INSTRUCTOR BIOS

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TRACY BRENNAN

Tracy is the co-owner/director of both Claremont Yoga and the CY Teacher Training Program. She is a Certified Iyengar Yoga Instructor. Tracy enjoys sharing the healthy benefits of yoga.  She teaches all levels of classes and private sessions weekly.  She enjoys having a family and being a mom.  She also teaches yoga classes at Pomona College in the Physical Education Department for students, faculty and staff. She is honored and thankful to be part of a deeply inspiring yoga tradition.

mari gamans

Mari, Mari is an ex-professional dancer who began her teaching career in 1998. She earned her BA degree in Dance from UC Irvine and completed her Pilates certification from Studio du Corps in Costa Mesa, CA. In addition, she is a certified Gyrotonic instructor and studied massage therapy at the California Healing Arts College in Santa Monica. She completed her yoga teacher training (RYT-200) here at Claremont Yoga. Currently, she teaches at Pomona College, Feeling Groovy and Claremont Yoga and now serves as one of the educators for the CY Teacher Training Program.

kurt bumiller

Kurt has been a student of yoga for 10 years. He has studied with many teachers and has attended intensives in many different styles of yoga. He has been studying Iyengar yoga for the last 6 years. He came to Iyengar yoga after a serious back injury in a yoga class in order to re-learn the Asanas in a way that would put less stress on the body/mind. Kurt's special interest in yoga is its restorative powers for people with injuries and physical limitations.

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HANNAH LU

Hannah started practicing yoga at 14 because of an injury. She found it soothing and liked how sweaty she could get by “simply stretching” plus it helped her back heal and get stronger. After 10 years of practice she discovered that yoga is so much more than stretching. In 2015 she decided she wanted to pursue teaching yoga because of the impact her teachers had on me. Hannah brings a fun and lightheartedness to her classes. She believes that yoga should be fun and challenging at the same time. She invites you to flow with her, get a little sweaty, and laugh during the practice!

Michelle Dowd

"Yoga is a powerful vehicle for change. As you build strength, you start to believe in your own potential." --T. Cruikshank Michelle is a certified yoga teacher and creative writing professor who believes in the power of art to liberate our minds, bodies and spirits. In her classes, she works to creatively engage your imagination and energize you to cultivate a deeply personal and fiercely authentic practice. She is honored to participate in a community of yogis who share her love of learning, joy in movement and the perpetual desire to energetically balance a full life with a measure of grace.

Bonnie Busenberg

Bonnie Busenberg, a longtime Claremont resident and retired college administrator, is a level II Stott Pilates Instructor who has been teaching group exercise classes at The Claremont Club for 9 years and offers private, equipment-based Pilates sessions, with a special emphasis on rehabilitative and therapeutic uses of the Pilates methodology, at her home studio. A devoted practitioner of yoga for 15 years, she completed the Claremont Yoga teacher training program in 2015, and is a certified and registered 200 Yoga teacher through Yoga Alliance.  Her teaching is heavily influenced by Iyengar principles of alignment, which she finds to be highly synergistic with her Pilates work.   With undergraduate and masters degrees in the biological sciences, and a doctorate in Education, Bonnie is passionate both about anatomy and about teaching.  Convinced that yoga can benefit any body, irrespective of age or physical ability, she enjoys introducing body awareness into the lives of others, particularly those facing physical challenges brought about by illness or injury. She believes in using the physical practice of asana as both a metaphor and motivation for the pursuit of  yoga’s spiritual aspects.  She currently teaches hatha yoga, gentle yoga,  and yoga fusion (with Pilates) in group and private sessions, as she attends workshops and trainings to advance both her own practice and her teaching skills

DEBORAH ESCOBAR

Deborah Escobar is a steward of the community, advocating sustainability, a minimalist mentality on consumerism, and human wellbeing. Deborah resides in Claremont California with her husband and two beautiful boys who keep her in a constant state of Bhakti. She discovered the Yogic sciences in 1999 and is now a certified registered Yoga Teacher. She is a lifelong student and truth seeker who began her Ayurvedic lifestyle in 2008. She knows that yoga isn't something that we do, but what we are. It’s about inclusion, what binds us to creation. It's experienced in moments of stillness when life becomes effortless, or when a child's joyful laughter fills us with inexplicable bliss. A daily practice facilitates in moving beyond the mind/body barriers to realize, connect with, and align ourselves with this Truth. Deborah likes to focus on developing well rounded classes to bring balance and awareness to mind, body, and spirit through pranayama, asana, meditation, and deep relaxation.

