We are the bhav brigade

Bhav Brigade is a grassroots, entirely donation-based, pop-up platform that brings affordable, accessible, philanthropic yoga and wellness out into the community.

 We believe in inclusivity. The word mahayana in Sanskrit means the “greater vehicle,” or as Pema Chödrön explains it, “the path that leads us out of our cramped world of self- preoccupation into the greater world of fellowship with all human beings.” At the core of the Bhav Brigade is this idea of mahayana. We were born from a desire to broaden the scope, to unite those at the periphery of the yoga community, so that one day there may be no outsiders. Our goal is, to bring this transformative practice out from behind closed doors in a way that is inclusive and available to all. So much of our energy rests in our diversity. In our classes, the neurosurgeon practices next to the dancer, practices next to the business executive, practices next to the high school student, practices next to the retired veteran. First time-ers are intermixed with experienced yogis who are advanced teachers themselves. The woman in her late 60’s practices alongside the 6- year- old with her expectant mother surrounded by a whole bunch of people of all ages, ethnicities, and backgrounds in between.

We believe in accessibility. Yoga means “union” and we’re getting back to the root of it by focusing simply on the yoga. When our three co-founders, Danielle Stern, Jeffrey Villanueva and Jessica Johnson came together in early 2015, it was decided that we would offer yoga in a format that didn’t require memberships, strict arrival or departure times, specific clothing, or even money. By doing so, we hoped to reach the people that weren’t already being reached by the dozens of talented and well-established studios in town—people who hadn’t found their way into an organized yoga class, whether because of class prices, transportation issues, class times conflicting with personal schedules, feelings of intimidation, or any number of preconceived notions—and as a result hadn’t found yoga. Here, we’d whittle away all the excess and it would just be yoga. Nothing more. To this day, each and every one of our offerings is either free or donation-based and takes place in creative outdoor spaces, local businesses and public landmarks. All of our classes are appropriate for all-levels of yoga experience and our teachers are skilled in simultaneously providing a variety of possible modifications so that the practice can be adapted to meet every practitioner exactly where they are.

We believe teachers are conduits. Bhav is a divine, uplifted mood, an elevated disposition, a joyful expansive energy, “good vibes” in their purest form, a rich sense of belonging and fellowship and connection to what is good and sacred and beautiful. We operate from the belief that as yoga teachers (and students!) it is our job to always, always bring the bhav. It’s this bhav that turns any place into a sacred space, transforming our neighborhoods and cities into yoga studios and our practice into a conduit for something greater; and it’s our reverence for bhav that guides our expansion—organically, collaboratively, soulfully, and intentionally.

We believe in yoga as a tool for social change. Our primary goal is to empower individuals to take their practice beyond the four corners of a yoga mat, traversing the traditional limitations of today’s yoga culture and moving it out into the world where it matters most. It’s our hope that what we learn and move through during our time together on the mat will enable us all to live life in a way that is more loving, more compassionate, less divisive and more peaceful. 

Meet the brigade

Jessica Johnson
Co-founder, MD, RYT 200

Jessica is an integrative yoga instructor, entrepreneur and physician who believes we are here to feel, to love, and to take care of each other with the gifts we’ve been given. Ultimately, she feels she is here both in yoga and in life to facilitate healing, a process in which we realize we’ve actually been whole and perfect and absolutely worthy of this beautiful thing called life all along. After seven years of personal practice, she began teaching at the start of medical school, completing teacher training with Jivamukti teacher & owner of Satya Yoga, Logan Taylor Tymoff, while developing a yoga and meditation program for the hospital's campus community. Jessica now teaches a dynamic Jivamukti- inspired vinyasa practice founded in a deep understanding of human anatomy and physiology and is most passionate about integrating her eastern and western studies to foster true healing in a way that is accessible to everyone. Her classes are rhythmic, transformative, intuitive and as playful as they are deep. While living in Virginia, she was best known in the community for her role in creating the Bhav Brigade and particularly for her sunset classes that attracted hundreds of individuals each week and raised thousands of dollars for charity each year. Now that her other hat has pulled her away from the east coast to Stanford for residency, we’ve gone bi-coastal and Jessica is pioneering the San Francisco Bay Area branch of Bhav Brigade.

