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Anneke

Anneke Lucas, E-RYT 500, founded Liberation Prison Yoga in 2014. Aside from her duties as executive director, Anneke trains new volunteer instructors on site. She also teaches regularly at several of the eight facilities where LPY has weekly programs. She conducts trainings…

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… and workshops for yoga instructors, mental health professionals and NYC DOC and DOP employees, to bring yoga and mindfulness into work with traumatized populations. Anneke is regularly invited to speak at conferences and universities about the subject of trauma, incarceration, and sex-trafficking. In 2013, Anneke started two groups at the Woman’s Jail at Rikers Island for survivors of sex-trafficking. Anneke herself experienced and witnessed some of the worst atrocities known to humankind – before she reached the age of 12. Her background, the obstacles she overcame, and the insights she received into the nature of the human psyche on her journey to health are an inspiration to students inside and outside of prisons, and audiences around the world. The continued healing she receives from her work reminds her that human connection is the agent for change, in teacher and student, provider and client.  In 2008, Anneke created a 500 Hour Yoga Alliance RYT program for a New York City based yoga studio. From 2011 to 2014 Anneke was director of Prison Yoga Project New York. She graduated from the Screenwriting program at AFI in 1993, published a novel in her home country, Belgium, and wrote many articles about yoga and trauma. She has been working on a book about her childhood, previewed in an article about her work in the prisons.
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Kimberleigh

Kimberleigh Weiss-Lewit, MA, RYT, is Liberation PY’s Director of Women’s Services, serves on the Board and teaches the prenatal yoga class for Liberation Prison Yoga at Rikers Island. She is a registered Yoga Teacher and Certified Prenatal Yoga Instructor, and has been a yoga teacher…

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… for the past 8 years after receiving her 200 hr Yoga Alliance Registration from Lotus Gardens in Connecticut. She later went on to gain her prenatal certification with New York-based Yoga Haven with additional prenatal training with MA Yoga in New York City. Kimberleigh is currently teaching at Devotion Yoga Hoboken, NJ and training for her 500-hr level registration with Laughing Lotus Yoga Studio in NYC. She holds a BA in theater from Connecticut College and an MA in Drama Therapy from New York University. Kimberleigh began prison-based work through the Creative Arts non-profit Rehabilitation through the Arts. This took her to Beacon Correctional, Fishkill Correctional and finally Bedford Hills Correctional. While working with the women at Bedford Hills, Kim connected with inmates practicing yoga and around the same time was introduced to Anneke Lucas. Kim went on to teach General Population yoga at Bedford Hills with a hope and dream of bringing Prenatal Yoga to incarcerated mothers. Kim is honored to teach Prenatal Yoga at Rikers Island and is in awe of the amazing work of Liberation Prison Yoga to initiate and sustain programs. In addition to teaching yoga, she serves mothers as a volunteer La Leche League leader and leads meetings with LLL of Jersey City/Hoboken.

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Brittney

Brittney Scullark teaches weekly yoga classes with staff at the Manhattan Detention Complex, and a class with female inmates at Rikers Island through Liberation Prison Yoga. She is a 200RYT Vinyasa Flow technique teacher through Pure Yoga East, and CPR Trained. With a Fashion and…

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…Entertainment background, Brittney has channeled her own need for peace and spiritual centeredness into a contributive and empathic practice for her students. She encourages participants to move fluidly and rhythmically through a series of asanas for physical and emotional strength. Brittney passionately shares her practice with students living in Urban Communities; including her hometown, Harlem, NY. Brittney created The Urban Peace Squad, a project bringing yoga classes to Project Housing, where volunteers join residents learning tools to use in their personal practice. Brittney is joyously creating a peaceful, forgiving, loving vision for the world.

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Cate

Cate Brainard, RYT 200, serves as Secretary of the Board. She teaches yoga classes at FCI Danbury and Bedford Hills for Liberation Prison Yoga. She has been practicing yoga on and off for many years, but her practice has intensified in the past two years as she began to fully appreciate the physical…

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… and emotional benefits of an ongoing yoga practice. She earned her 200 hour yoga teacher certification in 2014 with the primary intention of teaching Yoga in the prison system. Knowing first-hand the healing power of yoga, Cate practices every week with a group of students and teachers at Newtown High School where she has been a special education teacher for 12 years. A strong proponent of equal access to healthy living, Cate’s goal is to bring yoga to those who may not otherwise have access to yoga whether it is due to circumstance or their own self-limiting attitudes.