Cheryl Rehnberg

Yoga has inspired me in unexpected ways over the last 12 plus years.  Walking out of  my first class I felt taller and more invigorated.  Time after time, I have found myself using yoga breath to manage the stress of work and family life. When my children started commenting on my positive mood after a class, I knew I was onto something!  I have spent many years exploring a variety of yoga studios and I have always been drawn back to Claremont Yoga. After graduating from Claremont Yoga's first teacher training I have found a strong desire to remain a lifetime student of yoga!

NICOLE SCHWANDER RIEL

Nicole is the co-owner/director of both Claremont Yoga and the CY Teacher Training Program. She has been practicing yoga since 2000, and initially sought out the practice to help her deal with intense lower back pain and sciatica. To her delight she found that her back issues were completely healed with a regular, committed practice. She has studied with teachers Noah Maze and Christina Sell. Her classes range from deeply restorative, to a strong, flowing practice. She infuses smart alignment into her teachings, along with playful movement and flow, pranayama, and application of yoga into daily life. Nicole also teaches Restorative Yoga at the Casa Colina Rehabilitation Center in Pomona for the Fibromyalgia Care Program. She has experienced the profound healing that yoga has brought into her life--physically, emotionally and spiritually. Nicole is a Certified and Registered Yoga Teacher and loves to share the joys and benefits of yoga with you! Her newest teacher is her 2 year old son, Blake, who inspires her everyday!

emily lavender

Emily first attended a yoga class to relive chronic shoulder pain. It worked, and quickly began to transform her life, both mentally and physically. Yoga helps her feel connected to herself, strong and beautiful. She is YogaWorks trained (eRYT-200 certified) and implements a well rounded practice, by applying principles of alignment and philosophy to each class. Emily spends time traveling to workshops and classes, working to improve her instructing techniques and personal practice. She believes that yoga offers meaningful benefits for every person, from every walk of life, and that the more we practice, the more we can improve our lives. Emily is excited to share her love of yoga and expertise with the Claremont community. Emily's vinyasa is a powerful, energetic sequence, where students fluidly move from one pose to the next, while connecting their breath to their movements. Strength, flexibility and balance are incorporated into each class.

Stephen Moore

Stephen Moore came to yoga for fitness in 2012 but immediately found the practice to be so much more than just physical.  Yoga invigorated him mentally, spiritually, and emotionally in a way nothing had in many years.  Claremont Yoga also introduced him to a wonderful community of like-minded, positive individuals coming together in the practice.  In 2014, an article about the growing use of yoga and other mind-body medicine techniques to treat post-traumatic stress in veterans inspired Stephen to earn his RYT-200 certification through the Claremont Yoga teacher training program.  As the son of a Vietnam veteran and the relative of many other veterans, he saw yoga as his way to give back.  Stephen now enjoys teaching vinyasa flow at Claremont Yoga, as well as teaching yoga to veterans through both Claremont Yoga and his non-profit organization, Warrior One Foundation.

JENNA MANN

Jenna Mann (RYT-200) came to the practice of yoga after the death of a dear friend. She found that the focus on mindfulness and breath practice offered a strategy to deal with sorrow and anxiety. As she continued in the practice, she grew to love the rhythmic, steady matching of breath to movement offered in yoga and especially grew to love the Vinyasa Flow style. She found that yoga uniquely offered a holistic process to engage the mind, body, and spirit. It is this balanced, energizing approach of strengthening and empowering the whole person that Jenna endeavors to share in her yoga classes

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STEPHANI SUTHERLAND

Stephani received her PhD from Oregon Health & Sciences University in Portland in 2001. Since then she has worked as a freelance science writer and journalist for publications including the Los Angeles Times, Scientific American and BrainFacts.org. Today Stephani's writing focuses primarily on chronic pain research (see RELIEF.news). Stephani completed a 500-hour training program in yoga with Gary Kraftsow at American Viniyoga Institute in 2013. Viniyoga is an authentic tradition originally taught by Krishnamacharya and his son Desikachar. The tradition emphasizes breath-centric asana, postures adaptable for the individual, and an integrated practice including pranayama, chanting and meditation.

