Elissa Cirignotta, Happy Mindful People

My Vision

I am a change maker,  visionary entrepreneur.  I believe we are all creative beings who can live happy, productive, and abundant lives. Expect success from everyone.

My desire is to live a life of love. To teach love, be love, and learn love.  

My hope is for all children, all teens, and all adults to have increased control of their bodies, awareness of their breath, and gratitude for their magnificent lives.

My goal is to create  a safe space that promotes movement,  happiness, and healing; for it is through self healing that we will find global transformation.

My Background

I'm a Jewish Sicilian/American and I love exploring my roots and traveling the world.  I have lived in Sicily, Pennsylvania, Honduras, Virginia, Washington DC, Tucson Az, Portland Or, and most recently found my new home in the beautiful Midwest city Des Moines Iowa!  I speak Italian, Spanish, and English and can't wait to learn my next language and travel to the next beautiful location.

I hold a  BA in Special Education and graduated Summa Cum Laude from George Mason University with a Masters of Arts in Teaching and an emphasis in Educational Reform.  I completed my 200 hour Yoga Teacher Certification with world renown international yoga teachers Eddie Mostestini & Nicki Doane who have been deeply influenced by the teachings of Sri K. Pattabhi Jois and B.K.S. Iyengar, creating a beautiful fusion between these schools of thought.  Over the course of the last 5 years I have also obtained an Autism Consultant Certification and Barre Certification.  

It has been my practice to use the role of 'teacher' as a method of moving towards equilibrium of body and mind. Practices of self- acceptance are embedded into my curriculum and my own passions of hula hooping, poi, creative writing, and positive thought become part of our routines.

Since 2003 I have taught at elementary, high, and post high levels to all sorts of wonderfully and differently-abled students.  With abilities and disabilities ranging from Autism, Aspergers, Learning Disabilities, ADHD/ADD, Emotional Disturbances, Orthopedic Impairments, and many more.  In 2011  I discovered yoga and everything I had done up to that point made more sense.   I am a forever student deeply inspired and grateful for all of my teachers and all of my students.  

I practice & teach movement & mindfulness because it brings me great joy. 

My Classes

Through movement, conscious breath work, and self inquiry, we learn about our strengths and our weaknesses. We strive to achieve flexibility of the body and we work to create flexibility in the mind. 

This practice has taught me how to become more comfortable with the uncomfortable, using my most valuable tool; breath.

Movement & Breath is freedom. It is the journey, and the practice, of returning to the most peaceful, blissful, joyous space within us. It's connection. Connection to self, to others, to joy, to source, to your divine nature.  Movement and Mindfulness offers us this profound experience of mind body connection that reunites us with big beautiful love and allows us to co-create harmony within. Through this brilliant practice we remember our true essence, one of love, kindness, non-judgment, and compassion. 

This is an internal practice... filled with adventure, exploration, transformation, and joy joy joy. 

My classes are playful and heart driven inspiring people of all ages to walk towards a path of happiness. Whether it be through a movement flow, a social skills lesson, or a yoga class of any and all ages,  the intention is to find balance, develop and understand our strength, improve our flexibility of both body and mind, and honor our breath in each moment. 

I teach to learn what I do not know.  

Say Thank-you, all the time. Be kind, be brave, be fearless; live your best life and never stop reaching for the stars.

Scatter seeds of kindness and allow peace, harmony, and beauty to grow within you and all around you.


Elissa + Greg Wedding ~ Bridal HIGHLIGHTS (2 of 4).JPG
Elissa is one of those rare, multi-faceted gems which, when exposed to the sun, never ceases producing new and exciting sparkles. She is the epitome of selflessness and genuine empathy and kindness. Her drive, commitment, and enthusiasm are never-ending sources of inspiration and encouragement in my life, as well as many others. Anyone who is blessed with knowing Elissa will forever be softened and warmed; she is a woman to be watched.
— Jesse Soto, Portland Oregon
I believe Elissa Cirignotta entered my life to remind me how beautiful life is. She has a way of looking at the world and seeing beauty in the most mundane and ordinary things and more importantly, she has a very special talent for getting others to see that beauty through her eyes. Her heart and spirit are so full of goodness that it overflows into everything and everyone she encounters. Elissa Cirignotta goes out of her way to spread love, peace, and harmony.

Elissa is one of the bravest women I know. She had a good, lucrative job as an Educational Facilitator for students with special needs and was very, very good at what she did. No one would have ever guessed that that was not what she was put on this earth to do. But, it was not. Elissa had bigger dreams. She quit her job to embark on a great adventure to pursue her passion of exploring one’s own personal strength through yoga and getting others to do the same, starting with the world’s most precious investment; children, all the while pursuing her love of writing. Elissa Cirgnotta should be an inspiration to all women who have a dream, but may be too scared to pursue it because they are perfectly content and probably very good at their existing job.

