Our presenters are community leaders, artists and yoga teachers. They will be leading discussion sessions, art sessions and yoga classes. Each 2-hour discussion session will be led by two or more presenters - and all participants will be encouraged to add to the conversation.
Nancy Candea, Summit Director, Fire Keeper
An activist in the global health revolution, Nancy is committed to practicing the best version of herself every day, and to using her talents to contribute to the upliftment of humankind. Nancy’s ongoing journey is to study and to teach how to integrate mindfulness into each of our platforms of self-care. She strives to practice loving-kindness as a means of forming deep connections and promoting personal transformation. Her focus is to bring yoga teacher trainings and meditation trainings to those in marginalized communities.
She is a C-IAYT, 500 E-RYT, and RCYT who teaches yoga classes, works with private clients, and conducts Yoga Teacher Trainings and Yoga Therapy Trainings in Greece, Arizona, Detroit, New Jersey, Colorado, and Hawaii. She is the founder and director of Yoga Impact Institute, a residential and online yoga training school. Yoga Impact Institute is a 200-hour, 300-hour, and YACEP school registered with the Yoga Alliance. She directs Yoga Impact, a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) that focuses on sharing yoga with vulnerable populations – women and children in shelters, at-risk youth, senior citizens, war veterans, and prisoners, as well as the homeless. Nancy also mentors yoga therapists and yoga teachers in their work with these populations. Her approach to teaching yoga is the product of 32 years of her own practice, her ownership of a successful yoga studio in Hawaii for 5 years, 9 years of training yoga teachers, 3 years of training yoga therapists and 20 years of teaching. She is truly a "yogi without borders." Her work has been featured in the Huffington Post, Yoga Therapy Today, Boulder Magazine, and Natural Awakenings. Nancy has done yoga therapy presentations at the International Women’s Writing Guild, Global Ayurveda Conference, LLC, and Northern New Jersey Transitional Yoga Conference 2013.
Alta Piechowski, Ed.D.
Educational Leader, School psychologist, School Counselor, Yoga Enthusiast
Clans: Tábąąhá (Water's Edge); Tł’ízí Łání (Many Goats); Tsé Ńjíkiní (Cliff Dwelling Clan); Kinyaa’áanii
(Towering House People)
Dr. Piechowski is the Director of Special Education at Sanders Unified School District. She is a
certified school counselor, school psychologist and Reality Therapist. Dr. Piechowski has an interest is
the resiliency of Native American peoples including healthy living in all aspects of their lives. Native
American peoples have always explored and adapted to challenges to overcome adversities, thereby,
learning techniques to improve our well-being such as the practice of “Yoga. “ Dr. Piechowski will share
her journey of wellness of the mind, spirit, and body.
Indigenous Dine' Protagonists, Facilitator, Collaborator, Artist, & Singer
Clans: Bitahnii (Folded Arms) Clan, born for Toh ahedliinii (Two waters that flow together) Clan, Maternal Grand Parent's Clan is Toh di chii nii (Bitter Water) Clan, Paternal Grand Parent's Clan is Tsi' najinii (Black Streak Running on the Tree) Clan.
Wayne was raised in a traditional Dine'h / Navajo ceremonial home called a Hogan and learned at an early age the Traditional Dine'h / Navajo language, chants, natural-path herbal treatment remedies and ceremonial teachings of the Protection & Beauty Way of life by his Grandfather the late John Burnside who was a medicine man. He went to Pine Springs Boarding School in a small remote community of Pine Springs on the Navajo Nation and also went to Fort Wingate Boarding School in New Mexico. He attended elementary grade school in Gallup, NM until both of his parents were deceased he then was adopted by his aunt and uncle as he was transferred to Sanders Jr. High School and eventually graduated from Valley High School, Sanders, AZ in 1988, He became a Baha’i in 1989 and went to Michigan to College in 1991 at Mott Community College in Flint, MI and studied the Baha’i Faith at Louhellen Residential Baha’i School in Davidson, MI. He also attended Lansing Community College learning and studying the healing concepts of Qi Gong and Tai Chi Chuan in 1994, He then moved on to study at Central Michigan University studying physical therapy from 1995-1997 at the same time while he was attending the University he also learned Northern Seven Star Praying Mantis Kung fu from his Sifu Henry Chung in Midland MI. Since then Wayne has always been interested in studying other alternative healing methods to improve his own health and well being by constantly working towards maintaining his own balance and harmony by learning and applying Qi Gong and Tai Chi Chuan breathing and exercises. Wayne is a traditional and eclectic Dine'h / Navajo person who's always willing to learn new ways and methods to improve his strength and balance through his Traditional Dine'h / Navajo healing ways and other alternative natural healing methods. In 2017 Wayne became a member and is certified by (NADA ) National Acupuncture Detoxification Association to do the NADA Ear Acupuncture Protocol to help people in all stages of addiction recovery by helping soothe the symptoms of withdrawal, reduce cravings, and ease anxiety or trauma that can lead people to use drugs. He then became trained and certified with (AWB) Acupuncture Without Borders to set up emergency Acupuncture treatment posts to provide for disaster relief, recovery and support in building resiliency to communities affected by disasters, human conflict, environmental devastation, poverty and social injustice. He has taught cultural and ethnic studies programs on Dine'h / Navajo Protection and Beauty way of life teachings at Mott Community College, Flint MI, Wayne State University Detroit, MI, and Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, OH, and has facilitated talking circles, sweat lodges, other public speaking events, and some of the Ruhi Institute book study program in building better communities by always finding new methods in working towards restoring and maintaining his traditional Dine'h ceremonial word and concept of Hozho : Beauty, Balance, Harmony, and Prosperity in Mind, Body, and Spirit.
