Urban Yoga Foundation (UYF) Instructors, Ambassadors, and Interns
A number of selfless individuals committed to service make the work of UYF possible.
Our team includes karma yoga instructors volunteering their time to teach studio classes, ambassadors donating their time to fulfill administrative duties, and mindfulness instructors bringing programs to schools.
Before her career specializing in urban family medicine, Dr. Linda Alvarez’s passion was serving the underserved. Linda started her career at the Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education, a seven year BS/MD program focused on providing access to primary care in all communities. After completion of the program, Linda wanted to broaden her medical knowledge and was one of the first medical students in the country to do an independent study in complementary medicine, as featured in The New Physician magazine. During this one year sabbatical, Linda studied Ayurveda and obtained her 200 hour yoga teacher training certification. It was at this time she met Ghylian Bell, in the very first months of Urban Yoga opening its doors. Linda became UYFs operations manager as well as a senior yoga instructor and contributor to the UYF teacher training and manual.
After a year of dedicated work at the foundation house, Linda returned to medical school and graduated from New York Medical College in 2015. She currently is a senior resident through the department of Family Medicine at the University of Miami-Jackson Memorial Hospital, and will be continuing her post graduate medical training there in Hospice and Palliative Medicine where she hopes to use her yoga, meditation and mindfulness training in chronic pain and end of life management. Linda also serves her resident and patient communities working as the Regional Vice President of the Florida Region for the Committee of Interns and Residents. Dr. Linda Alvarez currently serves UYF as an advisory board member, senior instructor and guest lecturer for the UYF Urban Kids Yoga Teacher Training.
Clayton spent 30 years as a Broadcast Manager working for ABC, NBC and the world news leader CNN before taking control of his future and embarking on the next phase of chasing life and longevity as a Certified Yoga instructor. He was trained in India as a Hatha Yoga Instructor and is working with Beginners, Intermediate and Advanced students.
He is founder of the “Mens Movement Class” designed for Men 40 and over addressing special needs, working on flexibility, developing core and upper body strength, keeping the heart strong and the mind focused. He worked with the Fordham University Rams Football team in preparation for the 2013 fall football season.
From Carnegie Hall to the Nomad Women’s Festival in the Sahara Desert, Morley has brought her unique blend of jazz, folk and soul to the world’s stage. Be it solo with her acoustic guitar or with full band, her message is consistent and clear; love, justice and inspiration.
Awarded as Songwriter of the Year from ASCAP and heralded as Emerging Artist of the Year by the New York Times, Morley has penned songs for TED Women, Acumen, V-Day, Think Global School and GOAL – South Africa. Morley was the voice for Ralph Lauren’s fragrance commercial “Romance”. Her music has been placed on several major network television shows as well as human rights documentaries.
Morley uses music as a tool for conflict resolution and dialogue facilitation when working with youth from international conflict zones.
Maija Garcia is a Cuban-American director, choreographer, educator and producer based in Harlem. Garcia’s signature storytelling integrates live music and interactive design with visceral movement. Most recently, she served as Director of Movement for Spike Lee’s latest film CHIRAQ, and directed Salsa Mambo Cha Cha Cha with music director Isaac Delgado in Havana, Cuba. She choreographed the new hit musical Cuba Libre at Artist Repertory Theater in Portland OR, and Another Word for Beauty by Jose Rivera at The Goodman Theater in Chicago, IL.
T'ai Jamar Hanna
LMT, MS, 500-hr ERYT
T'ai Jamar was raised under the practices of Shinto Buddhism and has loved nature, ritual, and mindful practices since she can remember. She started studying Iyengar yoga in 1996 with Mitra Tredway. As soon as she could, she started teaching yoga, mostly to special needs kids in afterschool programs. As a lifetime dancer and athlete, she found yoga enhanced her mental performance and increased her physical flexibility.
T'ai Jamar Hanna started studying Thai Massage, along with becoming a Reflections, 200-hour certified yoga instructor in 2006.
Since then, and including learning reiki and reflexology at a young age, she has gone on to acquire hundreds of hours in Thai massage, yoga therapy and Osteo Thai.