Connect with her on InstagramFacebook , or on her blog, LivingSoulfull.com.

Danielle Stern
Co-founder, PhD, RYT 200
Danielle is a co-founder of this amazing community of yogis, Bhav Brigade. She began teaching yoga in 2015 following completion of her RYT 200 with Logan Taylor of Satya Yoga Norfolk. Practicing yoga and satsang keeps Danielle grounded amidst the hectic pace and ego of academia. She came to yoga in search of a respite from graduate school stress in the early 2000s. Soon after receiving tenure as a communication professor at Christopher Newport University, Danielle made her yoga practice a priority. She enjoys teaching dynamic, playful all-levels flow classes and is also trained in restorative and yin yoga styles.

Megan Kresse 
Creative & Marketing Director, Teacher, RYT 200
Megan earned her 200 hr yoga teacher training certification at Core Power Yoga in Minneapolis and taught pop-up classes in the community before moving to Norfolk. Since moving to the mermaid city, she has lead Bhav Brigade classes at fun locations all over, including Slover library, Mermaid Winery, EVMS, and Stockley Gardens. She loves the Hampton Roads yoga community and is honored to be a part of it!

Leah Landau 
Teacher, RYT 200
Leah Landau grew up in Raleigh, NC, as a dancer, gymnast, and daughter of two yogis. She stretched her wings in NYC gathering a BFA in Theater Arts through NYU, then used her talents on stages all around the country performing in musical theater productions with stars of the stage and screen. After kicking in heels and belting out show-tunes, health and wellness came into the forefront of her being. In 2011 she became a yoga instructor with a 200hr certification through Sonic Yoga and is currently finishing up her second certification of 300 more hours. In 2016 Leah moved from the north to the south where she now continues to expand on her mission of inspiring healthy living around the world through movement, nutrition, and meditation. She loves nothing more than sharing laughs and loves with people on and off the mat. And when her two feet are not on land Leah can be found with her boat captaining love as well as her Boxer puppy on a yacht in Portsmouth, Va, where she rocks herself to sleep each night with dreams of a healthier and happier world.

Diane Malaspina Kassir
Teacher, Ph.D., e-RYT 500
Diane is an experienced, 500-hour registered yoga teacher (e-RYT 500), an applied psychologist, and a Senior Teacher with Yoga Medicine©. Combining yoga tradition and modern science, she teaches evidenced-based methods for healing, stress prevention, and sustainable well-being through yoga sessions, workshops, and teacher trainings - both locally and across the globe. A wife, rescue dog mom to Prana, and a vegetarian based in Virginia Beach, VA, she’s up for anything that’s outside. Preferably in warmer climates with the sun shining and the sea nearby.

Connect with her via her website dianemalaspina.com.

Neve Fletcher Loehr
Teacher, E-RYT 200
Neve has been a yoga practitioner off and on since 2003. After several car accidents, it became apparent to her that she would be practicing yoga the rest of her life in order to self-heal daily. She received her RYT 200 teaching certificate in Hatha alignment-based yoga at Health Advantage Yoga Center, in Herdon Virginia. Neve has studied many different styles of yoga under various senior teachers.  She is drawn to Ayurveda and Tantra as they teach all of life is sacred. With 14 years of teaching experience, Neve enjoys guiding her students along the yoga path of self-discovery. Her classes tend to be more playful in nature yet with an element of reverence for the Divine.

Connect with her on InstagramFacebook , or on her website, Sacredlifepractices.com.

Vanessa Fleming  
Teacher, E-RYT 200
Vanessa Fleming E-RYT 200 and Norfolk native, started practicing yoga regularly almost 10 years ago, after her a doctor recommendation to help alleviate a range of anxiety and depression-related issues. After 5 years of practicing and a little kismet sign from the universe, she completed her 200-hour training through YogaWorks Soho under the guidance of Chrissy Carter.

