get to know the teachers that make tacOMa yoga what it is
200 HR CERTIFIED + 300 HRS CONTINUING EDU.
My yoga journey began when I reluctantly stepped into my first yoga class. I was healing from a running injury and completely burnt out from life. Even though I was extremely inflexible, I continued to practice because I found that I could finally move without pain. My continued practice brought me deep healing and joy. My desire to become a yoga instructor stems from a grateful heart, and my belief that yoga heals the body, mind, and heart, and my experience that a truly devoted practice has the power to transform your life.
I am a 200-hour certified yoga instructor, with an additional 300 hours of continuing education in alignment based Vinyasa and yoga therapy, and have completed training in prenatal and postpartum yoga. I am deeply grateful to have studied with Dee West, Maty Ezraty, and my teacher Amy Ipolitti. As a registered nurse, I strive to infuse a deeper knowledge of health, so that I might empower students to connect body, mind, and heart through this inward journey that will help them access joy and healing off and on the mat.
I offer private lessons and specialize in yoga therapeutics for those working through injuries as well as prenatal and postpartum yoga, and leads workshops and retreats. I hope to practice with you soon!
Connect with Rachel:
RYT-200 HR | YIN YOGA CERTIFIED
The short hand story of how I got to this space with yoga and teaching it, all begins with the practices of Meditation. I originally came to Mediation as a means to surrender and the wanting to change. Seeing that the patterns I was continuing to put myself in were no longer serving me in the way they once did. As time went on I found myself being re-introduced to the asana practice of yoga and eventually, now here, teaching it with the highest gratitude.
Over the past few years of this teaching journey, since my 200hr in May of 2015, I have continued to explore many facets of yoga; via workshops, events, and various trainings. In addition, I have connected deeply with Yin Yoga, which I now have over 250hrs of knowledge, training, and experience with and ever expanding as I continue to assists and co-teach Yin Yoga Teacher Trainings with my teacher, Reanna Costa.
My teaching style is influenced by the art of slowing down and doing it in a way that allows you to tune into the subtle messages of the body. Creating the space for integrated movement that is not only supportive and playful, but nurturing and spiritual. Through my passion for words and metaphors, philosophy, breath work, meditation, and silly jokes; I encourage each student to tap into their experience and mindfully shape-shift in a way that feels nurturing and sustainable for their body. Ultimately this is their, your, practice and I gratefully get the honor to move through it with you, with the intention that it not only feels delicious in your body but expansive on all levels.
Connect with Shawnda:
website • instagram • facebook • spotify
E-RYT 200HR | ROCKET YOGA CERTIFIED
San Diego Native, Andre, initially was drawn to yogas physicality. Coming from a background of playing competitive sports from a young age, he was ready and accepted the physical challenges yoga had presented him. Soon after pursuing a regular yoga practice, he began to understand the struggle to balance competitive drive with respect for the body’s limits. Before long, he found peace, clarity, and stillness in his practice and is intrigued by the mind-body connection yoga has to offer. He believes yoga has a way of giving you what you want, but at the same time also what you need.
His style welcomes beginner and intermediate practitioners, offering challenges to those seeking to advance their practice. During class he focuses on proper alignment and mindfully syncing breathe with movement through creative flow and transition. His intention is to express his passion and gratitude for yoga and inspire the same in his students
RYT-200 HR | YIN YOGA CERTIFIED
Jamie was introduced to yoga as a young teenager when her mother brought her to her first yoga class, that’s when she became drawn to finding her center. Growing up with the serenity of the Pacific Northwest, Jamie has a naturally calm presence that is evident in her teaching style.
After college, Jamie went on to work for a fast growing beverage company that eventually brought her to Los Angeles, CA. It was in Los Angeles where she inevitably began to seek spiritual growth and a deeper yoga practice allowing her the opportunity to practice and train with some of the most prominent yoga instructors in the world. In 2013, Jamie completed her 200 hour Holistic Yoga Flow Teacher Training with Travis Eliot and Lauren Eckstrom, and later competed her Yin Yoga certification as well. She continues to expand her yogic knowledge, through trainings, workshops, and her daily practice. Jamie specializes in Yin Yoga, Gentle Yoga, Restorative Yoga, Yoga for Beginners, Vinyasa Yoga, Pranayama and Meditation.
