With our 200 hour training, you can become a certified yoga teacher and lead your community.


With our 200 hour training, you can become a certified yoga teacher and lead your community.

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What Is a Happy Warrior?

The phrase comes from the 1806 poem “Character of the Happy Warrior” by William Wordsworth. The Happy Warrior is a brave, generous, and moral person, who is able to remain virtuous even in the midst of distress. Their noble ideas and deeds are “an inward light” that, despite their inwardness, make the path before the warrior “always bright.”

The Happy Warrior is a diligent student, eager to amass whatever knowledge comes their way; furthermore, and as a result, their principal concern must be their own moral being. A Happy Warrior is a person who is undaunted and cheerful, even in the face of adversity. All fearsome challenges they transcend, subduing what negative qualities they may have, and learning from what good they have to offer.

The Happy Warrior is “skillful in self-knowledge”, living by the famous injunction to “know one’s self” and understands that the true purpose of “suffering and distress” is to grow in compassion and tenderness. Happy Warriors are just, fair, and honest. Their law and dearest friend is reason; they owe all of their triumphs to virtue. More than anything, the Happy Warrior is able to stay optimistic and to thrive amidst conflict. Adversity makes the Happy Warrior even more joyful. When called upon for any task, the Happy Warrior is always equal to it.



Yoga In Our City has created our Happy Warrior® program to train diverse cohorts of local leaders, educators, and health equity advocates to become yoga teachers. 

Our trauma-sensitive model is designed to inspire growth, healing, and mindful engagement in our communities. Our goal is to achieve greater inclusivity in yoga leadership to more accurately reflect the diversity of the communities we serve.

Demographics of Yoga Teachers from
Yoga in the World Research Study.


In addition to becoming 200 hour certified yoga teachers, Happy Warriors learn essential leadership skills to be advocates of marginalized communities.

Our teachers are leading the transformation of yoga in the United States from a luxury commodity to a matter of public health and community wellness.


Upon becoming a certified yoga teacher, new teachers will advocate for action — bringing their yoga and leadership expertise into new neighborhoods and community spaces. 

Happy Warrior training is a comprehensive program grounded in social justice principles and anti-oppressive practices designed to equip teachers with the necessary skills to create an inclusive and just world.


Elise Cusimano

Yizza Galdamez

Katlyn Hagley

Shawntell Layaw

Our Curriculum


Learn the foundations of yoga, the origins of Happy Warrior, our practice, poses, and teaching techniques.


Understand anatomy, breath, sequencing, and how to see your students’ strengths and success.


Study anatomy, assisting, balance, and how joints and muscles enable movement.


Advance your awareness of asanas, breathing, meditations, and transitions.


Establish your knowledge of yoga ethics, sequencing, standing poses, and sun salutations with our trauma-sensitive approach.


Challenge yoursef with backends, folds, hand balances, inversions, and twists.


Discover how to design classes for all levels and how to teach inclusive yoga classes in public parks and spaces.


Recognize the qualities of a great teacher, strengthen your self-reflection, and celebrate personal growth.


Experience a guided tour of the Capitol Building, the epicenter of our democracy.


Fall Cohort details coming soon!
Sign up to be notified when applications are open.

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Financial Support
Specific communities have historically been underrepresented or denied entrance into our sanghas, or communities of practice. To address this inequity, our Happy Warrior training specifically aims to develop the untapped potential of people of color, LGBTQIA+ , immigrants, and low-income individuals to lead underrepresented communities.

In turn, we have various options to overcome any financial barriers to join our training. Upon acceptance, Elise Cusimano, our Director of Teacher Success, will meet with you to ensure you are financially supported.

We are happy to explore available reimbursement opportunities with your employer for professional development, education, or training. Options include:

  • Payment Plans – We can create a payment plan that works with your budget.
  • Scholarships – We have a modest scholarship fund supported by class donations, corporate partners, and grant funding to help offset costs.
  • Professional Development – We are happy to discuss reimbursement opportunities with your employer for professional development, education, or training.
  • Work Study – Happy Warriors can apply to work with our Yoga In Our City programming including teaching classes (online or in the community) or tabling at community events.

Nikki Adams
Like so many people, I had the misconception that yoga was going to help me change my body, help me be more flexible, and one day do a split. I soon realized that practicing yoga was much more for me. I immediately fell in love with the way yoga changed my perspective on a daily basis. I wanted to spread the beauty of yoga everywhere, especially for people who had experienced trauma as I have. 

So I became a yoga teacher and now invite others to this practice who may have never tried yoga before or may not feel normally represented in yoga spaces. When I first began my practice I was very posture focused and goal oriented. Now my yoga practice looks very different, it’s more about stillness and rest. That’s the thing I love about an empowerment based practice such as yoga – you never really master anything but you become so attuned with yourself, your wants and needs, that you are able to practice off of the mat as well. 

Yoga is a lifestyle that has made me a better communicator, mom, friend, partner, daughter – and I am dedicated to being a student forever. Understanding that statistically the majority of people have experienced trauma, I am passionate about empowering people to make the choices they want and need in their own bodies. So many of us have had our power stolen from us in one way or another. Inviting people into a space of healing by lettin them make their own choices is important to me. Changing the narrative about what it looks like to be someone who practices or teaches yoga is important to me as well. 

There’s an intersection between racism and trauma that impacts how we should show up as community leaders. I am passionate about supporting leaders that are part of marginalized groups who honor the lived experience of the people in their classes.

