Amanda McMaine, MS, E-RYT 500, YACEP – Director and Lead Trainer
An internationally recognized yoga teacher and therapist, Amanda has spent her life in an intense study of body movement and a search for what truly frees and inspires our asanas and our lives. Her background includes a lifelong immersion into all the limbs of yoga, being profoundly influenced by the world’s greatest teachers, including Angela Farmer, Judith Hanson Lasater, Doug Keller, and Richard Miller. She holds a Masters degree in dance and kinesiology, Yoga Alliance Certification as an experienced-registered yoga teacher at the 500 level, Yoga Therapist, Teacher-Trainer and Program Director for ten years and advanced certification in iRest Yoga Nidra. Amanda teaches from a broad knowledge base, with freshness, warmth and eloquence of language, as well as insights gained from decades of focused introspection on this ancient practice.
Amanda’s local yoga schedule can be found at www.amandayoga.com.
Cara Sparkman, RYT 500 – Partner
Resident social media maven, business administrator and teaching assistant, Cara was introduced to yoga while pursuing a double BA in English and Spanish. She knew she had to find a way to share the benefits of yoga with the world, so she completed a 200 Hour Teacher Training in 2011. She felt led to follow through with a 300 Hour Advanced Yoga Teacher Training in October of 2016, a decision for which she will forever be thankful. A woman of varied interests and talents, her keen business sense, love for yoga and sense of humor contribute to her passion for supporting her fellow teachers and guiding fellow students in the classroom.
Cara teaches weekly classes at The Massage Center in Lexington.
Matt Branstetter, MATS, LMT, CYT – East-West Philosophy and Meditation
Matt Branstetter is a Certified Yoga Instructor, a Certified Qi Gong Instructor through Rising Lotus Qi Gong, a Licensed Massage Therapist and a Professor of World Religions at Midway University. He has a passion for exploring the world’s Wisdom Traditions in search of the common principles that connect body, symbol and spirituality. He has an extensive background in Zen meditation and the Internal Martial Arts, including a three year residency at Furnace Mountain Zen Center and an intensive study of Chen Style Tai Chi Chuan with Grandmaster Ding Ming Ye. Matt’s varied interests are reflected in his teaching experience. He has taught Yoga and Tai Chi at the college level as well as teaching yogic philosophy and meditation in both 200 Hour and 300 Hour Yoga Teacher Trainings. He teaches massage fundamentals at Lexington Healing Arts Academy, and weekly classes in Qigong. He has designed and taught college courses in Religion at Midway University and at St. Catharine College where he was Chair of the Philosophy and Religious Studies Department. There he was voted Faculty Member of the Year in 2015 for his creative approach to courses including World Religions, Asian Philosophy and the Philosophy of Embodiment.
Romi Kalova, C-IAYT – Yoga of Sound and Restorative Yoga
Since the beginning, Romi’s yogic path has been a journey of healing and personal transformation. After completing her initial Hatha Yoga Teacher Training at the Temple of Kriya Yoga in Chicago, she embarked on an in-depth experiential study of yoga as a healing art with Joseph and Lilian Le Page and Integrative Yoga Therapy. Through this study, she earned certification as a Professional Yoga Therapist at the 500 hour level, and became a member of the International Association of Yoga Therapists. In 2015 she visited India, and in the traditional ashram setting in Rishikesh she studied Sanskrit, Nada Yoga (Yoga of Sound), Bhakti (Yoga of Devotion), Kirtan, Mantra Yoga and the traditional Indian string instrument, tanpura. She became certified in the Heart of Sound – the world’s first 200 Hour Teacher Training based entirely on the transformational power of sound.
In the classes at her studio, Yoga with Romi, she integrates active asana, restorative practices and sound healing to guide students to balance strength with inner softness, open the heart and mind, listen to the body and uncover the quiet place of peace, wisdom and happiness that lies within each of us.
Cindy Reed, MSW, LCSW, CYT
Cindy Reed is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, a Yoga and Mindfulness instructor and a Certified Daring Way™ Facilitator. After graduating Cum Laude from the University Of Kentucky Graduate Program Of Social Work, she began work at a Community Mental Health Center in Appalachia—eventually serving as Program Director and Clinical Coordinator.
In 2001, her training in Dialectical Behavior Therapy led her to pursue a deeper understanding of Mindfulness strategies. As a result, Cindy became immersed in the world of Hatha Yoga and studied with renowned teachers Angela Farmer and Judith Lasater.
As a Certified Daring Way™ Facilitator, Cindy was featured as a lead presenter of Brené Brown’s work at the National Association of Social Workers Continuing Education Conference in 2015. The Daring Way™ is a highly experiential methodology based on the research of Dr. Brené Brown that explores topics such as vulnerability, courage and worthiness. Its focus on mindfulness has proved an excellent fit to Cindy’s existing skill set.