Since I met Elissa Cirgnotta, I have become a stronger, healthier person who has a new appreciation for the life I was so willing to throw away. She has taught me to never settle for the status quo, to believe in the power of the universe, to live for every precious moment, and to embrace life. I am forever grateful to consider her a friend and spiritual sister.
— Diane McLean, Broadway Virginia
Elissa has been coming to my Life Skills special education classroom for several years to practice yoga with my students. Students that generally are not engaged for more that 15 minutes, stay fully engaged during Elissa’s 60-minute session. This is true evidence that Elissa takes the students on a calming, peaceful journey that helps them feel centered. That energy remains even after Elissa departs, as the students seem more attentive and ready to learn.
— Shelley Hawbecker, Hillsboro Oregon
Elissa helped me in so many ways. Before yoga, I was in a manic state and was stressed all of the time. But then I found a…well…almost magic place I could go if I was stressed or worried about anything. She gave me probably the best gift in the world…relief. I couldn’t have done it without you. Thank you so much. You helped more than you know.
— Syd- age 10, Beaverton Oregon
Elissa Cirignotta is a fabulously imaginative and inspiring young woman who has created a great and unique idea! My preschool was lucky enough to be awarded the gift of a presentation by her. The children listened to her with great curiosity. They were enraptured by her movements, stories, and sounds that she incorporated into the class, their faces demonstrating their utter delight! My preschool is bilingual and to my pleasure she conducted her class completely in Spanish. I feel language is a vital part of young people’s lives and she beautifully embraced that element in her class. I truly hope that the loving kindness she reigned upon my preschoolers continues to spread far and wide! She is a true gem in this modern day, bringing a bit of magic into children’s lives which they may not have anywhere else. We look forward to her next class.
— Alegria Cupit-Patton, Portland Oregon
Elissa has the gift of working with children. She exudes positive energy and creates a fun atmosphere for yoga while patiently maintaining calm and control of the group. Her classes have been such a wonderful experience for my son who has sensory processing disorder. He has learned invaluable life skills including calming his body, breathing techniques, and focusing his mind. In class he practices balance and crossing the midline of the body which engages both sides of his brain. My son is excited about yoga and shows me new poses at home.

When my son first started her classes, he was scared and uncooperative. Elissa has a wonderful way of engaging children and easing their worries. Now my son is confident and excited about moving his body.
— Melissa Sullivan, Portland Oregon
Elissa is one of those rare life-changing teachers, one that you will remember well into adulthood. My daughter Isabel is fourteen years old and she can read. She can read because Ms. Cirignotta believed in her.

Isabel has a reading impairment that puts her well behind others in her grade level in reading and math. My experience with Ms. Cirignotta started when Isabel was in 2nd grade. Isabel was a frustrated little girl that had no idea why reading was so difficult for her. Her frustrations exhibited themselves in bouts of uncontrollable crying and other forms of testing and reading anxiety. Outside of the reading and testing settings, Isabel was a happy child but a reading test could easily ruin her day. The contradictions were baffling and of great concern to me as a parent. Ms. Cirignotta began working with Isabel mid-way through that 2nd grade year and Isabel’s school world began to shift. With patience, perseverance, enthusiasm, and an enormous smile, Ms. Cirignotta showed Isabel what she was capable of and worked to rebuild her confidence and pride while teaching her reading and math strategies that she will use for the rest of her life.

Children with learning disabilities need advocates. They need teachers that have expertise, strategies, and a true commitment of their work and for their students. Elissa Cirignotta is one of the strongest advocates that I have ever met. She is open, honest, and passionate in her defense of the rights of her students. These qualities combined with her experience, insight, and education, make her my teacher as well. She is a person of quality and integrity for which I can only give the highest of references.
— Donna Munoz, Alexandria Virginia
Without exception, Elissa Cirignotta is one of the top teachers with whom I have ever worked. She is entirely child focused. Her planning and execution are flawless. She is incredibly organized so that the flow of numerous groups in and out of her class is seamless. Elissa’s energy level is amazing and her ability to multi-task is remarkable. She is a committed teacher to her students and their parents. She is always their advocate first. They love her, rightfully so. Her relationships with peers are outstanding and I’m grateful to have had three years with her.
— Kathleen Dameo, Alexandria Virginia

Connect with Elissa on Instagram. 

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Elissa has a warm and generous spirit that attracts others to her. People enjoy sharing in her ebullient, positive energy, and they recognize that she enjoys sharing their company as well. She overcomes personal and professional obstacles with optimism, grace, and humor and inspires others to do the same. I have traveled across the country twice and to various corners of the world with Elissa, and there never was dull moment, nor a contentious one.
— Eileen Campbell, Washington DC
"Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” ― Mahatma Gandhi

"Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”
― Mahatma Gandhi