Meet Our Instructors

Our volunteers are beautiful, aware, unique individuals who teach prisoners because they have all experienced healing through yoga and meditation.

“Nothing in life is more liberating than to fight for a cause larger than yourself.”

— John McCain
Nancy

Nancy

Founder, Executive Director

Nancy began practicing yoga in 1997. Her practice includes Hatha, Ashtanga, Iyengar, Bikrim and myriad spin offs she believes would make Krishnamacharya smile. She began Mindful Meditation in 2008 and also practices her own method of connecting with the breath. Her vision in founding PY+M is to share yoga and meditation with love, compassion and respect to those who have endured trauma and incarceration so that they can cope with PTSD and Post Incarceration Syndrome, avoid reoffending, and go on to the full expression of their lives. Nancy is a novelist, memoirist, designer, and author of numerous books in the health genre. She lives on the beach with her whippet, Scarlett.

Farah

Farah

Co-Director, Certified Senior Instructor

Farah is both a scholar and practitioner of South Asia’s yogic and meditative traditions. She is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of California, Riverside. Her scholarly research and teaching focuses on Indian yogic and meditative traditions, Indian political thought, Gandhi’s political thought, and environmental political thought. She has practiced both yoga and meditation in a variety of traditions since 1998, and volunteers with a variety of organizations that bring these practices to at-risk groups in the wider Southern California region.
De Jur

De Jur

Certified Senior Instructor

De Jur manages PY+M yoga/meditation programs at a county facility. Along with Sarit, De Jur handles the scheduling for two facilities. She is a Los Angeles based, Loyola Marymount University certified Yoga Therapist under the guidance of Dr. Larry Payne. Her interest to teach Yoga off of the mainstream path was sparked by an article about prison yoga. She’s a certified Accessible Yoga Teacher and Ambassador by Rev. Jivana Heyman. De Jur recently added Julian Walker and Hala Khouri’s trauma-informed 200-hour certification to her resumé. She teaches trauma-informed, accessible Yoga Therapy to the sensitive needs population, maximum-security males, and women in California jails and prisons. She also holds classes with youth in the juvenile justice system, juvenile halls, probation camps, and staff around LA County.
Allison

Allison

Instructor

Allison manages PY+M yoga/meditation programs at a state facility. She discovered her passion for helping underserved and vulnerable populations in the community while pursuing her B.A. in Sociology. Introduced to meditation in high school, she immediately fell in love with the experience. A few years later she took her first yoga class and has since used yoga and meditation practices to find moments of peace, connect with her body, and enhance her quality of life. She is excited to help share these tools with others in order to create a space that can transcend the barriers within our community.
Ida

Ida

Founder and Director of Women's Program at a Minimum Security State Prison

Ida founded and has been the director of a yoga + meditation program at a minimum security women’s prison since 2007. She’s been a certified Iyengar Yoga Instructor, M. ED. since 1977 when she studied with the Iyengar family in Pune, India. Ida feels grateful for the changes yoga has brought to her life and is honored to share the practice with all who want to live with more of themselves awake, alive, present and peaceful. In her free time, she can be found hiking with her family and dogs, reading, or standing on her head.

Jan

Jan

Certified Senior Instructor

Jan is the manager of a county minimum security prison that houses women (many are pregnant) where she’s led a weekly class since 2016. In 2009 she could not hear her yoga instructor telling her “yoga will transform you.” After being urged by a friend, she joined a 200 hour RYT class in 2014. She has continued her yoga education since, committing herself to trainings and certifications every 6 months. She teaches at a Pasadena area mental health program and to women attending a literacy program at South Central Los Angeles Ministry Project. Jan is also honored to be the organizer of two Yoga of 12 Step Recovery groups.
Chris

Chris

Director of Meditation

Chris came to meditation practice in 2010. Chris practices insight meditation (also known as mindfulness), this is one of the oldest forms of meditation and is fundamentally a secular practice that seeks to connect with experience in the present moment and so achieve liberation from greed hatred and ignorance. Chris came to practice in San Francisco, meditating at San Francisco Insight and multiple retreats at Spirit Rock before moving to Los Angeles in 2103. Chris is training as a meditation facilitator with Insight LA, and plans to graduate in October 2018. Chris currently teaches at Silverlake Meditation in Los Angeles.

