AVI Staff and Faculty
Inspired. Passionate. United by the Teachings of Viniyoga.
Clare Collins, R.N., Ph.D., F.AAN, E-RYT 500
is certified by the American Viniyoga Institute as a Yoga Teacher (2003) and Yoga Therapist (2005). She
has assisted at over 25 AVI professional training programs and has been the Training Coordinator of the Viniyoga Therapist Training Program since 2007.
Currently, Clare is a Yoga Therapist in East Lansing, Michigan, Professor Emeritus of Nursing at Michigan State University and member of the American
Academy of Nursing. She completed a Master's degree in Mental Health Nursing at Yale University, Ph.D. in Counseling at University of Michigan
and a five year post doctoral research fellowship in geriatric mental health at the National Institute of Mental Health. She is a former member of the
Board of Directors of the International Association of Yoga Therapists.
is the Training Coordinator for the AVI Viniyoga Foundations Program for Teaching and Yoga Therapy. She has been the Training Coordinator for 2 Viniyoga Teacher Trainings and is faculty for the Yoga Therapist Training. Dawn teaches in San Francisco and resides in nearby Pacifica, California. She was certified in Viniyoga in 1992 and was the first graduate of the AVI Yoga Therapist Training in 2001. She has a special love of making the wisdom of Patanjali more accessible through music and cartoons, and she also has a deep appreciation for the power of ritual and chanting. She is profoundly grateful for the skillful techniques of Viniyoga, which have allowed her to transform her body, mind, and heart so gracefully without injury.
is faculty for several AVI trainings, including the Viniyoga Teacher Training, Foundation for Yoga Therapy and the Viniyoga Foundations Program. He began practicing yoga in 1993. Juris graduated as a Certified Viniyoga™ Teacher from the American Viniyoga™ Institute in 1997. He then completed AVI's Yoga Therapist Training. three-year training course in the application of yoga as a therapeutic process for managing acute and chronic disease (Yoga Therapy). Juris has been a faculty assistant several AVI Teacher Training and Therapist Training programs and can be seen demonstrating yoga postures in Gary Kraftsow’s book, Yoga for Transformation. Juris currently teaches open group classes at Yoga Works, UC Irvine, 24 Hour Fitness, and Newport Workout. He also leads small private group retreats.
Mary Hallway OTR/L, CYT
received her advanced teacher certification from AVI in 2003 and certification as a Yoga Therapist in 2005. She conducts group and individual yoga therapy with individuals with a variety of health conditions and disabilities. She has been a staff assistant with the AVI Teacher Training and Therapist Training Program and has consulted with AVI on curriculum planning and development. Mary is a licensed occupational therapist and owner of a multidisciplinary pediatric private practice in Southern California. She teaches post graduate education courses for therapists nationally and internationally.
Emily Large, PT, CYT, RYT-500,
is certified by the American Viniyoga Institute as a Yoga Teacher (2002) and Yoga Therapist (2006). Emily received her Associate of Arts degree from the University of Florida in 1992, her Bachelor of Science degree in Physical Therapy from the University of Central Florida in 1994, and attended Emory University for graduate studies in Neuroscience and Movement Science. Emily has practiced physical therapy for 15 years, participated in physical therapy research and provided continuing education for health care professionals. She is the founder of Living Large Therapeutics which combines the science of physical therapy with the time-honored practice of yoga. Emily is a program assistant in AVI's Foundation for Yoga Therapy program.
is a guest faculty member of the AVI Viniyoga Therapist Training. Ellen is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) and a certified Yoga Therapist. As a result of her husband’s illness and death, and then her own experience with cancer, she now works with people whose lives are touched by cancer. As a Cancer Coach, she supports individuals and their loved ones on the cancer journey. As a yoga teacher and therapist in Montpelier, VT, she assists those with serious illness , injury and chronic disease to establish a sense of well-being. Ellen runs workshops and groups for patients and health care providers about healing and mind-body techniques such as imagery and meditation. Ellen is also on the Faculty of Center for Mind-Body Medicine and is a published author, her most recent work Not Just a Patient, How to Have a Life When You Have a Life-Threatening Illness and her healing CD are valuable tools for individuals to use as they become active in their own healing.
