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AVI Staff and Faculty

Inspired. Passionate. United by the Teachings of Viniyoga.


  • Nancy Chapdelaine, MS, RYT 500, E-RYT 200, CYT is coordinator for the American Viniyoga™ Institute (AVI) VFP East Coast Training as well as coordinator for VFP curriculum. She is also coordinator for AVI’s Heart-Mind Program. Nancy began her yoga journey with AVI in 2005, becoming certified by AVI as a Yoga Teacher in 2007 and as a Yoga Therapist in 2009. She is a Yoga Alliance registered Yoga Teacher and a member of the International Association of Yoga Therapists (IAYT). She holds BS (Computer Science) and MS (Electrical Engineering) degrees from the University of Washington and Carnegie-Mellon University, respectively. Nancy lives in the western suburbs of Chicago where she works as a manager for a global telecommunications company and teaches yoga classes and workshops. She could not manage her busy life without Viniyoga.
  • 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.
  • Kathy Jamison first joined the AVI Viniyoga Teacher Training faculty in 2008 and is currently the VFP West Coast Coordinator and faculty 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.
  • Juris Zinbergs 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. 
  • 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) and is currently faculty in the East Coast AVI Viniyoga Foundations Program for Teaching and Yoga Therapy. She is also faculty at the Himalayan Institute in Pennsylvania and a consultant at the Preventive Medicine Research Institute in California. She received her B.S. in Biology/Chemistry and M.F.A. in Sculpture/Ceramics, and was a Professor of Art from 1990 - 2000. K.O. has a Yoga Therapy practice and teaches group classes in East Lansing, Michigan where her main focus is on teaching the breadth of the yoga tradition and helping people find better health and happiness through the many tools of yoga. She also offers yoga practice videos on the Yoga International website.
  • Dawn Summers is Faculty for the AVI Viniyoga Foundations Program (VFP) for Teaching and Yoga Therapy. She has been the Training Coordinator for multiple VFP and Viniyoga Teacher Trainings and was formerly 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.
  • Kenneth Tom, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, RYT 500, is an AVI certified Yoga Teacher and Yoga Therapist and is faculty for Viniyoga Therapist Training. He is a licensed speech-language pathologist specializing in the treatment of voice disorders and is currently Associate Professor of Communicative Disorders in the Department of Human Communication Studies at the California State University, Fullerton. Kenneth completed a Master’s degree in speech-language pathology at San Diego State University and a Ph.D. in Speech and Hearing Sciences from the University of Iowa focusing on voice acoustics and biomechanics. His teaching and research focus on voice acoustics and physiology, voice disorders, and care of the professional voice. He integrates the tools of yoga, myofascial release, acupressure and techniques adapted from theatre/singing voice into his work in voice care/rehabilitation.
  • 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.
  • Paul Entwistle, LMT, CYT,  serves as faculty for the Viniyoga Foundation Programs on the East Coast, as well as fulfilling a variety of technological rolls for AVI. Paul began studying with Gary in 1998 and completed both the teacher and therapist training programs. He has assisted Gary at a number of teacher training programs for more than a decade. Paul is a licensed massage therapist and a graduate of Feldenkrais® Professional training program. He has studied Oriental bodywork modalities for more than 20 years. In a previous life, he worked as a mechanical/electrical engineer. Paul was introduced to yoga by his mother when he was a teenager and has practiced consistently for over 25 years. Now, Paul keeps a large garden, raises a small family, and practices yoga therapy and bodywork in rural Tennessee.
  • Aggie Stewart, MA, CYT, RYT-500 is certified through the American Viniyoga Institute as a yoga teacher at the 500-hour level (2009) and a yoga therapist (2011). She initially turned to yoga to find relief from the stresses of her publishing career and found so much more. She began studying with Gary in 2007 and has assisted him at numerous programs, including the Viniyoga Foundations Program for Teaching and Yoga Therapy at Yogaville in Virginia. Aggie joins the faculty for the Foundations Program as part of the west coast team at Mount Madonna Center in 2014.
  • 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 is visiting faculty for the AVI Yoga 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.  
  • Ellen Fein is a guest faculty member of the AVI Viniyoga Therapist Training.  She is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) and a certified Yoga Therapist.  As a result of her personal experience with cancer, Ellen now works with people whose lives are touched by this disease.  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.  She runs workshops and groups for patients and health care providers and is a published author:  Not Just a Patient, How to Have a Life When You Have a Life-Threatening Illness.
  • Emily Large, PT, CYT, RYT-500, is visiting faculty for AVI's Yoga Therapy training program.  She 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.
  • Vijai Sharma, Ph.D, CYT is visiting faculty for the AVI Yoga Therapy training program and 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.”
  • Staff

