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Village Yoga Team

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AMY MIHAL  Co-Owner

I took my first Bikram Yoga class in San Francisco in 1997 and felt so amazing that I knew I wanted to practice yoga for the rest of my life!!! Yoga has had a profound effect on my physical, mental and emotional health and well-being. A consistent, dedicated practice has allowed me to get off of daily medications for asthma that I had taken throughout my childhood and well into my 20s.

Ahhhh, being able to breathe deeply is a real treasure!

Importantly, my practice has helped me navigate my way through the ups and downs that life presents while maintaining a deep sense of hope and peace. The mental, physical, emotional and spiritual strengths that this practice gives me are priceless gifts; I cherish these gifts deeply and practice to embody them. Words cannot adequately express my gratitude for this practice, for how it has changed and shaped my life, and most importantly for the amazing friends and family that it has brought into my life. I love being at the studio and truly feel that it is an honor to share yoga and its many gifts with all of those who come to class. See you at the studio!

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SALLY ADAMS  Co-Owner

At 24, after 21 years of dancing (ballet, modern, jazz, tap) I needed a new way of stretching my body. I was perpetuating bad habits and felt stuck in my progression. I found myself in a hot, sweaty yoga class at Global Yoga in San Francisco. I never looked back. I thought I would incorporate both dancing and yoga but it took me several months before I could. The yoga wiped me out at first and at the same time left me feeling alive and peaceful. I knew I just needed to let the yoga alone

work it’s magic in me. When I went back to dance class, I was stronger, more flexible, had great stamina & I felt better than ever! For me, working with my body has never been just that. It has always been a way to connect with the spirit of joy and connect with my soul. The 26 postures are like coming home. They allow me to be who I am, they give me comfort, they challenge me, they make me honest, they make me grateful and most importantly they show me how physical well being and the states of balance, peace and love take constant vigilance.

Now it's been 20 years of yoga and guess what, I'm still dancing!

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PUJA CHANCE

I have been certified and teaching Hot Yoga since 2007. My path and heart led me to Vinyasa Yoga in 2013. Since then, I have had the honor of training with Baron Baptiste, Janet Stone, Mark Stephens, Erika Abrahamian, Kino MacGregor, Lino Miele, and many more. I consider myself always a student and feel honored to share the teachings of my teachers and this practice.

This path has led me to teach from my heart what inspires the individual to shamelessly care for the container that is you.To tend to this body, heart, mind, breath and spirit so that we can tend to others with the respect and love that all humanity deserves. The direction of my classes are an attuned and vigorous flow offered to all. Expect alignment cues, a focus on meditative breath and presence, as well as the potential for laughter, compassion and humility. Each class is infused with rhythms and beats chosen to inspire movement and joy in this body and practice. 

More info about Puja & retreats: https://pujachanceyoga.com/

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ALANA TRUAX

I was first drawn to Bikram Yoga in 2006 in a search for holistic ways to heal my body and mind of stress and anxiety. I had finally found what I was looking for, something that really worked! I am now so fortunate to be apart of the wonderful community here at Village Yoga giving back after all I’ve learned from my own practice throughout the years. My hope is to guide and support everyone who walks through the door to find peace and joy with this practice of meditation and the physical body. It is never too late to start over and try again! ~Namaste~

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MICHAEL BRANSON

When I first stepped foot into Village Yoga to try out my first Hot 26 class I had no idea how profound of an experience it would be. I knew that I was going to sweat and possibly run out of breath but what I really found was a quiet and focus that my mind had not yet experienced. I was too busy attempting the postures and wrangling my breath to notice any of the outside world! Needless to say, I was hooked. What came in the following days and weeks of practice were an improvement in breathing, flexibility, mobility, stability, mood, strength, and recovery!

I was also blown away by the love and support that permeates throughout the studio. Whether it’s your first time or one hundred and first time, you will feel welcome here. The highly experienced instructors helped me improve my practice and bring balance into my life. I was inspired to go further, learn more, and see where this union of mind, body, and soul would take me. It brought me back to the very same place it began, Village Yoga.

