Yoga Teachers


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Amber Karnes is an aspiring yogi, RYT-200 yoga asana teacher, and a lifelong student of her body. In Amber’s classes and workshops, students of all shapes and sizes will find tips, tricks, and modifications to make yoga asana work for their unique body, instead of being squished into poses for the sake of form over function. She emphasizes safe alignment and mindful transitions, and guides each student to honor the body they bring to the mat today, while being empowered to learn about the body’s intelligence and power.

Amber is a big fan of “yoga in non-yoga places” and often teaches free, accessible classes in her community. She serves on the Yoga and Body Image Coalition and the Advisory Council for Women’s Power Space and seeks to further the message of inclusivity, consent, agency, body positivity, and accessibility for all on and off the mat. Amber blogs at


andi-senatro-150x100Andi Senatro completed her yoga teacher training at Asheville Yoga Center in Asheville, NC. She has lived in several different places and loves to travel, though she has spent most her time in Virginia. Andi has been practicing yoga for seven years and believes in the power yoga possesses to help everyone grow stronger physically, mentally, and spiritually. Her favorite poses are standing balances, and inversions like headstand and wheel. She also loves teaching strengthening postures as well as restorative ones.


Benita Mayo RYT 200 – In 2006, during one of many diet & exercise endeavors, Benita was introduced to yoga by her personal trainer. She was drawn to yoga for the physical benefits and didn’t expect it would completely transform her life. She completed her Yoga Teacher training at Sol Yoga in Frederick MD and has additional certifications in Trauma Informed Yoga and Yoga for All. Benita is passionate about holistic health, wellness and life balance; and strives to make yoga accessible to every-BODY. Benita uses her experience as both a larger-bodied yoga student and teacher to partner with her students to make classes welcoming and inclusive. Benita is a native of Virginia and received her BA from the University of Virginia. Benita is a Fine Art Photographer, enjoys traveling and riding her bicycle on the many Virginia trails. Benita teaches Slow Flow, Gentle and Yin.

Chitra Kate McDevitt RYT500 has been teaching Integral Yoga since 2003. She teaches Basic and Intermediate levels as well as Restorative Yoga. She has been working with Durga Leela and Yoga of Recovery since 2011 which combines ayurveda, yoga philosophy and 12-step principles. She is certified through the Lotus Palm School of Thai Yoga and is a Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapist which combines classical yoga techniques and elements of contemporary body-mind psychology.



Cora Houghton loves being a co-pilot with her students on their yoga journey. Practicing for over a decade, she is continually awed by the power of yoga to increase wellness, enjoyment, connection and healing. She has been teaching adults since 2014, introducing yoga to beginners and also working with students with up to 20 plus years of practice (sometimes in the same class!). She has taught children’s yoga for many years and currently has experience with students from the ages of 1 up to 65 years young.

Cora creates and guides practices that encourage body appreciation, strength, joy and playfulness, along with relaxation, long term stability, comfort and ease. She teaches Hatha, Vinyasa, and Restorative yoga. She is also experienced in Iyengar, Ashtanga, Bhakti, Kundalini, Yin and AcroYoga, Pilates and massage therapy. Cora wants to make yoga accessible to more (all) people.


Courtney Evans - Yoga

Courtenay Evans, Yoga has been a passion and mainstay in Courtenay’s life for many years. She graduated from Charlottesville Yoga School’s Teacher Training Program in January 2013. After periods of living abroad and graduating from culinary school, Courtenay returned to native Charlottesville to share her passion of cooking healthy foods with others. Courtenay believes food not only nourishes but gives strength, longevity and clarity of mind–and yoga goes hand in hand with that philosophy. She believes practicing yoga gives acceptance and appreciation for one’s body and opens the door for self study on and off the mat.

cynthia150x110Cynthia Woodring
has been teaching yoga in the Charlottesville area since 1995. She has a Master of Science in Yoga Therapy, is certified with the International Association of Yoga Therapists, has an E-RYT 500 designation with the Yoga Alliance, and is a Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapist. Known for teaching with precision and eloquence, Cynthia draws from her background in Integral, Iyengar, Kripalu, and Anusara styles. Her studies in anatomy, kinesiology, and yogic philosophy also inform her approach. 

