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The Connective is cooperatively owned and powered by teachers. We provide a sustainable livelihood for yoga and movement professionals and raise industry standards for quality, diversity, anti-racism, and accessibility. We offer students an online space to explore movement, build community, and discover new potential. Our vision at The Connective is to ensure movement professionals have the tools to thrive, and make the practices of yoga, movement and fitness accessible to traditionally underserved and marginalized communities.On this episode I spoke with fellow founding members Tonie Warner, Markella Los, Sangeeta Vallabhan, and Liz Buehler Walker about what it means to create a cooperative business structure from the ground up, and our visions for the future.Find us on Instagram @theconnectivestudio, and practice with our teacher-owners on The Connective Platform.We’re currently raising money for three endeavors to grow our business and expand our impact: Teacher Support + Advancement, Technology, and Community Programming. Please help support our mission by making a one time donation or a monthly contribution via our Patreon page.
Avita Bansee is a yoga teacher specializing in pre- and postnatal. The birth of her children and continued study in yoga philosophy, anatomy, pranayama and biomechanics inform her teaching and self-practice. Avita's group classes are centered on breath, strength and active rest while maintaining a sense of playfulness. Her work for the last seven years includes training private clients, aiding them with pain management, birth recovery or general well being through yoga and exercise. In addition to teaching yoga, Avita has a Masters in Political Science from the New School of Social Research and is a passionate advocate of social justice, feminism and anti-racist activism within and beyond the wellness industry.You can find out more about Avita and her work at and on Instagram @yogawithavita. Check out her September workshop with Eleni and Liz on The Connective, Earth, Fire, Water. And find out more about her collaboration with Tejal Yoga and Social Justice at tejalyoga.comThe book Avita referenced, What Makes a Baby by Cory Silverberg can be found here.
Jenn Pilotti is a movement educator and personal trainer and has studied a variety of techniques, including strength and conditioning, yoga, Feldenkrais, bodyweight conditioning, MovNat, and dance/somatics. She has a B.S. in exercise with an emphasis in physiology from UC Davis, a M.S. in human movement from A.T. Still University and has taken a variety of courses and workshops in neuromuscular techniques and psychology. For the last eighteen years, she has worked with people of a wide range of ages and abilities in a one-on-one setting. She is the author of the book, "Body, Mind, Movement: an evidence based approach to mindful movement."Find out more about Jenn's work at follow her on Instagram @jenn_pilotti and check out her new book by clicking here.
Isidora is a Registered Massage Therapist, provider of Medical Contemporary Acupuncture, yoga and Pilates teacher based out of Toronto. She holds additional certifications in FRC and Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization. Her yoga teacher training program which we discuss in this episode and other educational offerings are through Modern Yoga Method. We’re cross pollinating podcasts with this interview as Isidora recently interviewed me on her podcast, Bent Over Wellness.Find out more about Isidora and her work at and on Instagram @isidora_romantini
Anietie Ukpe-Wallace, also known as Tia, has had a life-long fascination with the human body and its inner workings. Beginning with a formal introduction to movement in college, she has continued that journey ever since. As a yoga teacher of 8 years in the Bay Area, CA, her practice morphed from one of structure and ego to one of humility and independent thinking. After her own struggles surrounding her pelvic floor, she has grown a love for learning and understanding this part of the body that is rarely talked about and sometimes even misunderstood. Being a mom has also introduced her to the necessary world of self care. She is extremely passionate on the topic of self care being accessible and attainable to all and she has developed The Masterful Art of Self-Care’s 4 tenets: nutritional health, physical health/movement, mental health and pelvic floor/sexual health as being key components to everyone’s self care. She recently graduated with a Doctorate degree in physical therapy in August 2019 and practices as an orthopedic and pelvic health physical therapist in Oakland, CA. She is a practicing Women’s Health Coach through the Integrative Women’s Health Institute and is also the host of her podcast, The Masterful Art of Self-Care.Find out more about Anietie on IG @selfcarephysio and
