"The way we do anything, is the way we do everything" - Martha Beck

How lucky am I to be constantly inspired by two of my great friends, Ilana and Nicole?! When I first began thinking about offering a Yoga Teacher Training, these two were 100% supportive, and I immediately began to think of ways in which I could incorporate their amazing teaching styles, spirit, and love of life and yoga into my curriculum. I'm happy to say they will be offering great support throughout the training. If you've never taken a class with them (or me!) before - we can't wait to meet you, and are so excited to guide you on an exploratory journey of self-awareness through curiosity, compassion, and expansion.


Rachel (Nicole and Ilana)



Rachel VerValin, E-RYT - Owner, Heart Thread Yoga

A lifelong athlete, Rachel originally came to the mat in 2002 during her undergrad years at Rochester Institute of Technology because it was an incredible workout. Rachel has a love for travel, and every new place she visits, she tries out the local yoga class. She has practiced with Anusara, Jivamukti, Iyengar, Ashtanga, Svaroopa, and Vinyasa teachers all over the country. After practicing many different styles with many different teachers, she found a love for Vinyasa. Rachel loves being able to blend all of the class styles together.

After college, Rachel was working a 9-5, 40hr+ job, and practicing yoga semi-regularly while living in Baltimore, MD, and Dallas, TX. In 2009 she found herself without a job due to the housing crisis, in an unhealthy relationship, and quite lost. She began practicing yoga everyday, and was amazed at the results - a new found love and respect for herself, clarity around her relationship, and a calming effect to her anxiety. As her mind began to shift, Rachel was inspired to share the gift of yoga with others. Originally from upstate NY, Rachel moved to Brooklyn, NY, and received her 200hr certification from Yoga People in January 2011. She has been teaching ever since.

In May 2013 Rachel furthered her studies at Integral Yoga Institute and received her 85hr Prenatal Yoga certification. With the inspiration and support of her community, she created Heart Thread Yoga in May 2014.

Rachel has led 5 successful yoga retreats, in Costa Rica and the Finger Lakes Wine region, and is super excited to be sharing her love and knowledge of yoga with her Teacher Trainees.   

Rachel semi-jokes that she is a recovering “type A” personality – before she began practicing yoga, she found her mind racing all of the time, thinking about how to be the best at everything. Rachel grew up as a super overachiever, and it was really nice to come to yoga class and, over time, let the racing mind drop into the background. She started being nicer to people, and to herself. She let herself be vulnerable, and be okay with that. Yoga helps Rachel to understand and recognize that we are all just humans, trying to get by – and we need love and kindness to make that easier.

Rachel seeks to create a nurturing environment where students can learn and practice yoga in a caring and accessible way. Her classes are often filled with funny quips, laughter, hard work, and great music. She (immensely!) enjoys creating a space where EVERYONE can feel comfortable practicing yoga asana, with the belief that a balanced body = a balanced life.

Laughter, smiles, hugs, dogs – especially her girl Vera! – yoga, gardening, listening to wisdom from older people, wine, dessert, ice cream, pie, friends, THE SUN! sleeping, music festivals, dancing, and lots of water all make her really happy.


Ilana Berman, LMT, E-RYT - Anatomy & Conscious Communication 

Ilana believes strongly in the power of simply feeling good in the body, and sees yoga and massage as incredible tools for listening inwardly and finding what makes each of us, as unique beings, feel most vibrant and alive. As a massage therapist she  has a compassionate and confident touch, holding safe space for releasing old patterns of tension and allowing fresh energy and healing to come through. For more on her massage work click here.

With a  playful spirit, Ilana brings to her teaching an emphasis on alignment, kinesthetic awareness and developing sensitivity to your bodies intuitive wisdom in order to find pleasure in each movement and breath.  Using a combination of the invigorating and surrendering aspects of yoga, and a passionate understanding of how the body works, she helps students to steadily progress and deepen their practice while receiving the therapeutic benefits of building strength and flexibility of both body and mind. She sees the yoga mat as a place of safety and freedom where you can practice being your most empowered, loving and awesome self.

Originally from Brooklyn New York, Ilana is an E-RYT 200hr and received her Teacher Certification from the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health in Lenox, MA

in 2011. Seeing the potent healing affects of the compassionate body awareness that yoga offers in herself and her students, she felt inspired to deepen her understanding of the physical and energetic body with the study and practice of massage therapy. In 2013, she graduated from the Finger Lakes School of Massage with 1000 hours of training for her License in Massage Therapy and has completed further trainings in Biodynamic Craniosacral work with Jenna Milner, Thai Yoga Massage through the Lotus Palm school, and Embodied Anatomy with Leslie Kaminoff at The Breathing Project in New York City. She also holds a B.A. in Philosophy from Ithaca College .  

In summer 2015 Ilana joined the teaching team at FLSM where she teaches Swedish Massage, Connective Tissue Therapy, Pregnancy Massage, and Communication Skills.  She is so grateful to support and hold space for others on their journey.

Cooking, ecstatic dancing and being with the awesomeness of nature make her feel warm, fuzzy and alive. As often as possible, she makes an annual pilgrimage to the desert of Nevada for Burning Man festival where she offers massage and yoga to the community there and credits it as an immeasurable source of inspiration and love.


Nicole Stumpf - Yoga Philosophy & Integrative Yoga Therapy

Nicole's seemingly endless curiosity and fascination with yoga inspires her to hold space for students to journey deeper into their body, heart, mind and spirit. Weaving many different style of yoga and somatic exercises into her classes, and with an ever formulating and evolving experience, students are ensured fun, engaging, and revitalizing classes. Always a student, Nicole continues her yoga education, and jumps at the chance to read, teach or share her learnings with others.

Nicole studied at Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, receiving her 200-hr Yoga Teacher Training certification in 2010. She has also completed Freedom Flow Yoga with Erich Schiffman in 2012, and taught and assisted advanced Asana with Yoganand Michael Carrol in 2011. Nicole is currently pursuing her 800hr Professional Certification in Integrative Yoga Therapy, which she began in 2013.

In 2013 Nicole founded Keuka Peaceful Roots, a mind-body wellness center based in Hammondsport, NY. The center offers services to promote both physical and mental well-being including: yoga

classes, yoga therapy, massage therapy, reiki, and health coaching. She also leads weekly group classes at Sunrise Yoga Center in Ithaca, NY.  

One of Nicole's favorite ways to offer yoga instruction is at the workplace. At the moment, she offers classes for employees at Wegmans of Ithaca, Cornell Veterinary College, and Steuben County's Municipal Building. 

She also will see up to five individuals each week for personal yoga instruction, in which the sessions are completely customized to meet the clients particular needs and condition. Some sessions continue on a weekly basis, others are a one-time meeting in which Nicole helps develop an individualized home yoga practice. Her private sessions are available by appointment in Ithaca and Hammondsport.

Lastly, Nicole is blessed to live and work on Oak & Osage Farm with her partner (and fellow Kripalu Instructor) Peter – they grow wholesome, beautiful, and delicious vegetables for CSA members, restaurants and farmer’s markets in the Finger Lakes region.

200 hr Yoga Teacher Training - Guest TEACHERS

Check back soon for more teachers and bios!