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Leena Miller Cressman

I’m a movement educator, a yoga teacher-trainer, a social justice and environmental advocate, and a mother of three. After leading Queen Street Yoga from 2012-2020, I co-founded The Branches in 2021. My vision is to create brave and inclusive spaces for personal growth, community care, and social change.I discovered yoga at age 13 and deepened my practice throughout my teens to support me through physical and mental health challenges. I’ve been teaching since 2008, and my approach blends functional and dynamic movement, strength building, and alignment with mindful breathing and relaxation. I believe yoga practice can help us befriend our bodies and cultivate more calmness and compassion on and off the mat.I am passionate about building rich learning communities and mentoring new teachers through Yoga Teacher Training and Restorative Yoga Teaching Programs. I am registered with the Yoga Alliance as an E-RYT-500 (Experienced Registered Yoga Teacher). I have completed over 1000 hours of training in Anusara Yoga and other alignment-based and vinyasa styles, functional anatomy, Ayurveda, Mindful Strength and teaching pedagogy. My teachers and mentors include Christi-an Slomka, Meaghan Johnson, Darren Rhodes, Matthew Remski, Kathryn Bruni-Young and my co-teachers at The Branches.

To contact me with feedback or issues of a confidential nature, email to request my direct contact.

My pronouns are she/her.

Emma Dines

I teach yoga to build community. I have been teaching since 2010, and I am passionate about body positivity, poetry, and linking our practice of yoga to activism, social justice and caring for the wider world. I teach with playfulness, sound effects and humour, and draw on my background as an actor and writer to create memorable and meaningful classes.My training includes upwards of 750 hours of training with local and international teachers, in the fields of yoga, strength training, functional movement, Ayurveda, anatomy, contact improvisation and the Axis Syllabus. I am a certified Yoga for Round Bodies™ teacher. One of the highlights of my job is co-directing The Branches' 200-hour Teacher Training Program through which I have overseen the training and mentoring of close to 90 new teachers.

Some teachers/authors that I draw influence and inspiration from include: Madeleine Shen, Matthew Remski, Kathryn Bruni-Young, Cecily Milne and Katy Bowman. I also value learning from and alongside my experienced teaching colleagues; Leena Miller Cressman, Leslie Stokman, Carin Lowerison, Monica Sheridan and Kristina Lekin.

I love to sing to my students at the end of class. I’ve recorded some of these songs and they are available for download on Soundcloud.

My pronouns are she/they.

Leslie Stokman

I’m a seeker, an enthusiast, and an unashamed try-hard. Here in our community, I have the joy of sharing Yoga and movement as both a teacher and teacher-training assistant.My own practice began in 2006, when Yoga helped me to reinhabit my body and reconnect to my inner vitality as I languished in a post-traumatic slump. Because I get to teach a variety of class styles, you’ll find the content pretty variable, but all of my classes invite curious investigation into sensation and capacity through asana, breath, mobility, strength, and stillness. I aspire to offer students a space to witness, express and expand.My teaching career started in the school classroom, but jumped ship into the world of Yoga teaching in 2016 after certifying here at The Branches. Through my continuing education, I’m certificatied in the Tensegrity Repair Series (creator Gioia Irwin, trainer Trudy Austin), Functional Range Conditioning & Kinstretch (Andreo Spina et. al.), and TRE: Tension & Trauma Release Exercises (creator David Berceli, trainer Joan MacDonald). My own personal forays into Vipassana meditation, rock-climbing and strength conditioning also colour what I share.

I’m deeply influenced by my teachers-turned-friends-turned colleagues here, especially Leena Miller-Cressman and Emma Dines, and I’ll forever churn what I’ve learned from teachers Matthew Remski, Kathryn Bruni-Young (Mindful Strength), and Cecily Milne (Yoga Detour).

