Katherine Banker, Founder and Executive Director
“Founding BKY was my way of serving the community and promising never-ending dedication to mindfulness, accessibility, and equity for all on and off the mat.”
My passion for yoga started early in my teaching career. I worked long hours and began to feel disconnected from friends and family. After exploring many options, I began a daily yoga practice and started applying yogic techniques to my classroom. I saw the benefits unfold not only for myself but my students and was inspired to create a children’s yoga program based on inclusion and mindfulness.
In my late 20’s, after years of debilitating pain, I discovered I had Spina Bifida, a congenital spine disorder. I underwent spine surgery and turned to my yoga practice as a way to heal. Yoga continues to be pivotal in my recovery and I became driven to make this gift accessible to others. It is my dream that everyone has the opportunity to reap the benefits of yoga no matter age, ability, background or income.
When I am not practicing or teaching yoga you can find me hiking, swimming, cooking and reading with my partner, our two kids and fur baby Kash. To contact Katherine email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Katherine’s background is in early childhood development. She holds a B.S. in Interdisciplinary Studies from Texas State University, EC-6th grade ESL certified teacher. Other certifications include; 300 hr Trauma Center Trauma-Sensitive Yoga (TCTSY), 200 hr Hatha Yoga from Yoga Yoga, 200+ hr Children’s Yoga teacher trainings from Radiant Child Yoga, Karma Kids Yoga, Chakra Kids Yoga, TBRI, 200+ hr trauma-informed foster/adoptive trainings and more.
Melissa Jones, Board President
“Yoga is an incredible modality for healing, connection, and joy. To provide these gifts to young people and families is a beautiful way to serve our community and invest in its future.”
I first found yoga during my time putting myself through college. I was broke, tired, and disconnected. One of my only enriching outlets was a free community yoga class. As a young adult, I was taught to connect with my breath, move in ways that felt good, and give myself mental space for the first time. I truly believe that this experience helped me persist through college, and grow into a more emotionally and physically grounded person.
Although my story is different from many of those we serve, I likely could or would not have accessed yoga through traditional means, due to the cultural or cost barriers. I can confidently say that the lessons learned on the mat continue to make me a better parent, professional, spouse, and human in general. During my years working in special education, I have called upon tools learned through yoga and mindfulness practice as means to calm and center both myself and my students.
I stumbled upon Bliss Kid Yoga at the organization’s first Bliss Bash event. On this day, I witnessed a small group of caring individuals enriching a public space with the simple, sincere magic of yoga. Since then, I have been honored to serve as a volunteer teacher and board member. The sheer simplicity of our vision allows for endless opportunities to reach the community.
When not on my mat, I enjoy exploring green spaces around the Hill Country with my family, play in my garden, kayak, cook vegetarian food, and work on other social justice campaigns.
I’d love to hear your story and talk more about how you can impact our community with BKY. Reach out at email@example.com.
Sanda Alexander,Board Treasurer
“I believe that starting a yoga practice in childhood provides tools to help manage anxiety levels and improve mental health throughout life.”
I joined the Bliss Kid Yoga team because I recognize the long-term impact this organization will have on our community and it is exciting to see these classes available to children of all backgrounds and abilities. My own children started yoga classes when they were 3 years old and I have seen what a great tool it has been for them to handle daily frustrations and stressors as they grow. Mindful breathing and knowing when they need to step away and calm their bodies has been helpful to them, especially as they navigate their school days.
My husband and I moved to the Austin area in 2006 and quickly realized what a great place it would be to raise a family. We enjoy spending time with our twin boys in the numerous parks and on the extensive hiking and biking trails. Please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Elizabeth Jameson, Board Member
“Yoga helps us authentically relate with one another and build relationships through mindful connections. When yoga is accessible to all, it strengthens families, and builds communities.”
I began my yoga practice to relieve stress when I was working as a preschool teacher and needed to unwind after busy days. I did not anticipate the effect it would have on my connections with children. I was more present in moments, I was better able to regulate my responses and model emotional intelligence, and I approached my work with more kindness. I knew that families would benefit immensely from the lessons I was learning, and I was excited to share my knowledge.
I joined Bliss Kid Yoga as a teacher, sharing yoga with young students and their families. I have witnessed first hand the growth in self-confidence, the deepening of trust, and the building of stronger relationships resulting from a yoga practice. As a board member, I am better able to serve and expand our offerings. My background in psychology draws me to the healing aspects of yoga, and I am working to bring our programs to Austin’s more vulnerable youth. Healthy children and families build strong communities, and I am honored to be a part of the process. Contact Elizabeth at email@example.com.