Jamie is passionate about providing the opportunity for others to find a deeper connection within their own yoga practice. Her classes are safe, mindful, and balanced.
Connect with Jamie:
instagram • facebook
Melissa’s stepped into her first yoga class 15 years ago to add a new element to her gym regime. It was not love at first try. After habitually pushing through pain and focusing on the end result, yoga challenged her entire way of being. Years of study and practice with the vibrant Tacoma yoga community won her over. Today, self-inquiry and acceptance is what drives and sustains her practice most. Through teaching, Melissa aims to lead others in awareness that movement and exertion are conduits of self-expression and joy.
Melissa completed the YOGAMAZÉ Teacher Training under the leadership of Amy Petty. She is RYT 200 and Yoga Alliance Certified. Melissa’s teaches dynamic, alignment based flow classes that both honor and challenge the body, mind and spirit.
Greg Owen came to yoga with a background in the arts and a lifelong passion for language, spirituality, personal growth, and social justice. A professional glassblower, Greg began practicing yoga in 1999, while working at the Pilchuck Glass School in Stanwood, Washington. After being inspired by the spirit of yoga, in 2003 Greg travelled to India to study at the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Dhanwantari Ashram in Neyyar Dam, Kerala. Yoga was such an immediate and positive force in his life, he knew he had to share it with others. He began teaching that same year, after completing a 200 hour YTT at 8 Limbs Yoga Centers in Seattle, Washington, and went on to do a further 200 hour training with Tias Little, at Prajna Yoga in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Greg describes his teaching style a Classical Yoga, in that he incorporates pranayama, mantra, meditation, history, and Sanskrit along with the physical practice of yoga. When devising a class, Greg hopes to offer students practical tools with which they may access their own peace of mind, wellness and grounding. Spiritual and emotional growth are the ultimate aims of yoga, feeling and looking good are simply welcome side effects. Jai!
Connect with Greg:
instagram • website
I started my yoga journey years ago. In the beginning I couldn’t even touch my toes. I felt awkward in just about every pose. I didn’t really know what I was getting into, but I felt an immediate connection to the practice. The physical benefits were apparent right away. Overall I felt stronger and leaner. The real surprise though, was that I became more focused mentally. Even if I was in a terrible mood, I always left yoga class feeling powerful, calm and full of energy. I became hooked.
Teaching is a very meditative experience for me. I leave teaching a class the same way I leave taking a class; feeling powerful, calm and full of energy. I love yoga, and love sharing that with others. I strive to make my classes lighthearted while guiding each student’s practice further. I want my students to feel comfortable putting their own stamp and flare on their practice. It doesn’t need to look exactly like mine or the person next to them. One of my favorite parts of teaching is connecting with my students and watching their practices take off. My classes are infused with energy, and I don’t want anyone to take themselves too seriously!
Eva is currently expanding her teaching skills & studying for the next certification level at 500-RYT.
E-RYT 500 HR
Leslie first came to yoga in 2007 thinking it would be relatively boring and not challenging enough for her physicality. Boy was she wrong! After that first Bikram class she was humbled, worked-out, opened up and hungry for more! Thus began her yoga journey, learning and teaching all around the greater North Seattle area. Leslie has studied in a variety of different styles of yoga and completed her 200hr RYT in 2013, through YogaWorks. Ever the enthusiastic learner, Leslie pursued deeper and deeper lessons in Ashtanga, Iyengar, and Baptiste styles of yoga which now incorporate themselves into her classes. Leslie completed her 500hr RYT in 2015 through Twist Yoga, studying independently with many teachers. Leslie was honored to be asked to be adjunct faculty in a 200hr Teacher Training program where she taught yogic philosophy and then in 2017 was the Lead Teacher Trainer for the program.
Leslie and her partner recently moved to Tacoma and are happily finding their way around, connecting with great people. Leslie teaches in the traditional way she was taught with a flair of playfulness, knowing there is room for both tradition and fun.