Belinda Thurston, E-RYT 200, is the founder of Just B Yoga & Tai Chi LLC, Michigan’s only full-time donation-based yoga studio. The studio, founded in 2010, is a safe space with a mission of accessibility and affordability especially. The studio is best known for its support of the LGBTQIA community, plus-sized students and trauma survivors.
Belinda is trained in trauma sensitive yoga, yoga for special needs, yoga for children and teens, yoga for bigger bodies and yoga for addiction recovery. A bulk of her work is teaching yoga for survivors of sexual trauma, working with local nonprofits and government agencies.
Belinda retired from 23 years in the newspaper industry, specializing in multimedia, digital and investigative journalism. She has worked at small and large newspapers including the Dallas Morning News and USA Today.
Belinda is a talented speaker and storyteller who’s presentations combine the lessons of a corporate career and being a survivor of sexual trauma and with yoga, tai chi and meditation practices.
Belinda has been a presenter on mindfulness, trauma and wellness and social justice for colleges, government and other agencies. She is passionate about the role yoga can have in the social justice movement and toward healing generational wounds.
Just B Yoga was recognized among the top 10 studios in Michigan in 2017. Belinda received the Woman of the Year Award by the Women’s Center of Greater Lansing in 2013. Belinda and the studio were honored as a Michigan Hometown Health Hero in 2012.
Kim Cope Tait’s poetry and prose have appeared in literary journals and magazines in the U.S. and abroad. Her most recent publications include a full-length collection of poetry entitled Shadow Tongue (forthcoming with Finishing Line Press), and her third novel, Kealaula. A certified yoga instructor trained in the Iyengar and Ashtanga traditions, Kim has been practicing yoga and meditation for twenty years, and she has been teaching them for over fifteen. She is also the author and voice of Lotus Wheel: Guided Meditations for Relaxation and Healing. Kim combines all of these threads of her life and love in workshops and retreats for seekers, writers, and yogis of all levels and ages. Having lived in California, Hawaii, Switzerland, New Zealand and Vermont, Kim now lives with her family and teaches in the High Rockies of Colorado.
Danielle Fazio fell in love with yoga in her early 20’s when training for marathons and triathlons. She found that the practice of yoga, both physically and mentally, provided healing and balance in her very active lifestyle. As the founder/owner of High Altitude Yoga, Danielle has brought yoga to masses in the Northern Arizona community. Pulling from her creative and playful nature, each class and event is designed to help students deepen their practice with mindfulness and a greater understanding of their own body.
Katherine Ramos was born and raised in Newark, New Jersey. She is a single mother to an 11year old child and former homeschooling parent. In 2008 she began practicing massage therapy which helps her provide positive touch and healing to her communities through her craft. Since 2008, Katherine has attained certifications in reiki and most recently yoga, also with the hopes to help her community thrive.
Her dedication and involvement in hercommunityhas been visible through her work with youth. For the last five years Katherine mentored students involved in The Newark Students Union, an organization founded by and for students with the goals of protecting student rights, ensuring they receive a quality education, and empowering the student voice in the political process. As an organizer, she helped mobilize and direct donations to communities throughout New Jersey, after super storm Sandy, via Occupy Sandy. In November of 2014, Katherine helped organize a Books and Breakfast Program at Source of Knowledge, that provided hot meals and free books to children and adults, to promote reading in Newark. Katherine is the co-starter and a current member of BBLAC, a group focused on a six-prong approach to divestment from white supremacy and the systems it governs. The six prongs the group is focused on are education; food justice; health & wellness; tech/ social media; economics and community activism.
