the bend mamas

Kelly Cox, Co-Director/Owner, RYT, LCSW, Birth Doula

Kelly has been practicing yoga since graduate school, where it became a great outlet for her in dealing with a demanding schedule. Through regular practice, she has learned the power of the mind/body connection and has found the ability to live a more balanced life.

Kelly’s true passion in teaching lies with pregnant and new mothers. Through her work at the studio she has gained an appreciation for the process of pregnancy, birth, and the beautiful connection between mothers and babies, as well as between the mothers who attend classes.Yoga is more than a physical practice, the community that is built is sometimes the most rewarding.

Kelly spent years working with children as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. In her work with at-risk youth in the Charlottesville area, she found yoga helped her clients by allowing them to learn how to breathe, focus on issues in their bodies, and develop a greater sense of self awareness and control. On a daily basis, Kelly is able to observe how yoga can positively affect a child’s self esteem, overall fitness, and sense of well being.

Merrill Woodriff, Co-Director/Owner

Merrill has always loved working with children. She graduated from the University of Virginia in 1998 with a master’s degree in elementary education and moved to Europe to teach students from diverse backgrounds at the Munich International School. After two years abroad, Merrill returned to the States and continued to teach at independent schools in DC, San Francisco, and most recently Charlottesville. As a teacher, Merrill always worked  to connect with her students both in and out of the classroom. She made a point to support their extra-curricular activities in order to gain a deeper appreciation for the “whole” child. Merrill was deeply involved in curriculum development throughout her ten years of teaching, focusing mainly on mathematics and language arts. She also spent time honing her classroom management skills and has participated in two trainings in Responsive Classroom, an instructional method that encourages both academic and social development.

Merrill started practicing yoga while living in San Francisco in 2002. Immediately she was struck with both the physical and emotional benefits of the practice. For the first time in her life, she found a way to relax completely while feeling strong and focused. Then, when vacationing at the beach, Merrill was practicing yoga in the sand when her cousin’s child, who was age 6 at the time, asked her what she was doing. Merrill told the child she was doing eagle pose and asked her to join in. The child loved the challenge and the novelty of eagle pose and was quickly hungry for more asanas (poses). That day on the beach, Merrill realized that she could integrate the two things she was most passionate about in life: children and yoga.

Merrill’s proudest achievement to date has been giving birth to her three children.  She has already shared her love of yoga with them and hopes that they will find a meaningful place for it in their lives.

Sarah Reedy, Manager, CYT

Sarah began practicing yoga while pregnant with her first child. She fully believes she has yoga to thank for a easy labor, positive birth experience, and quick postpartum recovery. Yoga continues to provide a calm strength in her life. Moving to Charlottesville in 2012, Sarah quickly fell in love with bend. An attendee of Sweet Peas and Mamaste, she now teaches Inchworms, Grasshoppers, and Mamaste classes. Sarah incorporates songs and play into a class routine that provides the littlest Inchworm with the foundation to become a real yogi. A former education volunteer with the Peace Corps and urban high school History teacher, Sarah enjoys teaching and learning in this new classroom.


Sheila Currier Chrobak, M.S., CCC-SLP

Sheila is a pediatric speech language pathologist who loves discovering the unique ways each child finds joy and comfort while learning and growing. Recognizing the connections between movement, our sensory systems, respiration, communication and social emotional development, Sheila has always integrated these same elements in her speech language therapy sessions.  When she stumbled upon Bend she knew it would be a perfect match. After participating as a parent with both of her own children, she is thrilled to have the opportunity to move into the role of instructor. Hoping to share her enthusiasm for yoga and all things related to children’s development, Sheila looks forward to seeing you in the studio! You can check out Sheila’s speech language therapy practice, Dot to Dot: Pediatric Speech Language Therapy LLC, at

Jen Fleisher, RYT, Birth Doula, Midwifery student

Jen completed Yoga Teacher Training in 2005, as well as her Prenatal Yoga teacher training with Leslie Lytle of OmMama. She completed a weekend doula training with Gail Tully of in 2010.

Jen assists many of her students in labor as a birth doula and midwife’s assistant, and teaches Prenatal Partner classes with Kelly.