RYT 200 HR | SUP YOGA CERTIFIED
I first found yoga five years ago while going through a difficult time in college. My therapist had recommended I take a class and I was hooked right away. I started karma yogi-ing at the studio and a year later found myself in the midst of a 200 HR training. I knew yoga would forever be apart of my life but I had no idea the incredible journey I was about to embark on.
Yoga has taken me to places in which mentally and physically didn’t know were possible. It changed the course of my life and has shown me how to lead with love and a grateful heart.
My classes are intuitive based movement practices that offer a dynamic way to not only stretch/strengthen but also discover the hidden pockets of space within the body that we have yet to tap into. I am obsessed with transitions and like to encourage my students that the breath is the boss of our practice. Every movement we make is breath led. The deeper we tune into the breath, the more we can explore and create more space within.
RYT 200 HR | SUP YOGA CERTIFIED
Anna has a deep love for the practice of yoga both on and off the mat and shares that love with everyone she meets. Teaching runs in her blood. She has a bachelors in Math, Adolescent Education, and Special Education, a Masters in the Education of Deaf and Hard of Hearing, and is fluent in American Sign Language. Anna moved to Tacoma this past January and currently teaches the Deaf and Hard of Hearing students at Baker Middle School. She includes mindfulness and breath work into her classroom and has already shown amazing growth.
Yoga found Anna while teaching high school Math in Charleston, SC and she quickly dove deep into the practice. She became a certified yoga teacher in Multi-Style yoga at the Hawaii Yoga Institute in 2015 and started a stand up paddle board yoga syndicate upon her return to Charleston. Anna weaves her fun-loving, light-hearted personality into each class and teaches a strong fluid practice where mind, body, and breath are thoroughly intertwined.
When she is not teaching or practicing, you'll find Anna out in the woods searching for the best view with her incredible dog Prieta.
sona desai buchanan
E-RYT 200 HR
Sona was born in Australia to Indian parents and moved to the US at age 5. Her home life emphasized the deeper philosophical teachings and practices of yoga, but it wasn’t until 2004 that she began a regular yoga practice to balance the vigor of being a college dancer in NYC. The dots started to connect through the gradual exploration of many facets of yoga and meditation. After years of achieving and striving, yoga offered a place to still the mind, to breathe, and to truly be present and aligned with the flow of divine intelligence. In yoga, she found a framework to living and a vehicle to come home. Sona gratefully attained her RYT-200 teaching certification in 2009 and is currently working towards her RYT-500. She is an Experienced Registered Yoga Teacher (E-RYT) with over 1,500 hours of teaching experience. Her classes range from challenging, playful and dynamic to fluid and restorative but ultimately weave together exploration and self-study. Sona’s teaching practice is about holding space and encouraging people to a deeper knowing and acceptance of all parts of themselves and in doing so, guiding them to a higher capacity for love.
Concurrently, Sona's passion for the healing arts guided her to Thai Yoga and Qi Healing over a decade ago. In 2014, using learned and intuitive knowledge of body mechanics and energetic systems, she crafted a unique blend of these complimentary modalities named Integrative Thai Yoga. Shortly thereafter, Sona opened the doors to LOOM Wellness + Yoga, a small studio space in Raleigh, NC. After 2 years, LOOM relocated with Sona to Tacoma, WA, where she continues to serve as both teacher and practitioner in private sessions, workshops, and Community Bodywork offerings.
Lisha Koch has a long history with yoga, being introduced to it by her Grandmother as a very young child. She started actively practicing yoga about 10 years ago and is now a 200 hr RYT. Practicing yoga has allowed her to reclaim her self love, accept her body and to heal and open her heart. She loves to assist students on their own journey towards self love and acceptance. Her classes range from peaceful and relaxing to a more energetic flow style, always giving support and instruction to make the practice suitable to all ages, levels, and abilities. Playfulness, awareness of breath and enjoyment of the present moment are intentionally brought into each class. Off the mat, she feeds her soul through travel and spending time outside in Nature.
