Our Team

The Leading Yoga instructional team are committed to optimizing your yoga experience. Our instructors teach Zoom sessions, meet individually with students, conduct off-site at corporate events, and lead yoga teacher training certification coursework.

Team members include advanced practitioners in Hatha yoga, meditation, Vinyasa yoga, and much more.

Leading Yoga Our Instructional Team

If you are new to yoga, ask any Leading Yoga team members to assist you to get started with your yoga journey. Our teachers are here if you have questions so just ask us.

Jennifer Smeddy

Director, Lead Yoga & Meditation Instructor

Jennifer Smeddy began her yoga journey looking for a way to quiet her mind and assist with her anxiety. She found solace in yoga and has a thirst to help others learn the benefits of yoga; helping your mind, body and spirit. Her formal yoga training occurred in India where she received her YTT. While living in India, she studied traditional Hatha yoga and the yogic sciences. Jennifer has experience teaching Hatha, restorative, yin and chair yoga asanas, pranayama, and meditation. Yoga has shown Jennifer how to approach life in an open and honest way. With yoga in her life she is able to achieve a sense of ease and acceptance she never thought possible. Choosing this yogic path has changed her life completely and left her more accepting of herself and the nature of reality than she ever thought possible. Her life has transformed because of her daily yoga practice and she is excited to help others on their yoga journey with Leading Yoga.

Shalyni Paiyappilly

Yoga, Meditation & Reiki Instructor

Shalyni is a NY State Licensed Psychotherapist, Certified Life Coach, Registered Yoga / Meditation Teacher, Sound Vibration Facilitator, Reiki Practitioner, and a Singer.

Shalyni felt a calling at a young age to share her presence and her voice to help those in distress. She believes it is her mission to inspire peace in others. She currently works full time providing psycho-therapy at a private practice group. Additionally, she offers meditation, yoga, and sound vibration sessions in various NYC locations.

Jane McIntosh

Yoga & Meditation Instructor

Jane McIntosh, (E-RYT 500) began her exploration with yoga through suggestions for alleviating her chronic back pain. Amazed at the difference a few postures made, her practice grew serious and her love for yoga philosophy intensified, truly changing her outlook on life. Attending numerous teacher training and being honored to take classes with so many gifted teachers, Yoga found its way into all aspects of her life and her heart. With a career as a health educator, Certified Well coach fitness professional, and yoga teacher, yoga continues to influence her life both on and off the mat. She continues to pursue education in yoga and the healing arts for a deeper understanding of yoga therapeutics. Her classes are
a mixture of her various training on breath and alignment principles. They are a balance of vigor, restoration, and renewal. Jane loves teaching to every level helping to facilitate her strong belief that yoga is truly for everybody and every body type when mindfully taught. Strongly grateful to all of her teachers too many to mention and her students who teach her so many life lessons.

Kevin Allen

Kevin Allen

Yoga Instructor

Kevin Allen has been a Certified Iyengar Yoga Teacher since 2013. He first began studying Iyengar Yoga in 2006 as part of a New Year’s resolution. As a teacher, Kevin helps students gain insight into poses with crisp demonstrations, clear instructions, and straightforward corrections. Kevin also works as an actor and writer. He has a Bachelor of Arts in Government from Dartmouth College.

Viramarie

Viramarie Witiuk

Yoga Instructor

Viramarie is an RYT200 Hatha and vinyasa yoga practitioner and instructor. Having left the corporate world, she returned to her athletic roots and continued her journey toward health and fitness by obtaining certifications in Yoga, Pilates, Barre Ballet, Core Conditioning, and becoming a NASM Certified Personal Trainer. She finds joy in staying healthy herself and also encouraging others to join her on a path of overall well-being, incorporating the mind, the body and the soul.

