Feature Teachers

Bhavya Kohli

Practice live with Bhavya on Tuesday 8/9 and 8/16 at at 6:00pm CT register now!

After moving to the USA from India, Bhavya made Chicago her base but it truly became a home when she started her yoga journey at the Y6 studios. She remembers how awkward she was going into her first class, but it quickly turned into a quest to find herself.

She completed her 200 hours training during the pandemic and has been teaching a small group of friends in the evenings and conducting corporate sessions ever since.

She has an unfeigned trust in the yogic learnings and encourages people to pursue yoga for their mental and physical well being.

Bhavya volunteers for a Chicago based non profit, Girls for Science, and mostly works with the founder. G4S focuses on providing STEM exposure to girls, ages 10-18, conducts classes on Saturdays, and has started with a mentor – mentee program this year. As an engineer herself she loves the idea of more girls in stem, challenging the status quo. As such, she is dedicating her series in support of Girls 4 Science.

If you would like to join Bhavya in exposing girls to science who might not otherwise have the opportunity, consider making a donation by clicking here and selecting “Bhavya Kohli- Girls 4 Science” from the PayPal dropdown menu.

Learn more about Bhavya here.

Stephanie Sandleben

Practice live with Stephanie on Thursday 8/18-9/1 at 6:00pm CT/4:00pm PT register now!

Stephanie Sandleben is a movement educator, yoga teacher, and a trained postpartum doula with over 20 years of experience. She teaches yoga classes and workshops for pelvic floor health and is on the teaching staff for the LILA (Lessening Incontinence through Low Impact Activity) study conducted by University of California San Francisco.

After living on both coasts, Stephanie and her family are now based in Northern Arizona.

Stephanie specializes in pelvic floor health and has seen first hand the uneven care one receives depending on gender, race, and socioeconomic status in the United States.

Stephanie is dedicating her 3-part Pelvic Floor Yoga ™ Series in support of National Network of Abortion Funds to help further their decades long work of supporting and providing any person with the non-negotiable human right to determine whether, when, and how to create a family by removing the logistical and financial barriers that are a reality for many.

If you are inspired by Stephanie and would like to join her, consider making a donation by clicking here and selecting “Stephanie Sandleben- National Network of Abortion Funds” from the PayPal dropdown menu.

Learn more about Stephanie here, or follow her on Instagram here.

Stephanie also offers a 1:1 Pelvic Floor Care Program that consists of a 6-8 week therapeutic yoga and functional movement program for pelvic floor health. Learn more about working with Stephanie here.

Masako Miyakawa

Practice live with Masako on Wednesdays at 12pm CT/1pm ET 7/13-7/27  register now!

Masako stumbled into a yoga class at Crunch Gym in SoHo in March of 2001 and it was love at first downward facing dog. She completed her first 200-Hour Teacher Training in 2004, with additional trainings in anatomy, restorative, pre and postnatal, yin, chair, aerial yoga. Her classes are breath-centered, focusing on mindfulness, safe and sound alignments, and she is known for light hearted approach to yoga. Masako is E-RYT-500 & RPYT with Yoga Alliance and has been training teachers both in NYC and Japan over a decade.

Masako is an avid animal lover and is teaching her 3 part series, Yin Yoga for Neck and Shoulders, Lower Back, and Hips, in support of Farm Sanctuary. Farm Sanctuary has been rescuing mistreated factory farm animals and helping them to find new homes since 1985. If you are inspired by Masako and want to join her in saving farm animals from inhumane treatment click here to make a donation to the fundraiser she sweetly created in support of Farm Sanctuary.

Follow Masako on Instagram here.

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, fill out our Teacher Application by clicking the button below, we’d love to partner with you!

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, 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 Manager, Graphic Designer, 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

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.