Yoga & Meditation, Faculty
In her work, physically challenging asana kindles the fire of transformation and focuses strong attention into meditation. Storytelling, metaphorical language, and precisely directed options for alignment teach the tale of our becoming more human.
Laura loves teaching others to be discerning practitioners who synthesize information for themselves. In that spirit, she co-created The New School of Yogic Arts, a teacher training school for those who want to learn to teach the practice of yoga as a living system that breathes differently in each body. Her current work is a melding of all the different truths of moving and living in yoga that she has had the privilege of learning. Her teaching is an approach to practice and is not style focused. Her classes and other offerings prioritize attention to breath and commitment to the inner work necessary for personal evolution. Laura’s greatest commitment is living the practice of yoga in the world, and to teach others to do the same.
Her 500 hour training with her teacher Sarahjoy Marsh concentrated on yoga therapeutic concepts at the intersection of tradition and science, emphasizing neuroscience, interpersonal neurobiology, adaptive yoga, and yoga psychology. She also holds a 200 hour certification in Hatha Vinyasa, 200-hour and advanced certifications in Forrest Yoga taught by Ana Forrest, and completed a year-long mentorship under the guidance of Dr. Heidi Sormaz. She holds a BFA from The University of the Arts, where she honed her own use of story and song, which, since ancient times, has served as instruments of connection and community. Her teachers have paved her path, and she is forever grateful to them and to the teachers of the teachers.
Ecological Leadership, Faculty
Kristen Andrews seeks to be where education, ecological design and social justice synergistically intersect. In this realm, she engages in practices which cultivate earth connection, gratitude, and reciprocity.
A Vermont certified teacher with 20 years experience teaching (K-12) in public schools, alternative programs, and technical centers, Kristen specializes in an arts based approach to the integration of agriculture and nutrition-based learning opportunities across the curriculum. She has taught courses in organic agriculture and integrated farming systems as Green Mountain College and led Farm to School trainings for teachers. For 10 years, she ran a small, diversified organic farm in Lincoln, VT. Most recently she served as the Director of Just Basics Inc, in Montpelier, VT, a non-profit organization focused on food rescue, hunger alleviation, and community education and currently works as an advocate for people facing homelessness at the John Graham Emergency Shelter in Vergennes, VT.
Kristen is a graduate of the Wisdom of the Herbs School, in Calais, VT, where she studied medicinal herbology and plant spirit communication. She is a certified Nutritional Therapy Consultant and has completed the Family Herbalist Training Program at the Vermont Center for Integrative Herbalism in Montpelier, VT. She holds a B. A. in Chemistry from Williams College, a M. Ed. In Creative Arts in Learning from Lesley University and is currently pursuing an M. S. in Natural Resources-Leadership for Sustainability at the University of Vermont.
Plant Medicine, Faculty
Anna Blackwell, Director of The Village Shala ~ Ashtanga Yoga and Wellness Center in Bristol, Vermont, Anna has been a practicing “Ashtangi” for nearly ten years. The practice has become her teacher, and she continues to learn everyday from her wonderful community of students. She has been a bodywork practitioner for 10 years, specializing in therapeutic, deep tissue, and Ayurvedic Abhyanga treatments. Anna is also a clinical herbalist having completed a three year program at the Vermont Center for Integrative Herbalism. She offers individual consultations, plant walks, and group classes ranging in topic from herbal medicine making, specific body systems, and herbal body care products. She draws knowledge from traditional Chinese, Ayurvedic, and Native American energetics to create personal formulas to address the specific needs of her clients. Anna loves matching plants to people in need of digestive support, nervous system nourishment, immune system boosting, or anyone looking for a rise in overall vibrant health.
To learn more about Anna, visit The Village Shala.
Environmental Art, Faculty
Cameron Davis (Cami) is a Senior Lecturer with the University of Vermont’s Department of Art and Art History. She teaches painting, drawing, and courses on art, ecology and community. Her own work includes painting, performance, installation and community art activist projects exploring issues of conscious perception as fundamental to living sustainably in a warming world. She considers her painting to be her primary conversation from which the wider community projects evolve.
