This is who
"None of us, including me, ever do great things. But we can all do small things with great love, and together we can do something wonderful"
- Mother Teresa
Hawaii Yoga Institute (HYI) provides nationally recognized yoga teacher training programs and continuing education courses that empower students and faculty to develop their unique yoga teaching style through service based yoga. HYI specifically reaches out to include students and faculty members who represent a strong diversity of race, class, gender, size, physical ability and spiritual traditions to inspire and empower them to model and teach skills for improving physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health for all people within their community.
We humbly recognize that the land where we live, work, play and practice yoga is on the ancestral and present-day land of the native people of Hawai'i. We earnestly ask that both our team members and students support the work of the original and current caretakers of this land.
Similarly, yoga is a practice that originates from India and Southeast Asia. We are grateful for the privilege to share these teachings and hold great respect for our lineage of teachers. Understanding yoga's historical context, which includes the impact of British colonialism on India, highlights the need for making yoga more inclusive. We are committed to promoting diversity, teaching without judgment, and creating an inclusive future for yoga. Addressing ongoing issues of racism and cultural appropriation, we commit to using our privilege to celebrate all communities, including people of color, the 2SLGBTQ+ community, and those with diverse abilities. We aim to ensure that yoga is accessible to all by offering YTT scholarships to those who would otherwise not have access.
As we work together to build a sustainable, inclusive, and just future, we appreciate your insights and experiences and encourage our community to learn and grow with us. Our goal is to engage in the ongoing process of decolonizing ourselves and our offerings. We recognize that this is a lifelong journey of unlearning—just one small part of the broader and intricate work of dismantling oppressive systems.
Our lead team
KILTY INAFUKU (SHE/HER)
200-HR Lead Faculty
What does Kilty teach: Yoga āsana, philosophy, gross and subtle body anatomy, ethics, hands-on adjustments, business
Has roots in: Grew up in Kāne'ohe, lived in Los Angeles for a few years while in college, and now resides in Pūpūkea on O'ahu, Hawai'i
Current inspiration: Everything about nature puts me in awe- its power, energy, intricacy and simplicity.
Passions: Learning, laughing, and moving—especially surfing, foiling, mountain biking, sport climbing, snowboarding
SONA DESAI BUCHANAN (SHE/HER)
200-HR Lead Faculty
What does Sona teach: Yoga history, yoga and social justice, Sanskrit, Ayurveda, philosophy, ethics, hands-on adjustments
Has roots in: While my roots are in Gujarat, India, I was born in Melbourne, Australia and grew up in Raleigh, NC. I currently reside in Kailua, HI on native Hawaiian lands.
Current inspiration: My ancestral guides, those known and unknown to me
Passions: Being in the elements, in nature, in stillness, in the spaces between, dancing, chanting, playing music, hiking, and paddleboarding
Our guest faculty
What does Joel teach: Accessibility and inclusivity
Has roots in: I was born in San Diego and lived there for 18 years. I have lived in Hawaii for 30 years and am relocating to Southern California in summer of 2023.
Current inspiration: I’m inspired by the discourse in and around disability identity that is educating, evolving, and bringing awareness to bias and discrimination.
Passions: This centers around my values of adventure, clarity, and preparedness, such as hiking, running, skiing, yoga, cycling, walking and playing with my dog. I also love cooking, traveling, and sharing time with my partner Stephanie.
LAURA NOHEALANI EMIKO TOYOFUKU-AKI (SHE/HER/HERS)
What does Laura teach: Power and privilege in wellness spaces
Has roots in: My Kānaka side is from Pūpūkea and my Japanese side has been in Aiea for 2 generations. I was raised in Corona, CA (SoCal). From there I moved to Boston for university and then to NYC for 10 years. After being a nomad, traveling across the continent in a converted van, I came to Hawai'i and now reside in Pūowaina, O'ahu.
Current inspiration: 'āina and my hui
Passions: Healing myself for future generations (which became super real with the birth of my son, Ehukai)
DINA KNIGHT (SHE/HER)
What does Dina teach: Yoga for trauma
Has roots in: West side of O'ahu, Hawaii
Current inspiration: Rolf Gates
Passions: Taking care of dogs and refurbishing furniture
ALANA SCHAFFMAN (SHE/HER)
RYT500, TCTSY Facilitator
What does Alana teach: Trauma-sensitive yoga
Has roots in: Connecticut! And I have resided on this beautiful island of O'ahu for 6 years
Current inspiration: Nature. The mountains, the ocean. The stars, the moon. She teaches us to surrender to it all, to be exactly as we are.
Passions: Dancing, hiking, among loved ones, eating yummy things
CORY TIXIER (SHE/HER)
BA in Biology, E-RYT500, NAMA AP and AYT (Ayurvedic Practitioner and Ayurvedic Yoga Therapist)
What does Cory teach: Ayurveda
Has roots in: Grew up in the mountians of New Mexico, blended ingredients of Ogalala Sioux, Mexican and French.
