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Meet the Mindfulness Team

Yael Shy (Director) is the Director of Global Spiritual Life at NYU, The Mindfulness Project at NYU and the Of Many Institute for Multifaith Leadership at NYU. Yael is a graduate of the Mindfulness Teacher Training program at the Institute for Jewish Spirituality, and was named one of the Jewish Week’s “36 under 36″ Jews reshaping Jewish life in the US. She has studied and led meditation all over the world – from Israel and Abu Dhabi to New York City. She was also a co-founder of the Jewish Meditation Center of Brooklyn and is on the Board of Directors of the Brooklyn Zen Center.

Reka Prasad (Program Coordinator) is a native New Yorker who has worked as a therapist, facilitator, researcher, and consultant for non-profits, universities, and businesses. She completed her MSW with honors from the NYU Silver School of Social Work. Reka continued her education at the Ackerman Institute for the Family in couples and family therapy, where she founded and co-facilitated Supportive Space, a collaboration of trainees, faculty, and alumni of color. A long time meditator, Reka is a practicing Buddhist in the Vipassana tradition, has studied through the Barre Center for Buddhist Study and trained in Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction. She has utilized mindfulness in all areas of her client work and conducted guided meditations and mindfulness trainings in a variety of settings. Please contact her for all mindfulness related inquiries:

Jason Hollander (Founding Advisor) is editorial director for University Relations and Public Affairs at NYU. He received his master’s in screenwriting/philosophy from the Gallatin School in 2007, and has been an adjunct professor in the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute. Jason was founder of People's Meditation in 2009 and is currently co-host of the hilarious and thought-provoking Meditate This! which has ranked #1 in self-help and #3 in general health on the iTunes charts.

Katherine “Kat” Katsanis~Semel (Mindfulness Chaplain) is studying to become an ordained Interfaith Minister; she is now in her third year of studies with Celebrating Life Ministries, a thriving, Interfaith Community. For over ten years, Katherine has worked in private practice as a professional Healer & Meditation Teacher (, and lives in Manhattan with her Jewish life partner. Katherine considers herself to be broad-minded, open-hearted, and Spirit-guided; she looks forward to getting to know you!

Rev Doyeon Park (Buddhist Chaplain) a Kyomunim, literally meaning one who devotes oneself to teach Buddha dharma in the Won Buddhist tradition. She has served as a minister of the Manhattan Won Buddhist temple and Alternative Representative of Won Buddhism to the United Nations since 2008. Also, she is the Buddhist chaplain at Columbia University and New York University. Rev. Doyeon focuses on creating a sangha (spiritual community) where various individuals and groups can cultivate their inner wisdom and compassion to live with peace and dignity based on the teachings of Won Buddhism. Realizing the interconnectedness of all through her spiritual practice, she is also actively engaged in interfaith dialogue and cooperation to promote mutual understanding and respect among different religions.

Jean-Michelle Ajon (Yoga Teacher) is a registered Hatha yoga instructor with certifications in vinyasa krama, prenatal, postnatal, restorative, gentle and special child yoga, as well as mind-body healing techniques. She has been teaching since 2006 primarily to interfaith and Muslim communities throughout New York and New Jersey. Her teaching style is non-competitive, centering, and incorporates mind-body healing disciplines such as, ayurveda, aromatherapy and tai chi. Jean enjoys creating a nurturing space for her students towards the unfolding and wholeness of their hearts, minds and bodies.

Erica Arce (Yoga Teacher) is a lover of love, a lover of compassion and a lover of kindness. Deep spiritual inquiry, creative expression, and authentic living are her steady focus. Being born a creative soul, Erica has spent many years honing her artistic talents in acting, drawing, painting and ceramic sculpture at institutions such as the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, the Office for the Arts at Harvard University and the Art Students League of NY; a common thread throughout all her work being humanity. Becoming a yoga instructor was a natural outgrowth of her interest in the human experience.

Emily Bielagus (Yoga Teacher) has been teaching yoga to adults, kids, and teens since 2008. She is certified at the 500-hour level by Atmananda Yoga and also holds a degree in Dance from Oberlin College. Her class is an invigorating Vinyasa-style movement party that explores a variety of standing asanas, restorative poses, balancing postures, and inversions, as well as pranayama and meditation techniques.

Sam Chase (Yoga Teacher) is a faculty member at the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health. He holds Kripalu’s highest teaching certification, as well as a master’s from Harvard University. In New York, he teaches for organizations including the United Nations, National Guard, and Weill-Cornell Medical Center, as well as studios citywide including Yogaworks and Equinox. He leads teacher trainings nationwide for Yoga to the People, and runs a private practice in Manhattan specializing in therapeutic and personalized yoga for clients ranging from Olympic athletes and CEOs, to verterans and moms-to-be.

Amy Coombs (Yoga Teacher) is registered with Yoga Alliance (E-RYT 500hr) and is certified in both YogaWorks and the ISHTA lineage. She teaches regular classes for these studios in NYC. Her instructions start with precise alignment for a strong safe asana practice that aims to challenge, but from there students are led toward a quiet place of self exploration that transcends the physical form. Amy believes that Yoga is for all bodies and all ages, and she empowers students to make modifications appropriate to their individual condition on any given day. Tastes of Pranayama and Meditation are often included and questions and conversation are encouraged both before and after class.

Brian Liem (Yoga Teacher) has practiced yoga and meditation with devotion, humor, and compassion for over twenty years.  He was an OM yoga senior teacher, teacher training faculty member, Director of Programming and community member for thirteen years.  He has earned over 500ryt hours, and taught numerous workshops, conferences, retreats, and trainings.  When OM closed in 2012 he helped found now:yoga in collaboration with The Shala to provide a landing place for the cOMmunity.  He also teaches yoga and meditation at Equinox, David Barton Gym, in not-for-profit and corporate settings as well as in his private practice. He has completed all levels of The Way of Shambhala, and attended Warrior’s Assembly at Dorje Denma Ling in Nova Scotia.   Brian was named one of 21 yoga teachers under 40 in Yoga Journal’s The Next Generation of Yoga Teachers.  He was selected to be the yoga teacher and a representative at theGay Men’s Spirituality Project, a gathering of over 200 international gay spiritual leaders and visionaries at the Garrison Institute, to help further the ongoing discussion of what it means to be LGBTQ and spiritual.  With deep, joyful gratitude he thanks his past, present and future teachers and students, his parents, friends, husband and son.

Trina Morris (Yoga Teacher) has enjoyed yoga for over thirteen years, and became a devotee as an entrepreneur. Her draw to energetic release and restoral grew far beyond recreation, into a means of survival. Today, she delights in a professional balance of public relations, higher education and yoga. Trina is a 500-hour certified teacher through the ISHTA lineage, and began her training at Atmananda Yoga Sequence. While she loves to share yoga with all, Trina especially values her time with fellow entrepreneurs, inspired professionals and college students. Her teaching style is encouraging and practical; active but relaxed. She is committed to whole self-development, creative commerce and purposeful living.

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