Our Team

 

UP believes that a strong team of teachers and practitioners is a recipe for success.

 

Dave Giacomin

Dave Giacomin

Head of Adventure | Owner

A native of Washington, DC, David Giacomin worked in corporate IT sales for 20 years before deciding to try and make a living by doing what he loves, adventure. Surfing, climbing and outdoor excursions have been a staple for Dave for many moons. He climbs ice, rock and alpine routes whenever possible. His true passion is in high altitude mountaineering and ice climbing. Some of his summits include Mt. Rainier, Illiniza Sur, Illiniza Norte, Cotopaxi, Mt. Whitney, The Grand Teton and 15+ 14,000 ft peaks in Colorado. Dave has been trained as a single pitch instructor from the American Mountain Guides Association and has been the chairman of the Washington, DC section of the American Alpine Club for the last 4 years. Dave looks to help others find healing and personal growth in the outdoors.

Erin K. McNamara, LICSW, LCSW-C

Erin K. McNamara, LICSW, LCSW-C

Head of Healing and Wellness | Owner

Erin McNamara knew she wanted to help and heal people from a young age. This knowing led Erin to get her Bachelor’s in Psychology and her Master’s in Social Work. Erin has spent her 17-year clinical social work career working with the families and children of the District of Columbia. Additionally, she has worked in private practice. Erin began her practice of yoga over 10 years ago and was initially drawn to the physical practice. But yoga soon revealed its healing benefits and Erin found it necessary to practice amidst the stress and vicarious trauma of her social work profession. Yoga helped Erin to find balance and calm and it may be safe to say that she has been able to stay in her profession due to the healing practice of yoga. Realizing all that yoga is and how much it can benefit people, Erin decided to continue her journey into healing others by taking her Yoga Teaching Training. Erin hopes to offer her students all the benefits of yoga both on and off the mat. Erin has a particular interest in trauma-informed yoga and plans to continue her journey by combining her clinical social work/mental health profession and yoga.

Renee Champagne

Renee Champagne

Healing and Wellness Consultant

Renee Champagne is a USAF Veteran, Military Spouse, mother, wellness coach, and holds several certificates in yoga. Renee has taught yoga to military populations since 2007 and continues to find innovative ways to help foster Post Traumatic Growth. She is the Yoga Coordinator at Walter Reed and on the faculty at Warriors at Ease. Renee is an advocate for military families. She is a Liaison for Give an Hour, Family Therapist and owns Sustaining Youth and Families which launches June 2017. As an endurance athlete and trauma survivor, Renee has first-hand knowledge of the benefits of yoga. She completed a yoga series for the CHAMP at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences and Yoga International. Renee has a Master’s Degree in Clinical Mental Health from William and Mary with a focus on wellness, families, and trauma. Renee and her service dog Miley are highlighted in the book Reporting for Duty by Tracy Libby.

Lisa Glassman

Lisa Glassman

Yoga Teacher

In my own quest for happiness, I realized being outside in the sun and music are essential. Being showered in live music, the notes, the vibrations, the collective energy, is truly healing. Listening to music requires the use of your whole brain, it stimulates more neurons, turns active potentials into electricity that runs through the whole body. Music brings me great joy and allows me to stay present, more fully, more often. Today, utilizing nature and sound as much as possible, I use a combination of massage and movement therapy to help clients not only feel better in the moment but continue to improve into the future.

Sean Buchholz

Sean Buchholz

Yoga Teacher

Sean Buchholz is a musician, web designer, artist, and yoga teacher from Terre Haute, Indiana. Sean came to yoga as a means to improve mobility and flexibility some years after an injury sustained while in the Army National Guard. Since then, he continues his practice in order to find balance in between school work, freelancing, and spending time with his wife. Sean’s favorite yoga practices blend physical strengthening and stretching with internal reflection and meditation. Sean completed his RYT-200 Yoga Teacher Training at Sky House Yoga in 2016.

Becca Thomas

Becca Thomas

Yoga Teacher

Yoga instructor with a love for powerful and high-energy classes. Students can expect a thoughtfully sequenced flow rooted in power and vinyasa yoga with modifications for all-levels. Becca is a firm believer that everyone and anyone can practice yoga and have fun while doing so.

