Meet our incredibly talented and dynamic staff!
Passionate and down-to-earth, Abby’s bohemian heart radiates through her life in all its aspects — at home, as a student, and as a teacher. She doesn’t differentiate between the practice of yoga and the practice of life, believing that yoga is how you do something, not something you do.
As a teacher, Abby creates an atmosphere of keeping it real while challenging students to their highest potential in the moment. She speaks from the authentic place of her own heart’s experience and is renowned for her unique ability to make the practices of yoga pertinent to the full spectrum of life experiences. Her classes are a profound and authentic offering of dynamic alignment, embodied flow, and skillful refinement. Students are encouraged to work diligently while honoring their own boundaries. Abby believes in empowering students through deep inquiry and skillful application of a pulsation of dynamic alignment principles. Each asana class also includes the essential grounding practices of pranayama and meditation.
Ada Lusardi’s classes and workshops marry the heart and science of yoga by offering nuanced and precise teaching with warmth and humor. Through the use of compassionate and clear direction, intelligent sequencing, and skillful hands-on adjustments, Ada’s teachings challenge and refine one’s yoga practice, regardless of age or ability. A self-professed “anatomy geek,” she leads classes and retreats throughout California’s Bay area and around the country. She is a graduate, and faculty member, of The Berkeley Yoga Room’s Advanced Studies Program, a long time student of Donald Moyer and Mary Lou Weprin, and a perennial student of yoga and life. She teaches Anatomy & Kinesiology for Namaste’s Advanced Teacher Training.
Adam Kurzfeld has been teaching yoga full time since 2009. He is a strong believer that movement and stillness are both necessary for optimal health. Yoga brings us both. He teaches breath focused vinyasa classes which are physically challenging, safe, and give space for stillness and meditation. He has studied diversely, and draws inspiration from teachers such as Ana T. Forrest, Annie Carpenter, Alice Joanou, and KYM in south India. Adam is also very passionate about music. He has been studying and writing his own material from a very young age. He often weaves sound and song seamlessly into classes and workshops. He feels extremely fortunate to have found yoga early in his life and loves bringing this ancient art to others. No matter your age, size, color, gender; a dedicated yoga practice will transform your life from the inside.
Adam began his yoga journey nearly a decade ago while on the verge of collapse, and it precipitated a complete transformation in his life. Through the brilliant guidance of Shanti Kelley and later Annie Carpenter, Adam learned to establish ground while embracing wisdom, humility and devotion in his practice. Adam provides a challenging yet grounded experience, rooted in alignment and sustainability. His goal is to guide students towards honesty, precision, and understanding in their practice.
Annemaria Rajala, E-RYT 500, RPYT, YACEP has been a student of yoga since the late 90’s and began her teaching practice in 2008. Her flow classes are accessible to all levels of students with a focus in mindful alignment and in creating a meaningful dialogue with your body.
“Yoga is a deeply personal practice. It is a constant inquiry into how to deepen my awareness and take care of myself so I can better take care of the world around me. To me yoga is not about a fancy pose, but it is about falling in love with my body every day.”
Ashley Sharp, E-RYT began teaching yoga at the turn of the century. She is known for her wit, practicality, and tenderness as an instructor. She grew up dancing, and brings to her classes a lifetime of body-knowledge and wisdom. She has studied yoga asana and philosophy in the United States and in India with Swami Dayananda, Erich Schiffmann, Patricia Sullivan and Sat Santokh Sing.
She has trained in yoga asana, yoga therapy and yoga nidra (a reclining meditation practice). She completed both the “Mindfulness Yoga and Meditation Training,” (an 18 month program integrating Buddhism and yoga asana) and the ”Dedicated Practioner Program,” (a two year intensive study and practice program) through Spirit Rock Meditation Center.
Ashley’s ongoing practice of Vipassana meditation leads naturally to her unique weaving of mindfulness themes into each class, simultaneously deepening her students’ physical and spiritual practice. She teaches retreats internationally and leads yoga teacher trainings in the Bay Area.
Learn more about Ashley at: www.ashleysharp.net
Ava’s focus is on the connection between breath and movement, emphasizing breath awareness at the core of practice. Ava maintains strong attention to alignment, creative sequencing and personal attention – in the form of safe physical assists and by inviting students to honor the wisdom of their own bodies. She practices primarily in the classical Ashtanga system, which provides the foundation of her teaching style – with specific attention on pranayama (breath), bhandas (internal energy valves), and dristi (eye gaze). In an effort to support the focus on simplicity in practice and meditation-in-motion, she does not play music in class. Classes are steadily paced and vigorous.
Ava has been teaching yoga since 2003 and has trained and taught in California, in Massachusetts, India, Greece and Mexico. She has been a teacher with Namaste since 2005.
Off the mat, Ava is the artistic director of We Players, connecting people with place through site-integrated theatre. Meet WE at: www.weplayers.org
Baxter has been studying Hatha yoga since 1994 and teaching since 1999, both public classes and specialty back care classes. He is a graduate of the Piedmont Yoga Studio’s Advanced Studies 2000 program, and has studied regularly with Rodney Yee, Patricia Walden and Erich Schiffman. He teaches a nurturing style of yoga, with a strong emphasis on re-awakening our innate curiosity about ourselves and our world.