As of 2017, Katherine has partnered with UCELC, an organization focused on bringing trainings and resources to the community centered on starting cooperatives of all kinds including schools. She has been teaching at a cooperative school centered in African and Indigenous history/events since September of last year.
Katherine hopes to help lay the foundation work that will lead to the liberation of her community through education and health.
Mayra Fe Lorenzana-Miles was born and raised in Puerto Rico. After completing her law degree she traveled to New Orleans to complete her LL.M in law. She now has an active immigration practice in Michigan, where she sees everyday the effects of today’s immigration policies. Mayra has been practicing a variety of meditation and spiritual disciplines for over 35 years. For the last 10 years, she has taken a passionate interest in uniting the mind and body through the practice of yoga and meditation. When not working in her day job as an attorney, she is constantly in pursuit of further knowledge in the field. She is a 200RYT and is completing her 500 RYT. This interest has led her to complete specialized courses on meditation, yin yoga, Buddhist teachings, Dream yoga and anatomy. Mayra is inspired by the concept of what the Romans called being a "midwife of the soul." Whether teaching meditation or yoga, the goal is to foster students' connections with their bodies, to create a sense of ease and well-being.
Tefany Santana was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York and currently resides in Newark, NJ. She graduated summa cum laude from the City College of New York with a BA in Liberal Arts. After dedicating 17 years of service with the United Nations, she decided to change careers and pursue her passion in Yoga & Mental Health Wellness. Tefany is passionate about women’s empowerment and raising awareness on the effects of complex trauma. Her own healing journey from childhood sexual abuse has led her to complete an 8 week Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction course, a 200 hr Yoga Teacher Training, and 40 hours of training in Trauma Center Trauma-Sensitive Yoga at the Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health. She is furthering her training in yoga and is in the process of completing her 500 hour certification. Tefany firmly believes in the healing power of yoga and that yoga should be accessible to under-served populations. She teaches trauma-informed yoga and believes that by reminding students that they always choose what to do with their bodies they become empowered and empowerment is at the heart of healing.
Alyssa stumbled upon yoga at the age of 18. She was skeptical...but skepticism turned to curiosity, curiosity to commitment and her commitment evolved into a deep love of yoga and all that it offers. Yoga transformed Alyssa's life (and continues to!) and it is her passion for this transformation that she shares so potently with her students and clients.
Alyssa is a RYT-500 (Registered Yoga Teacher) and a specialist in teaching the Therapeutic Benefits of Yoga for Illness and Injury Recovery and Mental Health. Throughout her 13 years of practice, she has been fortunate to study with senior teachers from many of the world's most prominent traditions, including Ashtanga, Anusara, Jivamukti, Yin Yoga and Yoga Therapy. Alyssa teaches regular classes and workshops in the Kailua-Kona, HI area as well as retreats on and off of her island home.
Her approach to yoga is that yoga is simple...and yoga is for everyone. Alyssa works with clients of all ages and skill abilities from seniors, to yoga for injury recovery, yoga for addictions recovery groups and yoga for beginners and advanced students alike. Her philosophy is that there is some part of yoga practice or yoga philosophy that is accessible to everyone. Whether it be simple breathing practices, posture or activities to better mentally process our worlds; she is committed to finding the practice that's right for you and will compassionately guide you through it.
When Alyssa is not teaching yoga, she enjoys outdoor adventures of any variety. You'll find her scuba diving, free diving, hiking, rappelling, slacklining, or traveling. To balance the adventuring, Alyssa also loves caring for her plants, quiet moments of meditation and enjoying the beauty of her Hawaiian home.
Chelsea Morriss is a life-long learner and the owner of Waimea Yoga in Hawaii. She holds a B.S. in Human Physiology from the University of Oregon as well as M.A. in Elementary Education from University of New Mexico. Her curiosity lead her to her first 200 hour teacher training in 2013 and was the beginning of her yogic studies. She went on to became an Ayurvedic Specialist, health coach through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, and studied with Nancy Candea to receive 500 more hours of training focusing on the therapeutics of yoga. She also attained her K-12 YogaEd certification as well as level 1 iRest certification (www.irest.us). Through this certification she has had the opportunity to work with veterans suffering from PTSD for almost 3 years and looks forward to continuing to serve them.
Chelsea’s passion is to bring together all the knowledge she has learned through her many teachers she is ever-grateful for as well as her personal experiences to offer students a chance to be in their bodies, and to use their innate wisdom to heal and thrive. She firmly believes yoga can be accessible for every body and wants to serve all bodies, from keiki to kupuna.
