• Meet Our Teachers

  • Welcome to StarFish Dance & Yoga (formerly Yoga & Nia For Life). We have been sharing yoga, dance and body-centered ways of being in West Concord, MA since 1995.  As teachers, we are here to share the practices that help keep us centered, grounded, connected to our healthiest selves and thriving in our bodies. We look forward to meeting you!

  • Maria Skinner

    Styles: BeSoul™ Dance, Dance Spells™, Ageless Grace, Elements in Movement

    Maria's Blog

    Maria Skinner is the owner of StarFish Dance & Yoga (formerly Yoga & Nia For Life) in West Concord, MA. She is a BeSoul™ Dance Practitioner, Nia Black Belted, former Nia White Belt Trainer,  creatrix of Moga and Elements in Movement, MoveMyWay, and Embodied Astrology. She is also a Certified Ageless Grace® Educator. Maria co-authored the Spanish translation of Our Bodies, Ourselves; Nuestros Cuerpos, Nuestras Vidas, and contributed to My Hungry Head by Marybeth Sherrin. 

    I’ve devoted most of my life to learning to love being in my body and in a human body. At some point, I realized that the only time I felt completely happy to be embodied was when I was dancing. So I dance and danced a lot! My earliest memories are of being at Playa Hermosa in Uruguay and sensing the warm air on my skin. I was at the beach and the sea grass was between my toes, the waves were crashing, the sun was setting. And I had a wonderful erotic experience of the earth and my movement in it.  At that moment, 3 or 4 years old, I was in my body, I felt truly ALIVE as I was dancing with the earth. What happened between then and the time that I realized I was not in love with being me anymore, I am not sure, but the path back to that sensation has been long, delightful and often painful.  In 1997, I dscovered Nia, which game me a vessel through which to share what I love, dance and music, with others. This journey regain my ANIMAL body, my body that is part of the earth and enjoys the pleasures of this planet as such, has brought me so many gifts, including the development of Moga and BeSoul Dance. Recently, Ageless Grace has connected me back to the playful child that loved to explore movement for its own sake.

    As an astrologer, I bring the journey of embodiment to bear. My readings will help you ground and use the things that are already in you and in your life to rise to a higher potential. The patterns that live through you are here for your unfolding. I can help you hone your map!

  • John Calabria

    Styles: Peaceful Mindful Yoga, Beginner Yoga, Yoga & Meditation


    I've been practicing the journey inward for much of my life. I've studied for thousands of hours, with all the living masters. I'e taught thousands of classes to many thousands of students… But what and why I teach is so much more about you, and your experience of Yoga. Still interested in where I come from? Okay, then here's the obligatory bio:

    Read more about John.

  • Ana Ayvazian

    Styles: Gentle Yoga, Nia

    Ana has been teaching Yoga since 2010. She studied at the Arlington Center with Daniel Orlansky and Liz Owen and received her 200 hour training in the Yoga of Energy Flow. Since then she has studied under Gary Kraftsow in the Viniyoga tradition.  In 2003 she began teaching the Nia Technique founded by Debbie and Carlos Rosas. She brings warmth and joy to her classes.

  • Sheila Bienemann

    Styles: Sunrise Yoga

    Sheila is a 500-hr certified Kripalu Yoga Teacher and has been teaching at Yoga and Nia for Life since 2005. In her classes she invites her students to find their inner wisdom and guidance becoming more fully alive. Sheila's classes are a beautiful way to end or start the day. The classes are slow and meditative focusing on connecting movement with the breath; and always include a long relaxation to integrate our experience.

  • Carol Flanagan

    Styles: Hatha Yoga, Private Yoga

    My name is Carol Flanagan and I am very excited to be a part of the Starfish Dance and Yoga Family!. I have been practicing yoga and Nia/Be Soul as a student for over 25 years and was inspired to pursue my own career in teaching yoga at a retreat in Costa Rica. . I absolutely LOVE Yoga because it encompasses all aspects of wellness; flexibility, strength, balance and peace of mind. My class incorporates all of those points of wellness in a smooth, gently flowing format that is lightly challenging but open to all age groups and abilities. My goal is to create an atmosphere for students to be comfortable and to be uplifted by their own efforts.I have been a group fitness instructor since 1986 and teach a variety of classes. Also, I am a certified personal trainer.
    When I am not teaching I enjoy hiking, biking, skiing, (water & snow) golfing and many other wonderful sports/activities.
    Carol is available for Private classes. Contact her at cmflan@comcast.net.

