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!

Anne Roberti, RYT 200

Anne began practicing yoga and meditating over twenty years ago, when she first embarked on her journey to better understand the connections among mind, body, and emotions.

Anne is a 200-Hour Registered Yoga Teacher through the Yoga Alliance after having completed a training program in Hatha yoga influenced by the Iyengar method. In addition, Anne earned a certificate in Seniors Yoga. She is a Reiki Master in both the Usui System of Reiki Healing and Kundalini Reiki.

Off the mat, Anne has taught writing at the university level for many years, adopting a kind and compassionate approach to instruction; she is passionate about nurturing warm, supportive relationships with students. Through the practice of asana and pranayama, Anne’s intention is to facilitate students’ abilities to strengthen the body and quiet the mind

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’

Emily Yandl, CYT-200

After following magazine “exercises” as a teenager and dabbling with yoga DVD’s in her 20’s, Emily finally fell in love with yoga after her first studio class in 2012. Since then, she’s practiced in a variety of styles including Vinyasa, Restorative, Svaroopa and Ashtanga. Before training through One Voice with Dima Bosko and Metrowest Yoga with Shawn Shaw, she spent a few years as a yoga class assistant

Emily sees yoga as a great way to practice “on the mat” more of what you’d like to embody “off the mat”. In her classes, she strives to combine a meditative atmosphere, opportunities to cultivate awareness and an invitation for safe and challenging physical exploration.

Emily loves learning about the body/mind/spirit connection and is excited to share! Besides yoga, her current interests include developmental movement, somatics, maintaining mobility thru the lifespan and anything “neuro” related.

Come try a class with Emily!


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.

Kat Suwalski

Kat Suwalski is a FXP Fitness Master Trainer, Yoga Instructor, certified Hoopnotica teacher, Russian Kettle Bell instructor and a personal trainer. As a trained opera singer and actor, she incorporates all aspects of posture, breathing, and movement into her classes.

She believes life should be lived with passion and to embrace every moment. Movement has been her active meditation. It has been her mission to bring  joy, release and freedom to everyone she meets.

Her playful personality and caring demeanor makes all her students feel confident and eager for more. She encourages students to explore and be creative within the framework of the practice.

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.

Michele McLaughlin, CYT 200

Michele has practiced yoga on and off for over 15 years. She has been a stay at home mom for the past nine years. In 2017 she was finally able to find the right moment in her life to complete her first 200 hour yoga teacher training. Certified through One Voice Yoga Teacher Training in May 2017, her love of yoga reaches beyond just the benefits it brings physically. With an emphasis on mindfulness and connecting to your inner self, Michele brings a peaceful and grounded experience to her class.

Renee Koczkodan, CYT-500

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, and then completed my 300 hour teacher training with Natasha 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.

Susan Clark, CYT-200

Susan has been practicing Reiki and wellness in the MetroWest, MA area since 2012. Her passion for health, healing and balance in life fuels her desire to expand her knowledge as well as her passion to teach and mentor others along their journey.

She has completed the 200-hour Yoga training through One Voice Yoga which focuses on functional Yoga, mindfulness, and breath work. She enjoys working with her students to create the best practice for them. Susan combines Reiki and Yoga to offer her students a unique experience with hands on assist and relaxing energy in her classes, helping each student to fully experience her class.

As a Reiki Master Teacher, she desires to share Reiki and educate as many people as possible in this form of healing. Susan believes that healing on all levels; physical, emotional and spiritual, start from within. Once you have faith in yourself, and your natural ability to heal and grow, you can achieve amazing results.

Susan has 20 years of experience in the healthcare industry as an MRI Technologist with extensive knowledge in anatomy MR physics and how the body works. Her commitment in patient care and compassion for anxious, stressed and claustrophobic patients sparked her interest in Reiki. She saw Reiki as the intersection of science and energy healing. Her work with Hospice patients reinforced her belief and desire to teach and heal with Reiki.

This valuable tool of Reiki will help you to lead a more balanced and harmonious life, whether you are dealing with everyday stress or you suffer from a chronic illness.

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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