Wendy Michaud

My lifelong passion is learning; I have an insatiable curiosity and I enjoy inspiring that same curiosity in others. This led me to become an educator in many aspects of my life and, after completing my first YTT with Queen Street Yoga in 2018, I added yoga teacher to that list.My approach to yoga and movement practices is built on a foundation of functional movement and mindfulness. The classes I teach tend to focus on building strength and mobility, but also on noticing what's happening in our bodies. My intention is to help people move better in their everyday lives, and tune in to their own unique needs and ways of moving.My teaching style is very light-hearted, with lots of laughter and invitations to simply be curious about things. I’m always looking for creative ways to help people relate to new concepts or see things from a different perspective. But I also like to sneak in little anatomy lessons whenever I can.

When I’m not at The Branches, I spend most of my free time learning how to DIY all the things under the close supervision of a very fluffy cat and a very small dog.

Carin Lowerison

The Branches welcomed me onto their teaching team when I moved to Kitchener in 2013; I teach primarily Flow and Strength & Flow classes for the studio. I received my first certification in Anusara-inspired Hatha Yoga in 2007 and pursued Anusara-inspired certification for several years before diverging into other styles of yoga and movement including dance, martial arts, and strength training in pursuit of a broader base of movement and mindfulness knowledge. To date, I have accumulated over 450 hours of teacher training and consider myself a lifelong student. My teaching is greatly influenced by what I’ve learned from my colleagues at The Branches and by teachers like Kathryn Bruni-Young, Diane Bondi, Jules Mitchell, and Cecile Milne.My classes are playful, energetic, challenging, detailed and creative. I teach with authenticity, enthusiasm, and care for my students. I will encourage you to celebrate your abilities and customize your practice according to your needs. My hope is that your practice will support and enrich all aspects of your life off the mat.Outside of teaching yoga, I am the Co-Founder and Managing Director of a theatre company called Green Light Arts.

My pronouns are she/her.

Carol Kennedy

I started my yoga journey as a child, practicing poses found in yoga books with my mom. I rediscovered yoga when I joined the The Branches team as a trade on Tuesday nights. It wasn't until I stepped into my first Yoga for Round Bodies class that yoga really started to make sense for me. This class made it possible to connect the yoga world with my unique physique, and I continue to bring those concepts into my everyday practice.I finished my 200-hour YTT in 2020 with a great passion for movement, inclusion and breaking down stereotypes around body shape, size and fitness. I am grateful for the incredible opportunity to teach Yoga for Round Bodies and am looking forward to meeting all kinds of bodies on the mat.

Nicole DeNoble

I first got into yoga by joining friends for workplace classes over lunch. I had trained in dance as a kid and teen, and as an adult, I realized how much I wanted to be part of a movement community again. Over the years, I dabbled in different yoga styles and classes until I found my ‘yoga home’ at The Branches. My interest in building a more consistent practice grew, and I eventually pursued yoga teacher training (YTT) with Leena and Emma as part of the 2015 cohort.Since completing my YTT in 2016, I’ve been entrusted to guide folks with a range of practice goals and intentions through mindful movement and relaxation techniques. I take a special interest in sharing restorative yoga as well as ‘the basics’, and I love welcoming new practitioners through our doors as part of the Intro to Yoga program.As of 2021, I’m working towards a 300-hour teacher training designation focused on strength, exercise science, and anti-oppression, led by Carly Stong and Kathryn Bruni-Young.

Looking forward to seeing your face around the studio sometime soon!

My pronouns are she/her.

Nicole Brown Faulknor

As a yoga teacher and mental health clinician I teach Yin Yoga, Hatha Yoga and Trauma Centre Trauma Sensitive Yoga as Facilitator (TCTSY-F, 2019). TCTSY is a respectful yoga practice and rests on the principles of invitation, choice, empowerment, as means to support you in your healing process - by creating opportunities to practice noticing sensations in your body- to practice feeling your body and rebuilding your relationship to your body as safe place to be, perhaps practicing a returning home to your body. TCTSY is also an invitation for people with PTSD, and Complex Trauma symptoms. My other yoga certifications include Yogafit Canada (2011), Yin Certification (2013).I am also a founder of Mama Soul-House Rides. This embodied approach to movement is a mental health initiative through music and movement. It is a confidence and inner strength mindset-training to culturally identifying music of Afro-Caribbean origin and other eclectic genres!