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Patty

Patty Schneider, E-RYT 500 supervises Liberation Prison Yoga classes in the prisons in Westchester and teaches a weekly yoga class for Liberation Prison Yoga at Bedford Hills, a Maximum Security facility for women in Westchester, and a class at the Re-Entry Unit of Taconic Correctional Facility…

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… Patty received her 500-hour yoga teacher certification at YogaWorks New York, and completed a 100-hour certificate in Healing Yoga with Jillian Pransky. She has also completed workshops in teaching yoga to seniors and to victims of trauma, and an apprenticeship in teaching chair yoga. Her desire to bring yoga to underserved populations led her in 2011 to James Fox’ Prison Yoga Project workshop. Besides the class at Bedford Hills and Taconic, Patty also teaches chair yoga at the James J. Peters VA Medical Center in Bronx, NY, and her signature flow sequences at yoga studios in Westchester County, NY. Patty’s articles on yoga teaching and yoga philosophy have been published in Yoga Teacher Magazine.

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Jacqueline

Jacqueline Sailer (RYT200) recognizes the power of yoga to enrich, heal and reconnect the mind, body and spirit. She is grateful to Liberation Prison Yoga for the opportunity to bring trauma-sensitive yoga to detained women at the Rikers Island jail complex, and to those…

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… who are re-entering society or just looking to reconnect with themselves at Three Jewels studio. Over time Jacqueline’s focus as a yoga teacher has centered on the intersection of yoga and trauma, and she guides her students towards self-reconnection and empowerment through mindful movement, breath awareness, and meditation. Jacqueline has learned firsthand how these elements of a yoga practice can open deep wells of inner peace, connection and self-awareness, and she seeks to create the space for her students to make similar discoveries. Jacqueline has enriched her trauma-informed practice by completing a 40-hour workshop on the trauma-sensitive yoga teaching model with David Emerson of the Trauma Center at Justice Resource Institute, as well as with Ali and Atman Smith, and Andy Gonzalez and the rest of their team from the Holistic Life Foundation. She has also participated in workshops with Liberation Prison Yoga and the Lineage Project Her appreciation for the value and beauty of the breath comes from several illuminating seasons studying breath-centered yoga, embodied movement, and anatomy at The Breathing Project with Leslie Kaminoff and Amy Matthews at their New York City studio. Jacqueline is also a lawyer, and her time spent teaching yoga to detainees at Rikers has confirmed the urgent need for criminal justice reform, in particular bail reform.

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Murphy

Murphy Cox-Nicol leads weekly yoga classes with Liberation Prison Yoga at the Manhattan Detention Center aka “the Tombs.” He regularly works with male inmates and occasionally the transgender population. Unreliable knees led Murphy to discover…

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… yoga (via WiiFit) as different physical exercises became unavailable. Although not a super strenuous workout, barely breaking a sweat he noticed drinking a lot of water and a previously unknown sense of well-being afterwards. The combination of breathing and balance/grounding work involved in the postures literally transformed him. “I want(ed) everyone to “do” yoga and discovered teaching it is really hard.” Six years of practice and 200hr then 300hr Teacher Trainings at Yogaworks later Murphy is still very much in love and awe of yoga. Murphy currently works as a basketball coach and yoga teacher in a Manhattan high school that grew out of a closing school where he worked as Director of Youth Violence Prevention program. The students all have a beautiful energy, light, fun and so appreciative of attention and being treated as they are. Unfortunately, some of his students have been and are currently incarcerated and Murphy was looking for a way to help when he discovered Anneke Lucas and Liberation Prison Yoga. Learning about trauma and how to lead a trauma informed class has been beneficial on a personal and professional level. “Yoga has given me so much on so many levels that being able to give back via Prison Liberation Yoga made perfect sense. People are very appreciative that we show up every week, even those who do not participate. They make sure we know, giving us love in return and it is beautiful.” “Prison and/or ‘the street’ is often the birthplace of new trends for better or worse. If yoga can be half as influential as Do-rags or saggy pants I have no doubt society would benefit immensely. Meanwhile if I can help one person breathe easier, feel better, experience their inner light, even for a moment, then I myself can do likewise.”

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Yael

Yael Stone teaches women in Liberation Prison Yoga’s program at Rikers Island. In May 2013 Yael completed her 200 hr certification with Yoga To the People in New York. She continues to teach at the YTTP St Marks studio and loves it. The physical practice has always been very…

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… meaningful to her and sharing has become a profoundly positive part of of her life. She is inspired by the incredible work being done by Liberation Prison Yoga and is grateful to be part of it in some small way.

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Cynthia

Cynthia Svigals, RYT, discovered the countless benefits of yoga over 20 years ago while studying in London. Upon receiving her BA from Connecticut College in 1996, she moved to NYC to pursue a career in modern dance, but practicing yoga remained a constant. In 1998 she completed…

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… her teacher training with Cyndi Lee at Om Yoga Center, and later received her Prenatal Teaching Certification from Gina Menza of ISHTA Yoga. She has been grateful to continue her training with an array of other enlightening teachers, including the inspiring and dedicated volunteers of Liberation Prison Yoga. Cynthia currently teaches a weekly class in the re-entry unit at the Taconic State Prison, and is profoundly grateful for the many things she has learned both on and off the mat.

