The Team at Sukha Studios
Anakira Gabriella-Graça has taught yoga for over 6 years in the Modesto area. She works full time for Pearson Education as an Implementation Specialist for their higher education division on local California college campuses. This travel affords her the opportunity to explore other courses that enhance her teaching. She has a passion for fitness and lives every day to the fullest. She is married and has two wonderful sons. Her yoga practice combines elements of Vinyasa Flow with principles of Iyengar. Her goal is to help practitioners of yoga to have great alignment so they can get the most out of their practice.
RYT – 200, Prime of Life Yoga (POLY) Certified I’ve been practicing yoga for several years and began teacher training solely to deepen my own practice by learning the anatomy and philosophy behind yoga. During training we learned numerous different styles, and when we started to delve into Gentle Yoga and, it spoke to me deeply. I decided to start teaching Gentle Yoga and I am excited to share it with Modesto community. I completed my RYT from Now & Zen in February 2016 with Deb Marweg, and have so much gratitude for all my teacher and everyone I am able to practice with on my journey.
I received my 200 hour Teaching Certification in 2012 while I was living in Cleveland, Ohio. During that time I also began to practice the traditional yoga method of Ashtanga Yoga, which is what I still practice and teach today. I have a Bachelor of Fine Art from the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, Maryland, where I studied Painting and Photography. After I’ve completed my yoga practice for the day, my passions include my day job in marketing and growing my own photography business. Future plans include participating in Modesto’s growing Ashtanga Yoga community, spontaneous travel, personal and career growth, and enjoying every day.
“Let the beauty we love be what we do.” –Rumi Yoga has transformed my life and continues to be a journey that reveals territories of my soul that I have never had the courage to explore. 8 years ago I took my first yoga class at home and with my mother and it wasn’t the best yoga class in the world, but it opened up my eyes and I was hooked. Life became very very busy for me and yoga slowly started dissipating from my life, then 3 years ago I took a Yoga PE class at Stan State and my passion was rekindled. Without the intensive yoga and climbing routine I had settled into, I never would have been able to make it through the exhaustive geology program I was completing. A year and a bit ago, I began a job for a junior mining company in Mariposa. At first I loved my job…then I started to hate it. I wasn’t treated with respect, the environment wasn’t treated with respect, and I stopped respecting myself. I became lost in my “career” and no longer recognized myself, my goals in life, or really anything. It was work all the time, work… and money… lots of money. Then the job was done. I finally had time to adventure! I spent the rest of the warm season backpacking, mountain biking, and rediscovering my inner beauty and strength. I finally made it back to Warrior Yoga and then my real journey began. I decided to become a yoga instructor in September 2016 and decided to enroll in the 8-week Core Power Yoga teacher training. This has been quite a journey, I have grown into places of myself I didn’t know I would be able to touch again. I am working toward my full potential and I can’t wait to see how teaching continues my personal growth. In my classes, you can expect sweaty OM-azing fun with some quiet introspective moments. I am grateful to be welcomed into this beautiful community and can’t wait to introduce and encourage my students to their own edge while surrounded by comfortable surroundings and an inclusive community. I can’t wait to SEE you! Namaste,
Beth the Ballerina is originally from Atlanta, Georgia. She moved to Modesto in 2016 to dance professionally with Central West Ballet. With an active lifestyle in ballet, she sought out yoga at a young age to build strength and find a relaxing escape. She also has practiced Pilates for ten years to strengthen her core for her ballet training. Beth likes to balance out her busy schedule with a morning Pilates reformer class to get her muscles working, and an evening of Vinyasa Flow Yoga to strengthen her body. With the help of these classes, she can enjoy a long and healthy career in ballet. Beth loves working in the calm, yet focused environment at Sukha, and looks forward to spending more time in the good space.