I have completed my 200 Hr YTT (with a focus on Hot 26 and Yin Yoga) and I am beyond excited to be a part of this awesome community. Amy, Sally, Lisa, and Ruth have shown me a style of practicing/teaching that embodies kindness and power, information and understanding, but most importantly, love and gratitude. I look forward to sharing my experience with you and to learn from you! Because at the end of the day, we are all students.

Namaste. 

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HANNAH LERCH

I started taking yoga in college to prevent injury, and to improve flexibility and range of motion for soccer and ultimate frisbee. BUT I found that yoga is as much a mental practice as it is a physical one. Yes, part of yoga is the physical aspect – but it’s also about coming onto your mat, stepping away from the rest of your day, breathing in and out, and being present.

Yoga is about paying attention to your intention, and observing what is happening in the mind, body, and spirit - on AND off the mat.

I teach creative Vinyasa flow classes, with a focus on breath and alignment. My classes provide a place for students of all levels to explore strength, flexibility, and discernment. Our practice, just like life, isn't linear - and each time we step back onto the mat we have an opportunity to begin again.

I completed my 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training locally at Yoga Garden SF in July 2016. I have traveled to India to study at the Himalayan Yoga Academy, and have taken two 108-hour teacher trainings with Janet Stone Yoga in Bali and Esalen.

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SHAN ESCARRA

My name is Shan. My teaching style is a rehabilitative blend of vinyasa yoga, pilates, and physical therapy. I started my journey as a certified yoga and pilates instructor, and then decided to obtain a doctorate in physical therapy to further my knowledge of the body and movement-based healing. The aim of my classes is to share with others the power of organic movement, and the body’s ability to heal itself through kinesiology, breath, and balance. 

 

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BIANCA PODOLSKY

Yoga has been part of my life since 2011.  I started practicing Hatha yoga at one of the few yoga studios in my hometown (Campinas – Brazil). Since then, I have had the pleasure of coming across many beautiful souls that have taught me about asanas, self-connection, setting an intention, the power of the breath, yoga philosophy, meditation and much more. I like to always express my gratitude for the lessons I have learned from my teachers and for the space they hold so that I could learn my own lessons through the connection with my body, mind and spirit.

Pillars of my practice and the classes I guide: 

·      Love / Self love is where the practice starts from.

·      Respect to each one’s individual uniqueness, each one’s body, time, breath, and state of mind, combining asana and breath to lead us to find that calm and quite inner connection.

·      Preparing ourselves for deep relaxation in shavasana and meditation, to our connection to creativity, insights, inspirations and much more.

All these wonderful connections are so accessible to all and that is why I believe so strongly in the power of yoga. 

Referencing my dear teachers: Diogo Carmago, Gabriela Monteiro, Vanessa Magalo, Camila Reitz, Janet Stone, Daniela Komalski and Matt Comartin. 

Trainings: 

200h YTT with Camila Reitz in Hatha Vinyasa Yoga

200h YTT with Janet Stone in a mix of Bhakti, Vinyasa and Yoga Flow.

40h Yin Yoga Training, My Vinyasa Practice – online, US.

30h Iyengar Training with Marla Apt – Scotts Valley, US.

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VICTORIA MIESSLER

I was first introduced to yoga when I was about 13 years old and living in Brazil. Before that I had very little interest in doing any type of exercise and my mother was desperate to get me moving. Yoga was a total life changer for me. After a good year of consistent private yoga classes I moved back to the U.S. and fell out of my practice. I ended up getting really out of shape and falling in and out of depression. When I

was about 22, I was at my lowest point in life and my angel of a mother discovered we had a yoga studio walking distance from our apartment, and I decided to get back into it. This was the second huge turning point in my life. Yoga completely healed and transformed me. If it wasn’t for yoga, I would be a completely different person right now, and probably not my best self. Yoga has not only allowed me to be consistently physically healthy, but it also helped cure my depression and steer me towards a more holistic and spiritually conscious way of life. Yoga is not just a physical practice; it is a total way of life and one that I am infinitely grateful for. 

