Meet Our Aloft Studios Teachers

mugshot dance

Kristine Zakarison M.Div., E-RYT (200), Nia Black Belt and certified Nia Move I.T. Instructor, Founder of Aloft Studios
Kristine first began studying yoga in 1984, when she took class called “The Study and Practice of Yoga” from Dr. Ravi Kapur of Punjab, India, while he was a visiting scholar at Harvard Divinity School. The course combined the practice of asana and meditation with the study of yogic philosophy and social justice. As a former ballet dancer and runner training for the ministry, this class wove together many of Kristine’s life “threads,” and Dr. Kapur became a strong teacher and mentor for her. For the next 10 years, Kristine continued her training in yoga at the BKS Iyengar Center in Cambridge, MA with Senior Iyengar teachers Patricia Walden and Karin Stephan, as well as continuing her study of yogic philosophy. The study and practice of this integrated path of yoga continues to be her personal passion. It focuses and informs her teaching.

When Kristine discovered Nia several years ago, it felt as if she had discovered a long lost twin to her yoga practice. In her life, they are wonderful complements to one another.  She is a licensed Nia Instructor and trained at the Brown Belt level.  She is grateful for the many mentors she has had in Nia along the way, including  her teachers and founders of Nia, Carlos Aya Rosas and Debbie Rosas, and former Nia instructor and founder of Kaya Fitness, Danielle Eastman.

Kristine is a 3rd generation “daughter of the Palouse” and moved home to Pullman in 1995, where she now lives with her husband and two beautiful children. She is the owner and a teacher of Nia and yoga  at Aloft Studio in Pullman, the studio is located in the Gladish Community Center.

mary trotter

Mary Trotter: Nia

Mary started her Nia journey back in 2004 while getting her MFA in Acting at the University of Idaho. Nia class is where she finally became comfortable in her own skin. After going through the White and Blue belt trainings, Mary began using Nia as part of her instruction for actors. As a licensed Nia instructor, Mary is thrilled to be back in studio sharing the freedom of dance.

Sarah VanGundy:   Yoga


Sarah VanGundy first did yoga in India in 1996 and since that she has practiced many different styles. She has been studying with Kristine for a little over a year and she is really enjoying subbing and teaching at Aloft Yoga. Sarah works as a librarian at the University of Idaho Library and she is also working toward an MFA in Creative Writing at UI. She lives in Pullman with her husband, Garth Reese, their daughter Chloe, and three cats who enjoy helping with at home practice.

Christine Dopke: Asleep/Awake-Aware (Therapeutic Movement in the Style of Moshe Feldenkrais)

Dopke, Christine-Beautiful PictureChristine has her B.S.  in physical education from Northern Illinios University, and graduated from massage school in Eugene, OR in 1996. She graduated from Bend Oregon Feldenkrais Training in 2009.  She moved to Moscow in 2013 to foster a big change after 17 years in Corvallis, Oregon.  Christine sings in Palouse Choral Society and loves yoga and biking. Her husband, Matt is a hockey player with a day job. They have one cat, Ivan.

Dr. Janet Keeney:  “Yoga As it Is” and “Core Power Yoga”

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Janet began her yoga journey in 1994, at the Houston Yoga Center, as an adjunct remedy for a running injury, while training for the Olympic Trials Marathon, after meeting the qualifying time twice. She studied yoga under John Coon, where she met her teacher from India, Sri Raghuram, who regularly conducted 2 week long seminars through John’s yoga studio. Although Dr. Keeney was a practicing physician, specializing in biomechanics and sports medicine, she was determined to also immerse herself in the “yoga world”, which not only fit nicely into the “sports medicine rehab world”, but it offered a wholistic approach to healing and well-being, as well as a means to peace. A year after studying with John, and having many hours of training and personal conversations with Sri Raghuram, Dr. Keeney took a sabbatical to travel to and live in an ashram, yoga training center, as well as yoga research center, near Bangalor, India, called the Vivekananda Prakushan Kendra, owned and run by Sri Raghuram and his wife, Dr. Nagarathna. Here, Dr. Keeney received her training as a yoga therapist, and she learned the entirety of what yoga offers as practices, which was the original meaning of astangha yoga, which means, (or at least use to mean), the eight­fold path, (yamas, niyamas, asanas, pranayamas, pratyhara, dharana, dhyana, & samadhi). In a nutshell, Dr. Keeney learned every type of practice that exists in yoga, including the krias, (cleansing techniques), the bundhas, (gentle holds), the pranayamas, (breathing exercises which alter our life force), premeditaton and meditaton practices, as well as the asanas. After a condensed 6 month training program, beginning at 4:00a.m. and ending at 6:00 p.m., 7 days a week, Dr. Keeney returned to her private practice in Houston, but added therapeutic yoga to her treatment regimen. After retiring from medicine to dedicate her life to raising her son for 4 years, Dr. Keeney returned to the work force as a full time yoga teacher and yoga therapist. She began in Boerne, Texas, working at the Namaste Creekside Retreat, 24/7 Health­Club, and The Art of Living Center. She then went out on her own, opening her own studio, The Thoughtful Living Center, where she taught a variety of yoga classes, did private therapeutic yoga sessions, and began personal training. While managing and working at her studio, she also taught yoga classes to the elementary students, grades 1 through 6, at The Hill Country Montessori School, as their P.E. program. Later, she also provided a variety of yoga classes and private therapeutic yoga sessions for The Clubs of Cordillera, at their request.

A severe ski accident ended Dr. Keeney`s life, as she knew it. She spent 1 1⁄2 years bedridden, going to many, but unable to find a healthcare professional that could offer relief to multiple joint dislocations, disc injuries, muscle spasms, torn muscles, ligaments and tendons, throughout her back, pelvis and leg. She arrived in Pullman for treatment, in May of 2014, & was restored to health through twice a day biotensegrity treatments, as well as her own determination & therapeutic yoga knowledge. What seemed to be impossible became possible, and Dr. Keeney is back to teaching yoga and helping others through therapeutic yoga. She offers these services, as well as personal training, at Anytime Fitness, Pullman, and is overjoyed to join Kristine at Aloft Studio, where she offers “Yoga As It Is” (yoga in it’s entirety of practices), “Core Power Yoga”,  as well as private therapeutic yoga.

Cil Richards:  Meditation


Cil first meditated as a teenager in the TM, Transcendental Meditation, tradition.  She stuck with it for about 6 years and then life got kind of busy so she took a hiatus from meditation for a number of years.  She started meditating again a little more than 10 years ago — this time in the Buddhist Theravada tradition.  She read a lot of books, watched YouTube videos,  and managed to develop a consistent and dedicated daily practice.  She went to her first silent retreat five years ago and the experience changed her life.  Since then she has spent more than 150 days on silent retreat.  Her most influential teacher has been Leigh Brasington.

3 thoughts on “Meet Our Aloft Studios Teachers

  1. Good Morning! Kristine

    Just received an email from Danielle letting us know about the changes that will be happening at BLISS and there you were, also! 😉

    Enjoyed reading your website. I especially loved the video of your friend, Maia. WOW! what an inspiration she is!

    Anyway, thought I’d “check in” and let you know that this was both informative and inspirational
    See you later today!

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