Bonnie Stewart, RN, CCRN,E-RYT, CLYT, received her 500 hour YTT certification with her teacher Dr. Chintamani Gautam, PhD in Yogic Science, Sanskrit, and Human Consciousness. She continues to assist her teacher in developing and leading YTT courses in Nepal. A student of Hatha Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, and Tantra Yoga for many years, Sanskrit and mantra have been a core part of her education. Bonnie has studied primarily in Southeast Asia, India, and Nepal and she has been initiated into the Shakta Tantra and Kundalini Maha Yoga lineages. She serves as Director of Bhakti Yoga at Sukha Studios in Modesto, CA, where she also leads a monthly kirtan. A strong believer in laughter as medicine, she has led Hasya (laughter) Yoga workshops all over the world. Bonnie also practices Thai Yoga massage, Reiki, Tibetan Singing Bowl healing, and other forms of intuitive bodywork and energy healing. Her career as a trauma and cardiac nurse has led her to specialize in trauma release, PTSD, and other heart-centered healing. She holds Bachelor’s degrees in Nursing, Nutrition, and Exercise Physiology.
Dave Villers, CMT, has practiced massage & bodywork for 17 years. His Eeclectic studies also include many forms of energy work, shamanism, yoga, and mindfulness. Dave’s certifications include Body Tune-Up School of Massage (200 hours), Golden State Massage School (500 hours), St Paul Neuromuscular Therapy Seminar, and Your Sacred Destiny.
Meditation teacher primarily in yoga centers, workshops, and private teachings. Knowledgeable and experienced in most schools of yoga and meditation, including Vedanta, Buddhist (Zen and Vipassana), Taoism, and Sufi Order of Islam. Dennis received his Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry in 1960 from the University of Houston. Publications: Hill, Dennis, The Inner Yoga of Happiness, Trafford Publishing, 2008. Hill, Dennis, Yoga Sutras: The Means to Liberation, Trafford Publishing, 2007. Hill, Dennis, and Luo, Ping. Spiritual Health and Healing, Trafford Publishing, 2010. Hill, Dennis, Vedanta Lexicon: An Encyclopedic Sanskrit Dictionary. 2004. Published Monographs for Teacher Training: Hill, Dennis. Major Upanishads Illustrated: Commentary on the Major Upanishads, 2010. Hill, Dennis. Samadhi: The Natural State: Commentary on Thirty Six Verses from Vasistha Samhita Yoga Kanda, 2011.
I’m married and have 3 very active girls. Having spent six years in the military I developed a very regimented lifestyle of health and fitness, for which I’m truly grateful and try to pass along to my children. During that time, I became a runner. However, along with running came injuries. A herniation to my L5S1 disc rocked my world over 15 years ago. The doctors told me that I should never run again. I knew I needed something else to rehabilitate my back and return to my active lifestyle. I found Pilates and became certified through Grace Anatomy Studio in Studio City, CA. As I’ve continued my practice in Pilates and education, I also became Barre Certified through the Sharpe-Method and TRX certified in SF in 2016. My love for Pilates and overall health and fitness continues to grow more each day and I look forward to helping you along your personal fitness journey.
“If your mind is open, your heart and body will follow.” Elisa has dedicated her life to promoting good health and body awareness to the people in her community. She 's a certified Yoga instructor. She has been teaching mat Pilates for the past two years and is certified with Ellie Herman Pilates School in Oakland, CA. Being a dedicated Yogi for the past ten years she has embraced her love of body movement and awareness through her dedicated practice of Pilates and Yoga. She is proud to share her knowledge with all. Elisa has been engaged with her Pilates and yoga practice because it is her life’s purpose to challenge others and build confidence. Keeping her centered and balanced in her mind and body, she is devoted to sharing the promises that her Pilates and Yoga practice brings to people of all body types, ages, and abilities. Her personal belief that Pilates and Yoga shows you how you can do anything, "as long as you try and want it bad enough" is the guiding principle of her practice. Her classes aim to create a space that challenges students to tune into mind body connection while emphasizing on proper form for traditional Pilates exercises with a Yoga influence building core, overall body strength, and flexibility with focus to breath and movement.
