Teachers at Ashrams for Autism honor the uniqueness of each individual on the spectrum and provide a welcoming and healing space for a yoga practice. Each instructor is equipped to teach this population with a deep understanding and acceptance of autism. We believe in honoring the uniqueness of each individual on the spectrum and provide a welcoming and healing space. 

Jill Brenner

A 25-year veteran of corporate communications, Jill has evolved from PR strategy, media relations and employee communications, to OMs, namastes and downward facings dogs. In 2014, Jill studied with yoga luminaries Kathryn Budig and Gina Caputo, earning a RYT 200 hour certification in vinyasa yoga. In 2015, Jill completed a 40-hour Samadhi Spectrum Yoga for Autism teacher training led by Sharon Manner. Jill teaches for Ashrams for Autism at the HOPE Center in New Providence and at Innovations in Newark. She also teaches yoga to schoolchildren in charter schools through Newark Yoga Movement. Her favorite mantra summarizes perfectly why she enjoys teaching individuals on the spectrum and less fortunate typical kids:

Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu

-- May all beings everywhere be happy and free and may our thoughts words and actions contribute to that intention.

Jennifer Kimak

Jennifer came to work for Ashrams in 2012 after hearing about the organization through her teacher and mentor, founder Sharon Manner.  She reached out to Sharon while studying to be a teacher through Samadhi Sun training program.  A student of yoga for over 10 years, Jennifer found the practice served to both lessen stress and test physical and mental limit.  The practice became invaluable during the two years she spent Namibia, Africa where she taught English.  She entered the 200 hr training program to deepen her connection to a yogic lifestyle and graduated with a new life direction.  During the first Ashrams class she attended she was able to see the difference one hour made for the autistic individual and she wanted to be a part.  She began teaching and says of the classes, "I feel selfish.  Every class I learn more what it means to be a yogi through their practice than I do from my own.  It is truly a gift and I am grateful everyday to be a part of it ."

An RYT-200 and certified Level 2 Samadhi Spectrum teacher, Jennifer teaches classes throughout Northern New Jersey.  A student of life, she hopes to use her experiences home and abroad to help others break out of their boxes and find their passion.  She currently teaches classes at The Center for Independence and at the Watchung Reservation for Union County Recreation Programs for People with Disabilities

Sandy Marotta

Karma Yoga is the path of selfless action without the need or desire for anything in return. Sandy’s life has followed that of a Karma Yogi, finding pure happiness and enjoyment when in service of others. Her deep sense of compassion for those around her has also helped Sandy become a well-versed and understanding yoga teacher for all populations.

Although she was exposed to the practice of yoga at a young age, Sandy's path to becoming an instructor didn’t begin until early adulthood. She completed her 200-Hour Certification at the Integral Yoga Institute NYC while also pursuing a B.S. in Marine Biology. After completing both her teacher training and college degree, she started working at Ashrams for Autism, an organization providing yoga in schools and facilities for the autism and special needs community. Today she serves as the Executive Director at Ashrams for Autism and spends her time both teaching for the organization and spreading its mission to individuals within the community.

Sandy has seen and experienced first-hand the healing powers of yoga and firmly believes it can transform the body and mind for the better. Sandy also understands that the practice of yoga is unique to each individual. This philosophy is kept in mind when she is teaching to ensure that everyone has an optimal experience while taking her class.

Gisella Teixiera

Exercise and children have always been a part of Gisela’s life. The oldest of 5 kids she always enjoyed being around children. Her love for exercise began in elementary school and carried on throughout her high school years. After high school she found a passion for kickboxing, and practiced it for about 12 years. In 2008 she suffered a shoulder injury that changed the way she looked at fitness. She could no longer exercise the way that she was used to, so she had to start from scratch. At the time of her injury she was also pursuing a degree in Psychology, and working with an individual on the Autism Spectrum, and that's when Yoga came into her life. She was able to mix the psychological aspect as well as the physical aspect of exercising. She has found that working with individuals with ASD and individuals with developmental disabilities can be beneficial for both yoga instructors and the students. She wants to help her fellow yogis and yoginis overcome any doubts, and achieve their maximum potential both physically and mentally, and strive above any limitations. She believes that the practice of Yoga on and off the mat helps us to focus the mind, find inner and outer balance, and assist in the management of everyday challenges.