Baxter offers periodic workshops and retreats, with more info available on his website at www.baxterbell.com and at yogaforhealthyaging.
Baxter was named as one of the hundred most influential yoga teachers in America by Sonima.
Ben Adams, Front Desk Coordinator
Ben has been an avid yoga practictioner since 2006. He is also the author of two novels, The Engimatologist and The Resurrectionist; both have the distinction of being deemed ” … too imaginative for Hollywood.”
Claire McCarty, Director of Operations
Claire feels her role is a fortuitous marriage of her professional background and one of her biggest passions(yoga!), and is so grateful to serve the Namaste community. This Bay Area native adores her dear family and friends, being outside, reading as much as possible, plumbing the depths of Spotify, and doing nothing.
David Moreno, RYT 500, has taught at international yoga conferences, festivals, universities, and teacher trainings worldwide. He has worked privately with students in the fashion and entertainment industries as well as professional athletes. Among those athletes taught include the U.S. Olympic Men’s Swim team coaches for the 2004 and 2008 Olympics. He has worked as a product advisor and ambassador for the Canadian Athletica Company, Lululemon, is a certified Pilates instructor and ordained minister. His yoga commentaries have been published in Yoga Journal, Yoga International, LA Yoga Magazine, and Common Ground. His dance criticism and reviews are featured Culture Vulture. David is also the creator and producer for Yoga DVDs, electronic books, Yoga Nidra downloads, and subscription yoga classes for Yoga Vibes.
David began practicing yoga in the late 70s studying the Iyengar and Ashtanga styles of yoga before studyiing Anusara and the Bihar schools of yoga. He continues his study in Tantra and Ayurveda, delving deeper into yoga’s primodial roots. He is know for his depth, keen sense of humor and timing making his teaching both playful and informative. When not traveling he teaches in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Learn more about David at: www.moryoga.com
David Schlussel is a yoga teacher, life coach, husband, and father. David experiences yoga as the practice of reconnecting with our wholeness. When we operate from our wholeness, we experience the incredible strength and flexibility that is our potential. David coaches his students from fixed ideas about what they can and can’t do, towards life as a playful exploration of possibility.
David began his exploration of yoga with Ashtanga, where he learned the benefit of regular consistent practice. He continued his training by studying Dynamic Yoga, where he discovered the deeper strengths available through activating along the muscular and energetic pathways of the body, and where he developed his passion for yoga philosophy. He is currently inspired by Anusara Yoga, which has infused his practice and teaching with an empowering understanding of alignment, therapeutics, and fun. David’s classes are a flowing celebration of our bodies, designed to exercise, educate, integrate, delight, challenge and recharge. He is known for his warm approachability, contagious curiosity, gentle and liberating hands on adjustments, facilitating healing of old injuries, and offering concepts that support his students both on the mat and in their daily life.
Dena has worked as a yoga therapist (C-IAYT) and yoga teacher for chronic pain populations, seniors, cancer survivors, and veterans for the last decade. She has been a practitioner of yoga since 2000, and meditation since 1990. It is her belief that yoga has an incredible power to heal, indeed all of yoga is a doorway in.
Currently Dena teaches yoga to chronic pain patients at pain management clinics in the Bay Area. Dena is also a certified wellness coach teaching stress management, nutrition, and self-care specific to pain. Through her work with seniors she has developed programming for patients with dementia. Her offerings in this realm include yoga privates and trainings for caregivers so they can utilize mind/body practices with their loved ones and patients.
Desirae Latorre, Berkeley Studio Lead
Bio coming soon!
Dr. Domonick Wegesin is a yogi-neuroscientist-dancer with a bent towards meditation and the healing arts. He moved to the Bay Area from New York City where he conducted neuroimaging research focused on the aging brain, as a Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience at Columbia University. Domonick now trains the brains and bodies of his yoga students, helping them wake up to their mental, emotional and physical experience in a way that cultivates awareness, acceptance and ease.
Growing up with a love for dance, sports and music, Elika was naturally fascinated by the fluid and liberating practice of Vinyasa Yoga. After a severe back injury led her to the practice in 1999, Elika initially studied Iyengar and Anusara yoga and began to see her body healing and knew she wanted to inspire others to trust the innate ability of the body to regain harmony~full of vitality and bliss. When you take a class with Elika, expect to be inspired and to move your body possibly in ways you’ve never moved, exploring your creative intelligence and connecting with your own Source.
Experience a soulful and dynamic weaving of healing music, yoga philosophy, poetry and vinyasa flow informed mostly by her Prana Flow training with Shiva Rea. She now infuses yoga, fitness, dance and meditation throughout her classes, encouraging students to connect with the wisdom of the body to find strength, insight and ease on the mat as well as off. You can find her also teaching Whole Birth ®Yoga, mom+baby and yin/ restorative yoga classes throughout the Bay Area. Elika’s teaching is also greatly influenced by studies with Sarah Powers, Judith Lasater and from Ayurveda and Energy Healing.