Atieh Sahraei

Yoga Instructor

Atieh Sahraei is a 200-hour Certified Yoga and Meditation Instructor and a Nutritionist on the path to becoming a Registered Dietitian (RDN). She started passionately practicing yoga during her first year of college and when the Covid-19 pandemic hit, Atieh felt the urge to take her practice to the next level and begin sharing the amazing Mind, body, & Breath experience with the world. Practicing Vinyasa Yoga flow has led Atieh to reach her perfect body goal, while at the same time, it has been a great method to balance and relax her mind. For the past two years, Atieh’s lifestyle has been all around Intuitive living and eating - exercise is just one element of a healthy life.
Atieh teaches all levels of Vinyasa flow, Power, and Yin Yoga; and has instructed all types of classes from private to large classroom sessions.

Sojourner Walker Williams

Yoga Instructor

Sojourner Walker Williams (she/her) is an energy healer, ayurvedic practitioner, and yoga teacher/trainer. Sojourner draws from her experiences as a Reiki Master, Akashic Records reader, Thai Bodywork practitioner, Reyad Sekh Em practitioner (Kemetic Alchemy Healing), and 500+ hours of yoga teacher trainings, to integrate a variety of healing modalities during her sessions depending upon the unique needs of each person in her care.

Alexis J Alvarez

Meditation & Sound Healing Facilitator

Alexis J Alvarez is a Metaphysical Provider, certified as a Spiritual Life Coach, Meditation Teacher, Sound & Color Healing Facilitator, Reiki Practitioner, and Teaching Artist.

Alexis' unique approach to mindfulness & meditation combines modern technologies, ancient practices & intuitive guidance. She currently services companies, non-profits & school organizations offering art & mindfulness workshops, meditations & sound baths. Additionally, she offers private intuitive readings, crystal reiki sessions & sound baths both virtually & in various NYC locations.

Tessa Ramsay

Meditation & Yoga Instructor

Tessa Ramsay (200-RYT) has been practicing yoga for eight years and appreciates its transformative powers both on and off the mat. In her decade of teaching English and leadership in New York City, she has learned how important calm, control, confidence, reflection, and expression are to developing minds. She finds creative ways to embed poetry, curiosity, and exploration and celebration of self into her classes with the hope that participants get one step closer to their happiest, healthiest selves.

Lisa Russell

Qi Gong, Tai Chi & Self-Massage Instructor

Lisa Russell is a Qi Gong & Tai Chi Instructor, TCM Health Coach and lifelong student of the Chinese Martial Arts. She's studied and taught Qi Gong, Tai Chi, Kung Fu, and Chinese Medicine for over 25 years. She's also trained in Chinese medical massage (Tui Na) and Chinese dietary therapy. Her Qi Gong / Tai Chi classes explore how to build and maintain health through the practices and theories of Chinese Medicine.

Briana Penzarella

Yoga, Meditation, Kirtan Instructor

Briana is a yoga asana & meditation teacher of various approaches.

Meditative & restful to dynamic & dance-like! A Bhakti Yoga practitioner & devotee to the musical, meditative practice. Briana contributes a playful, nurturing and explorative environment and strives to share from an inclusive perspective. Studied & taught at Laughing Lotus, she facilitates Advanced Teacher Trainings, and sound healing practices such as Guided Mantra Meditation, Sound Baths and Kirtan since 2014. Experience the traditional practices, pranayama and mudra meditation, while keeping it real to modern-day living. Come to the class for intentionally vibrational offerings!

Stephen Kastner

Yoga & Meditation Instructor

Stephen Kastner has been a certified yoga teacher since 2019. Stephen began his yoga practice in 2013 as a way to stay fit. After learning and experiencing, not only the physical but metal benefits of yoga, he looked to deepen his practice. Landing in Southern Delaware, Stephen found a studio that felt like home where he began his formal training as a Yoga Instructor. He has been trained in, and taught, Vinyasa, Yin, Restorative and Trauma Sensitive Yoga. Stephen loves to share Yoga and assist others to find the benefits they are looking for.

Ann Lugo

Yoga, Zumba, HIIT & Cardio Instructor

Ann has been an avid group fitness instructor and personal trainer since 2015. She loves to help others succeed in their fitness journey by consistently keeping up to date with modern workout techniques to ensure safe results. Ann knows what it takes to achieve weight-loss goals because at one point she was obese which stemmed from spinal surgery and one day, she decided to take charge of her health. She has never looked back since. Ann loves to encourage, challenge, push past the limits, have fun, and is an extremely motivated individual. Ann’s favorite workout to teach is Zumba because she loves to see her students come alive from the Latin music and dancing. Also, Ann specializes in HIIT, Cardio training, body weight training, free weight training, and Pilates/Yoga combo.