Sarit

Sarit

Certified Senior Instructor

Sarit co-manages the scheduling for two facilities. She was introduced to yoga as a young girl, practicing with her mom on Santa Monica beach. She holds a 200-HR certification from Julian Walker and Hala Khouri’s Awakened Heart, Embodied Mind. Sarit has trained with Street Yoga, Uprising Yoga, Hatha-Dharma, Yoga for All Ambassador, and an Accessible Yoga Ambassador. Sarit’s focus is self-regulation using breath and tracking of the felt sense to create trauma-sensitive awareness. She is currently a Beginning-level student in the SE™ Professional Training and integrates Somatic Experiencing® techniques into her teaching. A talented photographer, Sarit can be found on location or at home with her husband, son, Pit Bull and grumpy cat.

Molly

Molly

Certified Senior Instructor

Molly was dragged to her first yoga class 20 years ago by a friend. It was not love at first sight for her and yoga but her teacher suggested she keep coming back. Thankfully, she listened. Through a regular yoga practice, she realized she could choose to react to everything on her path or simply observe it, breathe and learn from life experiences. Molly has made 6 pilgrimages to India to study yoga and meditation, and to volunteer and visit holy cities. She’s studied with many teachers in Los Angeles and taken trauma informed yoga courses. A certified Kundalini teacher of 8 years, Molly is passionate about bringing yoga to underserved communities.

Fitzjoy

Fitzjoy

Certified Senior Instructor

An internationally traveling music industry tour manager, Fitzjoy found yoga in 2007 after lower back and knee surgery stopped him from running and practicing martial arts. Fitjoy’s training includes a 500 hour Hot Yoga certification, Tony Sanchez’s master core 40, Trauma Informed Training with Uprising Yoga and Street Yoga, Restorative yoga L1 with Judith Lasater and 200 hour Wanderlust Vinyasa Training. He is currently completing Noah Maze’s 300 hour Vinyasa Training. Fitjoy’s passion to help people achieve greater bodies, stronger minds, long vitality and better health takes him into LA’s downtown juvenile detention hall, as well as instructing artist clients and touring crews. He teaches inrandom places around the world.

Jennifer

Jennifer

Certified Senior Instructor

Jennifer’s 16 year practice began after a ski accident that resulted in a low back injury. Jennifer is a RYT-500 Certified Instructor through YogaWorks. To round out her skills, Jennifer is also a certified MELT Instructor as well as a Reiki Practitioner. Jennifer teaches public classes several times a week, in addition she offers one-on-one private sessions and workshops through her DBA Be True Yoga. She also volunteers her Reiki skills at Senior Centers in Los Angeles. The central message of her teaching is showing others how to Be True to their body, Be True to their practice, and Be True to themselves.

Jennifer

Jennifer

Certified Senior Instructor

Born and raised in California, Jennifer Herrera has been practicing yoga for fifteen years. In 2016, she completed a 500 hour professional yoga teacher training with YogaWorks. Jennifer has extensive experience volunteering at men and women’s prisons with The Freedom to Choose Project. She is a life and business coach, consultant to emerging companies and brands, and a writer. Jennifer is a devoted encourager of the Soul and her mission is to assist others in healing and living more purposeful lives. She holds a Masters Degree in Spiritual Psychology with an Emphasis in consciousness, health, and healing. 

Wendy

Wendy

Instructor

Wendy grew up in the lush countryside of Sussex, England, and loves to bring the feeling of misty mornings and sunlit meadows into her yoga classes. In 1976 she took her first teacher trainings with Swami Vishnu-Devananda, who founded the Sivananda Yoga Centers. She has also studied with Swami Muktananda and Swami Chidvilasananda (Gurumayi), and Joseph and Lilian Le Page, founders of Integrative Yoga Therapy. Wendy has taught in the San Fernando Valley for twenty-five years, including thirteen in the Kinesiology Department of Cal State University Northridge, and for two years did therapeutic yoga for a group of chiropractors working with people with chronic injuries and pain. She loves to bring humor along with her English accent to her classes. In her spare time she kicks up her heels ballroom and swing dancing.

