FOUNDER & CREATOR
With over 35 years of yoga and mediation experience, Sharon Manner embraces and shares the ultimate goal of yoga, which is to quiet the mind and find the peace within. Sharon credits her knowledge of yogic displines to Swami Satchidananda, Margabandhu Martarano, Swami Ramananda, Nischala Joy Devi, Mukunda Stlyles and many more. She is forever grateful to have received guidance and mentorship from these great masters.
While running Samadhi Sun and Ashrams for Autism, Sharon still finds time to teach at The Integral Yoga Institute (NYC and Fairlawn), The Center for Independence at TCI, The Union County Department of the Disabled and Morristown Beard High School.
Nina Kelsch is a certified 300hr Samadhi Sun yoga instructor. After her initial RYT 200 hour training was completed in June 2012, she continued to further her training with Ashrams for Autism where she received 40 hours certifying her to work with children and adults on the Autism Spectrum and special needs. She also received an additional 100 hours through Samadhi Sun in early 2013. She is registered under the Yoga Alliance and works as the creative designer and illustrator for Ashrams for Autism. Nina teaches vinyasa yoga at several heated and non-heated studios in northern New Jersey. She has worked with young adults and teens on the spectrum since August 2012 weekly, teaching yoga, doing art projects and as an aide at The Children's Institute. Certain institutes and establishments include: The Children's Institute at The Center for Independence, The Wae Center, and Ashrams for Autism's teen yoga program at the Trailside Museum at Watchung Reservation for Union County Recreation Programs for People with Disabilities. Her passion for working with children and adults on the spectrum by teaching yoga and art to them has truly become her life's goal. Nina works with Sharon Manner, founder of Ashrams for Autism on a weekly basis, helping people with Autism reach a more balanced and peaceful state, both mentally and physically. She teaches yoga as her full-time career and also works as a freelance artist. In her free time she enjoys hiking, gemology, art, music and of course, practicing yoga.
Jennifer came to work for Ashrams in 2012 after hearing about the organization through her teacher and mentor, founder Sharon Manner. She reached out to Sharon while studying to be a teacher through Samadhi Sun training program. A student of yoga for over 10 years, Jennifer found the practice served to both lessen stress and test physical and mental limit. The practice became invaluable during the two years she spent Namibia, Africa where she taught English. She entered the 200 hr training program to deepen her connection to a yogic lifestyle and graduated with a new life direction. During the first Ashrams class she attended she was able to see the difference one hour made for the autistic individual and she wanted to be a part. She began teaching and says of the classes, "I feel selfish. Every class I learn more what it means to be a yogi through their practice than I do from my own. It is truly a gift and I am grateful everyday to be a part of it ."
An RYT-200 and certified Level 2 Samadhi Spectrum teacher, Jennifer teaches classes throughout Northern New Jersey. A student of life, she hopes to use her experiences home and abroad to help others break out of their boxes and find their passion. She currently teaches classes at The Center for Independence and at the Watchung Reservation for Union County Recreation Programs for People with Disabilities.
Lauren is a 500-hour RTY certified Vinyasa teacher who began her yogic journey while seeking alleviation from long distance running injuries. After quickly falling in love with Vinyasa flow, experiencing the powerful transformative benefits of yoga, Lauren realized that she also wanted to teach and spread her passion for yoga with others. Her first students were children. After spending seven years as an early childhood classroom teacher, receiving her M.S. in Early Childhood Education from Bank Street College of Education, Lauren completed her yoga for children certification RCYT in 2011, studying with Jennifer Cohen Harper of Little Flower Yoga for Children. Lauren then obtained her 200-hour Vinyasa teacher certification through Powerflow Yoga. She holds additional certifications in Reiki Level I and mat Pilates.
In the spring of 2013, Lauren completed Samadhi Sun’s 300-hour teacher training, as well as Ashrams for Autism’s levels I and II trainings. Shortly after, she began teaching for Ashrams at the Center for Independence at the Children’s Institute. She truly loves sharing the gift of yoga with others. Lauren is grateful to all her teachers, especially Sharon, for their guidance, wisdom, support, and inspiration.
Exercise and children have always been a part of Gisela’s life. The oldest of 5 kids she always enjoyed being around children. Her love for exercise began in elementary school and carried on throughout her high school years. After high school she found a passion for kickboxing, and practiced it for about 12 years. In 2008 she suffered a shoulder injury that changed the way she looked at fitness. She could no longer exercise the way that she was used to, so she had to start from scratch. At the time of her injury she was also pursuing a degree in Psychology, and working with an individual on the Autism Spectrum, and that's when Yoga came into her life. She was able to mix the psychological aspect as well as the physical aspect of exercising. She has found that working with individuals with ASD and individuals with developmental disabilities can be beneficial for both yoga instructors and the students. She wants to help her fellow yogis and yoginis overcome any doubts, and achieve their maximum potential both physically and mentally, and strive above any limitations. She believes that the practice of Yoga on and off the mat helps us to focus the mind, find inner and outer balance, and assist in the management of everyday challenges.
Gisela currently teaches at the WAE Center in Verona, and at the Community Access unlimited in Elizabeth for adults with developmental disabilities.
Brittany Stowasser is first and foremost a little sister who grew up with her beautiful brother and inspiration, Joshua, who lives with Autism. She fell in love with Yoga at 18 and practiced on and off for years in her home before her hometown of Huntington, WV opened its first Yoga Studio, Studio 8, where she now teaches. Brittany recently obtained her 200 RYT under the loving guidance of her teacher, Anna Pittman. She met her teacher Sharon (Sharanya) Manner at the 2013 Yoga Journal Conference in NYC “by chance.” Having experienced the healing benefits of Yoga firsthand, she knew with the Ashrams training, she had finally found a way to serve this community of amazing individuals and simultaneously stay true to who she was. Brittany currently teaches Ashrams for Autism Yoga classes at Autism Services Center, Diversified Therapy Center and Studio 8 where she resides with her husband Edward and daughter Emery in Huntington, WV. Advocating Autism awareness, Brittany volunteered helping to gather Corporate Sponsors for the Rally for Autism (walk/run) in 2013 where she participated as a runner in the event, the six years previously. Brittany is actively working to bring this love service to Group homes, empowering parents, siblings like her, social workers and the like to use Yoga as Therapy for the Autism and special needs community. Brittany recently completed massage school and is now a Licensed Massage Therapist.
A 25-year veteran of corporate communications, Jill has evolved from PR strategy, media relations and employee communications, to OMs, namastes and downward facings dogs. In 2014, Jill studied with yoga luminaries Kathryn Budig and Gina Caputo, earning a RYT 200 hour certification in vinyasa yoga. In 2015, Jill completed a 40-hour Samadhi Spectrum Yoga for Autism teacher training led by Sharon Manner. Jill teaches for Ashrams for Autism at the HOPE Center in New Providence and at Innovations in Newark. She also teaches yoga to schoolchildren in charter schools through Newark Yoga Movement. Her favorite mantra summarizes perfectly why she enjoys teaching individuals on the spectrum and less fortunate typical kids:
Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu
-- May all beings everywhere be happy and free and may our thoughts words and actions contribute to that intention.