Feature Teachers

Leslie Howard

Practice live with Leslie on Tuesday 12/7 at 5pm PT/ 7pm CT, register now!

Leslie Howard is an Oakland-based yoga teacher, specializing in all things pelvic. She leads workshops and trainings nationally and has written a book about caring for the female pelvis, Pelvic Liberation. She is a regular presenter for the Yoga Journal conferences and a regular contributor to Yoga Journal magazine. Her own struggles with healing her hips and pelvis led her to intense study of the anatomy, physiology, cultural messaging, history and energetics of this rich place. Her teaching is informed by over 3500 hours of yoga study with senior Iyengar yoga teachers. She considers Ramanand Patel her most important influence and mentor. She has designed two very successful studies for UCSF on how to use yoga to alleviate incontinence and pelvic pain. To learn more about Leslie or for some online education opportunities, click here.

Leslie will be teaching Anatomy and Asana, an all Levels 75 min Workshop on 12/7. The class description is as follows:

Proper strengthening and stabilizing of the pelvic floor helps to create the correct foundation of each movement in the body. This is the true meaning of “core work.” Whether you experience any of these conditions, or are just plain curious about this region of the body, this workshop is for you:

*pelvic pain
*lower back, hip or groin problems
*discomfort during sex or while using tampons
*skin irritation
*leak when laughing or sneezing
* have to go the bathroom too often
*prolapsed organs
* pre and post pregnancy

This workshop we will locate, assess, soften, stretch, strengthen and exercise the muscle groups of the pelvic floor.

All proceeds from donations dedicated to Leslie will benefit CAWC, Connections for Abused Women and their Children, an organization that provides a safe escape for survivors of domestic violence and assists them as they begin to build a better, safer future for themselves and their children.

To make a donation in honor of Leslie, click here and select “Leslie Howard- CAWC” from the PayPal dropdown menu.

Jennifer Brilliant

Practice live with Jennifer on Thursdays at 9am ET/8am CT, register now!

Jennifer Brilliant is a yoga teacher, yoga therapist and personal trainer for people who need inspiration to get their body moving. She has been teaching yoga and offering personal training since 1989 and was the Director of Teacher Training at OM Yoga in New York. Jennifer is a life-long learner, an experienced teacher, certified yoga therapist and is also the Director of Beyond Brilliant, a selective team of yoga teachers who work with clients one-on-one and in the workplace.

She believes that yoga and other body-mind practices are powerful for people of any body type, age, or ability, from beginners to those already steeped in their own practice. Through her challenging and creative classes, private sessions, and special workshops, she teaches you how to gain strength, flexibility and balance – while making it all feel like a passionate hug.

All proceeds from Jennifer’s donation based class go to Solitary Watch, a nonprofit that gives voices to those subjected to solitary confinement in prisons. They investigate, document, and disseminate information on the widespread use of solitary confinement in U.S. prisons and jails. They a pivotal role in generating public awareness, mainstream media attention, and informed policymaking in response to what was once an invisible domestic human rights crisis.

Learn more about Jennifer here!

To make a donation in honor of Jennifer, click here and select “Jennifer Brilliant- Solitary Watch” from the PayPal dropdown menu.

Tsha Marie

Practice live with Tsha on Wednesdays at 6pm CT, register now!

Tsha’s movement journey began as a professional dancer, she loved what healthy competition provided her: the push to keep learning and to always ELEVATE! She didn’t realize it back then, but believes the discipline of dance connected her to her body, keeping my early childhood traumas from overwhelming her. Dance was a life vest, it saved me.

She leaned on her yoga practice as her dance career was coming to a close. She began feeling her body in a different, more compassionate way and started to notice shifts beyond the physical. She discovered how becoming quiet, still and diving deeper within unlocked a whole other part of herself. She got to know myself on my mat and it felt like healing.

She became so fascinated about “why” yoga felt so magical, she took her 200hr Vinyasa Teacher Training with Katie Brauer at YogaSix. It was the single best thing she ever did for herself and her teaching! Craving more knowledge, she continued my yoga education and completed a 300hr advanced Hatha and Ashtanga training with Yogamea in Italy.

Teaching has always been a passion of Tsha’s, regardless of the modality. Over the many years of guiding people of all ages and levels, one thing rings true, the universal language of movement unites and heals. Witnessing students grow and have “ah ha” moments make her smile. Watching her friends live their passions fills her with joy. Traveling fills her with awe. A great glass of wine and a sunset can cure anything!