As a DONA Birth Doula, it’s Elika’s mission to support women and families to release fear of the birth experience so they feel empowered on the journey to parenthood and beyond. She also offers workshops, retreats, private sessions specializing in perinatal yoga/fitness, yoga therapy and Seasonal Yoga + Drumming events and Yoga Trance Dance. Elika is co-creator of the BlissTemple Yoga Flow DVD (blisstemple.com) an evolutionary vinyasa practice for all levels including pregnancy.
Learn more about Elika at: www.blissfulbodiesyoga.com
Emily Roth, Program Director
Emily Roth became part of the Namaste Yoga + Wellness in 2012, a year after Namaste Grand Lake first opened its doors. Since then she has had the amazing opportunity to grow and evolve alongside the Namaste Yoga + Wellness community. Her work encompasses everything from strategizing how to reach and welcome new students into our Namaste family to collaborating with our Creative Director to create engaging, valuable content. She believes whole-heartedly in our studio’s mission to help more people flourish through health and wellness practices. Outside of the studio, you can find her soaking up the Bay Area’s beauty, hiking, or playing with her pups and fiance.
Having practiced yoga for 10 years before becoming a mother, the birth of Hanna’s first child was the life changing event that brought her deeper into yoga, and after the birth of her second child, she took the Barefoot Movement Yoga Teacher Training. Hanna is now an ERYT 200 and an RYT 500 certified teacher through Yoga Alliance as well as a YACEP (yoga alliance continuing education provider).
Teaching yoga allows Hanna to share her experience with the practice: one that connects all aspects of self – body, mind, and breath – and that by connecting to oneself on a deeper level also connects her to the world around us in a more true way. Incorporating the elements of yoga into daily life in small ways, even just taking the time to focus on breath for a moment or remembering posture, leads to a positive change in peoples lives. Hanna’s teaching style is encouraging, supportive, and honest, creating a space where you can get to know your body and expand its capabilities, a safe and grounded environment in which to grow and learn.
Part scientist, part alchemist, full devotee of the life force, Hayley offers a path to strength, self-confidence and awe for the miraculous mechanics of the human body by creating an empowering environment to explore your own body-mind from the inside out. Her juicy alignment-based class is permeated with her commitment to intelligent movement, radical self care and the cycles of the natural world, inviting you into intimacy with all parts of yourself through the sweet simplicity of the breath.
As a passionate body nerd, she can either be found with her head in a book about anatomy or out in nature or on her mat exploring her own. As a wisdom collector and philosophy student, her life is a laboratory for experimenting with technologies of human liberation. With an attitude of compassion, curiosity and playfulness, she has an uncanny ability to invite students into the realm of the somannaut, those who explore their inner space both on and off the mat. Where is your body and mind balanced and fluid? Where are they tight and stuck? This curiosity is the beginning of a deep intimacy with our inner body, which translates as greater peace, more easeful relationships and fluidity, joy and intelligence of movement in class, at work and at play.
In addition to being inspired by leading edge myofascial and neuroscience, her teaching is infused with the traditions of Tantric Buddhism, Ayurveda, Chinese Medicine, earth wisdom, archetypal mythology, guided visualization and somatic psychology. Each class is based on the cycle of the moon and the seasons through a combination of unique sequencing, challenging asana, meditation and pranayama. As a celebrated massage therapist and wellness coach specializing in chronic pain and injury rehabilitation, she translates the intricacies of (re)learning healthy movement patterns and how to correct personal imbalances through restorative alignment, delicious movement and lifestyle change in a way that’s easeful, motivating and enlivening.
Learn more about Hayley on her website.
Heather Grady, Front Desk Coordinator
Heather prioritizes taking a moment at least once a day to be out in some nature and breathe in the fresh air. She tries to never miss a sunset and travels to great lengths to find the best ones. When she’s not in the studio, she spends her time hanging out with friends, at the beach or at a show somewhere. For Heather, doing all four of those things in one whole day would be a complete dream.
Helene Cotton, Brand Manager | Retail Buyer
From the products in our boutiques to the tone of everything that brands us, Helene leaves her mark. As our Brand Manager, she is continually shaping the look and feel of Namaste, lifting up our instructors and shining a light on their superpowers, and sharing our messaging with our students and community. She formally joined the Namaste team in late 2012, but her tentacles reached here years prior when she was hired to design and print a tee for the original Rockridge studio (maybe you still have one in your t-shirt drawer?). She loves interfacing with the students, staff, and instructors here and is sure she has the best job on staff. When not thinking about how Namaste is presented to the universe, she enjoys nature, backpacking, drawing, printmaking, playing with her adorable mutts, and inversions.
Jaimi holds space and directs movement from a place of deep connection. After more than a decade teaching, her classes are known to be graceful, supple, smart, and intentional. Jaimi’s previous life in dance and her impeccable taste in tunes, ensure a flow that is felt. Additionally, her adjacent life as an Alexander Technique teacher positions her classes at the intersection of effort and ease.
