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
Paula's love for learning and interest in natural healthcare led me to a certification in reflexology and kundalini yoga. She has been an educator for twenty plus years and earned a masters degree in speech pathology and school administration. She am excited to share her spiritual gifts with others.
Kirin Taylor is a wellness and peace educator certified to teach yoga. Kirin has extensive experience working with children three years and up, especially those in elementary and middle school. She has volunteered for, coordinated, and led peace camps and peace clubs. She has incorporated yoga breathing and postures for children’s peace education through the Non-Profit Organization Little Friends for Peace in the United States as well as in Ghana, Ecuador, Italy, and Kenya. She has worked with children in a variety of afterschool enrichment programs, including nutrition and fitness empowerment and academic tutoring. She recently moved to Buffalo and found Shakti Yoga, whose principles and style align well with hers!
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!
Meredith has been practicing for over ten years. She connected with the practice right away because it was such a unique form of “exercise” that not only fed the body, but conditioned the mind and spirit as well.
She deepened her practice by enrolling in teacher training at Yoga Sutra in New York City. Meredith strives to create an accessible yoga practice that helps manage and prevent stress and discomfort that naturally arises from everyday life. Her classes promote harmony throughout the physical and energetic bodies and give the individual an opportunity to go deeper when and if it feels right. Meredith found Shakti while looking for a yoga teaching opportunity after moving back to Buffalo.
If she had to choose what she values most about Shakti, it would be authenticity. Shakti holds space for those of all levels to learn and practice the principles of yoga in a warm, welcoming community of likeminded individuals. It is truly a gem in our community that celebrates diversity and culture, and genuinely encourages everyone to show up exactly as they are because that is enough.
“Yoga is a path toward personal freedom.” - Meredith