Elise Cusimano
I was fortunate to be introduced to asana and meditation in my home environment as I watched my mother begin and end the day with sun salutations. Struck with curiosity, I watched and wondered as others around me practiced, “what was the motivation?” Surely, a practice this constant must hold something valuable. It kept me searching for years to come. Fast forward, I found myself working in organic and sustainable agriculture. This opportunity to cultivate the land grew into a valuable early career that intersected with my interest in human physiology; both fields sharing the principles of health, presence, and growth. 

As I pursued deeper knowledge of kinesiology and its application in a practice of yoga, I was hooked. My perspective of movement and the possibilities of practice had forever changed. Like so many, after yoga found me it was only a matter of time before i pursued my 200 hour teacher training. In becoming a teacher, I became a more curious and consistent student in practice and in life-long growth and learning. Of all the techniques I discovered, breath has become the single, most powerful and accessible tool I reach for in my personal practice at present. 

I am on a mission to share the potential of these tools, frequently guest lecturing at local institutions on mindful movement and self-care in public health. In time, I found the yoga that happens off the mat to be just as important as the practice on my colorful, grippy rectangle. From yoga as an agent of change and social impact to an ethical framework of leading others and informing communication, this practice continues to change me every day. I believe there’s a tremendous opportunity to develop strength, a steady flow of breath, awareness, and connection in the practice on and off the mat, moving more skillfully through the ups and downs of life.

Yizza Galdamez
I decided to explore holistic practices when I was going through an extremely hard time after being diagnosed with depression. Once I found yoga, and continued to practice with more consistency, I began to slow down and strengthen the internal relationship with myself, my relationships with others, and with difficult situations in my life. My yoga practice changed my outlook on my mind-body connection. 

Through yoga I have become passionate about the connection between our body, mind, emotions, and energy. Having realized the deep and lasting changes to physical, mental, and spiritual health, I decided I wanted to share my yoga practice and continue advocating for mental health at a higher level. I continued to deepen my personal practice and knowledge by studying and training in different styles of yoga, mindfulness, and somatic based healing modalities. My hope is to empower students through embodiment practices that include self-awareness, mindfulness, and somatic movement that can help in finding balance while navigating life on and off of the mat. Inviting different mindfulness practices in my classes is one of my favorite things to do to help create connection and empowerment for each student through breathwork, movement, meditations, and inquiry work. 

Being part of the change in marginalized communities like the one I grew up in is very important to me. Yoga has been the guide to help me show up for myself and others even when it’s been hard to do so. My goal is to help build healthier, stronger, more compassionate communities by sharing my yoga practice.

Katlyn Hagley
As a cardio enthusiast, I was reluctant to try yoga – especially any yoga that involved slow or little movement. I didn’t fall in love with yoga until I went to a Power Yoga class for the first time. I kept searching for that “yoga high,” trying longer, faster, and harder classes. Between the miles of running and intense power yoga I did each week, my body began to battle injury after injury. I was forced to slow it down and began to explore meditation, pranayama, restorative yoga, and yin yoga. 

At that point in my life, I truly learned what yoga is and started a mindful, functional daily yoga routine that balanced and complimented my daily yang activities. Through practicing yoga, I have healed physical and emotional wounds, built resiliency, and found a sense of peace I didn’t know I was missing in my life. Over time, I have developed a deep appreciation for the balance of yin and yang movements, and my teaching style reflects this understanding. I base what I teach on what my students need. 

My vinyasa yoga classes are powerful and playful and focus on aligning movement with breath and functional alignment while my yin classes have a focus on intuitive, internal awareness. I am passionate about helping others find healing through mindfulness, meditation, pranayama, and asana and making yoga accessible for everyone. When I am not teaching yoga, I am teaching functional life skills to students with disabilities or advancing my own education. I am currently working on my Doctorate in Educational Leadership with a focus on Social Emotional Learning. I am dedicated to breaking the cycle of poverty through education using trauma-informed practices and addressing the needs of the whole child. 

My current work involves addressing school reform to include social emotional learning in a holistic manner, starting with the teachers, administrators, and other professional staff who work directly with students.

Shawntell Layaw
As a working parent of three teenagers, I understand how challenging it is to maintain your health in today’s modern, fast-paced world. Twelve years ago, l had achieved everything I ever wanted: a good career, a loving family, and a stable home, but instead of feeling happy, I was anxious, stressed, and burnt out. My best friend Wendy invited me to yoga, and what I thought would be just one class turned into a lifestyle. I began to see improvements in my health, relationships, and all areas of my life when I started to practice regularly. When I made time for yoga, I was making time for a healthier mind, body, and soul while getting to know and love myself on a deeper level. 

I learned that self-care is liberating; it’s the key to finding your inner peace and happiness. From that place, we make the best and healthiest decisions on how to spend our time and live our daily lives. My personal practice began with vinyasa in 2011 and has expanded to include yin and restorative styles. I’m committed to supporting students in learning the skills they need to feel confident in moving their bodies, loving themselves, and creating the results they seek both on and off the mat. I believe everyone can benefit from a yoga practice, and I’m passionate about creating diverse and inclusive yoga spaces. 

I focus on collaborating with stakeholders interested in providing equitable access to high-quality yoga instruction and wellness education in my community and underserved populations. I’m currently pursuing a master’s degree in health education and promotion to further enhance my wellness coaching and health improvement skills.