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KATIE MILANO

Yoga has both lifted me up in love and joy and it has shown me the way to humility and self reflection.  I began practicing and studying Hatha yoga and meditation in 1992 and gained my first yoga certification in 1997 from Ananda Mandir in Nevada City, CA.  

Life has taken me through some major changes and loss in the past several years which sent me into some dark parts of my being, around the physical world and through 4 significant moves. 

All along, my yoga practice remained my faithful companion, connecting me to my breath and the present moment and I’m forever grateful for that. In teaching yoga classes and many teacher training programs over nearly 20+ years, I have witnessed what a personal journey yoga is for each individual.  

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AMANDA PAYNE

Amanda Payne is a trained dancer, visual artist and burlesque performer based in Santa Cruz, CA. She is so excited to add YogaBARRE to her resume. Having been a student at Village Yoga since 2008, she is over the moon to join the incredible instructors here!

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MACY MERRELL

At age 11 I was introduced to Iyengar yoga, where I was taught foundational postures and proper alignment, as well as the importance of incorporating meditation into daily life. After practicing Iyengar yoga for nearly three years, I was introduced to Vinyasa yoga at Santa Cruz Yoga where I fell deeply in love with the Vinyasa practice. I have followed many teachers, but I owe it to Puja Chance for patiently watching my evolution over the last 7 years and aiding in my realization of my passion for practicing & teaching yoga.

I have been fortunate enough to be a student to a multitude of wonderful teachers who have inspired me to share the values they have ingrained in me, spreading compassion and love, while staying humble and patient.

My love for yoga sparked my interest in taking other sorts of classes such as hot pilates, ISO Burn classes by Maria Chase, Yogabarre, etc. The diversity of classes that I have taken have allowed me to formulate my own class into it’s own unique niche consciously targeting the full body through isolated movements while including cardio to heighten the heart rate. I strive to make Yoga HIIT an uplifting, full-body experience that values safe alignment and creating a positive atmosphere. Exercise shouldn’t be painful it should be fun, and I owe it to my teachers for enlightening me on the importance of combining power, play, and positivity.

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COURTNEY HARRISON

As someone with a passion for dance throughout childhood and adolescence, yoga was the answer to Courtney's adulthood "movement" prayers. While living in Harrisonburg, VA, she found her first yoga teacher who was able to meet her on her path, in real time. She was catapulted headfirst into her yoga journey. Upon completing graduate school in 2013, Courtney moved to Santa Cruz, CA where she has practiced with and been deeply

influenced by many incredible teachers such as Puja Chance,Mark Stephens, Janet Stone, Erika Abrahamian, Daniela Kosmalski, Dawn Hayes, and Alice Kennedy, to name a few. In 2019 she completed her 200 hour YTT in Santa Cruz, CA with Mark Stephens and further deepened her studies of yoga anatomy with Mark Stephens in 2022. Courtney is a passionate practitioner of vinyasa flow yoga. She is inspired by the fluidity and adaptability of the practice in relation to aging, injuries, and all other conditions of life, both internally and externally. Her intentions as a teacher are to remain a curious student, craft thoughtfully balanced classes, create a safe environment for expansion and growth, and get to know her students so that she might meet them exactly where they are as individuals on their paths and support them in maintaining a deep connection to their own body, mind, and spirit.

VAZA

Vaza’s passion lies in helping people feel and live their best life with a combination of research-based approaches, traditional practices and over a decade of experience. She has taken over 1000hrs of different Yoga Teacher Trainings and continuously studies with her main teacher to stay up with the latest research and trends in the health and fitness industry. Vaza worked with hundreds of patients and students to help optimize their health and performance.

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PINK MUCELLI

My name is Pink & I am honored to be a member of the Village Yoga Family. 

After retiring from Roller Derby in 2012, I knew I wanted to find other ways to stay active and disciplined.

I began strength training in the gym regularly and quickly discovered that I enjoyed coaching others to embrace their own fitness journey.

