Our Teachers


Teaching yoga has been a practice and a privilege for Jennifer for over a decade. She has been a student for twice that long. A life long commitment and appreciation to the study and teaching of  Yoga has been a gift, allowing her to feel more at ease, alive and connected with others.

Jennifer first tried Yoga as a way to mix up her regular exercise, but found that what she was returning for was the sense of clarity and peace she felt in the aftermath of a class.

“I remember there would be times in those early days, when resting in Savasana, that I would just cry and cry, not even knowing what for or from where it was  all coming, but experiencing so much relief afterwards. It was virtually the only place I could feel truly present and at peace, and it ultimately made me fall in love with the practice.”

Her classes draw from different styles and influences but will always include flow, strength, opportunities to be gentle, invitations to be present and a healthy dose of humor and lightheartedness! Jennifer is  most grateful to the students who come to Shanti and roll out their mats in her classes, as they provide her with the opportunity to do the thing that has enriched her life so beautifully—to teach, to relate, and to  connect to others in a real and honest way.

Jennifer is also grateful to her primary teacher, Rolf Gates for his early guidance
and continued influence.

Jennifer is a devoted mother to her son Tanner, and wife to her husband Alan, and feels blessed to be able to wake up to the incredible journey of life with these two beautiful beings, day after day.


Neil, 200 RYT, is an experienced yoga teacher, musician and a life long committed student of both disciplines.  He is fascinated by the potential we uncover through intentional placement, steady breathing and the development of awareness. He emphasizes these tools in his teaching to help students empower themselves to heal and live well both on and off the mat.  
Being a musician most of his life, Neil found Yoga the way many people do; looking for some exercise.  By the end of his first practice he not only felt better phyiscally but also experienced a deep feeling of peace.  This pleasant suprise was the beginning of his journey with Yoga.   
Neil has trained extensively with Master Baptiste teachers Gregor Singleton, Claire Este-McDonald, and Coeli Marsh and has also had the opportunity to be mentored closely by Masaaki Okamura.  Neil has also served as a classroom assistant to his teacher Natasha Rizopolous, and has deepened his understanding of the craft through his apprenticing with Chiropractor and Yogi Dr. Tom Alden.  Neil is an active member of the Boston chapter of the Teacher’s Study Project and in his steady commitment to teaching has completed additional trainings with David Nichtern (meditation), Theresa Murphy (yoga and anatomy), and Johnny Gillespie (Balanced Athlete). Today Neil continues to mentor closely with Tom. 
Off the mat he enjoys being outside, seeking creative expression through music, and quiet time with family.

Neil Taylor, LMT, EYT-500, MMT is a Yoga Teacher, Licensed Massage Therapist and Meditation Teacher. His classes blend the Western science of bio-mechanics with the Eastern Wisdom of the Yoga tradition to share a practice that is both grounded in the roots of Yoga and still relatable to the modern Western mind. He draws on his knowledge of the body to help students understand the nuances of the postures and uses his experience in meditation to help illuminate the nuances of training the mind. Neil's classes aim to bring about ease, clarity, stability & resilience to the body and mind.

LEANNE Belmore

Leanne grew up with a passion for movement. From a young age, she played almost every sport offered, with a particular focus on dance and gymnastics. After deciding that the competition of the sport was too demanding, Leanne began seeing a personal trainer along side her mother. The trainer they saw always finished sessions with a short yoga flow, so beginning Leanne’s love affair with yoga.

From early middle school through high school Leanne became increasingly more dedicated to her practice, eventually enrolling in a yoga teacher training led by Jennifer Houghtaling and Alex Amorosi. Teacher training confirmed her passion for teaching yoga. She hit the ground running following training, teaching multiple classes a week beginning her sophomore year of college; taking on teaching as a full-time career immediately after graduating.

Leanne loves an intricate yoga flow with plenty of strong arm balances and inversions; matched by bendy backbends and forward folds. She describes her style as dynamic flow with a hearty portion of healing restoration and focus on self-care and compassion.


Esther has been guiding students in yoga for ten years, and has been astudent of the practice for over 20. She was first introduced to hatha yoga but found her way to heated vinyasa after the birth of her three children. Feeling isolated at home, a neighbor reached out and asked her to attend a heated class at a local studio. The combination of physical movement connected to breath and the heat of the class made her feel invigorated and alive.

