Lauren's yoga practice may have technically begun when she stood on her head to watch episodes of Sesame Street at the age of four, but she realized its much greater potential for turning her world upside down when she began practicing in earnest in 2001, after graduating from UNC. She completed her first yoga teacher training program in Pahoa, Hawaii, in 2002, and completed an Anusara training in 2006. She has taken several prenatal and postnatal teacher trainings during her years as an instructor and loves her work with expecting parents and those currently parenting. In 2016, she co-founded Whole Mama Yoga with fellow Carolina Yoga Instructor Alexandra DeSiato, to provide classes, workshops, retreats, and trainings to the perinatal population and those who serve them.
Ellese Nickles (DPT, RYT-200) was first introduced to yoga as a complement to her dance training. Although she was initially drawn to the physicality of mindful movement, she was interested in delving into the spiritual and philosophical aspects of yoga and meditation. She completed initial teacher training at Satchidananda Ashram in 2008. This transformative experience provided the foundation of Ellese’s teaching methods. Ellese completed her doctorate in physical therapy at UNC and uses her expertise in anatomy and neuromusculoskeletal issues to further guide her practice and teaching. Ellese’s classes emphasize intentional movement with focus on breath and alignment. Each practice ends with a guided deep relaxation to calm the nervous system, clear the mind, and connect you more deeply to your heart.
Lara (E-RYT 200) came to yoga with a tired body and an anxious mind and—over time and with practice—found both renewed on the mat. She began and deepened her yoga practice at O2 Yoga in Massachusetts, received her 200-hour training through Carolina Yoga Company, and completed her 85-hour Prenatal Yoga certification through Blue Point Yoga. In her classes, Lara emphasizes joyful and mindful movement, centered in community and grounded in the present moment. Visit Lara's website.
Sarah knows you may come to her
class just to see (but not pet) her adorable service dog, Eloise,
and that’s OK! Sarah came to yoga by way of sports and
military-related injuries, a reluctant practitioner at first, and
now a yoga evangelist who has taught since 2012.
She is an established
leader in the field of resilience-building and holistic wellness
who absolutely loves teaching yoga in a variety of settings: group
classes, private sessions, at schools and conferences, and for
service organizations. She believes that although yoga isn’t always
sunshine and butterflies, an element of joy is key to practice. You
can expect a unique, fresh, and fun teaching style that still
honors discipline and alignment, with a variety of modifications
and adaptations offered for any practitioner.
As an author, speaker, instructor, coach, and consultant, Sarah guides people who want to enhance the quality of their life through mindfulness-based practices, as well as individuals in top organizations around the world, including the U.S. Department of Defense and FORTUNE500 companies how to find clarity and build stronger, healthier lives. To learn more, visit her website SemperSarah.com.
Born and raised in Mexico City, Vanessa found a home in yoga when a new adventure took her and her young family to Miami, FL, in 2002. Her practice is centered on honoring and challenging the body through mindful/joyful movement and breath. Growing up, her movement was grounded on exploring the outdoors with her sisters and dancing to the rhythms of ballet and rock & roll. Her path took her to engage with her body as a tool when she became a professional actress, and later as a temple when her yoga practice and teaching began in 2004. Some of her most beloved and foundational teachers include Natalie Morales, Shiva Rea, Rod Stryker, Karen Prior, Pema Chodron, Thich Nhat Hahn, and, above all, Michael Stone. After almost 20 years in Miami, her search for a more gentle place brought her to Durham, where her practice now expands to the mountains. She aspires to connect with you, as you connect with yourself, through more movement exploration and with the intention to discover, heal and grow.
Vanessa is a childbirth educator and doula who welcomes pregnant people in her class.
Alaina connected with yoga for the first time while attending university in 2014. She was drawn to the practice as a way to carve out intentional space to disconnect from the responsibilities of every-day life and instead focus on reconnecting with the mind and body. Students in Alaina's classes will be given an opportunity to center themselves in the present and establish a mindful connection to their bodies through breath and movement. Alaina completed her 200-hour training through Carolina Yoga Company in 2020.
As an athlete, endurance sports coach, and continuing student of yoga, Sage Rountree understands the trickiness of balancing training (or life!) and a yoga practice. Sage's classes emphasize intention and efficiency—using the right form and the right breath for the task at hand. There's plenty of attention to core, the hips, and using the body, breath, and mind to focus. An Experienced Registered Yoga Teacher with the Yoga Alliance at the highest level (E-RYT 500), Sage has over sixteen years' experience teaching yoga to students of all levels and backgrounds, including several UNC teams and Coach Roy Williams, an ongoing student of over a decade.
