Yoga Sanctuary
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Instructors

Our Instructors

 
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David John Carlson

David John Carlson - My personal practice the past three years has provided me healing, growth, and revealed my inner joy. So much more than the physical benefits, my daily yoga practice has transformed my mind and spirit, allowing me to see and experience life through a clearer lens, an open heart and a calmer soul. I teach yoga to help my students realize transformation in their own lives.

I first stepped onto my mat in December of 2014. After 30 years as a distance runner, completing 16 marathons, as many half marathons, and a handful of triathlons, it was time for a change. My initial exploration of bikram and vinyasa classes soon found me practicing daily, meeting myself on my mat every day. I completed my 200 hour Power Teacher Training in the Fall of 2015 and 50 hours Extension Training in January of 2016 through CorePower Yoga. I began co-teaching a donation based community yoga class at Yoga Sanctuary in March of 2017. I joined the CPY teaching staff in September 2017. Teaching from the perspective of "yoga is for every BODY", I encourage students to meet themselves on their mat right where they are every day, with presence of mind and breath focus, and accept themselves with compassion, non-judgment and explore with childlike wonder in their practice on and off the mat

 
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Hayley Crabb

I was first exposed to yoga freshman year of college, but yoga didn’t become an integral part of my life until 2013, when I (begrudgingly) signed up for a vinyasa class at the request of a good friend (it was her birthday). I then found myself hooked by the calm and renewal I found each time I came to my mat.
Four years later I moved from Chicago to the Twin Cities and used this change as an opportunity to deepen my yoga practice and build a community in my new home. I completed the 230-hour registered yoga teacher training program here at Yoga Sanctuary in spring 2019.


I truly believe yoga is for everybody/every body – it’s about finding the right yoga for YOU! As a teacher and a human, I value and practice compassion and kindness (with a bit of humor sprinkled in here and there). As a teacher I encourage you to come as you are, and I will offer a space that allows you to find stillness, practice mindfulness, and explore your edges. Expect modifications and lots of encouragement to play with props!
I am thrilled to get the opportunity to teach at the studio where I completed my yoga teacher training program!

 
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JENNIFER DAVIS 

Hello! My name is Jennifer Davis (Jenn) and I am a self-proclaimed lover of life and all that it encompasses. My Yoga practice helps me to feel love on all levels- physically, spiritually and emotionally. Best of all, it just feels so good!! 

My journey began in 2002 with classes at the Uptown YWCA. I continued my practice through three pregnancies, deciding to become an instructor in 2015. Completing my 200-RYT (230-hr training) through the Yoga Center of Minneapolis, I discovered how little I actually knew about Yoga(!)… and my true self. It was an overwhelming and enlightening experience, one that I recall on a daily basis with my practice and teaching.

I continue to seek knowledge from whatever source presents itself. I am certified in Restorative Yoga, Kids Yoga, ForeverWell (Senior) Yoga, Mat Pilates & Pilates Reformer. I love to learn new sequences and different ways to approach asanas. I like to mix it up with different things in each class. I want you to truly be IN your body- present with mind, body & breath, to FEEL your body with a good workout & energizing music, and to UNPLUG/RECONNECT with yourself and your community. You will feel challenged, encouraged and uplifted.  I look forward to meeting you!

 
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Courtney Dingman

Yoga tried to find me through asana 20 years ago but I grew in another direction and we lost touch. It whispered to me nine years ago but I did not heed the call. We found each other in 2014 and it was an immediate connection. Yoga has been there, patiently waiting, arms open, to welcome my return – no judgments, just gratitude for finding my way back.

I believe yoga is a deeper understanding of life. It is the integration, the yoking, of our inner and outer world. Yoga offers a safe space to heal our wounds – physical, mental, and emotional.

In May 2019, I completed 230 hours of Holistic Teacher Training at Yoga Sanctuary studying with Shelley Pagitt and Tracy Vacura. I am excited and grateful for the opportunity to teach at the studio that has been so significant to me as a student.