Since 2007, she has offered Yoga Therapy to her private clients, and has lead workshops and trainings internationally. She was the Thai Massage practitioner in the physical/rehab program for the Fela Broadway cast in 2009. In 2011, she participated in a 6-day Human cadaver training, building a profound knowledge and passion for the anatomical and facial systems.
In 2013, she completed a Occupational Associate Degree with the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine/NYC, with an emphasis on sports massage. Along with an internship with the Joffrey School of Ballet, medical massage/clinical practicum and hours of private tutelage from teachers, PTs, bodyworkers and healers, T'ai obtained her NYS- LMT, New York in State license in massage therapy in 2014. Her work is precise and authentic. She utilizes tools and techniques drawn from many modalities and many years of practice. And she loves what she does.
Tai Chi Instructor
Karma Yoga Instructors
Brandee Ellis worked as a health coordinator for a non-profit organization in Harlem. In this role, Brandee was responsible for the wellness portion of the after-school program for approximately 350 students grades Pre-kindergarten to Eighth. She also facilitated the healthy lifestyle behavior modification program aimed to help families of obese/overweight children make healthier lifestyle choices at home. Brandee refined her communication and organizational skills within the community. Health and wellness is not only what she does, but who she is. Brandee further expanded her knowledge in wellness by becoming a registered yoga instructor with Yoga Alliance. She studied yoga in India and had a life-changing experience in an immersion training program. Brandee has recently joined a yoga internship at Forever Young Sports Spa where she teaches two classes a week and spends time in office. She has also given her time as a Seva Substitute at a neighborhood yoga studio for two years. Most importantly, Brandee has taken initiative in providing a free yoga classes in local parks, which is open to anyone who is willing to practice and become aware with their inner and outer body.
My name is Josue, "AKA" Jay Shanti, I am a certified and registered RYT 200hrs Yoga Teacher which i obtained in Rishikesh, India, the birthplace of Yoga, I have been practicing yoga for about 3 years now and realized that it was time no only to deepen my practice for myself but to grow in it and blend it with my other practices such as Kundalini Reiki( Master Level) and Usui Reiki( Level 3) as well as knowledge of Thai massage, AcroYoga, Aerial art, soft tissue manipulation and my background in Personal Training and movement.
Born American but I'm originally from a beauiful Island in the Caribbean, raised in the Capital of Dominican Republic, Santo Domingo. In my early years I developed a passion for exercise and I practiced Tae Kwon Do in my pre-school years and Kick Boxing, MMA and Krav Magga as I grew older.
I hold certification in fitness with NASM( National Academy Of Sportsand...) as well as being qualified trigger point and tissue release techniques.
I discovered my passion for Yoga after having endured some personal challenges and I needed to improve my emotional health (Depression, Anxiety, Insomnia), but it was an spiritual vision has changed it all for me and brought me into meditating and practicing Yoga, it all started with Raj Yoga, later I learned Vinyasa, Yin and Aerial yoga as I joined a local studio for work exchange and to immerse myself in this new exciting world where no one I knew before belonged to. More recently I have been fueling this new fire inside of me and have a new level of enthusiasm when it comes to movement and spirituality. I fell in love with "Acro" all over again and felt inspired by videos of Budokon Yoga.
Nevertheless after years of tremor I finally fell on the right path to regain all my creativity, as I have always been into writing poetic verses and melodies and I went to school for music production.
My goal is to combine the power of creation with my calling to help, I am here to be known, to have the opportunity to become a vessel for transformation in some and a source of inspiration for the rest so they too fell this magic.
Lexi Faith is an international yoga teacher, focusing on the spiritual and therapeautic effects of yoga. Originally from NYC, she has recently returned to give back to her community and share yoga with people of all backgrounds. She has traveled the world for 2.5 years, taught yoga in ashram settings, in refugee camps, for private clients, and in retreats. After spending a year in India, where she returned to the root of yoga, she has soaked up as much yogic knowledge as she could and is keen on bringing "india" back to communities that may not have the same resources to go on their own. As well, Lexi is an actor, an artist, and a holistic health practitioner.
During a career which included seventeen-plus years as a business manager and owner, I assumed responsibility for six businesses that were either struggling or under duress. Using efficient networking and a wholesale strategy, I built and managed businesses of various dimensions and domains, turning them all into efficient money-makers. I also launched and developed two businesses, from start-up to stability, covering overhead expenses within months of launch.