Kathy (K.O.) Ornish, BS, MFA, E-RYT 500, CYT,
is certified by the American Viniyoga Institute as a Yoga teacher (2006) and Yoga Therapist (2008). She is a certified Para Yoga teacher and has studied in the Iyenger and Himalayan Institute traditions. She received her B.S. in Biology/Chemistry from University of Texas and M.F.A. in Sculpture/Ceramics from San Diego State University. She was a Professor of Art from 1990 - 2000. K.O. has a Yoga Therapy practice and teaches group classes in East Lansing, Michigan. She is also faculty at the Himalayan Institute in Pennsylvania and a consultant at the Preventative Medicine Research Institute in California. K.O. was a faculty assistant for the 2009 FYT program.
first joined the AVI Viniyoga Teacher Training faculty in 2008 and is currently a faculty member for the AVI Viniyoga Foundations Program
for Teaching and Yoga Therapy at Yogaville, Virginia. She has completed AVI’s advanced Viniyoga Teacher Training (2002) and Therapist Training
(2005) programs. Since 2010, Kathy has been a teacher in the Viniyoga Stress Reduction Program at the Aetna corporate headquarters in Hartford, CT.
She maintains a Yoga Therapy practice at Westport Therapeutic, a group offering Physical Therapy, Chiropractic, Acupuncture, Psychotherapy, and
Massage Therapy as well as Yoga Therapy, and also offers group classes near her home in Westport CT. In addition, Kathy is a certified Ayurvedic Lifestyle
Educator and licensed massage therapist, and tutors bodywork students in anatomy and physiology. Kathy is the president of the American Viniyoga
Institute Foundation, Inc., a scholarship-granting organization.
first became aware of Viniyoga™ in 2003 and began her personal yoga journey with the American Viniyoga™ Institute (AVI) in 2005 with the Art of Personal Practice Retreat. She subsequently became certified by AVI as a yoga teacher in 2007 and as a Yoga Therapist in 2009. Nancy resides in the Chicago area where she works as a manager responsible for large-scale software development in the telecommunications industry. She also teaches yoga classes and leads a group of people interested in applying Viniyoga™ principles to their lives. Nancy's primary interests in yoga include helping people to develop a personal practice as well as application of the yoga sutras to daily corporate and personal life. Nancy credits Viniyoga™ for supporting her well-being and ability to take care of her family including her husband, two daughters and two grandsons.
Vijai Sharma, Ph.D, CYT
is an AVI certified Yoga Teacher and Yoga Therapist. He is a licensed clinical psychologist who specializes in mind-body medicine. Over two thousand visitors come to his website www.mindpub.com every day to refer to his 600 + self-help and self-care articles for insights into emotional stressors, positive mental attitudes and positive health behaviors and choices. Vijai has developed two exercise DVDs and companion workbooks, “Stretching and Breathing Exercises Adapted for People with Severe COPD,” and “Stretching and Breathing for COPD for All Levels of Fitness.”
Mary Hilliker, RD, E-RYT 500, CYT
is Teaching Coordinator for AVI's 200 Hour Viniyoga Wellness Instructor Training and faculty for Viniyoga Therapist Training. In the past she was Director of Administration for AVI and Training Coordinator for the 2011 Foundation for Yoga Therapy Training. She is a graduate of the University of WI-Madison with a B.S. in General Dietetics and holds certifications for a 200 hour yoga teacher training with Elizabeth Patric in 2002, the 500 hour AVI yoga teacher training in 2007 and the AVI Yoga Therapist Training in 2009. Mary had a 25+ year career in public health in nutrition and chronic disease prevention, most recently with the UW-Carbone Comprehensive Cancer Center, which informs her work with AVI and her teaching. Mary resides in Wausau, WI with her husband where she has a Yoga Therapy practice and teaches general, worksite, senior and therapeutic classes and workshops.