Co-owner of the studio, director of our teacher trainings, and the author of nine books including The Athlete's Guide to Yoga, Everyday Yoga, Lifelong Yoga, and The Professional Yoga Teacher's Handbook, Sage has also written for Yoga Journal, Runner's World, Lava Magazine, and USA Triathlon Magazine. Visit Sage's website.
Alexandra DeSiato (E-RYT 500) has been teaching movement classes for nearly ten years. Drawn to Pilates and yoga to heal a running injury, she quickly found that yoga changed her attitude, spirit, and heart, too. Alexandra’s movement practice focuses on several areas: yoga for healthy aging, yoga for motherhood, and yoga with clear intention.
With Sage Rountree, Alexandra has co-authored two books: Lifelong Yoga, a guide to yoga for healthy aging, and Teaching Yoga Beyond the Poses, a book for teachers and advanced practitioners who want to create yoga practices with clear themes. With Lauren Sacks, Alexandra co-created Whole Mama Yoga, which offers prenatal, postnatal, and mama-focused classes, and is a Yoga Alliance-certified Prenatal & Postnatal Yoga Teacher Training program. She teaches flow yoga, Pilates, prenatal and postnatal series and workshops, and more at Carrboro Yoga Company. Read more at alexandradesiato.com.
Christine is a breath-based and alignment-based yoga teacher who has been practicing yoga for almost ten years and teaching for over five. Originally from Chicago, Christine has taught all over the world, from Chicago to Bali, and Thailand to Mexico. She loves other cultures, languages, and teaching. Her passion shows in her teaching, and you will walk away feeling grounded and empowered. Her focus has shifted from Ashtanga and vinyasa practices to more gentle types, like hatha and yin. Christine teaches yin classes at Carrboro Yoga, consisting of a series of long-held, ground-based poses, followed by a long savasana, breath work, and meditation. She will encourage you to modify—or let you know what extra step you can do. Come as you are and restore your balance. She hopes to see you on the mat soon!
Since 2005, Brianna has felt blessed to share her yoga practice with her students and learn from many inspiring teachers. Brianna has run over 10 marathons and a couple 50Ks. Yoga keeps her joints lubricated and her bones and muscles strong. Yoga and mindfulness have grounded her through long runs, career life, pregnancy, and motherhood. She can’t imagine life without yoga practice. Supporting other women and families who are finding inner strength along their journey into parenthood has become one of her passions, and she enjoys witnessing and sharing in that experience. Brianna also coaches individualized fitness classes for kids.
Brianna strives to make yoga classes accessible and challenging to students at any fitness level. Students create a positive relationship where body, mind, and breath can create harmony and peace within. She leads active, flowing vinyasa-style classes with liberal doses of traditions ranging from Ashtanga to Kundalini. Brianna loves teaching yoga because it allows her to help others improve their physical, physiological, and psychological health.
Diana has been teaching fitness classes ever since Jane Fonda was first wearing leggings in the eighties! But when she began practicing yoga twenty years ago she discovered that it was far more than a workout, and in fact has been a powerful transformational force in her life. Diana has explored many branches of the yoga tree with remarkable teachers and attended our own CYC 200-hour teacher training. Her classes invite intention to both the fundamentals and nuances of alignment, encourage curiosity about your practice and compassion towards your whole self. Diana's yoga guidance is often enlivened by humor, metaphor, and the knowledge that yoga can be a lifelong gift of learning and exploration.
Lauren is a South Florida native and taught many styles of yoga in Miami before she moved to Chapel Hill in June 2020. She got her start in yoga when she was physically disabled from chronic illness. Her yoga practice was a large piece of her healing journey—and still is! She is very interested in neurobiology and how it relates to movement rehabilitation, as well as improv dance and somatics. Lauren likes to pull from various styles of yoga and somatics and integrate these ideas into a coherent and accessible class for anyone to learn more about their own movement potential and possibilities. She likes to encourage “feeling” over “how it looks” when it comes to yoga postures and practice. Lauren loves to meet new people and share conversations and experiences within the yoga and movement realm—feel free to talk to her before or after class if you'd like to connect!
A lifelong athlete, Leslie finally discovered Sage Rountree’s Yoga for Athletes class a dozen years ago as a runner and tennis player in desperate need of improved flexibility. After playing a variety of sports in high school, running in college, and in constant pursuit of new athletic adventures as an adult, Leslie learned that a yoga class targeting tight, athletic bodies was the answer to her constant stiffness and increasing incidence of injury. Since completing Sage’s Yoga for Athletes Teacher Training several years back, Leslie’s goal has been to share the incredible benefits of yoga with athletes of all ages. Leslie’s classes include Yoga for Athletic Balance and Yoga for Daily Life. Leslie helps athletes and everyone learn to listen to their bodies, connect with their breath, and reap the benefits of developing appropriate flexibility and range of motion, as well as improved balance. Leslie’s classes are perfect for active folks of all ages who are interested in adding a function-focused yoga practice to their lives.
