Meet The Nirvana Yoga & Fitness Staff
Elissa Lappostato-CUELLAR- Director, teacher, & WEllness Counselor
Elissa Cuellar began her journey in 2002 after a traumatic accident drastically changed her life. Elissa was a collegiate soccer player and graduated with a BA in biology & Neuroscience from Rutgers University. She found yoga at 18 to deal with her crippling anxiety from recurring head trauma and became certified at 20. She was planning on attending medical school but she decided to study Ayurveda, Thai bodywork, nutrition, and energy healing instead. She believes the best teachers are always a student. She reads daily and loves to learn and apply to her practice. In 2012 she opened Nirvana Wellness Center. She truly believes if one aligns their body and gives it what it needs, they can heal themselves. Elissa teaches power classes, restorative, & classes for all levels that are focused on breath awareness, during challenges specifically. She believes the yoga mat is like a training facility for life and all that we face. If we train ourselves to breath through intense situations on our yoga mat, it becomes habitual off our yoga mat and we think clearer and react more mindfully. Elissa specializes in teaching private sessions helping people to tune in to their bodies and minds to overcome weakness/asymmetry, and the "monkey mind". Elissa also specializes in Vedic Thai bodywork and plant based lifestyle counseling with a focus on Ayurveda. She is constantly studying and researching alternative health & and wellness. She is currently completing another training for counseling at Cornell University researching plant based nutrition. She offers programs at Nirvana Wellness Center and her affiliate Cafe Plantedeats.com .
"With the power of the breath, we can overcome anything"
"With the power of the breath, we can overcome anything"
Nicole, E-RYT 200/YACEP, is the Director of Nirvana’s School of Yoga. She has been teaching hot yoga and leading 200-hour trainings since 2014. She is the founder of The SoulFire Method®, a 30-hour power yoga fusion teacher training now offered at Nirvana’s Montville and Wayne locations. Nicole’s teaching principles stem from her combined background in Biology as well as her deep study of Ashtanga and Vinyasa methods. Nicole specializes in the anatomy of the human body and the journey to bring the body into balance. She encourages trainees to explore, understand and master the art of alignment and Functional Range Conditioning (FRC®), which utilizes the latest advancements in scientific knowledge, combined with tried and tested training methods to increase ones active, usable ranges of motion by simultaneously improving articular mobility, strength/resilience, and neurological control. Nicole will help you discover the connection between the human body and our energetic system to create balance both physically and emotionally.
Danielle, E-RYT 200, had heard for many years that “she would really enjoy practicing yoga.” After many empty promises to try it, she finally gave in. With a little push from dear friend (and owner of Nirvana) Elissa had given her a yoga pass for her birthday, the two set off to a local hot yoga studio at 5:45 the next morning. Seventy-five minutes later, dripping with sweat, nearly forgetting to breathe, and face-planting out of bakasana (crow pose), Danielle’s addiction began. Using yoga as her safe haven from school and a stressful career in law enforcement, Danielle has learned to take lessons learned on the mat and live them in every aspect of her life. Her favorite mantra is “Inhale let, exhale go.”
Sheryl, E-RYT 200, has been practicing yoga since 2006. She feels yoga has transformed her life. Previously a gym rat, she feels yoga offers the same benefits of a gym, but also provides the benefits of the yogic breath. Through the breath she has discovered the mind body connection and what that truly means. This has allowed her to take yoga off the mat and into her everyday life. Her dream as a yoga teacher is to help people understand the amazing benefits which yoga provides. “When the mind connects to the breath the body has unlimited capabilities.”
Arnaldo, E-RYT 200, is one of Nirvana's very own Yoga Alliance 200 RYT teacher training graduates. Arnaldo began his journey to yoga through a love of physical fitness. He’s spent the last 5 years exploring and developing his practice both on his mat and in his life, and continues to do so in hopes of sharing that practice with others. Arnaldo teaches an open-level, challenging, powerful practice with dynamic vinyasa flows, drawing awareness to the breath and focus to the mind. Arnaldo is certified in Vedic Thai bodywork.
Courtney, E-RYT 200, has always lead a very active lifestyle and is always on the go and being pulled in many directions. After practicing yoga for 5+ years as way to calm her mind and body, she decided to become a yoga instructor herself. Courtney teaches creative, strengthening, yet calming Vinyasa style. When not in the studio, you can find Courtney outside running, biking, swimming, kayaking, anything to enjoy the outdoors. She also participated in her first triathlon last year and will be adding to her list of accomplishments this year with half marathons and more triathlons.
Mary, E-RYT 200, is one of Nirvana's very own Yoga Alliance 200 RYT teacher training graduates. She started her journey with yoga in 2008 as a way to stay active and reduce stress and anxiety. What began as just a physical practice, became a mind, body and soul connection. Mary has taken her 30 hour Yin Yoga certification and believes that practicing both Yin and Yang (Vinyasa) yoga helps to create balance within your practice and within your life. Mary is a mother of a free spirited toddler and believes in the importance of making time to practice yoga, because when we take care of our selves we can better serve those around us. "Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu"
Jackie, RYT 200, is one of Nirvana’s very own Yoga Alliance 200 RYT teacher training graduates. Her yoga journey began in the Fall of 2012 at the same time she was enrolled through the Institute of Integrative, as she was training to become a certified health coach. While in school, she had included on her “bucket list” to give yoga a try. Jackie’s first yoga class was at Nirvana with Elissa, the owner of the studio. She was immediately hooked! She transitioned from most days working out at a gym to replacing her fitness workouts with her daily yoga practice. In time she grew to appreciate way more than the physical asanas and learned that yoga offered a mind body connection that she had never experienced before. Jackie teaches a challenging and creative vinyasa flow class. She believes in a holistic approach to life and feels that everyone can benefit by introducing yoga into theirs.
