faculty

Welcome to our Faculty Spotlight

Jolynn McFerren

After practicing yoga for over 20 years, Jolynn found Namaste Yoga Studio and Mary Pat Murphy, and knew that it was the right time in her life to become a teacher of the practice. Jolynn and her husband Brent are now the owners of Namaste. With 3 young children, Jolynn sees the value in yoga from childhood through adulthood. She has an RYT200 certification from Namaste Yoga Studio with Mary Pat Murphy and Rowan Silverberg, and has completed a second 200-hour Anusara teacher training program with Todd Norian and Ann Greene. She has studied many varieties of yoga across the country and has studied recently with Todd Norian, Ann Greene, Tara Glazier, Lisa Danbrot, and Doug Keller. She currently teaches kids yoga, family yoga, slow flow, all levels, and sweet sweaty flow at Namaste Yoga Studio.

Jenny Blasio

Jenny Blasio took her first yoga class at Namaste Yoga studio in her mid 40’s and that class resonated deeply with her. She says, “It felt like a coming home. For the first time in forever, I felt centered and at peace. As I continued to practice, my love for yoga grew and spread throughout my daily life. Yoga has given me great perspective over my emotions, my relationships, and myself. As my heart opens to the yogic path, I continue to learn and grow, building strength in body, mind and spirit. I love a challenge and I love to play with “my edge”. I continue to work on being my best self in both the physical and emotional worlds. I bring functional movement patterns into my traditional hatha practice to ensure I can continue to move and stay active well into my life. Along with practicing and teaching yoga, I also run, bike, and complete HIIT workouts. In addition to being a yoga teacher, I work at a local Fortune 500 company as a supervisor, I’m married with two adult sons, love to travel and spend time with family and friends. I’m an LGBTQ+ Advocate, and I’m proud to be from Northeast Ohio. My teachers are Mary Pat Murphy, Karen Duganier, Ruth Zito, and Jolynn Mcferren. I graduated YTT with my RYT 200 in 2012. It’s truly an honor for me to be able to share my love of yoga and explore the practice of self-discovery with the students at Namaste.”

Cathy Bratka

Cathy Bratka began her yoga practice almost 15 years ago because she was looking to try something different. She says, “I wasn’t expecting to love it so much. It is now an integral part of my life and has seen me through some major life changes. Now married with 2 young kids to chase around, yoga means something different. But what I’ve come to know is that it fits into my life no matter what I’m doing. Sometimes I crave a more vigorous practice, sweating and moving. Other times I need to slow down, restore and breathe. And then there are the times I practice for ten minutes, in my pajamas, between chores, while the kids are sleeping because that’s all I can do. I have been teaching for close to a decade and my teaching style changes and grows as I change and grow. I consider myself both a teacher and a student, because there’s always more to learn, right? Yoga reminds me to remain joyful, open, present, and grateful in life and I want to share that with anyone who’s willing to join me on the mat. I have studied with international teachers Todd Norian, Ann Greene, Doug Keller, Desiree Rumbaugh, Sianna Sherman, and Tiffany Cruikshank. Namaste!”

Christina Chase

Christina Chase has been practicing yoga since 1995. What began as just another avenue of exercise, turned into an amazing awareness of how the physical, emotional, and mental understandings of ourselves helps us to heal and grow as a person. Christina enjoys attending all types of yoga classes–vinyasa, yin and restorative–and incorporates what she learns into her classes. Christina received her RYT200 certification in 2009 and her RYT500 certification in 2016–both through Namaste Yoga Studio’s teacher training programs. In 2011, she completed the ChildLight Yoga Teacher Training. Outside of yoga, Christina loves to read, write, walk and travel.  She is married and has two children and two dogs.

Chen Cottrell

Chen started her yoga journey in her hometown of Los Angeles, California. She remembers how open and calm her body and mind felt after that first yoga class. In January 2015, Chen completed her Yoga Alliance 200-hour teacher certification at Yoga Lounge Hudson with Amy Cook and Jennifer Fries. She is also currently working on completing her 300-hour advanced yoga teacher training in November 2019 at Cleveland Yoga with Tami Schneider. Over the years, Chen has attended numerous workshops, most recently the teacher training course with Baron Baptise, whom she considers to be the founder of Power Yoga. Chen loves to teach a powerful and playful class where her hope is that the students leave their mats feeling empowered. The yogi concept of impermanence helps her to stay grounded and stay in the present moment. Chen’s friends and family would describe her as energetic and athletic. When she’s not working or teaching, one of her favorite places to visit in Ohio is the Akron Zoo, especially the tiger and snow leopard exhibits. She also enjoys movies, anything from the Marvel franchise to Ian Fleming’s James Bond films.