Sarah Richards

Sarah Richards

Yoga Teacher - Tea Maker

Sarah Richards has over 20 years of experience in the healing arts and sciences which began with formal education in ‘talk therapy’ took a detour via energy medicine and then ventured into nondual healing. Sarah was found by Yoga in 2002. Her personal practice galvanized a desire to teach and this presented the physical interface to perceive the complexity of being human and a way to facilitate our search for Wholeness; work that is currently being enhanced by a three-year training with the Somatic Experiencing Trauma Institute. Her style is eclectic, drawing from several schools of ideology. She teaches Vinyasa, Therapeutic, Hatha, Kundalini and her own Yoga Soma; which brings together her Nondual Healing background, Somatic Experiencing. Inspired by the students who come to practice, Sarah themes each class based on what is called for in the moment and delights in this extraordinary, ordinary collaboration to reveal the Divine.

Nathan Olsson

Nathan Olsson

Adventure Leader and Consultant

A former EMT, outdoor educator, and science teacher, Nathan makes his living as a writer. When he’s not behind a desk, Nathan is an avid climber, with a particular taste for cold winter adventures in northern Maine and New Hampshire. Nathan also spent time in Alaska with Colorado Outward Bound School. He took a course focusing on developing leadership skills and abilities for adults, with a focus on applying these skills in outdoor education and recreation settings. Skills in risk management, back country travel and navigation, wilderness first aid, glacier travel and crevasse rescue, mountaineering, rafting, ocean kayaking.

Alina Zagaytova

Alina Zagaytova

Adventure Consultant

Alina Zagaytova brings years of experience in mountaineering, rock and ice climbing. Raised through adventure, she has traveled to more than 60 countries and summited six of the Seven Summits and is attempting to summit Mt. Everest this Spring. Alina is also an avid hiker, skier and marathon runner.   Alina is the founder of “Mountain Girl Power” – which aims to teach and promote corporate leadership and management skills for women through adventure, climbing and mountaineering, especially focusing on the Washington D.C. area local community of professional women and climbers. (https://www.mtngirlpower.com). Alina is an Assistant General Counsel at First Solar, a leading international solar energy company, and is a Supervisory Board Director at Younicos AG, a German battery storage company.  Alina received her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, Berkeley, and a law degree from Harvard Law School. In 2015, Alina won the prestigious C3E Award for the Law and Finance category sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy and the Women’s C3E initiative.

Rhiannon Landesberg

Rhiannon Landesberg

Aerial Yoga Teacher

Rhiannon has been sharing her love of movement in the DMV for the past six years. Aside from being a full-time kids yoga teacher in D.C. schools, Rhiannon also teaches yoga and Aerial in a number of studios and community settings. She completed her 200 hour Vinyasa Yoga Certification with Faith Hunter in 2014, whose Spiritually Fly teachings have inspired her to share her love of the practice from a place of authenticity and playfulness. After practicing Aerial Yoga for five years and discovering the healing power of this modality, she completed her Aerial Training with Anti-Gravity Fitness in New York City in 2015. She believes that when we open up space in the body we open up space in the mind and in the heart, a mantra she seeks to share with students of all ages. 

Sarah Hippert

Sarah Hippert

Aerial Yoga Teacher

Sarah is a movement specialist. Her comparative advantage lies in her deliberate programming, designed to make hard movements eventually feel easy. Based in Washington, DC, she has trained professional athletes, military heroes, and aspiring athletes alike. With an emphasis on progressions, movement variety, and skill development, Sarah’s tested training methodology is so much more than a workout. She currently trains private clients and teaches public classes and workshops in yoga asana with a focus on relevant cuing for opposite body types, aerial yoga (in a silk hammock), acro yoga (workshops for beginners, washing machines 101, and therapeutics), Pilates mat and apparatus, bodyweight calisthenics (stall bar and gymnastic rings foundational training), and body rolling (self-myofascial release). Sarah’s extensive training, inordinate amount of energy, self-practice, and dedication to continued learning is only rivaled by her genuine love for sharing movement with her students and helping them to move with power, grace and joy. 

Sumeeya Chishty-Mujahid

Sumeeya Chishty-Mujahid

Yoga Teacher

Born and bred in Karachi, Pakistan, Sumeeya has lived in two continents (Asia and North America) and been a part of several cultures for more than twenty years. Her travels have taken her to Austria, Brazil, Belgium, Canada, Ethiopia, France, Germany, India, Italy, Nigeria, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Switzerland, Thailand, and the UK. She has a bachelors degree in Sociology and Women’s studies from Hampshire College, a masters in Education from Harvard University, and an education specialist in Community Counseling from The George Washington University. 

Sumeeya has studied and researched religion, spirituality, mental health, and holistic health for more than twenty years and has been practicing and studying yoga poses and philosophy for the past ten years. Sumeeya likes books and beaches, and enjoys spreading love and laughter.