Cynthia’s primary teaching intentions are to create an atmosphere of safety, kindness, and education in her classes and to offer a friendly and supportive environment suitable for all levels of experience. She is passionate about refining her understanding of all aspects of yoga and strives to find the language and methods that will provoke the deepest understanding and transformation for her students. 

Cynthia is also available for private sessions in yoga, Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy, and structural yoga therapy.

Eboni Bugg: Self-reflection through movement is what drew Eboni to yoga more than sixteen years ago, and it has become an integral part of her lifestyle since then.  She completed her Hatha Yoga Teacher training at Opal Yoga in Charlottesville, Virginia and has additional certifications in Prenatal Yoga and Lifeforce Yoga for Depression & Anxiety. Eboni’s mission is to make yoga fully accessible to all regardless of background or ability.  She is passionate about the physical and emotional benefits of mindful movement and creates opportunities for students to use their bodies to heal, grow, and transform.   Eboni also works in her local community and abroad to use yoga as a form of activism to bring about healing and social justice.  She received her undergraduate degree in Biology from the University of Virginia and a Master’s degree in Social Work from Virginia Commonwealth University.  Eboni currently works as a Therapist and Community Programs Director at The Women’s Initiative, a local non-profit mental health agency. 


Elaine Waksmunksi: For Elaine, Yoga has been a supportive practice for almost two decades. She sees yoga as an essential instrument for building a supple body, strong breath, and a still mind. Her goal when she teaches is to create a space that forms both grounding and expansion through explorative vinyasa sequencing that focuses on building deep strength while still maintaining a tenderness toward the body.

Elaine’s foundational training is in Integral Yoga, and she has continued her training with leading teachers such as Eddie Modestini and Sadie Nardini. She believes in sharing yoga with everybody, teaching to beginners, families and seasoned practitioners alike and has taught in studios, corporate conference rooms, to senior government leaders, in schools, and at music festivals. Take a break from ruminating over the past and/or worrying about the future and come be present on your mat!


Eugene Perry’s journey through motion brought him to AcroYogawhen he was introduced to it by Danielle Lagana.  He’s been trained by Ian Nathan and Danielle.  Eugene has attended various 3 and 4-day AcroYoga intensive workshops including AcroShare, AcroLove, and Capital Flightfest.  Eugene is dedicated to creating a safe environment so that others are encouraged to explore their movement and balance.


Jen Elder  is a certified Yoga Instructor, Reiki practitioner, nature lover, and mom of 3. Jen is originally from Baltimore, MD but became a permanent resident of VA when she became a Hokie at Virginia Tech where she earned an Environmental Science degree. Jen currently serves as a mentor, healer and instructor focusing on encouraging others to “become better versions of themselves” both physically and mentally.She enjoys teaching Yoga to children and teens in order to help them build a positive and healthy relationship with their bodies. She volunteers at multiple schools and recreations programs where she lives in Louisa County and well as Big Brothers/Big Sisters (Common Ground outreach).Most of Jen’s energy is spent developing wellness programs and teaching Yoga and mindfulness to incarcerated women. She is dedicated to learning about rehabilitation and recovery while promoting alternative methods to heal. She serves as the Fluvanna Correctional Center for Women’s (FCCW) Yoga program coordinator. Jen’s life purpose is to serve others, and by sharing the benefits of Yoga, she is reminded that we are all connected and limitless.

julia-j-von-briesenJulia J. von Briesen  Having always been an avid athlete with a meditation practice, Julia has been most challenged by practicing yoga. She considers her yoga mat a “magic carpet” that literally carries a person through physical, emotional and spiritual transformations, healing from the past, strengthening mindfulness and attention to the here and now, and opening space for the future. A certified health coach, Julia is a graduate of The Institute for Integrative Nutrition as well as a graduate of Pete Guinosso’s 200 hour teacher training in San Francisco. She has also completed several Vipassana meditation courses as taught by S.N. Goenka that influence her yoga teaching. Experience the integration of your breath and body in a loving and playful Vinyasa class with Julia.