Cyndy Edwards

Cyndy Edwards has been teaching Hatha yoga since 2012 and practicing since 2009. She is a RYT 200 with Yoga Alliance following completion of her study with Mary Pat Murphy and Karen Duganier in Namaste’s Teacher Training program. Inspirational teachers for Cyndy include Doug Keller, Colleen Saidman Yee, Desiree Rumbaugh, and Jillian Pransky. Cyndy’s classes blend breath and movement in simple sequences to support students on their journey in well-being. Cyndy first came to yoga on the recommendation of a friend who knew she was heading into a difficult period in her life. Time for herself on the mat became her lifeline. Under the supportive guidance of knowledgeable teachers, Cyndy developed greater strength and flexibility in her body and began to find calm and balance in mind and spirit. Eventually, questions about the practice came to the surface. Cyndy wanted to know the why behind the sequences of poses, the thinking behind various ideas shared, the sources for the inspirational readings. What did she discover? For her, the mind-body-spirit connection through the breath is key. Cyndy began her teaching journey as a way to satisfy her curiosity, and the practice of yoga, meditation-asana-pranyama, became an extension of her teacher-self. Yoga has, she believes, the potential to be what each individual needs in that particular moment in time. Being supportive of a student’s discovery and well-being; that’s why she teaches.

Michele Egleston

Everyone comes to their mat for their own reasons. Admittedly, I started practicing yoga for the physical benefits. At some point, my practice changed from me in a room full of sweaty people to me in a room full of sweaty people that I no longer noticed.  It really became a practice of me, my mat and my breath. Everything else kind of disappeared. And THAT is amazing and empowering. A true moving meditation. While I still enjoy the occasional hot, sweaty practice, I love teaching to people just like me–busy people just looking for a way to tune out their busy lives by connecting with themselves. Over the years, I’ve been lucky enough to study with some really, awesome “rockstar” teachers–Doug Keller, Desiree Rumbaugh, Todd Norian, Rodney Yee–but the teacher who inspired me all the way to becoming a yoga teacher myself is my dear friend, Mary Stepanek.

Lenore Fritz

Lenore has practiced yoga for over 20 years studying with various teachers in the Cleveland area. She received her 200 hour Yoga Teacher Certification through Namaste Yoga Studio under the direction of Mary Pat Murphy and Karen Duganier. She is registered with the National Yoga Alliance and is currently working on her 300 hour Yoga Teacher Certification from Namaste Yoga Studio. Lenore continues to expand her yoga knowledge and experiences through workshops with nationally known yoga teachers Doug Keller, Todd Norian and Rodney Yee. Lenore has always been intrigued with the spiritual side of life and began her studies of energy medicine in 1997. She is a Level III Reiki practitioner and Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy practitioner along with having a strong passion for educating about the importance of nutrition and disease prevention. She believes our health is in our hands and with yoga, meditation and the breath, we can find our way to a healthy, happy lifestyle. Lenore loves teaching and working with anyone who wishes to slow down and enjoy the journey of Yoga.

Kathy House

Kathy House is a retired Senior Social Worker at Cleveland VA Medical Center. She has practiced Yoga for 20 years and studied Mindfulness with Sister Ann Winters at Ursuline. In June 2011, she completed 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training at Namaste. In January 2016, she completed 300-hour Yoga Teacher Training at Namaste. At the VA Medical Center, she teaches Relaxation Techniques, Yoga Asanas, and Breath to Federal Workers through the Wellness Committee. In addition, she teaches Chair Yoga to Veterans with Amputations. At Namaste, she teaches Mind, Body, Breath and Restorative Yoga. She enjoys walks in Cuyahoga Valley National Park and using hand weights to strengthen muscles. Her special interests include health care and Veterans Yoga Project–a national group focusing on the benefits of Yoga for PTSD and pain management.