Jack Blackfelt

Jack Blackfelt

Meditation Leader

Jack Blackfelt has been practicing insight meditation almost daily since 2004. He trained with Josh Korda and Craig Swogger with Dharma Punx NYC for 3 years before facilitating DC Dharma Punx weekly for 8 years, has taught on retreats for teens and young adults since 2009, and co-facilitated the Insight Meditation Community of Washington’s Teen Sangha with La Sarmiento from 2012 to 2016. He incorporates the heart practices of acceptance, loving friendliness, compassion and forgiveness with working on the real-world suffering that affects our various communities in real time. He also leads periodic meditative bike rides and silent group walks around DC. And he loves to skate and play hockey.

KJ Fisher

KJ Fisher

Yoga Teacher

KJ holds a Master of Arts Management degree from Carnegie Mellon and currently serves as the Managing Director for Forum Theatre. KJ was introduced to yoga 10 years ago by a friend and yoga has been stuck with her ever since. She is an avid runner and an amateur gardener. When not on her mat, she can be found with her husband experimenting with food or snuggling her fur baby, Hunny Badger.

Michele Russ

Michele Russ

Yoga Teacher

With a background in graphic design and a lifelong interest in health and well-being, Michele followed her husband’s Army career all over the country and overseas, living in 13 different homes in six states and one foreign country (twice!). Michele first began to realize the benefits of yoga about nine years ago in the midst of moving around and raising her two boys. What attracted her most to yoga was the deep level of stillness and calm achieved through the physical practice. Michele’s classes invite students to nurture their deeper selves through a mindful practice that connects body and breath. She radiates warmth and welcoming to all of her students, and her approachable teaching style attracts new students and experienced yogis alike. Michele completed her 200-hour training through Sky House and the YMCA in 2015.

Shervon Laurice

Shervon Laurice

Yoga Teacher

Shervon was first introduced to yoga in high school while in New York City. It was there that the seed of self-discovery was planted which has continued to grow and call her back to the mat time and time again as an adult. Shervon’s commitment to personal practice led her to complete a 200 hour Vinyasa Yoga Teacher (RYT) certification in 2012 and a 50 hour advanced Yin Yoga Teacher Training in 2016. Shervon enjoys teaching Vinyasa, Hatha, Yin and Restorative yoga styles to beginners, athletes and advanced students alike. Her background as a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC) inspires her approach as a teacher. The practice of yoga, similar to the process of counseling, allows one to look within to build self-awareness which informs daily life. Yoga has a beautiful way of clearing the mud away from the lens with which we see ourselves. Shervon is committed to nurturing the seed of self-discovery and personal growth in every student as it unfolds on and off the mat.

Jiahui Xiang

Jiahui Xiang

Yoga Teacher

Jiahui began taking yoga as a way to stretch after lifting weights to increase his performance and flexibility. In 2010 he began to study yoga in greater depth and realized that yoga provided much more than just stretching. From that point on Jiahui began to practice yoga. Slowly, he found that yoga brought positive changes to his life. He began to look at the world with optimism and felt pleasure in helping people in need. Through yoga, he also healed from an old ankle injury. After continuously practicing for two years, he took a 200-hour yoga teacher certification course in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, with Sun Yoga. His teacher, Jacqueline, is a surgeon by training and taught him a lot about how to use yoga to strengthen and protect the body from injury. Jacqueline is also a writer and a philosopher. For Jiahui, today, yoga is not simply a way of movement; it is an attitude towards life and continues to teach him how to find his own quiet and inner peace.
Caitlin Wall

Caitlin Wall

Yoga Teacher

Caitlin began practicing yoga while living in Colorado under the majestic beauty of the Rocky Mountains. She received her 200-hour certification from Dragonfly Yoga in Virginia, along the banks of the Rappahannock River, and uses her yoga to promote awareness and engagement with the natural world. A yoga retreat to Zion Canyon National Park crystallized her desire to share this engagement with others and begin her teaching journey. A deep connection to the earth guides her practice, and she is dedicated to offering a vinyasa practice that is both joyful and peaceful. In addition to practicing and teaching yoga, Caitlin enjoys running and triathlons.

Veronica Jones

Veronica Jones

Yoga Teacher

Veronica’s yoga journey has been beautifully imperfect. She started practicing Ashtanga yoga in 2008, but was always inconsistent in her practice despite knowing deep down that yoga was her passion. A frustration we can all relate to when we’re in the process of finding ourselves. Eventually, Veronica’s heart guided her all the way to Rishikesh, India where she studied the philosophy and practice of Hatha yoga under the guidance of her guru, Vishvketuji. There she received her 200 YTT from Anand Prakash Yoga Ashram. The path remains imperfect, but her conviction to spread love and support others in their journeys remains fierce. 