In 2013, Vanessa broke away from her mold known as the office chair, and took off for greater sites around the world. It was in the world where her yoga practice grew beyond the asanas, into a spiritual and inspirational empowerment from a variety of sources around the world.

Since then, Vanessa continued her studies and became more fascinated by the power of quiet practice. Meditation, yin, and intuition are currently what’s driving Vanessa’s practice for herself, and how she’s infusing it with her teachings. Additionally, she offers Thai Massage as an additional bodywork technique, and currently studies under Thai healer Pichest Boonthumme.
Her intentions have brought her many wonderful opportunities – teaching in Croatia, Morocco, Thailand, and Laos. This August, she'll be in Italy and Portugal, learning and sharing her stories on retreats!

Connect with her on InstagramFacebook , or on her website, VanessaFlemingyoga.com .

Samantha Kern 
Teacher, RYT 200
Samantha Kern's yoga journey began more than 15 years ago as an inconsistent yoga practitioner in Richmond, Virginia and Seattle, Washington. She found herself called to the mat during times of stress and decided to embark on deepening her personal practice as a student in Bhav Brigade's inaugural teacher training program. During her 200-hour training, she found a true passion for teaching and now helps support many of the Bhav classes throughout Hampton Roads. In addition to teaching community classes with Bhav, Sam enjoys a variety of other meditative arts including wheel throwing and forest bathing.

Leisa Rebold
Teacher, RYT 200

Leisa is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and completed her 200-hour yoga teacher training with Diane Malasapina through Bhav Brigade. Leisa was first exposed to yoga at the age of 16 and has come to know yoga as a lifelong transformational practice and has felt its holistic effects in mind, body and spirit.It helps her to live with a vibrant, positive attitude, while strengthening her connection to inner peace and truth. Through a combination of movement and stillness, her classes inspire introspection and a joyful connection to the present moment and to one another. She is grateful for the opportunity to share the joy of the practice and strives to help others incorporate the magic of yoga into their lives.

Kim McCoy
Teacher, RYT 500

For Kim, teaching is one of her great passions.  She had the opportunity to teach waterskiing and wakeboarding for six years in Walt Disney World, has taught snowboarding, surfing, and piano.  She was introduced to yoga in the late 1990s.  Over the years of developing a dedicated practice, she found a deep connection to the earth on her mat, similar to the experiences she cultivates in the natural elements and with music.  Kim earned her RYT, 500 in 2012 with Lisa Rapp and through that teaching certification, met Shri Manorama, the founder of Sanskrit Studies Method & Luminous Soul Method, where she was introduced to the ancient language of Sanskrit and the Nine Pillars of Luminous Soul.  Kim’s life was changed.  Kim, aka Gītā, continues her devoted studies with Manorama today.

Brynn Sheehan
Teacher, PhD, RYT 200

Yoga has been a major part of Brynn’s life for over 10 years now. Her practice became consistent while in graduate school and led to an opportunity to practice various yoga styles up and down the east coast as she found her way to Norfolk, VA in 2011.

With a PhD in health psychology and an athletic background, Brynn’s personal practice and teaching style incorporates balance and strength challenges through mindful flows. A non-judgmental, supportive environment for the self is the focal point of Brynn’s classes, and encourage groundedness, confidence, and freedom to move and breathe as you. When not on her mat, Brynn is researching, spending time with her family and their two pups, and exploring the world.

Interested in Teaching with Us?

Bhav Brigade is a platform that brings together individual teachers with the same mission, to bring yoga and philanthropy together in accessible, affordable, sometimes unexpected locations. We encourage interested teachers to be familiar with our classes and teaching styles, but more importantly, our students.

Attend classes that work for your schedule and get to know us. Say hi before or after class! We want to get to know you not just as students, but as potential conduits of bhav, which means having a regular presence in class.

All Bhav Brigade teachers must have completed at least a 200-hr RYT program and be current on their individual insurance policies.

Don’t hesitate to contact us if this description fits you!