She knew she had found a lifelong practice. At the suggestion of friends and yoga teachers, Esther took her 200 hour yoga teacher training in 2011 and is currently completing her 300hr advanced yoga teacher training at Shanti Yoga in Hopkinton. Her teaching is grounded and focused on allowing the student to explore the practice at their own pace and experience level.

In the warm summer months, you can find Esther teaching SUP(stand up paddle board) yoga classes as well. This new expression of the practice combined with the peace of the outdoors and the calming effect of being on water has been a wonderful and exciting journey for her and her students. Esther draws inspiration for her classes from local teachers such as Jennifer Houghtaling and Kevin Gale, as well as more well-known teachers Rolf Gates and Sean Corne.

Colleen Cecchi

Colleen’s teaching is rooted in the power of a movement practice to
rehabilitate the body, mind, and spirit, and the potential of the ethical
teachings of yoga to be a gateway for the quest for meaning and connection.
Striving for the time you set aside for your yoga practice to
simultaneously soften and fortify, her classes encourage observation, and
provide opportunities to step into, or out of, challenge. With over fifteen
years of experience teaching movement to students ages two to ninety two,
Colleen’s instruction leads with the heart and encourages a yoga practice
to be just that...a practice.

Influenced by her studies in Dance and Health and Wellness Education, many
years coaching competitive and recreational gymnastics and teaching dance,
dancing and choreographing professionally, and as a student of yoga herself
for over a decade, Colleen’s classes welcome everyone through the offering
of modifications and the opportunity for students to find autonomy in their

Colleen has studied movement at the American Dance Festival, the Trinity
Laban Conservatoire, Ursinus College, and at various festivals and programs
across the United States. She completed her yoga teacher training with
Boston Yoga School under the guidance of Amy Wren and Susannah van der

Linda Fitzgerald

A group fitness instructor/personal trainer/cycling teacher for over 20 years who dabbled periodically in yoga, Linda formed a steady relationship with the practice of yoga in 2010. She found it gave a much-needed balance to all of the fitness classes she was teaching. Linda began her teaching journey in 2012 with Yoga Fit, completing their Level 1 and 2

Desiring to go even further, Linda next completed her 200 hour teacher training at a local power yoga studio the following year. Inspired by this style of yoga, the next stop on her journey was the completion of Baptiste Yoga Level One training with Baron Baptiste, in 2016.

Most recently she achieved her 500 hours under the guidance of her friend, mentor and teacher Jennifer Houghtaling, at Shanti Yoga in Hopkinton. This training brought her teaching journey full circle, yet she steadfastly continues to be a student first and always, inspired by her mentor and teacherJennifer, as well as her fellow teachers everywhere.

In addition to the above, Linda has also attended workshops on hands on
assisting, the chakras, as well as a Yin Yoga certification. Her style of
teaching tends to be creative, powerful, yet has a balance of both strength
and ease. Linda seeks toalways challenge her students to explore their
edges yet still embrace space.She loves her family, teaching cycling (yes
for 25+ years and still going strong!), sewing, her road bike and her two
adorable cats.

Jennifer russo

Jen's classes are rooted in alignment and strength but also flow beautifully and resonate with the deeper yoga/life teachings. As a lifelong competitive athlete, yoga became a permanent part of her life soon after becoming a mom. Yoga gave Jen permission to slow down while still stimulating her need to move through strength. Through practice she found more functional strength and mobility, as well as a more focused, compassionate balance to her competitive fire. Originally drawn to the physical benefits of yoga, it eventually led her to a path of greater inner perspective. The ability to focus movement and stillness around the quality of the breath has been a gift. Yoga also became a place she could find both solitude and connection to others around her. 

After nine years of devoted practice, Jen enrolled in her first Yoga Teacher Training with Shanti Yoga and has been teaching since with the intention of guiding students through the experience of being human. If there is one thing she’d like students to take away from her classes, it’s a sense of coming home to their very own, unique, human experience rooted right here on earth. 

Outside of the yoga studio, Jen is a mother, wife, artist, and lover of anything that makes her feel alive. She spends most of her time with her family traveling, kayaking, snowboarding, being at soccer, creating, and being human.

