Our Teachers

Danielle Goldstein, MS, NCC, E-RYT-500
Director of Mindful Turtle Yoga & Wellness

Danielle is the founder and owner of Mindful Turtle Yoga & Wellness. She has had a dedicated yoga practice for over sixteen years and has studied many traditions of classical yoga, particularly the Ashtanga Yoga Method, developing a respect and appreciation for yoga and its life changing possibilities. Her classes are motivating, inspiring and compassionate.

Her training includes both a 200 and 500 hour yoga teacher training from the Yoga Teacher Training Institute under the guidance of Ma Mokshapriya Shakti and Marianne Mitsinikos. She has an additional 500 hour certification in Classical Ashtanga Yoga with Beryl Bender Birch of The Hard & The Soft Yoga Institute. In addition to being a faculty member of Beryl's teacher training, she has assisted Beryl at various workshops and trainings around the country. She is forever a student and continues her study of Ashtanga Yoga locally with senior Ashtanga teacher Christine Hoar. Danielle is a compassionate teacher who teaches in a way that helps the Ashtanga Yoga Asana practice become fun and accessible to all.

Danielle is also a parent and child counselor with over twenty-one years of experience in the fields of education and counseling. She holds a Master's Degree in Counseling and is a Nationally Certified Counselor. She also serves of the board of The Morgan Center, a preschool for children undergoing chemotherapy.

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Diane Ferraro
Director of Mindful Turtle Montauk

Diane's parents moved her to Montauk kicking and screaming at the age of two (as that's what babies do at that age). Entrepreneurs in their own right, they were the proprietors of the Merry Mermaid Motel (locals might remember the place!), adjacent to what is now known as "Mermaid Beach." Getting schooled up-Island, alumni-ing at SUNY Plattsburgh, stinting in London and living for the better part of her life in Brooklyn, Diane's consultancy Urban Siren (get it?) helps businesses grow both on- and off-line.

A student of yoga since 1995 and attending Beryl Bender Birch's 2008 yoga teacher training polished Diane's connection to the practice. Diane writes for Elephant Journal and Yoganonymous about yoga and for Clean Plates about food. Through Urban Siren, LLC she is honored to serve clients including The Give Back Yoga Foundation, Caribbean Yoga Conference, Recovery 2.0 and many more bringing yoga and wellness to the masses in a mindful way. Proud to serve Montauk as her family's second tier entrepreneur and "all growed up" as Director of Mindful Turtle Montauk, and bringing a practice so close to her heart to a place so close to her heart brings tears to her eyes even as she types this. Hello Montauk! I'll always meet you here.

Click here to see Diane's classes »

Laura Berland

As an antidote to the chaos of an "always-on" digital life, Laura found peace in a daily yoga practice in 1999. By 2003, she was sharing the teachings of this remarkable methodology, and now continues to be a devoted student, yoga activist, and teacher in NYC and the Hamptons. Laura is a 500 Hour graduate of Beryl Bender Birch's Hard and Soft Yoga Institute, and a 300 Hour graduate of Yoga Shanti's Teacher Training with Rodney Yee and Colleen Saidman. In addition, she has studied with Sri K. Pattabhi Jois and Sharath Jois during their annual visits to the US.

Laura's classes let you put the world on pause and find your inner strength and bliss, regardless of your level or experience. Come enjoy a flow of Ashtanga based vinyasa, attention to safe alignment, and the joy of creating space for the breath to move throughout the body. Mindful Turtle is a proud sponsor of the Yoga Service Council. Laura recently attended the second annual conference, and you can read her round-up of the event on Elephant Journal.

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Lizzy Breitkopf

Bio coming soon...

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Debbie Charych, RYT-200

When Debbie retired from the Three Village Central School District as an elementary school teacher, she became more consistent in her yoga practice after what she calls "dabbling" for many years. During this time she found wonderful teachers in Sara Intonato and Lori Gentzlinger. She loved their energetic practices and hands on adjustments. Debbie discovered that the careful attention each of these teachers paid to alignment and focus on the breath made all the difference in her practice. In August, 2010 Debbie received her 200 hour RYT certificate from Yoga as Medicine with Lori Gentzlinger.

