Each instructor here at Pilgrimage of the Heart Yoga brings his or her own love, style, compassion, and expertise for the practice to the students of yoga. With instructors of various backgrounds and techniques, we’re able to offer a full range of classes and are excited to have you discover your own individual practice. Learn more about our instructors below.
Sujantra was born in San Francisco in 1962 and moved to San Diego in 1980 to attend UCSD. He is the founder and owner of the Pilgrimage of the Heart Yoga Studio. He first became interested in hatha yoga as a young boy and used his practice of asanas (the yoga postures) and pranayama (breathing techniques) as a stepping stone into the “inner aspects” of yoga: concentration, meditation and contemplation.
Sujantra has authored five books on eastern philosophy, success motivation and meditation. Two of his books were used by major universities to teach wellness, stress reduction and comparative religion. Over the past 20 years, he has delivered over one thousand lectures on meditation and yoga in over 25 countries.
Sujantra opened the Pilgrimage of the Heart studio in 2006. In each of his yoga classes, Sujantra offers the complete yoga experience by teaching all eight aspects of yoga and exploring the relevance of this ancient art in our modern lives. He teaches Beginning / Gentle Yoga; Yoga for Children and Hatha Levels I and II, which includes Sun Salutations, shoulder stand and headstand. He encourages students to practice both at home and at the studio.
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Alli is a certified yoga therapist and children’s yoga instructor. With a passion for inspiring positivity, she has obtained a BA in Sociology and minor in Counseling and Social Change. Alli finds joy in creating a space of refuge for individuals to relax and heal. Using yoga therapy tools and meditation techniques, she provides opportunities to connect deeply, relieve pain, and ease stress. With a light heart, Alli directs students to connect with their happiest and most authentic selves.
Alyssa Runyan, E-RYT 200
Alyssa’s journey on the path of yoga began long before she rolled out a yoga mat. The awareness she cultivated from her vipassana meditation practice helped her realize the transformative power of yoga from her very first class. After completing her first 200 hour teacher training in 2010, she began teaching immediately. It didn’t take long before she knew that teaching yoga was her passion; following her instincts and relying on faith she quit her job as an animal nurse to teach yoga full time. Her trust in the universe paid off; she now balances teaching yoga, managing a studio, and continuing her own education as a teacher and a student. From beginning hatha to advanced vinyasa, Alyssa enjoys working with yogis of all levels in a myriad of styles. Her teaching demands a strong cultivation of awareness, while weaving in meaningful spiritual themes which are very pertinent to everyday western life. She is currently immersed in a year-long Anusara training and is delighted to incorporate these teachings into her classes. She believes yoga is a path to revealing our divine nature, one mindful breath at a time.
Amy first came to yoga thanks to a hip hop class. The instructor did warm up and cool downs with yoga, and she was hooked. Amy’s teaching style is relaxing and soothing with an emphasis on mindful living, affirmations and visualizations. She loves teaching hatha classes leading up to inversions, and incorporating restorative poses at the beginning and end of class. Amy loves to draw, play guitar and sing, dance, swim in the ocean, hike, listen to podcasts, make kombucha and visit new places.
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Anna Berger comes to Pilgrimage of the Heart from Vail, Colorado where she has been working with athletes (snowboard, equestrian, yoga, climbing, dance, etc) since 2000. She comes from a background as a P.T. Assistant, and has a Ba. Sci. in CAM with a minor in Art and Recreation Wellness; additionally working with bodies as an LMT and Personal Trainer. Through her personal experience she has learned the importance of maintaining a balance in life through living a healthy, active lifestyle. Anna has been practicing yoga since 2001, and obtained a 200+ hour cert through Forrest Yoga Teacher Training in Boston, Ma. in 2004. She has also had continuing education with Shiva Rea, Simon Park, Janet Stone, and many other fine masters local and traveling through Colorado. Anna’s athletic classes work with injuries and strengthening through toned, flexible muscles. Her teaching style is influenced by the beauty of movement that surrounds her in nature and recreation as each class incorporates a sense of strength, joy, and integrity for all as she pays great respect to detailed guidance with each asana. Anna invites you to open your mind/body with her in this playful and progressive atmosphere.
Anna’s Class Style: Anna’s teaching style is alignment centered and hatha inspired movement and stillness. Progressive postures lead up to more challenging movements, she respects the classical elements of yoga while enjoying creative expressions in the movement practice.
Dr. Arezou Ghane is a health psychologist, yoga instructor, dancer, and founder of Auteur Health and Wellness. Her passion is to share her love of movement and the science of wellbeing to support others seeking to live healthy and intentional lives.
Arezou took her first Hatha yoga class when she was 18 years old. Since then, she continued to practice at various studios in northern and southern California. It was through her introduction to Ashtanga Yoga that she learned how, with discipline and dedication, a consistent yoga practice could improve mental and physical performance in almost any context.
Arezou’s classes focus on linking movements together so that they intuitively “flow” from one pose to the next, while also emphasizing breath, intention, strength, and balance. Arezou loves to share the art of yoga as a tool for wellbeing, and she enjoys watching her students flourish as they start to pay more mindful attention to their breath and body.
Arturo has over 30 years of Yoga teaching experience. He is registered as an “Experienced Registered Yoga Teacher 500″ the highest level of registry awarded by the” Yoga Alliance”, an international body of standards within the industry.
Arturo’s Yoga teachers include B.K.S Iyengar and Indra Devi, both world-renowned masters in the Krichnamacharya tradition. His yoga studies span Latin America, India and the USA.
Started in 1980 a Yoga program at the University of California in San Diego, one of the first yoga programs associated with a major university. As part of Arturo’s efforts to bring the benefits of Yoga to many, he conducted a series of yoga segments for Univision TV, produced a yoga DVD, has produced over 100 web based yoga videos through ” Hispanopolis.com”, co-produced a radio program centered on metaphysical themes and self-help and has been conducting yoga retreats and seminars in Europe and Hawaii for over ten years.
Besides teaching the more physical benefits of Yoga, Arturo is committed to also teaching the more philosophical and historical aspects of the practice; he co-founded the MindBody seminars, combining elements of western and eastern techniques of self development, taught Yoga Philosophy and History for the UCSD extension program and started a two year yoga teacher training program at the University of California San Diego. He was a featured speaker at the Wholistic Life Expo, 2012 San Diego.
Arturo holds an engineering degree in Telecommunications and advanced studies in education and social work.
Arturo’s Class Style: Arturo teaches an alignment based practice based on the teachings of B.K.S Iyengar and Indra Devi with focus on safety and proper execution of postures.
Aryn Rannazzisi combined motherhood, a love of Ashtanga yoga, and nearly 10 years of classroom experience to begin teaching yoga to children. Her classes provide a safe and nurturing environment for children to explore with music, books and games. She has expanded her yoga teaching to adults, families and playgroups, always adapting to her clients’ needs.
Aryn holds her elementary teaching credential as well as her Masters in Cross-cultural Teaching. She has taken numerous workshops on story-telling, special needs students, and infant massage. Aryn is registered with Yoga Alliance, holding a 200 Hour Yoga Certification in Ashtanga, as well as an additional 100 Hours in Pre/Post-Natal Training and 100 hours in Yin Yoga and Reiki.
She considers her children, Benjamin, Tess, and Jude her best work yet and boasts they all do fabulous downward dogs.
Aryn’s Class Style: Aryn believes yoga should be accessible to all ages, all sizes and all levels. Her classes are light hearted, energetic and playful, but also incorporate a strong emphasize on breath and alignment.
Brea has been practicing the physical part of yoga, Asana, since high school. However, when she found herself dealing with increased anxiety in college, she really began to explore and benefit from the deeper, mind-body connection aspect of yoga. This sense of freedom and peace that she experienced from yoga led her to complete her 200-hour certification at Corepower Yoga Pacific Beach in 2015. Upon completion, Brea moved to New York City where she completed a 100-hour mentorship training with the managing teacher at Pure Yoga NYC, where she dived deeper into the roots of yoga, and refined her teaching skills. While in NYC, Brea also spent a brief period working in finance, which ironically pushed her to explore her asana and meditation practice more rigorously, which she did by dedicating her additional time to the Ashtanga practice of yoga. From there, she continued her studies by training in meditation and Qigong. For Brea, Yoga has been her pathway to feeling and living in the love that surrounds each and every one of us every moment! She knows this is easier said than done :). Yoga means the union between the body, mind, and spirit. Brea believes that the practice of yoga provides an opportunity for an individual to explore a sacred part of life…connecting to the internal self mentally and physically, which in turn connects people to the outside world in a more profound and loving way.
For Brentan, yoga is an effective tool for examining the truth about who we are. For her, this investigation is life’s purpose because it unearths our deepest conditioning that creates all psychological suffering. Through meditation, yoga poses and a community of like-minded friends, yoga becomes an instrument of discovery that allows us to live in cause-less happiness. Her classes are relatable and easy-going, and offer an approachable format for self-discovery. This is balanced with alignment-based physical work that emphasizes challenge, observation and ease. Students often leave class feeling relaxed, accomplished and ready for whatever life has in store next.
She pursued her 200hr teacher training through Pilgrimage of the Heart Yoga in 2010, and promptly moved to Chicago where she worked full-time as a contracting yoga teacher before opening her own studio with her partner, Oliver. Together they formed a traveling live music and yoga duo, closed the studio and moved back to sunny California to pursue other lifelong dreams, like learning how to paraglide, studying with their teacher, Francis Lucille, and owning a small acreage for land projects and sustainable living.
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Brittany was born and raised in rural San Diego where she developed a love for the outdoors. As a child she was always outside and moving, and grew up dancing, playing softball, and doing theatre. After taking her first yoga class in the first grade, she developed a curiosity for yoga and eventually established a regular practice in her twenties. In 2013, while simultaneously obtaining her BA in English from SDSU, she completed Pilgrimage of the Heart Yoga’s 200-hour certification program and has been sharing her passion for yoga ever since. She loves to help her students feel strong and capable in their bodies, while emphasizing the importance of safe movement and breath work. A self-professed cat lady, Brittany loves to hike, dance, drink coffee, and love on her cat, Cheese.
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Britta Rael, RYT 200
Britta’s diverse offerings in yoga have evolved from her explorations of yoga, slacklining and partner acrobatics. Introduced to yoga through the Isha Foundation in 2008, she studied Kriya, Hatha and several spiritual practices in southern India before completing her yoga teacher certification in 2011 with Bhava Ram at the Deep Yoga School of Healing Arts in San Diego. Britta’s rejuvenating teaching style allows students to align their energy and connect with their inner guides through playful sequencing, linking movement with the awareness of breath.
She is a certified AcroYoga and YogaSlacker teacher, distilling the art of “redefining balance” through slacklining and adventure sports and has spent the last four years practicing and teaching partner acrobatics with renowned teachers Jason Nemer, Jason and Chelsey Magness and Mara Harris. Along with these dynamic practices, Britta also loves to impart therapeutic Thai massage and restorative yoga. The deep healing available through the loving kindness of touch and supported inversions is an experience not to be missed. Whether practicing on her mat, surfing on the water, hiking in the mountains or flying on someone’s feet, Britta loves to play and strives to spend as much time as possible outside in Nature.
Britta’s Class Style: In Britta’s class you’ll find a dynamic, consistence sequence designed to build strength and stamina as you advance your practice. Learn safe inversions, backbend variations, and find freedom and confidence in balancing postures.
I discovered yoga in the mid to late 90’s to help ease the daily stresses associated with running a small business, managing chronic back pain and learning how to be a new mom. I soon discovered that no matter how difficult or challenging my life seemed off the mat, yoga had become my steadfast foundation. For that one hour in class, no matter what else was going on in my world, this was my time to focus completely on my own wellbeing. Yoga had become my sanctuary and a place to rediscover the bliss and sweetness of my own being. Out of gratitude for my personal practice, I felt inspired to become a yoga teacher, so that I could share the profound blessing of yoga with others. In 2002 I took the Svaroopa Foundations Training with Swami Nirmalananda (then, Rama Berch) at Master Yoga Academy. Shortly thereafter, I began teaching Svaroopa Foundation Poses and Magic 4 Poses to others. The positive feedback I received was significant and inspired me to complete my teacher training in Himalayan Hatha through Yoga Well in San Diego. In 2008, I was offered a yoga teaching position at the Toby Wells YMCA in San Diego, and have continued teaching there ever since. My teaching style is gentle, meditative and restorative Today, my students are my inspiration. It gives me such great pleasure to witness their dedication and personal progress. Many of my students have overcome unimaginable physical challenges and personal life traumas, yet they keep coming back to class. Their personal testimonies and heartwarming stories have touched my heart in ways I cannot even describe. I feel incredibly blessed and honored to be in their presence.
My teaching Style: I have an intuitive style of teaching and possess unique ability to create a very inclusive class experience by offering clear and precise instruction and modifications for poses to accommodate different ability levels.
Classes I love to teach: Gentle Yoga, Restorative Yoga, Adaptive Yoga, Chair Yoga and Laughter Yoga
Hobbies: Hiking, Biking, Camping, Body Surfing, Teaching Yoga Workshops—anything outdoors!
Throughout the last six years Courtney Yezzi has been teaching in San Diego and has been blessed to work with and under many great teachers, coaches and guides. During class she pulls from her time spent with her teachers, her experience and love for the animal kingdom and her passion to bring us back to our freedom home inside our hearts. She believes that through healthy alignment, blockages are released so creative energy and universal memory manifest in and around us. Courtney believes that each human has the innate ability to relearn their ancient form and flow of which connects us to our planet and to each other.
Over the past four years she has found a great balance between Olympic weightlifting, crossfit and yoga. In her spare time you can find her at the gym, in the sun and singing!
One of her greatest joys in this lifetime is being lead assistant to Nikole Fortier in the 200hour teacher training program here at Pilgrimage. This process of teaching others has changed her forever and brought an overwhelming amount of honor and humility into her offerings. This is a practice of courage and nobility in which we have the opportunity to LIVE and SHARE our EXPERIENCE.
Courtney’s Class Style: Courtney offers a dynamic hatha practice with emphasis on alignment and expansion. Her practice is a mix of her years studying iyengar, anusara and self exploration in the flow.
Danielle Brand LeMond, RYT 500
Danielle is a yoga practitioner and yoga instructor (Yoga Alliance registered E-RYT 200), a writer, and a mother. She strives to align her actions with her deepest held values—an aspiration that has led her family across the country from Washington, D.C., where she taught yoga professionally for many years, to a remote Colorado homestead, and finally to San Diego. As a teacher, she delights in sharing the benefits that she has found in her personal yoga practice, and in helping her students feel at ease in their own bodies, in each moment, just as they are. As a writer, Danielle seeks to illuminate something real about the nature of consciousness and the human condition with stories from her own life and experience. Becoming a mother has opened her heart wide and she sees it as a privilege and challenge – as well as her primary dharma, or life’s work at this moment – to help guide two souls to be who they are truly meant to be.
Danielle’s Class Style: Prenatal Yoga — In this class, all postures and practices offered are meant for your prenatal body! You will stretch and strengthen to remain fit during pregnancy, alleviate some of the normal aches of pregnancy and help your body prepare for labor. By deepening your breath, cultivating presence of mind and relaxing totally, you can relieve stress and find emotional and mental ease.
Yoga I — This class blends movement with longer holds and an attention to deepening the breath in order to soothe your nervous system and find balance toward the end of the work week. A theme is usually offered in order to help bring your yoga “off the mat” and into life.
Flowing Yoga I — In this class, expect to move your body in a “slow flow” style that combines sun salutations with some posture holds in order to focus on alignment and strength as well as flexibility and a meditative state of mind. You will work to release tension while focusing awareness on the coordination of breath and asana, or postures. This class is challenging (you will break a sweat) yet accessible.
I was introduced to meditation as a small child and developed a lifelong passion for all things holistic. Yoga became an outlet to express myself physically and over time, I realized the connection between the body and mind. Yoga grew into a way to calm my spirit and focus my mind. I earned my 200 hour yoga training in 2011 and have been happily teaching ever since. Different styles of yoga appeal to me, particularly Vinyasa-Flow. My intention is to share my perspective on yoga through teaching and help others while they explore their own personal growth.
Emily started taking yoga classes after struggling with chronic pain for many years. Slowly she found her body to be a safe place and enjoyed taking care of herself even when she had flare-ups. She came for the pain and stayed for the intuition, vitality, range of motion, philosophy and meditation. Emily’s teaching style is integrative. She teaches from an embodies perspective so that she is right there is the student, in addition to adjustments. She loves that yoga has to meet the practitioner, not the other way around. Emily likes to teach an inclusive class that students can expect, while playing around with aspects of the sequencing and flow. This way the body and mind can relax during practice.
Heather’s classes draw knowledge of physical alignment and effective, feel-good adjustments from Thai massage, Ayurveda, traditional yoga teacher training, and Acupuncture, Chinese Herbal Medicine, and Massage. Heather presents her students with yoga-philosophy-nuggets they can use to cultivate a deeper practice and greater well-being. She balances the inspiring with the practical, the uplifting with the grounding, so that students may carry lightness and mindfulness with them as they leave their mats.
A “recovering gypsy,” Heather also leads retreats: www.recoveringgypsy.com.
Heather Stants is a lifelong dancer and mover. Since 1999 she has taught dance in San Diego and has toured the world extensively performing and teaching intensives, workshops, and retreats. Dealing with injury and the wear and tear on her dancer’s body lead her to pilates and yoga as means of cross training and healing. Beyond the physical benefits, yoga has brought Heather a sense of calm and a greater connection between body and mind. She felt compelled to share her joy and excitement for yoga with others and is now an ERYT 200 with Yoga Alliance with training from Dana Rae Pare of Infinite Yoga. Heather’s teaching style draws upon her dance performance, choreography, and teaching experience. She creates fluid energizing sequences with a strong focus on breath, core, and alignment that offer the right balance between challenge and rejuvenation. Currently Heather continues to tour for dance, teaches weekly Vinyasa classes, and works with private clients. Her favorite style of class to teach is a good sweaty, flowy vinyasa class, but, she also enjoys a nice restorative practice, especially in airports.
Jackie Stenzel, RYT 200
Through the powerful tools of deep breathing, music, and moving meditation, my classes are a creative fusion of elements to awaken your soul and ignite your spirit. I truly love witnessing others experience these beautiful transformations that occur on the journey of Yoga that we share, and it is my intention to help guide you, the student, on your path of healing, growth, and self-discovery in whatever way best serves You. Namaste.
Jackie’s Class Style: In gentle yoga classes, Jackie likes to blend a mixture of restorative poses and gentle stretches. The practice is slow and meditative, and she encourages students to listen to their bodies and allow the poses to unfold in their own unique way. One can expect to leave class feeling rejuvenated and refreshed.
Jamie Martin, RYT 200
Jamie began her love affair with yoga in the heart of South Carolina. Her first teacher, Stacey Millner-Collins, transformed her approach to physical disciplines and taught her what it meant to live in the moment, breath by breath. After living with chronic leukemia for ten years, Jamie decided to change the course of her life and infuse it with more joy. She moved to San Diego in the summer of 2013 and immediately enrolled in a teacher training program.
After two and a half years of teaching, Jamie’s insatiable thirst for knowledge and growth inspired her to take an advanced vinyasa teacher training with Jason Crandell in San Francisco. In those immersive trainings, she learned first-hand how yoga throws you directly into the mess of yourself and simultaneously pulls you out of it. It brought her face to face with her obstacles, mental and physical patterns, and crises of faith in a mindful, compassionate way. Through sadhana (daily practice) and svadhyaya (self-study), Jamie fully embraces the paradox of practicing yoga to change certain aspects of herself, yet fully and emphatically embracing all parts of herself. www.dancingganeshyoga.com
Jamie’s Class Style: Jamie enjoys teaching a challenging yet fun and accessible class for all levels of yogis. She offers various levels of postures so everyone leaves feeling empowered and uplifted.
I completed my YTT in March 2013 with Nishpatti Yoga. Nishpatti means culmination, referring to the practice, study, and lifestyle of yoga being all-inclusive – asanas, nutrition, meditation, knowledge of sutras, etc. My teaching style is gentle and slow paced while catering to various levels of practitioners. Most students have commented that they enjoy the knowledge I provide during each session allowing them to understand the practical benefits of postures and meditative techniques. My hobbies include nature walks, writing music lyrics, reading sci-fi fantasy and mystic cultured books, sun soaking at the beach and spending time with loved ones at cafes, while traveling, or lounging at home.
Karen O’Lone, RYT 200
From an early age Karen has been mystified by the movement, mysteries, and possibilities of the human body. When she was introduced to yoga in her twenties, she found a certain solace and calling that she never experienced in the world of competitive and recreational athletics. She knew that she needed to keep digging, to follow the beckoning call, and to embrace the learning that yoga so readily invites to all who are willing to surrender to their own yogic path. Karen never stops being amazed at the light that yoga in all its forms brings to an individual and a community. She absolutely believes that people should not have to endure suffering whether physical, emotional, or mental.
Through her work as a yoga teacher, personal trainer, and group exercise leader she hopes to encourage better movement to foster a deeper sense of knowledge of the self- to connect the inner work with the outer work. She studied under Nikole Fortier at Pilgrimage of the Heart Yoga Studio for her RYT 200, and under Shelby Lafrinere for her continuing foray into Yin Yoga.
When she is not teaching, working, or on her mat, Karen can be found playing in the kitchen, sinking into a good book, and spending time with both human and nonhuman friends. It’s very difficult for her to ever turn down a delicious piece of raw vegan chocolate (the darker the better).
Karen’s Class Style: In Yin Yoga, Karen emphasizes the use of extended time in a pose to guide the yogi to not only loosen adhesions in connective tissue, but also the adhesions of the mind. She strives to create a practice where people will feel more balanced, calm, and inspired to know that they are their own healer.
Kari Ross-Berry, M.A., is educated in practical, philosophical, and historical Yoga and its various lineages both East and West, having obtained her Masters of Yoga Arts through Loyola Marymount University. She is registered with Yoga Alliance as a continuing education provider for the yoga community at large (YACEP).
Her mission and experience are in teaching Yoga philosophy, asana, pranayama, and guided meditation to help students understand their unique mind-body complex in order to overcome obstacles. Compassionately helping others to expand their mental and physical well being includes stress reduction and mind-body acuity. Designing and delivering courses, classes, and workshops from an Ayurvedic point of view, and actively striving to meet students where they are at, whether in a group or private setting. In this manner, enabling others to think and act creatively from an authentic sense of self through the practice of Yoga.
Kari’s interests and research include the conjunction between Yoga and art.
Kayma Englund, E-RYT 500
Kayma has fostered deep interest in the teachings of yoga and subtle energy from a young age. With signs too clear to ignore that this was her calling she has devoted over 1,000 hours of organized training around the globe to study these ancient teachings to help make sense of this multidimensional human experience. This ongoing, fascinating journey has brought Kayma to Southern California where she is passionate about holding an intelligent, supportive space for individuals to connect with themselves and the beauty that lies in each moment. When not teaching Yoga she can be found playing in her garden, working with crystals, riding bikes and making art. She welcomes you to class with an open mind and open heart!
From her roots to the present Kayma has completed 200-hr Yoga Alliance certified training with the Arhanta Yoga Vedanta Ashram in Northern India, 300-hr YA and International Association of Yoga Therapists certified training in Costa Rica, Intensive Thai Massage Training at The White Lotus Foundation in Santa Barbara, and 1, 11 and Master Level Reiki trainings with A Flight Above Venus in New York City.
Laura Dasi began practicing yoga in 1999 after having spent more than 20 years as a classical ballet and modern dancer. She was drawn to the flowing style of Vinyasa yoga not only for its physical benefits but also for the mental, emotional and spiritual freedom she felt after each class. With her vast knowledge of body mechanics and alignment principals from her years of dance training, Laura felt inspired to become a yoga instructor. In 2002 she completed her teacher training and began incorporating her love of both dance and yoga into her teaching style. Her most influential teachers are Shiva Rea and Micheline Berry. Laura strives to make each of her classes a rhythmic, moving meditation allowing her students to develop flexibility, strength and grace as well as allowing them to find greater self-awareness and acceptance. Laura believes that yoga affects all aspects of one’s life and that with continued practice you will be able to relieve physical tension, mental anxiety, emotional burdens and energetic blockages leading to true happiness within yourself.
Laura’s Class Style: After a series of warm-up movements to awaken the body and lubricate the joints, Laura will lead you through a series of progressively challenging variations of Sun Salutations at a moderate pace. With an emphasis on following the rhythm of the breath and honoring the intelligence of your own body’s wisdom, Laura’s class will leave you feeling invigorated and strong, yet centered, open and relaxed.
Lauren first discovered yoga in her first year of college, and immediately found a deep sense of purpose. In 2015, she traveled to Costa Rica to get her 200hr. Yoga Teacher Certification, earned her Bachelor’s degree in Marketing from SDSU, and became a certified Wilderness First Responder. Lauren is a firm believer in taking a holistic approach that includes nutrition, exercise, and spirituality to achieve well-being. When Lauren isn’t practicing, she enjoys bouldering, coloring, making jokes, and exploring the great outdoors.
Lauren McLaren, E-RYT 200
Yoga found me in 1998, and it is certainly responsible for transforming my life from an unexamined existence into a deeply felt experience. The physical practice has its own rewards, and I found relief from chronic back pain on my mat. What amazed me, and continues to amaze me is the subtlety of yoga’s power. Out of this simple desire to be free of pain grew an awareness of the immeasurable value of each moment of our lives. This new mindfulness gave me a sense of deep connection that has carried me through some grave times with hope and humor. Yoga offers many lessons, but one of the most resonant to me is that to let go of suffering, you must first accept things as they are, and then accept that they will change.
Originally from Canada, I hold a B. Ed in secondary education and taught for several years before moving to the Caribbean and then later to Savannah, Georgia. I began my yoga training in the Caribbean and studied with teachers there, in Canada and in the US. A teacher at heart, I returned to my calling and began teaching yoga in 2009 after completing my first teacher training with the Aura Wellness Center in Rhode Island. Always seeking to expand my knowledge and training, I completed a second 200 hour program with Deva Parnell at the Discovery Yoga Center in St. Augustine, Florida. Kripalu inspired, my teaching style is grounded in honoring the body and its innate wisdom. I bring dedication, compassion and a sense of lightheartedness to all my classes, but what drives and inspires me most is a profound belief in the transformative power of the practice both on and off the mat.
Lauren’s Class Style: Lauren’s teaching style is built on a foundation of honest awareness and acceptance of our bodies in the present moment. Her strong emphasis on action and alignment in the physical body is balanced by story-telling and philosophical exploration. She encourages her students to experience, to laugh and to grow in all of her classes.
Lauren Robinson, E-RYT 200
Lauren Robinson, RYT-200, Reiki, and Myofascial Release Practitioner is dedicated to healing the mind, body and soul through creative movement.
“I was introduced to yoga during a very challenging time and needed deep healing. I fell in love with Prana Vinyasa® because it was unlike any yoga class I had ever attended. Breath is sequenced with movement, creating a truly transformational mind AND body experience. Yoga radically shifted my mental and physical health. My heart knows I’m meant to share this powerful practice.”
Lauren is currently studying under global teacher, Shiva Rea, and has expanded her skills to include pre-natal and Yoga Trance Dance®.
Leela Moghadas has been a student of Yoga since 1978. She has practiced Yoga for the past 30 years. Yoga, meditation and Ayurvedic practices have been a vital part of her life’s journey. Leela has had the opportunity to study with many highly regarded Yoga teachers and has come to know the many healing and transformational benefits Yoga offers and is inspired to share this five thousand year old science with others.
Leela is a compassionate and nurturing teacher; her classes are dynamic and fun, with attention to breath. She creates a balanced sequence of postures, easily modified to fit all levels of practitioners. Her classes are designed to relieve tension, create strength, flexibility, and encourage an overall state of health. Leela helps her students find a Yoga practice that can be both challenging and accessible for their strengths, goals, and needs. She helps students to see the joy and fun in the practice of Yoga.
Leela’s Class Style: Leela teaches traditional yoga postures (grounding, warm up, standing, seated, inversions (in that order)) which reflect her background in Ashtanga, Iyengar and Anusara yoga. She teaches her classes with the main focus on the breath.
Lena Schmidt, E-RYT 200 & P-RYT
With a background in gymnastics and dance, Lena finds the physicality of yoga to be a delightful and challenging way to move the body without competition. The spiritual aspects of yoga have aided Lena in the never-ending search for peace, calm, and positivity within and she is passionate about sharing these tools with others. Lena is intentional about taking yoga off the mat and loves finding the bridges between the heart and mind, the individual and community, and mindfulness and expression. To complement the creative practice of yoga, Lena holds degrees in ethnic studies and women’s studies and is dedicated to making the joyfulness of yoga accessible to all people.
Lena’s Class Style: Lena offers a hatha/vinyasa class that includes strong asana, pranayama, breath-to-movement flowing transitions, alignment cues, a philosophical theme woven throughout, and ideas for taking your yoga off the mat
Linda Martone was drawn to the practice of yoga in 1997 with the hope of increasing her flexibility as she prepared for an upcoming Black Belt test in Karate. It wasn’t long before she realized that this ancient practice of yoga could affect her on a much deeper level. She says, “Yes, yoga has helped me to become more flexible, but over the years it has taught me something much more valuable. It has helped me to connect with an inner source of peace, something which I believe is accessible for everyone.”
As a Certified Kripalu Yoga Instructor since 2000 and a Licensed Massage Therapist since 2001, Linda brings a solid knowledge of anatomy and physiology to her teaching. Her classes reflect the variety of styles of yoga that she has studied. They are a fusion of the gentleness and compassion of Kripalu yoga, the flowing quality of Vinyasa yoga, and the precision and detail of alignment of the Iyengar and Anusara traditions. Linda’s intention is to have her students emerge from her classes with a feeling of freedom and ease in their bodies and a deep sense of inner peace.
Linda’s Class Style: Linda’s teaching style is grounded in awareness of the body and the practice of honoring the students’ experience. Her style promotes an atmosphere of security and encourage students to explore of self-care.
Lorena Parsons, RYT 200
Lorena fell into yoga in 2008, taking a class for fun at a local junior college in Northern California as a newly wed. Yoga combined movement, which Lorena loves, and meditation. Lorena lived abroad in Germany for 2.5 years enjoying the culture, food and slower pace of life. She returned to the good ole USA in 2012 and began working full time. Although she enjoyed her job, she needed an outlet for that could combine exercise while reducing stress.
It would be a gym Yoga class at that would lead her back to her mat. What started off as a once a week flirtation, quickly developed into two, three and four times a week love affair. The asana kept Lorena coming back for more, but it was the fascination with diving deeper into herself and trying to understand Yoga that helped her decide to take her first Teacher Training.
Lorena enrolled in the Yoga One Teacher Training program at Yoga One Studio and received a 200-hour Yoga Teacher certificate in March 2014. Since then Lorena has continued to deepen her knowledge of Yoga, through additional teacher trainings. She is a Certified Street Yoga Teacher via Yoga One and Certified Yin Yoga Teacher through Pilgrimage of the Heart October 2014. And recently trained in Chair Yoga through Little Flower Yoga Studio of New York.
In her free time, Lorena enjoys spending time with her family and friends, and loves to hang out at the beach. She is also volunteers through the St Vincent de Paul’s Health and Wellness Program teaching Yoga to residences once a week and is a Freelance Make Up Artist. She hopes to one day be able to bring her two passions of teaching yoga and beauty together.
Lorena’s Class Style: Lorena is committed to making yoga accessible to people of all body types, helping them to manage stress and increase in strength and flexibility. Her goal is to create a space where students may dive deep inside their practice and trust in their own inner teacher, so that every class is a positive experience for her students.
Marney has been practicing yoga since 1996. She became a Certified Yoga Teacher through the Sivananda Yoga Teachers’ Training Course at the ashram in Grass Valley, California. Marney seeks to enrich the lives of students through a gentle and informative teaching style, incorporating postures or asanas, breathing exercises (pranayama), relaxation (savasana), positive thinking and meditation. Her goal as a teacher is to help students to discover and embrace their true nature, happiness and inner peace.
Marney’s Class Style: Marney’s Yoga 1 class provides an easy-to-understand overview of the basics of hatha yoga, including postures (asanas), breath work (pranayama), and positive thinking/meditation. Her classes are relaxing and refreshing, with an emphasis on the connection between mind and body, breath and movement.
Meghan attended her first yoga class 12 years ago with her mom. That first day on the mat, she discovered many things, such as her mothers likeness to a human pretzel. More importantly, she learned that the practice of quieting the mind to converse with the body is not attained in a single class; it requires dedicated mindfulness and heaps of compassion. This is an ongoing process she happily cultivates on and off her yoga mat. Meghan appreciates the immeasurable ways the practice of yoga translates to the practice of everyday life, and is motivated by love to share this with others.
Meghan strives to create a safe, peaceful, and joyful environment for her students. She encourages ”practicing in the bodies we have on this particular day, as our wonderful spirit vehicles are always evolving and changing.”
Meghan is an ERYT-200 with over 1,000 teaching hours. She enjoys roadtrips with her partner, board games with her family, and snuggling up to her two cats.
Meghan’s Class Style: You will be supported when you choose to take rest, and are encouraged when you choose to push past your barriers. Together, we will layer effort over ease, ease over effort. These classes are heavily seasoned with yoga puns and lots of laughter!
Nicole Pisciotto, E-RYT 200
Nicole encourages self-love & healing through her teaching which allows students to discover their joy, contentment & inner peace. Discovering Yoga in 1995 and embracing its unique qualities of balance & tranquility ultimately led her to share this ancient practice with others.
Nicole completed Mastery of Life Training with Deep Yoga School of Healing Arts in 2007 which she feels was the perfect complement not only to her yoga practice but to her overall life & well-being. This allowed her to focus on an Inner Peace deep healing practice which has led her to have a very open-minded approach instructing others. In her Hatha based classes, students will be guided to unify & balance the energies that naturally reside within as well as integrate Universal Teachings of Love, Light & Unity to enhance the journey of life.
Embracing the evolution of her path over the past couple years Nicole has enjoyed studying Reiki, Meditation, Yoga Nidra & Feng Shui, as well as continuing to facilitate workshops. The next pursuit will be to take her love of travel & sharing yoga out into the world, offering workshops in beautiful destinations.
Her goal as a teacher is to help students to discover and embrace their true nature, happiness and inner peace while immersing themselves in a perpetual state of love & overall peace of mind.
Nicole also owns Shanti Spa & Gallery, a peaceful retreat of beauty & wellness, located in Normal Heights.
Nicole’s Class Style: Nicole teaches an Inner Peace practice enhancing balance to promote healing & comfort in your life. Focusing on chakra alignment & connection to energies of body mind and soul this meditative deep healing practice will leave you feeling refreshingly tuned in to your heart energy, intuition and overall sensation of bliss.
Nikole Fortier, E-RYT 200
Nikole is amused by the poetic irony of pop culture introducing her to yoga: “I went in looking for ‘yoga butt’ and walked out profoundly changed–physically, mentally, psychically.” Nine years later, she’s dedicated to creating space in her classes for students to experience something similar.
Nikole has a 200 hour certification from UCSD training with Arturo Galvez in the Iyengar & Astanga traditions, and recently completed a 100 hour interdisciplinary flow certification from Yoga One with Amy Caldwell & Diana Beardsley. She’s been blessed to have studied with many amazing teachers, and often credits her students for teaching her most. In her classes, she likes to incorporate chanting, pranayama, Sanskrit, philosophy, still and moving meditation through asanas with emphasis on the breath so that students can experience the spectrum of transformational yoga expressions. Foremost, she encourages students to practice loving kindness, truth, peace and acceptance on the mat as these qualities invariably translate into life.
Nikole’s Class Style: Nikole’s classes are based on the profound and deep teachings of Yogacharya BKS Iyengar. Emphasis is placed on precise physical alignment of the outermost body toward the innermost Self, using props as tools to allow deep expression of each pose. Nikole incorporates the teaching inversions and all 8 limbs of Yoga within each class.
Papaha Gosline has studied meditation with Sri Chinmoy since 1982 and has been teaching meditation classes free of charge for over 25 years. He helped build Jyoti-Bihanga vegetarian restaurant and was one of their chefs for over a decade. Papaha now owns a gallery and art studio across the street from the yoga studio in Normal Heights that focuses on showing spiritual contemporary art and producing commercial design.
Inspired by the example of Sri Chinmoy he also lives a very athletic lifestyle teaching tennis part time, along with enjoying many other sports activities in sunny San Diego. “Learning about spirituality with Sri Chinmoy has revealed paths with heart, creativity and fulfillment. Meditating and working with the Sri Chinmoy Centre has been the most powerful and enlightening experience of my life.”
Papaha’s Class Style: Papaha approaches teaching meditation in both a practical way, presenting different exercises that can be used throughout the day, and from a deeper spiritual perspective from his time studying with Sri Chinmoy. He enjoys starting the classes with a brief discussion of inspiring philosophy and as a visual artists is inspired to use visualization exercises to invoke the light and poise of the spiritual heart.
Rachel Ishiguro, RYT 200
I have been practicing yoga since the late 1990s, studying with a range of teachers and styles.Certified through Pilgrimage of the Heart Yoga and registered with Yoga Alliance, I teach Vinyasa, Hatha and Restorative Yoga with a focus on physical alignment and connecting to the breath. I weave philosophy and readings into my classes as a way to unite the physical practice of asana with our lives off the mat. I believe that yoga is first and foremost a transformational practice. It helps us open to change in our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual selves. Yoga has taught me to find calm and ease while continuing to challenge my perceived physical and mental boundaries. I feel deeply privileged to be able to pass on these amazing teachings to my students.
Rachel’s Class Style: Rachel’s Gentle Yoga classes are relaxing and meditative, with an emphasis on gentle movement, breath awareness, and listening to your own body for a healing and deeply personal practice.
For Rachel, Yoga is a discipline of self-discovery. In every class, Rachel aims to leave students filled with the joy and peace that she experiences through her own yoga practice. She offers a blend of challenging, empowering and creative postures that reflect her knowledge and deep understanding of the body & the human experience. By encouraging introspection and self-inquiry, she hopes to help people connect to their own True Self.
Rachel is a native San Diegan who began her yoga practice in Boulder, Colorado while attending CU in 2004. She has her 200-hour yoga teaching certification through the Pilgrimage of the Heart. With a degree in Fine Art, Rachel sees yoga as a form of creative expression and an exploration of the Self. Just as a painter uses paints and brushes to create beautiful works of art, yoga uses the body and breath as tools to bring Beauty, Light, and Joy into the world.
“I am grateful for the opportunity to facilitate for others the positive and transformative qualities I have experienced with yoga.”
Rachel’s Class Style: Rachel tres to focus on the fundamentals of alignment, while allowing space for students to find fluidity and freedom in their individual expression. Gentle and Yoga 1 set the groundwork for safe advancement into more difficult poses, while the flow classes she teaches offer more of an opportunity to express postures with graceful transitions.
Rebecca Elise Norton is an expressive alignment-based vinyasa flow teacher, holistic health counselor, sacred activist, and contemplative artist. Along with physical practice, she weaves into her classes both Buddhist and Yoga philosophy along with uplifting personal experiences. Rebecca teaches nationally and internationally and has recently returned to the states after teaching throughout South East Asia. She now lives and resides at a local Zen Center in San Diego. She encourages her students to find their personal flow and power on the mat which often ripples out into the rest of their lives. Rebecca’s passionate and playful nature makes her classes and one-on-one sessions filled with high energy healing, compassion, and unconditional encouragement for all walks of life. Rebecca’s classes will be sure to inspire your heart and empower your capacity to strengthen, lengthen, and breathe into the beauty each moment has to offer. (www.lifenotlifestyle.com)
Sara discovered yoga in 1997 and immediately felt a draw to the physical practice and philosophical teachings. She completed her 200 hour Registered Yoga Teacher training in January of 2007 in Cleveland, OH with revered teacher Marni Task. Sara enjoys teaching a variety of levels of vinyasa, incorporating dynamic asana, pranayama, meditation, philosophy and uplifting music.
Sara served in the Peace Corps from 2010-2012 in Fiji, teaching yoga and meditation to native villagers in some of the most remote parts of the world. Sara also has a decade of Latin dancing experience as well as Afro-Cuban and West African styles of dance & loves to incorporate world rhythms into her classes. Sara loves the feeling of inspiration, strength, confidence, tranquility and sense of community that yoga fosters. Sara is also a Superfood Chef and Wellness Concierge, leading workshops, retreats and boutique wellness events across southern California, Mexico and around the globe. To learn more about Sara and her upcoming events, please visit her website at www.spicygypsy.com and join her on Instagram @spicygypsy.
Sarah first started yoga as a way to stretch and soothe sore muscles from playing soccer in high school. Yoga served as exercise and stress relief. Now her yoga practice has grown to be a soul satisfying daily practice of movement and spirituality to keep her grounded and centered. Sarah would describe her teaching style as eclectic. She likes to incorporate many different styles of yoga, along with philosophy, pranayama and lots of fun! Sarah’s hobbies include hiking, camping, backpacking and anything that gets her outside.
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Sarah Clark, E-RYT 200
Sarah Clark recently relocated to San Diego from New York City, where she taught Yoga at OM Yoga Center, New York University, Dance New Amsterdam, and privately. In addition to her 200-hour training from OM Yoga Center with Cyndi Lee, Christina Clark, and Joe Miller, Sarah is also certiﬁed as a Relax & Renew Restorative® Yoga teacher via Judith Lasater. Happily an endless student of the practice, Sarah has also pursued deeper training in Pranayama, Philosophy & Psychology of the Yoga Sutras, The Mayas (often called the Koshas), Prenatal Adjustments, and more. Sarahʼs teaching aims to balance precise alignment, a deep connection to the breath, and a mindful investigation of what qualities we are truly cultivating in our practice. Her presentation of Yoga is heavily inﬂuenced by her meditation practice, passion for Yoga philosophy and its practical applications, and history as a dancer (Sarah performed with a contemporary dance company in NYC for 6 years). See www.sarahclarkyoga.com for more details.
Sarah’s Class Style: Sarah’s asana classes are alignment-based and breath-centric. They employ intelligent sequencing aimed toward embodying mindfulness by balancing clarity with sensitivity.
Sydney grew up very active, playing various sports and dancing ballet and jazz. She graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2007 with a double minor in Group Fitness Instruction and Personal Training. She trained and taught group fitness classes in the Bay Area until a back injury cut her time at the gym short. Diagnosed with Degenerative Disc Disease and Facet Joint Arthritis, she moved back to her hometown of San Diego to heal. She took up yoga, learning Bikram, Hatha, Vinyasa, Iyengar and Ashtanga. She has taken classes from some of the top instructors from San Diego to New York and is delighted to have the opportunity to teach the community all that insight yoga has brought to her own life.
Sydney’s Class Style: Sydney is trained in the Ashtanga and Iyengar methods and utilizes both in her instruction with Vinyasa style flow. All levels are welcome. Expect detailed instruction on proper form and alignment as you move breath to movement. Also learn how to engage bandhas effectively and explore more challenging postures of yoga.
Thai has been practicing meditation since the mid-90s. He took his first yoga class while he was in physical rehab about 8 years ago and fell in love with the practice. He became a Certified Yoga Instructor in the fall of 2013. He graduated from the University of Southern California with an undergraduate degree in marine biology and a doctorate in pharmacology.
However, his true passion is teaching meditation, yoga and surfing. Meditation has taught him love and compassion for everyone around him, but most importantly for himself. He strives to create a safe, peaceful, loving and joyful environment for his students.
He is filled with boundless bliss from being able to share and enjoy the practice of meditation and yoga on a daily basis. Aside from his outdoor activities, Thai enjoys painting landscapes and plays the African drums during his free-time.
Thai’s Class Style: Thai teaches his students how to cultivate understanding, love, compassion, peace and joy within and around themselves. He teaches from his heart, and enjoys showing his students how to apply the energy of mindfulness into their daily activities.
Tom Warner, the studio’s musical director, currently leads Pilgrimage of the Heart’s Kirtan ensemble (Chanting, Musical Meditation), guides free meditations and works on community development. Tom has been haunting Pilgrimage of the Heart almost since it’s inception, 6 or 7 years now. His exposure to yoga occurred in 1990 in Los Angeles. After over 20 years of practice he enrolled and completed yoga teacher training at Pilgrimage in the spring of 2011, going on to complete his Silver Age Yoga teacher training and certification, a practice of safe yoga for senior citizens.
Tom is a life-long musician of over 40 years, and says, “The Kirtan practice we have developed at Pilgrimage of the Heart has been one of the best experiences of my life, both musically and for my soul. We are in our 4th. year and are rapidly approaching 200 meditational sessions. We have had close to 75 musicians perform in this group over the years and what a fantastic experience it’s been to work with such talented individuals. Over 1500 people a year join us in this practice. Participation is the essence of Kirtan. Join us Thursday at 8:15pm.”
Tom looks forward to a deep participation in the yoga world for the rest of his life, and extends his gratitude to the entirety of the Pilgrimage family, Sujantra, staff, teachers, studio members and friends.
Tom’s Class Style: Tom leads our weekly Kirtan on Thursday evenings and invites you to join us in the ancient practice of breath and song. Stemming from the Bhakti tradition of yoga (devotion), Kirtan is a profound meditation using sacred phrases (Mantra) and simple melodies to clear the mind of its clutter and to focus on the Supreme.
Yesica firmly believes in the importance of exercising the body from the inside out. This is what drew her to yoga over 7 years ago. In 2011, Yesica completed her first Yoga Teacher Training at Namaste Yoga Center in San Diego. She is also a Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT) 200 hour with Yoga Alliance. Most recently, Yesica completed her 100 hour Prenatal, Postnatal and Baby Yoga teacher training at Nature’s Whisper School of Yoga, also in San Diego.
With a background in dance, Yesica is comfortable with the movement and focus on alignment associated with yoga but is drawn to the inner awareness and spirituality brought about in practice. Yesica loves to incorporate music, gentle touch and deep relaxation in her classes. She teaches Vinyasa and Hatha styles but has a special place in her heart for family yoga practice. When not teaching yogaclasses, Yesica loves caring for her boys Max and Manuel, playing guitar and cooking healthy meals for her family.
Yesica’s Class Style: Yesica teaches from the heart and focus on alignment. Depending on the style, students might feel challenged, sore or relaxed but they will always leave my class with their hearts full.