Elizabeth has a background in child development and holds a B.A. in Psychology from St. Edward’s University. Certifications include 300 hr Trauma Center Trauma-Sensitive Yoga (TCTSY), 200 hr Vinyasa yoga from Meghan Currie and Exhale Yoga, 95 hour Children’s Yoga from Chakra Kids Yoga, and 30 hours training with Holistic Circus Therapy.
Nanette LaBastida, Board Member
“If everyone practiced yoga there would be world peace” – I can’t remember where I read that or who said it, but it struck me deeply. If yoga makes me feel peaceful and compassionate to myself in others, imagine the impact if more people practiced and if children learned it at an early age. The impact of that vision is important to me.”
When I first met Katherine and learned about Bliss Kid Yoga and its the mission I was smitten and knew I had to be involved somehow. I believe that as many children as possible should have access to yoga. I wish Bliss Kid Yoga had been around when my children were little!
Yoga is such a gift to me, I have especially benefited from it after I went through breast cancer diagnosis and treatment, it helps me strengthen my body, and my self love and provides peace and comfort. Since then I have also become a yoga teacher myself, specializing in yoga for cancer survivors.
I live in Austin with my 2 children and when not practicing or teaching yoga, I work as a Realtor, go see live music and cook fabulous vegan meals. Contact Nanette at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Candice Lopez, Board Member
“I feel like teaching kiddos yoga is not only a gift, it’s a super power! I get to be an Austin Allergy Clinician by trade and a Children’s Yoga Teacher by heart!”
Yoga first found me in my mid twenties. It has always shown up for me in some capacity, even when I barely showed up for myself, I always had my mat. Within my journey, I wanted to lean in more to the teachings and philosophies, so I embarked on my 200hr teacher training. With no real intention other than going further inward, a fellow student mentioned Bliss Kid Yoga to me. I always felt I had an affinity towards being a positive influence on kiddos and with having a natural child like nature, this felt like the right direction for me.
Being a lifelong babysitter and perpetual Auntie, I always knew in some way I wanted to help nurture children in an impactful and playful way! For so long I believed that way was through nursing school, but I never truly felt in my heart this was the right path. It wasn’t until I started volunteering with BKY that I realized this was it! My way is through yoga and all that BKY stands for! I promptly enrolled in a training to obtain my certification as a Children’s Yoga Teacher.
I am now able to share the gift of yoga with kids through teaching in other capacities not only through BKY. I firmly maintain my stance that this beautiful organization, the community we serve and all involved from teachers to volunteers has given me way more than I could ever give back!
When I’m not practicing or teaching you can find me doing other things that fuel my soul! Immersed in nature, on an adventure, dancing around listening to music, cooking up veggies or with my wild pack of pups! Contact Candice at email@example.com.
RYT 200, 95hr Children’s Yoga Cert, BKY Trauma-Informed Cert
Erica Ortiz, Board Member
I first discovered yoga after moving to Austin in 2005 and developing a passion for living an active lifestyle. I soon realized that there were mental and emotional benefits from yoga that were not gained from other physical activities. I noticed positive benefits in the ability to focus, regulate emotions, quiet my mind, and tune in to my own intuition. I was able to be more mindful and present throughout my daily life. I realized that many of the students that I worked with as a speech-language pathologist had struggles not only with speech or language, but also with motor skills, attention, focus, memory, self-regulation, and breathing. After realizing that yoga works on all of these things, I quickly started doing some internet searching to find out if there actually was such a thing as yoga for children. I was overjoyed to discover that there is, and I set out on the path to become a children’s yoga teacher in 2015.
I immediately enrolled in a 200 hour yoga teacher training, followed by 2 additional children’s yoga trainings (including one for children with special needs). I also began using yogic tools when working with students in our speech therapy sessions. Soon after, I crossed paths with Bliss Kid Yoga. I knew immediately that I wanted to be a part of this organization and its mission to make yoga accessible to all.
I am an avid believer in working with the whole child. Yoga is the perfect tool to engage the mind, body, breath, and connection with ourselves and our world. It is an investment in our community to ensure that these tools are able to be accessed by all, regardless of physical abilities or socioeconomic status.
I truly enjoy sharing the gift of yoga with children, and value the insight, fun, and joy that working with children brings to my life. You can contact Erica at firstname.lastname@example.org.
RYT 200, MCD, CCC-SLP, 30hr BKY Trauma-Informed Cert