At GIRAFAS, our Mission is to develop culturally conscious world citizens, by teaching children to respectfully express themselves in Portuguese, and inspiring them to appreciate and celebrate the diversities that distinguish and unite us.



Mônica Rocha, founding director and lead educator at GIRAFAS Play & Learn, was born and raised in São Paulo, Brazil. Having chosen teaching as her profession from an early age, Mônica attended and graduated from a specialized high school for early childhood development (CEFAM). At 19 years old she began her career, teaching English to toddlers, adolescents, and adults at the Fisk Language Institute in São Paulo. In 2004, Mônica moved to New York and her passion for children, education, and arts drove her to pursue her dual NYS certifications in Early Childhood Education and Special Education, as well as a second degree in Arts at Brooklyn College.

In 2008, Mônica designed classes for a parents’ co-op school for English speakers in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. This experience, along with years of practical studies and work in New York City daycares, nursery schools, and public schools, gave her a strong foundation to realize her dream of creating her own program. She wanted to offer children an opportunity to celebrate their differences and similarities through a healthy, pleasant, and meaningful education. Mônica’s belief is that early childhood experiences are critical to the shaping of an independent, confident and happy adult.


Inês discovered yoga while in Art School and  amazed by its complexity, healing powers and its self knowledge tools, she soon made that the main focus of life.  Understanding yoga also as a form of art.

She has studied with renowned yoga teachers of the Iyengar Yoga method in India, Brazil and New York, including two years of rigorous yoga teacher training at the Iyengar Yoga Institute of New York, and 3 years of yoga teacher training at Yoga Dham, São Paulo, Brazil.  She continues to develop her practice and research by studying with her mentors and assisting classes at the Iyengar Yoga Institute of New York.

In November 14, 2014, Inês welcomed the arrival of her daughter Nina who, since in the womb, made her appreciate ten thousand more times the value of regular (continuing) yoga practice. She encourages students of all ages and abilities to dive into the fun of discovering themselves through an enthusiastic, careful, warm and positive approach to the practice of yoga.

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