Group exercise, personal training, lifestyle weight management coach, water fitness, Yoga, Pilates, Barre, Les Mills: Body Pump, Body Flow, Jungshin, Trigger Point, Urban Strip Tease, Spin, Aerial Yoga, and seniors. I began teaching group exercise 26 years ago. Soon after, I became certified as a personal trainer and launched into a full-time career in the gym. I worked for over 17 years as a group exercise director in charge of all classes and training. During those years I continued to teach group exercise classes and keep current with the fitness trends. I was fortunate to be awarded twice in an international contest for the “Best Senior Citizen Group Exercise Program” through Golds Gym. I also taught and managed a Pilates studio within Golds Gym for many years. I love my clients and making a difference in their lives. There is no better feeling than knowing your clients left you feeling better than they came in!
Emily Combs lives in Modesto. She grew up doing acrobatics and naturally gravitated toward yoga in college. Yoga was much better because it made her body, mind, and spirit feel so good! She is deeply inspired by Iyengar yoga and the transformative power of the practice. After having children and suffering chronic low back pain because of difficult deliveries, her practice became more focused on gentle and therapeutic uses of yoga. She has studied with many wonderful instructors, but she considers Leslie Howard and Gay White her two most influential teachers. She has studied the pelvic floor with Leslie and recently completed her "Pelvic Revolution" teacher training.
I fell in love with Pilates 13 years ago. Having struggled with an eating disorder the practice helped me discover my body in a positive light and now I hope to share my passion and the magic of Pilates with as many bodies as possible. I received my Pilates certification through the Physical Mind Institute 7 years ago and have been teaching full time ever since. I graduated from The Pacific Conservatory for the Performing Arts and spent a lifetime performing. Who'd of thought that my training as a performer would prepare me for a career as a Pilates teacher but I have found a little entertainment goes a long way. Besides, what better way to activate your abdominal muscles than a good belly laugh? Having been a competitive gymnast and professional dancer my teaching style is an energetic balance of focused mind body connection and athletic movement that is rooted in Classic Pilates technique. My hope is that you leave my class with a sense of confidence that comes from feeling strong, balanced and positive about your body.
Hilary is an intuitive, entrepreneur, and certified holistic health coach who works to empower women by teaching tools to access intuition and clear energetic blocks. She is currently training as a Shamanic practitioner, has practiced yoga on and off for 15 years, and was a dance and fitness instructor at various studios Los Angeles for 6 years. She’s been trained in energy processing and intuitive reading on and off for 10 years, mentored by Lisa Bliss Reed (Orem, UT). Hilary currently works with clients locally through her “Release and Renew” Intensives and Sound Healing Meditations, as well as coaches private clients. She received her Holistic Health Coach Certification from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition in 2011. Other notable accomplishments include recently selling the women’s e-commerce clothing brand, White Plum, which Hilary started out of her living room in 2012 and turned it into a company that did over $20M in total revenue over the three plus years she and her partners operated the business. Hilary has been featured in several newspapers, podcasts and has presented at large fashion industry conferences. Before starting her family, Hilary was an award-winning ballroom dancer and choreographer performing all over the world, and has appeared in several live shows, film and TV shows including MTV’s “Made,” OXYGEN’s “Dance Your Ass Off” and was the lead fitness instructor in the “Dance Your Ass Off” Fitness DVD sold nationwide at Target and Walmart. She is a graduate of Brigham Young University. Hilary is currently working on a book about mindfulness and spirituality in entrepreneurship and is designing a new line of products for her next co-founded start-up, Soul Perch, Inc.
