine as a student grows. She enjoys a spirit of inquiry and celebrates as students discover the benefits of mind/body connection.
While teaching and practicing, Chere thoroughly embraces the exploration process – whether it is yoga, birth, mindfulness or group fitness.
She has been practicing yoga since the mid 90’s and has been teaching since 2013. Chere has completed two 200 Hour yoga teacher trainings and feels fortunate to be able to take advantage of on-going learning in many specialty workshops from the bounty of amazing teachers who live in, and visit, Boston.
Babes-in-arms, newly postpartum and pregnant women are always welcome and accommodated in her yoga classes.
Childbirth Educator, HypnoBirthing Practitioner, Doula, Yoga & Group Fitness
508-216-4961 : chebe2@yahoo.com
fb: Chere Jalali Mind/Body/Birth & Yoga
Donna Kramer Merritt RYT 200

Donna Kramer Merritt RYT 200

As a massage therapist, I often tell my clients to do Yoga as a way to maintain stress relief and flexibility between appointment.  After too many times of hearing them say “I am not flexible enough” or “I feel to intimidated to take a yoga class”,  I decided to become a yoga teacher to share my joy and passion for yoga with those who have felt it was inaccessible.

As the owner of the The Gentle Place Wellness Center, I was overjoyed when after my Yoga Teacher Training, a beautiful room opened up down the hall from my massage studios.  Just large enough for 8 to 10 students, my dream was to create a safe haven for yoga student new and old to discover their own personal yoga practices.

I teach Yoga Fundamentals, a beginner’s course to give people the confidence and the tools to be safe in any yoga class.  Welcome to Yoga @The Gentle Place…. Where we offer yoga for every body.  Namaste’

Elizabeth Shapiro

Elizabeth Shapiro, CYT

Elizabeth is a spin teacher, a self described gym addict, and has been practicing yoga for about 20 years.

Her foray into yoga began as part of her treatment for and rehabilitation from severe degenerative arthritis. Over time, however, she became more and more aware of not just the physical benefits of yoga but its ability to help her in her response to physical and emotional pain.

Elizabeth became a certified yoga teacher in 2015, with a vision towards a specialization in yoga and pain management.

“It brings me great pleasure to pass on my love and knowledge of yoga and its benefits to others”. “It’s not about how bendy you are or how well you balance- it’s the process- yoga is a process.”

Justine Ferguson, Yoga Therapist

Justine Ferguson, CYT 200, Yoga Therapist

Justine Ferguson is a sensitive and intuitive educator, yoga therapist, and yoga teacher.

Her focus has always been on creating a safe and nourishing experience that calms students’ nervous systems as well as engaging minds and bodies. Breath, movement, and reflection are some of the key elements to her teaching.

She creates a safe space for students as well as clients to show up as they are – whether they’re in a classroom, yoga studio, office, or living room. She is passionate about sharing yoga therapy with her local community.

Justine offers private yoga therapy sessions at The Gentle Place, and a limited amount of yoga classes and Learning From the Heart Tutoring sessions for the Greater Boston area and beyond.

Kathy Finn

Kandace Matzker, RYT 200

A little over three years ago I was suffering from the very common running injury known as plantar fasciitis. While researching ways to heal myself without the use of orthotics, my girlfriends had found a “groupon” for yoga and naturally I decided to join them, thinking it could help with my injury. That was the beginning of my interest and love of yoga. Yoga has strengthened my body, mind and soul. The Plantar fasciitis quickly healed, and in addition I enjoyed the added benefit of improved running performance.

With a background in exercise, becoming a yoga instructor seemed like an organic progression. I have a degree in kinesiology (the study of human movement), spent the years following college working in a hospital doing injury rehab and teaching many different exercise classes (spinning, kickboxing, stretching, conditioning, chair aerobics for arthritis) as well as personal training. My life these days consists of my love for the great outdoors in all activities of all four seasons. Enjoyed with family and friends. You might also find me at REI or teaching yoga for REI Outdoor School. Yoga has made all aspects of my life more accessible and enjoyable.

