Michelle Gigante, Director
"Michelle Gigante is an embodiment of yogic wisdom, a master teacher.”
Michelle Gigante has been guiding people toward energetic openings and spiritual awakenings for over two decades. She uses her instinctual gift to read the room and create a vibe that is meaningful for both the individual and the group.
Her independent spirit fostered the opening of Shakti Yoga ten years ago. She has dedicated her energy and knowledge to welcoming people into Shakti’s nurturing home, which promotes well-being and inspires creativity.
Michelle’s background in theatre gives her the skill to execute a class with clarity and precision. Her many years as a dancer allow her to “choreograph” sequences that are creative and playful. Her experience as a Reiki III healing master and Qi Qong practitioner gives her the insight to effectively choose postures that open energy channels.
A typical class with Michelle gives students a chance to meet their challenges and reach their greatest potential with their breath. The cultivation of deep breath-work provided by Michelle’s steady pace and seamless cueing encourages a natural rhythmic flow and turns the average yoga practice into an holistic experience.
Michelle always reminds her students that the practice is a healing modality. They are encouraged to go at their own pace and be in their own bodies with suggestions on how to modify and or intensify.
Guiding the individual toward their own personal edge of intensity while drawing from the collective energy of the group is one of Michelle’s greatest joys. Welcoming the community into Shakti’s healing space is another. Helping people let go into the flow of life is yet another.
She is available for private treatments.
Abby first came to yoga while working a high-stress corporate job in New York City almost ten years ago. She was in need of a more sustainable work-life balance as she approached a transition period in her life.
What brought her to Shakti, and keeps her coming back, is the approach of connection to breath as the foundation of practice. She values that emphasis because it is accessible to beginners and masters alike - the connective energy that facilitates a deeper surrender to Self.
The most important element Abby has learned from Shakti’s teachings is that simplicity and patience, over force and struggle, can propel growth faster and with more ease.
Abby offers students a safe space to explore mind/body/spirit connection in a way that is unique to their own practice. Students can expect a class that promotes a deep reverence to breath and a softening into the body. This approach might take the form of surrender in challenging physical postures or in stilling the mind when the physical practice feels subtle.
Her classes are a reminder to embrace love, play, and compassion for the self, which supports connections to others off the mat in all parts of life.
"Yoga is “a union that allows the mind and body to work in partnership rather than in conflict.” - Abby Spindelman
Barbara Haney is honored to be a part of what Shakti represents. The urge to find a community/sangha that reflected her spiritually-infused yoga practice brought her to Shakti. Michelle’s commitment to the community and the spiritual traditions of yoga, as well as the creation of a beautiful space, inspired Barb.
She aspires to hold space for yoga to work its magic on the individual. She believes there is nobody/no body that cannot benefit from yoga. All postures can be accommodated to meet the practitioner’s needs. Everyone is welcome in her class.
Barb became a RYT after attending a 200-hr teacher training with Felicitas Kusch-Lango. She continues to study yoga philosophy with Swami Sadasivananda, a direct disciple of Swami Vishnudevananda, in the Sivananda tradition, where she was given the spiritual name Saraswati.
Her introduction to yoga began in the late eigthies as a way to alleviate the physical issues of wildland firefighting. She studied alignment-based yoga with a number of instructors in Northern Virginia. She has taught at Healing Waters in East Aurora for many years.
“Yoga is union. It is the union of body and breath, the personal with the universal. It allows for better connections with self and others.” -Barb
Mara is a guild certified Feldenkrais practitioner and teaches Physical Theatre/ Aerial Arts in the Niagara University Theatre Program. She has a diverse back ground as a personal trainer, yoga instructor, playwright and performer and is the founder of In-Flight Theater in Baltimore whose unique brand of aerial theater performance takes place atop suspended metal sculpture. Mara blends her unique aerial and theatre training with the creative application of the neuroplastic healing connections of The Feldenkrais Method® to treat both her human and canine clients. (Yes, she works on dogs:) She also offers private sessions by appointment. www.buffalofeldenkrais.com
Christina Stock is a facilitator in the Shakti community and has been working with children in the Buffalo Public School system for over five years. As a building substitute on the west side, she loves interacting with children of all ages and truly appreciates watching them open their minds to new ideas—including the practice of yoga! When working with little ones, she aims to bring fun and excitement to the mat while instilling the classic concepts of grounding, centering, while using breath work. In this new chapter at Shakti, Christina is thrilled to hold space with the younger members of its community and hopes to help them grow into lifelong yogis!
Cory’s first experience with yoga was deeply personal. He was, and still is, a very introverted person that has struggled with everything from depression/anxiety to body image issues.
Cory first learned about Shakti through a dear friend. He was searching for insight about who he was. They would speak at length about the practice and the capacity of influence it had on our state of being. Without physically entering the studio, Shakti and he had already begun working together.
The building itself, Michelle’s wisdom and intuition, and the welcoming community are all reasons that fuels his continued participation at Shakti. The most resonant reason, though, is that Shakti affords him an opportunity to delve deeply into what it means to be Cory; free from judgement, and surrounded by nothing but support.
Cory values the deeply ingrained sense of community that comes with being a Shakti student. The ability to connect with others, while also nurturing the personal and intimate aspects of self, gift him the opportunity to share more fully.
Shakti offers him the opportunity to learn how to nurture every aspect of self, and to witness the truth of our intrinsically linked experiences. It is through these lessons that he gains insight on what it means to be a human being existing in the world.
His sessions offer grounded insight on what it means to be a part of community. He holds space for others to realize their capabilities of healing self. He aspires to the idea that having a yoga practice, and exploring spiritual growth is available to everyone.
His hope is that by sharing his truth and experience, he can help others see theirs more clearly.
“To me, yoga is a filter through which I experience the world. It is a way in which the world experiences me. It is truth. It is proof that we are greater than the sum of our parts. IT IS, and therefore I AM.”
Megan Townsend Malone
Megan began practicing yoga in 2011 after a serious injury and fell in love with the practice. She has been teaching since 2014.
Megan started attending classes at Shakti in 2016 when she began to crave a deeper healing experience in her personal yoga practice. She fell in love with the offering and space and has grown to know Shakti as a place of healing and inspiration.
Megan’s invitation to students is curiosity, honesty, and creativity of body, heart, and mind. Her classes are dynamic, heartfelt, and challenging. She prioritizes physical and emotional safety and values spiritual growth
Students can expect traditional vinyasa flows and some intuitive “out of the box” movement. She offers modifications to increase or decrease physical challenge with the intent of practice being accessible to all.
“Yoga is union – to dissolve separation of self.”
As a child, Anni enjoyed sitting alone in nature. This later developed into an interest in meditation, which eventually evolved into her steady practice of yoga since 2016.
She found her way into Shakti when a coworker asked her to go to a yoga class, specifically to “look at yoga butts.”
The lark soon became a deep experience. It was the palpable energy in the room that kept Anni going back to Shakti after everyone else faded off. It was so different from anything she had ever experienced. She used to say that going to Shakti was like going to church and getting a work out at the same time, a perfect fit. It has since developed in to a lot more.
Anni appreciates the spiritual nature of the practice at Shakti. She is on a path of trust, surrender, and acceptance because of Shakti's teachings.
Anni can offer the students safe space to practice physical asana flow, breath work and meditation. Anni understands and respects that everyone is on their own journey.
She believes that the most important lesson is the breath. Shakti has taught her how to focus on the breath in asana flow practice and in life. As this has transformed her, she holds space for this possibility for others.
Students can expect to leave their expectations at the door.
“Yoga is Union – connection with the Divine and with the Self.” - Anni Perrello