I welcome you to be yourself and show up without judgments, doubts, fears, or expectations. Yoga is peace, love and self-acceptance.

 

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, as well as Herbal Studies. 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.

 
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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.

 

 

 
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Carla Gesell

I fell in love with yoga the first time I stepped on the mat.

This is where, as I gently allowed myself to quiet down into a space of my own I truly met myself. Since then the practices of yoga have wound their way deeply into every aspect of my life. Now as an integrative life coach and yoga therapist, I am both excited and honored to hold space as students find their own way into this same awareness. Whether it’s in a group class, a yoga workshop or in a private session, I’m continuously amazed at how the transformational magic of yoga reveals itself. It’s always here, at the meeting of mind, body and breath, that we find more balance, more peace and more light.

My yoga teaching began with the completion of a 200 hour yoga teacher training certification program. I then happily followed my heart straight into further discovery and exploration of yoga therapies, philosophies, and holistic healing by attending a variety of workshops as well as an intensive yoga therapy teacher training program with Integrative Yoga Therapy founders Joseph and Lillian LePage, from whom I earned my 500 Yoga Therapy Certification, and I haven’t looked back.

My appreciation of yoga expands every single day as I weave the practices into my life and continue to host classes, workshops, and retreats with others. I really look forward to meeting you on the mat!

 
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Marjorie Grevious

I have been practicing yoga for over 40 years and have grown more serious about yoga study and teaching over the last 10 years. I completed 230 hours of Yoga Teacher Training in 2012 at the Yoga Center of Minneapolis. In 2011 I volunteered at Kripalu Yoga Center, for over 4 months as a residential volunteer, where I lived and worked in community with other yogis from all over the world and attended workshops with leading yoga teachers. I also have  certification in Street Yoga for trauma informed yoga teaching, Yin Yoga, and Restorative Yoga training. In addition to teaching at Yoga Sanctuary, I enjoy leading classes for special populations such as at-risk youth, a black women's health study, and queer women of color.

We welcome Marjorie to Yoga Sanctuary. She is teaching the Wednesday night, 7-8:15pm Hatha + Restorative Class. Please come in and meet Marjorie in person. :)

 
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GREG HINES

Vinyasa Yoga stems from the Sanskrit term nyasa, which means "to place" combined with the prefix vi meaning "divided or apart". It implies discernment and skillful sequencing. My first skillful steps on the yoga path began, as many yoga journeys do, with two feet on a rented mat in March of 2008. A steady, physical asana practice paved the way for personal enrichment and growth. An interest in meditation preceded my yoga path and informs my practice to move in pace with the limitless resources provided in the present moment.

I've taught yoga in Denver, Minneapolis and St. Paul. Over the last decade, I’ve received two 200-Hour Teacher Training certificates in Power Vinyasa and Hot Yoga formats. I’ve trained with Jaina Portwood in Radiant Life’s Yin Yoga Teacher Training. In May of 2018, I completed an additional anatomy-intensive 300-hour Teacher Training in CorePower Yoga’s first 500-hour Teacher Training pilot. In pursuit of more comprehensive personal practice, I've worked with Ben Vincent in the 9-month Yoga Studies program and Vinyasa Krama Immersion. I feel incredible gratitude for the many mentors I’ve received on this path who support and sustain my desire to grow as a student and teacher.

As the years pass, I keenly recognize the value in widening the lenses through which we see the world. My yoga classes offer students space to interpret the body as a vehicle to evoke deeper meaning in their lives. As we reclaim our sensitivity, the body unfolds before the senses and can more profoundly encounter the world with kindness, generosity and curiosity.  Atha yoganusasanum!

 
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Hannah Jansen

My yoga journey began one summer vacation of college, probably around 2010, at my parent’s home in Maine. My mom had just purchased a Rodney Yee yoga DVD, a collection of twenty minute yoga sequences. I quickly purchased my own copy and brought it back to school with me at the University of Wisconsin, where I continued my home practice, led by Rodney Yee’s DVDs, through the remainder of college.