Currently, Cindy has a private life-coaching and workshop practice and leads mindfulness-based Yoga classes and workshops in Lexington, Richmond and Winchester Kentucky. She is retained on staff by the Bluegrass Rape Crisis Center for her expertise in using mindfulness-based cognitive behavioral strategies to treat symptoms of trauma, and she is currently developing a Trauma Informed Yoga program for the 17 counties served by BRCC.
Tanja Bisesi, PhD, E-RYT 200, RYT 500, YACEP – Teaching Methodology
A dancer, writer, and teacher of teachers, Tanja has drawn on yoga practice and philosophy for over four decades to balance body-mind, reduce stress, inspire self-inquiry and awaken spirit. Educated as a Communication and Wellness Specialist and an Educational Researcher, Tanja currently turns the lens of her expertise on modern yoga practice and teaching in community. She has a MS in Speech Pathology and PhD in Educational Psychology with concentrations in human development, neuropsychology and health promotion. She has taught undergraduate and graduate education and health students and published research on curriculum development and assessment. She holds an E-RYT 200, RYT 500 and YACEP through Yoga Alliance and is a certified Pilates instructor through Indiana University. She is also certificated in Yoga for Seniors from Duke University. She has taught core-focused, therapeutic yoga classes for 10 years and currently teaches groups and private students in the community and in her private studio, Enlighten Wellness. She writes on topics including: communities of practice, reflective practices for personal and professional growth, and writing as meditation. She reads widely and currently muses on community building, the neuropsychology of yoga experience, and the spiritual implications of modern physics and cosmology.
Mark Bisesi, MD, RYT 200 – Neuro-Anatomy
A diagnostic radiologist with special expertise in cardiopulmonary imaging, a classical guitarist, and a longtime yogi. His asana and meditation practice grounds his daily life and informs his yoga teaching. Mark practices for stress relief, body-mind balance, and creative inspiration. As a physician, his yoga instruction focuses on guiding students toward balance in their bodies, an enhanced sense of wellbeing, and a healthier lifestyle. Mark’s yoga classes include lifestyle enhancement through better health and wellness habits as well as those addressing the special challenges of athletic teams and musicians. Mark’s professional work as a radiologist and applied anatomist draws on modern cross-sectional imaging techniques such as MRI, CT and ultrasound. He shares anatomy and pathology with computer-based images to complement traditional anatomic and kinesiological approaches, and to help yoga practitioners and teachers better understand the body’s structure and function during asana and other forms of yoga practice. Mark is inspired by contemporary yoga research, particularly brain function correlates of practice, and offers his thoughtful perspective on this body of knowledge as a part of his teaching.
Judy Flavell, RYT 500 – Circle and Integration Practices
Judy’s passion is to create safe spaces for people to discover and celebrate who they are right now. Through teaching yoga, she supports students in developing a compassionate relationship with their bodies that allows their spirits to shine through.
In addition to private sessions, workplace seminars, and workshops, she teaches regular weekly yoga classes at Body, Mind & Sol in Berea, Kentucky. Her Laughter Yoga workshops are especially popular for workplace settings.
In 2017, Judy completed Yoga for Cancer training with Tari Prinster’s Y4C methodology. Her professional training also includes “Integrative Yoga for Seniors” at Duke University’s Center for Integrative Medicine, “Yoga for the Rest of Us” with Peggy Cappy, and “Yoga for Scoliosis, Part I” with Elise Browning Miller at the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health. She began her yoga journey in earnest as a student of Zoe MacLaren (Sacred Living Yoga) and completed advanced training as a Registered Yoga Teacher with Amanda, our Director and Lead Trainer.
Judy has also guided wilderness vision quests, trained with the School of Lost Borders, worked for 30 years in public broadcasting, and served as Executive Director for the Habitat for Humanity affiliate in Madison & Clark Counties in Kentucky.
Elizabeth M. Stites, C.Ay – Ayurveda
Throughout her career, Liz Stites has been known for bringing new practices to traditional challenges. She is ignited by curiosity, influenced by logic and balanced by a pragmatic nature. These traits led her from earning an engineering degree at the University of Michigan, to leading marketing functions for Fortune 100 companies to consulting with IPO-bound start-ups in Silicon Valley. But it was Liz’s in-depth study of Ayurveda that gave her knowledge and experience in achieving personal wellbeing.
After years of success in the business world, Liz was feeling the impact of daily stress. She sensed a different approach was needed. For personal benefit, she explored Ayurveda. Over time, this study, and the small lifestyle changes she implemented had a transformative effect. This led her to her study and certification at the Kripalu School for Ayurveda. There she studied with some of the world’s leading Ayurvedic practitioners, and conceived of a business model to teach wellness using common sense principles. She currently offers consultations and workshops through her company, Ayureka!
