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Teachers

Leena Miller Cressman

I’m a movement educator, a yoga teacher-trainer, a social justice and environmental advocate, and a mother of three. After leading Queen Street Yoga from 2012-2020, I co-founded The Branches in 2021. My vision is to create brave and inclusive spaces for personal growth, community care, and social change.

I discovered yoga at age 13 and deepened my practice throughout my teens to support me through physical and mental health challenges. I’ve been teaching since 2008, and my approach blends functional and dynamic movement, strength building, and alignment with mindful breathing and relaxation. I believe yoga practice can help us befriend our bodies and cultivate more calmness and compassion on and off the mat.

I am passionate about building rich learning communities and mentoring new teachers through Yoga Teacher Training and Restorative Yoga Teaching Programs. I am registered with the Yoga Alliance as an E-RYT-500 (Experienced Registered Yoga Teacher). I have completed over 1000 hours of training in Anusara Yoga and other alignment-based and vinyasa styles, functional anatomy, Ayurveda, Mindful Strength and teaching pedagogy. My teachers and mentors include Christi-an Slomka, Meaghan Johnson, Darren Rhodes, Matthew Remski, Kathryn Bruni-Young and my co-teachers at The Branches.

To contact me with feedback or issues of a confidential nature, email info@thebranchesyoga.com to request my direct contact.

My pronouns are she/her.

Leslie Stokman

I’m a seeker, an enthusiast, and an unashamed try-hard. Here in our community, I have the joy of sharing Yoga and movement as both a teacher and teacher-training assistant. 

My own practice began in 2006, when Yoga helped me to reinhabit my body and reconnect to my inner vitality as I languished in a post-traumatic slump. Because I get to teach a variety of class styles, you’ll find the content pretty variable, but all of my classes invite curious investigation into sensation and capacity through asana, breath, mobility, strength, and stillness. I aspire to offer students a space to witness, express and expand. 

My teaching career started in the school classroom, but jumped ship into the world of Yoga teaching in 2016 after certifying here at The Branches. Through my continuing education, I’m certificatied in the Tensegrity Repair Series (creator Gioia Irwin, trainer Trudy Austin), Functional Range Conditioning & Kinstretch (Andreo Spina et. al.), and TRE: Tension & Trauma Release Exercises (creator David Berceli, trainer Joan MacDonald). My own personal forays into Vipassana meditation, rock-climbing and strength conditioning also colour what I share. 

I’m deeply influenced by my teachers-turned-friends-turned colleagues here, especially Leena Miller-Cressman and Emma Dines, and I’ll forever churn what I’ve learned from teachers Matthew Remski, Kathryn Bruni-Young (Mindful Strength), and Cecily Milne (Yoga Detour).

Emma Dines

I teach yoga to build community. I have been teaching since 2010, and I am passionate about body positivity, poetry, and linking our practice of yoga to activism, social justice and caring for the wider world. I teach with playfulness, sound effects and humour, and draw on my background as an actor and writer to create memorable and meaningful classes.

My training includes upwards of 750 hours of training with local and international teachers, in the fields of yoga, strength training, functional movement, Ayurveda, anatomy, contact improvisation and the Axis Syllabus. I am a certified Yoga for Round Bodies™ teacher. One of the highlights of my job is co-directing The Branches' 200-hour Teacher Training Program through which I have overseen the training and mentoring of close to 90 new teachers.

Some teachers/authors that I draw influence and inspiration from include: Madeleine Shen, Matthew Remski, Kathryn Bruni-Young, Cecily Milne and Katy Bowman. I also value learning from and alongside my experienced teaching colleagues; Leena Miller Cressman, Leslie Stokman, Carin Lowerison, Monica Sheridan and Kristina Lekin.

I love to sing to my students at the end of class. I’ve recorded some of these songs and they are available for download on Soundcloud.

My pronouns are she/they.