After moving around the country a few times, I settled in Minneapolis. As fate would have it, my first Labor Day weekend here, I was looking for something new to try and had recently noticed a yoga studio in the basement of a church kitty-corner to my apartment. I walked into Yoga Sanctuary that day not really knowing what would happen - and I immediately found my new home. Since 2013, I have practiced yoga in this space, learning that I am most myself when I am on my mat.

When Yoga Sanctuary offered their inaugural 230-hour Holistic Yoga Teacher Training in 2018, I knew I had to participate. Our group spent 9 life-changing months learning and growing our yogic minds together, and I graduated with my RYT-200 certification in May 2019. I can't wait to share yoga, breath, and life with you!

 
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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. I teach to all levels and enjoy incorporating dynamic and therapeutic movement so everyone can access the wonderful benefits of yoga. 

 
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Melissa Lavoie

My yoga journey began in 2010 while in NYC studying Dance and Psychology. As someone who grew up going to church and pondering the mysteries of life at a very young age I was naturally intrigued with a more spiritual, holistic approach to movement and life. I began taking a variety of yoga and meditation courses around NYC and committed myself to becoming a conduit for healing, and to enhance the health and lives of those around me.

I am passionate about teaching yoga and practicing Reiki. I have advanced training in Hatha, Yin, Restorative and Therapeutic Principles. I am currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Health and Wellness Coaching at the U of M in hopes of expanding my practices and offerings to others. One of my main goals is to help educate students with tools and techniques that cultivate peace in their lives. In my classes I invite folks into mindful practice invoking kindness and encouragement to arrive just as you are.

 
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Jennifer Manion

A passionate student of Yoga, I came to the practice through the physical postures or asanas, and quickly found myself drawn to the other teachings and facets of this approach to life, community, mind, and self-realization. I am currently rounding out a 600-hour teacher-training program with the Association of Himalayan Yoga Meditation Societies International, and am an initiate in this tradition. I am registered with Yoga Alliance, with RYT-500 standing.

By leading others in Yoga meditation, hatha, pranayama, and subtle body exercises, I hope to share the beauty of self-transformation that such practices awaken. A poet, philosopher, and writer, I am both fascinated by and convinced of the relevance of ancient Yogic thought to the modern world and our common yearning for grace, beauty, connection, bliss, and truth. I earned my MA and PhD in philosophy from The Johns Hopkins University.

 
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Angie Meillier RN, MS, EEM-CP

Angie is a nurse, mom, advocate and nature lover who specializes in energy medicine and holistic wellness. Working with a diverse range of clients, Angie has seen how energy clearing and balancing can do great things! She approaches each person with the belief that the body is filled with an incredible self-healing potential and that true healing comes from within. Using energy technique to instill greater balance in the multi-layered energy system (meridians, chakras, aura, etc.) and crystal-quartz singing bowls, visualization and breath work to promote self-care, empowerment and positive behavior change, Angie brings both proven complementary practices and her passion for teaching to Yoga Sanctuary.

Angie is a nurse with 20+ years combined experience in nursing, healthcare leadership and complementary therapies. Angie holds a Bachelor of Science and Master of Science, graduating with honors and as a member of Sigma Theta Tau from the University of Minnesota. Additionally, she completed professional Cancer Guides training through the Center of Mind Body Medicine, attained a Graduate Minor in Integrative Therapies and Healing Practices from the Center for Spirituality & Healing and most recently, completed both Spring Forest Qigong certification and a 3-year energy medicine training program through InnerSource, earning certification as an energy medicine clinical practitioner. As Angie settles deeply into energy work, she continues to expand her knowledge through one-on-one mentorships with advanced practitioners in Sound Therapy, Classical Five-Elements Acupuncture and Shamanism.

 
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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 greatest teachers.

