Teachers

Sophie Simpson is the founder of Blue Banyan Yoga Studio and co-director of Blue Banyan’s School and Studio.  She teaches in the Vinyasa tradition and passionately believes that everyone can benefit from the practice of Yoga, and is dedicated to finding the “Way-In” for each of her students. In 1998, Sophie found her yoga-home at Laughing Lotus in New York City, and earned her Yoga Alliance Certification under the inspiring tutelage of Jasmine Tarkeshi and Dana Flynn in 2002. She has been teaching vehemently ever since. Sophie believes that Practice on the mat is the bridge to living Yoga off the mat.

Jake Miller first encountered the practice of yoga as a student of theatre and dance in 1997. After several years of ‘dabbling’ and few of serious study, he began teaching in the Vinyasa-style in 2004. In 2007 he completed his 250-hour Teacher Certification at Wake Up Yoga in Philadelphia. Continuing studies have included Sanskrit and Sound Yoga with Manorama of Sanskrit Studies, Living Tantra with Pandit Rajmani Tigunait of the Himilayan Institute, and Thai Yoga Bodywork with Michael Buck of the Vedic Institute and Saul David Raye of Ritam Healing Arts. Jake is now co-director of Blue Banyan Yoga School and Studio.

Jenny Burkholder began practicing yoga in 2004, when she moved to Philadelphia. In 2013, drawn to Blue Banyan Yoga’s emphasis on proper alignment and spiritual depth, she began practicing there, and in 2017, she completed her 500-hour teacher training with Sophie Simpson and Jake Miller. Outside of Blue Banyan, she teaches English at Abington Friends School and writes poetry and creative nonfiction. Her work has appeared in various literary journals, and in 2016 Finishing Line Press published her poetry chapbook, Repaired. In her classes, Jenny combines her understanding of the asana practice with her love of imagery and metaphor. She hopes her devotion will help others develop their own physical and spiritual practices.

When Cicelee Chappelle first began practicing yoga, it was strictly as a means to cross-train her body. Before long it became her primary form of exercise, as it benefited both body and mind in ways her gym workouts could not. Thus after years of life in New York City working on Wall St. then in the fashion industry, yoga became her path to healing her mind and spirit, releasing struggle, and staying centered. As her passion for yoga grew, so did the idea that she should share it with as many people as she could. To that end she completed teacher trainings with Isaac Pena, Jude English, Mary Dana Abbott and Schuyler Grant, emerging from them a fully committed yoga teacher. Having now returned to Philadelphia, her hometown, she aims to serve her students with classes that purify the body and still the mind through the healing power of breath coordinated with mindful movement.

Sarah Charlesworth My yoga teacher training includes 250 hours in Vinyasa and 85 hours in Prenatal and Postnatal. I also hold an MPH in Epidemiology from UW. My yoga practice grounds yet invigorates me, and has deepened my self-knowledge. In my teaching I focus on creating integrity and freedom of movement in the physical body and cultivating the mind-body-breath connection, using a creative, accessible and sustainable approach to meet students wherever they are. My philosophy is that “we practice today so that we can practice tomorrow”.

Mary Gulotta completed her 200 hour teacher training with Sophie Simpson and Jake Miller in Spring of 2017. Through the physical and philosophical practice of yoga, Mary has found that yoga has helped her recognize and appreciate the interconnectedness of the world around her. She aspires to create a safe space for community practice that will allow each practitioner to feel both grounded and capable. Mary?s practice is deeply rooted in the cycles of nature, safe alignment, and thoughtful sequencing in order to promote overall well-being. When not teaching or practicing, Mary can be found working in the Philadelphia area as an Early Intervention Speech-Language Pathologist, spending time in nature, or creating in her kitchen.

Sofi Milani, an E500 RYT has been practicing yoga for 19 years, coming to yoga in her late 50s. She graduated from Advanced Studies and Teacher Training of Yoga Center of Sonoma County (California) in 2004 and has been teaching ever since. She stresses alignment and safety in her classes, has always found both breath and movement very important for health. Sofi welcomes anyone interested in joining her on the yoga journey.