Carin Lowerison

The Branches welcomed me onto their teaching team when I moved to Kitchener in 2013; I teach primarily Flow and Strength & Flow classes for the studio. I received my first certification in Anusara-inspired Hatha Yoga in 2007 and pursued Anusara-inspired certification for several years before diverging into other styles of yoga and movement including dance, martial arts, and strength training in pursuit of a broader base of movement and mindfulness knowledge. To date, I have accumulated over 450 hours of teacher training and consider myself a lifelong student. My teaching is greatly influenced by what I’ve learned from my colleagues at The Branches and by teachers like Kathryn Bruni-Young, Diane Bondi, Jules Mitchell, and Cecile Milne. 

My classes are playful, energetic, challenging, detailed and creative. I teach with authenticity, enthusiasm, and care for my students. I will encourage you to celebrate your abilities and customize your practice according to your needs. My hope is that your practice will support and enrich all aspects of your life off the mat. 

Outside of teaching yoga, I am the Co-Founder and Managing Director of a theatre company called Green Light Arts.

My pronouns are she/her.

Nicole DeNoble

I first got into yoga by joining friends for workplace classes over lunch. I had trained in dance as a kid and teen, and as an adult, I realized how much I wanted to be part of a movement community again. Over the years, I dabbled in different yoga styles and classes until I found my ‘yoga home’ at The Branches. My interest in building a more consistent practice grew, and I eventually pursued yoga teacher training (YTT) with Leena and Emma as part of the 2015 cohort.

Since completing my YTT in 2016, I’ve been entrusted to guide folks with a range of practice goals and intentions through mindful movement and relaxation techniques. I take a special interest in sharing restorative yoga as well as ‘the basics’, and I love welcoming new practitioners through our doors as part of the Intro to Yoga program.

As of 2021, I’m working towards a 300-hour teacher training designation focused on strength, exercise science, and anti-oppression, led by Carly Stong and Kathryn Bruni-Young.

Looking forward to seeing your face around the studio sometime soon!

My pronouns are she/her.

Wendy Michaud

My lifelong passion is learning; I have an insatiable curiosity and I enjoy inspiring that same curiosity in others. This has led me to become an educator in many aspects of my life and, after completing my first YTT with Queen Street Yoga in 2018, I added yoga teacher to that list.

My approach to yoga and movement practices is built on a foundation of functional movement and mindfulness. The classes I teach tend to focus on building strength and mobility, but also on noticing what's happening in our bodies. My intention is to help people move better in their everyday lives, and tune in to their own unique needs and ways of moving.

My teaching style is very light-hearted, with lots of laughter and invitations to simply be curious about things. I’m always looking for creative ways to help people relate to new concepts or see things from a different perspective. But I also like to sneak in little anatomy or biomechanics lessons whenever I can.

When I’m not at The Branches, I spend most of my free time learning how to DIY all the things.

Marg Hull

Over many years, I have been a seeker of wholeness, exploring natural healing, psychology, spirituality, qi gong, contact improv, running and physical fitness. But through all this, yoga has been constant. I first started practising when yoga was still seen in the west as a little ‘woo-woo,’ and I've never stopped. Yoga means ‘yoking.’ From Patanjali’s ancient Yoga Sutras: Yogaschittavrttinirodha: Yoga calms the ripples of consciousness. To this, I say yes! As our mental chatter is stilled, we move toward union with our true self, and with all that is.

I’ve studied a number of styles, including Ashtanga, Sivananda, and Iyengar. A classically trained singer, I found yoga principles invaluable as I performed and taught voice for many years, experiencing the empowerment of the body-mind-spirit connection. I was thrilled to find my yoga home at The Branches (then Queen Street Yoga) in 2007, where I completed my first teacher training in 2010 with Hart Lazer, Meagan Johnson and Kristen Honey, and graduated from QSY's YTT program in 2018.

I love to bear witness as people grow into wholeness. Besides voice teaching, I spent years as a core, music, and phys ed teacher in the elementary system, am trained in spiritual care and psychotherapy, have my own small counselling practice, and my study is ongoing. All of this inspires my yoga classes.

Ever a morning person, I love to share the joy of yoga with friends in Sunrise Practice, and I feel especially privileged to offer Yoga for Anxiety & Depression, to help others deepen their mind/body connection.