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. I also completed an Intensive 9-month Yoga Studies program with Ben Vincent in May 2017. In my classes I encourage students of all abilities to practice patience while focusing on proper physical alignment. My background is in Child Psychology and I enjoy creating and teaching safe, fun, relational yoga to young and old-er alike. We learn to listen to our bodies as our breath guides us at each moment, 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 using yoga, Ayurveda, Traditional Chinese Medicine and Traditional Foods, which is often easier than one might expect. I am passionate about fertility and women’s health, and specialize in digestive disorders, organ and colon cleansing, anxiety 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.

 
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Chelsea Schmitz

I grew up in a very large, very close family. The oldest of four siblings and one of over 30 cousins, I was surrounded by 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 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!

 
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Michelle Steffen MPT, RYT-200


I have taught group fitness since age 16 and have held a fascination of the human body for as long as I can remember. This led to becoming a physical therapist in 2001 and a yoga teacher in 2009 after studying with Yoga North in Duluth. I have an unquenchable thirst for knowledge, service, justice, wonder, and being in right relationship with the earth. I practice mindfulness and bring this lens to my classes. The Yamas and Niyamas, ethical yoga principles, are constant teachers. My intent in teaching is to provide an invitation and container for students to explore the landscape of sensation, movement, and feeling to bring deeper awareness of who they truly are and how to tend to themselves from moment to moment.

I am grateful to all my teachers, students, community, and Yoga Sanctuary. When I'm not practicing Integrative and Women’s health physical therapy at the hospital, I'm with my two kids, our dog, and my supportive partner.

 
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CHRISTINE TRAN

At age 13, I started learning about yoga on my own through a wonderful book called Yoga for Beginners by Mark Ansari and Liz Lark. As a nerdy, uncoordinated kid, I started noticing that yoga helped me feel more confident and at home in my body. To learn more, I started attending vinyasa classes at Samadhi Yoga (RIP) in Seattle in 2003. The next year, I decided to skip high school and attended the Transition School/Early Entrance Program at the University of Washington instead, matriculating as a freshman in 2005. Those years were full of growth and exciting opportunities, but they were also full of doubt, fear, and uncertainty -- my yoga practice was an anchor that helped me feel grounded through it all.

In 2011, I moved to Minnesota to attend Mayo Medical School and recently completed my Internal Medicine residency through the University of Minnesota in 2018. Yoga was a safe place for me to reconnect my mind with my body and heart (the latter two of which can fall to the wayside during medical training). As a yoga teacher, I strive to help students tune in to awareness in class -- that calm, still, peaceful space within each of us that is always present but sometimes gets lost in the noise of our everyday lives. I completed Yoga Sanctuary's Holistic Yoga Teacher Training in May 2019 and am excited to share my love of yoga with the world.

 
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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.  

I began teaching Shape Shifters to preschoolers at Yoga Sanctuary—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 love sharing yoga with them—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 May 2017, I completed a 9 month program of intensive Yoga Studies with Ben Vincent, and became a Certified Healing Touch Practitioner in 2018.  Partnering with Shelley to create the Holistic Yoga Teacher Training and Personal Transformation program has been an amazingly fulfilling experience, and I’m looking forward to more opportunities to dig deeper and deeper into yoga. As a teacher, I love to help 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! 

 
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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. I completed the 500 hour Advanced Teacher Training course at Devanadi Yoga in 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. 

 
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Karen Youso - Pilates Instructor

Karen Youso has been teaching movement and exercise most of her life. At 16, she worked as a Red Cross swim instructor and continued into college. After college, where she was trained by Milwaukee Ballet instructors, she returned to the Twin Cities and trained in British ballet techniques and began teaching ballet classes.

Meanwhile, to indulge her other passion, writing, she took a position as a feature writer for the Star Tribune Newspaper. She continued to teach ballet and movement as an avocation for 25 years, while raising three sons and making sure all three were trained in dance and body movement.

In 2010, with children grown, she stepped away from the newspaper and the barre. Building on her training and experience in dance, kinesiology and body work, she became a certified Pilates instructor. She now teaches Pilates in mat classes and to private clients. Meanwhile, she continues to work and train around the Twin Cities, especially with movement specialist, Sharon Picasso, at Flourish Studio in Minneapolis.