Carrie, RYT 200, began her yoga journey in 2009; in 2017 she completed her 200-hour teacher training with Raji Thron at Yoga Synthesis in Ramsey, New Jersey. Carrie, is a mother of 3, and leads a busy life as a full-time corporate executive in Manhattan. She is a dedicated yoga practitioner and personally commits to practicing 6-7 days a week. She continues to attend workshops, and regularly studies with various teachers. Carrie’s dynamic teaching style incorporates different teaching methodologies from various yoga lineages. Her breath–focused, Vinyasa classes are thoughtfully prepared, using intelligent sequencing, and creative transitions. She places a strong emphasis on tuning into the healing and inspiring nature of practicing within a community setting. Carrie brings an authentic and passionate voice to each class as she guides her students through a journey of inward reflection & self-discovery.
Jeanine, RTY 200, has been practicing yoga for over 15 years. She first tried yoga as a way to get moving, shed some weight, and make her doctor happy. What she found was that it made her happy and that is what she truly needed. Yoga has helped her to be more mindful, grow stronger, more flexible, confident and peaceful. She completed her RYT 200 teacher training at The American Yoga Academy. She continues to pursue education and certifications in yoga, health, wellness and the healing arts. This provides her with fresh knowledge that inspires her teaching. Jeanine is a Ayruveda Specialist and does Vedic Thia Bodywork. She is forever grateful for the wisdom all of her teachers have shared with her. Her love of anatomy and physiology with breathing techniques, alignment, balanced energy and relaxation are what make up her classes. Jeanine wants everyone to know that yoga is for every body. "I teach because it makes me a better student, I study because it makes me a better teacher. I hope to see you on the mat."
Matthew, E-RYT 200, found himself in his first yoga class sometime in 2008, and didn’t take his second until years later. It was not love at first sight. It was not romantic. It was uncomfortable, hard, and confusing. And it wasn’t until Matthew was ready that he was able to dedicate himself to both the outer and inner yoga. Knowing this, he is super keen on meeting students where they are making his classes filled with humor while still blending in the deeper teachings of yoga. He teaches a strong alignment based vinyasa inspired by his teachers Amy Petty and Noah Maze which whom he completed his RYT 200 with. Matthew has done extensive inner yoga training with David Harshada Wagner, has completed thousands of hours of study, and leads trainings under Adriana Rizzolo’s school, Power of Love.
Sarah, E-RYT 200, is a certified traditional Hatha yoga instructor, and looks to bring both spiritual and physical balance to her clients. Prior to completing an intensive 200 hour training through Yoga Alliance, Sarah began her journey at one of the premier organic raw vegan schools in the world, Living Light Culinary Institute in California. As a vegan chef for many years, Sarah wanted to bring a more whole body approach to her clients, which led her to yoga. Sarah felt that becoming a yoga teacher would allow her to provide this whole body approach to her clients. While training with well-known yoga instructors from around the world, Sarah continued to further her knowledge within spiritual healing. While completing her yoga certification, Sarah also became a certified Reiki healer at the Montclair Metaphysical Center in New Jersey. Her philosophy focuses on creating a compassionate, nonjudgmental, and nourishing environment that encourages her clients to transform both their mind and their body. Sarah looks to make yoga both approachable and challenging, all while moving at your own pace
Kristen, E-RYT 500, has been practicing yoga on and off since she was 16 years old and has been teaching yoga for over 12 years. Kristen brings with her a deep passion for the practice of yoga and truly believes the philosophy that the physical asana prepares you for meditation and that meditation helps you work toward emotional healing. Kristen loves taking an off the mat approach in her personal practice, combining the world of nature with the meditative benefits of yoga. She believes that simply being outside in nature has healing powers. Kristen also holds a strong belief that by setting heartfelt intentions you can manifest your greatest hopes and dreams. All of Kristen's classes reflect her passionate belief that yoga truly has the ability to change the world. Her goal for her students is that they will not only come to take yoga classes, but that they will choose to live a yoga lifestyle that is filled with passion, peace and love.
Bet is a health and fitness enthusiast and certified personal trainer! A former Professional Football Offensive lineman at 330 pounds, he lost over 100lbs and is currently under 10% body fat. Bet is driven to help people reach the best form of themselves through HIIT and variety of exercises! Come join him at 5:30am for a sunrise Hot HIIT class or book a personal training session.
Tiffany Curren is a Certified Breathwork Facilitator, Advanced Reiki Practitioner and RYT 200, with an additional certification in Yoga Nidra. Her path began with an unlikely, divine moment at the young age of 5, at an ashram in Connecticut. She was quietly walking when she happened to be stopped by Swami Satchidananda, who lifted her up over his head, smiled, and gave her a new name, Shakti Prema. She holds safe space for people to dive deep and look within, heal core wounds, and live with purpose.
Nicole E-RYT200, is one of Nirvana's very own teacher training graduates from 2015. She studied communication disorders at Stockton University. She teaches a powerful vinyasa flow that focuses on breath and alignment.
Wendy E-RYT 200, has spent her life as a fitness advocate and was blessed to find yoga after a traumatic life-changing experience. She quickly became hooked on the rigorous physical aspect of yoga coupled with the strong component of learning to harness and quiet the mind through the combination of breath work and asanas. In an effort to deepen her practice and bring yoga to others, Wendy obtained her teaching certification through Yoga Impact and is a RYT with Yoga Alliance. She designs her classes to be challenging with a strong emphasis on proper alignment. She continues to deepen and expand her practice in order to share her knowledge with her students and believes the practice of yoga is a life long journey. “Yoga is about cultivating patience, not frustration."