Totally Yoga's Class Instructors
Connie began practicing yoga in 2007 to add variety into her exercise routine. She quickly became passionate about yoga and fully dedicated to her practice. Yoga has totally transformed her mind, body and soul and allowed for self-discovery. She has furthered her vinyasa flow practice over the years by taking countless hours from teachers across the states.
She received her certification through Yoga Flow in Pgh, Pa and is registered through Yoga Alliance. She looks forward to helping other yogis embark on their journey of finding inner strength and peace. Through each breath, she aims to inspire her students to advance not only their practice on the mat but their lives outside of the classroom. Her own practice has shown her to become a more mindful, appreciative person beyond the yoga mat, and she hopes to show fellow yogis how to do the same.
Yoga first found Derek Martin through a significant other in late 2008. Awkward and inflexible, he kept what one could call a consistently irregular practice in his dormitory living room. Only after attending community yoga classes at the Dormont library did Derek experience the energy of peoples' movement & breathe to cues of a teacher in real time. In his teaching he emphasizes the importance of breath and it's vital connection to slow, purposeful movement.
He completed his teacher training at the 200 hour level through South Hills Power Yoga under the instruction of Stacey Vespaziani, LA Finfinger, Darcy Lyle, and Jen Lee. He thanks his mentors and teachers at SHPY for their knowledge and insight as well as all those who come to yoga for contributing to the vibrant, powerful culture that it is.
Amber first found yoga in 2004 while at IUP perusing her BS in Music Education. After many years away from her mat, yoga returned to her life at the request of a friend to try "hot yoga" with her. During this time, she was battling with postpartum depression after the birth of her son. Returning to the mat saved her. Regaining a regular Vinyasa practice, Amber was able to overcome her physical, mental and emotional barriers.
Years of practice in Vinyasa flow, Ashtanga, and Bikram yoga has helped her realize that helping others to discover themselves as she did herself would be the ultimate gift. Amber strives to create classes to challenge her students physically as well as be able to discover their own journey with yoga as their tool. Currently, she works in health care and hopes to continue to grow her yoga knowledge to ever improve her practice as well as that of her students.
Michael sees Yoga as a tool, a venue, an art-form for expressing universal love. Practicing for seven years and teaching since 2011, he completed his 200 hour training with Yoga to the People in NYC. He seizes every opportunity to share the beauty that Yoga has helped him to experience. By fall, he will have completed his 500 hour training with Philip Urso and Live, Love, Teach. LLT has inspired him to develop a new model for more fully incorporating the 8 Limbs of Yoga and the teachings of Eckhart Tolle into a Flow class–taking the practice beyond the physical, using breath as an energetic conduit for connection of mental/emotional awareness with visceral sensations felt in the body.
Michael just took part in the USA Yoga 2014-2015 Competition at One Whirl Yoga Fest where he placed 4th (1.2 points away from advancing to nationals).
When not on the mat, Michael is a musician, documentary film maker, and poet. As a performer he has opened up for the likes of The Flaming Lips, Wiz Khalif, and Andrew WK. His first poetry collection will be released by Six Gallery Press this fall. His new documentary project is called Yoga Pilgrims, wherein he will travel interviewing other yogis, teaching Yoga in unexpected locations, and spreading the message that Yoga is Love.
Throughout the past twelve years Crystal had traveled from NYC to Beirut to Burning studying various forms of yoga, including Power Vinyasa, Prana Flow, Iyengar, Ashtanga, Bikram, Kundalini, Yin, and Acro. Today she maintains regular Vinyasa, Yin, Kundalini, and Bikram practices, as well as seated meditation and pranayama (breath control). All of these yogic tools and practices inform her teaching in a vital way, which she always brings back to play, self-discovery, mindfulness, self-love, discipline, and prayer.
Crystal considers her first yoga class to have taken place in the woods behind her house when a coal company began to strip mine. At fourteen years old she intuitively began to meditate while stretching on a patch of grass, trying to silence the roaring and clanking of heavy machinery in the distance. This would later become proof to her that yoga is truly a path towards healing and awakening that is readily available to all.
She taught her first yoga class in 2007, in a haunted hotel turned artists’ commune while dressed as Moses to a group of hungover poets. This would later become proof to her that nothing is too sacred to have fun with.
Crystal is also a published poet and writer, who has taught creative writing, literature, and composition at the university-level for four years. She is presently hard at work on her first book of prose, which chronicles her adventures while attempting to walk alone across the country while writing poetry for people that she met along the way.
During a 2013 girls’ night out, Melissa decided to try yoga for both fun and stress relief. She shares that after recovering from the initial soreness, she went to more classes. Melissa noticed the positive benefits yoga had on her mind and body, while bringing more balance into her personal life. In the fall of the same year, she joined Totally Yoga. In preparation for her beach wedding in Punta Cana, Melissa started going to classes on a more consistent basis. She continued to see beneficial outcomes as a result of her practice, so she decided to take yoga teacher training classes to become a certified instructor.
Melissa hopes to create a welcoming space for people to come to class and forget about the outside world for a short time, so they can focus on the here and now while on their mat. She wants her students to experience the same benefits she did, laugh a little easier, and have fun!
Melissa graduated from Baldwin-Wallace University with a bachelor’s degree in sports medicine. She continued her education, also obtaining a degree in nursing. She works as a registered nurse at West Penn Hospital.
When Melissa isn’t flowing and stretching, you can find her enjoying time with her husband, John, dogs and family, planning her next beach vacation, riding roller coasters, or lounging at the pool.
Melissa is grateful to Connie, Diane and the other students in the yoga teacher training class. Thanks for making it fun and helping everyone get through the classes and all of those flows!