Ann G. Rhodes, DMA M.AmSAT – Alexander Technique
Dr. Ann Rhodes is a recently retired professor of vocal music who has been actively involved in the study of voice for forty years and the Alexander Technique for nearly thirty-five years. She started formal study of the Alexander Technique in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, and continued training in Leeds, England. Dr. Rhodes received her certification in 2006 from Alexander Technique of Cincinnati, an American Society of Alexander Teachers’ training program. Over the past twenty years, Dr. Rhodes has specialized in working with vocalists and instrumentalists at colleges and universities in Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia, and England and Ireland. She has been an active participant in workshops and conferences in California, Kentucky, Ohio, Virginia, London, England and Galway and Limerick, Ireland.
Dr. Rhodes currently maintains a private voice and Alexander Technique studio in Charleston, South Carolina. She teaches workshops for singers, musicians, actors, students and teachers of the Alexander Technique and for those who wish to explore reeducation of the mind and body in order to improve poise and balance in everyday activities.
Karen DiGirolamo, LMT, E-RYT 200 – Yoga for Cancer
Karen is a Jin Shin Jyutsu Practitioner and the Mind Body Movement Coordinator for UK HealthCare Integrative Medicine and Health. Karen is a kinesthetic learner, which led to an interest in health and the mind-body connection. Karen began working with individuals as a yoga instructor and massage therapist in the late 1990s. In 2013 Karen received her certificate in Jin Shin Jyutsu, an energy bodywork modality. She began working at the Markey Cancer Center as a volunteer in the chemotherapy clinics providing Jin Shin Jyutsu for patients. In 2015 Karen was hired to join the Jin Shin Jyutsu staff. Karen has a 200 hour yoga teacher training certificate and advanced training in Yoga for Cancer and Chronic Illness. She was invited to develop a yoga program for UK HealthCare Integrative Medicine & Health in 2016 and currently teaches weekly yoga and meditation classes for UK HealthCare outpatients and caregivers.
Constance Willis, RYT 500 – Yoga for Children
Constance Willis is owner and instructor of the Yoga Centre. When she started her practice over thirty years ago she became enchanted with the breath work, poses, and the stillness that she found on and off her mat. Connie’s purpose is to inspire grace and greatness.
Connie teaches yoga in a gentle supportive way which is safe, and offers a detailed method using various props to restore the body’s balance and vitality. Connie leads an opened hearted practice which focuses on the students needs. Her desire is to help inspire people to reach their goals. She encourages the students to honor their practice, open their minds, and nourish their souls while connecting with their inner source of peace, gratitude, acceptance, and love. In addition to a full line of classes offered at her studio, The Yoga and Wellness Centre, she specializes in private classes that are designed and tailored to meet the concerns of the individual. Connie holds a certification as a Children’s Yoga Teacher through Little Flower Yoga.
Lauren Higdon, LMT, CYT, CIMI – Yoga for Pregnancy
Lauren has been involved in the health and wellness fields since 1999. She is the founder and director of Centered, a holistic community center, where she has her private massage practice and teaches yoga. Lauren became a certified Baby’s First Massage instructor in 2003, and is also certified in prenatal, labor and postpartum bodywork. She works with and gives lectures in local hospitals, colleges and corporate settings.
Joshua Saxton, LMT, CYT – Yoga for Special Needs
Joshua Saxton has been passionate about the healing arts since his teens. He began his journey in Massage Therapy in 1995 at the Reilly School of Massotherapy in Virginia Beach. He has a love of adventurous movement and the art of Yoga became a passion during massage school and then a gift to share in 1998. Through mindful awareness and the power of positive intention Joshua facilitated Meditation for Stress Management classes with the Fayette County Drug Court Program for a decade. He also provides services to University of Kentucky Athletics, Latitude Artist Community, Hospice, Camp Hope, the VA and more. Josh is passionate about the exploration of possibilities with those thought to be mentally or developmentally challenged. He seeks to share yoga in a new way, a way that is inclusive to those of all abilities and with all levels of differing abilities by developing an inclusive, empowering and caring yoga environment.
Robert Patrick, JD, USAF (JAG) Veteran, CYT – Yoga for Veterans
Bob was introduced to yoga in 1988 when he was visiting with a friend who instructed him to “Lie on the floor! Now make your body stiff as a board! Now relax!” In spite of that abrupt introduction, he has maintained a regular practice ever since. He completed his first teacher training in July of 2005, and in October of 2016 completed a 300 hour Advanced Teacher Training. He also holds certifications through Mindful Yoga Therapy (Yoga for Veterans) and Y12SR (Yoga of 12-Step Recovery). He currently teaches classes at the Veterans Administration medical facilities in Lexington, KY.