Meet the Teachers

Erik Cummings

owner-certified teacher

Erik hails from the western coast of North America, in the wilds of Seattle, WA and Vancouver, Canada. When he was introduced to Bikram Yoga in 2003, he had a plethora of issues – stiff shoulder from a broken bone in a bicycling accident with a car a few years earlier, and a condition of chronic hives that was debilitating that left him anti-social. After studying at the Sweatbox in Seattle, Erik moved to New York in 2004, continuing his Bikram practice. Erik went to Bikram Teacher Training in Fall 2005. Erik opened BYH with Adam Roper in 2008, and continues to teach and run the studio. He lives in the neighborhood and can frequently be found with Sebastian around town.

Angela Phillips

certified teacher

Angela fell in love with Bikram’s Torture Chamber immediately and knew she wanted to teach. She became a certified Bikram Yoga Instructor in Fall 2009 and is excited to share her love of the practice in her neighborhood of Harlem USA!

In addition to teaching, Angela has proven herself to be one of today’s most versatile, innovative and gifted young artist. She has amassed an impressive list of career credits nationally and internationally as an aerialist, choreographer and dancer. She was last seen in Disney’s Tarzan on Broadway and in the smash Off-Broadway sensation De La Guarda.

Currently, Angela works as Associate Aerial Designer with Disney Theatrical Productions. She loves traveling the world teaching others how to FLY inside and outside of the yoga room.

Cheryl Adnet

certified teacher

Cheryl’s yoga journey began in Raleigh, North Carolina in 2010. Her first class was on May 24th, ironically her daughter’s birthday, as she was the one who convinced Cheryl to try Bikram Yoga. She clearly remembers her first class and it was not pretty! At some point she tried to leave the room and crawl towards the exit, but the teacher gently and confidently encouraged her to remain in the hot room. This planted the seeds of determination and tolerance of temporary discomfort that made Cheryl want to return the next day and learn the series of 26 postures.
Cheryl did not start practicing yoga to cure or relieve any chronic or acute physical condition, but was simply curious what yoga was all about. The benefits of that initial introductory week quickly became apparent to her and her family. She felt happier all the time, more patient and no longer disturbed by the “stuff” that life presents. Physically, her body just worked better inside and out. Without much deliberation, she applied for teacher training and successfully earner her certification in Fall of 2011.
Cheryl has travelled and guest taught for many studios in various yoga communities. Her teaching style is dialogue centered, motivational, humorous, and alignment focused. Her teaching goal is to encourage students to relax their mind and body for 90 minutes, to connect to their breath, to conceptualize the postures, and then to allow the mind/body connection to happen, in time. She looks forward to practicing with the yogis worldwide and planting the seeds that may help students take their practice to the next level. Namaste.

Dionne Monsanto

certified teacher

Dionne did her 1st 30day challenge when she was 204 pounds in July 2010 here at Bikram Yoga Harlem. She was on medical leave from her corporate career, dealing with health issues and a myriad of family challenges. In a change of lifestyle revolution, she left financial services and signed up for Bikram Yoga teacher training. She graduated from Bikram Yoga Teacher Training in June 2012 over 70 pounds lighter in body and stress. When not teaching or practicing Bikram yoga, she is the mother of 2 young men (one of whom is also a certified BY teacher), certified life coach, West African Dance performer & teacher, actress, public speaker on mental illness, blogger, meditation leader, people gatherer and a generally overactive energetic yet sleep-deprived person. (Sleep, what is that? Isn’t that what Ardha-Kurmasansa, Half-Tortoise pose, is for?) Also certified in Living Food Lifestyle she loves preparing smoothies and dishes (raw or cooked) for her friends and family. Committed to being happy when she grows up, Dionne lives her life “INjoy” in Washington Heights.