Jaimi believes that a path toward embodiment is a path to the self. As a guide, she creates and contains a space where your only job is to tend movement and practice presence.
Join her to Move, Breathe, and Connect.
Jerry Givens is a 500-hour certified teacher of Tantric Hatha Yoga & Mediation, with influences from ParaYoga and the Himalayan Tradition. Jerry has been teaching since 2008 and specializes in Vinyasa, Classical Hatha, Systematic Relaxation, Pranayama, and Meditation. He has studied primarily with ParaYoga senior teacher Devidas Karina Mirsky and has also attended workshops, retreats, and lectures with Yogarupa Rod Stryker of ParaYoga, Pandit Rajmani Tigunait, PhD., Ravi Singh, Ana Brett, Kathryn Templeton, AYS., kirtan artist Luna Ray, and Kathy Ornish (K.O.)
Jerry completed the Sangha Yoga 200-hour Teacher Training in 2009 in Kalamazoo, Michigan, and the Sangha Yoga 300-hour Teacher Training in 2014. In 2015, he assisted in the Blue Osa 200-hour Teacher Training Immersion in Costa Rica. To find out more about Jerry and his teaching, check out www.jerrygivens.net or follow on Instagram at @yogijerr
Jill White Lindsay
Originally starting her career as a high school biology teacher, Jill shifted her presence from the classroom to the yoga studio. After a bout with cancer, Jill realized the yoga she’d been practicing could help with pain management, mood regulation, and overall strength and wellbeing. Yoga became an anchor in her life, and her passion for yoga blossomed as her drive to teach persisted. She received her 200-hour training from the White Lotus foundation in Santa Barbara, studying under Ganga White and Tracy Rich.
Jill then expanded her discipline to teach therapeutic yoga. She received her advanced therapeutic yoga training under the mentorship of Harvey Deutch, and still meets with him weekly assisting in his physical therapy clinic in San Francisco. Therapeutic yoga is a process of empowering individuals by helping increase self-awareness and learning how to work within one’s own strengths and limitations. The goals of this practice can include reducing or eliminating symptoms that cause suffering while improving foundation and function. But therapeutic yoga is not just for the ‘mature’ or injured, it is a practice every body can benefit from by going deep in a safe and healing way. Jill’s focus in her classes is to cultivate a healing environment and empower students to become more connected with their bodies and minds from a kind and compassionate perspective.
I began practicing yoga in 2001 and graduated from The Center for Yoga Teacher Training Program (Los Angeles) in 2003. I teach an alignment based vinyasa flow to create dynamic, challenging, fun classes. I enjoy teaching students of all ability levels and focus on creating a safe practice by using verbal and hands-on adjustments for correct alignment. In order to accommodate varying skill levels I recommend alternative poses and pose modifications when necessary.
My classes are infused with the philosophy that we are engaged in a process at all times which can be illustrated by finishing any statement with “yet”: “I can’t do this (yet)”… “I’m not flexible (yet).” If we can be involved in the process and not focused solely on the outcome, then both the process and the outcome may be surprising and rewarding. We are explorers – discovering poses, discovering mental clarity, discovering how we deal with challenges and, maybe, discovering some spiritual awareness. Oh, yeah – and it helps to keep a sense of humor about all of it.
Julia brings unified, living breathing approach to yoga. With a world of experience, she sees the wisdom of the east and west come together as equals. For her, yoga is an integration of practice and philosophy, as well as art and science. Julia combines a background in performance, athletics and modern somatic method of Middendorf Breath experience with the ancient wisdom of the yoga tradition.
Authentic creativity and joyful expression are invited in her classes through flowing sequences and sustained stillness of postures. She encourages deep self-inquiry, awareness of the breath, mindful presence to sensations in the body.
With a deep sense of gratitude, Julia bows to her guides – Shiva Rea, Erich Schiffmann, Angela Farmer – and all her students, from whom she learns every day. She was born in the East, the former Soviet Union, and emigrated to the West Coast in the late ’70s – a Cold War refugee with a warm heart.
A Licensed Massage Therapist, 500hr Registered Yoga Teacher and Ayurvedic Health Educator; Karly’s yoga classes focus on unwinding physical and mental tension while invigorating body and mind. Over the last 12 years she has studied and practiced holistic health in California, Alaska and Hawai’i. Currently Karly brings her knowledge and experience to the San Francisco Bay Area. Her passion is to give people tools to live healthy, joyful and productive lives.
Ken Breniman has practiced yoga for over 10 years and became certified with Yoga Alliance as a RYT-200 after graduating from Yoga Tree’s Yoga Teacher Training program in 2006. Yoga Alliance has recognized him as a ERYT-200/RYT-500 as he completed his Yoga Therapy training at Ananda Seva Mission in July 2010. Ken is very excited to be joining the Namaste family.
