Practice live with Maria on Wednesday 3/8 & 3/15 at 12pm CT register now!
Maria always wanted to be a teacher. As a teenager, she was talked out of pursuing a degree in teaching by a well-meaning mentor at her high school…but teaching found her anyway, when her son was diagnosed with autism. She became her son’s full-time therapist and teacher, which led to several years of substitute teaching in the public school system while also teaching fitness classes at her local gym. It was during this tumultuous and uncertain time of her life that Maria discovered yoga. The effects on her health and wellness were so profound that she made it her vocation to teach others.
Maria completed her RYT 200-hour teacher training at Dancing Feet Yoga in 2003 and her Advanced Yoga Teacher training at Yogaview in 2011. She is also certified to teach Yin Yoga and Prenatal Yoga. She is a certified Level 2 Reiki practitioner.
Maria infuses her classes with passion, creativity, and a spirit of playfulness. Some of her most influential teachers come from various yoga disciplines: Gabriel Halpern, Seane Corn, Ana Forrest, Desiree Rumbaugh, Rolf Gates, Paul Grilley. Rather than subscribing to any one “style” of yoga, Maria synthesizes aspects from each, to create a practice that challenges and inspires her students while emphasizing safe alignment and breath awareness. Maria strongly believes in educating her students about their own anatomy and body mechanics. Using insights she’s gained from rehabilitating and learning to avoid injuries to her own body, Maria is adept at customizing yoga poses for anyone, regardless of age, experience, or physical limitation.
Maria is continually curious about ways to enhance health and wellness through nutrition, mind-body healing, and positive thinking, and enjoys passing on her knowledge and experience to others. When she’s not teaching yoga, Maria loves to travel, drive her vintage 1971 Buick Riviera, and cook for family and friends. She is also working on a memoir.
Maria currently teaches at several of Chicago’s premiere yoga and fitness studios, including Yogaview, East Bank Club, Midtown Athletic Club, and the Chicago Athletic Clubs.
When she’s not teaching yoga, Maria loves to travel to national parks, drive her vintage 1971 Buick Riviera in Michigan, and cook for friends and family.
Maria has chosen to dedicate her series to Pro Bono Network, an incredible nonprofit that provides legal services to marginalized communities. If you would like to join Maria in helping removing the barriers an providing a support structure to make it easier for volunteer attorneys to help low income people receive critical legal services, consider making a donation by clicking here and selecting “Maria Rosner- Pro Bono Network” from the PayPal dropdown menu.
Follow Maria on Instagram here.
Practice live with Stefanie on Tuesday 3/14 & 3/21 at 6pm CT register now!
Stefanie came to yoga as a skeptic in 2009 to support for a friend who had just started teaching and she immediately became hooked. Never viewing herself as athletic, coordinated, nor flexible or strong, yoga helped her push past those fears and limiting beliefs to find the strength (both mental and physical) and flexibility that she never knew she was capable of. Through yoga, Stefanie also found her emotional grounding and felt much more centered and calm. As a mom of two, it became her “me time”. Stefanie completed her 200hr Teacher Training through Corepower Yoga in the Spring of 2011 and has been teaching throughout Chicago ever since.
She finds the connection to her students, fellow teachers, and the amazing sense of community to be the most rewarding aspects of teaching yoga. In her classes, Stefanie caters to all levels and leads a challenging, but safe and accessible practice. She hopes to leave her students feeling invigorated, strong and with a sense of peace and calm to take into their daily lives with them. Stefanie is a certified pre/postnatal yoga teacher and kids yoga teacher as well.
Stefanie has dedicated her series to Gabriel’s Light, and incredible organization that seeks to prevent teen suicide through education, cyber safety, and kindness campaigns.
If you would like to join Stefanie, consider making a donation by clicking here and selecting “Stefanie Coslow- Gabriel’s Light Fundraiser” from the PayPal dropdown menu. All donation proceeds go towards helping them further their mission of preventing teen suicide.
Follow Stefanie on Instagram here.
Practice live with Trish Wednesday 4/19 & 4/26 at 6pm CT register now!
Trish has been practicing yoga for 10 years and teaching for 6. She discovered her love for this practice during a very dark time in her life, when nothing made sense, she found herself again through yoga. As her passion grew, the next step in her journey was to help other students find their light by becoming a teacher.
For Trish, yoga is a time to turn off the race in her mind and be present. It’s a time to understand where your body meets your practice in that exact moment and be grateful for it. There is no winning at yoga, it’s an ever-evolving practice with no ceiling. Each day you can reach your mat is a gift to your body + mind.
Trish is an advocate for self love and self care. She emphasizes the benefits that her practice brings into her daily life by applying yoga techniques off her mat.
Trish has chosen to dedicate her series to Best Buddies, an amazing nonprofit that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment, leadership development, and inclusive living for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. To join Trish in providing individuals with IDD opportunities, consider making a donation by clicking here and selecting “Trish Guisch- Best Buddies” from the PayPal dropdown menu.
Follow Trish on Instagram here.
Practice live with Rose Wednesday 2/22 & 3/1 at 5:30pm CT/6:30pm ET! register now!
Rose Sunila (she/her) is RYT500 yoga teacher with a background in dance and movement studies. She is a lover of all movement flow initiating from the breath, as well as movement explorations on our mats. Rose aims to teach in an inclusive and empowering manner, and believes there should be no barriers for practicing yoga and compassionate self study.