In January 2015, after burning-out from the rigors of building & managing businesses, I walked-away from a career which became increasingly empty and meaningless. During the next twenty-seven months, first at Chuang Yen Monastery in Carmel, NY and then in forest monasteries of Sri Lanka, in an attempt to gain insight into the mind and how it works, I engaged in vigorous meditation practice under the guidance of meditation masters. With training sometimes lasting 15 hours-per-day, using traditional Samatha (tranquility) and Vipassana (insight) methods, mindfulness, concentration & awareness were greatly enhanced. From November 2015 to May 2017, I completed 5000+ hours of Satipatthana, Anapanasati & Metta methods of meditation.
Using the techniques learned, I am extremely proficient at guiding beginners to experienced practitioners in their development, by overcoming obstacles which may hinder growth. With a unique ability to lucidly explain various methods of meditation, yogis will easily understand & and be able implement the lessons into their daily practice and lives.
The methods taught are remarkably beneficial to improving the quality of life for the average practitioner. The teachings are also essential to cultivating one's spiritual practice, regardless of faith or denomination.
I was born in Italy, Rome, focused my life accomplishing my two passions: creativity and movement.
Luna aka Lunadore
I developed an interest for Philosophy and Foreign Literatures, I learned English, French and Norwegian, and started traveling and meeting people of different countries while writing my experiences while also using my imagination.
I grew up in an athletic environment, always active and childlike. I practiced swimming for many years, and when I was in the middle of my twenties I discovered Yoga. I practiced Yoga in different studios in Rome, particularly Hatha and Yin Yoga; then when I started traveling and living abroad I got into Iyengar Ashtanga and Vinyasa. I achieved a qualification as Personal Trainer and Group Fitness instructor , even though it is a very different approach to health I find there is a great potential in it.
My goal is to develop a personal style in yoga, learn from experienced professionals, but always keep in touch with my inner child, living my life with joy and expanding these interests to affect positivity in other people."
Chanou Wiltshire, professional artist, entertainer, and certified enrichment specialist. Beginning at the tender age of 4 years old, Chanou has extensive professional training in classical ballet, tap, modern/jazz, yoga flow, west African and hip hop dances, acting, musical theatre, choreography, and runway/print modeling. In 2006, Chanou founded her own performance based production company, LadyChanou Productions, and has guest-performed in a number of theaters, art/fashion events, and festivals in varies cities across the country.
She has produced over 75 events and has trained a growing number of about 600 aspiring models, dancers, vocalists and actors. Chanou is also well versed in facial art and make-up creations, event coordination, and image consulting. Being a highly driven and passionate individual, Chanou has dedicated her life to building an empire to entertain across the world. She plans to continue to build her brand to flourish reaching beyond the sky’s limits!
Aasia completed her teacher training at Kula Yoga Project, working closely with Nikki Vilella, Magi Pierce, and Nikki Costello. She began practicing yoga in 2011 in a spinning/yoga studio in Toronto, Canada. Baddhanguliyasana side bend while cycling frantically to Lady Gaga? She knew yoga had to be deeper than that.
She moved to NYC in 2012 to pursue a Master’s in Communicative Sciences and Disorders at NYU, completing her degree in 2015. Throughout her studies, she spent several hours per week deepening and enriching her yoga practice in the Ashtanga, Vinyasa, and Iyengar lineages, attempting to find spiritual sustenance and increased focus and discipline in an unfamiliar, transient, and fast-paced vibrant city like NY. Soon thereafter, yoga transformed not only Aasia’s awareness of her own self, but also illuminated a path to staying present and developing gratitude.
She infuses spiritual teachings and lessons on self-building and refinement throughout her classes, creating mindfully-creative sequencing of a purifying nature. Expect an explorative, challenging, and playful practice that will reinvigorate and cleanse the body, mind, and soul.