Gina Mandella

Gina Mandella is a passionate yoga and meditation instructor with over 20 years of movement and alignment experience.  Gina offers an embodied vinyasa yoga flow, sprinkled with elements and influences from many other styles of yoga. Each class she invites students to have an inner relationship using intention, breathwork, mantra, and sweet juicy movement. She considers every yoga class she teaches a moving meditation. 

She holds a Bachelor of Science in Dance/Psychology from Roger Williams University and has intently studied yoga for over 6 years. She finished her 200hr teacher training in 2016 at Metrowest Yoga and is an ERYT. Gina continues to grow as a student and expand her knowledge of yoga through trainings, workshops, classes, and a deep somatic home practice. Her deepest intention is to open hearts, evoke growth and acceptance, and to provide guidance to others as they journey into the exploration of self-discovery through the practice of yoga.  Gina believes there are immense healing powers within yoga and meditation and is dedicated to sharing and inspiring others to live in their truth, and from their hearts. 

Kelly Hulyk

Kelly came to yoga in 2015 in hopes of connecting with her body and mind in a healthier way and exercising without having to run. Her very first class was a hot vinyasa flow -- not on purpose, mind, and had she known about the heat she probably never would have signed up. Afterwards, she told her friend that for something that made sweat drip into her eyes, she actually kind of liked it. The rest, as they say, is history. Yoga became a key part of Kelly's physical and mental wellness, and in 2022 she completed her 200-hour teacher training here at Shanti.

A therapist by trade and training, she finds the yoga space akin to a sandbox or a test kitchen of the self. On the mat we can gain perspective, examine our habits and patterns away from the whirlwind of daily life, and try out new ways of being. With practice new patterns form that we can carry with us back out into the world. As a teacher, Kelly hopes to guide others towards the things she has found in her own practice over the years: self-awareness, appreciation for the body, flexibility and strength (inside and out), and, of course, humor. 

Sangita Skipitaris 

Sangita, a 200 RYT certified teacher in Vinyasa Yoga and Yoga Sculpt, has been a dedicated yoga instructor for nearly a decade. She grew up in a family tradition where daily meditation practices with her grandmother and siblings were part of their evening rituals. More than 20 years ago, she incorporated Vinyasa Yoga classes into her regular fitness routine, and within a short time, she felt a deep connection with the physical and mental benefits of the practice. She found a way to manage stress and maintain balance in her life through the practice of Yoga.
Originally, she pursued Vinyasa Yoga certification for her own personal development. After becoming certified, she realized her passion for sharing the wisdom and transformative power of yoga. As an instructor, she offers her students the joy of deep breathing and Vinyasa flow, drawing from her own experience as a Yoga practitioner. Her teaching style includes intentional breathing exercises, mindful yet dynamic chaturanga flows, various levels of balancing and core-strengthening poses, and deep stretches. She guides her classes at a slow to moderate intensity, ensuring safety and creating a lighthearted atmosphere suitable for both beginners and advanced practitioners. She warmly welcomes students of all fitness levels.
She obtained her Vinyasa Yoga teacher certification under the supervision of Jennifer Houghtaling and Alex Amorosi and is extremely thankful for their guidance.
Off the mat, Sangita is married and a mother of two sons. She currently works at Mathworks and enjoys outdoor activities, weightlifting, and all forms of functional exercises. In all areas of her life, mindfulness and the philosophies of yoga continue to guide her and remain an integral part of her personal and professional life, providing her with the tools for self-discipline, self-awareness, self-compassion, and self-confidence.
Her favorite quote is, "Yoga is the journey of the self, through the self, to the self." - The Bhagavad Gita

Katelyn Willis

Katelyn's introduction to yoga and mindfulness started later in life, in her 30s, as she initially grappled with doubts about belonging in these practices. With a degree in TV video production from Emerson College, she initially immersed herself in the media industry. However, life eventually led her to teach yoga and mindfulness, which she sees as her true self-expression. In her teaching, she combines her media background with a deep commitment to overall health, expertly editing together movement, breath, stillness, and sound.