Kara Snapp started on her journey into yoga and meditation almost 20 years ago. Her love for the practice deepened through Ashtanga, Kripalu, Hatha, Bikram, and Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy. Her passion for helping others connect with their true self led her to become a Certified Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy Practitioner, Group Facilitator, and 500hr PRYT teacher. 


karen-barker-150x110Karen Barker was interested in yoga for about ten years before attending her first yoga class, because she thought her body was not a yoga body. She fell in love with yoga during that first class, and it is her passion and joy to share the practice of yoga with others — particularly with those who may be reluctant to try yoga for the same reasons she once was. Karen is a 200-hour registered teacher with Yoga Alliance and holds certifications in Yoga For All and Curvy Yoga.

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Kate Zuckerman, ERYT has been teaching yoga since 2002 and is the founder and Executive Director of Common Ground. With a background deeply rooted in the philosophy of yoga, her teaching emphasizes awareness, poise, and presence in our postures both on and off the mat. Perhaps most influential in her teaching style is her devotion to her daily personal practice. Kate is grateful to her primary teacher, Kofi Busia, who is one of the world’s foremost instructors in the Iyengar tradition. She has also been inspired by other senior teachers in the Iyengar, Anusara, and Hatha Yoga traditions, as well as her studies in Buddhist meditation.


kelsey-gillan-150x110Kelsey Gillan has been practicing yoga since 2007. She is a graduate of James Madison University, where she studied Public Health which gave her the foundation to build a life dedicated to holistic living. As her practice rooted, Kelsey recognized an opportunity and desire to expand her health degree by teaching yoga. Studying under Eliza Whiteman, Kelsey graduated from Fly Dog Yoga’s 200 hr Teacher Training in February of 2015. Kelsey blends her health knowledge and personal experiences to develop yoga classes accessible for all levels. Kelsey teaches yin and vinyasa to the rhythm of music, with the use of props, gentle assists, and personal attention. She hopes to inspire her students’ growth in their yoga practice, and to find courage that transpires off the mat.


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Kevin Willcox began his yoga practice in 2010 as a way to compliment his meditation practice and Tibetan Buddhist studies. For four years he practiced inner body vinyasa, as passed down by the Tibetan saint Lady Niguma, and Ashtanga yoga. Then one of his teachers told him to switch his focus from Ashtanga to yin yoga, which led him down a path toward therapeutic types of yoga and Kundalini. In his classes he uses breath and gentle movements to facilitate energy cultivation which is then extended to all parts of the body through careful asana.


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Kimberly Gladysz – When Kimberly was 5 years old, she wore a hula skirt everyday for a month. Her love for dance and the waves continues. She enjoys cooking and the way yoga helps her to enjoy life more from the inside out. As a yogini, she has been practicing for the past 18 years with a strong and fluid foundation in ashtanga yoga with Richard Freeman, and has delved into vinyasa, kundalini and bhakti yoga too. She has lived and studied African dance in Guinea and NYC, and has danced hula and fire fans while teaching elementary school in California and Hawaii. She is a Bodymind therapist and weaves meditation into her practice. Kimberly loves her time with her friends, watching sunsets, and laughing. Her goal this year is to do a great handstand! You may reach her at

laura-snyder-150x110Laura Josephine Snyder RYT200 Fourteen years ago, Laura fell head over heels for the physical and spiritual practice of yoga and it’s potential as a tool for healing. Since then she has taken her practice with her everywhere life has led, studying Ashtanga vinyasa, Vinyasa and other schools of yoga with many wonderful teachers. In 2014 she completed a 200hr Teacher Training program at the Asheville Yoga Center. Her classes invite awareness and playful exploration.


Lili-P-150x150Lili Powell – Lili enjoys leading well-rounded, multi-level classes in a warm and welcoming environment. Lili has practiced yoga since 2000 and completed the Yoga Source 200-hour teacher training in 2005. In addition to studying yoga, she also practices Pilates and mindfulness meditation.  Connected to Charlottesville for over 35 years, Lili is grateful for the opportunity to serve Common Ground’s mission and our local community.  She lives in town with her husband and their kitty, Pippin, who is named for the famous Albemarle apple.  