  • Dona Robinson, E-RYT 500, CYT, is Student Advisor for the American Viniyoga Institute and answers hundreds of daily questions from potential teacher and therapist trainees.  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 and Yoga Therapist .  You can contact Dona at studentadvisor@viniyoga.com.
  • Donna McCloskey, RYT-500, CYT, serves as AVI’s Director of Administration, Event Coordinator, and Administrative Coordinator for the West Coast VFP.  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.
  • Stephanie Harding, RYT-500, CYT, is AVI's Registrar and Store Manager. She handles email and phone inquiries, and is involved with various technological tasks. She holds a BS in mathematics and an MS in Computer Science and worked in Information Technology for many years before completing a Viniyoga teacher certification in 2006 and a Viniyoga therapist certification in 2013. Stephanie currently has a Viniyoga therapy practice and offers general Viniyoga classes as well as specialized classes in chair yoga, back pain, stress reduction, and sleep in central and northern Westchester County, NY. She serves as AVI Administrative Coordinator for the Viniyoga Stress Reduction program at Aetna Insurance Company,and is one of the teachers in the program. Stephanie assists Gary at workshops in the Northeast and also serves as secretary for the American Viniyoga Institute Foundation.
  • Robin Gage Lilly, M.Ed., RYT-500, helps AVI with marketing, content, student communications and training support. She was first introduced to yoga by her grandmother, watching Lilias on television. She later continued to practice many styles of yoga but had an "aha" moment while attending one of Gary’s workshops during her 200-hour training. She completed the AVI 500-hour teacher training and operates Lilly Wellness, offering Reiki and working with clients and small groups to develop a personalized yoga practice that suits individual needs and schedules. She has run her own media business, RGL Media, and taught language for over 20 years. She lives in Charlottesville, Virginia.
  • Julie Shaw, RYT-500, CYT, is the Continuing Education Faculty Assistant/Administrative Coordinator. She also provides administrative support for the Viniyoga Therapist Training. She holds a Master’s Degree in Adult and Continuing Education from Rutgers University. Over 28 years ago, Julie’s long commute to her job as a corporate trainer resulted in back pain, so she looked up “yoga” in the yellow pages. Many years and a few teacher trainings later, she found herself in a Viniyoga workshop with Gary, and her search for clear direction in the world of yoga practice and teaching ended at AVI’s doorstep. Julie is a graduate of FYT 2009 and YT 2012. In addition to teaching public yoga classes, she is a Stress Management Specialist in the Dean Ornish Program for Reversing Heart Disease. Julie lives in central New Jersey.
  • Whitney Davis, RYT 500, has a B.S. in Business Management with a background in Trust Investments and Administration. She discovered the gifts of yoga in 2008 from a local AVI yoga teacher and enrolled in the Viniyoga Foundations Program for Teaching and Yoga Therapy 2009 and Viniyoga Therapy Program in 2012. Her passion for the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali led her to edit Gary Kraftsow’s audio commentary on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali Chapters One and Two.  Whitney was the VFP East Administrative Coordinator and currently works on special projects and assignments.  She teaches the Viniyoga Stress Reduction Program at Aetna in High Point, North Carolina as well as group and private yoga lessons in her hometown of Rocky Mount, North Carolina.
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