Lisa Beraldo

My approach is gentle and encouraging, calm and lighthearted. My classes are fun and playful, flowy and quirky. In my classes, students are encouraged to explore what feels good in their body. When I was pregnant with my first child, I found yoga and knew I had found something that was necessary in my life - physically, emotionally and spiritually. I continue to practice yoga on my own, with my partner and with my children. I have a BA in Child and Youth Counseling, with a minor in Family Work, and have experience working with children and families in a wide range of communities in Ontario, in various settings - schools, private centres and homes. I believe so strongly in the importance of people connecting with each other and themselves. The earlier they start the better, so why not start in childhood! I love to help children and youth grow confidence and empower them to believe in themselves and others around them in playful and creative ways. I knew I found a special community when I joined The Branches in 2020. I dove deeper into this community when I completed my 250 hour YTT in 2022 and I am so grateful to have the opportunity to continue sharing yoga. I also completed a Restorative Yoga Teacher Training with The Branches in March 2023, and a Prenatal Yoga Teacher Training with the Prenatal Yoga Center in December 2023. Off the mat, I love being outside in nature - hiking, camping and canoeing. I love cooking, sewing and creating new things. Most importantly, I love spending time with my family - my partner and our three children.

Marg Hull

Over many years, I have been a seeker of wholeness, exploring natural healing, psychology, spirituality, qi gong, contact improv, running and physical fitness. But through all this, yoga has been constant. I first started practising when yoga was still seen in the west as a little ‘woo-woo,’ and I've never stopped. Yoga means ‘yoking.’ From Patanjali’s ancient Yoga Sutras: Yogaschittavrttinirodha: Yoga calms the ripples of consciousness. To this, I say yes! As our mental chatter is stilled, we move toward union with our true self, and with all that is.I’ve studied a number of styles, including Ashtanga, Sivananda, and Iyengar. A classically trained singer, I found yoga principles invaluable as I performed and taught voice for many years, experiencing the empowerment of the body-mind-spirit connection. I was thrilled to find my yoga home at The Branches (then Queen Street Yoga) in 2007, where I completed my first teacher training in 2010 with Hart Lazer, Meagan Johnson and Kristen Honey, and graduated from QSY's YTT program in 2018.I love to bear witness as people grow into wholeness. Besides voice teaching, I spent years as a core, music, and phys ed teacher in the elementary system, am trained in spiritual care and psychotherapy, have my own small counselling practice, and my study is ongoing. All of this inspires my yoga classes.

Ever a morning person, I love to share the joy of yoga with friends in Sunrise Practice, and I feel especially privileged to offer Yoga for Anxiety & Depression, to help others deepen their mind/body connection.

Alissa Firth-Eagland

I’m an artist and yoga facilitator of white settler descent living with disabilities. I come from families of caregivers, orchardists, gardeners, florists, and teachers. The Branches YTT and RYTT (2020 and 2023) have planted me in fertile ground and ever since, I’ve been training in yoga, movement, and brain health.My yoga facilitation style is accessible, trauma informed, and post-concussion symptom friendly. Lived experience with traumatic brain injury, post-concussion syndrome, and mental illness inform how I share yoga’s teachings.My purpose as a student and facilitator of yoga is to nurture embodied learning, genuine curiosity, and personal choice in people who want to move with ease. Folks practicing yoga with me can expect to co-create safety for themselves and to question what we know about movement. My yoga facilitation is greatly influenced by Myriam Khouzam, Nadi Fantastic, Cecily Milne, and fellow teachers at the Branches. I gratefully live and work in Guelph, Dish With One Spoon Treaty, traditional territory of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation.

My pronouns are she/her.

