Meet the Teachers
Our inspiring yoga instructors embody the true essence of mind, body, and spirit connection. With their deep knowledge and unwavering passion for yoga, they guide students on a transformative journey towards self-discovery and inner peace. These masters of their craft not only possess exceptional technical skills but also radiate warmth, compassion, and a genuine desire to uplift others. Whether it's through their soothing voices, gentle adjustments, or uplifting words of wisdom, our yoga instructors inspire and empower students to unlock their full potential, fostering a harmonious balance between physical strength, mental clarity, and spiritual growth.
Owner | E-RYT500, E-RYT200, & YACEP
Bhakti Flow, Vinyasa Flow, Complete Hatha
Co-leader, 200-hour Teacher Training Program
Karina Stewart Carmichael, E-RYT 500, is the new owner of Giving Tree Yoga Studio located in the heart of the Smyrna Market Village. Classically trained in Hatha Yoga, Karina embraces and brings influences from Iyengar, Yin, Sivananda, Karma, Raja, Mantra, and most recently completed a wonderful 500hr advanced teacher training in India in Bhakti Yoga. Forever the student Karina has attended many courses for deeper learning including Trauma Yoga and advanced Breathwork.
India is a very special place for Karina and she supports a school and sponsors children there as well as learns from the many wonderful yoga masters she has been blessed to be taught by like her Guru, Muz Murray and Swamis in North and South India.
Originally based in Aberdeen Scotland until 2021 when marrying her American based husband brought her to reside in Atlanta, Karina ran her own yoga studio with many regular classes and workshops as well as retreats both in the UK and further afield in India, Spain, Turkey and Portugal. Karina also ran 200hr Yoga teacher training courses and has qualified many yogis.
Owner | E-RYT200
John was born and raised in Scotland and played soccer most of his young life and well into adulthood, after soccer came running and rugby followed by, to this day, a love of mountain and road biking. Did he ever stretch after all those activities you may ask, and the answer is definitely ‘not enough’! Having discovered yoga in his late 40’s he realized how much the body needs to strengthen, stretch and mobilize daily to help avoid injuries and obtain an all-over feel-good state of mind. Along with his wife Karina they bought Giving Tree in December 2022 and he embarked on the Yoga Teacher Training 200hr course qualifying in June 2023.
E-RYT 500, YACEP, Professional Yoga Therapist
Restorative Yoga, Vin-Yin, Gentle, Meditation, Yoga for Back Care, Co-leader,200-Hour Teacher Training Program
Christy wants to help students find the union of mind-body-spirit that is the heart of yoga! She started doing yoga for the physical practice, but kept coming back to the mat for the benefits she had no idea she would find. She found improved strength, balance, and flexibility in her physical body, which was her initial goal, but she also discovered a natural way to relieve tension & pain, an amazing awareness of her breath (and why that is so important to overall health), better posture, deeper sleep, a strengthened love of herself and others, and a community of encouraging & inspiring people.
During classes, she encourages students to let go of ego and to meet themselves where they are in that moment. She offers modifications for all levels and use props frequently. Her focus is on safe alignment, breath, and finding space and freedom in your body, rather than achieving some idea of a "perfect pose."
Christy received her 200-hour certification at Peachtree Yoga in Atlanta and her 500-hour and yoga therapy certifications at Etowah Valley Yoga in Cartersville. She is grateful to all of the teachers and mentors who helped her arrive at this point in her practice and her teaching. She strives to continually study and adapt to help students find their yoga. Christy also loves reading...and coffee...and New York City...and the Braves.
Basics of Yoga, Gentle Yoga, Meditation, Yin, Restorative
Sonya began practicing yoga in 2012 under Master Woo Yun in Centreville, VA. She completed the Dahn Yoga BMT course in Cottonwood, AZ in 2015 and began teaching at the Namoo Yoga Center in Centreville, VA that same year. She later completed her Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT) 200 training under Cynthia Bialek, founder of Yava Yoga, in Fairfax, VA in 2016, and is RYT 200 certified by the Yoga Alliance. She recently completed her 300 hours of teacher training at Peachtree Yoga Center in Sandy Springs, GA.
