I am a social worker turned yogi, with more than 15 years of clinical experience in children's mental health. Since completing the first of multiple yoga teacher trainings in 2012, I have integrated yoga and mindfulness into my work with children and families. I have extensive training in trauma-informed and accessible yoga and am actively engaged in anti-racism and social justice education. Before taking on the role of Executive Director for ZENworks Yoga, I was an instructor for 7+ years and served as the Director of Curriculum and Instruction. I previously developed and led trauma-informed yoga programs in local mental health agencies, drug/alcohol treatment centers and special education schools.
My intention in this crazy beautiful life is to be a conduit of change. I believe that each of us holds the capacity for resilience and healing, when given safe and equitable access to uncover it. I am also a wife, a mama to a 12 and 5 year old and lover of coffee and sunshine. I am eternally grateful for the gifts that yoga has brought to my life and am dedicated to paying those gifts forward in service of our greater Cleveland community.
Sonya Bapna Patel
Founder & Founding Board Member, Operations
In 2010, I moved back to Cleveland from New York after completing a two-year commitment teaching elementary students through Teach for America (TFA). While in TFA, I worked at Leadership Prep Charter School - Bed Stuy teaching 2nd and 3rd grade. I noticed that my students were very over stimulated and stressed whether it be from the pressures at home or other environments. And there were limited opportunities for them to refocus their energy and find some solace in their day. While teaching at the school, I would occasionally show my students basic yoga poses and breathing techniques during PE and quick transitions during the day. They enjoyed it very much and it provided them a chance to reenergize and refocus. Upon returning to Cleveland, I worked for Breakthrough Charter Schools in HR focusing on teacher recruiting. Prior to TFA, I worked for the Monitor Group in management consulting and Mattel Inc. in International Strategic Planning. I graduated from NYU in 2003 with a BS in Finance and Accounting and also have a MEd from Teacher U (Hunter College). I now spend my time working on Zenworks Yoga and enjoying time with my energetic daughter, playful son and supportive husband and extended family.
Founding Board Memeber
I am new to the world of yoga, but I have been working in the non-profit sector in Cleveland for several years now and was immediately sold on the idea of ZENworks. I am one of the founding members of the ZENworks Board of Directors and have enjoyed watching the organization grow and serve more children. I graduated from John Carroll University with a degree in Marketing and assist the ZENworks team with branding and outreach.
Founding Board Memeber
Bio coming soon...
Voted #1 Wedding Planning Company three years in a row by Fox8’s Hotlist, Covesa Kelly Events has made event planning expert Covesa Gragg one proud owner! Covesa is an author, an energetic and passionate speaker, coach, and a business strategist with a background in banking and finance.
When not planning, coaching, or speaking, Covesa can be found enjoying delicious meals with friends and family and cuddling up with her Rottweiler, Shaggy.
Hi! I’m a sales & marketing professional with experience working in the business world. A passioned leader that believes in growing strong cultures and teams – connected by empathy, community, & compassion. That said – I pride myself on developing people and leading functional teams to make positive, uplifting progress. I know that no single approach is the right way for every individual, and so I’ve been trained in a range of methodologies – including, Gestalt’s Organizational & System Development (OSD) & Emotional Intelligence. My education foundation is a B.S.B.A. in Marketing from Bowling Green State University. I lead by example and motivate others through open communication, collaboration and cooperation – in a FUN way! My wife (Polly) and I are Certified Partner Yoga Instructors from Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health. And – we live in Bainbridge Township, OH - and have three grown children: Jordan (29), Dieter (26), and Ernest (22).
Mary started working with children and movement in her teens as a gymnastics camp counselor. Her interest in somatic movement and its therapeutic benefits led her to yoga in 1994. Mary is certified as a RYT 200, OM Yoga New York(2007) and RCYT 95 ChildLight Education Company, NH (2020). She holds many additional yoga certifications which include a 50 Hour Advanced Teacher Training, Love Yoga, CA (2021) as well as trauma informed yoga trainings. She has led yoga in various capacities since 2007. Mary's passion for Cleveland and the future of our city's children connected her to ZENworks Yoga in 2014, with whom she was an instructor from 2014-2022.
Ariel Jordan comes with a health, social work, nonprofit, research background, and a strong commitment to community. She has a Master of
Science in Social Administration and Master of Nonprofit Organizations from the Mandel School at Case Western Reserve University and a
She is also a certified yoga instructor RYT 200, certified in trauma-informed yoga, and a Reiki Level 1 practitioner. Her mission is to assure overall well-being is accessible to all. She strives to live that mission in all aspects of her life – her hope is to share accessible tools to use in day-to-day life with anyone that will listen to her.
Jennifer Griest Hayes
Curriculum and Instruction
As an Intervention Specialist and Educational Consultant, I have seen first hand the need for children to incorporate movement and mindfulness into their learning and play. While having practiced yoga myself for many years, in 2012 I took my first children’s yoga training with ChildLight Yoga. Immediately, I fell in love with the concept of teaching yoga to children of all ages and abilities! Since then, I have become a licensed trainer and consultant for the Yoga 4 Classrooms program, obtained certification in Creative Relaxation: Yoga Therapy for Autism and Special Needs, ChildLight Baby & Toddler yoga, and mini yogis® for Tweens and Teens. After spending almost seventeen years teaching in the classroom setting, I am thrilled to join the ZENworks Yoga team!