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GINA DURAN

Gina is an artist, poet, and teacher’s aid; who integrates the ideals of creative flow, into a healing and meditative space. She focuses on slowing down for self-care, through a series of restorative poses, easily accessible to several levels of interest.

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SARAH LITTLE

Sarah Little is a joyful teacher of yoga, mindfulness and meditation. She seeks understanding and humor from everyday experiences of living. Sarah’s own practice of yoga and meditation intensified after becoming a parent. The shock of postpartum depression, after achieving a long-awaited conclusion, lead Sarah on a journey of self-understanding that continues today. Sarah is a student of life. Sarah’s classes are peppered with anatomy facts, exploration of inner spaces, poetry, breath work, imagination and laughter. Sarah is interested in the interplay between the concrete and the subtle, the challenging and the relieving, the mind and the body. She uses her strong understanding of the human body and correct alignment to challenger her students to find greater freedom. Sarah teaches Vinayasa Flow, Gentle, Hatha, Restorative and Kundalini yoga and practices massage and Reiki. She is registered with Yoga Alliance as an eRYT200 and fully insured. Sarah believes that our lives are experienced through our bodies and the body is a tool for understanding our hearts and minds. Yoga and meditation practices are a way to tap into the power of our lives and our life’s work and conscious selfcare can lead to a more graceful and balanced life.

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OLIVIA varones

Olivia was a hesitant first-time yogi, worried that she would feel out of place in a studio with experienced practitioners, but once she discovered the power and non- judgmental nature of the yoga community and the benefits of a thoughtful yoga practice, she was hooked and hasn’t looked back since! She prides herself on making her classroom a safe, judgment-free environment where her students can challenge their strength and also experience the restorative benefits of yoga. She is passionate about exploring the way yoga utilizes the power of pranayama, the breath and life force, to allow practitioners to move gracefully between strengthening and restorative poses. She is fully insured and completed her 200-hour training at CorePower Yoga in Chicago, focusing on a blend of Bikram/ hot yoga sequencing and Vinyasa/ power flow. She incorporates both of these styles into her classes and believes the foundation of successful yoga instruction lies in offering students a variety of modifications and variations to tailor the sequence to their own needs and goals. In her Vinyasa classes, you’ll challenge yourself to access new postures, listen to lots of funky music, and have lots of fun with your fellow practitioners. 

karen may (kartar kaur)

Karen's spiritual name is Kartar Kaur, which translates as "Lioness/Princess of God's deeds" — an active, creative principle, applicable to her life, work, and spiritual practice. She took her first Kundalini Yoga class in 1989, and has been teaching since 2004 as a K.R.I. certified instructor, honoring the tradition of Kundalini Yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan®. Each class offers insight into a particular theme, connecting the body, mind, and spirit, and linking the finite with the infinite. 

Karen completed a two-year certificate course in the ancient Indian healing modality called Ayurveda, and often integrates these healing principles into classes.  She is committed to sharing the ancient technology — the art and the science — of Kundalini yoga in classes designed for all levels and abilities.

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brad smith

Brad took his first yoga class in 1998 and discovered a path of lifelong learning. Since then, Yoga has become the foundation of his day-to-day life, enriching his life in every way.  Brad is a Certified Iyengar Yoga instructor at the Intermediate Junior 1 level and has been teaching since 2005. He spent two months studying yoga with the Iyengar family in India in 2006 and returned for further studies in November, 2011. He teaches yoga at several studios in the greater San Gabriel Valley as well as at Kaiser Permanente and the City of Alhambra.

