Vanessa CL Weiner, Executive Director
Vanessa’s first experience with yoga was a gift certificate from her husband for classes together in 2002. What she didn’t know is that it would bring her back to the centered feeling she had during her childhood as a gymnast when her dad taught her to meditate.
A new mom when she and her husband took that first class, Vanessa found herself repeatedly called back to the mat to re-connect with her center. A few years later when her kids needed their own tools to find and balance their own center, it was clear to Vanessa that she needed to become a teacher.
Since that time, Vanessa is grateful to have studied with some of the leading teachers in this field, which has guided the formation of ResilientKids. Her certifications include:
- all three levels of Jennifer Cohen’s Little Flower Yoga teacher training; 135-hour Yoga Alliance-certified program
- Amy Saltzman’s Still Quiet Place training in leading mindfulness for kids
- Rolf Gates’ 200-hour vinyasa yoga teacher training
- Pre- and post-natal yoga through Leslie Lytle at OmMama
- Mindful Education Institute’s Mindfulness in Education year-long program
- as well as numerous workshops and conferences on this topic with leaders including Linda Lantieri, Jack Kornfield, Jon Kabat-Zinn, Susan Kaiser-Greenland, Chris McKenna, and Megan Cowan.
Vanessa has seen the benefits first-hand of teaching the principles of yoga and meditation to her own children. When her daughter’s teacher expressed thanks in the final school progress report for teaching meditation at home, and how much it helped in the classroom, Vanessa knew she wanted to dedicate her teaching to reaching out to as many kids as possible so that everyone can experience the benefit – the kids, their families, their teachers, and the school communities as a whole. Incorporating these tools into each day, kids are more grounded and experience less stress.
Vanessa has now been teaching yoga and mindfulness to hundreds of children ages 3 to 18 both during and after school since 2009. With this experience, and seeing clear evidence that kids are stressed, Vanessa developed ResilientKidsTM as a way to offer kids tools for coping with whatever life may bring. She is the first in the state to formally integrate a curriculum-based approach to yoga and mindfulness within the school day.
Jennifer Spaziano, Instructor
Jennifer firmly believes that movement, song and play keep her family sane and is honored to be part of ResilientKids to bring the joy of yoga to the community. She is RYT 200 trained by Tom Gillette at Eyes of the World in Providence, RI, and of course her two daughters are her most demanding teachers of all. Her one-car family lives on the West end of Providence, where she is active in building a local way of life. She has been practicing yoga for over ten years and has been working with children since her first job at the Greater Boston YMCA many years before that. Having studied psychology, as well as having introduced yoga to many family members and friends with depression, bipolar and anxiety, Jennifer has first hand experience of how the tools of Yoga can bring emotional balance to all ages. Her style is supportive, loving and fun – always in awe of the natural wisdom of children, she seeks to build on their inherent yogi and yogini. You can keep up with her musings on Yoga at www.thedailyyoke.com.
Natasha Maria Brooks-Sperduti, Instructor
Natasha took her first yoga class at age 11, and was astounded even then at how intuitive so many of the asanas are. She spent her childhood in gymnastics and art- upside down or else squatting while painting. When she finally returned to yoga at 23, she felt she was finally home. Today, Natasha finds yoga to be a flexible and empowering way to improve and maintain her own physical emotional well-being, and delights in bringing this tool, this gift, this deep wonderful wisdom to others.
Natasha has been a student of yoga for over 8 years, and a teacher for 3. She completed her 200 Hour Teacher Training with Eileen Muir, in Northampton, MA. Early on, she studied with Iyengar yoga with Barbra Boris and Jessica Gadsby. More recently, she has discovered and practiced Anusara Yoga, an newer innovation of Iyengar style, with Sara Davidson.
Natasha is an artist. She approaches her art, her yoga and her life as a creative practice- an opportunity for recognizing essence, revealing truth, and making meaning.
Deirdre Murphy, Instructor
Deirdre has created energetic and empowering youth development based programming for over 15 years as a counselor, coach, leadership development and life skills facilitator, and now as a yoga and mindfulness teacher. With a background in spearheading a girls soccer movement in a marginalized Latino community in San Francisco, Deirdre is deeply passionate about empowering youth to realize their full potential.
Baptiste power vinyasa yoga hooked Deirdre in over 4 years ago when a teacher told the class to keep their eyes on their own mat. As a soccer player, with an overly competitive mind-set, this was all she needed to hear in order to have compassion for herself as a beginner. The discipline to connect with her body and breath to become fully present has been transformational in that she feels lighter, a deep sense of gratitude, and a committed willingness to respond to her day with a compassionate and open heart.
Using her extensive experience in social work, and desire to build community, Deirdre creates classes and workshops for youth, teens and families to discover their strengths, and build tools to feel calm, confident and at ease. She completed 200 hour power vinyasa teacher training at Salt Pond Yoga and Baron Baptiste’s Power Vinyasa Level 1 training.
She’s certified to teach ‘YogaED’ high school curriculum for at-risk youth
and has a Masters in Social Work. And of course, she’s eternally grateful for the amazing community of teachers in RI and beyond.
Alex Zima, Instructor
Alex has worked in the field of education, training, and wellness for over 10 years. He is a certified yoga instructor and has led numerous mindfulness-based workshops and classes since 2004. He is currently working as the Training and Product Specialist at ShapeUp Inc. in Providence, a company that develops and delivers technology-assisted health and wellness programming to their clients.
Ruth Berenson, Instructor
Ruth brings an unending curiosity about the development of mind, body and spirit to her life and work. Grounded in study and her experiences as a teacher, school administrator, educational consultant, founder of the Parent Exchange and psychotherapist she possess a broad range of skills which enhance her ability to understand and work with children, parents and teachers. Her enthusiasm for yoga has dramatically influenced her life as a professional, artist and athlete. For over 40 years she has been dedicated to building resilience in those with whom she has worked and in her own beloved family. She is creatively committed to fostering positive, strong and flexible connections between individuals, families and communities.