lennessaAbout Director Lennessa  Shantaya

Lennessa Shantaya serves as the director of The Yoga School in Ithaca, NY, and its resident teacher training program, the Kaivalya Yoga Academy, registered at the 200-hour level through Yoga Alliance.  A dedicated mother of three, Lennessa has been a student and teacher of the practice and philosophy of yoga for many years.

“I felt relaxed and at peace with the world, and that for me is the test of being at home, in the simple way that a child feels at home.”
— Agehananda Bharati

Originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, Lennessa first became interested in yoga as a result of her meditation practice.  Her earliest trainings under master teacher Indubala Bhardwaj led her to complete professional yoga certification at the age of 20.  Lennessa’s credentials include a 200-hour Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga training program and 16-hour Sanskrit course under Indu’s direction; a 35-hour certification training with Doug Swenson; training with Yogic Arts founder Duncan Wong; and extensive studies with Larry Schulz, the late director of the “It’s Yoga” Ashtanga system.

Lennessa presents a dynamic blend of these teachings while imparting insights from her life experiences. Her journey has spanned multiple U.S. regions and multiple pregnancies, thus she is equally as passionate about pregnancy and natural birth as she is about yoga. Lennessa is a trained and experienced childbirth doula through the Association of Labor Assistants and Childbirth Educators. She considers her classes in Prenatal Yoga and Baby and Me Yoga to be among her specialties.

On a personal note, Lennessa shares deep appreciation for not only Raja Yoga, but also other lineages that uphold tradition and nature, such as wildcrafting and native spiritualism.  Her practices of personal divination, ritual, and contemplation lead her to a lifestyle of communion with Mother Earth and her inhabitants.

Through it all, Lennessa has learned that yoga has something potent to offer everyone. Her wish is to share her passion for yoga by encouraging others to love their true selves by “living yoga,” as she aspires to do herself every day. Her intent is focused on developing The Yoga School to what she envisions it to be: a vehicle for transforming lives in the way that only true love, true community, and true yoga can.

mikeyphotoMikey Shantaya

Mikey Shantaya has practiced a lifetime of serving Creation through self-refinement and devotion to others. His connection to divinity has been fostered through contemplative practices with people and plants through landscaping, farming, meditation, and yoga from coast to coast. In 2011, Mikey received certification in Ashtanga-inspired vinyasa yoga from the Kaivalya Yoga Academy in Ithaca, NY. His current occupations include hatha yoga instruction at The Yoga School and parenting his highest teachers.


Shenandoahhike2011Munna Rubaii,

Hi, I’m Munna. After decades in the martial arts, I found Ashtanga Yoga. The similarities are striking, as are the differences. While my yoga practice can have the physical intensity and discipline of the martial arts, it also brings a playful, gentle kindness that feels very welcome at this point in my life. I’m drawn to both the strength and flexibility of asana (posture); the vigor and self-awareness of pranayama (life-force or breath work); the discipline and peaceful grace of meditation.

I’m relatively new to teaching yoga, having taken an Ashtanga Teacher Training course with Lennessa Shantaya in 2011, but I’ve been a teacher throughout my life: of karate, of skiing to blind or amputee athletes, of first aid and cpr, and as a staff trainer for a large NY State agency.

Yoga reminds me of who I want to be and how I want to act in the world.

jessicaleonardJessica Leonard

The first time Jessica found herself amazed by the practice of yoga was when she quickly developed body awareness far deeper than she had managed to gain in her years practicing gymnastics and martial arts. She recognized a deep intelligence underlying the practice, and wishing to explore beyond the physical, she made her way to the library to learn more. There she found that the postures she had been learning were but the tip of the iceberg. Searching for a more complete study of yoga brought her to Kaivalya Yoga Academy.

In her role as teacher, Jessica’s greatest passion lies in finding curious students with whom she can share what she has been learning about yoga, including philosophy, anatomy, history, and much more. Her own studies are continuously unfolding as she explores the texts upon which the practice is founded, as well as working to learn Sanskrit so that she can read the originals for herself.

Jessica’s dream is to let the practice of yoga weave through all aspects of her life, and to be of service to anyone who wishes to do the same…

782756.audraAudra Bartlett

Audra was originally trained in traditional hot yoga with Sun Edwards in 2013. She has since became passionate about the needs of pre and post natal women through her experience with pregnancy and transitioning in to motherhood with her son Sebastian. After training with Lennessa at The Yoga School, she strives to hold a safe and peaceful space for mothers throughout all stages of pregnancy and postpartum. She hopes to guide women in moving with their bodies compassionately and deepening their bond with their growing baby and changing body.

Emily Healy

Emily hopes to help students discover their innate strength, grace, power, and humility through the practice of yoga.  The privilege of guiding others in this journey is a constant source of inspiration and humility in her own practice.  Emily also teaches modern dance and is certified in Thai massage.  Her classes incorporate influences from both of these disciplines and are based deeply on breath and somatic body awareness.  She strives to create space for students to reflect, release, and renew through breath and movement.