I sat down with Nikki to hear her thoughts on short and long term strategies for yoga and fitness teachers in a pandemic.Nikki Naab-Levy PMA®-CPT is a Pilates teacher, licensed massage therapist, and certified functional strength coach with over a decade of experience helping clients build strength and overcome injury. She holds B.S. in Exercise Science and B.S. in Magazine Journalism from Ohio University. Her fitness wisdom has been featured in Girls Gone Strong, The Seattle Times, and Men’s Fitness. She is a Master Trainer for the Balanced Body Bodhi Suspension System and has presented for national conferences and educational organizations included Fusion Pilates Edu and the Pilates Method Alliance. When she's not teaching a sneaky hard Pilates class, you can find her using her journalism experience to help movement teachers find creative and effective ways to market their workshops, classes, and online programs.Find out more about Nikki at and follow her business page on Instagram @psbuymyshit
Over my January break, I had the pleasure of sitting down with Dr. Kenneth Axen who taught our exercise physiology class at Hunter College in my first year of PT school. We’d previously connected over a shared love of the great street photographers of the mid-twentieth century. Dr. Axen is a photographer, artist, writer, scientist, teacher, father and traveler. I was eager to hear more about his outlook on life, inspired by the “Yes, and...” rule of improvisation. We discussed the ways art and illustration serve as tools for sharing complex ideas, how constraints spur creativity, and the intersections between science and spirituality. We were joined in our discussion by Dr. Kathleen Axen who currently serves as Professor and Department Chair of Health and Nutrition Sciences at Brooklyn College. Together, they shared stories of their world travel adventures with young children.Dr. Axen has an incredible eye. View his photography on Instagram @kenaxen and take a look at the film referenced in the beginning of the episode, TempusFugit.
Aisha Fakhro is a yoga teacher, psychotherapist, and hypnotherapist. She teaches embodied movement practice blended with neuroscience to tap into the body and brain’s capacity to adapt, rewire, and transform to overcome difficulties. Her podcast, Soft Strength presents her philosophy for life on and off the mat—one lived with with insight and ease, that celebrates unique individuality, but also our deep interconnectedness.Find out more about Aisha's work at, on Instagram @aishafakhro, and check out her podcast Soft Strength.
Erin has a degree in art and considers creativity in its many forms to be a core value in her life and work. In addition to writing and making music, teaching and movement have been a mainstay in her life since as a child she taught dance to her stuffed animals. She has been offering yoga & movement instruction and manual therapy to a wide range of ages and abilities since 2004.In 2014 following the birth of her son and a delve in to modern postural yoga history, she was compelled to pivot away from traditional yoga toward multidisciplinary movement and the burgeoning field of applied neuroscience, rekindling her long-standing love of the brain. She considers it vital to assess and improve the way our nervous system functions because movement output quality and quantity hinges upon how we absorb and process informationShe offers unique, brain-centered education for yoga and movement teachers looking to expand their knowledge base in a competitive market via online courses.Her writing about the business of teaching yoga and challenges of transitioning into other modalities inspired her serialized audiobook podcast The Whole Beautiful.Follow Erin on Instagram @movementfluency
Unionize Yoga is a group of yoga and mindful fitness educators in New York City coming together to have a voice in the industry, raise industry standards, and create a more equitable and sustainable profession for all. Their goal is for employees, students, and business to thrive.I sat down with Tamar Samir, Markella Los, and Liz Buehler Walker to find out more about what spurred their motivation to organize, where they currently stand after a successful first vote, and next steps for teachers in New York City and beyond.You can find out more about their work on Instagram @unionize_yoga, Facebook @yogateacherunion, and Twitter @unionize_yoga. 
In this episode, Keisa Parrish shares her stories of working as a dancer, artist, and fitness teacher in New York City while raising a child. Keisa writes about her experiences as a single parent making ends meet in the hopes that her story will help others navigate this challenging terrain and better manage stress. Find out more about Keisa on Instagram @singlemomdamncity and read her blog, Single Mom. Damn City. at
Joe has a passion for teaching how the body works. He currently teaches yoga classes in New York City, offers private sessions, and teaches anatomy and physiology courses around the country and worldwide. A lifelong interest in biology and anatomy led Joe to study with several yoga anatomy teachers, and eventually to a master’s degree in applied physiology from Columbia University. He is a Guild Certified Feldenkrais® Practitioner and a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist with the NSCA. He writes extensively about yoga, anatomy, physiology and health on social media and for popular websites and publications.Find out more about Joe at and on Instagram @joemilleryogaHis 60-hour Functional Anatomy and Physiology for Yoga course at Now Yoga begins in January, 2019.
