Our Staff 2017-06-09T11:14:59+00:00
Claire E. Diab
Claire E. DiabPresident & Founder
Claire, founder of the American Yoga Academy, is an internationally renowned Yoga Therapist, Health and Wellness Expert, Fitness Specialist and Inspirational Speaker with over 25 years of experience. She is a Chopra Master Educator and Vedic Master and serves on the Advisory Board at the Chopra Center for Wellbeing in Carlsbad, California. Claire teaches throughout the United States and internationally with Deepak Chopra.

Claire is a Professor of Asian Studies at Seton Hall University teaching one of the most popular courses on campus: Zen and Yoga. Claire has written yoga manuals and workbooks on Health and Wellness and has produced, directed and starred in 7 Yoga DVDs. Her lectures are inspiring, life-transforming, fun, and informative!

Francine Ling
Francine LingDirector
MaryAnn Gebhardt
MaryAnn GebhardtLead Educator, Director of The American Yoga Academy Continuing Education
Maryann has been studying yoga for 25 years. She is a Lead Educator for the Yoga Teacher Training. A registered member of the Yoga Alliance, Mary Ann received her training from The American Yoga Academy, The Chopra Center for Well-Being, Mary Barnes Pre-Natal Yoga for Two, Sarah Tomlinson “The Ancient Ayurveda Yoga Series at The Yoga Ayurveda Institute, Sue Dumais Yoga for Fertility. She also holds a certification in Primordial Sound Meditation.

Mary Ann’s deep respect for yoga comes in part from her experience working in hematology and open-heart surgery as a Medical Technologist, where she witnessed first-hand the powerful connection between mind and body in the healing process. Her classes are a blend of movements that encourage strength, balance and relaxation.

Shannon Reilly
Shannon ReillyAdministrator
Judy Banks
Judy BanksLead Educator
Judy Banks, is a Chopra Center Vedic and Integrative Nutrition Coach. She is a graduate of The American Yoga Academy’s 500 hour Yoga Teacher training program and is an NSCA Certified Personal Trainer. With a focus on the mind-body connection and stress-management, she offers a logical and sustainable approach to creating a more balanced, healthy, and meaningful life.
Chris Pezzolla
Chris PezzollaLead Educator, Director of The American Yoga Academy Northern NJ
Chris serves as the Northern New Jersey Director of the American Yoga Academy and is the lead Anatomy educator. He received his yoga training from The American Yoga Academy and has studied and practiced in the healthcare and wellness industry for over three decades. This includes traditional medical care, biomedicine, yoga, meditation and Tai Chi.

Chris studied medicine in Europe and the United States with concentrations in Cardiology and Biomedical Engineering. After running into walls with standard medicine in the United States, he left his traditional healthcare roots to establish a career in IT including a successful startup web media company serving the wellness industry. He dedicates his roots to wellness by teaching yoga, meditation and stress management.

Lee Holden
Lee HoldenEducator
Lee specializes in Anatomy, Physiology, Acupuncture, and Yoga Education. He integrates his knowledge of Qi Gong and Yoga into his teachings in a beautiful way. Founder of the Qi Gong Teacher Training and Intensive, Lee offers Levels I, II, and III trainings in Santa Cruz, New York, and Canada. His teachings are fun and informative!
Kim Polivko
Kim PolivkoEducator & Instructor
Kim is an Instructor for The American Yoga Academy. She graduated with her 200 Hour Training from The American Yoga Academy and has been studying and practicing fitness for many years. She found Yoga and fell in love with the powerful healing and strengthening practice.

Kim has a special passion for sharing yoga with Athletes and teaches Yoga for Athletes to the Seton Hall University Sports Teams. Her warm, caring and powerful teaching presence is empowering for her students.