In his classes, Ken provides eclectic non-denominational Hatha yoga guidance, honoring a variety of traditions, such as Iyengar alignment principles, invigorating Kudalini Kriya, and playful Acroyoga-inspired partner work. He invites you to embrace SIMPLICITY, PATIENCE and COMPASSION as you deepen your practice and your connection with your true Self. Ken offers Yoga Therapy workshops on a variety of topics such as restorative yoga, grief, relationships, stress management and coping with chronic illness. In addition to yoga, Ken also serves as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, clinical supervisor and a private practice yoga therapist in the Bay Area. Daniel Quinn and Paulo Coelho are among his favorite authors.
His life work of service is inspired by Ram Dass’ words: “We are all just walking each other hOMe.”
Kenny Erickson, Grand Lake Studio Manager
Kenny Erickson joined on as the Namaste Grand Lake Studio Manager in 2019. As a teacher and practitioner for over 20 years, Kenny currently practices restorative yoga and yoga nidra and is slowly mastering the art of folding blankets. Kenny holds a Bachelor’s in Anthropology from San Francisco State and is currently working towards a Master’s in Occupational Therapy. In his down time, Kenny enjoys recording books on tape, studying somatic therapy and drumming.
Kimberly Leo, Owner
The first Namaste, in Rockridge, was opened nine years ago by Kimberly Leo, an Oakland native and devoted yoga practitioner. Opening Namaste was Kimberly’s way to fully integrate yoga into her life as well as provide a vital service for the community. Namaste provides a refuge from our busy urban life in its neighborhood settings; a peaceful environment nurturing physical health and spiritual growth.
Kimberly grew up on Lakeshore Ave, where the Grand Lake space is located and has always dreamed of returning to serve the community. Many Rockridge Namaste students and teachers live nearby as well, so it felt like the natural place to expand.
Now, almost a decade after opening Namaste Rockridge, she is able to return to one of the first yoga studios she called home, 7th Heaven Yoga & Wellness in Berkeley, to expand Namaste’s provenly successful culture and serve the newly combined communities.
As a student of yoga, I am committed to the practice because of its ever-present potential to stabilize, heal, and transform. In my practice and in my teaching, I am interested in inquiry rather than correction and awareness rather than control. I tend to move through postures at a slower pace, allowing time and space for deeper connection to subtle shifts within the body, breath, and being.
I try to be attuned to the ways in which the modern teaching/learning of yoga is entangled with complex social inequalities. While I am undeniably a part of these entanglements, I do my best to actively resist the marginalization, exclusion, and elitism that can permeate yoga spaces.
My teaching is determined by the constantly evolving education I receive from my teachers, from my personal practice, and from my students. I have studied with, and continue to be inspired by, Ron Reid, Marla Meenakshi Joy, Annie Carpenter, Leslie Kaminoff, Dharma Mittra, Mark Lilly, and most recentIy Gay White.
Lindsay Dombrowski, a former dancer and sometimes story teller, has spent over a decade with yoga; first in New York City, later in Los Angeles, and has now landed in the Bay.
Currently a student of Maia Heiss in Ashtanga Yoga, and heavily inspired by readings of yogic texts, she values the education she received at New York University and acknowledges its roots in her work.
She believes in the daily practice of studying her feet on the ground and lifting her heart to the highest power and aims to share her discoveries in group practices that open space for self-study. In addition to her yoga studies, she is proud of co-creating The UnTraining and values her certifications in Thai Yoga Massage. Lindsay is eager to sit together in this work, to see and speak to what comes up, and to continuously pivot towards peace in effort.
Savasana was the first asana that revealed to me the healing powers of yoga. I have been practicing and studying all 8 limbs of yoga for the past 17 years, and am inspired by nature and by my teachers – Annie Carpenter, Katchie Ananda + Stephanie Snyder.
My classes are designed to create a holistic experience where students are invited to explore movement, transition, stillness and deep self inquiry.
Margi Young was named one of America’s 100 most influential yoga teachers by Sonima wellness site. She has been teaching yoga since she left the dance world in New York City in 2000. She was trained and spent her first 10 years of teaching at Cyndi Lee’s OM Yoga Center where she ended up leading many teacher trainings and heading the restorative department of this prestigious studio. Early in her career she also studied prenatal yoga at Integral, and restorative yoga from Judith Lasater.
Currently she is studying yoga for the pelvic floor with Leslie Howard and cranio sacral therapy with Ellen Mossman. Margi has recently contributed her writing to two of Linda Sparrow’s books, Yoga At Home: Inspiration for Creating Your Own Home Practice and YogaMama: The Practitioner’s Guide to Prenatal Yoga. She travels the world teaching yoga and is on the staff of Awakened Life School of Yoga leading teacher trainings in Bali. She also has on-line classes at www.yogaanytime.com. For more information, please visit her website at www.margiyoung.com
Melina Meza is a pioneer in the field of yoga, nutrition, and Ayurvedic Health, sharing her knowledge with yogis around the world for more than 20 years.
She is the creator of Seasonal Vinyasa Yoga, a holistic practice that features lifestyle, diet, and yoga practices tailored to the rhythms of the four seasons to help people stay healthy as they age. Her passion for Nature, the five elements, beauty, and humor forge the foundation of her unique approach to well-being.
