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 15 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 with Beryl Bender Birch of The Hard and The Soft Yoga Institute, and has assisted Beryl at various workshops and trainings. 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 seventeen 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.

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Maria Amella, RYT-200

Although Maria had some awareness of yoga asana at an early age thanks to her mother's interest in the practice, it wasn't until college that she began to explore the practice for herself. She found that yoga helped her to cultivate a sense of balance and inner-stability which her type-A personality and overwound mind often made elusive. The yogic system continues to teach and challenge her in the areas of patience, discipline, and self-awareness. When faced with challenges on and off the mat, she finds peace and trust in remembering the words of K. Pattabhi Jois, "Practice and all is coming!" A scientific researcher by day, Maria is excited to see that the very real benefits of the yogic system and its sister science, Ayurveda, are becoming more widely recognized by the Western world and allopathic medical communities, encouraging many more people to explore what at one time may have seemed like an esoteric realm. By bringing focus to the breath to bridge the gap between the gross physical body and the subtler, higher aspects of our being, Maria hopes to encourage self-acceptance, physical strength and well-being, and a sincere awareness of the limitless possibilities that are offered to us in the present moment — with each breath, a new beginning.

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Tony Barca, RYT-200, CPT

Tony Barca is a Yoga Alliance registered and an Into This World YTT certified yoga teacher, with an extensive background in personal training and anotomy. These factors, coupled with his 40+ years as a musician provide the tools for a completely unique yoga experience. His dedication to "paying it forward", so that all may share in what he has learned makes his classes fun, informative and enlightening. His dedication to encouraging people and the realization that no one is perfect creates a safe and happy atmosphere for all who enter the class.

Tony's passion for music is felt everywhere in his classes, private sessions and corporate series workshops. Whether it's rockin', or soothing as a lullaby, music is an integral part of Tony's inspiration. A veteran guitar player, singer and songwriter, he uses 40+ years in music to create mood, energy and rhythm. Don't be surprised if he breaks out his guitar and serenades you during the class.

Tony seeks to create balance in his classes by blending his great respect for Yogic traditions and his passion for music with a physical challenge and a practical philosophical approach. Like a magician pulling a never-ending stream of tricks from his bag, Tony brings something new and creative to every class. He weaves music, themes and poses together for a fun and inspiring experience. His kindness, sincere honor & respect for his students, and entertaining sense of humor create a nurturing atmosphere in which sudents are encouraged to think, feel, laugh, work, play, smile and maybe even sing during their yoga practice.

Tony's certifications and affiliations include:

  • Into this World Yoga Teacher Certified (200 hour)
  • Yoga Alliance Registered Yoga Teacher (200 hour)
  • Trained in Prenatal Yoga
  • NESTA Certified Personal Trainer
  • Member of the Long Island Yoga Association

Visit Tony's website for more information about him: www.rockasana.com

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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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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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Amy Cidlowski

Amy is a Montauk native with a love for travel that has brought her all over the world. She completed her 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training with Yatra Yoga in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua and is registered with the Yoga Alliance. She recently began Chakra Therapy studies with Anodea Judith in NYC and is Reiki 1 certified through East End Reiki.

Her lighthearted and breath-focused vinyasa flow classes focus on the connection of mind, breath and body through asana, yogic philosophy, pranayama, and meditation. Amy believes that there is an important balance to one's yoga practice that includes having discipline yet remaining light, open and playful, and she aims to help students find that balance in her classes. Amy's goal is to share her love of yoga and to help empower her students to be their most authentic selves.

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Kristen Cochran

Kristen Cochran is a 200-hour graduate of The Hard & The Soft Yoga Institute teacher training at Mindful Turtle and a hoopdancer, living and loving on Long Island. She loves nature, rollerblading, hiking, photography and live music.

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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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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 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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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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Marissa McNaughton

Marissa emphasizes a rhythmic flow between breath and movement with a teaching style that is grounded yet playful. She is inspired by a love of dance, music, sports and a great appreciation for the beauty and rhythm of nature (especially the ocean!). After exploring circus arts for the last few years, she fell in love with aerial yoga, and the ability to transition from being grounded on the mat to flying in the air. She encourages students to explore their physical awareness, experiencing familiar yoga poses in a new way with the aerial hammock to strengthen and stabilize muscles, in a safe and supported environment.