Emily Smyth Vartanian

certified teacher

Emily has been practicing Bikram Yoga since 2004 and teaching since June of 2008. She loves it! She is also a dancer and choreographer, and recently co-founded a company that uses aerial dance, so she can personally attest to the benefits of yoga for injury prevention.
She moved to Washington Heights in 2005 and loves having the studio so close! She is very happy to be spending time with her fellow Harlem yoginis and yogis. Happy Practicing!

Jelena Skoro

certified teacher

Jelena started practicing Bikram Yoga in 2005 while on a short term work assignment in Australia. She fell in love with the practice right away! Nothing that she had tried before made her feel as challenged, empowered, healthy, calm, happy and wanting more! She wanted to share this amazing practice with everyone and knew that one day she would become a teacher. That day finally came after eight years of regular practice, when Jelena decided to quit her busy corporate job and attend Spring 2013 teacher training. She spent the summer after training teaching in Belgrade, Serbia, and had an incredible experience helping bring this yoga to a place where it is still so new. Jelena is thrilled to be back in NYC, teaching and practicing with the most amazing yogis at Bikram Yoga Harlem!

Kristina Bruk

certified teacher

Once upon a time, when I was little, I decided to be a teacher, but it took me a lifetime and a double citizenship to find my subject. I studied music and majored in international relations in Russia where I grew up, then art, dance, and philosophy in California where my family and I immigrated. I had my first intro month in 2009 at a San Francisco based Bikram yoga studio, and practiced every day for a year since day one, and on most days after that. I loved the simplicity and complexity of the sequence, its intensity and the sweat, but most importantly I found that it taught me to accept and appreciate myself for who I was, to be patient and honest with myself. I finally went to Teacher Training in spring of 2013, shortly after moving to New York. It has been a long and exciting journey, and I love my work. I love you, my students, I love to see you progress and grow, and I learn from each of you. Always a student.

Luke Strandquist

certified teacher

Luke first started practicing Bikram Yoga in Summer 2002 and has been in the hot room just about every day since. As an actor and singer, Luke can attest that there is no better way to stay energized for a performance than these 26 postures and 2 breathing exercises. As a person who has also struggled with severe knee issues, he can also attest to the amazing, healing powers of this transformative practice. He is beyond thrilled to be able to share his love of Bikram with the fine community of yogis here in Harlem. Change your life! – Lock the knee! 😉

Michelle McGrath

certified teacher

Michelle thought hot yoga sounded a little nutty but her dear friend and fellow middle school teacher in Phoenix, Arizona insisted she give it a shot back in September 2003. By Valentine’s Day 2004 she knew she had found a life-long practice of self-care and healing. Throughout her six years as a public school teacher it was Bikram yoga that allowed Michelle to be kind, generous, and compassionate with herself and her middle school students. After many years of practice, Michelle attended teacher training in Las Vegas in the fall of 2009. She then taught in Denver and Annapolis, Maryland. In 2010 she moved to Boston for law school when teaching and taking Bikram became key to maintaining her health and happiness through the intensity of her studies. Michelle moved to Washington Heights in 2013 and works as a public defender in Manhattan where she adores her clients and advocating on their behalf. After spending a year as a student at Bikram Yoga Harlem, she is thrilled to have the opportunity to contribute to her favorite yoga community through teaching her fellow yogis.

Myrna Thomas

certified teacher

Myrna took her first class Nov 2008 and by the time the first set of Pranayama Breathing was done, she was hooked and decided she wanted to become a certified Bikram Yoga Instructor. Almost 4 years to the day of that fabulous 1st class, Myrna graduated from Fall 2012 Teacher Training in Los Angeles.

She continues to grow and be challenged in her own practice, as well as, in her teaching. Myrna is totally excited to be part of the Bikram Yoga Harlem community and looks forward to sharing her passion and enthusiasm with YOU in class!!!

picture coming soon!

Nikki Gallo

certified teacher

bio coming soon!