Lilly.bechtel-150x110Lilly Bechtel is a Kripalu and Trauma-Informed Yoga instructor, writer and musician. With nine years of experience offering yoga in studios, correctional facilities, rehabs and hospitals, her teaching practice examines the relationship between self-empowerment and social change. Lilly believes if you can walk you can dance, if you can talk you can sing and if you can breathe, you can practice Yoga. Whether offering beginner or more advanced level classes, she invites her students to listen to their own music, intelligence and creativity.

Her writing has appeared in “USA Today”, “The Brooklyn Rail” “The Faster Times” “Public Books” “The Huffington Post” and “elephant journal.” She is currently working on a book based on interviews with veterans, which explores the role of mindfulness in the military. More information: Body Song Yoga.

Lynsie McKeown – Yoga came into Lynsie’s life during a challenging time of transition and loss.  The practice of Yoga provided a way to transform struggle into opportunity and she continues to draw inspiration from the never-ending journey of the human heart.  Her devotion for greater awareness and spiritual growth are reflected in her teaching and writing. She strives to support, uplift and empower others to walk their own path to healing and growth with courage, authenticity and grace.

Lynsie also holds a BA in Environmental Science from the University of Virginia, is a NASM Certified Personal Trainer, and an Assisted Thai Yoga Bodyworker.

Liz Reynolds – Liz Reynolds, began practicing yoga regularly while in graduate school for her MFA in Dance in Philadelphia. She was drawn to the physical benefits of the practice at first. As time went on, she noticed positive shifts in her perspective and the way she lived her life off the mat. Liz earned her 200 Hour certification in 2011 and immediately furthered her yoga training with several master teachers, including Baron Baptiste, Sadie Nardini and Debbie Williamson.

Her classes are light-hearted, challenging and fully committed to connecting breath awareness and motion. With a background in dance and Pilates, Liz guides dynamic and creative sequences paired with an overall understanding of biomechanics and anatomy. She dedicates her teaching to staying present with her students and encourages self-love and self-care above all else. Liz believes it doesn’t matter what you can do or who you are—all you need is YOU and the courage to show up!

madeline-zimmer-8.17Madeline Zimmer loves yoga. She has been practicing since 2011 and has been able to transform with the practice in unexpected ways. Her aim as a yoga instructor is to help everyone understand that anyone can do yoga. She has been giving children’s yoga classes at Bend since 2014, and certified by Katie Silcox and Karen Thomas of Opal Yoga in April of 2016. Madeline is excited to expand her instruction to groups of all ages.



Rebecca L’Abbe – After many years of studying and performing ballet and modern dance, the gift of yoga provided a natural transition to staying strong, being creatively curious, and mentally disciplined minus the stress of competition. Rebecca began her teacher training at the Iyengar Institute in San Francisco and received her teaching certification through YogaWorks at Yoga Source, Richmond, VA in 2003. Her primary instructors there were Sandra Pleasants and Jennifer Elliot. Additional certification includes training to teach yoga to people with Multiple Sclerosis. She continues to study in Afton, VA with Sandra Pleasants. Her teaching is informed by many streams of interest including dance, an ongoing study of physiology and anatomy, and a sense of humor.


Sue Bovenizer, RYT, fell in love with yoga in the mid-1980’s and has been on a yogic path ever since. She taught Hatha Yoga in England in the ’90s and after moving back to the US, continued her studies and became certified in the Integral Yoga tradition. For the past 15 years, Sue has taught Hatha I & II, Yin, and Restorative Yoga, and has led meditation groups through the UVA Rec Dept. She is pleased to currently be offering Restorative Yoga at Common Ground. Sue has a private bodywork practice, specializing in aromatherapy massage, craniosacral therapy, pediatric CST and individual restorative yoga sessions. Sue offers massage at Common Ground on Mondays.


Susanna Nicholson‘s teaching is based on yoga adapted for the individual mind & body.  She has taught nationally and abroad since 2000. Susanna began her practice in 1969, and is certified by Yoga Alliance at 500 hours. Additionally, Susanna is certified by the yoga therapy foundation of KYM clinic at 500 hrs. KYM clinic specializes in gentle movement with breath awareness & stress reduction. Susanna is also available for questions about integrative health, as an integrative health coach certified by Duke University Integrative Medicine.  With over 10 years of hospital-based teaching, Susanna continues her study of the sutras and the history of yoga at the UVA Religious Studies department.
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