Shala Teaching Staff
Val Yoga Stan Woodman

Stan Woodman is a Level 2 Authorized Ashtanga Yoga teacher for the K. Pattabhi Jois Ashtanga Yoga Institute (KPJAYI), in Mysore, India and owner of the Yoga Shala. He took his first yoga class in 1991 and began a dedicated Ashtanga practice in 1998 with Beryl Bender Birch. Having first met Sri K Pattabhi Jois in NYC 2001, Stan eventually went to the source in Mysore India in 2003 to study with Guruji. Since then, he has made several trips to the K. Pattabhi Jois Ashtanga Yoga Institute, studying with its founder until his death in 2009 and eventually with Jois’ heir and grandson, Sharath Jois. Today, Stan continues his yearly pilgrimage to Mysore to study at the KPJAYI with Sharath and in the summer of 2016 completed a special two month teachers course in Mysore with Sharath.

Val Yoga Valerie Schneiderman
(E-RYT 500)

Valerie is daily humbled and grateful for the bounty of gifts that yoga has bestowed upon her. Her intention in opening The Yoga Shala (in 2003) was to share this bounty with others. Valerie credits Tim Miller, whom she had the great good fortune of taking her first yoga class with in 1993, as having introduced her to this transformative practice. His example continues to guide and inform her teaching today. Valerie studied directly with Sri K Pattabhi Jois during his many visits to the United States, in addition to traveling to Mysore to study directly with Guruji and his family over the years. Prior to her introduction to yoga, Valerie was a member of the 1984 US Olympic Team in rhythmic gymnastics and studied modern dance in undergraduate and graduate programs at UCLA.

janell-breckJanell Breck

Janell has been practicing Ashtanga Yoga for 11 years. She completed the shala’s teacher training program in spring of 2012 and have been teaching at The Yoga Shala and privately since then. Janell loves being a part of the practice community. Community provides a place to go each and every day where people are seeking more balance and peace within and doing the work to better themselves so they can then go out into the world and be of service to others.

ValerieValerie Rich

Valerie has been associated with The Yoga Shala from its onset. Her teaching style has its roots in Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga. Valerie trained in the very first teacher training at The Yoga Shala in 2003 and again in 2012. She has done teacher trainings at The Iyengar Yoga Institute in New York City (2010) as well as the Australian Yoga Teacher Training back in 1997. Valerie continues to be a student at The Yoga Shala as well as teaching throughout Fairfield County. She is currently in training with meditation teacher, Lorin Roche, author of ‘The Radiance Sutras’ and teaches meditation classes for mindful health and eating. She volunteers her time at ROAR (Ridgefield Operation Animal Rescue) as well a Regional Hospice where she incorporates her Reiki skills.This summer she begins working at Danbury Correctional Facility. Her teaching style is playful and grounded in tradition.

jean-wriedtJean Wriedt

Jean is an avid student of yoga, violin and energy medicine. She is an experienced teacher in each of these disciplines. A graduate of Yale University, she has nearly completed a three year 200 hour teaching certification with Beryl Bender Birch and has completed a primary series training with Tim Miller. In addition, she is grateful to Val and many other teachers who have inspired her. Jean is also an accomplished violinist having performed in orchestras in Canada, Germany and the US. Through her daily work as a teacher, Jean hopes to contribute to the healing of the earth, her people and all living beings everywhere.

liz-wendelLiz Wendel

Liz’s class leaves you feeling refreshed, nourished and inspired.  She teaches her students to make choices that bring less stress and more joy into their lives.  She has learned through her studies and practice that each day, each breath, each moment is how we establish ourselves on our path. Liz has studied Ashtanga, Vinyasa and Anusara traditions.  She has also completed trainings in Trauma Sensitive Yoga, Restorative Yoga and Chair Yoga. In addition, Liz continues to work with seniors and students with limited mobility. Liz offers gratitude to every teacher she has practiced under, especially Val Schneiderman, Mary Gerdes, Bernadette Birney, Mitchel and Tracy Blier, Donna Jackson and Jillian Pransky.  She also thanks all her students who inspire her with their dedication and inevitably teach her something every day.