In addition to working with individual clients, Melina facilitates year-round yoga and Ayurveda workshops, leading retreats in extraordinary sanctuaries around the world. She is the author of Seasonal Health and Wellness and the Art of Sequencing books as well as the creator of the Yoga for the Seasons – Fall Vinyasa DVD. Her unique teachings can also be found on Yoga Anytime, YogaUonline, and Gaiamtv.
Melissa Goble, Rockridge Studio Manager
Bio coming soon!
Naushon has been a student of yoga since she was a little girl. Her challenging, yet compassionate Power Vinyasa classes are a wonderful way to cultivate strength, serenity, flexibility and balance. Inspired by her studies with Baron Baptiste, Shiva Rea, Baba Hari Dass, and the teachings of Vispassana (Insight) Meditation, Naushon’s all levels classes emphasize the linking of movement with breath, cultivating our ability to be more fully present and awake in our lives, and navigate the challenges that arise with more grace and kindness.
“I have been teaching for the past 13 years. For me, yoga is life-saving. It grounds me when I feel disconnected, overwhelmed, and stressed out, and gets me back in my body when I feel stuck in my head. But mainly, yoga gives me perspective, reminding me to wake up and enjoy this beautiful life that I have been gifted…to realize that this moment, right now, is enough.”
Please visit naushonyoga.com for more information about Naushon’s workshops, retreats and booking private sessions.
Although I was taught yoga at a young age by my father, I came back to the practice on my own after starting my family and finally heeding the call to find stillness. The Vinyasa Yoga practice has helped me to find stillness within movement and the breath. I have been teaching yoga for more than 12 years. After founding a studio in the Washington DC area in 2005 and managing two locations with full class schedules, I sold the business and moved to Berkeley in 2013. As a studio owner and teacher I developed and led teacher training and organized and led international retreats.
My classes are fluid, breath-centered movement, alignment based, and lovingly taught. Each class is infused with philosophical intention that comes from many of my own experiences. My philosophy is that life is hard and although yoga at first may feel like a respite from the world it can also teach us how to live in the world with an open and accepting heart.
Rachel began her study and practice of Hatha yoga in 1992, at the original Jivamukti yoga center in New York City, where she regularly studied with Sharon Gannon and David Life. Her scholarship then lead her to receive teaching certification through the Sivananda lineage. Rachel has been blessed with many strong teachers, in the styles of the Kripalu, Ashtanga, and Iyengar methods. Her personal practice has been deeply influenced and inspired by the teachings of Ana Forrest and the alignment principles that were outlined in the Anusara method developed by John Friend. Rachel engages in ongoing research to create healthy and sustainable practices for our growing and changing bodies. She’s happy to claim 25 years of practice and teaching, with an evolving approach that fosters depth and subtlety as well as strong physical engagement. Most recently, Rachel has been weaving in guided meditations and encouraging her students to live their practice in life with compassionate presence unfolding in each moment.
For Rachel Simone Wilkins E-RYT 500 // YACEP, yoga is an expression of the cosmic, creative pulse that connects us all. Her personal practice and public offerings are a soulful tapestry of creative movement, somatic awareness, spontaneous flow, intuitive choreography, open meditation, and transformative pranayama. Our practice is a way to connect with the sacred within and to recognize the universal reflected within all of us. Rachel’s evolutionary approach to yoga is inspired by seasonal energetic shifts, lunar cycles, the radiance of the sun, the steadiness of the mountains, the fluid churning of the waves, the cleansing flow of the wind and the wild dance of the heart flames.
After growing up a dancer, a mixed media artist, and immersing herself in philosophical studies in college, yoga was the next evolution on her path. She completed her initial 200 hour certification in 2011 with Tracey Rich and Ganga White of the White Lotus Foundation, followed by advanced studies under their guidance. Shortly after, she completed an intensive training in Thai Massage with Phoebe Diftler. Rachel began studying with Shiva Rea in 2014 and received her 500 hour certification under the Prana Vinyasa lineage, as well as an initiation into Kalaripayattu in Kerala, India. Besides her beloved private and public class offerings, Rachel’s dharma is leading her empowering Embodying Shakti goddess workshop series and her Intuitive Vinyasa Flow RYS teacher trainings locally and globally.
After taking her first class over 15 years ago, Rebecca has continued investing in the practices of yoga and meditation as student and teacher both. Rebecca seeks to create a sacred space for students to connect within themselves more deeply through breath and posture, with a unique teaching style most influenced by Ashtanga Vinyasa, Yin yoga, classical Tantra and Vipassana meditation.
Rebecca has been providing customized health coaching and education for the past decade. She has partnered with individuals, communities, startups, and corporations to share her expertise in wellness that is fused with mindfulness practices, health behavior, and habit design. Rebecca believes the most invaluable investment we can make is in our health, and is passionately committed to imparting knowledge and providing a support system for those ready to improve the world from the inside out.
