“Building community is to the collective what spiritual practice is for the individual.” –Grace Lee Boggs
This is the foundation upon which Bread and Yoga was founded in 2009. More than just a yoga studio, we are a gathering space, a place to break bread and connect with others. We believe that community starts with a personal journey — on the yoga mat, in our conversations around the kitchen table — and gathers strength through self-observation, honesty, respect and embracing interconnectedness.
Bread and Yoga offers services and resources we feel are integral to supporting that journey and the growth and well being of the families and individuals in our neighborhood.
Upon walking through our front door, one experiences a welcoming feeling. A friendly face greets you at the front desk and you wonder at how comfortable the place is, how familiar. Surrounded by the thoughtful decor of restored wood floors and reclaimed doors you might notice the pleasant scent of incense, fresh paint from the art studio, or something delicious baking in the kitchen. There’s a strong possibility you’ll run into familiar faces from all across our diverse neighborhood. There may be moms and babies, seniors coming in for a restorative yoga class, or parents picking up their kids from our after school program. They all come here because they’ve found something special, something essential.
Welcome to the Bread and Yoga community.
Marcela Xavier | Founder, Program Director
Marcela Xavier is an introvert with big dreams. Originally from Brazil, Marcela was born into a big family with some really strong women that deeply influenced her path. From her grandmother (who was always cooking) to her mother and aunts (always full of wisdom and opinions), each had a very specific impact on guiding who Marcela is. She moved to the US at the age of 18 and has been forging her own path ever since. Marcela is an experienced yoga teacher and holistic health counselor, a labor support doula and childbirth educator. She is committed to being a community catalyst, creating programming that informs, challenges and inspires her community. Bread and Yoga was/is very much a dream anchored in making an impact by building an inclusive healing and gathering space for the community.
Meghan Lastra | Studio Director, Head of Operations
Meghan is a long time Inwood resident, and truly came to know the thriving community this neighborhood holds through her work with Bread and Yoga. What started as a volunteer position stoked her passion for yoga, leading her to complete her teacher training at the studio in 2014. As her role at the studio expanded, the job became the perfect fit – putting all of her type-A skills to great use supporting a studio and community she loves.
Lisa Benner | Staff Manager
An actor, mover and dedicated breather, the moment I was introduced to yoga, I knew it was for me. I came to yoga shortly after I discovered pilates, and found I was able to use both to correct and improve different physical issues, including scoliosis and chronic headaches. For a long while I practiced both, but yoga won my heart. I graduated from Sonic Yoga’s 200 hour Teacher Training program, Hathavidya’s 1000 hour program, and continue to study in a traditional one-to-one setting. I am a Registered Yoga Teacher with Yoga Alliance, E-RYT 500 as well as Pre-Natal RYT, a certified Holistic Health Coach, and the director of 200 hour Teacher Training for Hathavidya in addition to running Wellness Programs through Lisa Benner Living. I teach at various locations and in yoga teacher trainings around New York and internationally.
Having worked as a manager in many areas before coming to yoga, it naturally evolved that I would step into management service. For me, it is a way of giving back to these extraordinary communities. After serving as assistant manager and then studio manager at Sonic Yoga in midtown NYC, I was thrilled to be asked by Marcela and Meghan to join the team at Bread & Yoga. The beautiful Bread & Yoga community continues to amaze and inspire me, and the vision, integrity and hearts of Marcela and Meghan are a blessing to work alongside.
I teach from the Hatha philosophy, often in the Vinyasa style, creating each class on a theme, and incorporating pranayama, mantra and meditation. Strong attention is given to alignment. I am greatly honored to be able to share the transformations that yoga brings, to coach individuals towards their vibrancy, to teach and to continue to learn. Many thanks to my precious teachers, including current study with Will Duprey and Dr MA Jayashree.
Laura Beam | Social Media Manager
Laura is the social media manager at Bread and Yoga, as well as a certified holistic health coach from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition. She is passionate about teaching and transforming the way people think about food and movement, whether through compelling content, or working one-on-one with practical, sustainable, joy-infused nutrition education. You’ll often find Laura wandering barefoot in the woods with her pup, Beans!