I was born in El Salvador and grew up in Germany, I have lived most of my adult life here in California and could not picture myself living anywhere else. I am the first Bikram Yoga teacher in the world to graduate from my little country of El Salvador and I hope someday El Salvador will have a Bikram Yoga studio too. This yoga came to me as a gift from my best friend. I took my first Bikram Yoga class approximately 6 years ago in San Jose and I was hooked immediately. I started this practice with severe neck spine and shoulder injury from a previous heavy car accident. The doctors recommended surgery but I refused and I threw myself with complete faith into this yoga practice. My life completely transformed! I graduated in the spring of 2010 in Las Vegas and started teaching immediately. My passion for this yoga is based on the results I see in myself, healing my neck spine, and I feel physically, mentally and emotionally stronger. I believe 100% in the healing aspects of this yoga method and believe that with a regular disciplined practice and faith the path of life can be completely changed to a more vibrant, meaningful and healthy life.
I have three children: Nicole, Lauren and Sam. They are my world. Two are in college and one is still at home. Yoga, specifically Bikram method has been a blessing to me as it calms me in all areas of my life. I am having a difficult time adjusting to having my children leave the nest. This is why I decided to take a teacher training class. Not only to learn more about what I love and to help me through the emotional trauma of an empty nest, I also want to share and teach others what has benefited me greatly. I do not have experience, other than I have been practicing Bikram method for a little over four years. I did teacher training through True You Hot Yoga in Lodi. I am looking forward to growing in all areas of teaching and excited to be a part of Sukha. My daughters love Hot Pilates which I will train for in the near future. Also, would love to learn how to teach the True Fusion, which incorporates Vinyasa Flow and Bikram Yoga.
Joel began practicing Bikram Yoga in 2012 while living in San Francisco. Immediately after practicing his first class, he knew he wanted become a certified instructor. The discipline, heat, structure, intensity, and excessive sweating appealed to him much more than he had anticipated. For the first time in his life, Joel was forced to confront his biggest demon: himself. Having battled years worth of low self esteem, body dysmorphia, social anxiety, depression, disordered eating, obesity and the onset of diabetes, Joel began to attribute his newfound vitality to the endless benefits of this heated practice. He found comfort and solace in realizing that this yoga was healing him from the inside out; mind, body, and spirit. After practicing consistently for three years, he attended the 9 week Bikram Yoga Teacher Training in Thailand during the Spring of 2015. Upon completing Bikram's Teacher Training, he moved to Melbourne, Australia for one year to begin his teaching career. After spending time managing a studio in Dallas, Joel has since relocated to the Central Valley to pursue a Nursing degree and to be near his family. He's excited to continue to share his passion for yoga with those who seek to make positive changes in their life.
John received his 200-hour Yoga Certification from Village Yoga & is currently attending M.J.C. for an A.S. in nursing. John' s style of yoga is a fusion of Ashtanga, & Iyengar. John feels the simple, yet elegant aesthetics enhances what truly resides within the walls of Sukha- the wonderful Staff members of course! There is always someone up front to help answer any questions. If you are browsing the Lifestyle Boutique, taking Yoga or Pilates, or you are there for an educational event, you can guarantee that you are going to be helped or guided in a friendly, & intelligent manner.
Kelly Kistler is a wife and mom of three young children. She has her bachelor's degree from CSU, Stanislaus and teaches Barre, Pilates, and coaches a run club. She is most excited about the education she received through BASI Pilates, an incredibly intense college level Pilates program that requires 500 hours of self practice, teaching, and observation to become certified. Kelly fell into the fitness world as a way to balance life being a stay-at-home mom, wife, and individual. She's always been a social being and finds great joy from helping others achieve their goals. In the future, Kelly plans to continue her education in the Pilates world by diversifying in many other areas of interest including but not limited to, mature clients, pre-and postnatal clients, rehabilitation from injury, and children. “I knew I wanted to work at Sukha from the moment I walked in. I think that’s most people’s experience; it truly is a ‘good space’. The knowledge and support the staff and Michaela give one another is unmatched and I am lucky to be a part of such an amazing place”. “Each morning we are born again. What we do today is what matters the most.” - Buddha
Lori’s training includes CD (DONA), NRP Certification, Upledger Institute International, Body Tune Up School of Massage, Esalen Institute, Mount Madonna Center, Functional Medicine Coaching Academy Inc., and the Institute of Noetic Sciences. She has been practicing multiple modalities of massage and bodywork since 2005 including: Reiki Master, Tuina, Qi Gong, Medical Qi Gong, and Aromatherapy in Wellness Centers for over 12 years. Lori became the Director for monthly free CranioSacral Therapy (CST) clinics for children and Veterans while mentoring for 4.5 years under the direction of an international instructor for the Upledger Institute (UI). She has been practicing in Modesto at a Functional Medicine office for the last 4 years providing personalized therapeutic services. For the past 10 years, her main focus has been CranioSacral Therapy for all ages, specializing in Obstetrics and Pediatrics. Lori uses her skill set to utilize the mind/body/spirit connection. You can find Lori both as a dedicated student and as a facilitator for workshops. She also has the self-appointed title of Social Director. You will always find Lori at the front desk greeting students before class as she has a welcoming personality. Outside of the yoga room, Lori can also be found co-facilitating our monthly Full Moon Celebration/Kirtans.