Following a fatal car accident at the age of 23, Renée was critically disabled making it vital to re-learn the natural biomechanics of the body. Her focus as a teacher of yoga is to share a direct experience of conscious movement and awareness while observing one’s breath to simply feel better. With a natural ability to hold space, Renée’s classes are built on intelligent cues and dynamic sequencing. Successfully imaginative and curious, Renée draws upon various modalities creating an interdisciplinary approach to her teaching. Her classes have a foundation in Alignment-Based Vinyasa, Mat Pilates and Yoga Therapy. Find yourself immersed in a practice designed to be challenging yet accessible, offering attention to breath with an inspiring sense of musicality.
A humble bow to her teachers who have guided the way, Senior Ashtanga and Iyengar teachers Josh Vincent and Gabriel Halpern, Master Pilates instructor Jean Sullivan and International Spiritual teachers Caroline Myss and Oliver Michael.
Sara Saberi, Front Desk Coordinator
Bio coming soon!
I am a RYT® 500 yoga teacher with over 1,000 hours of training in yoga and yoga therapy. I offer yoga practices that cultivate spacious awareness for the hectic, modern life. I come to yoga with a Masters’ in nutrition and want to help individuals who are too busy for self-care to find balance through yoga, mindfulness and compassionate self-inquiry. The flavor of my classes revolve around nurturing the body and mind, attention to healthy alignment, and purposeful relaxation.
I offer group and private sessions throughout the San Francisco Bay Area and specialize in gentle-therapeutics, restorative and guided meditation.
Satya de la Paz
Offering 11 years of experience teaching yoga, Satya de la Paz August inspires students to fall in love with their bodies and their practice. Deeply inspired by her years as an educator in West Oakland, she infuses dynamic alignment, chanting, storytelling, and community-building into her classes. Satya offers Yoga as a means of collective and personal liberation and decolonization: accessing our innate healing capacity through therapeutics and compassion, meeting media-driven body shame through mindfulness and affirmation, freeing the heart of resentment and blame, and healing the mind of patriarchal ways of moving and acting. Multiple expressions of poses are offered as students are encouraged to listen to their own body wisdom and access needs. Satya is deeply grateful for her mentor, Abby Tucker, as well as all of her dharma and movement teachers, Sally Kempton, Rob Preece, and Sianna Sherman. Drawing from the traditions of Anusara Yoga, Buddhism, and Tantra, she empowers students to awaken their true nature of awareness and bliss. Off the mat, Satya is active in social justice movements, dances, gardens, and bakes.
Satya Gita Aune
Satya is excited to be part of the Namaste teacher staff, and loves the community here. She has enjoyed teaching yoga passionately for over 25 years. First starting her practicing and teaching at Jivamukti in New York in the early 90’s, Satya since has studied many varieties and styles including Standing Wave.
She tailors her classes to the field of the room and facilitates intuitively through her seasoned experience as a teacher. Satya understands body alignment and offers extensive hands-on adjustments. She utilizes physical postures and alignment to open energetic dimensions and pathways in the body. Satya brings an emotional intelligence, a sensitivity to energy flow and a personalness with each students. Her classes often include inspiring music, laughter, physical workout, and a good time! You will find that there is an easy repoire with Satya because she brings such delight in her teaching. Yoga has taught her a lot about love and compassion and she looks forward to sharing that with you. In addition to her passion for yoga and bodywork Satya is deeply involved with the Diamond Approach School and has been for over a decade.
Simona Andreea Balan, PhD, E-RYT 500, YACEP, is an environmental scientist and yoga teacher passionate about helping people live healthier and more harmonious lives. She was first introduced to the physical practice of yoga in childhood, as therapy for scoliosis. While in graduate school, she re-discovered yoga not just as a physical practice, but also as a vehicle for mind-body connection and spiritual transformation. After a few months of daily practice, her body became stronger, her breath more relaxed, and her mind more joyful. Fast-forward to the present, Simona continues to practice daily…
Simona has over 3000 hours of yoga teaching experience, weaving in various styles, including Power Vinyasa, Iyengar, Restorative, Shadow Yoga, and Kum Nye (Tibetan yoga). She emphasizes safe alignment, balances muscular strength and flexibility to prevent or heal from injuries, and offers unique mind-body insights from aikido, a Japanese martial art of conflict resolution.
Sita Devi is a yogini, kirtan artist and ecstatic dance facilitator in service to the divine. Sita feels the divine channel so deeply and intensely through Bhakti Yoga, she has chosen to make it her life’s purpose.
She holds a BFA in dance from the University of California Santa Barbara, and performed professionally with Method Dance and Ledges and Bones Dance Project in Los Angeles.
Sita registered with the Yoga Alliance for 500 hours and has been teaching yoga for 10 years. When she completed her 500 training Sita began teaching at Bhakti Yoga Shala, in Santa Monica, California where she developed her skills as a teacher and kirtan leader under the guidance of her beloved teacher and friend Govind Das. Her gypsy nature took her on tour teaching at yoga festivals and conferences all over the globe. Sita currently teaches weekly vinyasa and yin yoga classes and hosts a weekly community kirtan in Berkeley.
She intends to share this heart opening practice with everyone, making it easily accessible. It is her dream and goal to make Bhakti, devotional service, something that anyone can do, without limitation, expectation, discrimination or judgement. Sita’s devotional service is intended to include all beings in experiencing divine love and light.