Carly McDade began her yoga journey in 2008, initially as a means to exercise. She quickly realized the lessons and benefits reached far beyond any physical practice. In recognizing the interconnections of our Universe through yoga philosophy and tradition, Carly has found a deeper ability to live presently, and she aims to cultivate a space for gratitude in her classes. She completed her 200- & 300-hour foundational trainings under the guidance of Sophie Simpson & Jake Miller at the Blue Banyan Yoga Studio in Mt Airy. Carly continues to expand her learning in Trauma-Sensitive and Restorative yoga to support her work in the mental health and wellness field as a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist.

Amy Quigley is honored to come back to her roots and share her practice at Blue Banyan. She began practicing yoga in 2005 as a result of her husband gifting her yoga classes for Mother?s Day. At first it was the physical aspect of the practice that engaged her the most, but over time with a consistent and dedicated practice, she came to realize that yoga was also a way of living her life and helping her manage the everyday stresses of working and motherhood. In 2009 Amy was forced to leave her job as a chemist from a big Pharma and her passion for the yoga practice led her to enroll in Blue Banyan?s 1st Yoga Teacher Training in December 2009. She has been teaching actively since 2010 and currently spends most of her teaching time at Penn State Abington teaching yoga through the Kinesiology department. Amy loves to be a student of yoga and continues to grow and explore in her own journey. She recently participated in Corina Benner?s Yin Yoga teacher training as a way to bring balance to her Yang practice on and off the mat.

Tom Schrand received his 200-hour teacher training with Sophie and Jake at Blue Banyan, and has since completed two 75-hour modules at the Kripalu School of Yoga (Leading Vinyasa, and Teaching Pranayama and Advanced Asana) towards their 300-hour advanced teacher certification. Leading classes at Blue Banyan motivates him to keep diving deeper into his own practice and sharing what he learns: he believes that any and all of us can enjoy the many benefits of yoga practice at any and all times in our lives. His teaching combines the vinyasa emphasis on motion and flow, the Iyengar attention to alignment and precision, and the Kripalu orientation towards inner awareness and presence, in order to offer physical experiences with the potential to generate positive mental, emotional and spiritual states. He invites you to join him for friendly teaching, thoughtful sequencing, and custom playlists synced to the progression of each class.

Eric Sodano I am a northwest Philadelphia native who loves to be active. I have a deep affinity for activities such as mountain biking, bodyboarding, and snowboarding which can help us explore nature in a way that brings us closer to ourselves. Initially, when I first started practicing yoga at Blue Banyan over ten years ago, my interest was purely physical. While I still appreciate a physical practice, Blue Banyan has helped me to learn that the real treasure of yoga is that it helps us to realize our essential nature. Just as riding down a mountain or the face of a wave helps me to cultivate a moment of being when my inner light can shine true and the troubles of the world fade away, the same benefits can be found anytime I unroll my yoga mat and practice. I look forward to practicing with you!

Sara Trohaugh brings over a decade of experience teaching and sharing her love of yoga. In Sara?s class you can expect a thoughtfully sequenced practice infused with therapeutics, philosophy and gentle playfulness. Also a practicing massage therapist, her classes often include techniques to release body tension and promote relaxation through deep listening and breathwork. Sara?s first 200 hour teacher training is from the classical yoga practices of Sivananda Ashram followed by her next 200 hour training in the therapeutic teachings of Naime Jezzeny and Sue Elkind of DIG yoga. Sara is a Mt Airy resident and Mama of two energetic toddlers.

Sarah Van Aken is committed to creating space for students to connect with themselves in new and unique ways that nourish mind, body and spirit and enable a deeper connection to the world around them. Sarah is a Brand Strategist and entrepreneur by day and received her 200 HR Teacher Certificate at Blue Banyan Yoga School. She completed coursework in Intuitive Energy Reading through High Heart Healing in 2016.