Dave Cohen

Dave Cohen

Yoga Teacher

Dave started his public service career as both a volunteer and career Firefighter/EMT in Montgomery County, Maryland at age 16, eventually accepting a position in Federal Law Enforcement and remaining an active volunteer in the Fire/Rescue service. Along the way Dave learned of the stresses associated with high-risk emergency response careers and the need to deal with the effects on the mind/body. Although physical fitness is typically an important part of law enforcement or fire/rescue wellness program, when Dave started his own Yoga practice 14 years ago, the mind/body connection was often overlooked. Dave observed that there would be numerous benefits to First Responders of all types from practicing Yoga. Dave is a 200 hour RYT and has been a certified Maryland State EMT since the late 1970’s. Dave holds a BS in Fire Science from the University of Maryland.

Amanda Sawit

Amanda Sawit

Yoga Teacher

For Amanda, the practice of yoga is a return home, a chance to reconnect with her body, mind and spirit, and an opportunity to feel safe, secure and grounded in her own being. She loves designing and practicing strong, dynamic sequences that open the body and quell the over-active mind. Amanda takes a playful and affectionate approach to the practice and loves to hold space for, and witness, the same elation and freedom that can be unlocked and nurtured within each student.
Hannah Davis, LGSW

Hannah Davis, LGSW

Yoga Teacher

A move across the country, led Hannah Davis, LGSW, RYT200, to begin practicing yoga in 2009. Surrounded by the picturesque views of mountains in Phoenix, Arizona, she found yoga provided her with a way to connect movement and breath and deepen the connection to self. As a way to share yoga and its power with others, Hannah went on to get her 200-Hour certification from Sky House Yoga in Silver Spring in 2017. As a social worker, Hannah has extensive experience working with youth and families of diverse backgrounds. In 2016, Hannah founded Vikara Village, a nonprofit helping middle and high school students deal with the challenges of everyday life. This innovative program brings together yoga and arts to help youth develop a healthy sense of self, community and belonging. Hannah has completed Street Yoga’s Trauma-Informed Yoga for Youth Training and Surviving Assault: Yoga Essentials as Early Intervention Following Assault or Trauma. Hannah received her Master of Social Work from the University of Maryland – Baltimore and is a Licensed Graduate Social Worker in Maryland and DC.

Kathryn Dykas

Kathryn Dykas

Yoga Teacher

Kathryn has been a student of yoga practically her entire life.  When she was younger, Kathryn’s dad practiced yoga in their living room, and she was doing sun salutations at the age of 3, there are pictures to prove it! Kathryn has moved all over, and with each new home she has established she has found yoga, finding that she was always drawn to the community, love, and support that it provided her.  Kathryn is a Registered Yoga Teacher with Yoga Alliance and received her 200 hour Yoga Teacher Certification in 2016 with 405 Yoga.  In Kathryn’s classes, be prepared to challenge yourself using breath and posture, expect the unexpected, and of course, be ready to laugh! Kathryn believes in encouraging her students to not take themselves too seriously on the mat, and providing challenges while rocking out to some amazing beats. Off the mat, Kathryn is a high school counselor and can be found eating pizza or cookie dough ice cream, (in no particular order), or cuddling other people’s dogs. 

Tiffany Harrison

Tiffany Harrison

Yoga Teacher

Tiffany’s personal yoga practice began to flourish after a developing a connection to the deeper aspects of yoga, and acknowledging that yoga is a multi-faceted practice. She fully believes that you can find peace in the midst of a storm on your mat. Tiffany’s classes will lead you to discover the natural wisdom of your body; and believes that yoga is a practice that connects the mind, body, breath, and spirit, unleashing the body’s natural healing properties. Tiffany leads a heartfelt, fluid, and dynamic class, that aims to share kindness while incorporating pranayama, and yoga philosophy with Vinyasa flow. With many of us leading a busy lifestyle that tends to be set on auto-pilot, Tiffany cultivates an atmosphere that encourages mindfulness, non-judgment, and freedom of personal expression. You do not have to be most flexible or strongest person in the room, you simply have to be present, mindful, and connected to your body.

Jade Olubayo

Jade Olubayo

Yoga Teacher

Jade has received the gift of practicing yoga for over 15 years. The time spent on her mat has helped her through the most rewarding and challenging times in her life. She transitioned from teaching 5th graders in Washington DC to teaching vinyasa in local gyms, corporate settings and privately. She enjoys sharing the knowledge that she has acquired and is eager to grow as a student. Jade is a firm believer that yoga is for all and should be taught with care, safety and respect for the practice. Introducing others to yoga is up there as one of her all-time favorite things. Her 200 hour training was at Yoga District and she recently completed her teacher apprenticeship at Skyhouse Yoga.