Kimberley Luu

I’m a therapeutic yoga teacher specializing in yoga nidra. With healing justice at the foundation of my teaching and practice, my aim is to facilitate restorative experiences that help soothe the collective wounds which systems of oppression burden our bodies with daily.I began practicing yoga in 2008 and discovered yoga nidra specifically six years later during my graduate studies—a period marked heavily by chronic insomnia and exhaustion. Yoga nidra helped me find solace and rest during this difficult time, and has since expanded to support me through my creative work, relationships, community engagements, and spiritual practice.After much personal exploration, I completed my Therapeutic, Restorative, and Yin Yoga Teacher Trainings with Felicia Pavlovic and Ante Pavlovic at Yoga Therapy Toronto. Soon after, I completed my Yoga Nidra Teacher Training with Uma Dinsmore-Tuli and Nirlipta Tuli at Total Yoga Nidra. In addition to my trainers, I am gratefully influenced by leaders in trauma-sensitive yoga, including Nicole Brown Faulknor, Sheila Singh, and Yoli Maya Yeh.My pronouns are she/ her.

Danette Adams

I’m a meditation and mindful movement facilitator who has been exploring contemplative practices for three decades. After my recent retirement from a career as a high school guidance counsellor, I have returned to my passion for connecting with others around mindfulness,resiliency, compassion and embodied awareness through meditation.In 2007, I walked into a combined meditation/ yoga class at The Branches, then Queen Street Yoga, and was delighted to discover a place of community and refuge through challenging times. I completed my 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training in 2010 under the guidance of Hart Lazer, Meaghan Johnson and Kristin Honey.

When I’m not leading meditation sessions, I can be found observing my own resistance to stillness and silence, or podcasting, blogging, gardening, reading and writing.

My pronouns are she/her.

Linda Collins

Newly retired and in my early sixties, I was looking for an activity I could do while coping with arthritis. I noticed a Chair Yoga class at the Y and was inspired to give it a try. I found the gentle pace soothing and accessible to me, improving my mobility to the point that I was able to join gentle yoga classes and do floor poses.My progress has been slow and gradual and I continue to keep seeing benefits. By 2018, I recognized the need to keep yoga in my life, and endeavored to become more dedicated to consistent and frequent practice at The Branches, then Queen Street Yoga.

In 2019, I was inspired to pursue yoga teacher training, hoping to share the skills and improvements I had found for myself with others. I completed the The Branches YTT Program in 2020. Sharing my lived experience, I now passionately instruct older adults in restorative, gentle, accessible and chair yoga classes.

I am grateful to mentors Leena Miller Cressman, Emma Dines, and the other wonderful teachers at QSY for their instruction, support, inspiration, and encouragement!

My pronouns are she/her.

Nadine Quehl

I started practicing yoga in 2005, and completed my 200-hour teacher training at The Branches (then Queen Street Yoga) in 2017-2018. A few months later, I started volunteer-teaching yoga at Grand Valley Institution for Women in Kitchener. This experience continues to help me appreciate yoga’s role in healing, empowerment and connection.Before discovering the joys of yoga, I took a number of courses in tai chi and qi gong, and movements from these practices are incorporated into my classes. I am currently studying at the Centre for Mindfulness Studies, where I am learning to facilitate Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) and weave mindfulness meditation techniques into my yoga teaching. I bring a gentle yet energizing presence to my classes, and combine elements of meditation and mindful movement into all my classes. I focus on alignment and engaging muscles to ensure stability in poses (“strength before length”), connecting movement with breath, and encouraging curiosity, a non-judgemental approach and playfulness.When I’m not teaching yoga I work at the University of Waterloo, connecting our Researchers with non-profit / public sector organizations for research collaborations. I enjoy reading, hiking, kayaking, singing in a global song choir, and acting.

My pronouns are she/her.

