We are yoga teachers, practitioners, experts, educators, activists, writers, artists, non-profit organizations and advocates.
We promote optimal well-being and healthy body relationships through a consistent yoga practice, including physical asana, meditation, and beyond.
Melanie Klein, Co-Founder
Melanie Klein is a professor of Sociology and Women's Studies. She attributes feminism and yoga as the two primary influences in her work. She is committed to communal collaboration, raising consciousness, media literacy education, facilitating the healing of distorted body images and promoting positive body relationships. She is the co-editor of Yoga and Body Image: 25 Personal Stories About Beauty, Bravery and Loving Your Body (Llewellyn, 2014) with Anna Guest - Jelley, a contributor in 21st Century Yoga: Culture, Politics and Practice (Horton & Harvey, 2012), is featured in Conversations with Modern Yogis (Shroff, 2014), a featured writer in Llewellyn's Complete Book of Mindful Living (Llwellyn, 2016) and co-editor of the forthcoming anthology, Yoga & the Body: An Intersectional Analysis of Contemporary Body Politics, Mindfulness & Embodied Social Change with Dr. Beth Berila and Dr. Chelsea Jackson Roberts (Rowman and Littlefield, 2016).
Sabrina Strings, Ph.D. is a UC Berkeley Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellow with a joint appointment in the School of Public Health and the Department of Sociology. Her research examines how the intersecting structures of race, class, and sex(uality) are inscribed on the body, which is then marshaled to validate social inequality. Her book manuscript, Thin, White, and Saved: Fat Stigma and the Fear of the Big Black Body, explores how body size in particular has been used to maintain social hierarchies in the United States.
A yoga teacher and practitioner, Sabrina is also the director of the Richmond Yoga Project, a grant-funded initiative to offer free yoga classes at a community clinic in an underserved area of Richmond, CA.
Natalie Cummings is a yoga teacher, yoga web designer, founder of the Yoga Business Connection and a social media marketing expert. Her compassionate teachings have launched many yoga entrepreneurs off the webpage and into specifically aligned client hearts. Natalie is an ambassador for community involvement, combining her offerings with non-profits nationwide. She supports the Yoga and Body Image Coalition mission by spearheading the YBIC website and social media design shares. Natalie is passionate about supporting causes she believes in. She bridges relationships that cultivate mutual success through her unique approach of 'Sincere Networking' within her thriving Yoga Business Connection Facebook Group.
Thalia González is an activist, writer, and Associate Professor at Occidental College. She teaches and writes in the fields of civil and human rights, restorative justice, law and society, social justice lawyering, and contemplative law. Her work has been published in leading academic journals such as, the Cardozo Journal of Conflict Resolution and the NYU Review of Law & Social Change, as well as in books, edited collections, and yoga magazines. Since 2015, Thalia has served as the lead facilitator for the the Yoga and Body Image Coalition's “Conversation with Modern Yogis” Series.
Karen Kuchta is a yoga teacher and entrepreneur in Summerland, BC Canada, who supports the Yoga and Body Image Coalition as Social Media Intern. Karen first found yoga in her teens as a way to combat the feelings of mistrust she had living in a body that was often fatigued and anxious. Yoga has been a steady companion, teaching her how to breathe, open her heart, and to be present for all of the sensations of her body. The mission of the YBIC spoke to Karen because she believes that the more we learn to love the body we are in then the less we foster feelings of body as enemy. Bringing this to her own mat, and to her yoga classes, Karen aims to support students in reclaiming their perfect imperfections to find confidence and self-compassion.
As a dedicated yoga practitioner of 15+ years, Valerie’s practice and teaching focus on the breath and subtle body activation and awareness. Valerie is originally from Sri Lanka and migrated to the U.S. at a young age. She makes frequent trips back to Sri Lanka where she enjoys exploring a culture rich in Ayurvedic medicine and meditation. She is passionate about a traditional understanding of yoga philosophy and its application to modern life to heal our bodies, minds and communities. Valerie is a student and a resident teacher at the Himalayan Institute and she is grateful to her teachers Pandit Rajmani Tigunait, Rolf Sovik, Sandra Anderson and Shari Friedrichsen. By profession, Valerie is a management consultant specializing with healthcare and life sciences technology strategy.
Melanie Williams is a queer, body-positive yoga teacher, communicator, and business manager in Washington D.C. She manages operations and communications for a radically-inclusive wellness center that welcomes and affirms all bodies and intentionally creates healing space for traditionally undeserved populations. A former YBIC intern, she continues to serve the coalition by bolstering communications and outreach efforts. As a resident of the District of Columbia, she can also frequently be found on Capitol Hill exercising her First Amendment rights or helping to bring food justice the local community through urban agriculture.
Dylan Galos, Ph.D. (he/him/his) is a research scientist at Wilder Research and a yoga teacher. Dylan is passionate about the intersection between identity, environment, and why and how we move our bodies. His research has included adverse childhood experiences, health services research, sexual health, and environmental health. He holds a Ph.D. in epidemiology and brings an evidence-based approach to asana while incorporating principles of trauma sensitivity, social justice and inclusivity to teaching. Rather than focusing on what it should look like for diverse bodies to practice yoga, Dylan is interested in better understanding how to empower people to move in the bodies they’re in. He supports the YBIC through website and social media support.
Nikki is a 500 hour registered yoga teacher and holds a Masters Degree in Education-Counseling. She teaches classes from a body positive, trauma-informed perspective specializing in yoga for healing and recovery. As someone in recovery from an eating disorder, Nikki is passionate about helping others access effective treatment, resources and support, including the healing practice of yoga. Through her community and donation based yoga offerings, Nikki is committed to finding ways to make the powerful and transformational tools of yoga available to every body. Nikki is the editor of YBIC’s ongoing column that highlights how the practice of yoga can play an integral role in the healing and recovery from eating disorders.
Carly Stong is a Yoga Teacher, Studio Owner and Director, and body positivity advocate. She has been an active Community Partner with the Yoga and Body Image Coalition since 2015 and was invited to be a member of the YBIC Leadership Team in 2017. She has been creating safe spaces for bodies of all types, devoid of body shaming, while offering comprehensive body image education since she began teaching yoga in 2010. While facilitating classes, workshops, and yoga teacher trainings all over the world, Carly combines her thorough understanding of and degree in physiology, biomechanics, and anatomy to offer a unique perspective to making the yoga practice accessible: breaking away from the usual practice of propping and adjusting to modify yoga poses and instead teaching a conscious method of moving that requires no alternatives, yet is inclusive and empowering for all bodies and all abilities.
Our coalition was created to specifically highlight partners. We elevate voices, individually and collectively, to give our community further reach by sharing inclusive yoga offerings for every BODY.