Carol Kennedy

I started my yoga journey as a child, practicing poses found in yoga books with my mom. I rediscovered yoga when I joined the The Branches team as a trade on Tuesday nights. It wasn't until I stepped into my first Yoga for Round Bodies class that yoga really started to make sense for me. This class made it possible to connect the yoga world with my unique physique, and I continue to bring those concepts into my everyday practice.

I finished my 200-hour YTT in 2020 with a great passion for movement, inclusion and breaking down stereotypes around body shape, size and fitness. I am grateful for the incredible opportunity to teach Yoga for Round Bodies and am looking forward to meeting all kinds of bodies on the mat.

Julie Zettel

My teaching career began at The Branches in 2008 upon the completion of the 200 hour Yoga Alliance Teacher Training through United Yoga Montreal. When I discovered I was pregnant with my third child I was inspired to deepen the connection to my baby by creating a calm and nurturing environment. My desire to teach and support women during pregnancy led me to complete the following Pre & Postnatal Yoga Trainings: Five Elements Yoga School, 2006; Ester Myers Yoga School 2009; DIG Yoga 2012; Bellies Inc. Core Confidence Specialist 2016; Prenatal Yoga Therapeutics, Yoga Medicine, 2020.

A mother of three, with 15+ years of teaching experience, I have a solid foundation to support and nurture women throughout pregnancy. My goal is to share my knowledge and empower prenatal mama’s to find ease and comfort in their evolving bodies. My students are offered a healing space to grow and practice as they gently integrate the many benefits of this beautiful adventure.

My enthusiasm to learn and grow in my personal practice continues daily both on and off the mat. I have always been about true connection and see the beauty in everything. My kind and nurturing nature offers a welcoming energy that promotes healing.

Danette Adams

I’m a meditation and mindful movement facilitator who has been exploring contemplative practices for three decades. After my recent retirement from a career as a high school guidance counsellor, I have returned to my passion for connecting with others around mindfulness,resiliency, compassion and embodied awareness through meditation.

In 2007, I walked into a combined meditation/ yoga class at The Branches, then Queen Street Yoga, and was delighted to discover a place of community and refuge through challenging times. I completed my 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training in 2010 under the guidance of Hart Lazer, Meaghan Johnson and Kristin Honey.

When I’m not leading meditation sessions, I can be found observing my own resistance to stillness and silence, or podcasting, blogging, gardening, reading and writing.

My pronouns are she/her.

Nicole Brown Faulknor

As a yoga teacher and mental health clinician I teach Yin Yoga, Hatha Yoga and Trauma Centre Trauma Sensitive Yoga as Facilitator (TCTSY-F, 2019). TCTSY is a respectful yoga practice and rests on the principles of invitation, choice, empowerment, as means to support you in your healing process - by creating opportunities to practice noticing sensations in your body- to practice feeling your body and rebuilding your relationship to your body as safe place to be, perhaps practicing a returning home to your body. TCTSY is also an invitation for people with PTSD, and Complex Trauma symptoms. My other yoga certifications include Yogafit Canada (2011), Yin Certification (2013).

I am also a founder of Mama Soul-House Rides. This embodied approach to movement is a mental health initiative through music and movement. It is a confidence and inner strength mindset-training to culturally identifying music of Afro-Caribbean origin and other eclectic genres! https://mamasoulhouse.com/

Linda Collins

Newly retired and in my early sixties, I was looking for an activity I could do while coping with arthritis. I noticed a Chair Yoga class at the Y and was inspired to give it a try. I found the gentle pace soothing and accessible to me, improving my mobility to the point that I was able to join gentle yoga classes and do floor poses.

My progress has been slow and gradual and I continue to keep seeing benefits. By 2018, I recognized the need to keep yoga in my life, and endeavored to become more dedicated to consistent and frequent practice at The Branches, then Queen Street Yoga.

In 2019, I was inspired to pursue yoga teacher training, hoping to share the skills and improvements I had found for myself with others. I completed the The Branches YTT Program in 2020. Sharing my lived experience, I now passionately instruct older adults in restorative, gentle, accessible and chair yoga classes.

I am grateful to mentors Leena Miller Cressman, Emma Dines, and the other wonderful teachers at QSY for their instruction, support, inspiration, and encouragement!