Since moving back home to Atlanta after 15 years, she has completed additional teacher training in aerial yoga, Biodynamic Yin, and meditation. Sonya’s other experiences include teaching yoga at World Gym, Vita-Prana, and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. She also taught federal workers and military service members in Alexandria, VA and Seaside, CA as part of the Defense Manpower Data Center Wellness Program.
Sonya is a retired federal worker serving over 32 years in support of the Army and the Department of Defense throughout the US and Europe.
Vinyasa Flow, Gentle, Prana Pump®
Kacy discovered her love and passion for yoga around 7 years ago to help with postpartum depression, anxiety and physical health. She fell in love with her practice and decided that teaching yoga was what she was meant to do. In March of 2017, she went to Costa Rica to study at Marianne Wells Yoga School for her 200 hour certification. In her training, she knew that she was on the correct path. Growing in her physical practice but also experiencing immense personal growth while she was there only solidified her decision that she was on the right path. She wanted to help others in the same way her teachers helped her. She teaches her classes with a focus on proper and safe alignment, and guides her students through their practice helping them learn the balance of effort and ease in their breath and body. Guiding students through a practice that they will be able to sustain on and off their mats.
When she is not teaching, she is at home with her son, husband and variety of animals. She is continuing her education with teaching and is currently working on her 300 hour certification.
RYT 500, E-RYT 200 & YACEP
Yoga Basics, Vinyasa Flow, Prana Pump®, Acroyoga
With a 15-year professional background in teaching and a master's degree in instructional design, Stephanie has always had a passion for educating and inspiring others. This passion, combined with her interests in wellness and exercise, led her to complete her RYT-200 teacher training at Infinity Yoga (2017) and her RYT-300 at Dancing Dogs Yoga (2021). Stephanie's teaching style is accessible, healing, and motivating. She combines humor, empathy, spirituality, and the traditions and science of yoga in a way that makes sense and creates connections for any level yogi. Stephanie specializes in teaching beginners and basics classes and believes that yoga is for everybody, every body, any age, and any walk of life. She also loves teaching vinyasa flow, beginner acroyoga, and Prana Pumpâ.
Originally from the Western New York area, Stephanie is proud to call Smyrna home. She loves spending time with her family, exploring nature, baking, and of course, hanging out the awesome community at Giving Tree!
E-RYT-200, PRYT, & ACE Certified Personal Trainer
Kim brings a unique synergy of tranquility and energy to her classes. She aims to teach and share a healthy, supportive and energizing lifestyle with individuals who seek improvement in their day-to-day rituals.
Kim is a E-RYT-200, PRYT, & ACE Certified Personal Trainer. Her journey from career Geologist to full-time mom to a Yoga instructor, fitness professional, and entrepreneur is as winding as it sounds! She found Yoga to be the perfect counterbalance to her career in science/consulting and the demands of motherhood. Finding flexibility, power, grace, strength, and inner calm through Yoga, she was able to add these components into her everyday life.
Her boys, Oliver and Eli, are her dedication to self-discovery, continuous learning, interest in eastern arts and philosophies, and connection to the community and city of Smyrna provide the foundation for her drive, energy, passion, and care for her clients, peers, and friends.
