Kathy Shirley

Position:Owner, B.S. Psy, M.A. Edu., E-RYT 200, E-RYT 500
Experience:8 years
Biography:
I began practicing yoga at home 17 years ago and loved it, but never really committed to a full on practice. When I attended my first real yoga class with Sri. K. Pattabhi Jois 9 years ago, I fell in love with this ancient practice. A year later, I traveled to Costa Rica to complete my 200 hour Vinyasa Teacher Training and am currently registered with the Yoga Alliance. In the spring of 2014, I traveled to Rishikesh, India for a 6 week intensive training in Hatha Yoga to complete my 500 YTT. The last 8 years, I have been teaching yoga and sharing my passion for this transformative practice. Like many yogis, I had longed for me connection to my spiritual side and yoga has helped me find that missing link. After teaching for 5 years, I decided it was time to take a leap of faith and open the North Studio in May. I just had to share this journey with as many people as possible! Later in November of 2014 we opened the South location to continue to grow the yoga community and spread the love of yoga. I hope this journey finds each and every one of you! My philosophy on yoga or what it means to me to act from a state of yoga is very simple. I have two famous texts that I read from daily, The Bhagavad Gita and Patanjali's Yoga Sutras. These two ancient texts have transformed my way of thinking and being. Two quotes from the Gita play a vital role in my daily living. The Gita states, yoga is "skillfulness in action" and "Yoga is equanimity and equilibrium". These quotes show me my capacity as a yogi to be able to act skillfully to produce positive results in all aspects of my life, on and off the mat. When I am faced with life's challenge that bring up fears, my ego and limitations of my mind, I am better able to remain in a calm state and approach the situation with evenness. I am not always successful, but I work on this daily and remind myself of these quotes when I am feeling out of balance or am faced with challenges that are difficult to face. Then Patanjali says that "Yoga is the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind". Ahhh, he clearly states that the practice of "yoga" is the ability to still the mind and release the ego. If only it were that easy to allow the monkey mind to quiet and live in the moment every single day. This is why I practice. My daily sadhana on and off my yoga mat is how I experience my world. I realize that my practice fluctuates and changes but my commitment to my practice never wanes and it brings me closer to freedom one baby step at a time!

Kat Wheatley

Position:Manager, Teacher, E-RYT 200, YACEP
Experience:RYT since May 2013
Biography:
Katharine “Kat” Wheatley was certified as a RYT-200 in 2013 with YogaWorks and is a registered member of Yoga Alliance. Kat was trained as a classical ballet dancer, studying and performing for nearly 18 years with the Fletchers and with the Land of the Sky Civic Ballet in Asheville, NC. Kat started practicing yoga occasionally at a gym almost 25 years ago, but it wasn’t until 2011 that she committed to a steady and (almost) daily practice of yoga. Kat is currently manager of Key Largo Yoga and in addition to overseeing workshops and special events, she manages the schedule, our team of teachers, and our social media connections. Kat subs classes when the regular teacher is unavailable and as such can teach any level of Vinyasa Flow, Hatha, Aerial, Gentle, SUP Yoga, and Yin. Kat continues her education as often as possible through her own practice, with her mentor Kathy Shirley, and by attending multiple workshops, conferences and events throughout the year. She maintains two of her own classes on the schedule - you can find her teaching Gentle Candlelight yoga Monday evenings at our south location, or her signature Fun Flow class on Fridays at 4:30pm at our North Studio.

Chris Denault

Position:E-RYT 200, YACEP
Experience:RYT since May 2015
Biography:
Not your stereotypical Yogi. People are often surprised when they find out that I practice Yoga. Born and raised in Key Largo and Miami. Played every organized sport I could in High School. Continued that trend playing College Football and Lacrosse at The Carnegie Mellon University while obtaining a BS in Electrical and Computer Engineering. I was the typical Fraternity/Football/Beer/Party College Kid. Came home to work with the family after graduating. Not loving the cold of Pittsburgh may have had a small part of that decision.

In 2013, I sought out Yoga to releive stress, and have been hooked ever since. I practice a little of everything including, but not limited to, Vinyasa, Ashtanga, Hatha, Gentle, Restorative, Aerial, and SUP. I completed my 200 hr YTT in 2015 at Key Largo Yoga under the guidance of Kathy Shirley.

Jessica Okaty Graham

Position:Teacher
Experience:RYT 200 since May 2015
Biography:
Jessica Okaty Graham is a teacher at heart, as she loves gaining and sharing knowledge. She has taught many age groups ranging from early childhood development classes at Gymboree Play & Music to Ecology of South Florida at Florida International University. She currently teaches 6th grade science and reading at Keys Gate Charter School and Yoga at Key Largo Yoga.  Jessica’s love of learning has led her to obtain both a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music and a Master of Science degree in Environmental Studies. She has many interests such as music, dance, reading, food, travel, and nature. She added yoga to that list in 2005 when she took a course with Andrea Seidel at FIU and it has remained an important part of her life ever since.

Katie Schweiss

Position:Teacher
Experience:RYT since May 2015
Biography:
Katie Schweiss was born and raised in Key Largo and is proud to call this paradise her home. She graduated from the University of Florida in 2008 with a bachelors degree in English Literature and a minor in Education. Katie has been passionately practicing yoga since 2013. She is constantly inspired by the growth in strength, flexibility and determination that yoga brings to her on and off of the mat. Katie jumped at the opportunity to take a 200 hour yoga teacher training course with Kathy Shirley and graduated in May 2015. This training has been life changing for her and she is incredibly grateful for the knowledge she has gained and the friends she has made. Outside of yoga, Katie loves to enjoy the water, read, travel and laugh. She is excited to continue her journey with Key Largo Yoga and to continue to learn and grow!

