Skip to content

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.

Andy Chan

I keep track of all of the little details at QSY – especially when it doesn't occur to anyone else to think of them! As Operations Wizard, my focus is on finding/creating solutions (ideally before problems arise) and communicating simple, clear procedures to the rest of the QSY team so that everything runs like clockwork at the studio.

I first joined QSY as a work-trade in the winter of 2013, mere weeks after moving to Kitchener from Toronto. I was looking to join a community in my new city and quickly felt at home in the studio. Now in a formal role at QSY, I bring my varied work and volunteer experience to grow the studio.

When not at my standing desk in the office, you can find me on my purple mat in the practice room (relishing the experience of someone else doing all of the thinking for me). The rest of the time, I can be seen with a laptop and americano in a café, walking/biking around Kitchener, making subversive cross-stitch art, or curled up at home with a book, my three cats, and tea.

My pronouns are she/they.

Monica Sheridan

Monica has been exploring yoga since 2007 and completed her 200 hour Teacher Training at Queen Street Yoga in 2014. Since then, she has obtained teaching certificates for the Tensegrity Repair Series and Restorative Yoga. Queen Street Yoga’s focus on Alignment Based Hatha yoga, in combination with her previous massage therapy education has allowed her to create classes that explore the depths of safe foundational alignment alongside strong expansional breath.

Monica is a safe-skeletal-alignment enthusiast and promotes strength before stretch in every pose, coming back to that concept in each class. She loves to garden, and often ties tactile themes of grounding into the soil or reaching toward the sun into her teaching. Monica creates a warm, open environment in her classes and encourages questions and discussion with students to promote ongoing learning for everyone present.

Monica's pronouns are she/her.

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.

Kristina Lekin

Kris began practicing yoga in 2006 while an undergrad at the University of Waterloo. During her first year at graduate school, yoga played an integral part in her personal growth as her practice deepened. She completed her teacher training with Pranalife Yoga in 2010. Having always been a teacher of some sort (piano, math, science), relaying the yoga she was learning came naturally to her. Since then, she has taken her practice from Toronto to Europe and has studied with numerous teachers. She completed a secondary training with Sadie Nardini, and is now certified to teach Core Strength Vinyasa Yoga.

While her background is in the Ashtanga yoga lineage, her practice and teaching have evolved from these roots to become more alignment-based vinyasa. She believes deeply in the powerful effect of the breath as a centering tool. With creative sequencing and a carefully selected music playlist, her classes flow seamlessly and the breath guides the practice. This results in a practice that leads you to your edge, and challenges you to find peace there.

Outside of her yoga practice, Kris has recently completed her PhD in chemistry at the University of Waterloo. She is in love with live music, particularly at outdoor music festivals, and has been playing and teaching piano since she was a child. She eats clean, blogs about it, and is happy to make others curious about her lifestyle.

She volunteers her time to run the Waterloo Yoga Club, a non-profit organization at UW designed to help students develop a yoga practice. She has also recently become an ambassador for the Power of Movement, a yoga fundraiser to help raise money for the Arthritis and Autoimmune Research Centre.

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.

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.

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.

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/

Natasha Allain

Influenced by spiritual teachers like Elena Brower and functional movement pioneers such as Kathryn Bruni-Young and Jason Crandall, I build the foundation of my classes on felt-sense awareness. Whether we are exploring a restorative sound bath or a slow flow, I direct class with kinesthetic and creative cueing, bringing you to connection with your body in the present moment. My relationship with Yoga has developed alongside my experience as a Reiki Master Teacher. In class, you may learn about the Major Chakra System, Energetics, and the Somatic Body, in relation to movement and meditation. Come and join me in a world of connection to the Earth, your Wider Self, and the Wisdom of the Body. I love chatting with folks after class and sharing stories about the Body or anything Spiritual! I’m looking forward to practicing with you.

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.

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.

Hannah Swiderski

I began my journey with The Branches as a Work Trade in the spring of 2016. At the time, I had never practiced yoga in a studio environment and was looking for a volunteer opportunity I could contribute my skills to and feel nourished participating in. As is often the case with The Branches, I found what I was looking for and so much more! 

I transitioned to Weekend Trade Manager when I began my Yoga Teacher Training in 2019. Though the global pandemic meant I postponed the completion of my training, I continued to take on more responsibility at the studio as we moved online. Now, as Studio Manager, I manage the Work Trade Program, make sure the physical space is neat and tidy (or I will, once renovations are complete!), and help with various other admin things behind the scenes. 

When I’m not in the studio or working from home, you might find me in and around downtown Kitchener, working in community support and social services, or singing on Sunday mornings or with a local ensemble. I also like to practice my focus face when I’m snuggled up with a crossword or book, usually with a coffee or tea nearby.

My pronouns are she/they.