Lucia Bennett Leighton, MA, LPCC, R-DMT has a master’s degree from Naropa University’s Somatic Counseling Psychology program. Lucia has been writing and researching in the field of somatic psychology for several years, and considers her exploration of oppression and embodiment to be the cornerstone of her career as a professional counselor. Currently, she is an eating disorder therapist working with patients in treatment using a body-centered, creative, and social justice-based approach to therapy. Lucia's research and writing has been published in the Journal of Multicultural Counseling and Development, JAMA Psychiatry, Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, and American Journal of Dance Movement Therapy. She also recently co-edited a book on the somatic effects of oppression entitled "Oppression in the Body: Roosts, Resistance, and Resolutions". Lucia currently lives in Denver, CO with her wife, Erin, and their two cats.
Rachelle "Chelle" Pean is a holistic mental health practitioner and a yoga teacher. She has a private practice in Troy, NY called Chelle Marie Wellness where she focuses on working with clients using a trauma informed lens. Her passion is holding space for people to heal themselves by telling their story, building a meaningful connection to themselves and others, and finding ways to release tension in the mind, body, and spirit. She teaches trauma informed yoga for the "Ready For Life: Healing from Trauma" program at the YWCA, a biweekly trauma informed class at the YWCA, facilitates a monthly "Self Care Series" in Schenectady, NY, and teaches a "Namaslay Sunday" weekly class in Schenectady, NY which focuses on self care to a hip hop soundtrack. Rachelle is also the author of "Balance Your Sh*t: The Chakras". Her driving belief is that these healing practices are for EVERYBODY and are meant to be accessible!
Haley Laughter is a Navajo Yoga instructor. Her clans are as follows;
Bit'ahnii (Leaf clan), Tódich'ii'nii (Bitter Water Clan), Dibéłzhíní (Black Sheep clan), Táchii'nii (Red Running Into the Water People clan).
Haley is motivated by her desire to bring yoga and wellness to her Indigenous people. Haley found yoga when she was going through a transformation of self-discovery. After the breakup of a long-term relationship, and her first yoga teacher certification, Haley decided to move closer to where mother grew up. She settled in the small town of Gallup, New Mexico, on the outskirts of the Navajo Nation. Embracing her culture helped her understand her roots, and yoga helped her create a new energy within herself. This energy has inspired her to create and lead others on the path of yoga. Her passion for yoga helped her confront her own historical trauma, and consciously change a cycle that was affecting her well-being, family, children, and community.
Haley is a 500 hr. Bikram-certified teacher who also has a 200 hr. Barkan certification, and a 100 hr. vinyasa flow certification. She is the founder of Hozho Total Wellness (HTW). She teaches classes, workshops, and presentations on yoga, wellness, and self-care, in Albuquerque and throughout Indian country. HTW actively promotes yoga through Healthy Active Natives with online yoga instruction and challenges, reaching Indigenous communities all over the U.S and Canada. Haley is also founder of the Indigenous Yoga Instructors Association, offering live classes on Facebook and other social media platforms. Her goal is to create and foster more Indigenous yoga instructors to heal her people and the communities affected by historical trauma. She is a representative for Jade Yoga’s international 2018 calendar, which promotes creating communities around yoga within every culture. Haley leads yoga retreats on Navajo land, focusing on the four elements and connection to Mother Earth. She is currently spearheading the 2nd Annual International Yoga Day on June 16th, 2018. It will take place at Monument Valley, located on the Navajo Nation. Starting in August, she will be leading a 200 hr. yoga teacher training with Kate Herrera (Native Fitness).
You can follow Haley on Instagram & Facebook @ Hozho Total Wellness.
"Be Indigenous Yoga Inspired!"
Ian Kalama’ku’ikahi Tong is of mixed European, Chinese and Hawaiian decent and was born and raised on the Diné (Navajo) Nation. Ian pursued graduate studies in Sociology with an interest in race and ethnic stratification at Northern Arizona University and graduate studies in Development Studies with a focus on the utilization of indigenous methodologies in the develop social policy and development programs at the University of Botswana. He has worked with children and youth in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems for 19 years in a border town of the Diné Nation and in the diverse urban community of Las Vegas, NV. Working with children, youth and families with a history of abuse, neglect and trauma, he has utilized family-centered empowerment, hope and strength-based methods and approaches.
In 2016 Ian moved back to his childhood community to serve at the Native American Baha’i Institute (NABI). NABI works with a variety of indigenous communities in the four corners region, learning about developing community building capacity the local populace in a wide variety of ways, including partnering with Yoga Impact to bring a Yoga Teacher Training to this area.
Ian was raised participating in grassroots spiritual community building on the Diné Nation and has in turn raised his three amazing children in a similar fashion in every community they have lived in. He started practicing yoga on and off since 2008 and only recently setting out on a life changing journey through the 200 hour yoga teacher training.
Janene Yazzie: Facebook
We have more presenters lined up. Please keep checking on this page for updates