Yoga has the ability to create transformation. It provides necessary time to align, reflect and find inner strength. Like many, I was first attracted to the physical aspects of Yoga, but I soon found the rhythmic movement connected to breath soothed my mind and spirit. My goal is to bring all of this to my students in each and every class I’m blessed to guide. I encourage you to let your yoga practice be a journey of self-discovery and your inner teacher be your guide.

Karen Fishman

Karen Fishman has been teaching muscle, Pilates, and Yoga classes at area gyms in the MetroWest since 2003.

She is certified as a Group Fitness Instructor by Fitness Resource Associates (FRA) and holds several fitness certifications from the American Aerobic Association International and International Sports Medicine Association (AAAI/ISMA). By day, Karen works as a Probation Monitor for the MA Dept. of Public Health.

When she’s not working, Karen enjoys spending time with her family and friends.

Kathleen Carland

Kathleen Carland, CYT

KC has been a certified teacher for over 20 years. She is a yoga therapist with specialized training in teaching those with serious health conditions such as cancer, heart disease and fibromyalgia. In addition, she incorporates tai chi, pilates and mindfulness into each class.

“I love teaching yoga, it changed my life, helped me to feel like I was at home in my body for the first time.”

kathy finn

Kathy Finn, RYT 500

Kathy began practicing yoga to bring peace and balance to her mind. She discovered that the practice had a profound effect not only on the mind but on the body as well. Kathy believes yoga is the opening to new possibilities; it is the opportunity to create a healthier body, clearer mind and sense of peace that translates to the outside world.

She began sharing this practice with friends and coworkers, and in 2012 completed her 200 hour teacher training through Finding Inner Peace. In 2014, Kathy earned her 500 hour yoga teacher certification through The Yoga Studio, focusing on the therapeutic aspects of yoga. She is a Reiki Practitioner and is certified in Thai Body Work Level 1.

Kathy is grateful for the opportunity to share the joy that yoga brings to her life with her students. She teaches Restorative, Gentle, and All Levels Yoga offering a safe space where students can let go of tension in the body and mind and find peace and vitality.

Lauren Turner, RYT200

As an instructor, Lauren looks to get students tuned into their bodies, encouraging them to explore their edge while honoring their limitations. She believes that when we turn our focus internally and become intimately connected to how we feel and who we are, we can experience life more deeply and fully.

Lauren has a steady, grounded presence that has been strengthened through her own personal practice of yoga. She first tried yoga in 2012, looking for low-impact workout, but over the years she realized that yoga had a tremendous impact in other aspects of life off the mat. Her practice helped her reduce stress, increase her health, create more balance in her life, and cultivate her own intuition.

In her classes she looks to guide students through graceful and deliberate movement paired with breath, building postures from the ground up for an embodied yoga experience. She takes an all-levels approach, helping beginners create a solid foundation for their practice, while allowing more experienced practitioners dive deeper into their own practice.

Lisa Campbell

Lisa Campbell is a certified Meditation and Mindfulness Instructor, Course Advisor for the McLean Meditation Institute, US Air Force veteran, and founder of Mindfulfilled Meditation, LLC, and she loves that peace is her profession.  

Having cultivated a daily meditation practice, Lisa experienced a truer, happier, and healthier life and now uses her valium voice to guide others toward a more authentic and happier life.  

A graduate of the McLean Meditation Institute and certified by the Warriors at Ease Organization to teach trauma-sensitive meditation, Lisa is a peaceful warrior meditating with all ages and abilities, civilians, active military, veterans, and first responders.  Learn more at www.Mindfulfilled.com.

