Shakti Teachers


Angela Caplan

Certified Advanced Relax and Renew Trainer®
Certified Anusara Yoga 2007-2012; IAYT member

Angela began teaching by assisting her first yoga teacher in a maximum security prison. She was a college student during years of social unrest and felt she could contribute some bit of peace by teaching inmates to meditate. She continued to offer meditation & yoga in correctional facilities for years to come. As her own meditation practice unfolded, so did a natural desire to share the power & potency of hatha yoga. Angela has studied & practiced intensively & continued to do so through years of raising a family & immersing herself in the art of dance & choreography. Angela's love of teaching is attributed to the influences of the late modern dancer, Nona Schurman, as well as numerous skilled yoga teachers in the Anusara and Iyengar traditions. In addition to co-directing & teaching classes, workshops & teacher- trainings at Shakti Yoga, Angela is an experienced teacher of Private Yoga.  She's also taught hatha yoga & movement at the University of Rochester, holds a Usui Reiki Master certificate and offers Chakra Balancing Healing Sessions.

"My intention is to offer classes that are creative & nurturing, dynamic & graceful. Most of all, I wish to offer whatever help & service I can, to those who want physical, mental, emotional & spiritual connection. In my own practice & life, I aspire to keep joy & compassion in the forefront while stepping with courage into whatever challenge I am faced with. Isupport students in doing the same, along with what is equally important to me: cultivating silence & sensitivity." 

Jacki McCausland

E-RYT 500 (Experienced Registered Yoga Teacher with Yoga Alliance)
Certified Anusara Yoga teacher 2009-2012
Certified Relax and Renew Trainer®

    Jacki’s initial journey in yoga and meditation was ignited in the mid 1970's when she began her spiritual study and practices with a meditation master.  This sincere spiritual seeking accompanied her university studies in many forms of movement and dance, and led her to more in depth explorations of hatha yoga.                                                               Jacki has been teaching hatha yoga classes since the late 1980’s, having studied both Iyengar and Anusara Yoga styles.   She continues to live yoga through her personal growth and engagement with ongoing hatha yoga study, spiritual practices and the application of yoga's timeless teachings in her daily life.
    Jacki is the owner and director of the Valley School of Dance which opened in 1982, and has been the co-owner and co-director of Shakti Yoga since 1990.  She has been an adjunct faculty member of SUNY Geneseo's Theater & Dance department since 1984, and taught yoga and dance as a faculty member of the University of Rochester's Dance & Movement Department from 2000-2015, where she continues to offer yoga workshops.
    “The practice of yoga has been one of engaging in and embracing every aspect of my life more fully.  Every pose, every breath presents me with another opportunity to step into steadiness, strength, spaciousness and freedom.  I enjoy sharing my own explorations, discoveries and insights with students, as we all grow together into more empowered, joyful and loving human beings.”

Ruth Ann Polito

E-RYT 500 (Experienced Registered Yoga Teacher with Yoga Alliance)
Anusara Yoga® Inspired 2006-2012.

Ruth Ann has been an avid yoga practitioner for 25+ years, and she has been teaching classes at Shakti Yoga since 2002 as well as other area locations. Her classes are empowering, accessible to all levels of students and reflects her many years of personal application and practice of hatha yoga, meditation and yoga philosophy.
In 2006, Ruth Ann earned her status as an Anusara Inspired yoga teacher, and she has been a Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT) through the National Yoga Alliance since 2003.
Ruth Ann enjoys travelling throughout the US to continue her participation in trainings and workshops with longtime experienced yoga teachers, such as Deb Neubauer, Ellen Saltonstall and Jack Kornfield and other teachers who are in fields dedicated to the exploration and discovery of the fullest potential of the human spirit.
     "Through the practice of yoga, I have uncovered insights and inner strengths within me that have helped me to be present to and resolve the ups and downs of everyday life.  I aspire to share my experiences, in the hope that others may discover and access the fortitude, insightful wisdom, skills for living and full range of human potential that naturally exists within them."

Serena Kniffin-Strubel   

Bio coming soon

Sheri Kreher

RYT 200 (Registered Yoga Teacher with Yoga Alliance)

Sheri Kreher, LCSW, RYT completed her 200 Teacher Training at Shakti Yoga in 2012 after over 15 years of personal yoga and meditation practice.  Sheri is also a Certified Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapist, offering a holistic approach to managing stress and emotional pain.  She completed the Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy Certification in 2008 and the Group Facilitator Certification in 2009, representing over 1000 hours of specialized training.  Sheri works as a psychotherapist and yoga therapist in Geneseo, NY.                    


Carrie Layhee

RYT 200 (Registered Yoga Teacher with Yoga Alliance)  

Carrie Layhee, PE, RYT, completed her 200-hour Teacher Training at Breathe Yoga in 2013.  Additionally, Carrie also completed a 200-hour Shakti Yoga Teacher Training in 2015.   Carrie is a licensed professional engineer and works as a consulting geotechnical engineer in Rochester, NY.  She and her husband have moved into the village and enjoy being members of the Geneseo community.
  "My intention is that students will find and feel how to physically ground themselves first, and from there experience more mobility and freedom. Once warm and connected to the breath, the physical practice of yoga allows for greater realizations and truths to unfold.  This translates into opportunities to practice a new, more kind, more accepting way of being in our minds and daily lives."