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Denise

Denise Nobile, RYT, is honored to be teaching yoga and mindfulness to the women at Taconic Correctional Facility. Denise was drawn to yoga as a form of physical release while working through her own trauma. She soon discovered an amazing, almost magical world outside the realm of the…

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… physical practice. Her intention is to share her discoveries with all who will listen. Denise is an educator with the Somers Central School District where she teaches English Language Arts at the middle school level. She completed her 200-hour teacher training in 2013 with Yoga Culture, Danbury, CT, Little Flower’s 95-hour teacher training program in 2015, and she studies with Mindful Schools, an organization whose mission is to bring mindfulness practices to youth around the world. Since then she has taught local children in studios, schools and public libraries. Denise’s mission is to bring a yoga and mindfulness practice to as many individuals as possible, helping them to be the best version of themselves, one breath, one movement, one moment at a time.

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Thomas

Thomas Filan teaches with Liberation Prison Yoga at Wallkill Correctional Facility in New York State, a medium security facility for men. Tom has been practicing yoga for over forty seven years and teaching for over twenty five. Initially he taught himself, and he took his first official training…

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… at the Sivananda Institute in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He also got his first teaching experience there working as a substitute at the University. Over the years, Thomas has specialized in working with clients in recovery in prison and rehabilitation centers. Aside from teaching at the SPA at the Glennpointe in Teaneck, NJ for 25 years, he has been active as a volunteer yoga instructor at the Hudson County Correction Center in S. Kearney, NJ and the Integrity House – a rehabilitation Center for Youth in Newark, NJ for the past two years. A 200-RYT certified yoga teacher, Tom has received the Liberation Prison Yoga training, as well as the Kula for Karma trainings, specializing in, respectively, Addiction and Trauma, PTSD War Veterans, and Cancer. He has also received training at the Omega Institute for teaching yoga and mindfulness to High Risk Youth.

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Adrianna

Adrianna Keener is honored to teach the Mommy-Baby yoga class for Liberation Prison Yoga at the nursery at Rikers Island, as well as co-teaching women on the prenatal unit. She is a 200 hour registered Yoga Teacher through Conquering Lion in New York City, and a certified…

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… post-natal teacher through Baby Om in Brooklyn. Adrianna currently teaches private clients in New York City and Brooklyn, and is studying for her 500 hour registration under the guidance of Tiffany Cruikshank at Yoga Medicine. She holds a BA from North Carolina State University.

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Julianne

Julianne Brenza, RYT500 teaches a weekly trauma-informed class to women in the general population at Taconic Correctional, a medium security facility in Westchester, with Liberation Prison Yoga. Julianne has practiced law in many contexts, has been a yoga enthusiast…

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… for more than fifteen years and has trained in various types and styles of yoga including power vinyasa, Bikram, flow vinyasa and yin yoga throughout the country. Julianne’s style is power vinyasa and she has trained with Baron Baptiste. As a teacher, she emphasizes alignment and movement on the breath in order for students to experience the benefits of yoga. Julianne is passionate about yoga, and promotes it as an excellent complement to fitness and wellness. She particularly loves teaching yoga to women.

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Jill

Jill Drew teaches women at Rikers Island with Liberation Prison Yoga, and has been joyfully practicing yoga for 20 years, primarily in the Iyengar tradition. Jill is a certified mindfulness meditation facilitator (300-hour) and is currently completing her 500-hour training with…

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… the Engaged Mindfulness Institute. For three years, she taught weekly, trauma-informed yoga and mindfulness meditation classes at the Residential Substance Abuse Treatment unit for women at the Washington, DC Jail’s Correctional Treatment Facility. During that time, Jill also taught a similar class for women in the general population at the jail, and led a weekly introduction to meditation class for women and men at the Montgomery County (MD) Pre-Release Center, for incarcerated citizens returning home. Jill recently moved to Connecticut.

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Lisa

Lisa Schiller assists with yoga and meditation at the Manhattan Detention Center on the transgender unit and the special protection unit. A yoga practitioner since 1991, Lisa brings depth of life and yoga experience to share and takes her practice very seriously when…

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… practicing with the inmates, something they note! She is trained in the 7-step Integrative Healing Model of Dr. Ani Kalayjian(Meaningful World) developed to help victims of trauma start on the road to recovery and develop tools to live more fully. She has worked in Haiti utilizing this model with people who experience trauma on many levels over long periods of time. Empathy and listening are at the core of this work. Yoga and Meditation have been powerful positive forces in her own life journey helping her recover from her own traumas so she knows the value of living the practice. Her day job is being an art dealer, specializing in 19th century French paintings.

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