Whitney is a Florida native who moved to St. Petersburg in 2014 after graduating from Florida Gulf Coast University with a B.A in Anthropology and minors in Art and Philosophy. She completed a Master's degree in Global Sustainability from the Patel College of Global Solutions at the University of South Florida in December of 2017. Whitney has been practicing yoga since 2005 and in 2016 graduated with her 200YTT through Adiaya Yoga Sanctuary. Yoga has taught Whitney that one does not always have to swim upstream, sometimes we can just enjoy where the river takes us and trust in life's journey. More than anything, Whitney desires to dedicate her time to a meaningful purpose and yoga allows her to do just that.
Children's Yoga Instructor
Anne Michiko Tangi loves to get down to any music that inspires her to move, whether it's a New Orleans brass band, West African drummers, Russian rock stars, beat boxers, Brazilian sambistas, or house D.J.s.
She believes in the empowerment and healing that come from connecting with your body's unique movement language and loves to help others embrace theirs in an encouraging, vibrant atmosphere. Her favorite places to dance are celebratory environments such as festivals, parades, drum circles, parks, and music shows.
From Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Anne has explored diverse movement forms, such as contemporary dance, Afro-Brazilian, West African, Costa Rican, social dance, improvisation, capoeira, and yoga. She finds movement and music to be a powerful tool for connecting with people across culture, language, belief system and life experience.
Rosa Curry Instructor
Rosa Curry has performed as a dancer, singer and actress in New York City and on Broadway. She has also performed nationally in plays and musicals and internationally as a dancer. Ms. Curry has also taught dance to students ranging in age from toddlers to college students as well as conducted singing and monologue workshops.
Talia Torres instructs a yoga science class to grades K-5. Talia's focus with the scholars is to have a connection of breath movement. She demonstrates to scholars the scientific aspects of yoga, including designing a respiratory system, learning about health and nutrition and the importance of holistic health practices. Talia has taken the time to create a partner yoga performance with first grade scholars, teaching them the importance of team work.
Laura Cabrera born in Dominican Republic raised in New York City. She has a Masters in Business Administration and currently has a career in Higher Education. Laura began a consistent yoga practice in 2011 and embraced the positive enhancement in her life. After continuous practice and being a work-study at a yoga studio, Laura attained a 200hr yoga certification in 2015 at Three Sisters Yoga. She wants to share her passion for yoga with her community. One of Laura’s aspirations is to teach bilingual classes to the Spanish-speaking yogis. Her classes reflect her warmth, openness and kindheartedness. As a passionate instructor with an open level audience, she seeks to promote accessibility and understanding in her teaching. Her other passions include empowering young women and traveling. Laura enjoys learning about different cultures and empowering others to be the best they can be.
Jourdan Archer-Sizemore Public Relations Coordinator
Jourdan is a graduate of William Paterson University with a Bachelors degree in Public Relations. She spent 3 years in school as a Resident Assistant creating a sense of community within the dormitories. She first started working for UYF as a public relations intern back in 2012. She continued her work with the company as a children’s yoga teacher in 2013 where she worked for the next three summers. Unsure of where the path of teaching yoga would take her she went in with an open mind and learned a lot, not only helping her to grow as a children’s yoga teacher but also that would help her in all aspects of her life. Learning just as much as she was teaching Jourdan continues to work as the Social Media Director and a children’s yoga teacher for UYF.
Jen Cuffari Digital Marketing Intern
A kid at heart, Jen's imagination helps fuel her creations. Her knack for artistic forms from illustrating what she visions into art pieces, expressively moving her body as a dancer to telling stories through the aesthetics of her style. Jen incorporates who she is and immerses herself into expanding UYF's mission for the community and youth to see virtually how we impact the digital world. She provides background knowledge from her degree in Advertising and Marketing Communication and the experiences she has shared with start-ups, non-profit organizations and advertising firms. Jen continues to bring UYF a modern and minimal, yet fun style, so our digital community can experience the simplicity and meaningful purpose of wellness and mindfulness practices.
Erika Foschi is a Junior at Fordham University, working towards her degree in Communications. As a long time practitioner of yoga, she found working with UYF as the perfect space to explore her love of yoga with her passion to connect with others. Erika specializes in a tract of her studies which explores the significance of the relationship between communication and culture. She is excited to be a part of UYF, helping to spread their message of mindfulness and wellness, and seeing the social impact within our urban community.