Hi, I’m Macey Callaway and I am 19 years old. I help work the front desk at the Studio. I am a graduate of Modesto Christian High School and attended Modesto Junior College. I am now enrolled at Paul Mitchell School to become an esthetician. Physical fitness, skin care and beauty are my passions. I have enjoyed being introduced to yoga and I am excited to learn more!
I am a 500-Hour Certified Yoga Instructor, teaching Heated Vinyasa and Restorative classes at Sukha. My true yoga passion is the Iyengar method, but hot yoga is an obsession I never knew I had until Sukha opened their doors. I practice yoga to heal my body. I have suffered 2 lower back injuries that have left me in pain everyday since I was 19. My daily practice of yoga helps strengthen my back and relieve my pain. I don’t see my life without yoga because of the physical benefits it brings me. I graduated from UC Santa Cruz in June 2016 with a BA in Feminist Studies with a concentration in Sexuality Studies. My goals are to go back to college to get a teaching credential so I can teach a more comprehensive and progressive sex education, to work at a women’s health clinic, or to join the Peace Corps. When I am not in the yoga room, I can be found spending time with my 4 overweight cats and watching Netflix, especially the Office. Sukha came into my life when I didn’t know I needed it. Sukha has become like another home to me and both the employees and clientele have become like family. Sukha saw potential in me, which allowed me to grow as an employee. I was able to utilize my skills to be promoted to manager, which was never an opportunity for me at any of my previous jobs. My favorite part about working as manager at Sukha is working with clientele. I enjoy being able to form relationships with those who walk through Sukha’s doors. Upon entering the studio, you can always find me behind the front desk with a big smile.
Hi, I'm Marina Braaton! I'm 18 years old and I graduated from Oakdale High School. I started practicing yoga about 4 years ago, and I have been hooked ever since! My favorite styles of yoga are Ashtanga and Hatha. This year I hope to become a certified yoga instructor and to transfer to CU Boulder.
Mario's journey led him to yoga, receiving his RYT200 in 2013. Having a background in Kinesiology and Health and Wellness, he was no stranger to the benefits of exercise, but it was yoga's ability to connect mind and body with breath and movement that caused him to rethink how the body operates and how to bring balance to the mind and body. Mario loves to share his passion of yoga through his classes: energy healing Restorative Yoga and heart pumping, mental challenging Vinyasa Yoga. His deep belief in "balanced living" is what fuels his passion for helping others restore balance in their lives.
At the age of 50, I became a certified Bikram Yoga instructor in the Spring of 2010. This involved 9 weeks of teacher training, taking two hot yoga classes every day, with afternoons and evenings filled with lecture seminars and posture clinics. I moved to the Modesto area six years ago. The closest Bikram studio was one hour away in Stockton, then in Tracy. My everyday practice began to suffer with the long drive and time commitment. This is why I am so grateful for Sukha Studios. I can practice more often and even teach a class. I’ve also come to enjoy exploring other methods of yoga, something I hadn’t done before. Michaela has done a great job of hiring some of the friendliest, most dedicated people I’ve ever known. Namaste!
