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
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
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
Kate Stapleton Parzych
Kate discovered yoga in the mid-1970s through a Penguin Pocket Book that read like stereo instructions - impossible to understand. However, she was drawn to the idea of yoga. It caught her attention. She rediscovered it in 2003 during grad school as a way to get her mind off of school.
A dear friend recommended Shakti to Kate. Shakti Yoga has become a safe haven for her to practice and heal. The beautiful energy of the unique space, Michelle’s intuitive guidance and compassionate care, and the friendly community at Shakti were all reasons to be at the studio on a regular basis.
For Kate, yoga at Shakti was far more than a set of asanas to attempt to perfect, it was a way of allowing the breath to assist in her healing journey, and the studio provided her with the calming sensation of being uplifted by all who were present there.
Those that sit with Kate in meditation will find a generous and accommodating approach to it. A style that invites all the senses to participate in the natural rest/restlessness rhythm of the brain. The practice she leads allows for movement and an embracing of one’s thoughts as they arise during the session.
When one embraces all of their thoughts and take time to consider them objectively, there can be moments of ease so one can then celebrate the joys in life. Taking time to honor all that is there is an important part of self-care.
“The very soul of yoga is being in the healing grace of the present moment.” -Kate