Tracy Robinson

Position:Teacher
Experience:RYT since December 2012
Biography:
Tracy has been practicing yoga for 7 years. After taking a Hot Yoga class in Virginia Beach one day she decided that she needed to share her love for yoga to the rest of the world. Shortly after she enrolled in teacher training through Yax Yoga Concepts and Yoga Alliance and never looked back! She received her 200hr certification in 2012. Yoga is not just the asana, it is also a way of life. As we are always students, Tracy believes that it is just as important to spend time on her mat as a student to continue on her path as a yogi, as she feels it makes her a stronger more educated instructor. She believes that yoga holds a unique power because everyone can do it, and everyone benefits from it..She believes our mats provide us a space to connect, be still, and heal so that we can live fully with presence and purpose.

Jenny Ostrander

Position:Teacher
Experience:RYT 200 July 2016
Biography:
Jenny was first introduced to yoga when she attended a class at the local gym. She looked at yoga as a method to improved flexibility in her workouts, and continued attending yoga classes often. After her deployment to Afghanistan she joined a local studio in Georgia and began to explore the more meditative practices of yoga, the health benefits her body and mind received was an awakening from the anxiety she had begun to feel. When she began her transition from the Active Army in July of 2016 she was excited to attend yoga teacher training in Santa Cruz with Mark Stephens, immersing herself in learning and earning her 200 hour certification with Yoga Alliance. Outside of yoga she spends her time outdoors enjoying running, biking, and swimming. She and her husband are both avid divers and spend much of their free time together diving the coral reefs of the Keys.

Jessica Shafer

Position:Yoga Teacher
Experience:Certified April 2017
Biography:
Jessica grew up in Syracuse, NY and moved to Key Largo in 2007.  She graduated from Syracuse University with a bachelors in Inclusive Education and a masters in Special Education and taught 2/3rd graders in NY for six years before moving to the Keys to take a teaching position at Key Largo School where she primarily works with students who have severe disabilities.  Looking for a stress release and another form of exercise besides training in the gym, Jess started practicing yoga back in 2013.  After seeing all of the benefits yoga had to offer both on and off the mat she started working on her children's yoga certification so she could bring yoga to first, her own students and then eventually all of Key Largo School.  The next step was to obtain her 200 HR RYT which she did right here at Key Largo Yoga in April 2017.  

Pamela Faust

Position:Yoga Teacher
Experience:Certified April 2017
Biography:
Pamela was born and raised in the Washington, DC suburb of Arlington, VA.  She took her first yoga class as a high school student 17 years ago. Pamela has practiced many different types of yoga including Vinyasa, Ashtanga, Rocket and Iyengar yoga.  Since moving to Key Largo three years ago with her husband, Pamela has been grateful to find a strong yoga community in the Keys. When she found out Kathy Shirley was offering a 200 hour teacher training she jumped at the chance to begin a new journey in the practice and study of yoga. Pamela completed her RYT-200 hour training in April 2017.

Diana Sweeney

Biography:
I was a "Jazzerciser" and aerobic dancer for twenty years and even taught aerobic dance classes. In 2007 I had an opportunity to attend a yoga class and really enjoyed the stretching yoga offered and started regularly attending class. In the next couple of years I  suffered great losses in my family. I started to realize that my time on my mat was helping with more than stretching - it was helping me find a peaceful mind. In 2012 I under went major surgery on my neck and afterward I was not sure a yoga asana practice would be possible for me again. But I had to try, and received my doctors approval to start my yoga practice with no headstands. I became stronger everyday, yoga was helping me gain strength and also helping me accept what would never be the same. I have been a student of Kathy Shirley since 2011 when I first came to Key Largo. In October 2016 I started Yoga teacher training with Key Largo Yoga. I wanted to learn more about the spiritual part of yoga. It was a truly uplifting and humbling experience. There was so much that I learned but there is also so much more to learn. I finished the yoga teacher training in April 2017 and I am now a 200 hour RYT, which is just the beginning.  

Damian Groark

Position:Yoga Teacher
Experience:Certified April 2017
Biography:
I was born and raised in the suburbs of Philadelphia.  I grew up playing organized sports from 5 years old all the way through college.  I attended Widener University and graduated with a BS in Hospitality Management.  After college I worked my way up the ranks running the premium service departments at the arena that hosted Philadelphia's professional basketball and hockey teams.  In October of 2003 I was given an opportunity to work and live in the keys and enjoy the "island" lifestyle, saying good bye to the cold, grey, rainy Philly winters, and have not looked back since.  I was first introduced to yoga around 2011 when I attended several Ashtanga classes at the Pattabhi Jois studio in Islamorada.  I officially got the yoga bug in May of 2013 when Kathy opened Key Largo Yoga.  I initially enjoyed the physical practice of yoga, building strength and flexibility and losing weight, however this quickly evolved into seeking out the mental and spiritual aspects of yoga.  After four years of consistent daily practice and several workshops I finally decided to take the next step in my journey and signed up for 200 hour yoga teacher training in October of 2016 and graduated in April of 2017.  

Lacey Devin

Position:Yoga Teacher
Experience:Certified April 2017
Biography:
I am originally from Newtown Square, Pennsylvania where I taught gymnastics to all ages for 8 years. I moved to Key Largo in 2009 after visiting for many years with my family. I have been an avid yoga practitioner for 3 years after practicing on and off since I was 16. In April of 2017 I completed my 200 Hour Vinyasa Yoga Teacher Training Program with Key Largo Yoga.