I am a UC Davis graduate with a major in history and a minor in education. I want to become a history teacher because I enjoy helping students and seeing them learn. Outside of my academic ambitions, I love to run. Throughout my years in college I have participated in a wide range of races from the Wharf to Wharf, Bridge to Bridge, and the Color Run. Each race is like a mini fitness test for me and I look forward to them every year. Every Sunday I take a break from running to do yoga in the morning, and hang out with my friends and play Dungeons and Dragons at night. Dungeons and Dragons is a great way for me to apply my love of Lord of the Rings, and comic books with my knowledge of history by creating unique stories for my friends to play in.
After years of practicing, I finally decided to get my 200hr RYT from my home studio, Zuda Yoga in Sacramento. I’m a recent grad from Stanford and spend my days working at Gallo as a chemical engineer. Yoga has brought me joy, lightness, and a purpose—and I hope to share this passion with the world for the rest of my life. I’m always searching for new ways to challenge myself to continue to grow physically, mentally and spiritually, and I hope you join me!
Originally from the United Kingdom, Randhir has been a native of the Central Valley since 1987. He began practicing Bikram Yoga in 2013 at the advice of his Ayurvedic Physician, and credits this system of yoga for saving his life. He reports being more agile, flexible, and coordinated at the age of 46 than at 25. Father of two adult sons (19 and 21), Randhir is a full time educator with the Ripon Unified School District. He holds multiple black belts in Shotokan Karate and Hakkoryu Jujutsu. Randhir’s purpose in life is humanitarian, and enjoys helping others to become the best version of themselves. Bikram Yoga is the perfect medium to accomplish his life purpose.
E-RYT 200 Certification | BSW-Bachelors degree in Social Work. In 2013, I launched my yoga-teaching career while in Costa Rica studying Vinyasa Flow with Jennifer Yarro, Frog Lotus Yoga. After suffering a spinal injury in 2015, I embraced a restorative practice. The healing effects of a slow practice and massage inspired my training in Therapeutic yoga at the Integral Institute of San Francisco with Cheri Clampett. In 2017, I made my first pilgrimage to Mysore, India where I studied Ashtanga Yoga and received my certification in Thai Yoga Massage. Today, both traditional Ashtanga and Restorative Yoga influence my teaching. Exploring the balance between effort and ease has been incredibly transformative in my body, mind, and spiritual practice. In addition to anatomically lead movement, my classes offer a blend of guided meditation, breath work, and hands-on touch. I invite you to show up to your mat, just as you are.
Hi, my name is Sandra Gomez. I became a yoga instructor as a way to share not only the spiritual qualities but also the emotional and physical benefits of a regular yoga practice. I love to bring my enthusiasm, positive energy, and fun nature to the mat and welcome the beginner to the seasoned yogi to my class and put a new spin on the beautiful world of yoga. Namaste I love the people, environment, and vibe of Sukha.
Sharrie has been a practicing yogi since 2004. Her passion to help others has brought her from a home practice with a television and DVD’s to instructing in the studio where she guides others through their yoga journey. With her gentle, soft spoken nature and friendly personality, she excels at teaching relaxing, restorative classes while being skilled in other types of yoga as well. Her style can be described as eclectic because she incorporates Hatha, Vinyasa, and Iyengar into one unique class making it a fun and stress relieving experience for all students, young and old. She offers a feel-good class that leaves students with an overwhelming sense of calm and well-being. She is also a big hit with the kids, having taught many children’s classes over the years. Sharrie is a writer and author, and just like with her yoga practice, she infuses love and heart into all that she does.
Hi, I'm Vanessa. I recently graduated from CSU, Stanislaus with a B.A. in Kinesiology and a concentration in Health and Wellness. Not sure which class to try here? I'd recommend Inversion Yoga or Reformer Pilates; they're both truly unique and very fun!