Melissa Grywalski

Yoga and Meditation Instructor

While attending Montclair State University for a Fine Art, Melissa discovered yoga. In her exploration of yoga and bodywork, she learned about energy work and became certified in Reiki and Healing Touch. This combination developed an understanding of Self and unlocked her abilities as a human and a woman. In 2018 Melissa embarked on her 200HR teacher training with Powerflow Yoga. Soon to follow she completed an 85HR Prenatal Yoga teacher training with Powerflow and became an evidence-based birth doula with Birth International. Melissa also completed her 35HR Yin and Restorative teacher training with Sacred Brooklyn and Addiction and Trauma-informed yoga with Kula. Currently, Melissa is in the process of opening a yoga retreat in Puerto Rico, connecting to her heritage and supporting ethical tourism.

Kristie Walsh

Yoga & Meditation Instructor

Kristie first discovered yoga at a young age and it has transformed her life in many ways. Yoga helped her to let go of long-held-based fears and fight for the right breathwork to tune into in times of need. She continues her studies and is heavily influenced by Iyengar and Ayurveda. She brings a sense of ease and creativity to her teaching style in which students can learn to enjoy their practice. Kristie emphasizes a no one-size-fits-all approach- your mind and body allow you to master your own practice.

August Evans

Meditation Instructor

August Evans began meditating at the age of 16 and came to study four meditation techniques—Transcendental Meditation, the Kabbalistic meditative tradition, Kundalini Yoga, and Vipassanā Meditation—and merges these traditions with her fourteen years of teaching Writing in higher education to create original curriculum as an instructor of Breath & Meditation at Syracuse University. Her unique approach is geared to guide people of all ages refine their focus, approach life from a space of equanimity, and non-reactively handle the inevitable stresses of daily life.

Wahnita King

Yoga and Meditation Instructor

Wahnita is an international Reiki Master, Autism Fitness, Experienced 200hr (E-RYT), Yoga Alliance Continuing Education Provider (YACEP). Wahnita began practicing Ashtanga Yoga to recover from a dance injury however, during her recovery she did more than heal her body, she transformed her life! Since then Wahnita has obtained multiple certifications, in addition to receiving an overwhelming response to her services, in various communities. Her experience in multiple arts, and disciplines, have truly shaped her brand, and its unique teaching styles. By learning multiple ways to connect with all people, she promises to assist clients in their present moment!

Chanelle Patrick

Zumba, Dance, Toning/Conditioning and Meditation Instructor

Chanelle Patrick started her journey in dance at the early age of 3. She loved to dance in church and bring people joy with her dynamic movement. She began taking professional training classes from her mentor Myah Mckinnie at the 4. She learned ballet, Jazz, African, Hip-Hop liturgical, and a host of other types of expressive movement. Chanelle decided that she wanted to continue her education in the Arts. Hence, she attended Columbia College Chicago and got her Bachelor of Arts in Theater with a minor in dance. In 2012 she became a certified Zumba Instructor. She went on to continue teaching dance education in the Chicago Public and Private school sector. Christmas of 2019 Chanelle sang on Broadway for the Radio City Music Hall Rockettes Christmas Spectacular. In 2020 she became a certified instructor in Zumba for kids, an Aqua Aerobics instructor, a Zumbini instructor, Zumba Step, Zumba Pro, and Zumba Strong.

Astrid Kusumo

Zumba and Zumba Toning/Conditioning Instructor

After the birth of her 2nd child, Astrid was looking for a way to lose weight, and get healthy and fit. She started trying Zumba workouts at the gym and after 1 year, she fell in love and find a passion for it. She then decided to become a certified Zumba Instructor. Astrid has been teaching for over 6 years and has loved every second of it. Astrid truly believes in helping all people feel welcome to work out and have fun in a judgment-free environment. She is also licensed to teach Zumba toning and certified AFAA-GFI.