Instructor Bios

Your Instructors

Lyn H. Baumgartner CYT has been teaching yoga in the area for ten years. She is passionate in her belief that yoga is a healing practice, and all who come to the mat with intention and an open heart will find yoga touches them in a way they never imagined. She is a certified Iyengar teacher and has been trained in the use of props to facilitate posture if needed. Students are encouraged to work at their own level and ability. Her classes are designed to teach students how to build a solid foundation for a safe, satisfying, and stimulating yoga practice.


Alex Souto is a Yoga Alliance registered teacher trained by Deborah Koehn Ji at Hale Kai Center for Yogic Studies in the areas of Asana, Anatomy, Restorative, Pranayama, Meditation, Philosophy and Subtle Energy.  He combines all of the above elements to encourage a holistic and individualize practice for people of every level of experience, phase in life, and physical shape.  Alex is completing his MDiv degree at the Yale Divinity School, and traces his lineage back to Sri K. Pattabhi Jois and B.K.S. Iyengar through the mentorship of Dr. Charles Jasper, Darren Main, Angela Pashayan, Jack Davis, Amy Hanaughan and Michael Alexander.  He also offers Yoga classes at Yale Divinity School, and has taught at Dwight Hall, AFAM, GPSS, WOW studio as well as private sessions.  For more information: or yogactivism on Facebook

Matisse Madden received an MFA from the University of Utah in Ballet teaching and choreography. She has also studied the Vagonova teaching methodology with Mr. John White. Matisse discovered Pilates as a compliment to her training as a professional ballet dancer. She received her Pilates certification through the Physical Mind Institute. She finds great joy in the success of her beloved students and is thrilled to work with dancers and athletes, both professional and amateur alike. Matisse is currently dancing with the Connecticut Ballet. In addition to her performance responsiblities, she teaches Ballet and Pilates at Mount Holyoke College.

Craig Elkin is a recently retired Police Sargeant, having served 27 years with the Middletown Police Department, including 15 years on the SWAT team and as a defensive tactics instructor. Craig has practiced karate since 1979, and is a certified karate instructor, 5th degree black belt. He has been the Chief instructor for the Yale Shotokan Karate Club since 1996. 




Ann Cowlin, MA, CSM, CCE, teaches ballet and pre/post-natal fitness. She danced with several ballet and modern companies in the U.S., Europe, and on NBC televisions Today Show and Omnibus. Ann received her M.A. in Dance from UCLA and a postgraduate certificate in Sports Medicine from Phoenix General Hospital. She taught at UCLA and Arizona State University before coming to Yale. The author of Women's Fitness Program Development and chapters in various textbooks, she founded 'Dancing Thru Pregnancy,' is the expert consultant in Pre/Post-Natal Physical Training for the U.S. Army, and is an international presenter in dance medicine.




Judith Phelps trained as a modern dancer before starting to study and teach Argentine Tango in 1992. She studied with a number of respected teachers in New York and Buenos Aires including Daniel Trenner, Rebecca Shulman, Carlos Gavito, and Luciana Valle. She emphasizes clear communication between the leader and the follower to create elegant and smooth dancing on the dance floor that is both passionate and fun.




Laura Richling leads what some would consider a dual life as both a professional musician (pianist) and a fitness professional. As such, she is avidly interested in the connection between music and movement as it relates to health of mind and body. With 20 years' experience in the fitness industry, she holds multiple certifications, including American Council on Exercise, Body Training Systems, Silver Sneakers, Yogafit, and, her latest love, Zumba Fitness. She serves on the board of the Connecticut Swing Dancing Society and is active in the social dance scene. She is dedicated to helping people discover the thrill of good health through exercise that is safe, effective, and FUN!!

Melissa Mandak graduated from Rutgers University with a B.A. in Broadcast Journalism, a minor in Exercise Science, and has been teaching Zumba at the Payne Whitney Gym since September 2009. She has been a certified Zumba Instructor for nearly 3 years and a classically trained dancer in tap, jazz, and ballet since the age of 3. Melissa also holds her personal trainer certification with the American Council on Exercise.




Efraim Silva started to practice Capoeira at age 13 and by age 17, he became an instructor. In 1985, after serving two years in the Brazilian Air Force, he started his own Capoeira group "Raca em Movimento" and opened his own academy in Braganca Paulista, Sao Paolo. He participated in all major Capoeira competitions in Brazil and became state champion in Sao Paolo, then in 1988 the national champion of Capoeira in group. Efraim has trained with the Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism on how to integrate arts into the schools' curriculum, and became Master Teaching Artist in 1993. He was awarded Master of Capoeira certificate by the Sao Paolo Federation of Capoeira in 1994. He is the artistic director of the "Connecticut Capoeira Center" and performs with his dance company, Ginga Brasileira, in theaters, schools, universities, and festivals all over the United States. He also teaches Capoeira at Yale University, and has taught at Norwalk Community College, Southern Connecticut State University, University of Connecticut, Fairfield University, at his own studio, and at several other locations throughout the state of Connecticut. He was awarded the 2009 artist of year from Young Audiences of CT and Latino de Oro 2010.

James Seldner "Squash is an awesome sport! It blends competitiveness, athleticism, and sportsmanship in a unique way that makes this individual racquet sport a superior social experience and a fulfilling physical workout. I have coached and instructed squash for 27 years at Yale with the Men and Women's varsity teams and the recreational sports program. I enjoy teaching the fundamentals of the sport, and recently received Coaching Certification (Level 1) from the U.S. Squash Association." 

James C. Bell is a "U.S. Squash" certified level 1 coach, a former assistant coach for the Yale Women's Squash Team and former Head Coach for the Amistad High School Squash Team. He has instructed the "Squash Fundamentals" class here at Payne Whitney for over 10 years.



                  Danielle Casioppo has been teaching yoga since 2011, has been practicing vinyasa yoga regularly since    2008. Danielle is a Yoga Alliance certified Hatha-Tantra yoga teacher. She is also certified in Mindful Yoga Therapy and Mindful Resilience Yoga Therapy for Trauma Recovery. She has also traveled to India to study yoga and meditation with her master teachers, Rod Stryker and Rolf Sovik, PsyD. When she’s not practicing yoga, Danielle is a Health Educator at Yale University, a marathon runner and a new mom. She advocates the mental and physical balance that yoga, pranayama, and meditation can bring to all areas of life at any age.




Colleen Feriod is a graduate student in the department of Cellular and Molecular Physiology who has always had an interest in nutrition and sports.  She is a lifelong runner and more recently has become an avid triathlete, competing for the Yale Triathlon and Cycling teams.  Colleen teaches spinning as an “indoor cycle” class, valuing the ability to train indoors to maintain fitness during cold New Haven winters. 



Andy Lipsner has been a certified Spin/StudioCycle instructor since 1996. He has lead many thousands of classes since and currently leads 21 classes a week. He is an avid Road&Mt cyclist and applies many of these techniques in his class format.