"Lori told me that the teacher training would change my life. I don't think that she or I anticipated how much. Practicing yoga has enriched my life in more ways that I could have imagined, both on and off my yoga mat!"

In the last 3-1/2 years Debbie has studied and taken workshops with Sara Intonato, Lori Gentzlinger, Seane Corn, David Swenson, Cindy Lee, Beryl Bender Birch, Amy Ippolini and Elena Brower and Karen O'Donnell Clark, Colleen Saidman and Rodney Yee. Debbie loves coming back from these workshops and sharing what she's learned with her students.

"The day I received my 200 hour RYT felt like the most amazing accomplishment to me, but the journey has just begun!"

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Kristen Cochran

Kristen is a 200-hour graduate of The Hard & The Soft Yoga Institute Teacher Training at Mindful Turtle and working towards her 500-hour certification under the same.

As in the zen saying, "Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water... after enlightenment, chop wood, carry water" - so too is our practice. Come join me wherever you are in your practice so we can stoke that inner fire and go to the deep well of joy within our hearts. You will be encouraged to explore, discover, and look for the light deep inside your heart so you can let peace flow into all aspects of your life.

In addition to teaching and practicing yoga, Kristen loves music, writing, nature, and hoopdancing.

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Cody Drasser

With an emphasis on pranayama and raising energy, Cody Drasser's teaching style could be referred to as an intensive study in energy ecology. A professional yoga therapist, Cody has completed 500+ training hours with his teacher, Yoganand Michael Carroll, in the Pranakriya Yoga tradition. Cody taught asana and meditation workshops for over three years at the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health in Massachusetts before moving to Austin, Texas to teach at several yoga studios. He recently moved back to Long Island with is wife and parrot.

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Amy Ellis

Bio coming soon...

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Valerie Fontana, E-RYT-200

Valerie's background as a certified medical assistant led her down the path to studying the healing properties of Yoga. With a strong foundation of anatomy and a respect for the human body, her classes span all ages from teens to seniors, with a focus on healing.

Certified at the Kripalu Institue 200 hour and working toward her 500 hour, Valerie is also certified in Yoga Nidra (meditation and relaxation) and holds sessions regularly. She is also certified in Children's Yoga and is a member of KYTA and LIYA.

Valerie has studied with such masters as:

  • Tias Little - The Chakras
  • Gary Krafsto - Yoga for Wellness
  • Todd Norian - Flying, Balancing and Inversions
  • Seane Corn - Vinyasa Flow Teacher Training, Detox Flow: Purification of Body, Mind and Spirit
  • Shiva Rea - Foundational Vinyasa Flow Teacher Training
  • Amrit Desai (Kripalu Institute and Amrit Yoga founder) - Yoga Nidra workshops

With the support of her family and friends, who continue to inspire her, Valerie brings to her classes a passion and commitment for the healing and well-being of her students.

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Lisa DeVine

Lisa began practicing yoga 2009, when she was laid off from her job as Marketing Manager with The Hearst Corporation. Her yoga practice was sporadic at best. With time on her hands, she began to practice yoga every day and immediately saw how yoga can transform your mind, body and soul. Within weeks her lower back pain disappeared and she began to notice how her body was becoming stronger and more flexible.

Lisa's teaching style focuses on self-expression and flow. Her classes focus on instilling feelings of empowerment and fostering the belief that yoga can enhance each student's life. Lisa invites students to come to class with an open mind and heart, experience the journey of yoga, and find peace on and off the mat.

Lisa received her 200-hour Yoga Alliance Teacher Certification from The Yoga Darshana Center in West Babylon, NY and is currently working towards her 500-hour certification at Mindful Turtle, through The Hard & The Soft Yoga Institute. You can follow Lisa at www.LisaDevineYoga.com. She lives on Long Island, NY.

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Megan Harrison

Bio coming soon...