After spending over a decade in corporate sales, Christine dropped everything to become a full time yoga teacher and business coach. She uses her vast business knowledge & experience to coach other teachers on how to build a sustainable and profitable yoga business. Her techniques are proven because she used them herself to build a successful yoga business in South FL that is still flourishing today.Follow Christine on Instagram @movementyogaFind out more about her business coaching by visiting her website or click here to join her mailing list. 
Sangeeta Vallabhan has been teaching yoga for over fifteen years in New York and around the world. She enjoys training new teachers, which she's been doing since 2009. Sangeeta currently teaches classes and trainings at Yogavida NYC. Her trauma informed yoga training, solemarch, was presented at Yogavida in July and will run again at The Yoga Loft in Bethlehem, PA in November. Be sure to read her piece, What It's Like Being an Indian-American Yoga Teacher, and collaboration with Rumya Putcha, Are You Traveling to India for the Right Reasons?Find out more about Sangeeta at
Anita grew up in Norway but spent 20+ years in New York as a Yoga and Fitness Instructor. Anita started her YouTube channel ‘Anita Goa TV’ in 2010 to extend her love of yoga, fitness and life philosophy to serve people all over the world. Over the years she has developed a love for the Moon and started to design her yoga practices around the moon phases. Presently she is writing a Moon Phase Yoga, Fitness WellBeing Book.For the last 5 years Anita has lived in London with her husband, Sanjay and 11 yr old son, Lars. Find out more about Anita at and on her YouTube channel.
Susan”Lip” Orem began practicing yoga when the thrill of bench aerobics was gone. Her first teachers were Sharon Gannon, Dana Flynn and Cyndi Lee. Her checkered past as a dancer in Las Vegas revues, Off Broadway actress, Ringling Brothers clown and sign language interpreter left her no choice but to teach yoga. She was too old to be a cowgirl or an astronaut. She was first certified by Cyndi Lee before there was an OM Yoga. She has been a student of Rodney Yee since 1996 and continues to be inspired by his teaching. She is honored to be part of the teaching staff of Yoga Shanti NY. Here in NYC Genny Kapuler , Rodney Yee and Carrie Owerko keep Lip’s feet steady on the path. The most influential teachers have been all the students willing to take this trip with her. Susan “Lip” is grateful every day that what she does is what she loves. Learn more at
Carrie Owerko has been teaching yoga and exploring the relationship between body, breath, and mind for several years. She holds a Senior Intermediate Iyengar teaching credential, is a certified Yoga Therapist (C-IAYT) and Functional Range Conditioning Mobility Specialist (FRCms).Before studying yoga, Carrie earned a BFA in Dance and Theater and became a Movement Analyst (CMA) from The Laban Institute in NYC. She has spent years enthusiastically exploring human movement with the intention of helping people develop clearer, more fully embodied communication and expression.Curiosity, openness, and affection are of the utmost importance in her approach to Iyengar Yoga, as is the integration of science, yoga philosophy, and the poetic imagination in the yoga practice. Find out more at
Markella Los is a yoga and movement teacher and teacher trainer based in Brooklyn, NY. She is certified in the YogaWorks, Yoga Tune Up® and Trauma-Conscious Yoga methods and as a FRC Mobility Specialist. Find out more at
Laurel is a yoga teacher and teacher trainer in New York City. She is an outside the box thinker, innovative movement practitioner, and skilled educator. Find out more about Laurel at
Born and raised in Venice Beach, California, and after traveling around the world, Sarah now lives in Brooklyn, New York. Being a cancer survivor, artist and food lover she incorporates resiliency, courage and humor in her on-going group, corporate and private yoga classes. Her writings have been published for Yoga City NYC, Prevention Magazine, Self and Furthermore.  As an educator she is always learning and celebrates the challenges we greet in our daily lives. Find Sarah at and on Instagram @sarahgirardyoga.
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