Vinyasa, Movement Dance
Chrystola “Chryssy” Luu was born in Atlanta, Georgia, but much of her childhood was spent in Monroe, Louisiana, where she began her dance training at the age of 3. From a very early age, Chryssy had a love
for movement and as her dance training progressed, she found that yoga was a great form of cross training for her. Little did she know, there was so much more to yoga than just the postures. Yoga is truly a practice for the mind, body and spirit which is why Chryssy keeps coming back to her mat again
After graduating with her B.F.A. degree in Dance from UGA, Chryssy founded Just Dance It! LLC which is an after-school dance program for students in grades K-5th. She also dances professionally with
Staibdance -- a contemporary dance company based in the Atlanta area. Most recently, she completed her RYT 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training at Giving Tree Yoga and Wellness in Smyrna and is excited to share all that she has learned. While creating a welcoming and supportive class environment, Chryssy hopes to share her knowledge of the 8 limbs of yoga so that her students have a deeper understanding of the practice and can apply what they have learned to their daily lives. You can expect her classes to
be energetic, uplifting, a little challenging and a lot of fun!
When Chryssy is not at the yoga or dance studio, you can find her at a local coffee shop enjoying a latte, lifting weights at the CrossFit gym or trying to keep her vegetable garden alive.
Yin, Vin-Yin, Basics of Yoga, Restorative
Madeline was first introduced to a physical yoga practice in college as a student athlete on the UGA Equestrian team. However, it wasn't until 2013 when she transitioned into a corporate position as a claims adjuster at a desk that she really began to emphasize and expand her own yoga practice in an effort to heal a variety of the side effects associated with sitting at a computer for an extended period of time. The physical benefits of the asana practice were expected and achieved, but the additional benefits of anxiety relief and improved self-image through pranayama and meditation, were a sweet surprise and what ultimately kept Madeline coming back to her mat.
Madeline completed her 200 hour RYT at Giving Tree Yoga, along with an additional certification in Yin Yoga, with the goal to help others. Madeline's intention is to lead students through class, focusing on safe alignment and controlled breath, in order to all the human body and spirit to heal itself to find inner peace.
She enjoys teaching with a theme in mind to allow students to set unique intentions and explore different aspects of their practice. Modifications and props are offered and explained as tools to assist with individualizing each practice and should not be seen as a weakness since there is no such thing as a "perfect pose." Madeline also believes smiling and laughter are additional natural healing techniques that can be used to let go of the ego and find peace so expect some humor and creative, fun sequences in her class. In fact, she is still working to create her own "horse pose" to reflect her love and passion of horse so any suggestions are welcomed!
Kim has always found herself drawn to yoga, she found that it helped her manage her struggles with mental health. When she moved from Florida to Georgia, she found her anxiety flaring up and felt lost and out of place until she once again found herself on her mat at Giving Tree Yoga. The more she practiced the more she could see the connection between her mind, body and spirit and the value of coming back to the mat as much as possible. Kim found herself enjoying the benefits of yoga so much that she completed her RYT-200 with Giving Tree Yoga where she found a love for all 8 limbs of yoga and found that she wanted to use yoga to help others in the way that it helps her.
Her intention is to make yoga approachable through asanas, breathwork and meditation. She will incorporate mindfulness into the practice and encourage people to be present on their mat and in their bodies while adding a little fun and humor (she never takes herself too seriously). When off her mat you can find her cooking, spoiling her dog, exploring Smyrna, and hanging out with friends.
Basics of Yoga, Vinyasa
Melissa has been practicing yoga for 20 years, starting her journey in a community class twice a week during college. Always finding her way back to the mat, she looked to yoga for stress relief and a place to go inward and restore. As a tool to help her balance the everyday, Melissa began realizing the transformation it was having on her life. Finding herself wanting to deepen her personal practice and share yoga with others, she began to explore teacher training.
Melissa completed her 200-hour training in 2020 with Giving Tree Yoga in Smyrna, GA. An advocate that yoga is for everybody, her approach to teaching is one based on mindfulness. She encourages students to bring awareness to the mind and body and listen to what they need in the moment.
Melissa enjoys incorporating breath work and meditation into her classes whether it be vinyasa flow or gentle yoga. When not on the mat, she enjoys cooking, trying to garden, and being outdoors.
Yoga Basics, Gentle Yoga, Vinyasa, Prana Pump®
Lisa started her yoga journey over 5 years ago but found her home at Giving Tree in 2021. Since then she wanted to show others the impact yoga can have on their life that it had on hers.