Residency Director & Instructor
Sara is a compassionate creative with a love for both teaching & learning. Often found in a classroom, kitchen, out in nature, or dancing with her family, she is fueled by challenging the status quo and empowering others. She earned an M.Ed as an Intervention Specialist (2014), RYT-200 (Awake to My Soul, 2018), and RCYT 95-hr trauma-informed children's and teen yoga training (Yoga Ed, 2021). She is currently training with Prison Yoga Project, and in Katie Kurtz's Cultivate program for trauma-informed space holding. Sara is dedicated to guiding individuals through accessible, meaningful practices which build confidence to develop their best selves, and in turn, their communities.
Mackenzie received her Masters of Public Health, worked as the Co-Executive Director & Chief Information Officer of a Health and Wellness non-profit in Youngstown, Oh, and is currently working as a marketing consultant for a few different companies and organizations. Traveling has fueled her desire to meet new people and embrace differences in cultures while growing herself and showing the value of these opportunities to her children. She has always had a passion for working with underserved communities and embracing a diversified community while taking a grassroots approach to a happy, healthy, community. She is a strong believer in supporting and investing in the communities you are a part of.
My name is Leslie Moss and I have been practicing yoga for thirteen years. I was trained to teach yoga to children through Yoga Ed and Zenworks Yoga. I am a School Psychologist with the Cleveland Municipal School District. I share the benefits of practicing yoga with colleagues, students, and parents as a means to help regulation of stress and their emotions, mindfulness, and understanding of the physiological connection between their bodies and their emotions via breath work and movements of their bodies. I am excited to be teaching Yoga with ZenWorks Yoga.
Bio coming soon...
Liz Kardamis is a 200hr RYT (Awake to My Soul, 2021), a Childlight Yoga certified instructor (2015) and certified in the Trauma Conscious Yoga Method (2022). She is also a licensed counselor and a Registered Art Therapist with 8+ years experience working in local pediatric psychiatric hospitals. After stepping away from the world of mental health to focus on raising her 3 children she began to contemplate how she could bring her love of yoga, mindfulness, and creativity to the community. Enter Zenworks! Liz has been teaching with Zenworks since the 2021/2022 school year and is grateful for the experience, connection and joy it has brought to her.
I took my first yoga class in 2000 as part of an after-school program for school-employees where I was currently working. In 2019, I became a certified yoga instructor (RYT 200) through the Cleveland Clinic School of Yoga, which maintains a focus on wellness-style yoga. I believe that yoga can be taught in a way that makes it accessible to everyone regardless of age, health, or fitness level. I truly believe in the benefits of teaching yoga & mindfulness to kids! Mindful movements can enhance students’ ability to learn and focus even after yoga class has ended. Bringing yoga to kids gives them skills they can use for the rest of their lives, and I am honored to be a part of teaching those skills to our students. I hold a Master’s degree in speech-language pathology and have spent many years in the schools as a speech-language pathologist. I have helped with yoga/mindfulness programs at my local school district and am a frequent presenter at Tri-C & various other organizations on the topic of wellness. I volunteer as the student relations chair for the Ohio University Women’s Club of Greater Cleveland and have worked in the non-profit sector including Hospice. I am a mother to 2 boys and love doing anything active, especially being outdoors!
Mike started practicing yoga over 12 years ago as a way to relieve back pain. He soon discovered all the other benefits yoga and mindfulness had to offer including lower stress and better sleep among others. He currently teaches Kundalini Yoga weekly at Studio 108 and The Studio Cleveland.
Originally from NYC, Nadeen came to yoga 15 years ago when a coworker gave her a prenatal yoga DVD. She completed her trauma-informed 200-hour yoga teacher training in 2022 at Abide Yoga Studio in Cleveland and became certified in Children’s Yoga through Yo Re Mi based in New York. She is a Reiki (Level II) practitioner and holds certifications in Sound Therapy as well as Positive Psychology. Nadeen has worked with families facing trauma and separation as an immigration attorney for nearly two decades. She is a mother of four, Zumba lover, hip hop head, and she plays some guitar. She especially enjoys integrating wellness and self-care regimens for women as well as community care for each other.
I found yoga in 2016 as a means to get physically healthy and quickly noticed not only the physical change but began noticing a healing changing from the inside out. My interest in yoga turned into a passion. Three (3) years later, I became a certified yoga instructor (CTY 200) and continued with my training, receiving my 300 hour yoga certification in December 2021.
Yoga is far deeper than a physical practice, it teaches you powerful tools/skills that benefit beyond the mat. Being able to share these tools/skills with others no matter the age group is something I am passionate about. When I am not practicing or teaching, you can find me enjoying a good book, or hanging out with family/friends enjoying a good meal, good conversation and good laughs!