Dan began practicing yoga in early 2014; initiated by a Social Living deal and a “why not try it attitude.” He quickly fell in love with the positivity and high energy projected through Vinyassa style yoga. He became passionate and dedicated to furthering his practice, realizing not only the physical benefits he was achieving, but also the mental, spiritual and overall wellbeing he achieved through yoga. He strives to provide a relaxing and enjoyable atmosphere in his classes, while also providing a challenging, robust and energetic flow to share.
When not practicing or teaching, Dan is a geologist working in environmental consulting. In his spare time he enjoys different types of fitness including weight lifting and boxing, walks in North Park with his dog Cooper, and loves vintage and performance cars, motorcycles and racing. Life is great - Namaste
Michelle began practicing yoga in 2009 to cross train long distance running races. She quickly became intrigued with the art of yoga, practicing hatha and vinyasa flow. In 2013 Michelle completed a course through Kent State University to further her practice and knowledge of yoga. Learning the history of yoga, along with the mental and physical benefits, her appreciation for yoga grew.
After experiencing a number of studios around the Pittsburgh area for a year, Michelle found a home at Totally Yoga in 2014. She recently completed her 200 RYT in February 2016. Professionally, Michelle has a BA in Fashion Design and works for a designer retailer. When she isn’t working on new moves Michelle trains for various running races throughout the year. Her goal is to help others find peace and happiness while encouraging the achievement of personal goals.
“Where do you relax?” While Gina was participating in a 30-day photography challenge in 2012, this question was posed on the last day of the event. Participants were asked to photograph a place where they relax and find peace. After photographing a few spaces in her home – a cozy couch, a bed overflowing with comfy throws and soft pillows – Gina realized precisely what she should photograph. Herself. Even though she found relaxation in many places, she knew that the truest place for her was within
Gina first tried yoga in 1997, and she quickly found comfort, joy, well-being, and tranquility in her practice. She initially learned in the disciplines of Hatha and Iyenger, focusing on the subtleties of each asana (yoga posture) and the calming, yet energizing effect of pranayama (yoga breathing exercises).
As her love of yoga continued to grow over many years, Gina decided to find a studio to call home. In February 2014, she found that place – Totally Yoga. She immediately felt welcome and cared for by the instructors and other students, and she knew in her heart she was exactly where she should be.
In February 2016, Gina completed her RYT® 200-hour certification through Totally Yoga under the loving direction of Connie Jennings. Gina is excited to share everything she has learned about Ashtanga and Vinyasa yoga with others, and her hope is that she can ignite a spark in the hearts of those who share their practices with her. Her advice: “First, honor your heart and soul. The beautiful physical benefits of yoga will follow. When your heart is fully engaged, everything else falls perfectly into place.”
When not on her mat, Gina also finds serenity in photography, particularly using her macro lens to explore her world close-up. Gina is passionate about MotoGP, an international motorcycle racing Grand Prix, and she enjoys traveling to warm and sunny destinations. She also has a love for writing – as reflected in her career as Marketing Communications Manager at Newton Consulting. She and her adorable husband, Jeff, live in Pittsburgh, Pa., along with their sweet and completely spoiled kitties, KitKat and Desmo.
Kelsie is a 200hr RYT through Yoga Alliance and completed her training here at Totally Yoga. Kelsie teaches vinyasa yoga focusing on connecting the movements with the breath. She found yoga when she was 18 through a therapists reccomendation to help ease symptoms of anxiety and depression and has been passionate about it ever since after seeing the benefits not only health wise but mentally and spiritually. She strives to introduce others to the art of mindful living through her yoga classes which she aims to keep gentle yet still providing a good work out. Kelsie believes in non-judgement and honoring your body during your practice. Her goals for her students are simply for them to be aware and to reflect inward and feel rejuvenated afterwards.
Chrissy began practicing yoga in 2011 with her best friend to enhance her flexibility and physical strength. In 2014, she began practicing Vinyasa style religiously 4-5 times a week. She found that her practice on the mat was definitely able to be off the mat as well. The physical, mental, and emotional benefits she noticed in and out of the studio allowed her to realize she wanted to teach and share this practice with others, in hopes that they would achieve the rewarding benefits as well.
Chrissy's goal is to create a welcoming class with a extremely positive vibe that will challenge each student to their own potential while being encouraged to be all they desire, and notice a transformation both in the body and mind.
When Chrissy is not teaching or practicing , she can be found spending time with her family, friends, and dogs. She currently is a graduate from Duquesne University holding a BS in Biology and BA in Psychology, and is attending the University of Pittsburgh to further her education in the hopes of landing a career in the medical field helping and making an impact in others lives.
Brooke found yoga after years of intense training that took a toll on her joints & muscles, causing a few chronic injuries that found relief through yoga. At first, she sought out yoga to supplement physical therapy. Shortly after Brooke started practicing, she quickly fell in love with the art of vinyasa yoga, as she found many benefits to complement her lifestyle. She was gaining strength in ways her other physical training did not provide, relief from pain and injury, all while keeping her body strong & limber. Yoga also grew her spiritually, connecting her to the deeper bond with herself.
Brooke is a Certified Personal Trainer, Certified Nutritional Consultant, and will complete her 200-RYT in February of 2016. She is also an entrepreneur, founding a holistic wellness brand. Though her passion is science, health, & wellness, Brooke’s professional career has been in corporate marketing and advertising for over 10 years in downtown Pittsburgh. She thoroughly enjoys a well-rounded lifestyle experience. Off of the mat, Brooke has competed in bodybuilding competitions, competitive volleyball, and extreme obstacle course races. She is a sponsored athlete and models hair, makeup, and clothing.
Her life motto: For the Health of it!