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Teachers2019-10-18T11:19:54-05:00

Come Practice With Us

The teachers at Yoga Lab believe that a consistent, sustainable yoga practice can make us all happier, healthier, stronger, and more balanced individuals while at the same time improving the community in which we live. Together we share a common interest in anatomy and functional movement, and in combining Western science with Eastern wisdom. We are committed to teaching a sustainable yoga practice that integrates and enriches the body, mind, and soul. Our goal at Yoga Lab is to guide you in the process of self-discovery. By teaching you how to calm your mind, reduce anxiety and stress, and tap into your physical and mental strength, you will be better prepared to confront whatever challenges you face in your life, both on and off the mat.

Meet Our Teachers

Yoga Lab Co-Founders

Mark Agrusti
Mark AgrustiE-RYT 200, RYT 500, YACEP
Mark is passionate about helping students discover the practical, everyday applications of Mindfulness, Meditation, and Yoga in their own lives. His teachings focus on the cultivation of compassion, strength, balance, flexibility (physical and mental), empathy, and kindness, and incorporate chanting, pranayama, Buddhist philosophy & practice, and evidence-based stress reduction techniques. He collaborates on mindfulness & meditation interventions with the Edna Bennett Pierce Prevention Research Center at Penn State. Mark is an advocate for compassionate vegan & plant-based lifestyles, and teaches workshops at yoga festivals and vegetarian expos across the east coast.

Mark’s Website

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Kristen Boccumini
Kristen BoccuminiE-RYT 500, YACEP
Kristen has been teaching yoga for over 14 years. She teaches to help people connect to their bodies and release tension through fun creative yoga flows in a positive atmosphere. Kristen cares about helping you move in biomechanically healthy ways to support physical longevity. She believes body awareness leads to self awareness to improve the quality of your life and your influence in the world. Kristen started Yoga for Unity and Yoga On The Mountain to support local and global humanitarian work. Through these efforts she has raised over $26,000 for charity. Kristen is also a holistic life coach and certified in yoga for pregnancy and postpartum, with 3 of her own kids (teachers) at home.

Kristen’s Website

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Anna Engels
Anna EngelsPh.D., E-RYT 500, YACEP
Anna’s yoga teaching and practice combines her background in psychology with a strong grounding in anatomy and functional movement to create intelligent and fun sequences that flow with the breath and connect you to your core. She has a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology, and her clinical interests and academic research focus on stress, anxiety, depression, and their associated patterns of brain activity using fMRI. She currently teaches yoga at Yoga Lab and in the Penn State Kinesiology Department. She is also a photographer and loves traveling the world, capturing moments of beauty.

Anna’s Website

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Jeremy Engels
Jeremy EngelsPh.D., E-RYT 500, YACEP
Jeremy is a Professor of Rhetoric at Penn State. His research asks the question, what practices of the care of the self are necessary for us to be confident, competent, capable, compassionate, ethical citizens of the world? Based on his research in the U.S., Europe, and India, he is currently writing a new book that describes the how Americans have engaged with Indian philosophy as they wrestle with the truly difficult questions about the meaning and purpose of life. He is also learning Sanskrit so he walks around the house making strange sounds.

Jeremy’s Website

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Ariel Xu
Ariel XuRYT 200, LMT
Ariel’s classes combine functional movement, traditional yoga postures, pranayama (breathing techniques), meditation, mindfulness, and smiles to balance students’ bodies and help them release into silence and stillness. Her lifelong passion is to bring health and wellness for people and animals. She is a licensed massage therapist and offers private yoga and massage sessions locally. She is currently working on her master’s degree in Counselor Education with an emphasis in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at Penn State. Ariel is also an advocate for animal rights and a plant–based lifestyle, and she teaches annually at Vegetarian Summer Fest in Pittsburgh. Ariel is a native of China and her practice and teaching is influenced by Chan (Zen) Buddhism.

Ariel’s Website

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More Awesome Teachers

Laura Van Velsor
Laura Van VelsorE-RYT 200, RYT 500
Laura wants to make the world a better place for her fierce & compassionate daughter. When she isn’t teaching yoga you can find her volunteering in the community or loving animals (all the animals). In 2015 she started Happy Dog Yoga to combine her passion of yoga with animal rescue and has raised over $9,000 for local charities thanks to yoga!

Laura’s Website

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Lisa Birocci Banse
Lisa Birocci BanseRYT 200
Lisa is an international professional softball athlete and youth softball coach, ACE Group Fitness professional, Spinning, and MOSSA certified group fitness instructor, and a RYT-200 Yoga Teacher. Basically, an all-around rockstar. Lisa believes the super secrets to life and movement are: MORE Legs, MORE Core, MORE Alignment, and MORE BACKSIDE!

Lisa’s Website

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Allie Baczynski
Allie BaczynskiRYT 200, Ph.D.
Allie is a graduate of the Yoga Lab 200-hr teacher training. She first began practicing yoga while in graduate school to help relieve stress. Yoga has continued to be an important part of her life and helps her center and ground herself within the often hectic academic environment. When she’s not at Yoga Lab she can be found in another lab, where, as an organic geochemist, she uses the chemical signatures of molecules left behind in rocks by ancient plants to reconstruct past landscapes and climate. She loves the Yoga Lab community and is excited to expand her practice by teaching.

Allie’s Website

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Sima Farage
Sima FarageRYT 200, MBA, CHC, CEE
Sima recently graduated from the Yoga Lab 200-hr teacher training. She is also a certified Ayurveda and Nutrition coach and loves to infuse her flows with Ayurvedic themes. She’s passionate about health, wellness, meditation and animal rights. Sima aims to make her classes fluid, warm, and challenging. Her flows are inspired by the playful energy of her little fluffy dog, Pluto.

Sima’s Website

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Sara Bamat
Sara BamatRYT 200, ACE CPT
Sara has been in the fitness industry for 5 years, and is also an ACE Certified Personal Trainer with an additional certification in functional movement. Sara loves to put the “fun” in functional in her classes, and believes in the healing power that comes with moving the body the way it’s designed to. She loves the balance that yoga can bring into daily lives and can’t wait to show you how strong you can be!

Sara’s Website

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Hans Lemke
Hans LemkeRYT 200
Hans completed his RYT-200 at Yoga Lab in 2017. He is also a certified Reiki Master and provider. He is passionate about alternative methods of healing, veganism, sustainability, and would really like to be reincarnated as an orca.

Hans’s Website

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Courtney Latorre
Courtney LatorreRYT 200
Courtney is a graduate of the Yoga Lab 200-hr teacher training. Her favorite thing about yoga is the ability to connect and find community. Courtney is a teacher of both first graders and yoga students alike and finds happiness in teaching humans of all ages. She loves creating art and listening to music and brings her passion for creativity into her yoga classes.

Courtney’s Website

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Taylor O'Connor
Taylor O'ConnorRYT 200
Taylor is a recent graduate of the Yoga Lab 200-hr teacher training, and very excited to dive into her instructing career. She is a graduate student and instructor in the PSU French department, and a junior scholar of post-humanism and animal philosophy. She loves live music, camping, and new experiences.

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“What I love is being an investigator.
Observing
Noticing
Sensing
And then figuring out how to best serve others. Connecting to core and alignment in body and spirit are pillars in this quest.
For me and you.
Let’s keep being curious.”
Lara Heimann
“It is profoundly satisfying indeed to feel the love of learning and a sense of adventure in discovery come alive in the classroom and see it manifest in your students’ work and lives through the cultivation of mindfulness. As teachers, we live for this.”
John Kabat-Zinn, Mindfulness for Beginners