In 1999 Davis and artist Sally Linder created the community art Temenos Books Project and event For Love of Earth, A Celebration of the Earth Charteras a way to introduce the Earth Charter, an international document that outlines principles for building a just, sustainable and peaceful global society. With over 22, 000 participants, Linder designed and painted the Ark of Hope as a holding place for the Temenos Books. They traveled to four continents including Johannesburg South Africa for the World Summit on Sustainable Development, Bangalore India for the 2005 International Women’s Conference, and to the Netherlands, for the Earth Charter +5 event, where 8000 children and Queen Beatrix participated in creating books.
Davis continues to collaborate with artists, filmmakers, poets, students and the public including the Quantum Community Project, a participatory ecological event of film, poems, veiled drawings, and yoga practice, created with Metta Earth Institute Co-Director Gillian Kapteyn Comstock.
Davis’ solo and community work addresses climate change. Waxwing Medicine 2006, Messages to Earth 2007, Let Ours Be a Time Remembered 2008, and the Dear World Project 2009, part of the Human=Landscape, Aesthetics for a Carbon Restrained Future exhibition at Burlington City Arts, Burlington, Vermont, were all responses to 350.org climate activist events.
In 2013 Davis created 12 large scaled paintings titled Endless Spring as the stage set for the Emergent Universe Oratorio composed by Sam Guarnaccia. The work represented a three-year collaboration between Sam Guarnaccia, Paula Guarnaccia and Davis collaborating with writers on the Oratorio’s content to articulate a “new story” of shared purpose and emergent possibility at the threshold of the Anthropocene era, where human’s impact is now the major evolutionary driver of Earth’s future. They worked closely with Mary Evelyn Tucker and John Grim using the book and film, Journey of the Universe by Brian Swimme and Tucker, as the framework for the Oratorio.
Currently Davis is working with Ben Bach, Cinematographer, and Fletcher Bach, Creative Technologist, on The Orchard Project: video sketches for the 2015 exhibition, Eyes on the Land, 14 Artists Paired with 14 Vermont Land Trust Properties, Pizzagali Center for Art and Education, Shelburne Museum, Shelburne Vermont.
Plant Medicine, Faculty
Katherine Elmer, MS grew up in the green hills of Central Vermont and revels in the opportunity to connect with clients around a shared love of place and nature through whole foods nutrition and herbal medicine. She is a clinically-trained community herbalist and lecturer on Herbal Medicine, Integrative Health and Food Systems topics at the University of Vermont.
She has a Master’s in Natural Resources from UVM and has completed professional training through the Vermont Center for Integrative Herbalism. Katherine manages medicinal plant gardens on UVM campus and is the faculty advisor for the UVM student Herbalism Club. She also teaches regular community classes and herb walks in the Burlington area.
Katherine is the co-founder of the Burlington Herb Clinic at the Railyard Apothecary as well as an educational organization called Spoonful Herbals, which offers a local Herbal CSA share program, a Community Herbalism Apprenticeship, “Backyard Apothecary” consultations to farmers and homesteaders, and medicinal plant gleaning events (“Herb Mobs”) on area organic farms and public green spaces.
She is a proud mom to an 8-year-old son Liam, a 9-year-old labradoodle Maatje (pronounced Mott-yeh) and she lives in Burlington’s Old North End.
Plant Medicine, Faculty
Seneca/Haudenosaunee Medicine Keeper, Herbal Remedy Maker, Story Teller
BrokenHorse is an author and historian; sacred activist and medicine keeper of European and Seneca/Haudenosaunee (Ho-den-o-son-ee) descent. He has been studying indigenous medicine for over 20 years.
Coming from a long line of peacemakers and great orators, BrokenHorse uses the written and spoken word and the power of indigenous tradition to decolonize, rematriate, and heal.
Plant Medicine, Faculty
Emily French is a clinical and traditional herbalist working with a wide range of clients and medicines. Her work revolves around her love for reconnecting people with the sophisticated art and science of plant-based healing that we’ve all known, somewhere in our bones, for thousands of years.