Lena Wedeen Santacaterina teaches the tools of yoga and communication that are necessary to navigate life’s many twists and turns. She is a speech language pathologist, graduate of Carolina Yoga Company’s 200-Hour YTT program, and a rusty slam poet. Lena has additional certifications in teaching yoga for children who are differently abled and in harnessing the brain for healing and happiness. She has been practicing yoga since adolescence and is dedicated to creating connection through the pursuit of knowledge and practice of movement meditation. To learn more about Lena, visit BranchoutNC.com.
Lorie was hooked on Pilates from her first class in a sweaty gym in New Jersey. She has been passionate about sharing Pilates with others (whoever will listen, really!) ever since. Join her for a class and leave feeling longer and leaner. Pilates helps to strengthen your core (your “powerhouse”), to keep you mindful and aware of your body, to make your movements more efficient, to balance you. Come try Pilates—your yoga practice, your long Saturday morning run, your hunched shoulders will thank you for it!
Lindsey believes yoga, at its core, is a practice of self-care that prepares us for community care. Being able to get up in an arm balance or twist yourself into a pretzel is one way to mark progress in yoga, but if this practice can help us treat each other with greater dignity, compassion, and respect—well, now we're really getting somewhere. Students in Lindsey’s classes can look forward to an uplifting balance of centering meditation and invigorating asana. Her sequencing draws from Ashtanga, Jivamukti, and Power Yoga, with an emphasis on helping students feel strong and steady. She received her 200-hour certification from Carolina Yoga Company, and her 300-hour Advanced Studies certification at the Asheville Yoga Center. She is an RYT 500, registered with Yoga Alliance.
Melissa's teaching draws on her own eclectic experience of practicing a wide range of yoga styles for more than 20 years. A former collegiate soccer player, Melissa understands the mental stress of athletes and other high achievers. The path of yoga has transformed her approach to exercise, physical care, and mental wellbeing. Melissa began teaching in 2019 to share the many benefits of yoga with others. She strives to be an inclusive and trauma-informed yoga teacher, welcoming students new to yoga as well as experienced practitioners. It’s her goal to ensure yoga is a positive experience and practice for anyone who wants it.
Robin discovered yoga later in life after suffering years of debilitating back pain that exercise and Western medicine could not ease. Starting with 25 years of experience in human physiology, biochemistry, genetics, and neuroscience, she embarked on a two-year journey to heal herself through daily rituals of yoga, insight meditation, and mindfulness practices. Robin is now a healed, committed student of yoga and concentrates her research and teaching on the valuable intersection between Eastern and Western practices to promote inner and outer well-being. Since graduating from the Carolina Yoga Company teacher training, she relishes all opportunities to share these insights with others and inspire them to find their own unique healing power through yoga, allowing their practice to unfold without force for their own individual needs and intentions.
Robin’s classes are alignment-based, focusing on the length, strength, and integrated movement of the spine and core muscles. She grounds her classes on the theme of treating with opposites to achieve balance—easing constriction and moving the body, the breath, and mind in an opposing manner to life’s everyday habits and stresses. She welcomes all students, whether new to yoga; suffering from shoulder, back, or hip pain; experienced yogis dealing with aging or injury, or those simply wishing to feel more comfortable and balanced.
Tom Sowders (RYT200) has been teaching yoga since 2018 but will always remain a humble student. For Tom, yoga—whether Yin, Ashtanga, Iyengar, or any of the other types—is not just about postures. Yoga is a way of being. Tom's classes create an environment in which you can tune your awareness to the joys of movement and of stillness.
Tom's Yin Yoga classes target the dense connective tissues of the body, which are difficult to open and can result in limited flexibility and stagnant energy. Tom's classes are gentle, yet intense, helping you unwind tension in your body and cultivate the ability to observe and stay with prolonged sensation. Tom encourages curiosity, exploration, and attention, as he co-creates space for students to feel whatever they are feeling and to know that they are supported and free of all expectations.
- Lauren Sacks
- Ellese Nickles
- Lara Goodrich Ezor
- Sarah Plummer Taylor
- Vanessa Michel
- Alaina Godfrey
- Sage Rountree
- Alexandra DeSiato
- Christine Veit
- Brianna Bennett
- Diana Newton
- Lauren Amado
- Leslie Morgan
- Lena Santacaterina
- Lorie Mody
- Lindsey Alexander
- Mary Reddinger
- Melissa Eggleston
- Robin DeMent
- Tom Sowders