Yoga Sanctuary
Share Yoga ‌• Share Life ‌• Share Peace


Our Instructors



I started practicing yoga when I was in my early teens. I found that it helped me gain flexibility for figure skating. I didn't realize until a couple of years later that yoga can be, and IS, so much more. Yoga has been my companion through very difficult life circumstance,  helping me find peace, and deeper connection with my truest self.  I received my YTT-200 from the Yoga Center of Minneapolis, and enjoy continuing training with studies such as Reiki, Restorative Yoga Training, and Meditation Training and practice, among others. My goal is to share these teaching and experience with my students, and let them find what yoga is to them. I encourage students to listen to their bodies, and practice steadiness and comfort in each pose, to better connect with themselves. I have always known that my call is to help people, and am so grateful I have  found practical ways to share the healing power of yoga with others. 


Jean Culp

I began practicing yoga in 2010 and I had no idea what I was getting into. I knew that I wanted to get back to a regular workout. What I didn’t know, was that not only would yoga provide me with a good sweat and introduce me to all sorts of muscles I didn’t know I had, it would impact my life even when I wasn’t on my mat. I fell hard and fast for yoga and am grateful to experience the peace and clarity it provides me on a daily basis. Since 2006 my career has focused my passion as I lead ‘character retreats’ at public schools around the country. I have encouraged over 50,000 middle and high school students to be the best version of themselves; to live with kindness, courage and respect in their hearts. I look forward to working with thousands more individuals, helping them find their best, most compassionate, peaceful, empowered version of themselves through the unifying power of yoga. I trust in what yoga has to offer each individual.

The idea of teaching yoga makes my heart pump faster and reminds me that the teacher in me, and the teacher in all of us, matters.


Carol Dines

For years after college, I practiced many kinds of yoga, but only after I herniated three discs in my early forties, did I begin to use yoga as a healing tool.  After being told that I would need surgery, I opted to go to New York to attend a week-long session on yoga for back-pain with Gary Kraftsow, one of the leading yoga therapists in the country.  I loved the teachings so much, I stayed another week for his workshop on yoga for anxiety and depression (thinking, of course, that I might as well hit all my challenges at once!)  I came back motivated to go deeper into my own practice, and a year later, began a teacher training program with Gary and the American Viniyoga Institute in California.  That was fifteen years ago.  I studied with Gary for eight years, completing both his 500-hour Teacher Training and the 500 hour Yoga Therapist Training.

Although I never intended to be a yoga teacher, (having had a fulfilling life as a writer and teacher), I found the teachings so profoundly useful, I wanted to share them. As I’ve entered my late fifties, I have found that my yoga practice continues to deepen and help me adapt to whatever challenges arrive, both physical and emotional.  As our bodies change, our spirit has an opportunity to deepen. Yoga has given me a way to stay close to my own experience, facing whatever comes my way.


Chantelle Ebben

I decided to try yoga to help with the postpartum depression I developed after the birth of my twins. I was instantly hooked by the invigorating energy that yoga offers the mind, body and spirit. I knew that yoga made me feel better and wanted to know why, so I enrolled in teacher training and earned my 200 HR certification from Core Power Yoga in 2011.

Still wanting to delve deeper into the history and philosophy of yoga, I enrolled in an intensive 500 HR training with Devanadi Yoga and  completed training in January 2013. Today I am continuing my studies, in Yoga and Ayurveda, with Dr. Lad at the Ayurvedic Institute in New Mexico. My teaching style is based primarily on Vinyasa, integrating the spiritual and practical guidance of Ayurveda. My classes provide a balance of challenge, strengthening vigor, and playfulness.


Vance Gellert

Hi! I was first introduced to yoga on a Mexican beach decades ago. I dabbled in it until 15 years ago when I began a regular practice of three times a week. When it became a daily practice a few years ago, I realized the connection of yoga to my other work. I have a background in the medical sciences, pharmacology. I became interested in plants as sources of new drugs, particularly those used as medicines by traditional and indigenous healers. I was specifically interested in the rituals and ceremonies surrounding the preparation and use of plant medicines. I journeyed to Bolivia and Peru to photograph them. That led to understanding that ritual, ceremony, costumes and environments are a critical part of engaging patients in their healing. It’s a matter of mindfulness, presence, and bringing calm. These are common to all healing practices including western medicine. That is also our yoga practice, both as we move through our asanas and what we take from our mat. I decided to attend Yoga Teacher Training to further immerse myself into this ancient practice, where I found an experience similar to what I had working with the shamans and healers of the Andes and Amazon. I’m developing my teaching practice to incorporate this ancient understanding into my classes and seek to intertwine the relationship of the mindfulness of healing with that of yoga. I am excited to share this practice with you, and as a professional photographer I plan to make this my new photo project.