Mia

Mia

Senior Instructor

Mia began studying Iyengar yoga in 2006. She completed a three year teacher training program at the Iyengar institute in 2013, and became a certified instructor of Iyengar yoga in 2015. Since 2013, she has enjoyed assisting and teaching yoga at a state minimum security women’s prison on a monthly basis, under the guidance of Ida Unger.

Mike

Mike

Certified Senior Instructor

Mike was born and raised in Colorado. Having been a gymnast for much of his young life, investigating the mind-body connection has long been a passion. Yoga cemented a place in Mike’s life initially as a way to manage stress, but grew into a much deeper exploration of the human experience. Mike hopes to inspire this same curiosity for life in others.

Mike completed his 200 hour Yoga Alliance certification under the guidance of Francesca Asumah, is in the process of receiving his 500 hour certification. Mike also holds a certification in breathwork.

Katherine

Katherine

Instructor

Katherine likes to say that yoga found her when she was 11 years old. She wandered into a studio down her street and has been down-doggin’ since. At 17 she signed up for her first teacher training at Santa Monica Yoga where she was introduced to her beloved Ashtanga Yoga. At Sarah Lawrence College, she found ballet and modern dance. With confidence to choreograph and create, vinyasa started flowing through her, and they’ve quite a pair since. She learned to ride a bike in 2015 and can’t get enough of those canyon trails!

Penny

Penny

Instructor

Penny is an actress / writer and documentary filmmaker.  She has been a practicing Yoga for ten years with plans to go at least another twenty!

Charlie

Charlie

Master Hypnotherpist

Charlie is an ACHE board-certified Clinical Hypnotherapist, Master Hypnotist, and certified NLP Coach Practitioner. He completed his training at HTI in Corte Madera, CA and the NLP Training Center of New York. He brings to his practice experience as an actor and filmmaker.

Peter

Peter

Instructor

Peter found his practice less than two years ago but felt so inspired by the growth he felt, that he took the leap into a 200-hour teacher certification, which he completed in June 2018. Peter believes that yoga is for everybody in any body. The greatest gift that he has received from yoga and meditation which he hopes to share with others is a deeper integration of his own lived experiences, (positive and negative) that has opened him to new levels of self-love and self-understanding. When he’s off the mat he digs coffee, comics, and public radio.

Julie

Julie

Instructor

Julie is a board-certified family doctor who believes that yoga is a practice from which everyone can benefit.  Left with severe burnout after 20 years of medical practice and teaching, she took time off for exploration and self-care.  It was during this sabbatical that she recognized the healing power of yoga for herself, and she completed teacher training with Dana Kraft and Jennifer Smith at Yoga108.  Julie’s main goal as a yoga teacher is to empower each student to connect with the healthiest self through yoga.  She hopes to create an all-inclusive environment, regardless of ability, age, or gender.

Daniel

Daniel

Meditation Instructor

Daniel Ahearn has a degree from Sarah Lawrence College in Liberal arts and a CCAPP from UCLA. He has been engaged in Buddhist Meditation studies for well over a decade and is currently continuing his apprenticeship under George Haas (Mettagroup) exploring the overlap of Buddhist techniques and Attachment psychology. Daniel has also spent time on retreat practice studying the 5 ways approach with Shinzen Young. For the last four years, Daniel has brought his practice to dozens of treatment centers and rehab facilities in and around Los Angeles. His passion for the work is matched by his commitment to sharing the practice with communities

Matthew

Matthew

Instructor

Trained in India and in the U.S, Matthew combines the two worlds in his classes, the spiritual east and physical west. In 1999 Matthew traveled to India and competed teacher training in Varanasi. Upon returning to the U.S. he taught free classes in community settings for the next 10 years until completing another 200 hour Teacher Training, in Glendale, CA. at Yoga at the Village. Since 2011 Matthew has taught professionally, mostly at Namaste Highland Park in his neighborhood of NE Los Angeles, and occasionally in private or volunteer settings.