Margy Smariga, MA, CYT, RYT 500
came to yoga to find relief from back pain. She found the practice of yoga to be deeply nourishing and quickly became hooked. Wanting to deepen her practice and her understanding of yoga, she completed Bagheera Yoga/Pruyoga’s 200-hour teacher training in Washington, DC. She realized she was drawn to share her love of yoga with others, and began teaching in 2005. She graduated from AVI’s advanced teacher training in 2009 and its yoga therapist training in 2011. In 2013, she joined the faculty of the Viniyoga Foundations Program for Teaching and Yoga Therapy. Margy lives in Frederick, MD, where she has a yoga therapy practice and teaches group classes.
Dona Robinson, E-RYT 500, CYT,
is Student Advisor for the American Viniyoga Institute. Dona has a B.S. in Management Information Systems from the University of Illinois. She was Director of News for American Quotation Systems and Financial Officer for Water Island. She has discovered additional joy as a yoga teacher (10 years) and yoga therapist (3 years). You can contact Dona at email@example.com.
Stephanie Harding, RYT-500,
is AVI's Technology Coordinator. She worked in Information Technology for many years before becoming a yoga teacher in 2006. Stephanie currently teaches at several locations in central and northern Westchester County, NY. She also serves as secretary for the American Viniyoga Institute Foundation.
Beth Whitney-Teeple, RYT 200, RYT 500, CYT
is the Database Manager and Professional Training Support for AVI. She holds a PhD in Health Policy and Bioethics and an MHSA in Health Services and Medical Informatics from the George Washington University in Washington DC. She served 26 years in the USAF and USAFR and has operated an independent consulting business specializing in information systems and policy development since 1996. Before much of this she spent years working in wild animal medicine raising lions, tigers, and bears, oh my! She, her husband, and their dog live in Steilacoom, WA. Beth has been a yoga practitioner for over 4 decades.
Donna McCloskey, RYT-500, CYT,
serves as AVI’s Director of Administration and Event Coordinator. She schedules conferences, workshops, trainings, and private consultations for Gary Kraftsow and the American Viniyoga Institute. Donna is currently a faculty assistant at the Foundations for Yoga Therapy training at MMC. Her study of personal transformation began in 2001 and she went on to receive her AVI 500-hr Viniyoga Teaching Certification in 2006 and AVI Yoga Therapist Certification in 2008. Donna’s background includes 25 years as assistant to the Vice-President of Environmental Planning at URS Corporation and 10 years of administrative support for Texas health agencies.
is the Creative/Marketing Director for AVI. She has been practicing various styles of yoga since 1999, teaching yoga since 2002 and took her first "Cikitsa" workshop with Gary in 2003. The Viniyoga teachings immediately impacted the way she taught yoga but her teaching was put on hold for a number of years following an injury. The teachings simmered while life happened and it wasn't until 2008 that she decided to return to this path and take the AVI teacher training. She is a graduate of AVI's 500 hour teacher training, a soon-to-be certified AVI Yoga Therapist, as well as a registered massage therapist. She currently teaches private/semi-private classes in Austin, TX.
is Planning Consultant for the American Viniyoga Institute. He draws on his experience as the International Center of Photography's CFO since 1982 and its Deputy Director for Administration since 1992, Steve helped lead ICP through its founding and growth. While Steve was a yoga and tai chi practitioner as a college student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the early 70's and during his early working years, he fell away from practice until a health crisis brought him back to yoga in 2001 when he began weekly private lessons with Charles Matkin. Steve then went on to study with Zack Kurland, Leslie Kaminoff, and Katherine Bridges. In 2005, he was the first graduate of The Breathing Project's Advanced Studies Program. He has participated in numerous workshops led by T.K.V. Desikachar, Kausthub Desikachar, Menakar Desikachar, and Mark Whitwell. In 2006, Steve enrolled in the American Viniyoga Institute's Yoga Teacher and Therapist Training programs. He received his 500 hour teacher certification from AVI in 2007 and is currently completing AVI’s Yoga Therapist training. Steve frequently assists Gary Kraftsow at workshops and conferences and teaches at The Breathing Project in New York City. He lives in Manhattan with his wife, Andrea.