Julia Gilchrist, RTY

Like many people, Julia got into yoga for the physical exercise and stayed for the spiritual and emotional benefits. Yoga has taught her so much about speaking her truth and practicing compassion towards herself and others. Julia’s goal in class is to inspire confidence and show people that yoga is so much more fun when you stop struggling; let go and let your practice flow. Julia attended Bikram Teacher Training in 2010 and taught in New York City and Austin before moving back to Charlottesville. In 2015 she completed Vinyasa Teacher Training at Mosaic Yoga. She teaches at Hot Yoga Charlottesville in addition to Bend.



Amy Kidd

Amy Kidd has been teaching yoga since 2001.  In 2003 while pregnant with her first child she completed her prenatal training. She loves being able to teach expectant mothers, and sharing in the ups and downs of pregnancy, birth and beyond. She hopes to see you in a class soon. 




Debbie Ku

Debbie joined the bend family as a new mom-to-be attending Mamaste in 2013. She and her son have continued to grow with a supportive and fun community at Sweet Peas, Inchworms, and now Grasshoppers classes. Debbie believes that her bend family has helped her foster confidence and strength to face both joys and struggles as a new parent. She now leads Inchworms to explore their strengths and develop both physically and mentally with an introduction to simple yet fun yoga poses integrated with songs and stories. She welcomes every kind of child, from the observers to the movers and shakers, to find and share their light with the world.


Laura Dillon Rogers, RYT, Birth doula student

Laura discovered yoga in 2006, soon after settling in New York for Fashion school. She started by attending all types of classes; from gentle Hatha, to intense Vinyasa flows and Bikram – and realized no matter what your type of practice or age may be, yoga has the most amazing impact on everyone’s life and wellness. Laura got her 200-hour yoga teacher training in Costa Rica in 2010 and the ChildLight Yoga program a few years later. The ability to share the yoga path with young children and see the wonder, flexibility and joy that it brings will always be one of her top passions.



Madeline Zimmer, RYT

Madeline began practicing yoga in 2011 at Hot Yoga Charlottesville and her life has continuously improved ever since. Yoga helped Madeline shift away from a long depression and has guided her transition to life after depression. During many poses she found herself wishing she had been exposed to yoga at a much younger age, and after feeling temporarily frustrated by this, it occurred to her that bringing yoga to children might be a better way to handle it.    Madeline attended the level 1 training at ChildLight yoga in April of 2014 and is so thrilled to join the crew at Bend.  Madeline also teaches community classes with Common Ground Healing Arts.

In addition to enjoying her days at a local landscaping company surrounded by wonderful coworkers, Madeline really likes anything else outdoors, binge reading, letter writing, and spending time with her amazing family. She has three bad cats and is training to become a wildlife rehabilitator at the Rockfish Wildlife Sanctuary.

Annie Sheehan, RYT

Annie began her relationship with yoga after graduating from the University of Virginia in 2013. Just like many post-grads living in that phase of what’s next?, yoga provided her peace of mind in life’s uncertainties and created a healing space through love and community. Ultimately, the practice became an anchor for her to latch onto. Annie received her 200hr teaching certification at Down Dog Yoga in Washington, DC, then her 500hr with Mark Stephens in Santa Cruz, Ca. Currently, she teaches vinyasa at Hot Yoga Charlottesville and tween/teen classes at Bend. Whether teaching adults or tots, she believes playfulness and a touch of laughter can go a long way.


Deborah Barry, PhD, CYT

Like many others, Deborah began practicing yoga as a way to balance out and stretch after other physical activities, but she quickly learned that the benefits were far greater than being able to touch her toes! She enrolled in yoga teacher training at Hot Yoga Charlottesville as a way to share this sense of balance with students both in and outside the yoga studio. As an assistant professor at the University of Virginia School of Medicine, Deborah works with students and  clinical faculty to help them develop as educators, create a leadership curriculum, and often assists in the Anatomy program. Deborah began teaching vinyasa yoga in 2016 at Hot Yoga Charlottesville, and is  looking forward to seeing you and your littles in class soon!