RebeccaRebecca Roth

Rebecca began her personal journey with Ashtanga yoga when she walked through the doors of the Yoga Shala in 2004 and read the words of Shri K Pattabhi Jois “Do your practice and all is coming”. Her personal practice has evolved to include completion of the teacher training program in 2011. She is a lifelong learner and believes yoga is a path to transformation. In addition to her continued studies with Valerie Schneiderman in Ridgefield, she has had the opportunity to take workshops with many Ashtanga teachers including Sharath Jois during his last 2 visits to the United States. She holds a Masters in Education from Sacred Heart University and teaches yoga and Spanish.

100000012_mobileShana Swanson

Shana Swanson’s yoga practice began in 2001. A close friend recommended she visit a holistic doctor. His advice, “Change your diet, practice Yoga.” She did both. Shana practiced, one on one, for eight years with Ananda Adams, one of five teachers authorized by Shri K. Pattabhi Jois. In 2009, when assured of her readiness to teach, Shana completed her 200 Hour Yoga Alliance Teacher Training at PURE Yoga. For two years thereafter, Shana mentored simultaneously under two senior teachers, one who taught Mysore style Ashtanga Yoga, and another who taught the Iyengar System. Shana went on to complete her 40-hour Primary Series Training with David Swenson and in September 2015, began her 300-hour Enrichment Practice with Nikki Costello. Shana has taught mysore style Ashtanga Yoga at PURE Yoga and Maha Padma Yoga Temple. She maintains her daily practice and teaches her Mala Practice privately and to small groups. Whomever is Shana’s student, the intention of her teaching remains the same ~ stay true to the teachers that have come before her, meet her students where they are, and help others to own and enjoy their practice.

Kathy Katts Yoga Kathy Carrera Katts
(RYT – 200)

Kathy has been practicing Yoga since 1996 and knew then that it would be a part of her life forever… She began her journey with the Anusara tradition in NYC.  In 2007, Kathy began practicing Ashtanga Yoga at The Yoga Shala CT and is deeply connected to this beautiful tradition.  She credits the support and guidance of Valerie Schneiderman in her path to teach and share this amazing practice. Kathy has a passion for sharing Yoga with parents, children & teens. As a mom of 3, she understands the many benefits for busy familes. Kathy is a graduate of New World Ayurveda as a Certified Ayurvedic Practioner, Meditation Instructor, Spiritual Counselor and is a Reiki Master Teacher. It is her joy and privilege to offer the authentic ancient healing practices of Yoga, Ayurveda, Meditation and Reiki with individuals of all ages. 

IMG_4898Beverly Leighton

Beverly was introduced to the Ashtanga practice over ten years ago by her yoga colleague and long time friend Oni Ingber. She has been practicing at The Yoga Shala ever since. She has been teaching in Fairfield County since completing her RYT200 with Valerie in 2010. After traveling to India in 2016, Beverly made some realizations about the benefits of good karma and firmly believes if more people could find time in their busy day to set aside to practice and/or meditate, the world would be a much better place. She feels fortunate to be able to pass as much of this wonderful practice as possible onto others.

miriam-zernisMiriam Zernis
Bhakti / Kirtan

Miriam has been practicing yoga since 1994 and is an internationally certified Sivananda Yoga Acharya (Master) having completed her advanced training in southern India. She continues to explore everything yoga has to offer and is currently studying Raja Yoga and Vedanta in an everlasting quest to be challenged both physically, mentally and most of all, spiritually. She teaches yoga as a tool for healing and as a pathway for Truth. Inspired by the many years of devotional chanting that went along with the territory of spending time at Sivananda ashrams around the world, Miriam found a new way to express herself through kirtan (musical prayer). It is with great joy and humility that she now shares it publicly.

leslie-freybergLeslie Freyberg

Certified Iyengar Yoga teacher Leslie Dillingham Freyberg came to Yoga from twenty years in the dance and theater profession. Leslie has studied Sanskrit extensively with Vyaas Houston (director of the American Sanskrit Institute), Edwin Bryant, John Campbell, Manorama, and Dr. Ram Sharma. As a member of the faculty of the American Sanskrit Institute, Leslie travels nationwide under its auspices to teach the foundation of the Sanskrit Language, an indispensable component for the serious study of Yoga.  Leslie teaches the Iyengar method of asana and pranayama in her hometown of Redding and in Ridgefield, Greenwich and Stamford, CT.