She is a passionate and intuitive clinician, educator, wildcrafter, farmer and medicine maker, and is proud to carry on the age-old medicine tradition that has been passed down from her grandmothers’ grandmothers and grandfathers’ grandfathers.
With over 4,000 hours of clinical experience, Emily has a broad understanding of both acute and chronic health issues, and how to work with the healing plants to help people move toward balance and vitality.
Emily holds an advanced degree in Clinical Herbalism from the Clearpath School of Herbal Medicine, a degree in Holistic Medicine & Sustainable Agriculture from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, served as Farm to Cafeteria Director of the Massachusetts Farm to School Project, and has served on the Council of the Northeast Herbal Association.
She is the founder of Sweetgrass Herbals, based in Montpelier, VT.
Gillian Kapteyn Comstock
Gillian Kapteyn Comstock, MA, is the founding co-director of Metta Earth Institute and the Metta Earth project, which integrates regenerative farming, contemplative practices, community living, and sustainability education. Gillian offers mentoring, program facilitation, and leadership trainings.
As a holistic psychotherapist, certified permaculture designer, and advanced yoga guide, she synthesizes disciplines to support cultural renewal. She is dedicated to creating sanctuaries for others to experience vibrant presence.
With a passion for discovering the wild in mind, body, and earth, she has led yoga retreats, wilderness quests, and trainings in nature sanctuaries around the world.
For the last dozen years Gillian has intertwined this work with grounding in regenerative agriculture and focalizes this in the care of gardens and greenhouses, carbon farming and grazing processes with Icelandic sheep, Milking Shorthorn cows, and heritage breed chickens, as well as the growing and wildcrafting of herbal teas and medicines.
For more than two decades she has been a participant in the Assisi Institute community, which engages in a highly dynamic interdisciplinary investigation of Jungian psychology, creative process, mythology, and the new sciences.
A mother of three adult children and grandmother of five, Gillian has lived a life immersed in cooperative community, the gift economy, and innovative social processes resonate with natural systems and wild nature.
Russell Comstock, Co-Director of Metta Earth Institute, Inc., has given his life to living, learning, and loving. As stepfather for thirty years, Russell is dedicated to fathering, family, and community life. Always moved by the soul of earth, he holds an MA in Contemplative and Ecological Leadership and a BA in Human Ecology.
A practitioner of yoga for more than twenty years, he is certified in both Interdisciplinary and Jivamukti Yoga, and brings to all his teaching a spirit of embodied devotion. Russell is a founding member of the Green Yoga Association and serves on the Green Yoga Council. With extensive experience directing programs in wilderness, adventure, and experiential education, Russell integrates a steady intention to help humans connect more compassionately with earth and with each other.
He has trained as a quest and wilderness guide with Earth Rise Foundation, School of Lost Borders, and Outdoor Leadership Training Seminars. He has been a nationally certified Wilderness Emergency Medical Technician (WEMT) for many years, and now maintains a Wilderness First Responder certification. He has recently completed a handbook called: Metta Earth Yoga – Contemplative Ecological Practices for a Sustainable Future.
Ross Conrad learned his craft from the late Charles Mraz, world-renowned beekeeper, father of apitherapy, and founder of Champlain Valley Apiaries in Vermont. Former president of the Vermont Beekeepers Association, Conrad is the author of Natural Beekeeping: Organic Approaches To Modern Apiculture (Published by Chelsea Green, 2007), and has written numerous articles on organic farming, natural healing, and health issues.Read more… His 12-year-old small sideline beekeeping business, Dancing Bee Gardens, supplies his friends, neighbors, and local stores with honey and provides bees for Vermont apple pollination in the spring.
To learn more about Ross, visit his website Dancing Bee Garden’s.
Janet Fredericks is a practicing visual artist for 40 years who has her home and studio in Lincoln, Vermont. A Vermont Council on the Arts and New England Foundation for the Arts Fellowship recipient, Janet exhibits internationally and is in many corporate and private collections. Janet’s current work expresses her continuing interest in the natural environment. With wonderment at its intelligence, interconnectedness and complexities JanetRead more…offers insight into our relationship to what is common and extraordinary in the world around us. Janet is also co-founder of Magicians Without Borders with her husband Tom Verner. Together they perform around the world for children of all ages bringing love, laughter and hope into difficult lives.