All proceeds from donations dedicated to Tsha will benefit CAWC, Connections for Abused Women and their Children, an organization that provides a safe escape for survivors of domestic violence and assists them as they begin to build a better, safer future for themselves and their children.

To make a donation in honor of Tsha, click here and select “Tsha Marie- CAWC” from the PayPal dropdown menu.

Learn more about Tsha here.

Greg Cawley

Coming Soon! 1/11 (US)/1/12 (AU). Practice live with Greg on Tuesdays 6pm CT (US)/Wednesdays 10am AEST (AU) through January register now!

Greg Cawley is the owner of BrikMan Yoga in Toowoomba, Australia.

By his own description, Greg Cawley is a pretty normal bloke – and an unlikely yoga teacher. Born and raised in New Zealand, Greg started his professional life as an audit accountant working in large corporations in the UK and Australia. After settling into married life, he bought three construction-based manufacturing companies and grew them with great success. However, when the Global Financial Crisis struck, Greg was soon faced with the near failure of his businesses, the failure of his marriage, and the depression and devastation that followed.

Not willing to be stuck in the wasteland of this ‘mid-life crisis’, at age 55, Greg quit his career in business, moved to Australia, and took the unusual step of training to become a yoga teacher… what a difference. Suffering from sporting injuries, physical restrictions, and a lack of flexibility (like most men his age), Greg realised that he could be a example to other men that yoga really was for them. BrikMan Yoga was born – yoga for men who have all the flexibility of a brick! The slogan says it all: ‘No Sheilas. No Lycra. Just Blokes.’

Greg Cawley is on a mission to demystify yoga for men, based on his own personal experiences of the amazing benefits – both physical and mental – showing them that they can learn to bend so they don’t break. Greg wants to inspire men of all ages to develop an attitude of selfcare, for the collective benefit of all the sons and daughters who need gentle but powerful warriors in their lives.

Greg’s style of yoga is by necessity, more strength than flexibility based, and while this style suits his male clients, the mixed classes that he teaches are loved by his female clients due to their more Yang nature

Greg is 500hrs + YTT and completed his 300hr training with Noah Maze in Los Angeles in 2020

Greg is the author of the book Real Men Do Downward Dog, which is a booked designed to demystify yoga for men and to encourage more men to take up this amazing practice. The book is available for purchase on Amazon.

Greg is also a trained Yin Yoga Teacher and teaches weekly Zoom classes online from his home in Australia.

Greg has chosen for all proceeds from donations made in honor of him to go to Men’s Health Network as he is passionate about the necessity of resources for men’s health.

To make a donation in honor of Greg, click here and select “Greg Cawley-Men’s Health Network” from the PayPal dropdown menu.

Learn more about Greg here or on Facebook and Instagram.

Become one of our Feature Teachers!

Are you a yoga teacher? Do you know a yoga teacher that would like to utilize their gifts to help people in need? If so, reach out to us here for more information on how to get involved.

It is our intention that Giving Hearts Yoga be a place where teachers can come together as a community to provide assistance to those in need during this difficult time while raising awareness and funding for the causes that matter most to them. It is our sincerest hope that teachers are able to utilize this platform to help create positive change in the world.

Individually, we are one drop. Together, we are an ocean.
– Ryunosuke Satoro

Our Team/Teachers

Welcome to the Team: Jenny Kaufman!

Director, Yoga Teacher

Jenny loves many things about yoga: it provides valuable feedback about one’s energy, it promotes a balance of effort and ease, it gives us information on our level of patience, kindness, and humility. While a practice can be deeply personal, yoga also teaches us that we are all connected and all human.

In Jenny’s professional journey as a yoga teacher, mentor, studio manager and facilitator she has been honored to create many communities. With over 20 years of experience in the yoga wellness community, she is thrilled to find some new ways to broaden her experiences and share with others. Recently she has been concentrating on diversity and inclusion for students and teachers within yoga spaces. She is thrilled to join the board of Giving Hearts Yoga who provides free yoga classes to raise awareness and funds for worthwhile organizations. May the gift of awareness, patience, breath, and honesty bolster our communities.

Learn more about Jenny here.  