Prenatal Yoga Teacher Lisa Diebold

Lisa Diebold Smith, RYT 200

Yoga has been a part of my life for over 10 years. I love yoga because it helps me feel centered and allows me to eat more chocolate.
I completed my RYT 200 with Sonic Yoga in NYC and added my Prenatal Certification a few years later. I will always be a student of the practice and am deeply grateful for the wisdom every teacher has shared with me.
When not teaching, I’m busy chasing around two tiny humans. I also enjoy hiking, swimming and eating delicious food.

Mary Ellen Brooks, RYT 200

My training in Martial Arts eventually led me to my Yoga mat as a means to disconnect for an hour each week from a hectic lifestyle that was consuming me.
My Yoga practice started to become more of an experience that was nourishing my Body, Mind and Spirit through Breath awareness. This beautiful gentle connection and my love for teaching drove me to become a Certified Yoga Instructor.
I look forward to sharing my experiences and yoga practice with others who also seek nourishment for their Body, Mind and Spirit in a comfortable safe setting.

Melissa Seastead, CYT-200

I have been practicing various types of yoga for over 13 years and have always maintained a strong belief in the connection between mind, body and spirit.

With close attention to both functional movement and body awareness, I draw from my experience as a psychotherapist and encourage students to embrace a deeper sense of themselves.

I offer a warm, authentic, and nurturing style, and conduct classes that follow a natural energetic flow. After class, students report feeling physically and mentally rejuvenated.  I received my CYT-200 hr through the One Voice teacher training program.

Renee Koczkodan, RYT 200

Yoga has been a part of my life for almost 20 years, and my practice has helped me to heal, grow stronger and more flexible and to become more fearless, on and off the mat. Yoga inspires me to be more present in every moment in my life.
I completed my 200 hour alignment based vinyasa flow teacher training with Natasha Rizopoulos in 2015 at the Down Under School of Yoga in Brookline, MA. I am currently enrolled in my 300 hour teacher training with Natasha at The Down Under School of yoga, and will graduate at the end of 2017. I will always be a student of the practice and am deeply grateful for the loving wisdom my teachers have shared with me.
In my classes, I love to combine creative sequencing, a bit of playfulness and a dose of inspiration to help you deepen your practice and feel better in both body and mind. My hope is that you step off the mat feeling refreshed, nourished and balanced.
In my spare time, when I am not teaching, health coaching or creating beautiful styles for my clients in my hair studio, I love to go for long walks in nature, read, travel the world, cook lovingly prepared, wholesome meals for my family and friends and cuddle with my cat and boyfriend.

Sue Galligani, CYT-200

I have had a lifelong passion for health and wellness and have been in the fitness field for over 25 years .
While operating studios and teaching dance fitness classes kept me very busy, yoga was in the backdrop at times. Something I would seek to find balance. Eventually after knee and back injuries.. yoga became a place of recovery… an oasis .. where I could not only recover, but maintain and build strength and fitness while nurturing my mind and spirit.
My intention is to bring my passion for wellness into the room with my students every single time we
practice, to be constantly aware of technique, and to guide with modifications to provide a safe and
encouraging environment. I like to bring a little sass and fun along with me as well, and adding a little funky flow on occasion can be good for the soul!I hope to provide my students with a yogic oasis !

Traci Ward, CYT 200

I took my first Yoga class when I was 19 years old, during a time of transition in my life when I was unsure of myself and struggling with depression. Over time, through the practice, I developed a perspective I had never had before.

For me, Yoga is like an invisible bandage that wraps around your wounds and heals them from the inside out. Yoga consistently helps me successfully navigate many life transitions; it is my foundation of support in difficult times, as well as a reminder of the joy that lives deep within me. I live in the Metro-West area with my two sons, and yoga is an integral part our lives. Even my son says, “It’s like magic, mom!”

The practice of Yoga continues to fill me with awe. I have witnessed its restorative effects both personally and professionally.

It brings me joy to offer this practice to others. I love working with students of all ages and abilities to help them reclaim and maintain the joy in their lives through the practice of yoga.

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