Robin Cornett

certified teacher

Robin is a native of Cincinnati. Upon receiving her BA degree from the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, she landed herself in NYC. After pursuing theater for many years, she went back to school for her Masters in Early Childhood Education. She began her yoga journey while as a fourth grade teacher for the NYC public school system. Yoga introduced her to a “peace and calm” she had never experienced before, and so desperately needed outside of the hot room. Learning how to breathe while in asanas not only increased her stamina and endurance in the hot room, but in life. Understanding that yoga is a day-to-day practice that meets you where you are physically, mentally, and emotionally, she’s a firm believer in approaching her students in such a way that honor and respects their individual abilities while at the same time motivating and inspiring them to push beyond their limitations. She is a teacher with great understanding, patience, love and compassion for her students.

Sharon Gunderson

certified teacher

A professional classical violinist for 30+ years and an interior painter for over a decade, I started practicing Bikram in October 2009. I was brought to my first class by my friend John, who was tired of hearing me complain about not being flexible. From the very beginning, I remember thinking “finally, this is where I belong”. Not only did my flexibility and strength improve dramatically, but I found the tools for incredible mental focus and the power to calm myself in any situation (like performing onstage, where i’d always been debilitatingly anxious before).

In the past two years I’ve introduced several friends to the practice, but I knew the best way to share this unique, life-changing yoga with the world was to become a certified teacher. I graduated from the Fall 2011 Teacher Training on November 19th, and absolutely Love teaching. I’ve lived in Central Harlem for over eight years now, and when I’m not in the hot room you might find me swimming at Brighton Beach, year-round!

Suda-May Morris

certified teacher

I began practicing Bikram Yoga in November 2015 with the intent of releasing 25 pounds. During my first class, I experienced an intense connection and calm within. The next day my body wanted more, at that point, I knew I’d found the right practice. No longer thinking about the weight, I immediately started practicing 5 to 6 days a week. My mind and body continues to transform as my practice stretches me to continuously get out of my comfort zone. I attended teacher training in fall 2016 with the passion and desire to share this practice with new and veteran practitioners alike. I am thrilled to be an instructor within my community! I look forward to teaching and practicing alongside the lovely community of Harlem yogis.

Sule Marquez-Monsanto

certified teacher

Born and raised in New York City, Sule discovered Bikram Yoga after his mother returned from Teacher Training. After immediately falling in love with the practice, Sule decided to attend Teacher Training and graduated in the fall of 2013. If he is not practicing at the studio you might see him cycling or skateboarding throughout New York City. Sule loves that Bikram Yoga Harlem is only a 5-minute sprint away on his bike.

Yukari Hatakeyama

certified teacher

I was born and raised in Japan and came to the United States to further my education in biology and mathematics. Growing up in a family of health care professionals and believing in spirituality, I was taken with Bikram Yoga after just one class. When I practice this yoga method, I get the same feeling of rejuvenation, I used to get after spending a day at a public hot spring bath house in Japan. I always believe in my good energy and would like to spread it by teaching Bikram Yoga.

Sebastian Kumquat

general dogsbody

When Sebastian is not fulfilling his busy schedule as Bikram Yoga Harlem’s unofficial mascot (receiving keys to cities, judging dog shows, handing out flyers on his walks in Hamilton Heights etc) he can be found curled up behind the sign-in desk.

Sebastian would like everyone to know that while Downward Dog is not one of the twenty-six postures in the Bikram series (surely an unintended omission), he is happy to demonstrate it to anyone who asks.

He was born on August 25, 2006 in Westport CT. Every year on this date, to honor his birthday, Bikram Yoga Harlem will feature a special tail-wagging membership offer. Be sure to ask at the front desk when August rolls around!

Our faithful mascot passed away November 15, 2017. He was diagnosed with a heart problem earlier in the summer and was in decline for several months. I know that he touched many people in the community and he will be sorely missed around the studio. Thank you for all your wonderful memories of my lovely friendly dog. Hot dog for hot yoga!