To learn more about Janet, visit her website janetfredericksstudio.com.
Hasita Agi Nadai
Ecological Leadership, Faculty
Hasita Agi Nadai was born in Vienna, Austria, grew up in Italy, and immigrated to the USA in 1953. Her deep connection with Nature started in her early childhood. She has spent most of her life enjoying Nature through mountaineering, trekking, skiing, and canoeing.
The desire to investigate Nature in all its dimensions led her to earn a Master’s Degree in Cell Physiology at Columbia University and in 1987 to a Master’s Degree in Geology at the City University of NY. She taught and did research in both fields. She recently retired as a project manager for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. In 1987 Hasita became involved in Yoga. She is a Professional Level Kripalu Yoga Teacher and since 1994 she has taught at the Rivertown Center for Yoga and Health for adults and children. She teaches yoga privately and also as a substitute in other centers.
In 1990 she became involved in the Deep Ecology movement. She trained with Joanna Macy and follows the teachings of Thomas Berry and Brian Swimme where ‘our story’ is the story of the evolving universe. Hasita has created Yogagaia, which is about connecting with our body and to our story, based on science – the story of the Universe. Through asanas, dance and meditations, we reawaken the memory of our Kosmic Journey (Kosmic=matter, body, mind, and spirit). It is a journey filled with miracles, and Yogagaia brings to our consciousness our place in the web of life and how we are all co-creators of the irreversible evolutionary spiral of the universe. Hasita gives Yogagaia workshops to various audiences; at the Loyola Marymount University, Lehman College, and several high schools, at the Green Mountain Monastery, Hebrew Learning Center, and organizes programs such as ‘Yogagaia and Hiking’ in the Italian Alps.
Since 1992 Hasita has been facilitating courses on Deep Ecology, Voluntary Simplicity, and Sustainability, developed by the NW Earth Institute at the Environmental Protection Agency. In 2001 she created the Green Yoga Sangha in Westchester County, New York, which meets monthly to discuss selective readings to deepen their understanding of the journey of the universe, to learn about their impact on the health of the planet led by the present world economy, and to explore how they can evolve into healing our planet.
Hasita is co-founder of the Green Yoga Association
Since 1994 Hasita has been involved in the energetic healing arts. She is a Reiki Master and is trained in Energy Medicine Healing as taught by Jacque Tombazian.
To learn more about Hasita, visit her website yogagaia.com.
Yoga & Meditation, Faculty
Mikki Raveh is a mother, a teacher, who values the importance of stepping outside the everyday and exploring the energetic possibilities of the world that surrounds her. Mikki met Russell and Gillian in 2007 when she spent her first summer in Middlebury. From the moment she visited Metta Earth she fell in love with everything about it and knew that she had to share this sacred place with others — Mikki has been co-creating magical retreats with Gillian and Russell ever since.
Mikki currently lives in New York City, and spends her summers in Middlebury, where her husband teaches at the Middlebury Language Schools.
She completed her yoga teacher training at Baptiste Power Yoga Institute with her Boston mentor, Gregor Singleton. In the summer time she teaches yoga in Hebrew at the Middlebury Language Schools, studies with Russell, and works closely with Gillian and Russell at Metta Earth. It was in Vermont that she was also first introduced to the Iyengar system, and upon her return to New York City in 2010 Mikki began her practice and study at the Iyengar Institute. Mikki is also inspired by Marco Rajas’ teachings and continues to grow from his influence.
In addition to her yoga training, Mikki was certified in the Pilates method in 2001 through Physical Mind Institute, Power Pilates, and the Pilates Method Alliance. She obtained her Gyrotonic Expansion System® certification in 2003 under the guidance of Master Trainer Maria Rosa Gugielmi. In 2001, Mikki taught in Tel-Aviv, Israel where she worked directly under physical therapist Dror Raz. In 2004 after the birth of her first child, Mikki studied Itsy Bitsy Yoga® (baby and toddler yoga) and in 2006 got trained by Helen Garabedian, Certified Yoga Teacher, Infant Development Movement Educator and founder of Itsy Bitsy Yoga® International.