Rose has dedicated her series to Accessible Yoga Association, an inspiring nonprofit organization whose mission is based on the belief that all people, regardless of ability or background, deserve equal access to yoga. They share the teachings and benefits of yoga with those who have been marginalized through education and advocacy. To join Rose in helping AYA make the healing benefits of yoga accessible to all, consider making a donation by clicking here and selecting “Rose Sunila- Accessible Yoga Association” from the PayPal dropdown menu.
Follow Rose on her YouTube channel here and on Instagram here.
Practice live with Shevy on Tuesday 2/14 & 2/21 at 5pm CT/6pm ET register now!
Shevy believes that in a time where it becomes ever so challenging to pull ourselves away from our many screens and devices, our yoga practice oers us the opportunity to uietly return home to our bodies and learn how to settle within ourselves. We learn how to check in, and train ourselves to move from moment to moment to the best of our ability. She believes this path helps us identify who we are, discern how we move and show up in the world, and this self-inuiry (svadhyaya) is vital to resisting and dismantling systems of oppression. Shevy turned to yoga as a respite from a toxic work culture while working in the fashion industry. She soon discovered how the 8 limb practice was a roadmap on how to navigate our world ethically, with compassion, clarity and grace.
Shevy is most interested in the intersection of the yoga practice with social justice and racial euity work, and facilitating classes that help us explore how our liberation is interdependent. She received her initial 200HR training at Om Yoga with Cyndi Lee, learning yoga through the lens o Tibbetan Buddhisim. Shevy is currently a faculty member & teacher trainer at e Shala Yoga House, an Ashtanga yoga studio in Brooklyn, NY. She also developed Yoga Stages, a wellness consulting rm in 2018. She oers several bows to her teachers, past and present, she has been woven by your deep threads of wisdom and is humbled to be holding and sharing this practice.
Shevy has dedicated her series to the Loveland Foundation to help them further their mission of providing opportunity and healing to communities of color, with a focus on Black women and girls. They support the communities they serve by maintaining a therapy fund to provide free therapy, fellowships, residency programs, listening tours and much more.
If you would like to join Shevy in helping the Loveland Foundation support communities of color with access to healing that will impact generations to come, click here and select “Shevy Katan- Loveland Foundation Fundraiser” here.
Learn more about Shevy here and follow her on Instagram here.
Practice live with Zac Thursday 2/23 & and Tuesday 2/28 at 7pm CT register now!
Born in Memphis, TN, Zac now resides in Chicago, IL and works for a major soccer organization. He has made his passion of soccer into a life-long career as a coach, club director, state director, educator, and educator developer and has strived to help brighten people’s lives through the sport.
He’s a learner, teacher, maximizer and achiever that loves to inspire others to be the best versions of themselves. While always working towards growing the beautiful game, Zac also believes strongly in multi-sport participation and is a 200-hour registered Yoga Teacher as well as a PSIA-AASI Level 1 Snowboard instructor.
Soccer and yoga have given him so much in life to be grateful for and he loves to share the benefits with anyone that crosses his path. These passions have given him a sense of community and helped him learn how to live a healthier and more active lifestyle while also inspiring others to do the same.
Zac has dedicated his series to 901 Girls with Goals, an incredible organization based in his hometown of Memphis, TN. The city of Memphis has endured a lot of pain recently and has some of the highest crime rates in the nation. Children growing up in inner-city Memphis are surrounded daily by this violent crime. They need opportunities to see that there’s a brighter future with more opportunities for them. 901 Girls with Goals supplies schools with soccer equipment, free training clinics for coaches, free skills clinics for players, and create additional opportunities for play and personal development.
901 Girls with Goals was founded by Paula Seward and Carrie Hough who have created a program from their own hearts to make a difference in the children’s lives through the sport Zac loves, all in his hometown. To join Zac in making a difference in the lives of young girls in Memphis through soccer opportunities, consider making a donation towards 901 Girls with Goals by clicking here and selecting “Zac- 901 Girls with Goals” from the PayPal dropdown menu.
Follow Zac on Instagram here.
Practice live with Sarah on Monday 2/13 at 6:30pm CT/4:30pm ET register now!
Sarah is a full-time yoga teacher in the Bay Area. She specializes in delivering therapeutic and goal-oriented private and group yoga sessions to busy professionals, people healing from injuries and the yoga-curious. She has been teaching since 2010 and has an extensive background in therapeutics, functional movement and fascial release. Her teaching style is straight forward, light hearted and informative.
When she’s not teaching, you can find her cycling through the hills, drinking coffee and rock climbing with her husband.
Sarah has dedicated her class Yin for Late Winter/Early Spring to the LoveYourBrain Foundation, an amazing organization that improves the quality of life of people affected by traumatic brain injury and raises awareness about the importance of brain health.
Isolation, unemployment, failed relationships, and suicidal ideation are stark realities, compounded by gaps in community-based services and resources. On top of that, TBI is often invisible, leaving people misunderstood and without compassionate care.
If you would like to join Sarah supporting the LoveYourBrain Foundation in helping those with TBI access their resilience, connect with a compassionate community, and reach their full potential, click here and select “Sarah Moody- LoveYourBrain Foundation” here.
Learn more about Sarah here and follow her 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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Director, 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.
Officer of Marketing, Development and Fundraising, Graphic Designer, Yoga Teacher
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
Practice live with Rachel on the 1st and 2nd Friday of the month at 12pm CT (beginning 11/18) 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.