Shirley Krohn

I am an enthusiastic, energetic graduate of Arizona Power Yoga and Baron Baptiste Institute.  I have been practicing yoga for over twenty years and teaching for ten years.  I am the owner of Protocol–an organizational development and training firm where I have developed seminars on leadership, teamwork and executive coaching for over thirty years throughout the United States and internationally.  I am also a steering member of the North-Central Psychomotor Society.  Practicing yoga has been my way to stay centered and balanced in my professional and personal life.  One of the key factors that led me to bring breath work and meditation into my work was noticing the stress that my clients exhibited with their interactions in the workplace. My classes are fun, inspirational and full of spunk, always emphasizing  the importance of bringing body, mind and spirit into balance.


Julia Marlow Fansler

I found yoga at a young age through an introduction to modern dance, and have now been a practitioner for over 12 years. I am constantly driven and inspired by Yoga’s medicinal benefits as well as its psychological enhancements. Yoga has taught me that healing can be realized in many ways, through all areas of the body, mind and life. My philosophy of teaching yoga balances the power of self-study, gratitude for the practice and surrender of the soul. In my Yoga Teacher Training Program I chose to focus on teaching beginners as well as advanced practitioners. I have also studied at Mind-Body-Solutions with Matthew Sanford. It is an honor to observe and teach all different types of bodies and minds and this work has greatly influenced my life and teaching. I make an effort to create a space for my students to both move within and expand outward. Teaching and participating with others in this way is amazing and also humbling. I seek to include teachings that represent historical movements and philosophies in a modern way while maintaining a loyalty to yoga’s authentic origins.


Shelley Pagitt

I cautiously walked into my first yoga class in 1999. I walked out with a sense of curiosity about the awakening I felt in my body and in my mind and spirit. After years of dualistic medical treatment for endometriosis and infertility, yoga became a compatible partner on my road toward holistic health. I am grateful for my challenges and count them among my teachers along the way.

Curiosity, and a deep desire for holistic wellness, inspire me to teach intentional yoga with space to explore deeper physical (asana), breath (pranayama) and mindfulness practices as we journey personally and collectively toward self-awareness and wholeness. I have been teaching yoga since 2007, and received my training at White Lotus Foundation (Santa Barbara), one of the first Yoga Teacher Training programs in the country. In my classes I encourage students of all abilities to practice patience while focusing on proper physical alignment. We learn to listen to our bodies as our breath guides us at each moment to honor our bodies and allow yoga to assist us on our life journey, finding compassion and joy along the way.

I carry the belief that our bodies, minds, emotions and spirits are essentially connected and that everything inside and outside of us is related to our well-being. This is why I also work as a Natural Health Coach. I honor the clients I work with, guiding them toward nutrition and lifestyle choices that support their health goals, which is often easier than they might expect. I am passionate about fertility and women’s health, and specialize in digestive disorders, organ and colon cleansing, and dizziness. If you would like more information, please connect with me. I am excited to share the joy of living a connected life with others as a Yoga Instructor, Health Coacher and Life Lover.


Chelsea Schmitz

I grew up in a very large, very close family. The oldest of four siblings and one of over 30 cousins, I grew up surrounded by kids, family and community. As a child, I was extremely shy and dealt with a lot of anxiety. Thus, I understand the pressures kids face, both self-imposed and otherwise.

I see yoga as a beautiful song and dance between breath, movement and meditation and have personally experienced the power of yoga in working toward a more balanced and joyful life. I strongly believe that children, especially, can use these helpful tools to gain a sense of emotional awareness and to better control of their reactions. As a former teacher in the New Orleans’ Recovery School District following Hurricane Katrina, I witnessed the positive impact on children when they focused on their breath. It seems to powerfully connect children with their inner being, thereby better connecting them to their own thoughts and feelings and the world around them.

I currently work as a juvenile advocacy attorney and restorative facilitator in public schools around the Twin Cities. I am inspired by the strength, resiliency, creativity and honesty of children and youth. I was trained and certified to teach yoga to kids and young adults through Kripalu Center in Massachusetts and Street Yoga, and I  have taught Kids Yoga at Yoga Sanctuary. I also teach adult yoga classes and believe that, through the power of breath and movement, we can better realize our deep interconnectedness, resulting in the ability to change the world for the better!

