Nirvana Yoga Instructors
A detail to consider as you decide where to practice yoga - there are no laws that govern the instruction of yoga - that being said,
anyone can call themselves a yoga instructor. Pretty scary - huh?
Yoga Alliance® is the national education and support organization for yoga in the United States. They work in the public interest to
ensure that there is a thorough understanding of the benefits of yoga, that the teachers of yoga value its history and traditions and
that the public can be confident of the quality and consistency of instruction. At Nirvana Yoga you can be assured that your yoga
instructor has completed a Yoga Alliance approved teacher training program at the minimum 200 hour level. Additionally, Nirvana
Yoga is a Yoga Alliance registered Yoga School.
Melissa Cugini, E-RYT
Owner of Nirvana Yoga, Melissa R. Cugini has been a student of yoga since 2004. She began her practice when she and her
husband relocated out of state. She found that yoga provided much needed stress relief as she adjusted to living in a new city.
Melissa has studied with various teachers in Chicago, Cleveland & Akron communities and is an Experienced 200-hour Yoga Alliance
Registered Instructor, as well as the Director of the Nirvana Yoga Teacher Training Program.
In addition to classes at Nirvana Yoga, Melissa teaches on-site corporate yoga, has served as the assistant yoga instructor for the
Cleveland Indians minor league players and teaches Yoga for Cancer at Stewart's Caring Place in Akron. Prior to becoming a yoga
instructor, Melissa worked as a Corporate Recruiting Consultant within the fields of banking, manufacturing and media communications.
Melissa is grateful for the opportunity to connect with people through yoga, she strongly believes that yoga has something to offer
everyone, no matter what place they are in their lives and feels honored to assist her students on that path of discovery. Her classes
are designed to accommodate students of all levels, encouraging them to expand their mind / body awareness and make the practice
Deb Kistner, RYT
Deb Kistner has been practicing yoga for over 8 years with various teachers in the Cleveland area and is a 200-hour Yoga Alliance
Registered Instructor. Deb is also a Reiki practitioner. Prior to teaching yoga, she spent many years in the corporate world as the firm
administrator of a law firm as well as a corporate accountant. These experiences allow her to bring knowledge and compassion to her
Deb ties together music and movement for a fun class experience while also encouraging students to remain grounded and open to all
of life’s experiences. Deb acknowledges that change is constantly occurring in her life and in the lives of her students and she hopes
to promote yoga as a positive force to deal with that change.
Maria Santoferraro, RYT
Maria is a 200-hour Yoga Alliance Registered Instructor who has practiced with many teachers throughout the Akron/Cleveland area.
Prior to becoming a yoga instructor, Maria spent many years in the corporate world of advertising and software development and it
was that fast paced, stressful environment that eventually led her to seek out a healthier lifestyle and the one form of exercise that has
always brought her joy and relief—yoga! The practice of yoga has helped Maria heal her back from the chronic pain she experienced as
a result of being diagnosed with scoliosis as a teenager. But more than relieving stress and feeling better both physically and
spiritually, yoga has brought her a new balanced way of living that has enhanced her well-being.
Maria keeps her classes lighthearted and fun while helping to demystify yoga and educate her students on the benefits of yoga both
on and off the mat. With a different mash-up of music every week and a variety of uplifting class themes, she keeps her classes fresh
and creative. Maria’s goal is to share the benefits of yoga with everyone, especially those who think they aren’t able to do yoga
because of their fitness level, inflexibility, injury or any other reason.
Elaine Hullihen, RYT
Elaine got her first taste of yoga ten years ago as a teenager whose best friend's mom taught yoga in her backyard. Through many
great local teachers since then she has been introduced to the lifelong journey of yoga. Elaine completed her teacher training through
Brahmrishi Yoga, which was inspired by Brahrishi Vishvatma Bawraji and is now taught by Margot and Bill Milcetich. This tradition
aligns breath and movement to bring the mind and body together. Asana and meditation are tools to develop awareness of the body
that blossoms into personal discovery, growth and strength.
Elaine's teaching style is one that encourages students to grow from within - finding their own breath, light and life in practice.
Jessica Youngs, RYT
Jessica first began practicing yoga when she entered The University of Akron as a Biochemistry Major, and found it all too stressful.
