Meet Your Instructors
“Blackbird Yoga Studio has provided me with a place to go to clear my head, move and find my center. The teachers are talented, non-judgemental and accepting - always helping students reach their full potential, both physically and mentally. Blackbird is one of my favorite places to go and I feel grateful to have stumbled upon it. It has changed my life.”
Nicole D'AndreaLearn More
Nicole D’Andrea’s soul mission is to help women crumble limiting beliefs and tap into their fullest potential. She is a long-time yoga instructor, teacher of teachers, entrepreneur and coach — and is Blackbird Yoga Studio’s proud owner.
Nicole's teaching philosophy is rooted in the belief that the body is capable of revealing the nature of our souls and guides her students in cultivating a valuable friendship with themselves. She knows firsthand that the ability to listen to the innate wisdom of the body is our most powerful tool for self healing and transformation.
Expect to leave Nicole’s class feeling energized, inspired and empowered. She weaves her unique background in the health sciences, yogic philosophy, mindfulness and coaching into every experience she creates for her students. She believes music is a healing force, and uses it to drive the feeling of her class.
Nicole is firmly committed to celebrating and increasing diversity in the wellness world. She is a registered Health at Every Size (HAES) practitioner and honors differences in size, age, race, ethnicity, gender, dis/ability, sexual orientation and religion. All are welcome in her space
Nicole graduated from Garden State Yoga’s teacher training program in 2013, where she studied under her mentor and friend, Jody Domerstad. She went on to complete additional trainings in sequencing, Bhakti yoga, and hands-on assisting at Laughing Lotus Yoga Center in NYC. Nicole is also a MINDBODY-Certified Business Consultant, and will become a Martha Beck Certified Wayfinder Life Coach in 2021
When she’s not teaching yoga, running Blackbird, or inspiring other women to live their lives on purpose, you can find her craft beer tasting, cooking elaborate dinners, or hiking with her husband and beloved boxer dog, Larry.
Steve DessimoneLearn More
As a child, Steve's favorite movie was the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. In it, there are scenes when the Turtles sit and meditate, and although the movie is full of action and adventure, these scenes captured a deeper part of his attention and curiosity. Seeds were planted, and only when he began practicing meditation almost 20 years later, did he realize that he’d been storing them in the depths of his mind since childhood, and now was the time to cultivate.
After a few months of meditation practice, sitting comfortably was, well…not so comfortable. At this time, Steve’s study of eastern philosophy was burgeoning and through this study, he noticed that yoga was also mentioned quite frequently along with meditation. It was clear that this was the next step.
Since then, he has studied in the traditions of Intergral, Iyengar, and Ashtanga yoga, infusing all three into his personal practice and always keeping meditation as the cornerstone. In 2016, he completed his 200 hour teacher training at Naturally Yoga and considers Veronica Yacco, Neil and Sheryl Edsall, as the springs from which he has been blessed with these teachings. Steve believes that in this life, the body and mind are the instruments with which we’ve been given to perform, and yoga is how we tune them.
Kaelyn SiverskyLearn More
Kaelyn has been practicing yoga for since 2007 and her love for both the physical and philosophical practice has been a defining element in her life since she first sat in a yoga class. Kaelyn specializes in weaving proper alignment into steady flows with a focus on sequencing. Each class will be challenging, encouraging, and always playful. Yoga has created a space in Kaelyn's life for courageousness, honesty, trust and love both on and off the mat. She received her yoga certification in 2012 from Yoga Mechanics. She has immense gratitude for all of the amazing teachers who have taught her along the way.
Ina CabreraLearn More
When Ina was 18, she attended a free 2 1/2 hour yoga class. At the time she thought it was “super weird” but couldn't believe how good she felt afterward. Ten years later, she began to take prenatal yoga classes to help her through the discomforts she felt during pregnancy. Ten years after that, she signed up for a yoga membership at a local gym, almost on a whim. As she began to notice how significantly yoga was impacted and transformed many areas of her life, her practice became steadier and something she learned to depend on as an anchor. Yoga, along with the support from her teachers and other students, has helped bring healing and self awareness to her life.
Ina believes that a focus on alignment and maintaining a feeling of softness allows the breath flow freely through the body to maximize healing. She also incorporates elements from her practice of Tai Chi into her classes. It gives her great joy to be able to share the tools that have helped her through her life journey with others.
Lauren PendergastLearn More
Lauren began sporadically taking yoga classes in college but became more dedicated to her practice during grad school as a way to combat the stressful academic environment. She was drawn to the movement and flow of vinyasa yoga after years of studying dance as a young girl. Learning to trust her body and surrender to the practice created more confidence and self-acceptance than she could have imagined.