  • Lissa Fountain

    Styles: Svaroopa® Yoga


    Lissa Fountains’s love of both asana and meditation infuses her teaching with clarity, compassion and joy. She discovered Svaroopa® Yoga’s principle of tailbone release after years as a professional dancer. The yoga was the key to healing years of a misaligned and very tight spine, often associated with rigorous dance and exercise. It was also the revelation of the bliss of her own being that propelled her to a deep and committed path of personal practice and teaching others. Lissa is a Leading Svaroopa® Yoga and Meditation teacher, as well as an assistant teacher at Svaroopa® Vidya Ashram. For 18 years, she has been teaching yoga and meditation classes and offering Yoga Therapy throughout Metro-west Boston. In 2008 she was invited to become a national teacher for Svaroopa®Yoga and Meditation, and has been enjoying leading Weekend Workshops for yoga studios across the country ever since.

  • Suzanne Gainer

    Styles: Wake Up Groove, Nia

    Suzanne is a Nia White Belt Instructor, a classically trained dancer, a visual artist, a professor and a self-proclaimed salsa fanatic. In college, she started out as a dance major, but finished with a degree in Communication and went on to receive her MFA in Photography from RISD. This led her to her current position at Worcester State University where she is a professor of photography and design. And while she hasn’t given up her day job (yet), you will find her most days dancing at YNFL. Suzanne’s first love is dance. Be it nia, hip hop, jazz, ballet or salsa, moving her body is where she believes she is her most authentic self. 

  • Holly Kania

    Styles: Nia, Ageless Grace

    A certified Brown Belt instructor in Nia Technique and a Certified Ageless Grace® Educator, Holly has taught Nia classes in Metrowest Boston for four years. She teaches weekly at Yoga & Nia for Life (Tuesdays at 9 a.m.) and Lumina at the Longfellow Club in Wayland (Wednesdays and Fridays at 8:30 a.m). When she’s not undulating and shimmying, Holly is a writer who also dabbles in graphic design. In her spare time, she is a vocalist with the women’s a cappella group “BroadBand.” She is passionate about sharing the joy of movement through Nia technique, and can’t wait to dance with you. 
    Holly has a great blog called A Body Story. Read and follow for some great inspiration and deep rumination.

  • Susanne Liebich

    Styles: Nia, Girlpower


    Susanne Liebich has been a dance and movement instructor, a choreographer and program director for over 20 years. (Watch Susanne here.) She takes a balanced, holistic approach to exercise blending traditional, expressive and therapeutic movement to create overall health and well being. She is a Certified Stott Pilates® Instructor, a Certified Black Belt Nia® Instructor, a licensed Dance for PD® Instructor, and continues to explore interests in various forms of dance, music and movement. She has also taught classes to at-risk teenage girls who reside at the Metro Youth Services Facility in Dorchester, served as Development Chair for BalletRox, and volunteered extensively for Concord Public Schools. Most recently, her classes include instruction in both dance and injury prevention to disabled children, older adults and other special population groups with limited mobility.

  • Kathy Lubar

    Styles: Mindfulness Meditation

     Kathy Lubar, Co-author of the best selling book, Leadership Presence: Dramatic Techniques to Reach out, Motivate, and Inspire, offers her clients the experience of coach, teacher, leader, and actress. Kathy co-founded The Ariel Group, a global leadership development company, and served as its President for twenty years. As an educator, Kathy has worked with a wide variety of students, including business professionals, lawyers, teachers, actors, and women prisoners. Kathy has been practicing mindfulness meditation for over forty years.  She has taught mindfulness to adults, primarily to leaders in the corporate setting, but also to students on meditation retreats and to students and teachers in schools. 

  • Robyn Maltz

    Styles: BeSoul™ Dance, Nia, TIMBo

    I have been teaching Nia for twenty years. I enjoy teaching more with each passing day. Nia has been a deep source of authenticity for me and has provided me with  deep connections with amazing people that I am grateful to call my friends. I also have used the principles of Nia in my psychotherapy practice. As a result of my Nia experiences my psychotherapy practice became  body centered and deepened the healing for all of my clients and for myself. Besides being a Black Belt Nia Instructor and Clinical Social Worker in private practice, I am also a Licensed Timbo Facilitator, and a BeSoul Dance Practitioner. Timbo is a mindfulness based program designed to help people recover from trauma. I am hoping to start a program at the VA in  Bedford for women veterans this October 2015.  I am also proud to say that I have created many mind- body workshops to help people live more fulfilling and embodied lives.