Rachel

Rachel

Instructor

Rachel began teaching as a substitute teacher in the Alternative Education Program in Santa Cruz County, supporting students in juvenile hall and TAPP (Teenage Pregnancy). She earned her Master’s in Education at the University of California, Santa Cruz. She relocated to Los Angeles after co-creating a television series that she co-executive produced for the Fuse network. To balance the speed of the entertainment industry, Rachel began to practice yoga, eventually becoming a RYT-200 and Registered Prenatal Yoga Teacher and has supported hundreds of pregnant women, new mothers/babies, teens and seniors. Rachel earned her RYT-500 under Noah Maze. She believes that yoga and meditation have the power to radically transform. Rachel lives with her husband and their two wily preschoolers.

Janelle

Janelle

Certified Instructor

Janelle first began practicing yoga for its many health benefits, but soon realized the impact it was having on her personal evolution. Yoga has contributed to her greater awareness of authenticity, gratitude, self-love, and patience. Janelle realized she wanted to share her passion for yoga with others, and completed her 200-Hour Teacher Training with Corepower Yoga in 2017.  Her goal as an instructor is to provide a safe space for participants of all backgrounds to practice and discover the transformative benefits of yoga for the mind, body, and soul. She is always looking for ways to deepen her yoga practice both as a teacher and a student.

Sharrỏn

Sharrỏn

Certified Senior Instructor

Sharrỏn found her connection to yoga after developing back problems when she was 22 years old. After just 10 days of practice Bikram, her back problems were gone and she knew she would be a yogi forever. After graduating from her first teacher training, she created Sharrari, natural and locally sourced line of yoga wear. Sharrỏn has continued her yoga teaching education and practice with Tony Sanchez Yoga, Jill Miller, Ana Forrest, Dan Ward and Esak Garcia. She hopes to help students to achieve a better quality of life, and to create a positive attitude from within the self through consistent yoga practice.

Jana

Jana

Instructor

Jana was introduced to Yoga in 2011 and is delighted to continue sharing this practice with so many others. She loves the idea of us all living out, moment by moment, the expression of “Namaste” where we first recognize the Love, Divine, Light in ourselves . . . and then we can recognize it others in others, and let that be the basis in which we acknowledge all forms of life.
Diane

Diane

Instructor

Diane is a seasoned writer, digital content marketer and a lifelong do-gooder. Her first experience with yoga was more than 18 years ago in a small yoga studio in Brooklyn, New York. After vowing “never again,” it was her battle with chronic stress, insomnia, hip bursitis and sciatica that prompted her to give yoga another try 15 years later. The once skeptic immediately discovered that a regular yoga practice did wonders for her physical and emotional well-being so she became a yoga convert. Diane went on to obtain her 200 hour Hatha Yoga certification from Wanderlust Hollywood in 2017. She is pursuing her yoga therapist certification at Loyola Marymount University while also teaching public and private yoga classes in South LA. 
Natalie

Natalie

Certified Instructor

Natalie has over 30 years of yoga practice and has completed training in trauma-sensitive yoga, mindfulness and meditation. For 15 years, Natalie served as Co-Founder and Chair of two foundations providing vision, inspiration, and strategy behind their initiatives in early childhood education, food system reform, youth development, education, and disaster readiness. In 2016, she launched a new foundation to pursue her donor activist interests. She currently serves on the Advisory Board of One Heart World-Wide, and is a member of Women Moving Millions, Impact Partners, and UCSB’s Council for Arts & Lectures. She’s served on boards of Direct Relief, All Kinds of Minds, and Montana Yellowstone Expeditions. Natalie enjoys empowering women, engaging conversations, hiking, skiing, travel and volunteering.

Alex

Alex

Instructor

After many years of sitting hunched-over behind a computer, Alex came to yoga as a way to heal his body and restore his posture. He began practicing Ashtanga balanced with restorative yoga. Alex completed his 200-hour teach training with Shivakali Yoga, where he learned that through asana and meditation, he could practice bodhicitta, an intention to free all beings from suffering. In addition to yoga asana, Alex is a multi-instrumentalist musician and leads Kirtan practices. He is a natural teacher and hopes to lead others toward a path of deep self-exploration and ultimately liberation.