 

Soon thereafter, I started training for obstacle course races. I was hooked after my 1st race and have continued to run them each year since.

 

I have been a Boot Camp Coach since 2017 and have instructed online fitness classes and stretch breaks for corporate clients, as well as working with individuals in a one on one personal training setting. 

 

My aim is to live my life each day from a positive, mindful and grateful place. 

 

I love to build communities where people can have fun, feel welcome, and are encouraged to become their best selves.I am excited to continue to grow & learn on my journey while supporting others to do the same.  

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JADE MARCUS

At the age of 16 I discovered the powerful transformative elements of yoga ripple into all areas of my life. Yoga has been my saving grace, giving me a safe space to process emotions through body and breath awareness. I feel extremely passionate to provide a healing space where others can also experience the healing and liberation that yoga has offered me. 

 

I received my 500 hr RYT in 2015 and have dedicated much of my energy to this practice on and off my mat. I have studied psychology at UCSC where I then started The Yoga Collective, a place where the psycho-spiritual-somatic meet. More recently, I have worked in Physical Therapy and am on route to become a licensed PT Assistant. 

 

I aim to inspire people to tune in to their innate wisdom, to guide their lives into heart-centered action. My classes are focused upon precise alignment cues, conscious pranayama practices, and ancient yogic philosophies to energize and motivate you through the rest of your day. Looking forward to practicing with you! 

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MARIE HOFFMAN

My yoga journey began at Village Yoga in 2004.  From my very first Bikram aka. 26/2 class I was hooked for life.  I went on to attend Bikram Yoga teacher training in 2006 and began leading advanced practitioners through a series of 84 yoga asanas shortly after.  In 2012 I met my husband teaching yoga and now we two beautiful children.  I have explored teaching Vinyasa, and yin and have attended various teacher trainings.  I always come back to my love the 26/2 series.  Yoga has profoundly changed my life and given me so many gifts.  I hope it will open up the same for you .

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LESLEE BASSIN

With over 30 years study in the various styles of Yoga and 500RYT certification, I’ve explored this practice as a vehicle for deeper understanding and healing. My background as a critical care RN, palliative care consultant, and most recently working with individuals suffering from chronic pain and PTSD has taught me not only the wisdom of the physical body, but the wisdom of the heart.

Drawing on guidance from teachers past and present, I continue to explore Yoga as path to awareness.My teaching focuses on the more meditative aspects of practice inviting you to find stillness and ease both on and off the mat.

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ALEX HARRISON

As a certified, trauma-informed breathwork and sound healing facilitator, conscious design mentor, nature enthusiast, surfer, yoga practitioner, and regenerative land steward, Alex has long been aware of the innate connection between humans and the natural world. In cultivating internal stillness through the ocean, instrumental sounds, and the practice of energy medicine, Alex began to notice the inherent energy-flow networks present in alllife, and received a clear and precise message- to find his

breath. All connections begin first with the self, and ripple outward from there, and Alex believes that when we allow ourselves to re-align with patterns of intelligence through breath, mindfulness, and nature-based awareness practices, there is limitless potential to tap into our innate wisdom.

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MINDY LIEBENBERG

I started practicing the Hot 26 at the age of 47,  right here at the lovely Village Yoga Studio.  I fell in love with the practice and decided to take the Hot 26 Teacher Training in June 2017. This practice has transformed my life in so many ways. I feel more energetic and physically stronger. More importantly, I have discovered a new sense of self that has guided me to be more compassionate, mindful and confident.  I am doing things that I thought I would never do. If I could assist others and lead them to new possibilities in their own lives, I would be truly happy. I'm honored to be a part of the Village Yoga Community. Come practice with me!

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LAURA MANLEY

I have been practicing yoga since the age of 18. When I was in my early thirties I walked into my first hot yoga class at Village Yoga and it was love at first sweat!! I have training in Vinyasa flow  and I am a certified Modo hot yoga teacher. Modo yoga is a form of hot Hatha yoga that incorporates many of the Bikram postures plus flow and core building asana.

