Meet the Teachers

Kristine Zakarison

Founder of Aloft Studios, Instructor, Yoga (E-RYT, 500 level), Nia (Black Belt), Move I.T. Instructor, certified

Kristine first began studying yoga in 1984 with Dr. Ravi Kapur of Punjab, India, while he was a visiting scholar at Harvard Divinity School. 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. Kristine continues her yogic education as she works toward a 1000 certification as a yoga therapist.  The focus of her current training has been working with trama, as well as working with special populations (nervous system disorders, anxiety, chronic pain, diabetes, Parkinson’s Disease, heart disease).  The study and practice of this integrated path of  the therapeutic benefits of yoga continues to be her personal passion.

When Kristine discovered Nia, it felt as if she had discovered a long lost twin to her yoga practice. She is a licensed Nia Instructor trained at the Black Belt level. She is grateful for the many Nia mentors she has had along the way, including Carlos Aya Rosas and Debbie Rosas, the founders of Nia and Kristine’s teachers.

Kristine is a 3rd generation “daughter of the Palouse.” After some years on the east coast, she moved home to Pullman in 1995. She is the owner and a teacher of Nia and yoga at Aloft Studio in Pullman.



Sarah VanGundy

Instructor, Yoga (certified, RYT 200 level)

Sarah has practiced many different styles of yoga since she first fell in love with the practice on a trip to India in 1996. After moving to the Palouse, she found her yoga-home studying with Kristine in 2012, and in 2016 she completed yoga teacher certification at Aloft Studios. She is excited to now be “officially” qualified to explore yoga with the Aloft community as a teacher as well as a student. In her non-studio life, 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 Moscow where she enjoys walking, talking, people, animals, and words of all kinds.

Cill Richards

Instructor, Meditation

Cill first meditated as a teenager in the Transcendental Meditation tradition. She stuck with it for about 6 years and then life got kind of busy so she took a hiatus 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.  When she isn’t on retreat or teaching meditation, Cill is a Professor in the School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering at Washington State University.

Erin Wittman

Since 1996, Erin Wittman has been interested in mindfulness and the ways the emotional body and physical body work in tandem. In 1997, Erin became a Reiki practitioner and fell in love with working with subtle energy, leading her to earn a degree in massage therapy that same year. In 2005, after several years running her own massage therapy business (and also earning a B.A. in History from Portland State University), Erin and her husband Terry returned to the Palouse to raise their family. This is when Erin discovered yoga and it changed her life. Her yoga practice offered her a sense of community as well as bringing back a level of self-confidence and strength that she needed as a stay at home mother. In 2017, Erin found Kristine Zakarison and Aloft Studios and earned her (RYT200). Through Aloft’s Yoga Teacher Training program, she deepened her practice and found a mentor in Kristine. Erin’s passion is to teach yoga to those who have the curiosity to discover new ways of embodying their physical and emotional body through though all aspects of yoga.

Leah Haak Beck

Instructor, Zumba (Certified Basic)

Leah first tried Zumba in fall 2010, and has been hooked on the fun ever since. Zumba is an activity that invites friendship, fun, and healthy physical activity into her life, and she loves to share the joy of Zumba with her students. Leah moved to the Palouse in 2015 from her native state of North Dakota. She lives with her husband in Pullman, WA and works as a registered dietitian nutritionist in the community. In addition to Zumba, Leah enjoys cooking, yoga, and tea.

%d bloggers like this: