All of us came to yoga from different places. Some of us were looking for a way to increase our flexibility, strength, and endurance. Others were tired of pounding their muscles and joints into "submission" and were searching for a form of exercise that felt good and helped to prevent injuries. But once we tried it, most of us would agree that there's just something "special" about yoga... that calm, peaceful feeling that you get after relaxing in savasana for several minutes; the way it seems easier to take a deep breath because you remember to slow down the exhalation; how you are able to handle stressful situations with a bit more patience.
Heather Gallant Gagnon, ERYT ~ Being active and staying healthy have always been an integral part of Heather’s life. She grew up in Bel Air, was a competitive gymnast, and has continued to participate in exercise-related activities, including cycling and yoga throughout her adult life. The combination of mindful awareness and physical movement is what drew Heather to yoga in 2006. After teaching for several years and sensing a need for yoga in the community, Heather opened Peace Yoga in January 2011. She is an ERYT (Experienced Registered Yoga Teacher) with Yoga Alliance and holds both a Bachelors of Science degree and a Masters of Education. Heather has studied with yoga teachers Beth Shaw, Judith Hanson Lasater, Jason Crandal, and Sage Rountree.
Serafina Rayner ~ Serafina has a 200-hr yoga-teaching certificate from Yama studio specializing in Integrated Yoga Therapy, a bachelor of science degree in environmental science, and is a nationally certified massage therapist. She is the founder of Root & Sky, a company that specializes in wellness and the ancient healing system of Ayurveda, and she also hand crafts Liquid Ember products, a line of natural Ayurvedic body moisturizers. She takes a holistic approach to Yoga and incorporates what she has learned about anatomy and physiology and Ayurvedic and Yogic theories into how she develops yoga classes. She has studied with Manju Jois, Simon Park, Twee Merrigan, and Dr. Vasant Lad.
Mary K. Benney, RYT 200, RPYT ~ Always preferring an active lifestyle, Mary K. was initially drawn to yoga as just another alternative to breaking a sweat and getting in a great workout. What she didn’t expect to feel after that first class was a craving to explore and learn more about the ancient and beautiful bodywork that now provides the framework for a life she feels passionate and excited about living. Mary K. brings to the mat a laid-back and playful approach, wanting to make yoga fun and accessible for every type of body. She is a 200hr RYT graduate from YogaWell in San Diego as well as a registered prenatal yoga teacher. After relocating from California in 2011, she now teaches a variety of classes and workshops including hot vinyasa, prenatal, body after baby, mommy & me, and YoKid inspired kids yoga. Mary K. joined the Bliss crew of instructors in August 2013 and looks forward to sharing the peaceful experience of yoga out on the water with her students..
Linda O’Brien, RYT- 200 ~ Linda is a graduate of Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health and received her training under Brahmani Liebman and Jashoda Edmunds. She has also completed additional training in Trauma Sensitive Yoga Practices with David Emerson, E-RYT of the Trauma Center at Justice Resource Institute under the direction of Dr. Bessel van der Kolk. This mind-body approach provides techniques that have a positive impact on the physical and mental well being of those coping with anxiety, depression and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Linda also offers private instruction to help clients incorporate these techniques into a traditional class or design a personal yoga program that will address individual triggers and challenges. As a certified Dance Instructor for over 25 years, Linda uses yoga as a part of her training methods to help her students gain focus, strength, endurance, flexibility and self-confidence. On a personal level, Linda believes that yoga enriches her life physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually - on and off the mat - every day.
Sara J. Stees, RYT 200 ~ Sara began her yoga study in college, and fell in love with the peaceful stretching and relaxation benefits immediately. After finishing her Master’s degree in Exercise Science and Cardiac Rehabilitation, Sara began more intense studies of the health benefits of yoga. Her initial certification was in Cardiac Yoga®, where she studied under the guidance of Dr. M. Mala Cunningham, and the influence of Sri Swami Satchidananda, founder of Integral Yoga and the Yogaville Ashram, in VA. Here she learned to assist people with chronic medical conditions by teaching them yoga asanas, breathing techniques, and relaxation instruction. She then expanded her yoga training, by completing her 200 hour Therapeutic Yoga Training, at Yama Studio in Baltimore. She is a Registered Yoga Teacher with Yoga Alliance. Sara’s yoga classes are gentle and relaxing, focusing on the peace and balance yoga practice can offer.
Peat Purol, E-RYT 200HR ~ Peat views yoga as a way of doing rather than a thing you do. Yoga encompasses not just physical postures, breathing and meditation, but also our journey through life. The poses we hold on the mat mirror the poses we hold in our lives, careers, relationships, etc...The ability to control the breath mirrors our ability to focus the direction of where we place our energy in life. The stillness of mind and absorption we gain from meditation mirrors are ability to still our mind and become completely absorbed into the flow of life. Taking this understanding of Yoga into his classes, Peat uses the practices of Yoga to illustrate to the individual the union of their physical, mental, and spiritual bodies but also the union of the individual to life, in these same ways. Peat loves breaking down the basics, as well as working with clients suffering from chronic pain (fibromyalgia, back pain, arthritis, etc..). He holds two 200 hour teacher training certificates from Yama Studio in Baltimore and Yogaworks.
Kerry Martinez, RYT-200 ~ Kerry has practiced yoga over many years and she’s still fascinated how arriving daily on her mat helps her find balance in life. Originally from Atlanta, Kerry has taught yoga for the past 12 years and received her 200 hour certification from the Yama Studio in Baltimore. Kerry is also an Exercise Physiologist, has a B.S. in Health Promotion and a Master’s in Exercise Science. She has worked with many special populations including cardiac, cancer, arthritis, chronic pain, anxiety and depression. Kerry brings a sense of humor and laughter to the mat and also strives to create a nurturing, peaceful space where students can find stillness even if for a few moments. Focusing on the details and alignment in poses while tending to the needs of individuals in the class helps bring balance, strength and contentment in her student’s lives. She reminds them that each pose on the mat can mirror the very challenges we face in our own lives as well as the infinite possibilities life has to offer.
Adriane Miller, RYT 200 ~ Adriane has always been active in fitness and outdoor sports, including mountain climbing and scuba diving. She developed her interest in yoga as a teenager in Colorado, and intensified her yoga practice as a college student, while earning her bachelor of science degree in journalism. A skiing injury prevented her from pursuing her goal of becoming a yoga teacher—then. But nearly 40 years later, in 2013, she completed her 200-hour teacher training from YogaWorks, studying with Senior Trainer Jodie Rufty. Adriane’s teaching focuses on proper alignment for maximum safety, and helping students of any age and ability find the practice that is most fulfilling for them. Adriane believes yoga has helped her balance the demands of a career and family, maintain flexibility and strength, and accept life’s challenges with grace.
Nancy Clough, RYT 200 ~ Nancy took her first yoga class in 2008 and caught the bug to learn more. She enrolled in the YogaWorks Teacher Training Program and graduated in September 2013 earning her 200 hour certificate. Health and wellness have always been an interest of Nancy’s, as the body, mind and spirit connection just make sense to her. Feeling good and being fit and healthy are lifetime pursuits for Nancy, and she enjoys being a part of the community, too. In addition to yoga, Nancy is a volunteer at the Humane Society and a Reiki Master. “I don’t know what I would do without yoga. It’s that important to me!” .
Margarita Johnson, RYT 200 ~ Teaching and yoga are two of my biggest passions. I taught English as a Second Language in the Philippines and Special Education in Washington State. In 2009, I started practicing yoga and the beauty of the physical practice captivated me. My interest in this ancient discipline gradually deepened over the years. Each time I step on my mat is a quest to find myself, to learn something new, and to be in the moment. Yoga allows me to have faith in myself and continuously reminds me to stay grounded. My first mentor, Jenn Coats, inspired me to become a yoga teacher. I completed my 200-hour yoga teacher training through YogaWorks in October 2013 with Jenny Aurthur in New York City. It is a great honor to have the opportunity to blend two of the things that I love to do. I want to share yoga to everyone and make it accessible for each individual. My flow-based classes are methodical and thoughtfully sequenced to gradually build heat and open the body for deeper poses. The asanas (postures) and vinyasas (movements) build strength and improve flexibility. You will leave class feeling lighter, stronger, and more relaxed. Student safety is paramount and I place emphasis on proper alignment and mindful transitioning. Yoga is a lifelong practice that we carry with us on and off the mat, so let’s be open to possibilities and have fun while we’re at it!
Meghan Charles, RYT 200 ~ Meghan has been practicing yoga for over a decade and began her training with Yogafit in 2010. She currently resides in Forest Hill, is the mother of a 2 year old daughter, is studying to become a licensed massage therapist and works part-time as a counselor at a rehab facility.
In the Vinyasa tradition, her classes focus on developing proper alignment and listening to the body's innate wisdom and energy to guide students into an invigorating and transformative practice. No matter where someone is on their path, Meghan is encouraging of each individual to find what feels good while challenging beliefs about what is possible. Be prepared to sweat and awaken to a stronger body and a more peaceful mind and spirit. Yoga experience recommended but beginners are welcome.
Sherry Cooke, RYT 200 ~ Sherry has been practicing yoga for 8 years, but came to a deeper appreciation of yoga post knee injury and subsequent surgery 3 years ago. The practice of yoga allowed her return to full function and athletic ability while deepening her spiritual and emotional well being. Sherry has always practiced an active and healthy lifestyle; skier, tri-athlete. As a registered nurse, Sherry has always been aware of the mind, body, spirit relationship. Sherry found that incorporating yoga into her life has brought her balance and the ability to heal physically and cope on a daily basis with life’s stressors.
Sherry’s love of yoga lead her to the path of teaching and this fall completed 200 hour yoga teacher training with Yoga Works. Sherry’s practice focuses on proper alignment and making yoga accessible for anyone. Sherry has also completed a 30 hour Restorative Yoga Therapeutic Teacher Training . She studied under Jodie Rufty and Jillian Pransky. Sherry holds a Bachelor in Science in Nursing from Russell Sage College and is a Navy Nurse Corps Veteran.
JoAnne Gunther, RYT 200 ~ JoAnne holds a 200-hour certification from YogaWorks Teacher Training, as well as a 30-hour certification in Restorative Yoga from YogaWorks Restorative Yoga Therapeutic Training. JoAnne works as a Nursing Education Specialist with a background as an Operating Room Nurse. Off the mat, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends, reading, hiking, gardening and researching her family tree.
JoAnne values the balance of body, mind, and spirit that yoga generates in her day-to-day life and considers yoga to be an antidote in all aspects of her life. Her goal as a yoga instructor is to instill passion for yoga to students and to inspire health and well-being, nurturing body, mind and spirit. .