Skeeter honours the peaceful warrior nature that is uniquely revealed in each of us, through this journey called yoga. Skeeter’s purpose is to create a safe space for all students to arrive on their mat, practice the beautiful art of unfoldment and connection to true authentic self.
Skeeter very much enjoys the emotional evolution that comes from the practice of Anusara yoga. She has studied with Katchie Ananda, Noah Maze and has done trainings with John Friend, Desiree Rumbaugh and Jim Bernaert.
Skeeter welcomes you to your mat, however you find yourself there.
Sonya Genel Dresser
Sonya Genel Dresser, ERYT500, joyfully embraces the power of yoga not only to heal and transform the body but also to heighten human consciousness and to create a radiant life. In her classes, Sonya weaves precise anatomical alignment with flowing movement. Always approaching her students with authenticity and humor, Sonya’s intention is to hold space for a direct embodied connection with Spirit. When she is not teaching yoga, Sonya can often be found drawing or painting. As an artist, she notices the profound effects yoga has on her creativity, and she has dedicated herself to enthusiastically guiding others toward enhancing their own unique life path through yoga.
When Sonya first discovered yoga in the 1990’s in Boston, she began with Ashtanga yoga and power vinyasa, but as her practice evolved she gravitated more towards alignment based styles such as Anusara and Iyengar. She attended her first teacher training at the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health. Over the years she has completed hundreds more hours of training in alignment based yoga, prenatal yoga, anatomy, therapeutics, mysticism, tantra, and meditation. Sonya is grateful to have had the opportunity to study deeply with Sianna Sherman and many other incredible teachers.
Sophia first found yoga when she was moving forward with a dancing career but struggling with an eating disorder. She was overwhelmed with anxiety and depression. It was a very low point in her life. Sophia’s first yoga class helped her to feel at home for the first time in her own skin. Now she loves her body and no longer feels at war with herself mentally. It’s for this reason that she is so passionate and inspired to share the teachings of yoga with others.
In her classes you’ll grow stronger in body and mind awareness in order to be more kind to yourself in your daily life. Sophia truly believes that moving forward towards our goals and making a difference in the world at large first starts in the home of ourselves. With the power of sound and uplifting music, you’ll move through intelligent and challenging sequencing with an emphasis to proper alignment and breathing.
Sophia’s teaching style comes from the gifts of many teachers; including Sharon Gannon and David Life of Jivamukti Yoga where she received her teaching certification in 2007. Her ten plus years of teaching experience has also been greatly influenced by Stephanie Snyder, Janet Stone, Kia Miller and Shiva Rae.
Torrey is a dedicated student of yoga, yoga teacher and life enthusiast. Practicing yoga since 2009 and teaching since 2012, Torrey’s classes are alignment based and focus on connection; to the breath, body and spirit. She truly believes that yoga is available to everybody, and she is eager to share this healing practice with the world, one breath at a time.
Tosha Beverlin, Teacher Training Director
Tosha is a natural born facilitator, loving to uplift and support others in achieving whatever it is they are seeking. She began working at Namaste in late 2013 and grew through a series of roles over the years. Tosha first served as a Front Desk Coordinator, then as Studio Manager at her beloved Grand Lake location, where she settled deeply into the fabric of the community and enjoyed engaging with everyone who practiced, worked and taught there. After a few years and a chance opportunity, Tosha stepped into the role of Program Manager where she was blessed to serve the teaching staff and students from a new perspective, curating the weekly class schedule, workshop offerings and teacher training programs. After taking some time to welcome her most precious gift into the world, Lula, Tosha adapted her role at Namaste to focus specifically on advancing the curriculum of the 200 and 300 hour TT programs. When not dreaming about yoga education, Tosha loves being in nature, whether that is hiking in the woods, admiring wildlife or digging her hands into the earth in her garden.
Valerie Somoff, Front Desk Coordinator
As a Bay Area native, Valerie has a passion for enriching the lives of her community and for being a stable rock for her loved ones. She has been integrating her yoga practice in different ways over the years, after falling in love with the philosophy during her travels in India in 2015. Outside of her beloved Front Desk Coordinator duties at the Berkeley studio, she studies for her Cosmetology & Barber license and loves camping, being active, learning about holistic modalities, singing, cooking, dancing, hosting tea parties and assisting in fashion photo shoots.
Vickie Russell Bell
Vickie has been studying yoga since 1990 and began teaching in 1994 in Ohio. Her teaching style emphasizes body awareness, alignment, and the integration of mindfulness and ease in Hatha yoga practice and daily life. Vickie sees yoga as a direct way to manipulate the nervous system in a world full of stimulation and stress. Her intention is to help her students to increase their level of daily awareness and consciousness, so that they might begin to unearth the Truth of who they really are.
She is a graduate of the Piedmont Yoga Studio Advanced Training Program and a certified “Relax and Renew Trainer” through Judith Lasater’s accredited program. Vickie is also on the core faculty for the Advanced Training Program at PYS.
Learn more about Vickie at www.vickierussellbell.com.