  • Lindsey Melancon

    Styles: JourneyDance

    Lindsey Melancon is a Certified Guide of JourneyDance ™ trained by Toni Bergins at the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Ayurveda. She has taught throughout the Berkshires and co-facilitated dances in the Boston area. Teaching a safe and cathartic dance experience for all levels, while using varied musical styles and teaching techniques her goal is to create a different but shared ‘journey’ for each participant. Using her creative art and dance background she invigorates each class with energy, and holds space for inner reflection.

  • Lisa Pearl

    Styles: Nia, Ageless Grace, Friday Night Pop Ups

    Discovering the artistry of the teachers in this welcoming studio was the inspiration that brought me to teaching Nia. While every class at YNFL is an exceptional experience in healthy integration of mind, body and spirit, I loved Nia for the playfulness of movement and music. And bonus…no experience or training needed. Just step right in! Every body is welcome!

    Lisa Pearl, Brown Belt Nia instructor, is delighted and honored to be a part of the YNFL faculty offering workshops and pop-up Friday night Nia jams.  

  • Amy Podolsky

    Styles: BeSoul™ Dance, Nia, Ageless Grace, Friday Night Pop Ups

    Amy Podolsky is a Brown Belt Nia Instructor who has been teaching since 2009. She is at her absolute best when moving with Community!  In January 2015, Amy became a Certified Ageless Grace® Educator and an Ageless Grace Trainer. "Ageless Grace kind of snuck up and rocked my world. I love teaching these classes because everyone is smiling and laughing - it's a joy to be a part of!  I've noticed that my thinking is quicker and clearer since I started practicing AG, but what has surprised me most is how connected I feel to both my body and mind. It's the perfect complement to my Nia practice."  Amy's classes are fun, upbeat and deeply soulful as well. She is the self proclaimed "Cruise Director" who adores YNFL's thriving community, and is always up for a good Nia jam, workshop, retreat and/or party. Come aboard - she's expecting you!

  • Pam Vlahakis

    Styles: Tai Chi, Qigong, Yoga

    Instructor, Pam Vlahakis, MEd, Certified  Yoga Teacher, Certified Qigong Teacher
    Pam has been sharing her love of yoga with kids, teens and adults for the past 16 years and Qigong for 6 years.  She is a student of Qigong for the past 18 years.   Certified  as a Qigong and Tai Chi Teacher with Dr. Aihan  Kuhn. Currently in the Tai chi teacher training program at the Tree of Life Tai Chi School in Boston.  

  • Noël Weatherbee

    Hatha Yoga

    Noël is truly passionate about yoga, both on and off the mat. Her intention is to help students access and strengthen their connection with their true selves through conscious breath and movement, so that they can live fully, with more peace, and relate more mindfully to others and the natural world. Noël has been practicing yoga and meditation since 2010; and inspired to share the many benefits with others, completed her 200-hour teacher certification at Frog Pond Yoga in Princeton, MA. Additionally, she has trained in Vipassana meditation and is certified in Usui Reiki Level 1. Her classes are designed to help you tune into your body and your breath, your way. Moving at a moderate pace, mindfully linking movement with breath to balance the opportunity to increase strength and flexibility with the cultivation of self-awareness. Movement ranges from dynamic flow to longer holds, incorporating yogic philosophy and meditation in order to explore the many benefits that yoga has to offer. All levels are welcome, as props are available and modifications will be offered, encouraging you to make the practice your own.

    Off the mat, Noël holds a BA in Art History and Environmental Studies, and is an artist, outdoor enthusiast, and advocate for environmental, social, and animal justice. She also helps manage a teahouse at a variety of music, arts, and yoga events throughout the year.

  • Kelly Western

    Kelly Western has been practicing and studying yoga and mindfulness since she moved to Boston in the summer of 2000.   After practicing for some years, in 2007, Kelly obtained her yoga teacher certificate at an ashram in the mountains of Colorado.  Kelly has taught a variety of yoga classes over the years and her favorite kind of class to teach is one she calls, “Yoga for Stiff People”. "I found that many people feel they have to be flexible or have a certain body shape for yoga.  This is not true.  Yoga is a way to connect with your body (and to get out of your mind)- something many of us have trouble with."  Kelly's yoga classes tend to be light-hearted and she encourages people to not take themselves so seriously.  Yoga for Stiff people is a class where you can come as you are and choose poses and modifications that fit your body and your energy level at the time.  Please come join us!  

    Yoga For Stiff People is a registration-only class. No drop-in coupons will be accepted.

    Register with Kelly at kellywesternyoga@gmail.com