She also had been battling depression and anxiety for a long time, and found they worsened in college. Her mom was a pivotal help,
giving Jessica a Shiva Rea DVD, and it all went uphill from there. One year later, she decided to complete a 200 hour summer
intensive teacher training with Jennifer Langsdale of Awaken Yoga in Mentor. Because of yoga, Jessica completely changed her
mentality, and leads a happy and healthy life filled with much more openness and purpose.
Jessica's teaching style revolves around finding that happy and healthy being in each individual, and helping to initiate a change that
will allow everyone's true self to be revealed. She believes yoga is about finding that perfect balance in each person's life: the
balance between the two (usually very different!) sides of the body, between attention focused on the mind and body, and between
the care we give ourselves and the world around us.
Lauren Huefner, RYT
Lauren Huefner began practicing yoga in 2007 at Inhale Yoga in Athens, Ohio while studying journalism at Ohio University. Inspired to
deepen her practice by the physical and mental benefits she found through yoga during college, she completed her 200-hour yoga
teacher training under Melissa Cugini of Nirvana Yoga in Richfield, Ohio.
Lauren hopes to share the physical, mental and spiritual benefits she finds in her own practice with others through teaching. She aims
to make her classes invigorating, relaxing, engaging and fun, and to inspire her students to take their yoga practice off the mat and
into their daily lives.
Dunya Khaleq, CYT
Dunya is a 200 hr certified Yoga Instructor, having studied under Melissa Cugini at Nirvana Yoga. In addition to her yoga experience
Dunya is also a ISSA certified personal trainer.
Not only a personal trainer, Dunya has competed in marathons and bodybuilding. This athletic lifestyle left her with uncomfortable stiff
joints and muscle tightness. In her search for relief she discovered yoga and discovered not only more freedom of movement in her
joints and muscles, but also a bit of peace and tools to help deal with everyday stress. Duyna most enjoys Hatha, Vinyasa, Restorative
and Yin Yoga practices and believes that yoga will always be a part of her daily life. She aspires to help others discover the rewarding
benefits of yoga.
Darlene Kelbach, RYT
Darlene’s journey into yoga began in 2003 when while pregnant with her daughter she sought a more gentle, low-impact exercise
program. Little did she know at that time that yoga would offer her much healing and support during the difficult times that were to
come ahead. Yoga touched her heart and changed her life in such a deep and positive way that she knew immediately that she
wanted to teach yoga to help others experience its profound benefits as well.
Darlene completed her yoga teacher training through Namaste Yoga in 2007 and began teaching shortly there-after. Darlene seeks to
blend yoga with her passion for plant-based nutrition and healthy eating and share that with her students. This desire to teach and
promote optimal health and well-being for each individual is what lead Darlene to transition in 2013 from her full-time career with the
Cuyahoga Valley National Park to being a full-time yoga instructor. With this dedicated focus, she feels she is now "living her yoga" -
which in turn, she hopes to inspire others to “Live Their Yoga” so they also can be the creative expression of their own passions and
inner truth and live inspired, joyful lives each day!
Jennifer Miklus, ChildLight Yoga Instructor
Jennifer’s first taste of yoga was in 2008, when her sister was a yoga teacher in training and offering yoga classes to friends and
family. Jennifer immediately noticed the calming and yet energizing effect that yoga had on her mind and body. After several years of
her own yoga practice, Jennifer wanted find a way to incorporate her love of yoga with her love of children. While pursuing her degree
in Neonatal Pediatric Respiratory Therapy, she was given the opportunity to complete the Childlight Yoga Certification that Nirvana
Yoga hosts twice a year. These two educational experiences make for a great combination, helping children breathe, gain strength,
and feel good about themselves. Jennifer teaches Family Yoga at Nirvana Yoga as well as Kid’s Yoga at the Richfield Library.
Jennifer’s goal during class is for children to experience how yoga positively impacts the way they feel and how they can take control
of their emotions. She teaches a playful class allowing the children to be silly and noncompetitive while introducing yoga poses and
breathing techniques that can be helpful for the stressful, sad, or worrisome times in a child’s life. Children leave class with techniques
they can use at home to deal with difficult feelings. Children’s yoga classes are an excellent way to introduce good lifestyle habits
through the promotion of a healthy body and calm and confident mind.
Stagecoach Bldg. - 2nd Floor
4183 W. Streetsboro Rd. (Rt. 303)
Richfield, OH 44286
Nature Photos by Peggy Miklus