Current Teachers

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Susann Spilkin, E_RYT 500

Freedom House

Susann Spilkin uses a poetic mix of styles deeply rooted in heart-centered spiritual philosophy and clear alignment.  Her classes are challenging and nourishing.  She delights in articulating the nuances of a pose and helping students dip deeply into the sanctuary of their bodies, minds and hearts.  She is grateful for the ways that yoga and ancient wisdom help people navigate complex lives with a reminder to breathe deeply and live fully. 


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Rebecca Roman


For 17 years Rebecca Roman has been nurturing a symbiosis of the Feldenkrais Method and the Yoga Practice. Born with Mercury conjunct Mars, like her progenitor Moshe Feldenkrais, Rebecca's teaching is at times an incisive discussion, a getting to the heart of the matter. Often there is a request that students experience themselves in an altogether new way. Rebecca Roman has practiced a stewardship of yoga since 1998 learning from many teachers along the way of different lineages including Iyengar, Ashtanga Anusara, etc. She brings her students into collaboration with an unquestionable authority on Yoga: their bones and gravity. The longevity of her teaching is sourced by her commitment to quality and her resilience to give weight to the essentials with humor and sincerity.

Rebecca Roman is not interested in fixing anyone, but rather unites people with themselves to gain greater understanding and potential. She has worked with many people, newly arrived, anticipating departure, and all the walks between. Her teaching is intentional and every class is an opportunity for students to create a quality of health for themselves and the community. She deeply values bringing Yoga to people that generally don’t have the financial means to practice and appreciate the grants available. Rebecca's teaching style originates from her melodic concerns for health and adaptability; her class is therapeutic, integrative and an illuminating artistry. Nurturing an intelligent awareness of self that helps to refine the qualities of elegance and power in movement and thinking; her symbiotic practice of Feldenkrais and Yoga is a propagative, apparently boundless cellular awareness. Passionate, incisive, and ingeniously persistent; Rebecca is keeping yoga accessible, practical, and conducive to organic learning.

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Matthew Darling has been a yoga practitioner and instructor for nearly 20 years. Born in the metro Detroit area, he is inspired by the city’s recent energy and rejuvenation efforts. Matthew believes that yoga’s ability to rehabilitate and heal is a powerful match for the metamorphosis Detroit is currently experiencing. He is committed to opening and extending the practice of yoga to all ages and abilities throughout Detroit.

Matthew began his yoga career as a student in the early nineties. In 1995, he began to practice the Ashtanga method under Sri K. Pattabhi Jois.  Over the years he has made numerous trips to the Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute in Mysore, India. In 2002, Pattabhi Jois authorized Matthew to teach the method of Ashtanga yoga. He is now the director and instructor at Ashtanga Michigan. Matthew is also an Experienced Registered Yoga Teacher (ERYT-500) with the Yoga Alliance.

Matthew approaches his daily yoga practice as an integral component of leading a healthy lifestyle in mind, body and spirit.  He brings a sense of individualized teaching to each student that extends beyond the yoga room. Through his compassionate, light-hearted and spirited teaching, he helps each student find how and why yoga can serve them.  He feels that his greatest gift as a yoga teacher is experiencing students who participate with willingness and courage to open themselves up to the discoveries and truths that yoga can reveal to them.

Before his yoga journey began, Matthew’s natural artistic and creative abilities led him into the fields of metalsmithing, where he is still a custom jeweler, artist and musician. He picked up his first guitar in high school and hasn’t yet set it down. His favorite musicians span all genres from rock to country and from folk to the blues. Art and creativity continue to color all of his pastimes, projects and endeavors whether it’s designing eco-friendly landscaping for his home or handcrafting a bracelet embedded with precious stones. He currently lives with his beautiful wife and their lovely daughter, and their sweet Golden Retriever in metro Detroit.

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Katherine Schaefer E-RYT 500, LMT


Katherine began practicing yoga in 1993 and teaching in 1996. She has been an active member of YAGD since 1997. After teaching for five years she was drawn towards yoga therapy at which point she began to focus her energy and resources to more training in the field and has accu- mulated more than a thousand hours of continuing education. Being a curious student of life she continues to host and attend several workshops and intensives every year in all subjects related to the human body and movement. Doug Keller was instrumental in Katherine’s foray into Yoga as Therapy and introduced her to the work of Tom Myers of Anatomy Trains, which she has gone on to study and incorporate into her teaching. Most recently she has been greatly influenced by yoga and awakening teacher, Arthur Kilmurray who introduced her to the work of two somatic pioneers, Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen (founder of Body Mind Centering) and Emilie Conrad (founder of Continuum Movement). Katherine has studied with and been greatly influ- enced by Bonnie who coined the term 'experiential anatomy' which is an extremely effective method for understanding the human body and movement. Katherine now teaches experiential anatomy and enthusiastically shares her knowledge using a variety of methods to facilitate her students in moving more mindfully and fluidly. She guides her students compassionately to- wards wholeness and the never ending unfolding of human potential and awakening. Kather- ine’s commitment to honoring the spirit of Yoga while integrating contemporary knowledge in the field of somatics is a potent combination. Katherine teaches public and private yoga classes. In addition to instructing yoga she has been a Vedic Astrologer since 1995, a massage therapist since 1996 and a Reiki Master/Teacher since 1998

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Covenant House

Dia discovered the practice of yoga fourteen years ago in response to an injury.  After a few weeks of classes, the pain was gone. What lingered was a calmness and appreciation for stillness that was life changing.  Yoga philosophy quickly became a lifestyle and soon after a vocation. The quest for more yoga education has spanned Michigan, Georgia, New York, Nicaragua and India with so much yet to learn.

Working with young people has long been a passion for the Detroit native. Teaching and coaching conflict resolution to middle school students, coordinating service projects for community youth and opening her home to young people in need, have brought incredible joy and meaning to her life.

When she is not teaching and practicing yoga Dia can be found just about anywhere. Recently taking a part time job as a flight attendant has given her the ability (and the finances) to pursue her love of travel and exploring different cultures.  Gathering new information and techniques to bring back and share with her students keeps her a constant student and dedicated teacher.

During her yoga journey, Dia has seen firsthand the way the practice can transform anyone.  Making your physical body stronger, cultivating awareness of the body so that you care for it differently. Tapping into the power of the breath and using it to reset your mind, learning and practicing compassion towards yourself and others. These are the tools she shares with her young students. In hopes that using these tools for living they will lead productive, peaceful lives enjoying their own journey one breath at a time.

Past YBDF Instructors

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Shannon Deasy

Shannon has been teaching yoga for 4 years and practicing for about 12. She has used her practice as a way to connect to herself through difficult times. Since 2011, she has worked with adjudicated youth, using many different art forms as ways to cope with trauma or adversity. Since yoga is how she found solace as a young teen, she is so grateful to be able to share it with the teens at Madison Prep, the alternative high school where she is able to offer a weekly class to the students, made possible by the Yoga By Design Foundation. She is inspired every week by her students, both on and off the mat."

Debbie Thomas

Debbie is a compassionate teacher who uses humor to help relax the special needs students she works with. Growing up and living with learning challenges has given Debbie a unique place from which to teach this amazing population. 

Debbie is also a nurse in a pediatric office. In her spare time she enjoys laying in her big comfortable recliner, riding her bike, walking her fur babies, Ernie Harwell and Mister Gibbs, and of course practicing yoga.