Lauren completed her 200 hour teacher training through the Powerflow School of Yoga with Stacey Bell and Carrie Parker Gastelu. Beyond practicing asanas, through study and self-reflection Lauren believes yoga has the power to transform your mind and body in a powerful way. Lauren's classes infuse thoughtful sequencing with fun music (and maybe a witty comment or two) to create a challenging yet playful flow. Lauren hopes to instill in her students a love of yoga, the passion to continue the practice, and the confidence to try new things both on and off the mat.
Danielle KasenLearn More
Danielle started her spiritual journey at a young age by being exposed to incredible teachers: Ram Dass, Krishna Das, Nina Rao, Rameshwar Das and many others who taught her the lessons given by Neem Karoli Baba (also known as Maharajji). She grew up hearing incredible stories about close family and friends and their adventures in India and she always knew she would one day be a world traveler and yogi. She worked for most of her adult life as an actor and comedy writer before venturing off to China to work as a teacher for four years where she studied more about Buddhism, Taoism, Mandarin and Traditional Chinese Medicine. Since her return to the U.S. she decided it was time to continue her teaching in the classroom as well as become a student in Blackbird’s Yoga Teacher Training program. She loves teaching yoga, loves the friends she made in teacher training, loves her teachers and loves Blackbird.
Jennifer TapiaLearn More
Yoga has intrigued Jen for years, but she didn’t think it could be for her. Meditation classes, words of wisdom from others and time spent soul searching helped spark her interest more. In December 2017, Jen had her first yoga experience at Blackbird Yoga Studio. From that day forward she fell in love with the practice, enrolled in Nicole D’Andrea’s 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training program and graduated in June of 2018. She is filled with appreciation for the BYS teachers sharing their passion of yoga with her and stoking the fire within. Yoga has done wonders for Jen’s body, spirit and mind. She is grateful for the opportunity to gently guide others in their own practice with support, proper alignment, pranayama and positive energy.
Kathleen PhilipsLearn More
Kathleen has been studying dance and movement for a large part of her life. She studied ballet, jazz and tap (her favorite) as a young child and continued on through college and as a young adult. Structured dance morphed into Aerobics and other types of dance inspired fitness routines but she never forgot those early years. After different injuries sidelined her current fitness routine, she decided on a whim to venture into Blackbird Yoga Studio and that day changed her life. She quickly realized how much she loved the practice of yoga and the community that surrounded it. Stepping onto her mat every day has allowed her in the simplest terms the ability to connect with her mind, body and spirit. Kathleen completed her 200 Hour Teacher Training at Blackbird Yoga Studio in June of 2018.
Ashley VernickLearn More
Ashley received her B.S. in Business Management from the University of Phoenix and spent the first 12 years of her career as a business leader for several top retailers. She had always had such a passion for coaching her teams and helping them grow their own career, that it led to her starting her own business as a life coach.
In 2014 Ashley completed her certification as a Law of Attraction life coach and quickly fell in love with her new path. After 2 years of additional training and coaching clients on the side, she left her long-term career in retail to focus on her coaching business full time.
Ashley experienced her first yoga class while in college and was surprised how peaceful she felt after. She continued to practice here and there over the years but it was in 2017 after some painful life events that she began to deepen her practice as a way to support her own healing. It felt like the missing piece in her life and when the opportunity came about to become a teacher the decision was really a no-brainer. In 2018 Ashley completed her 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training at Blackbird Yoga Studio with Nicole D'Andrea. As both a teacher and a coach, Ashley hopes to help others become more in tune with themselves mind, body and spirit, trust their own inner voice and hold a safe and sacred space for them to support their own healing and growth.
Valerie MitchellLearn More
Valerie spent the last 15 years exploring various paths of yoga before deciding to fulfill her dream of becoming a teacher. She completed her 200 Hour Teacher Training at Juluka Yoga Studio in Hillsdale, NJ. In deepening her own awareness and understanding of the principles of Hatha yoga, she learned that there is no “one way” to practice and you need not to be a former gymnast to partake in all the benefits that yoga has to offer. Yoga has also been a beneficial oasis away from the high-stress demands of her meeting planning job. Valerie views teaching yoga as a way to increase energy and awareness of your body through a variety of asanas while honoring your own unique level of fitness. Her teaching style is accessible to all abilities and she has a keen interest in helping beginners as well as those who want to age well and remain strong for years to come. A runner who has completed five marathons and numerous road races, Valerie is passionate about bringing this moving meditation to those who want to gain or maintain flexibility while pursuing sports activities like skiing, cycling, and golf.
Michelle NearyLearn More
Michelle is a 500 hour Certified Yoga Teacher completing her 200 hour training with Ben Wisch and her 300 hour advanced training with Jody Domerstad. She has over 500 hours of additional training, receiving certifications in Restorative yoga, Yin yoga, Functional yoga, and has completed Reiki Level II and SourcePoint Therapy Level II. Michelle teaches an alignment based class with the intent of sharing her love for the practice and the functionality of the poses. Expect a structured class that is rewarding and fulfilling both mentally and physically.