Melissa Jackson

Melissa Jackson has been practicing yoga for over 15 years and teaching elementary school for 17. It seemed only natural for her to marry her love of teaching and her love of yoga. Melissa completed her 200-hour teacher training through Claremont Yoga’s inaugural teacher training program in 2015. Melissa has enjoyed teaching flow based yoga to athletes and instructing special classes for kids, as well. Melissa enjoys documenting her love of travel, yoga, running, hiking, gardening and cooking through her writing in her blog www.livpcfl.com.

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JOE PACE

As a former college baseball player and coach, my yoga teaching and fitness revolves around the idea of purpose. Just as I would want to throw every pitch for a reason, I teach in a way that encourages you to make all movements in your body with a specific goal in mind. My classes are well-rounded with an emphasis on mindfully engaging the body and exploring new physical skills that will translate outside of the yoga studio. Over time, my goal is to help you develop a deeper relationship with your body and mind, helping you thrive in everything you do. I earned my 200-hour yoga teaching credentials at the White Lotus Foundation in Santa Barbara, CA, and I own and operate Icewater Yoga, an online yoga platform designed for athletes.

AIMEE TAKAYA DaviS

Aimee Takaya Davis began her yoga journey in her hometown of Ashland Oregon, and was deeply dedicated and ready to embark into the world as a teacher. She has had the privilege and honor of teaching and practicing yoga in 25 different countries around the world and connecting with many inspiring yoga communities. Returning home she was lucky enough to land in Southern California and find the encouraging and dedicated community of Claremont Yoga. She is excited to lead you through your asana experience with joy, reverence, kindness and endless curiosity!

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KeRRy CANNELL

Kerry started yoga in the fall of 2012 after a friend told her how much better she felt since she had begun attending yoga classes. Kerry had always loved fitness and had completed three marathons, several half marathons and one mini-triathlon. However, she began to experience joint pain practically everywhere and her muscles seemed tighter and shorter than ever before. Her runners high was becoming a runners low. Since Kerry was approaching 50, and had been a desk worker all her life, it was clear that she needed a change in her fitness routine. She took her friends advice and began attending weekly yoga classes. She loved the yoga community but did not love or understand the practice at first. But she was curious enough (and in enough pain) she continued with a steady diet of mostly alignment-based Iyengar style yoga classes. In April 2013, she enrolled in UC Riverside’s yoga certificate program that concentrates on the practice of Iyengar Yoga and Yoga philosophy. She became a Yoga Alliance RYT/200 in June 2016 and specializes in Gentle, Senior and Chair Yoga. She loves to practice yoga and teach others about the benefits of yoga everywhere she goes. ~ Yoga is not about touching your toes, it is what you learn on the way down.

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Amanda weiss

I have been practicing yoga for 14 years. My foray into yoga was as a supplement to my weight lifting routine. I immediately realized the physical benefits of a consistent yoga practice but it took me many years to want more out it. During a time of hardship, my yoga practice expanded in a deeper direction. The emotional strength was just as powerful as the physical strength I initially sought out. I am strongly focused on physical well-being with a new found appreciation for the spiritual benefits of yoga. After practicing for many years at Yoga to the People in Berkeley, a move to Southern California allowed me to complete a 200-hr teacher training at Claremont Yoga. I supplement yoga with hiking, camping, walking my dogs and swimming to keep my mind/body at peace.

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CELIA KOSHAK

“Yoga is a journey of the self, through the self, to the self.” - Bhagavad Ghita. Celia began taking yoga after training for her first full marathon. After running 30+ miles per week, basic stretching and warm ups were not enough. Her body began to feel achy and tight. She needed something to offset the pounding and wear and tear extensive running had on her muscle and bones. She decided to start taking yoga classes and fell in love with the practice and philosophy right from the beginning. Celia has been practicing yoga for 9 years, just shy of a decade. She is a Certified Yoga Teacher by heart and Corporate Girl by day. Celia practices and teaches a variety of yoga styles. She believes in practicing with athletic mindfulness and challenges her students to find the balance of effort and surrender in their practice. She is honored and excited to share and teach yoga. Celia also loves to travel, hiking and the outdoors. She is a wine connoisseur who also loves a chocolate. She is deeply devoted to her family. Celia is blessed with an an amazing husband and two boys, who are her rock and keep her balanced. Come practice with her for support, love, motivation, vigor and a spiritual experience!