Current inspiration: Nature is my God and guide. Knowing I am conected to all gives me joy and strength.
Passions: I love being out doors with my husband and our dog Frankie, hiking, snorkeling, biking exploring the world together.
KENNAE MILLER (SHE/HER)
What does Kennae teach: Yoga and social justice
Has roots in: Kusso and Lumbee land, South Carolina and grew up on Arapahoe, Ute land in Colorado Springs, CO
Current inspiration: My inspiration right now is Ruby Sales and nature
Passions: Learning and being outside in nature gardening or homesteading
JODIE DRESEL (SHE/HER)
RYT, RPYT, RN, IBCLC, Reiki Practitioner, mama of Jude
What does Jodie teach: Prenatal yoga
Has roots in: I was born and raised in Wisconsin, became a travel nurse in Hawaii in 2008, and lived in Waimanalo with my son Jude and husband Daniel, until we moved to southern California in 2022.
Current inspiration: My son
Passions: I love spending time with my ohana (friends and family). I love being in nature hiking or watching by son surf while sitting on the beach. I enjoy quiet time, yoga and travel. I especially love traveling with my family, meeting new people and exploring new places.
Our board of directors
EVE ADLER (SHE/HER), PRESIDENT
RN, E-RYT 200, RYT-500, YACEP
Has roots in: My home is New York City. Currently living in LA
Current inspiration: @flyageless, @bluezones, @accessibleyoga
Favorite ways to enjoy time: Gardening, Walking, Creating podcasts, travel, studying and practicing strategies for Healthy Aging
NIKKI YAMAUCHI (SHE/HER), VICE PRESIDENT
Has roots in: Kāne'ohe
Current inspiration: Watching and supporting my team (at work) and my daughter grow, change, and thrive in the world around them.
Favorite ways to enjoy time: reading, coloring, sudoku, and meditating
I believe whole-heartedly in the inter-connectedness of all people and in the inherent, fundamental goodness in each of us. May you experience peace, joy, and uninhibited love.
JASMEN IANNONE (SHE/HER), SECRETARY
RYT 200, Access Bars Practitioner, Reiki Practitioner
Has roots in: Ewa Beach, Hawai'i and Anchorage, Alaska
Current inspiration: Slow, intentional living with my husband and living with gratitude
Favorite ways to enjoy time: Yoga, coloring, going to the beach and adventuring with my husband
Has roots in:
Favorite ways to enjoy time:
NICOLE MORET (SHE/HER)
DNP, MSN, FNP-BC, PMHCNS-BC
Has roots in: New England
Current inspiration: A bird sitting on a tree is never afraid of the branch breaking, because its trust is not on the branch but on its own wings.
Favorite ways to enjoy time: Spending time on the water
SUSIE KOPEC (SHE/HER)
MSN, RN, PEL-SN
Has roots in: Born in Poland and migrated to Chicago, IL
Current inspiration: Danika Brysha, Kerri Smith-Osei, Ashley Vives Williams
Favorite ways to enjoy time: I love hanging out with my partner and our two children (13 and 11 years old). You will find us exploring new cuisine, going to concerts, watching Broadway shows, or traveling the globe wherever we spot a good airline ticket price. I love holidays and will find any reason to celebrate. When I am solo I love to listen to podcasts, journal, meditate, practice yoga, or just relax on the couch with a good show/movie.
It is an honor to serve on the HYI Board of Directors. Yoga has found its way into my life in moments where I've needed it most both personally and professionally. However you find your way to this practice, we can all find our humanity on the mat.
Has roots in:
Favorite ways to enjoy time:
Our honored past team members.
E-RYT500, RCYT, RYDT, CYT
What does Adria teach: Yoga and social justice, Ayurveda, asana, philosophy, ethics, yoga dance
Has roots in: O'ahu, Hawai'i, Kansas, Arkansas
Passions: Ease, dance, love
MSN, APRN, PHCNS-BC, APHN-BC, HWNC-BC
What does Sharon offer: Leadership and team management
Has roots in: Hawaii, Arkansas, Kansas
Passions: Playing in water (lakes, rain, snow, fog, ocean, etc.)
NOELANI LOVE (SHE/HER)
RYT200, Sound Healer
What does Noelani teach: Kundalini, vinyasa, mantra and vocal activation
Has roots in: Born and raised in Charlotte, NC and currently living at Sunset Beach, O'ahu
Passions: surfing, swimming, singing, dancing
Kumu hula, lomilomi massage practitioner and trainer
What does Malia teach: Voice and Hawaiian Culture
Has roots in: O'ahu, Hawaii
Passions: Composing chants and songs with my father
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