Fran Mcintyre’s introduction to yoga was through an adult community ed. class.The yoga sessions cleared her mind and the energy and peacefulness she felt inspired her to continue. She went on to teach adult and children’s yoga for school and community recreation programs. In 2022 Fran completed the 200 hour program as a certified yoga instructor at Prana Yoga in Broadview Hts.
Fran holds a M Ed. in Education Psychology and worked with elementary and secondary students as a teacher and school psychologist in the Cleveland Schools and other districts in the Greater Cleveland area. Through this work she realized the importance to offer children the benefits of yoga and mindfulness. The forced isolation of the Pandemic made that need more striking. She finds it
very rewarding to witness the kids’ enthusiasm and their embrace of mindfulness.
Gardening, art, travel and spending time with family are her go to pastimes.
Mary started practicing yoga years ago, in high school, after her last soccer game. What felt like a great way to just continue moving turned into an entire lifestyle that helps her regulate her emotions and wellbeing. Her regular practice changes pace and purpose day-to-day, but always with the intent of finding a few minutes of peace in a crazy world. She has been teaching since 2019 with a 200hr/YT certification from GIVE Yoga in Columbus and offers private classes as well as donation-based classes during the summer. During the day Mary is a management consultant in the Cleveland area and takes great joy from her travels, cooking, gardening, volunteer work, and reading in her free time. She is passionate about sharing yoga and serving the Cleveland area.
200Hr RYT, Sound Healer, Tarot Reader, Reiki II
When I was younger, I was very active; dance, cheerleading, snowboarding, gymnastics, skating, theater and more, movement has always been something my body needed. Somewhere along the line, I let toxic habits and relationships slowly take my passions away. I found yoga as a stepping stone back to my own mind and body. The more seriously I took my practice, the more my life started to feel like my life again. In 2019 I decided I wanted to learn how to share this practice that had already helped me so much with others and I enrolled in the 200-hour yoga teacher program at the Studio Cleveland. I was introduced to philosophies and modalities that seemed to stitch my life together in a way that made so much sense and my life since that program has changed in every single way. I graduated the moment before the world stood still in March 2020.
I have a passion for incorporating sound healing in my classes as a way for people to connect inwards and feel rested and restored physically and energetically. I teach children and teens at Yoga Revolution, I teach Yin with sound healing at Lakewood yoga, and I offer sound baths all over the Cleveland area and surrounding cities.
I enjoy being a student just as much as I love teaching. I am currently working on completing the advanced 300 hour yoga teacher training and I enjoy taking yin, vinyasa and Kundalini classes. Outside of yoga, first and foremost, I am a mom to an amazing toddler. I am a tarot reader with over 20 years of experience. I enjoy music of all kinds and really love to provide new sounds for sound-baths and sound healing events. I have a passion for great food, cooking and eating! I also am a big fan of movies and the theater; I could talk about my favorites for days.
I am the mother of 3 adult children and a grandmother of 6 children. This is my greatest accomplishment. I am very proud of all of my children. My profession is a nurse and I have worked with babies and children for over 50 years!! I love being a nurse. It is truly my calling. I believe in the 3 facets of life: physical, mental & spiritual. I have been practicing yoga for over 20 years but I have been consistent for about 5 years. I was so interested in the poses and learning about yoga that I took two— 200 hour yoga training classes. My main interest in life is children and working with children is in my comfort zone. Yoga truly combines the mind- body connection and addresses all the 3 facets of life: the physical, mental and spiritual.
Erika was introduced to yoga over 25 years ago through a series of classes in the Satyananda System of Yoga. It was there that she began her journey into understanding that the practices of yoga allow one to co-create a healthy life of body, mind and spirit
Erika’s path in yoga exposed her to many styles, including Hatha, Anusara, Yin and Satyananda. She became a 200 hour RYT through the Dawn M. Rivers school of Yoga in June, 2022. A former elementary and middle school teacher, Erika holds a B.A. in English from Hampton University and a M.Ed. in Education from the Ohio State University. She is looking forward to sharing her gifts with the ZenWorks team and guiding children in mindfulness and other yoga practices to benefit their overall well being.
I am a proud multi-generational Cleveland native. I went to Case Western Reserve University where I studied Political Science and International Studies and later attended Emory University where I studied law. I am now an attorney in BakerHostetler’s Cleveland office, where I specialize in mergers and acquisitions and corporate governance.
On a more personal level, I have been practicing yoga since 2011 and plan to complete my teacher training this fall. Over the last decade, yoga has helped me face challenges, grieve losses, and attain greater self-compassion. I began meditating regularly during law school, and found it essential to thrive in a highly stressful environment. I am honored to be part of ZENworks, and am excited to help share these incredible practices with others.
Founding Board Member & Director of Curriculum and Instruction
As a retired elementary teacher, Joie felt that the benefits she received from yoga could be offered to “children” of any age from 3 to 83. Yoga taught her to say “yes” to what life has to offer and to live skillfully. Yoga should be fun-filled, meaning-filled, and skill-filled. She began working with ZENworks Yoga in 2010 as an instructor and became a founding board member in 2013 when ZENworks became a non-profit. In 2014, as the teaching staff grew, it became her privilege to take on the role of Teacher and Program Development.