In Katelyn's classes, you'll experience a seamless fusion of invigorating, dynamic flows and soothing, restorative elements, offering a one-of-a-kind and genuine learning experience. As an RYT-500 yoga instructor with certifications in Clinically Informed Restorative Chair Yoga, Balanced Athlete® Level 1, Yoga Shred®, crystal singing bowl sound baths, meditation, breath work, and as a Reiki Master, her gentle and supportive guidance is deeply rooted in her personal journey. Katelyn firmly believes in the life-changing potential of these practices, which became a pillar of stability in her life from the moment she embraced them.

Beyond her work, Katelyn finds solace in her yoga practice, enjoying moments with her loving husband and daughter, and indulging in her passions for music collection and video editing.

Kay Niedzwiecki

Kay completed her 200 hour teacher training under the fabulous Fran Cote at Seacoast Power Yoga in 2013. She has been teaching on and off for 10 years, and prefers to teach a simple, straightforward flow with an emphasis on body and breath awareness. In Kay's classes, you can expect plenty of alignment cues, modifications, and mindful reminders interspersed with silence and space. Kay works in pharmaceutical sciences during the day, and prefers to focus on the practical applications (i.e the mental and physical benefits) of the yogic practice in her teaching. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, hiking, travelling, and adding to her ever-expanding gin collection. Come to Kay's classes prepared to sweat and smile - she can't wait to meet you on your mat!

Erin Peddle

Erin has been a dedicated student of yoga for more than 25 years and has been teaching since 2015.  When she was 19 she signed up for her first yoga class; an 8 week college course in kundalini yoga.  “I remember distinctly walking home from class one afternoon and noticing all the colors looked much brighter.  Looking around in awe I felt so light, balanced, and connected to my surroundings.  I knew I had stumbled onto something special.”  

A few years later Erin tried Ashtanga yoga and was immediately hooked.  This was the catapult to a lifelong practice and introduced her to vinyasa style yoga which became her favorite.

Erin’s first 200 hour teacher training was in Body Matrix Flow Vinyasa, an anatomy-enhanced flow yoga style.  She also holds other yoga and fitness certifications including: Yoga Shred® Certified Teacher, Certified Roll Model® Method Practitioner, Cosmic Kids Yoga Certified Instructor, and Qualified TRX Suspension Trainer.  Her thoughtfully sequenced classes are both challenging and nourishing, with a lighthearted welcoming energy, and end with simple mindful meditation.

Erin encourages all students to make the practice their own and to take care of their body in the way that is right for them.  Her goal is to create a space where all students can feel comfortable and supported as they discover their own yoga practice.  

Off the mat Erin is happiest being out in nature soaking up fresh air and sunshine with her best friend and husband Brian, her two incredible children Lelia and Eddie, and her sweet and sassy pup Frankie.

Lyn Branscomb

Lyn began her yoga experience as a teenager when her mother taught Lyn and her friends in the family home. As life has a way of working itself around, it was Lyn’s daughter that reintroduced her to yoga in 2013. Unlike Lyn’s forays into running, gym memberships, etc., yoga is the only regular, year-round, body movement activity that stuck with her over time. She says, “What I’ve found in yoga is that it engages more than my body, it engages my mind and spirit, too. Because of that, it awakens my awareness and curiosity. There’s always something new to explore.”

Lyn’s vinyasa flow classes take students through various poses in a strong, steady, purposeful way with each breath and cue aimed at grounding students and guiding them to find the appropriate balance of effort and ease, and movements that work in their bodies. 

After completing her 200-hour YTT training with Jennifer Houghtaling at Shanti Yoga in 2022, Lyn followed in her mother’s footsteps and began teaching friends and family in her home, adjusting the flow to meet the needs of the older adults that attended classes. This led her to also train in chair yoga with the Accessible Yoga School. In addition to yoga, Lyn practices Reiki and is level II attuned. She also continues her studies taking courses in meditation and yogic studies. 

While Lyn loves to explore different aspects of yoga, it's the look on students’ faces at the end of class when the yoga flow has settled and marinated that reaches Lyn’s soul as a teacher. She loves seeing that “yoga face,” knowing her students are leaving grounded and, perhaps, with a more peaceful heart. 

In addition to all things yoga, Lyn loves spending time outside in nature. She spends her “Lyn Time” hiking, camping, golfing and skiing. She also tortures herself at Shanti’s hot strength classes which she says, “are the classes I love to hate!”