About the Yoga for Arthritis Staff

Steffany Moonaz, Ph.D., CMA, MFA, C-IAYT, E-RYT 500

Founder, Yoga for Arthritis

Dr. Moonaz is a yoga therapist and researcher in Baltimore, MD, specializing in rheumatic diseases. She currently serves as Director of Clinical and Academic Research at the Maryland University of Integrative Health, which offers the nation’s only MS in yoga therapy. She received her 200-hour Yoga teacher training at Satchidananda Ashram–Yogaville in 2003 and her 500-hour training from Yama Therapeutics. She has also received training in the Phoenix Rising tradition, from YogaKids, and with the Center for Mind-Body Medicine. With funding from the Arthritis Foundation and the National Institute of Complementary and Integrative Health (formerly NCCAM), Steffany spent seven years at Johns Hopkins University, developing and evaluating a yoga program for individuals with rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, which has been replicated in collaboration with the National Institutes of Health. Her work has also been funded by the American College of Rheumatology and NIH Nursing. 

She is the founder of Yoga for Arthritis, an organization bringing evidence-informed, kosha-based yoga programs to people with arthritis nationwide, as well as educating yoga professionals to work safely and effectively with this population. In 2011, she was commissioned by the Arthritis Foundation to develop an Arthritis-Friendly Yoga DVD, which has been their best-selling product ever since. She trains emerging yoga researchers and yoga therapists through academic programs, continuing education programs, and individual mentoring. Dr. Moonaz is currently studying the feasibility of systematic data collection in a yoga therapy teaching clinic and is leading a team of yoga researchers in the establishment of yoga intervention reporting guidelines so that yoga research literature may become more relevant to clinical practice. She has been invited to speak at Emory University, Brigham and Women's University, Johns Hopkins Palliative Care, and University of Maryland, among others. Her work has been featured in Time, Huffington Post, US News and World Report, Yahoo! News, and Arthritis Today and was a contributor to the textbooks, The Principles and Practices of Yoga in Healthcare and Yoga, the Body, and Embodied Social Change. She is on the advocacy team for Accessible Yoga, helping to make yoga accessible to those who are generally underserved and lack resources, and is set to publish her first book, Yoga Therapy for Arthritis, with Jessica Kingsley Press in 2018.

If you'd like to schedule a private session with Dr. Moonaz, please go HERE.

Email: info@arthritis.yoga

Christa Fairbrother, MA, RYT-500, Certified Yoga for Arthritis Instructor

YFA Program Director

Christa began her yoga journey as an antidote to being hunched over all day in her job as a farrier.  The yoga stuck and 20+ years later she decided to do a yoga teacher training as an enrichment to her own practice.  In the middle of her training, her chronic health journey shifted to include an arthritis diagnosis.  That diagnosis transformed how she thought about yoga and it's power to help people in their health journeys.  It inspired her to actually be a yoga teacher professionally and pursue yoga for arthritis training.  As Program Director, Christa expands business and training opportunities for YFA teachers, coordinates with non-profits to expand awareness of our group, and facilitates partnerships with other yoga programs  to raise awareness in the yoga community.  She also handles day to day operations of the organization. She teaches YFA classes and offers one on one sessions locally in FL.

Email: christa@arthritis.yoga

Ann Swanson, M.S. in Yoga Therapy, E-RYT500, LMT

Master Yoga for Arthritis Trainer, Regional director: CO, Midwest & West

Ann Swanson’s journey started after art school with a trip around the world-- studying yoga and massage in the Himalayas of India and tai chi/qi gong in China. She returned to the U.S. to study the science of the human body, taking the college courses like anatomy, physiology, biomechanics. She then combined her passions by joining the first Masters of Science program in Yoga Therapy at Maryland University of Integrative Health (MUIH). During this time, she worked extensively under the mentorship of Steffany Moonaz, PhD.  Currently, she is involved in private practice (including Skype sessions), teacher training, mentoring other teachers, consulting, and is faculty in the master's degree at MUIH.  Ann makes mind/body more accessible for people who need extra attention for arthritis, chronic pain, balance, and fall prevention. Ann shares the art and science of yoga therapy and mind/body practices with those who need more options because everybody can use some empowerment--including her centenarian students.

Email: annswansonwellness@gmail.com

Nancy O'brien, E-RYT 500 

Master Yoga for Arthritis Trainer, Leader NY YFA Sangha

Nancy O’Brien, who credits therapeutic and restorative yoga with her ongoing recovery from serious illness, is a registered yoga teacher with Yoga Alliance, a certified Integral Yoga Hatha I, Hatha II, and Restorative Yoga teacher and graduate of Therapeutic Yoga Training and Yoga for Arthritis. She is an advisor for the Arthritis Foundation on the Arthritis-Friendly Yoga video and trains certified yoga teachers in Yoga for Arthritis. She is helped Integral Yoga Institute in New York launch groundbreaking twice-weekly Yoga for Arthritis and Chronic Pain classes taught by Nancy and other YFA trained, experienced teachers.

Jennifer Daks, B.S., RYT 200, Certified Yoga for Arthritis Instructor

Regional Director: Upstate New York & Eastern Ontario

Jenn is a currently pursuing doctoral studies in Clinical Psychology at the University of Rochester, studying the effects of mindfulness practices on romantic relationship health, with a focus on individuals with arthritis and chronic pain. She was diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis as a toddler and has benefited from yoga in the ongoing management of her disease. Jenn began practicing yoga to approach her treatment plan from an integrative care standpoint. She is excited and eager to expand the Yoga for Arthritis community into upstate NY and parts of Canada. Jenn began her work with Yoga for Arthritis in 2014 as program director and has since worked closely to disseminate the evidence-based teachings of YFA through teaching weekly classes, working one-on-one with clients, mentoring teachers, building community and professional partnerships and co-leading teacher trainings. Jenn is available to mentor long distance or locally in the Rochester area. Jenn is inspired by the teachings of yoga as a way of life, and the pursuit of relationship health - individually and collectively is an endeavor she is continually developing through mentorship and training of yoga professionals, innovative research and the therapeutic applications of yoga.

Email: jennifersarah30@gmail.com

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