Due to my background in dance, I encourage all my students to find the dance in their yoga practice. This is done with a fun easy flow approach that never compromises the integrity of correct alignment and core building.You will usually find yourself flowing to music in my classes! My class is accessible to beginners and more seasoned yoga practitioners alike. Come prepared to breathe, dig deep, and open your heart.

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MARISSA  VICTORIA

Integrity, growth, strength, trust, faith and surrender~ were just a few of the many concepts that instantly drew Marissa into her first yoga class over a decade ago; and where her life was forever changed.Personal and spiritual growth kept Marissa practicing yoga and meditation daily while increased physical health, strength, and a deeper relationship to life became the outcome.

Marissa chose to step onto her mat dedicated to her purpose to teach, with a passion to share and spread such a potent and powerful way of life. She weaves yogic philosophy, pranayama, meditation, biomechanics and alignment into her classes. Her classes are dynamic and fun, challenging yet accessible, invigorating and transformational.  Whether you come for a restorative Yin class or an energizing Vinyasa class you can expect to enrich your mind, nourish your body, ease your nerves and drop into the heart. Classes are often curated with sound, aromatherapy and an occasional live musical offering from one of the several instruments Marissa plays. She has led international and local yoga retreats, teaches at yoga & art festivals and hosts an expansive variety of workshops in the Bay Area and Santa Cruz, CA.

Marissa holds her 200 & 300hr(IP) certifications in yoga alongside her current completion of the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) personal training certification and completion of her B.S. in Kinesiology. Just some of the many teachers that have inspired her include: Ana Forrest, Shiva Rae, Giselle Mari, David Swenson, Kino MacGregor, Tias Little and Katie Silcox.

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GRACE NOVOTNY

I started practicing yoga in 2015 and not long after I trained at the All Yoga School of Ashtanga Yoga based in Koh Phangan, Thailand for my 200hr RYT certification and have been teaching & practicing ever since! Throughout my practice and experience as a teacher, I have learned that everyone has their own unique yoga journey and I'm

honored to offer a loving & mindful practice, supporting my students in building connection with their own unique gift through movement, breath, & mindfulness.My Vinyasa Flow classes are catered to all levels. I encourage my students to step outside of their comfort zone and into their body through vigorous sequences and deep asana holds. 

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TIFFANY NOLLENBERGER

Yoga has been a staple of my life since I was 16.  Two decades later I am still going strong. From the beginning I knew “THIS IS IT”! I knew in my heart yoga would always be a major part of my life. I feel as if all the secrets to living life in a state of harmony and bliss are achieved through a regular practice. The profound transformation that occurs in a 90 minute Bikram class is monumental. Everything in life affects ones yoga practice; every emotion, worry, insecurity, negativity is reflected in ones practice.

Therefore we are able to gain new insight and clarity on how to transform and heal our weaknesses. The practice of yoga continually gives me a new perspective on life. Yoga has guided me on how to live from a place of inner peace and stability. Yoga has taught me to live from a place of true inner peace, kindness, love, compassion, stability, clarity, and focus. Through my practice I have witnessed an inner growth and transformation with each session.

Yoga is a union between the mind, body, and spirit. It is within the yoking of these qualities one learns how to “BE” and embody “true peace”. Through a regular practice I have discovered my inner truth. I’ve felt what is to be one with the divine. I learned how to be whole, complete & at peace.

On my mat I cultivate all the beautiful qualities I want to embody as a positive being. It is my time to BE… it is my time to become clear...it is my time to get connected to the one source. In only 60-90 minutes I release days of stress and I am reminded life is what I make of it. This is the place where I manifest, cultivate and create the life I want to live.

Teaching yoga is one of the biggest blessings in the world. To share this sacred practice with the world is a small but powerful way of creating presence and peace on the planet. I have traveled the globe teaching yoga and have witnessed how massive our Bikram Yoga family is. It is though our dedication to the practice of yoga that we are felt worldwide. I feel incredibly lucky to be a part of such a loving yoga community. We are blessed!

This is what yoga is to me…it is a beautiful gift…enjoy!

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