Kris Kearns

Kris has always been active; soccer, horseback riding, cycling, weight lifting, scuba diving and swimming are just a few of the sports she loves, but after a severe knee injury she found herself unable to participate in many of these activities. This event led to a search for an exercise that was mindful but still challenging. Yoga and Aqua fitness filled the bill. After spending time rehabilitating her injury, she began to focus on these new passions. Realizing others may benefit from non-impact exercise programs, Kris began to pursue training in Yoga and Aqua Fitness.  “I believe that yoga in any form is beneficial to all and strive to make my classes accessible to all who wish to participate” She has an RYT200 certification from Namaste Yoga Studio with Mary Pat Murphy and Rowan Silverberg, and has completed RYT300-hour teacher training program with Mary Part Murphy, Jolynn McFerren and Ruth Zito.  Kris currently teaches Chair Yoga and Yin Yoga at Namaste. “I enjoy teaching Yin yoga, this quiet practice allows the students to explore their edges and delve deeply into their meditation. It helps to balance and restore the body by resetting the nervous system. This type of practice is missing from our every day hustle and bustle.”

Lisa Meranti

Lisa Meranti started practicing yoga at the age of 16 and it quickly became ‘her thing’ for physical, mental, and emotional well being. Many years later, yoga continues to foster learning, connections, and growth on and off of the mat. Lisa has practiced at Namaste Yoga Studio since 2005 as well as explored many styles of yoga with wonderful local and national teachers. Lisa received her Yoga Alliance 200-hour certification through Namaste Yoga Studio and kids yoga certification through Mini Yogis in 2015. She teaches a variety of classes for adults, teens, kids, and families both on the mat and on the trails. Through her teachings, Lisa hopes to help students direct their energies in positive ways to be the change they wish to see in the world, find ease in challenging poses and situations, connect with nature, and open their hearts to all beings. When she is not teaching or practicing yoga, you can find Lisa doing ‘her other thing’ of pursuing nature adventures.

Colleen Potter

Colleen received her RYT200 from Namaste Yoga Studio in 2017. She had been practicing at the studio for over six years. She grew up with a background in dance. Her passion for yoga came from a back injury and a desire to strengthen her back and core. Colleen currently teaches an Easy Does It class on Monday morning. This class is for yogis who want to slow down, take a breath and gently discover their practice. Her teachers Jolynn, Mary and Anvia have taught her so much over the years. Being at the studio is always a favorite part of her week.

Lori Rapo

Lori’s love for yoga started slowly. 20 years ago, her favorite fitness instructor started bringing yoga into our kickboxing class. It was just enough to get her dabbling in power yoga practices. Lori loved the strong powerful movements, the physical challenges, but it also provided a way to calm her busy brain. It was when her life took a drastic turn that Lori realized just how much her yoga practice sustained her, and she started practicing yoga on a regular basis. Physicality is a way in, but at some point, a shift towards connecting to self begins to happen. That’s when freedom and healing begins. In December 2013, Lori completed her 200 hour training with Michelle Barnett and Margo Milcetich, and in January 2016, she completed her 300 hour training with Namaste Studios with Mary Pat Murphy, Jolynn McFerren, and Ruth Zito. She’s also had the honor of attending workshops with Rodney Yee, Desiree Rumbaugh, Doug Keller, Todd Norian, and Jason Crandell. Lori’s practices are on the lighthearted side—bringing compassion with emphasis on strength and movement with breath.

Anvia Sheldon

Many teachers have inspired me over the 7 short years I have been teaching. From my first teacher, first student and the students I taught today. They teach me the most. The beginner who sweats through their first class wondering what in the world is going on.  The student who has practiced longer than I have been of legal age (no I’m not telling) who moves with such ease and grace through their practice. All is inspiration from the seat of teacher. My students have inspired me to continue my education from 200 hours, 300 hours, countless workshops, on-line courses from the Sutras to Yoga Nidra. I learn for the joy and the a-ha moments in order to give back to my students. The nuggets of knowledge from Doug Keller, Desiree Rumbaugh and so many more, all of this learning weaves together into my tapestry of yoga. Similar yet so unique. “I have been curious about yoga since I was a girl. Unknowing, I checked out Light on Yoga from the library and was fascinated by all the poses. I would try them while playing outside and thought stretching was fun.” Leaving behind what she thought was a childhood curiosity, Anvia went on to pursue family and a career in health insurance, she rediscovered yoga during her “basement warrior” years. “I spent many years exercising in my basement trying to stay healthy. Finally, a friend encouraged me to try a class at Namaste Yoga Studio and I was hooked.” The balance of a steady practice is important to Anvia’s teaching along with allowing students to find their space to grow not only in their practice but in their lives. Anvia holds her 200 & 300 hour Yoga Alliance Teacher Certifications from Namaste Yoga studio under the teaching of Mary Pat Murphy, Karen Duganier, Ruth Zito and Jolynn McFerren. She is a certified Yoga Nidra instructor. .She also studies under Doug Keller, Todd Norian, Desiree Rumbaugh, Richard Freeman, Rodney Yee, Deborah Adele and Barbara Kundig. In addition, Anvia is a fully trained Reflexologist, Independent Reiki Master, and Certified Meridian Therapist.