Anastasia Lyons

Anastasia is an Antigravity, yoga, and movement teacher of Mohawk descent based in Waterloo Region on the Haldimand tract with experience teaching in various disciplines since 2017. She considers herself a lifelong student and has completed instructor training in Antigravity aerial yoga, Antigravity aerial pilates, as well as a 45 Hour Restorative YTT at The Branches and intends to continue her learning in more movement-based practices. Beyond her teaching pursuits, Anastasia engages passionately with her professional role in the field of reconciliation, equity, diversity, and inclusion and endeavours to embody the values of that work in everyday life. As an instructor, she takes a balanced approach, crafting environments that cater to the diverse needs of her students. She curates lively and invigorating spaces for certain classes, infusing them with elements of playfulness and levity. For other classes, she curates restful and rejuvenating spaces, fostering an environment for serene relaxation while always striving to empower her students to develop confidence and amazement in their own bodies and abilities. She is thrilled to be aligning her journey with The Branches to provide this affinity space!

Ashley West

I am a movement teacher, a Social Worker, a believer in freedom from addiction and a mama to one loveable puppy dog named Faith. I am passionate about helping folks feel at home in their bodies and at ease in their minds.My own practice began in 2019 after the tragic loss of my beautiful mother. I was newly sober, in immense pain, and longing for soul healing. Enter the practice of yoga. I found myself on the mat. I learned and unlearned truths about who I am and who I want to be. Yoga grounded me, it brought me back home to myself. I knew I wanted to share my transformative experience with others and completed my 200hr YTT. I quickly fell in love with restorative yoga and wanted to go deeper. I became a certified Restorative Yoga Teacher through The Branches in 2023 and have been guiding students ever since. I am now working towards a 50hr Yin Yoga certification.As a teacher, I aim to create a setting for my students to shine and reconnect with their inner beings in a judgment-free space. My classes offer a safe and nurturing environment inviting students to explore stillness, breath and taking up lots of space. What an absolute honour to help others reconnect with themselves through the power of yoga.

My pronouns are she/her.

Sara Faulhafer

Sara (she/her) moved to downtown Kitchener in 2014 and became a Work Trade at QSY shortly after finding her way to the studio. She quickly fell in love with the welcoming community at QSY and began exploring a movement practice through various classes. A car accident forced her to go back to basics regaining balance, propriception (the sense of where your body is in space), recovering from a concussion and dealing with chronic pain.

In 2018 Sara completed her first 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training program at QSY, participated in the Accessible Yoga Conference and became an Accessible Yoga Ambassador. Sara is passionate about finding ways to help people experience the joys of moving their bodies at their own pace, and finding moments of stillness. Weaving poetry and reflection, laughter and creative elements into her classes, Sara strives to co-create classes with an inclusive, warm atmosphere.

Off the mat, Sara works in libraries, enjoys good coffee at downtown cafes, and embraces the joy of a quiet night at home with a stack of books and pot of tea.

Christi-an Slomka

I love holding space for folks to meet their bodies and selves with care. I’m a Gestalt Therapist with over 15 years of experience teaching mindfulness and somatic embodiment practices (including yoga, breath work and meditation). My classes are a balancing act of breath, deep listening, physical integration and kindness.As the director of Kula Yoga Studio Annex in downtown Toronto (2009-14), I’m proud of the work I did with studio manager Jamilah Malika Abu-bakare to lead change in the wider yoga community. During a time when there was significant resistance to conversations around anti-oppression and cultural appropriation, we co-created a more inclusive, accessible and trauma-informed space.Most of my yoga and meditation studies were influenced by Kasmir Shaivism, Śrīvidyā, and Zen Buddhism. My process for respectfully sharing wisdom informed by practices that I am not culturally connected to is an ongoing exploration and commitment for me.In addition to the work I’ve done from the mat, cushion and therapist’s chair, I virtually supported thousands of people’s mental health journeys as a community educator with Calm (2017-2022).As a queer mama and settler on this land, I walk life's winding path with an open heart, a sense of humour and a commitment to working towards a kinder and more just world. And you can literally find me out walking winding paths with my toddler as we search the neighbourhood for pinecones and basketball nets.