Aside from her experience in bodywork, Mikki holds a business degree (BS) from Boston University and has over seven years of advertising and marketing experience.
Yoga & Meditation, Faculty
In 1992, Ossi Raveh was a high school student. She was a serious dancer, a gymnast and part of the theater crowd. While working on the lighting for the schools play Ossi stepped on a weakened section of a catwalk which gave way beneath her. She fell 40 feet and landed on a concrete floor. Ossi suffered many major injuries including, a concussion, compound fractures to her wrist and elbow, two broken knees, a pelvis fractured in four paces, broken jaw & sinus bones and shattered teeth. After multiple surgeries, weeks in the hospital and many painful hours of rehabilitation Ossi was told she would never dance again, let alone walk without a limp.
Ossi refused to accept this. In the spring of 1993 she was introduced to Pilates as a form of movement therapy. Pilates was a game changer. Within months Ossi was not only able to walk without a limp, she was able to dance again! Pilates not only helped her to recover, but it acted as a stepping stone to other movement based modalities. Over the next decade Ossi would become a certified Pilates instructor through The Pilates Studio, Inc. and also complete her training in the Gyrotonic Expansion System and Gyrokenisis with Julio Horvath. While traveling to Thailand she studied Thai Massage, reflexology and upon her return became a certified Doula.
In 2004, while studying to become a Licensed Massage Therapist, Ossi took her first Heated Vinyasa Yoga class and has been back to her mat every day since. The pace and fluidity of the heated vinyasa flow helped her build strength, hold on to her flexibility and calm her mind. More importantly it forced an alignment in her body that helped soothe her injuries. After many years of receiving this multi-faceted practice from many inspiring and incredible teachers Ossi completed her Level 1 and Level 2 yoga teacher training with Baron Baptiste.
Now, with nearly twenty years of teaching various modalities under her belt, Ossi had the desire to take her students further and explore movement beyond the Asana. So she created a flow based on all the modalities she has been teaching and practicing for almost half of her life. It utilizes the core strengthening of Pilates, the spiraling energy of Gyrotonic and the grounding movement, meditation, and heat of yoga. This combination brings a naturally balanced energy to all of her classes and creates a flow that is adaptable to all students.
In the winter of 2014 Ossi brought her flow to the Carroll gardens neighborhood of Brooklyn and opened the Brooklyn Yoga Project. It is not just another yoga studio. It is an intimate, boutique-style space offering daily heated and low-heat yoga classes, workshops, teacher trainings and community gatherings where the eight limbs of yoga are studied, shared and celebrated. It is a safe and personal space to explore, breathe, move and experience all that yoga has to offer.
Ossi truly believes that a yoga practice doesn’t start and stop on your mat. It is something that merges your mind, body and soul and spreads into every part of your life.
To learn more about Ossi, visit Brooklyn Yoga Project.
Tom Verner was born in an Irish Catholic coal mining town in Western Pennsylvania under the sign of Aquarius. He has degrees in Philosophy, Literature and a PhD in Psychology. He spent two years in Iran as a Peace Corps Volunteer and seven years in a cloistered monastery meditating, chanting and learning the importance and power of ritual and community. Tom has been a practicing clinical psychologist, professor of psychology and literature and a professional magician for forty years.
In 2002, along with his wife Janet, he founded Magicians Without Borders, an NGO that uses the art of magic to entertain, educate and empower many of the most forgotten refugee and orphan children around the world. Tom is a lover of poetry and dreams and for forty years he studied with the psychologist James Hillman and the poet Robert Bly. Tom regularly lectures and conducts workshops and retreats on dreams, creativity, magic, journal work, and poetry. The journal work that Tom will teach at Metta Earth with his wife Janet, he learned from his study with the renowned Jungian Psychologist, Ira Progoff.
To learn more about Tom, visit Magicians Without Borders.