Welcome to the Team: Margi Young!

Director, Yoga Teacher

Margi is a bright, sophisticated, inspired yogini who teaches in the San Francisco Bay Area and leads retreats and trainings locally and in New York, Brazil, Mexico, Bali, Italy and other places around the world.

Leading online classes since the pandemic erupted, she finds that feeling feet, breath, sky, lungs, roots, softness and all the things we do on our mat at home are quite simple compared to the chaos of the world — and quite simply more necessary than ever.

Sonima, a wellness brand that promotes living healthy, balanced, and happy lives, named Margi one of the most influential yoga teachers in America. Along with her first 200 hour teacher training at OM Yoga Center in 2001, she has certifications in restorative yoga (Judith Hanson Lasater), mindfulness (Mindfulness Training Institute), prenatal yoga (Integral Yoga Institute), pelvic floor yoga (Leslie Howard), and craniosacral therapy (Ellen Mossman). She is currently in a year long training, in the spirit of Giving Hearts Yoga, called Engaged Buddhism with Roshi Joan Halifax.

Her classes can also be found on Yoga Anytime and on her on-demand library through her website.

Learn more about Margi here.  

Laura Maynard

Founder/CEO, CFO, Yoga Teacher, Administrative Assistant, Legal Department, Teacher Coordinator, Production and Sound Crew, Video Editor, DJ, and everything in between. 

Laura created Giving Hearts Yoga because given the current state of the world, we need to take care of each other. Now more than ever. For Laura, giving to and taking care of others is what fills her up. As such, everything that she has put into creating this platform, all of the work that she will continue to put into it, is her gift to whoever wants to receive it.

Laura discovered her love for yoga 17 years ago while studying at the University of Iowa where she obtained a BBA in Finance and Law Degree. She is a licensed attorney who has experience in creating and sustaining successful businesses. Through yoga, Laura discovered how to navigate through the stresses of college, a career, and life in general while accomplishing more with her physical body than she ever thought possible. It still makes her smile to think that she once thought that touching her toes was a physical impossibility.

Laura strives to bring the same sense of inner peace and self-acceptance that she found through yoga to her students, while empowering them to become more in touch with their physical bodies in a fun and safe environment. Teaching and helping her students to discover how mentally and physically strong they truly are has become Laura’s greatest joy.

Laura’s classes are playful, alignment-based classes mixed with the breath to movement vinyasa elements that many of her students crave. She is a certified teacher at the 500 hour level with certifications from YogaSix, The Maze Method, and the Amala School of Prenatal Yoga. Laura has been, and continues to be, inspired by many amazing teachers including: Alece Demaray, Noah Mazé, Rocky Heron, Sara Strother, Jim and Maureen Mondanaro, and Annie Adamson, to name a few.

When not teaching, Laura spends her time cooking, swinging in a hammock by Lake Michigan, and spending time at her home in Chicago with her husband Sean and two poms Brutus and Lycan.  

Lindsay Kahler

VP, Director, Secretary, Yoga Teacher

Lindsay discovered her love of yoga through our Founder, Laura Maynard. Years of work in high volume hospitality establishments in Chicago, left Lindsay desiring a sense of calm. She found that, and much more through her yoga practice. Once the pandemic took hold, and in person classes were no longer an option, Laura began teaching a small group via Zoom, these classes helped the group to feel connected and were what got them through the hardest times. Those small group sessions inspired the idea for Giving Hearts Yoga.

For Lindsay, yoga has profoundly helped relieve the stress and anxiety of dealing with such uncertain and stressful times. Over time Lindsay was guided to grow further by completing her 200 hr YTT with Zen Yoga Garage.

Lindsay has a Bachelor of Arts with a Business Minor, which she puts to use behind the scenes at Giving Hearts. She also has an artist’s eye and is Giving Hearts’ behind the scenes photographer.

When Lindsay isn’t practicing yoga, she enjoys cooking and concocting fresh green juice recipes. You can find her roaming the city in search of legit snacks, and of course a unique cocktail. Maybe you can find her at a plant shop, gathering supplies or a new baby to add to her plant collection, which also grew during the pandemic.  

Alece Demaray

Director, COO, Yoga Teacher

Alece is honored to be a part of the Giving Hearts Yoga team and mission. Her love of yoga has blossomed into a multifaceted career of teaching and management. She began teaching in 2012 and has experience managing yoga and fitness studios since 2015. From programming to operations to training and sales…she has done it all!