Mary Stepanek

I began teaching in 2008 after completing my 200 hour certification at Namaste Yoga Studio, with Mary Pat Murphy and Rowan Silverberg. Since then, I’ve had the privilege of studying with many teachers including Doug Keller, Todd Norian, Anne Green, Desiree Rumbaugh and Rodney Yee. Honestly, some of my favorite teachers are the amazing teachers at Namaste. I am so grateful to be a yoga student, and a yoga teacher. When asked what type of yoga class I like to teach, I can honestly say it’s whichever one I’m teaching. I know that students come to yoga for many different reasons, and I try to offer space to practice in a way that’s meaningful for the individual, even in a crowded class. I regularly remind students to notice and observe what’s within them. Whenever I teach, my goal is to guide students through their best practice. Students know I’m serious about teaching, but I’m not serious, I love silly and fun! Seriously, look for the joy!

Chris Van Huysse

Chris Van Huysse completed her yoga teacher certification at Namasté in 2016. Since then she has been teaching yoga at Namasté, at a juvenile detention center, and at a community church. Chris is currently interested in–and studying–yoga as a practice to heal the effects of trauma. She recently completed her certification in yoga nidra. Chris is a Gemini (June 3). She says, “I turned to teaching yoga, after a life-long career in education. Yoga has carried me through so many of life’s good times–and certainly helped me through challenges. I became certified as a yoga teacher, so that I can give back to others from the skills and knowledge I have gained through my ten years of yoga practice. I have witnessed firsthand–from students in my classes–the amazing power of yoga to heal and to bring peace. These days my favorite pose is Warrior I–especially those times when I hit the pose just right and can feel the energy and strength flowing from my fingers to toes. It embodies me–as spiritual warrior–on life’s quest!”

Vikki Velimesis

Karen Willkomm

Karen Willkomm practiced Hatha Yoga basics for about two years because she strived to master asana alignment and form. She found that she was well prepared when her schedule forced her to try more challenging classes. Ten years into her practice, Karen completed the YTT 200 program at Namaste Yoga Studio. She has enjoyed gratifying practices guided by Deana Hale, Jolynn McFerren, Ruth Zito and Desiree Rumbaugh. Karen emphasizes alignment, breath, strength and centering. Karen started coaching cross country and track at the high school level for several years and then continued coaching for another twenty years at St. Barnabas while working full-time in health care administration. Throughout 25 years of successful coaching, she strived to help athletes achieve their highest potential and prevent injuries by including appropriate stretching, warm-ups and cool downs in daily workouts. Karen has hung up her whistle and rolled out a yoga mat to guide athletes through a practice that will accelerate recovery and enhance preparation for the next competition. Karen’s mantra? “I teach because I want students to reach higher, both physically and mentally.”

Ruth Zito

Ruth is a registered certified 500 hour and ERYT 200 hour level yoga instructor with the Yoga Alliance. With over 25 years in the fitness industry and a degree in Physical Therapy, Ruth came to Yoga realizing she needed to make an inner transformation. After taking one yoga class she immediately knew that this was her life path to take and realized the power Yoga had to transform her life and wanted to share this with others. She found Yoga and the spiritual transformation created the balance in her life that she couldn’t find with any other venue. Ruth has made Yoga her passion in her life and truly loves sharing that with others. She received her 200 hour and 300 hour teacher training at Namaste Yoga Studio and is currently an adjunct faculty member for both the 200 hour and 300 hour teacher training programs, sharing her expertise in anatomy, pranayama, and technical alignment principles. She has studied under Mary Pat Murphy, Todd Norian, Doug Keller, Desiree Rumbaugh, Amy Ippoliti, Gina Caputo, Richard Freeman, and many local teachers. She has gained inspiration from many shamans and spiritualist in Sedona, Arizona. Ruth’s athletic abilities allows her to teach a powerful class but keeps it in balance with softness and comfort allowing students to create their own personal experience. As B.K.S. Iyengar stated, “I tidy my house, and take care of my body, and I realize that divinity has been inside all along.”