My pronouns are she/her.

Nadine Quehl

I started practicing yoga in 2005, and completed my 200-hour teacher training at The Branches (then Queen Street Yoga) in 2017-2018. A few months later, I started volunteer-teaching yoga at Grand Valley Institution for Women in Kitchener. This experience continues to help me appreciate yoga’s role in healing, empowerment and connection. 

Before discovering the joys of yoga, I took a number of courses in tai chi and qi gong, and movements from these practices are incorporated into my classes. I am currently studying at the Centre for Mindfulness Studies, where I am learning to facilitate Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) and weave mindfulness meditation techniques into my yoga teaching. I bring a gentle yet energizing presence to my classes, and combine elements of meditation and mindful movement into all my classes. I focus on alignment and engaging muscles to ensure stability in poses (“strength before length”), connecting movement with breath, and encouraging curiosity, a non-judgemental approach and playfulness. 

When I’m not teaching yoga I work at the University of Waterloo, connecting our Researchers with non-profit / public sector organizations for research collaborations. I enjoy reading, hiking, kayaking, singing in a global song choir, and acting.

My pronouns are she/her.

Rebecca Steiner

I am a life-long learner, keen to listen, slower to speak, and always up for fun food experiences. In 2017/18, I completed my 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training at The Branches (then QSY) as I was interested in learning about teaching, movement, and meditation through the lens of community care and social justice. I was also looking for some tools to ground me through the major life transition of becoming a mother (matrescence!). With a background in theatre, I aim to bring an embodied presence to my teaching. I am thrilled to be leading the Parent and Peanut class this spring! I love the babies and their parents and the bond between them that a class like this can nurture. Outside of the studio, I'm a mother of two, a community volunteer, avid thrifter, and am starting a Bachelor of Education in September to continue this teaching journey. My pronouns are she/her.

Kendra Hinton

Kendra’s love for caring for people, and a particular curiosity for the human body, mind, and experience led her to begin teaching yoga asana in 2014 after her 200hr training with Denise at Atlas Studio. Yoga influences how she approaches each person she cares for in a professional capacity as a Registered Nurse and yoga teacher as well as in her personal life.

Journeying into motherhood in 2019 with the premature birth of her twin girls, and returning to an understaffed workforce at the start of the pandemic quickly became unsustainable. Kendra experienced first hand burnout and that rest is dharmic (honours divine order). This experience has led Kendra to love and appreciate practicing truly restorative and rejuvenating yoga that soothes the nervous system and provides you with the opportunity to replenish your energy by utilizing the guided awareness of yoga nidra (yogic sleep), pranayama (breath work), the gentle flow of asana (pose) sequences and restful restorative asana. Kendra’s experience of some of the challenges of birth, premature birth, complicated pregnancies, burnout and lack of support many parents face, has sparked a desire to serve the pre/postnatal population. Her prenatal classes provide a space for connection, sharing and preparing your body and mind for the birthing journey.

Kendra has had many inspiring yoga asana teachers and is currently studying with Kaya Mindlin in Supreme Release Yoga, and deepening her understanding of the teachings within the Bhagavad Gita.

Kendra’s pronouns are she/her.

Shwetha Subramanya

Shwetha has been practicing yoga for more than 25 years and teaching yoga for 5 years. She is a guest faculty in The Branches 250-hour YTT sharing sanskrit and Yogic philosophy. Yoga has given her immense strength and helped her rediscover herself. Since Shwetha comes from the birthplace of Yoga, India, she has been fortunate to study the ancient texts of yoga to understand the roots of yoga. She practices and teaches vinyasa flow yoga that emphasizes the elements of nature. For her, Yoga is a bridge that connects her soul towards the purpose of life. It teaches her to enjoy the physical movement of the body while experiencing a stillness in the mind.Shwetha and her husband Manu have been married for more than 10 years and have a son, Shiva (named after Lord Shiva who is the first Yogi). Both of them were immersed into a culture of shlokas and mantras from childhood. They formally studied Sanskrit from high school. Their specific interest in Sanskrit are in subhashitas (proverbs), hymns and the ancient texts of science.