Tracy prayer

Tracy Vacura

I see yoga as a place for self-healing, wholeness and starting again.  I moved to MInneapolis after earning my MFA in Choreography from University of Iowa, and began teaching dance at St. Cloud State University.  When stress and injuries started to hold me back, I would drop in to Ben Vincent’s yoga class, which put enough of a band-aid on things that I could keep going.  After my daughter was born, I was eager to replace work-stress with Mom-stress, but found yoga—especially with Shelley Pagitt—to be a more necessary solace than before, to unwind the ropes of new responsibility and identity.   I completed the 235 hr yoga teacher training at Devanadi and started training in Healing Touch (a hands-on technique of energy therapy like Reiki), mostly because I wanted better tools to understand health and well-being—both mine and my family’s.  

While trying to help my own daughter find ways to be steady and calm, I found that if I coated an essential yoga technique with enough fun, she would readily swallow both the medicine and the spoonful of sugar.  This was my inspiration for Shape Shifters—a truly fun but also good-for-you class, combining the best elements of all my movement passions.  After 20 years of teaching kids in the dance and gymnastics world, I feel so blessed to get to teach them yoga—movement that teaches them strength, discipline, and body awareness, but also gives them tools they need for self-love, emotional intelligence and stress-reduction.

In 2017, I will complete a 9 month program of intensive Yoga Studies with Ben Vincent, and will continue working towards becoming a certified practitioner in Healing Touch.  As a teacher, I am hoping to help other people find tools to feel better—through breathing techniques, tapping into our own wisdom, smart alignment, and just changing our perspectives. The community and energy at Yoga Sanctuary are saturated with kindness and I love being part of it! 


Kelsey Thompson

Having had grown up an athlete in Minnesota, I first found yoga in 2012 after an injury and have been a devoted mat dweller ever since.  With a calling to spread the many joys of yoga, I graduated from HeartWork Studio’s Advanced Teacher Training in Northfield, MN in 2015 and am certified at the 200-hour level through Yoga Alliance. I am an entertaining and energetic teacher who is also certified in Barre and Kids Yoga. I work as a substitute teacher (K-12) and live in Minneapolis with my adorable puppy, Luka.  I enjoy good beer, good company and good weather. I enjoy teaching a variety of styles of yoga to all people who are willing to give it a try. I am excited to be teaching the Happy Hour Vinyasa Flow class on Fridays and hope to share some wine and cheese after class on the 3rd Friday of each month. 


Aubrey Weger

Why practice yoga? For me, the answer is simple: to return to our true nature. The work of cultivating a spiritual practice can reveal to us what we’ve been longing for: a rich, resilient sense of identity brimming with unconditional love, acceptance, and inner peace.

It’s my great joy to guide members of the Yoga Sanctuary community in the life-changing practices of yoga. I combine Asana (postures), Pranayama (breathwork), and Dhyana (meditation) practices in individual and group settings, with special emphasis on cultivating stillness of the mind.

My current work as an advocate for people experiencing homelessness and my background in music education inform and inspire my method of teaching the practices of yoga. I aim to teach in a way that engaging, inspiring, practical, and relevant for students from all walks of life, and in a way that empowers students to cultivate their own personal practice.

I earned my 200-hour certification under the inspired guidance of Jaina and Matt Portwood of Radiant Life Yoga, in Minneapolis. I’ve also completed trainings with the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Center in Grass Valley, CA, the Center for Mind-Body Medicine, and am currently pursuing a 500-hour teaching certification through Devanadi Yoga in Minneapolis.


Lynn Whitfield

Hi! My name is Lynn Whitfield and I received my 200 hour yoga teaching certificate from Rishikesh Yog Peeth in Rishikesh, India and my Ayurveda Yoga Specialist certificate in April 2014 at Devanadi Yoga. From 2010-1013 I lived in Asia and had the wonderful opportunity to learn and train with international teachers in the styles of Prana Vinyasa, Drishti Vinyasa and Yin yoga. I’ve also studied with Rod Stryker, Lauren Toolen, Tanya Boigenzahn and Ben Vincent. Currrently, I am taking the 500 hour Advanced Teacher Training course at Devanadi Yoga, graduating in July 2014.

Throughout my career as an elementary teacher I was blessed to have found yoga for emotional balance, spiritual growth and inner silence. When I attended my first yoga class 9 years ago, I knew this needed to be a life-long practice for me. From 2012-2013 I took a one year sabbatical in India and Nepal to deepen my knowledge of yoga as well as becoming certified in Thai massage. I am thrilled to be a part of the Yoga Sanctuary community to share this transformative, self-healing lifestyle with others. Come join me at my 6:30 Monday & Wednesday Morning Vinyasa classes and wake-up to your week in body, mind and soul! Namaste.