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Lisa Iacono, The Peaceful Warrior

To enhance her martial arts practice, Lisa began her yogic journey ten years ago with an Iyengar teacher who studied under Jeff Logan. Over the past 15 years, she has achieved black belts in Tae Kwon Do and Jujitsu.

Lisa is a registerd yoga teacher with Yoga Alliance. After her first teacher training with Shiva Rea, Lisa was hooked on Vinyasa, and she developed her Shakti Yoga from this experience. Some of her favorite teaches are Shiva Rea, Duncan Wong, Baron Baptiste and John Friend. Blending science, spirit, philosophy and art into one, the path of the peaceful warrior transforms and energizes body, mind and spirit.

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Julia Kaufman

Bio coming soon...

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Jimmy Lennon, RYT-200

Jimmy Lennon came to Yoga several years ago from an extensive background in the martial arts. He is a dedicated Ashtanga and Power Vinyasa practitioner. Jim has studied extensively with Doug and David Swenson, Baron Baptiste and Manju Jois.

In 2007, Jim traveled to Mysore India to study with Sri K.Patthabi Jois and Sharath. Jimmy has taken Doug Swenson's teacher training and is an Associate Baptiste Power Vinyasa Instructor, having successfully completed Level 1 and Level 2 Teacher Training with Baron Baptiste. Most recently Jim has studied with Beryl Bender Birch in Costa Rica and at the Mindful Turtle. Locally, Jim trains with Christopher Hildebrand in New York City.

Jimmy's classes are based on teachings and lessons learned from all of his teachers presented in a dynamic flow with an undercurrent of traditional ancient Yoga.

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Lisa Meléndez, RYT-500

Lisa began practicing yoga regularly about ten years ago as a means for dealing with asthma. After experiencing yoga's many benefits, she deepened her studies with the Healing Yoga Foundation's 500-hour teacher training program. Continuing to study and practice in the tradition of Krishnamacharya, Lisa takes Vedic chanting classes with her teacher and mentor Danielle Tarantola, and in 2012 completed the Healing Yoga Foundation's Cancer Support Program. Committed to sharing yoga's tools for developing awareness and a calm mind, Lisa also offers workshops on stress management at the local college where she is a librarian as well as in local libraries in both English and Spanish. Krishnamacharya's words that "Breath is central to Yoga because it is central to Life, and Yoga is about Life," sums up Lisa's approach to teaching yoga and other contemplative practices.

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Jaysun Melia, MS, RYT-200

Jaysun has been practicing yoga for about 8 years and first found his love for it while traveling for a living. Constantly living out of a suitcase and being in foreign cities he was searching for a way to incorporate exercise, relaxation and stress relief into a demanding schedule. He began his yoga practice by watching DVDs in hotel rooms and visiting new studios whenever possible. He believes that yoga finds the person (not the person finds yoga) and when an individual is ready they will be drawn to the mat. Jaysun received his 200 hour Yoga Alliance Certification in June of 2009 from an Ashtanga based studio here on Long Island. He had the pleasure of training under Misty Curreli.

Jaysun has a Master's Degree in School Counseling and is working on finishing up his course work and internship hours to become a Licensed Mental Health Counselor. Jaysun is also a Certified Professional Stunt Performer.

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Danielle Tarantola, E-RYT-500

Danielle Tarantola, director of The Yoga Foundation, is a teacher certified by the Krishnamacharya Healing and Yoga Foundation. She also trains teachers and offers Yoga Therapy. Through continued, extensive training in India and across the United States with the Desikachar family, she labors to ensure that yoga's profound wisdom comes through clearly, simply, and with total relevancy for our modern times and conditions.

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Chris Urban

Chris is a 200-hour graduate of The Hard & The Soft Yoga Institute teacher training at Mindful Turtle Yoga & Wellness and is currently pursuing his 500-hour certification. He is an avid practitioner of the Ashtanga Yoga Method and cultivates a daily asana practice. Chris is also an undergraduate student at Stony Brook University studying Psychology and Mathematics.

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