Lisa completed her 200 RYT at Giving Tree on June 5, 2022.
Lisa is body positive and believes that yoga is for all bodies. She loves incorporating props in each practice and she strives to make anyone feel welcome and comfortable in her classes. She also loves exploring and weaving all the 8 limbs of yoga in each practice.
Lisa is originally from the North Georgia mountains where she found her love for the outdoors in camping, hiking, swimming and fishing. She currently lives in Smyrna with her husband and two kitties. Other activities she loves to do outside of the yoga mat is cooking, watching movies and creating fun music playlists.
Yin, Basics, Meditation, Slow Burn, Vinyasa, Yoga for Back Care
Natalie began practicing Yoga in college and immediately recognized the many benefits it brought into her life. By returning to her mat regularly, she was able to deepen her practice and reap the physical, mental and emotional benefits of a regular Yoga practice. Natalie completed her 200-hour RYT at Giving Tree Yoga in Smyrna, GA in June 2021.
Natalie hopes to help others discover freedom in their bodies through movement, relaxation and acceptance. Natalie believes deeply that the physical benefits of asana include the reduction and alleviation of stress and anxiety and this is amplified when combined with a routine meditation practice. It is her intention to serve as a guide to others on their personal journey by creating a welcoming, meaningful and fun space to explore the practice of Yoga.
When not on the mat, Natalie is continually seeking a healthy work/ life balance. She enjoys all music and sneaking lyrics into conversation; exploring nature with her two dogs; home improvement projects and design.
Abby has been practicing yoga for over 10 years but it wasn’t until after she graduated from college and UGA’s equestrian team that her practice evolved. Coming from a rigid work out routine there, Abby was seeking a practice that was healing from the outside in. This is when her practice shifted from just the physical asana poses and into a space for breath work, mindfulness, and meditation. Somewhere along this path Abby realized that without yoga her body would still be aching with the unresolved pain from a previous concussion and mental health issues. This was when she knew she wanted to be a yoga teacher and help others find their best selves on their mat. Abby became a RYT June 2023 at Giving Tree Yoga. She truly believes that yoga is for everyone and always wants her students to be comfortable and do what feels good for their bodies while on the mat. Abby loves to use a theme for her classes, often times adding in props to assist with alignment as well as setting powerful intentions to guide you through the practice.
When not on her mat, Abby loves to spend time with her boyfriend, friends, and family as well as her fur babies. Baking has become a passion and can feel meditative to her at times. Any off time Abby gets is spent traveling and waiting for her next horse back riding adventure!
Growing up in a traditional Indian family, Bobbie was always curious to dive deeper into her culture. She loved visiting family in India and learning as much as she could including everything from ancient Vedic scriptures to Bollywood. Several years ago she started her journey into yoga and this past year decided she wanted to teach others how to find their inner peace. She recently completed her 200 hour YTT with Giving Tree and loves practicing traditional hatha style yoga along with Bhakti, Yin, Sivananda, Restorative, and Mindfulness.
When Bobbie is not practicing yoga you can find her spending time with her husband and two boys or curled up with a good book.
Intuitive Reiki Master, Certified Vibrational Sound Therapist, Sound Facilitator, Rhythm Mastery Mentor
Emily was born and raised in North Carolina and moved to Atlanta in 92’. She comes from the dance world and became a licensed massage therapist for the next 22 yrs. After working in clinical offices for 18 yrs she began to become burned out and was searching for something deeper….searching for that mind, body spirit connection.
She quickly resigned and started studying Reiki, intuitive development and other modalities in order to shift her practice into a more whole body holistic practice. During the Covid pandemic she studied and became a certified vibrational sound therapist and continues to this day to study healing modalities and personal development. She offers 1 on 1 sessions and hosts monthly sound baths here at Giving Tree. She lives here in Smyrna right behind the studio with her wife, son and dog Henry, and you can usually find her in the studio taking classes.