What motivates Alece to work in the yoga and fitness industry is the profound impact it can have on peoples’ lives. She believes a yoga practice is your most supportive tool in navigating skillfully through any challenge or phase of life. In class, Alece aims to empower you through her alignment based, flowing practices. Her intention is to communicate the teachings of yoga with warm humor and contagious enthusiasm, so it resonates on your mat and also translates into your life.

Alece is a Registered Yoga Teacher at the 500 hour level with certifications from Om Yoga (NYC) and Inner Peace Yoga Therapy (300 Level – Chicago Cohort). She is specialized in yoga for fertility, pre and postnatal yoga, with certifications from The Prenatal Yoga Center (NYC) and Amala School of Prenatal Yoga (Chicago). When not teaching students, she loves training future yoga teachers. In addition to practicing yoga, she considers herself a lover of all movement and is fascinated by the capabilities of the body! She resides in Chicago with her husband Andrew and their pitbull Otto, patiently awaiting the arrival of their first child in the Fall.

Sammy Conrad

Social Media Guru/Manager, Yoga Teacher
Practice live with Sammy on Mondays at 6pm CT/5pm MT, register now!

Sammy is a Colorado based yoga instructor + freelancer who is passionate about making yoga accessible for everyone. Sammy first discovered yoga in college alongside obtaining her degree in Graphic Design + Social Media/Digital Strategy, at Columbia College Chicago. She was immediately drawn to yoga’s forgiveness and mindfulness after growing up in the competitive dance world. She completed her Yoga Teacher Training in college at Yoga Six in the South Loop of Chicago and made wonderful connections with other yogi’s alongside changing the trajectory of her life. She strives to remain a student at heart while working for herself and has since completed a Trauma Informed Yoga Training through Prison Yoga Chicago + Yoga Behind Bars, and more recently completed her Doula Training. Her Fertility and Pregnancy Loss Doula services now heavily incorporate yoga as a means of healing and self-love.

Sammy has combined her two passions as a Freelance Designer + Social Media Writer alongside yoga, her favorite kinds of classes to teach being Vinyasa based yoga such as Power Yoga + Slow Flow Yoga. She will forever be fascinated by the healing aspects of yoga, including the fact that the same sections of the brain that shut down after someone experiences grief or trauma, light back up and are reactivated by mindful movement. Sammy’s goal is to safely guide students in a way that allows them to explore their own practice more deeply and heal through the power of yoga.

Sammy is passionate about a woman’s right to choose. As such, all proceeds from donations make in honor of Sammy go to her chosen nonprofit Chicago Abortion Fund, an organization that provides financial, logistical, and emotional support to people seeking abortion care. To make a donation in honor of Sammy, click here and select “Sammy Conrad- CAF” from the PayPal dropdown menu.

Rachel Hessen Connelly

Yoga Teacher

Practice live with Rachel on Fridays at 12:00pm CST register now!

Rachel used to be a 9 to 5’er, working a “just alright, sorta stuck-in-a-cubicle job” in Detroit. Inspired by an Eleanor Roosevelt quote (the essence of which is to do something that scares you), she decided life is too short, and in 2010 left it all for something that would inspire her; it was then she took her yoga teacher training at YogaWorks in California and later went on to study with Tracy and Mitchel Bleier to receive her additional 300 hour training from Advanced Yoga Teacher Training.

Her yoga practice, the vibrance of her adopted home of Chicago, and the life she shares with her amazing partner Jim, fill her with gratitude daily. Rachel enjoys both taking and teaching physically intense classes, as she has found for herself that physical strength and focus lead to the mental counterpart of confidence and peace. She also recognizes the importance of bringing in balance and ease and how much can actually be gained through the act of letting go.

In addition to yoga, Rachel enjoys her morning coffee, eating ice cream as often as possible, and strolling by magnificent Lake Michigan.

All proceeds from donations make in honor of Rachel go to her chosen nonprofit, Connections for Abused Women and thier Children, an organization that provides a safe escape for survivors of domestic violence and assists them as they begin to build a better, safer future for themselves and their children.

To make a donation in honor of Rachel, click here and select “Rachel Hessen- CAWC” from the PayPal dropdown menu.