Teachers

Feature Teachers

Meghan Ruiz

Practice live with Meghan on Tuesdays at 9:00 am CST/7am PST in July, register now!

Yoga has been woven into the fabric of Meghan’s life ever since her first class in college in the summer of 2001. She has always loved vinyasa-style yoga asana because she enjoys the creative process of sequencing a class – whether it’s working toward a peak pose or focusing on a specific area of the body. The natural curiosity of what poses work where, why, when, and how in order to prepare for more challenging postures inspire her to include unconventional (to yoga) techniques sprinkled throughout her classes. More than anything, she believes that breath is boss and so focus on the breath is the common thread throughout any of her classes. Expect lighthearted, intelligently sequenced classes with awesome playlists!

Meghan is a Yoga Alliance E-RYT 200, RYT 500, and YAECP and has been teaching for over 10 years. She lives in Truckee, CA with her husband and 3 kids.

Learn more about Meghan here. 

LaNae Plaxico

Practice live with LaNae on Tuesdays at 6:00 pm CST/7:00 pm EST in August, register now!

LaNae began practicing yoga as a young teenager with the hopes of becoming a more flexible dancer, but quickly learned that the practice was about a lot more than looser hamstrings! She fell in love with meditative movement and the indescribable peace it brings despite the daily stresses of life. As a teacher, she wants to create a space of vulnerability and genuine exploration of the mind, body, and spirit. By creating a fun and challenging, yet serene atmosphere, she hopes her students can feel the freedom of a clear mind leaving room for whatever the practice brings forth. By helping her students dive deeper into all parts of themselves, she hopes they find peace, self actualization, and harmony with the world around them.

Learn more about LaNae here. 


Our Team/Teachers

Laura Maynard

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

Practice live with Laura on Wednesdays at 6:00 pm CST, register now!

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, playing Sega Genesis, 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

Creative 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.

Sammy Conrad

Social Media Guru/Manager, 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.

Tsha Marie

Yoga Teacher

Practice live with Tsha on Mondays at 5:30pm CST register now!

Tsha’s movement journey began with dance. She traveled the world performing and competing, which she found equally exhilarating and exhausting. Overall, She loved what healthy competition provided her: the push to keep learning and to always ELEVATE!

She didn’t realize it back then, but she believes the discipline of dance connected her to her body, keeping her early childhood traumas from overwhelming her. Dance was a life vest, it saved her.

Tsha leaned on her yoga practice as her dance career was coming to a close, as it helped to ease the transition from the rigors of competitive dance. 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 herself on her mat and it felt like healing.

Tsha became so fascinated about “why” yoga felt so magical, she became a student again and took her 200hr Vinyasa Teacher Training with Katie Brauer at YogaSix. It was the single best thing she ever did for herself! 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 makes 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!

Discover more about Tsha here!
https://www.tshamarie.com
facebook.com/tshamarie
instagram.com/tshamarie

Rachel Hessen

Yoga Teacher

Practice live with Rachel on Thursdays 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.


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 give back and 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 help provide assistance to those in need during this difficult time, as well as one where they can promote their studios, programs, and platforms. This year has often left us wishing that there was something more that we could do, a way that we could help try to heal a hurting world, Giving Hearts Yoga provides an avenue for teachers to do just that.

It has been a dark year. Let’s see if we can light it up.