Mayuri

Mayuri

Instructor

Mayuri is an actress, dancer, professional figure skater, and yogi. She seeks to bring out arts and movement for social justice/environment/animal causes. A graduate of UC Berkeley in Dance Performance & South Asian Studies (B.A.) and of Loyola Marymount University in Yoga Studies & Philosophy (M.A.), through her UCB Fellowship, Mayuri began Moksha . . . Liberation through Movement to teach disabled children dance and movement therapy in rural villages in India. In addition, Mayuri has been a finalist of Indian Dance Reality shows with Bollywood Actors on Just Dance and Dare 2 Dance as she pursues both industries: Bollywood and Hollywood!

Lulu

Lulu

Medtation Instructor

Lulu has been practicing yoga for 20 years and has been sharing meditation and sound baths since 2015 through Little Mountain, Forestkind, Poketo, the LA Design Festival, Noh Wave, Art Basel Miami, Sonomama and the Workspace Oasis. She’s currently training to be a meditation teacher through InsightLA. Lulu is dedicating her life to sharing meditation practices to people in the most, with the intention of creating more connection throughout the world. Lulu works as an art director, artist, and designer. She received a BFA in Graphic Design and Illustration from Central St. Martins in London. She works with fashion and lifestyle companies to help develop their authentic visual voice.

Ashley

Ashley

Instructor

Ashley has been teaching yoga since 2011 with an extensive background in yoga and psyche, somatic experiencing, and trauma informed yoga and meditation. She’s taught mindfulness all over Los Angeles from mental health facilities, to substance abuse rehabilitation, and inner-city schools. Her goals when working within the prison system is to offer another perspective around the circumstances of the environments that inmates are navigating. The value of yoga and meditation has been used for thousands of years to enlighten and expand individuals despite their background, ethnicity, age, race, gender, or circumstance; Ashley brings just that into the places that need it the most.

Laurel

Laurel

Certified Senior Instructor

Laurel is organically grown and has no off-switch; side effects of being around her include laughter. As a YogaWorks trained yoga instructor she has been teaching for the past two years. During the weekdays you can find Laurel working at a Santa Monica startup that makes software for behavioral health professionals like therapists and social workers. Laurel is passionate about the mental health realm, which, aside from her day job, also sparked her desire to teach yoga in a less “traditional” capacity to those in underserved communities.

Lizbeth

Lizbeth

Instructor

Lizbeth is a bilingual mind, body, breath specialist with a Masters degree in the Arts of Yoga Studies from Loyola Marymount University. She is also E-RYT 200, RYT 300, and TSY-150 certified. Lizbeth has been practicing the science of yoga holistically for over a decade. Yoga, for her, is a way of life as well as her entire profession.

Lilja

Lilja

Instructor

Lilja Rose Michaud was born in Saint Louis, Missouri and moved out to LA for school. She fell in love with yoga during a movement class, and accredits yoga to the ease of her own anxiety and stress -something that is a very familiar tune for people in this day and age, the cost of an over stimulating world. She hopes to share the knowledge shared with her to spread a little more self love and ease.
Tea

Tea

Certified Senior Instructor

Born and raised in Finland, Tea has years of experience as a certified RYT200 Hatha/ Vinyasa Yoga Teacher with an emphasis on meditation and breath work. Working with kids and youth are very close to her heart and thus she completed Trauma-Informed Yoga training in Los Angeles, California. She has her certificate as a Spiritual Holistic Life Coach and Hypnotherapist from Holistic Healing College in London, UK. In addition she has studied Spiritual Psychology at University of Santa Monica and advanced Spiritual training in The Modern Mystery School, California among other holistic studies in Spain. Tea seeks to support others to find their true life purpose and soul connection through an open heart so they can connect with their Higher self and Inner child in order to live the life at their fullest potential.

Alexis

Alexis

Instructor

I started my yoga journey in 1999 as a college student when I stumbled upon a yoga class in one of the campus gyms. I was into strength training back then and did not have the time to add yoga to my schedule. Every couple of years, I would take a yoga class and I always remember how fresh and revitalized I felt. It was not until 2009 when I committed myself to a regular yoga practice and the following year, I completed a 200-hour yoga teacher training. Yoga is my life force and I can’t wait to share how yoga has helped me maintain peace, serenity and positive mental health!

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