Deb Penoyer

RYT 200 (Registered Yoga Teacher with Yoga Alliance)    

Deb Penoyer, MS, R, RYT, completed her 200-hour teacher training at Shakti Yoga in 2015.  She is a licensed, registered professional nurse and works in the Lauderdale Center for Student Health and Counseling at SUNY Geneseo as nurse manager.  Her 22 years of nursing experience has informed her current teaching role with an understanding of the mind-body connection as well as a consistent practice of meditation and breathing techniques for relaxation and pain management. She also teaches Stress Management and Intro to Yoga in the Healthy Bodies-Healthy Minds leadership series for students.


Nikki Applin

RYT 200 (Registered Yoga Teacher with Yoga Alliance)

Nikki Applin, 200 hour CYT, RYT, is inspired by the sense of overall well-being that yoga offers. After retiring from her career as a public school teacher in 2012,  she became certified to teach YogaFit and completed her 200 hour Shakti Yoga teacher training in June of 2015.  Nikki is presently working with the Wellness Coordinator at Dansville Central School and plans to offer Gentle Yoga classes to faculty and staff.  Her upbeat classes focus on enhancing overall good health, cultivating balance and peace within based on proper alignment principles, breath work, and connection with the higher self. Off the mat, she enjoys many hobbies, including bicycling and teaching basketry.


Alex Richmond  

RYT 200 (Registered Yoga Teacher with Yoga Alliance) 

Alex Richmond completed his 200-hour teacher training at Shakti Yoga in 2015. Alex has been practicing yoga for over four years, and his interest in the philosophy led to his own personal practice of yoga cultivating well being physically, mentally, and spiritually.  His classes invite an atmosphere of focus, and fun. Principles in alignment, and breath control are main focuses during the class. Students will find themselves able to improve, or just enjoy their practice with a sense of ease.


Heather Acomb   

RYT 200 (Registered Yoga Teacher with Yoga Alliance)

Heather Acomb is a dancer, educator, yogini, and wellness practitioner originally from the Rochester, NY area. Heather's journey into yoga began in 2007 when searching for a new way to heal physical injuries from dance, but her real decision to begin walking down this path came a few years later after experiencing significant changes in her life and career. She completed her 200-hour Hatha Yoga teacher training at Shakti Yoga in 2016. “My classes invite all ages and levels of movers into the practice of yoga with a focus on breath, body awareness, mind-body connectivity and honoring the individual self while enjoying being in the present moment.”  Heather holds an MFA in Dance from The College at Brockport, has been a core member of the internationally known Bill Evans Dance Company, and is a certified Holistic Health Practitioner and wellness consultant. She is currently a Visiting Assistant Professor of Dance at Wells College.

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Deb French

RYT 200 (Registered Yoga Teacher with Yoga Alliance) 

Deb French has a minor in dance from SUNY Geneseo and a Masters degree in Dance from SUNY Brockport. She has studied Modern, Jazz, Ballet, African, Flamenco, Latin, Swing and various folk dance styles. She has taught fitness and aerobics classes and most recently has become a certified Zumba instructor. Deb has a passion for dance and movement and loves to share that passion with her students, both at SUNY Geneseo where she is a dance faculty member and Valley School of Dance.  Deb will complete her 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training with Shakti Yoga this Fall 2016.


Laurie Taillie

RYT 200 (Registered Yoga Teacher with Yoga Alliance)

Laurie Taillie completed her RYT200 at Shakti Yoga in 2015.  She has been teaching yoga at Blue Pearl Yoga in Batavia for several years.  It was the original owner of Blue Pearl, Karen Reisdorf, a student of Jacki and Angela, who inspired her to move from a student of yoga to a teacher of yoga.  In an earlier career, Laurie taught high school English, but now as a retiree, she not only teaches yoga, but volunteers at Genesee Country Village and Museum, Lifespan of Rochester as A Matter of Balance Coach, and supervises student teachers through SUNY Oneonta.  She is honored to be able to teach at Shakti Yoga and is thankful for the preparation and background the Shakti Yoga teacher training provided her.


Donnell Ritz

RYT 200 (Registered Yoga Teacher with Yoga Alliance)

Donii, a Conesus Lake native, is a 2016 graduate of Shakti Yoga's 200 hour teacher training program.  She has been a devoted student of yoga for almost a decade, having studied both Vinyasa & HIIT Vinyasa, Bikram, and frequenting Shakti classes where she demonstrates core power, strength, and openness not only in asana but in body, mind, and heart.  "I think core power comes from trusting that if you are faithful to your practice it will be faithful to you.  Yoga is my passion, it fuels my fire.  As the saying goes 'Thousands of candles can be lighted by a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened.  Happiness never decreases by being shared.'  I aspire to share this eternal flame and sense of empowerment that we all have the potential of tapping into with each student I have the pleasure of teaching."  When not in the studio, you can find Donii balancing in a headstand on her paddle board or racing down a mountain on her snowboard with her 2 boys, Stefan & Vitali.