200 HR | ACROYOGA CERTIFIED
I’ve been teaching yoga since 2006 and AcroYoga since 2008 and I have been an apprentice of the “Teacher’s Teacher,” Dharma Mittra; from these different practices I’ve learned the value of both hyper-traditional and hyper-unorthodox approaches to life and sadhana, the spiritual quest of the yogi.
To bring yoga to people who I felt it could benefit most, and to whom it was otherwise inaccessible, I founded the Yoga for Parkinson’s Disease program and have taught my method in daily classes and at numerous symposia, including as an invited presenter at Stanford’s Exercise and the Brain Symposium. I learned a great deal about dedication, growth, and perseverance in the face of difficulty from my students.
Most recently I’ve been living and teaching around the world, including in NYC, Sri Lanka, Morocco, Korea, Indonesia and Japan. I now split my year between surfing and teaching in coastal Taiwan in the winter and Salmon Beach, Tacoma in the summer and am happy to call TacOMa Yoga home.
I’m most interested right now in how a day or a yoga class unfolds moment-by-moment, how the unnamed events between poses or other things I think I understand are full of ineffable life and value. This means that beyond traditional, familiar experiences and poses, we’ll often find ourselves making up some new poses none of us have ever done before. To free the body, free the mind, free the spirit.
I found my way to yoga from an intense aerial acrobatics and circus background. It was through yoga that I discovered new strength and flexibility and healed many injuries and body imbalances from my performing years. After falling head over heels for yoga, I began my first teacher training my junior year of high school in 2015. Since then I have taken three intensive trainings with senior teachers to become a ERYT 200 teacher. I am just as much a yoga practitioner as a teacher and hold a dedicated practice in the Ashtanga Lineage as well as Amrita, Vinyasa and Acro yoga. I am an avid student of yoga philosophy, a teacher in various Portland studios and exited to find a home at TacOMa yoga.
I strive to teach a style of Classical Yoga, mixed with modern vinyasa techniques. I believe a practice of pranayama, meditation and yogic history is just as important as the asana, and I include these in my classes. It is my hope to offer students no only a place to connect with their bodies, but to come into better relationship with their mind and breath to foster a whole body integrated experience. I believe alignment is just as important as strength, and that stillness in a pose can be as luxurious as the flow. My goal is to lead my students with tenderness and authenticity to hold a space for practice, exploration and play!
Through the unifying discipline of yoga, Kate appreciates her physical asana practice as a metaphor for how she navigates life off of her mat. Kate received her yoga teacher certification in 2010 and taught for 6 years in Denver, Colorado before moving to Tacoma. Kate's classes are methodical, anatomically-centered and alignment driven; she believes in the challenge of working hard at even the simplest of poses, but she also believes in pushing her students to achieve the unexpected on their mats, making "advanced" poses more accessible through a series of safe, intermediary steps. A vinyasa yogi to the core, Kate has a love for placing poses together in a thoughtful way, but she believes in a "slow flow", strengthening stabilizing muscle groups through taking time in transitions and treating the space between postures as important as the postures themselves.
Erica has practiced yoga since 2010 and recently completed her 200 hour yoga teacher certification with Pamela Higley at Samdhana Karana Yoga. She has also completed the Yoga Behind Bars training and volunteers at Remann Hall, teaching yoga and meditation to youth.
With yoga, she has found a melding of the best things in her life: spirit, athleticism, sweat, breath, laughter, community, and rhythm. Her goal as an instructor is to offer a space to explore, allowing others to become curious about what they are capable of as they leave a little stronger, a little softer and a lot more balanced.
Rebeca has been practicing flow-style yoga since 2002 and teaching since 2003. She loves the practice of yoga because it gives her and her students an opportunity to explore the body through movement. Each posture in concert with the breath allows the practitioner to find acceptance and their inner truth.
Rebeca teaches a flow style with the emphasis on alignment, pranayama and self-study. Her vision is to make Yoga accessible to all students by structuring classes that contribute to each students unique form of expression. Rebeca has received her 200 hr TT through YogaFit and YOGAMAZE with Emissary Amy Petty.