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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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Alexis Miller

Originally from Buffalo, NY, Alexis moved to New York City where she pursued a career in Journalism/Television Hosting, and worked as a bartender on the side. Throughout the years she turned to yoga for centering, balance, healing and escape from the restless energy of the city. After 6 years in the city, she felt a shift that compelled her to visit a yoga center in Santa Teresa, Costa Rica. After catching one wave then taking a yoga class after surf, she realized that she needed to re-evaluate her lifestyle in New York. She moved to Costa Rica 3 weeks later.

After two months in Costa Rica deepening her yoga practice and learning to surf, she returned to Montauk, NY to spend the summer. She stumbled upon master teacher Lois Nesbitt's class in Montauk and immediately began studying with Lois completing her 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training in April 2012. She has been teaching ever since, and has just returned from teaching at Rise Up Surf Tours in Northern Nicaragua for the winter of 2014.

Alexis' classes focus on balance, strength and uniting the mind/body using the breath. Influenced by Anusara's Principles of Alignment, her love of surf, dance, and the inner child in all of us; she teaches a playful, mindful, well-rounded class, combining brightening asana with breath and leaving students feeling open and energized. She is forever a student, and thanks her many teachers from Montauk and the East End, Long Beach, NYC, Costa Rica and Nicaragua.

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Theresa Moje

Theresa's journey with Yoga began in 2000 with a gift certificate from her husband for a six week Yoga and Meditation session. It was during her first savasana that a shift occurred and she knew there was much more to this practice than relaxation. She then began her path with the teachings of Siddha Yoga, where she became a devote, following the spiritual practices of Gurumayi Chidvilasananda. Theresa stayed at the ashram in Shoughfallsburg, NY where she took Meditation Intensives and Yoga & Meditation workshops with John Friend and Bill Mahoney. It was through these practices that Theresa decided to become a Yoga and Meditation Instructor

Theresa has been practicing meditation for 9 years and teaching for 4 years. Her teachings and studies come from the Siddha Yoga Lineage and Kripalu Yoga & Health in Lenox, Massachusetts. Siddha Yoga meditation focuses on chanting a Mantra, and then bringing the vibration of the mantra within and meditating.

  • 2004 - Certified 200 hour Kripalu Teacher Training
  • 2004 - Kripalu Meditation Certification
  • 2006 - Karma Yoga Kids - Children's Yoga Certification
  • 2007 - Kripalu Yoga Nidra Certification

Theresa is also a Certified Reflexologist and Reiki Practitioner.

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Jessica Narus

To Jessica, Yoga is truly a way of living. She was first attracted to Yoga because of the beauty of Asanas (Yogic postures). However, as she continued her studies she began to realize the beauty of its eight limb path to self realization. She finds meditation often in movement rather than simple sitting, with activities such as hula hooping, fire dancing, drawing and making clothing and jewelry.

As an innate artist, her attention to the more subtle vibrations of the universe has always occurred naturally. She hopes to guide her students to develop this awareness in their own life, taking the practice of Yoga off the mat and into every aspect of their presence.

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Joy Sutera

Joy Sutera practiced and studied at the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health in Lenox, Massachusetts under the guidance of Megha-Nancy Buttenheim and Devarshi-Steven Hartman for her 200 hour yoga teacher certification. She has taught a variety of yoga classes in the NY area, including yoga for beginners, advanced practitioners, prenatal mamas, and kids. Joy attended SUNY Geneseo for her undergraduate studies and taught Hatha yoga at the wellness center for students. She has attended Anusara Yoga workshops led by John Friend, Desire Rumbaugh, and Jim Bernaert. Joy has also worked as a field guide for a wilderness therapy organization in Utah. She was able to teach nature-based yoga and the practice of compassionate self-awareness for clients. Joy is currently studying physical therapy at Stony Brook University, and is excited to combine her studies with yoga to help people heal their whole beings.

Joy intends to facilitate positive experiences for all yogis and yoginis during class, and hopes to help everyone feel truly present and connected with their inner selves, fellow beings, and our earth through yoga.

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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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Glenda Trujillo

Bio coming soon...

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