The Team at Sukha Studios
I took my first yoga class in 2012 at the tail end of recovery for an eating disorder. I immediately knew that the mindful movement combined with breathwork would be extremely healing for me. I continued to practice yoga regularly and, in 2013, found Bikram yoga. I was immediately hooked. Over the years, the Bikram practice has taught me that if I can keep breathing and stay calm through a whole hot yoga class, I can keep breathing and stay calm through any stressful interaction life throws my way. I completed my 200-hour RYT training in 2014 through Inner Power Yoga and followed up with my certification to teach the Bikram style in 2016. I am a firm believer in the mental and emotional benefits of a regular yoga practice. In today's culture, most of us fail to carve out time during the day where we're free of distractions, screens, and other stimuli. Yoga offers us this time. Through the practice, we reconnect with our breath and our hearts. I have a deep passion for sharing yoga with others because I know a regular yoga practice can help heal us: physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
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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.
Brenda took her first heated vinyasa class in 2003 and has been in love with hot yoga ever since. She completed her teacher training with CorePower Yoga in 2016 and has taught at both studios and high schools. As a professional dancer, choreographer and teacher for over 20 years she has also managed many events all over the country. Brenda is excited to bring her love of yoga and movement to Sukha and the yoga community here.
Cassie DeFrees RYT, CCYT, Reiki Practitioner, Barre Instructor, currently Training in Comprehensive Balanced Body Pilates. Cassie is a wife and mother of six amazing children. Cassie found yoga after her twin boys were born at 27 weeks, spending 81 days in the NICU. During this stressful period, she battled severe anxiety and many sleepless nights. After having her doctor hand her a prescription for ninety Xanax, she knew she had to seek alternative treatments. Cassie was no stranger to pain with a history of three spine surgeries and a long career as a cosmetologist. Having spent countless hours on her feet, doing hair and makeup clients being in constant, chronic pain. She sought out every possible healing modality she could find. Researched and researched always coming up with the same answer, “You need yoga!”. She heard it from strangers, friends, her acupuncturist, chiropractor and continually came across it in online searches and random health magazines. In 2009, she took her first yoga class and has been hooked ever since. Cassie began practicing various styles of yoga every chance she could. She didn’t know exactly what it was but that it kept calling her back and soon, she knew she had to share it. After completing her 200hr. YTT, numerous workshops, Aerial Yoga, Yin Yoga, Para Yoga Nidra, Children’s Yoga and 100hr. Yahweh Yoga certifications she began teaching and sharing her passion in group and private lessons and on retreats in Scituate, Massachusetts. Cassie is passionate about the healing benefits and balance yoga brings to her life, especially Yin yoga. “In our culture, we’re constantly living in a state of imbalance. So many high intensity lifestyles and fast paced activities cause us to lose flexibility and mobility in our joints. Yin yoga works at a slower pace while still being quite challenging. It connects you to each breath which is a basic human need and allows healing and movement of energy along meridian lines in the body. Much like acupuncture only it’s a practice you can do anywhere to hydrate and lengthen connective tissue (fascia) throughout the entire body.” Late 2017, Cassie’s husband, Bruce accepted a job w/E. & J. Gallo relocating their family to Ripon, California. Here, she encountered Pilates Reformer and Barre, quickly adding to her love of fitness and movement. She’s since become a certified Barre Above Instructor and is currently enjoying the incredible Balanced Body Pilates Comprehensive Training where she is continuing to grow her knowledge of Movement Principles, Anatomy, Mat and Reformer Pilates.
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Hi, my name is Chelsea I am 20 years old. I attended Paul Mitchell the School of Modesto and was enrolled in the Esthetician program. While going to school I started working at SUKHA part time and fell in love with yoga! The staff and members make SUKHA such a great environment to work in.
I was introduced to Pilates reformer in 2017 when I was experiencing chronic shoulder pain and had to take a break from CrossFit. In practicing Pilates, I discovered imbalances in my body that contributed to my chronic pain. In my experience with Pilates and yin yoga, I have a desire to share these practices with others as they have been shared with me. I am realizing the positive influence these practices can bring to my body and my emotions. Therefore, I have begun Pilates teacher training and have plans for yoga teacher training in the future. I am excited about this journey and how I can be instrumental in helping others get stronger, discover relief from chronic pain and find balance in their lives. "Change happens through movement and movement heals." -Joseph Pilates
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.
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.
In 2009 weighing 495 pounds George started his fitness journey to become healthy, happy and comfortable in his own skin. Suffering from Diabetes, Hypertension, sleep apnea and a host of other health issues George opted OUT of having Gastric Bypass surgery and took the natural route. Husband to Angela and father to Maxwell, George realized the only way he would be around to take care of them was to get his life on track through health and wellness best practices. He got started by walking around his neighborhood two miles a day, later adding a healthy substantiable diet and eventually connecting with a trainer. It was tough, painful and often frustrating for George with his large frame, but he kept going and he started FEELING better. Fast forward 10 years to 2019, through movement and nutrition, George has created a new mindset, and lost 200-pounds. While his journey is not finished, George did this by CHOICE>COMMITMENT> and staying> CONSISTENT. George likes call these his BIG 3 C’s in LIFE. George always knew that someday his active lifestyle, love for people and fitness would turn into coaching others. After practicing Bikram Hot Yoga, Inferno Hot Pilates, Running and High Intensity Interval Training for many years, in 2017 George went to teachers training to become a Certified Inferno Hot Pilates Coach. George absolutely loves coaching others, he does so with honesty, care, compassion and a GREAT BIG OLE Smile. George gets how hard it can be to take the 1st step to create a better YOU. George enjoys spending time with family, friends, others around his Fitness community, his fur babies Molly and Mini, Prayer, Meditation, Hiking, reading and travel. George has run two Marathons, countless Half Marathons, is currently training for an Ultra Race and he is a Spartan Race Trifecta finisher. George continues to educate himself about the mind, body and spirit. George would love to be of service to YOU on your journey to A HEALTHIER -HAPPIER, -BETTER you. “Success in never owned, it is rented, and the rent is do every day” – Author Unknown
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.
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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.
Hey! I'm Jamie, and before Bikram Yoga found me back in 2013, I was a full-time stressed out college student suffering from back pain, severe acne and unhealthy eating habits. A friend led me to my first Bikram Yoga class, and although time seemed to drag on endlessly, and the sweat in my eyes often distracted me from paying attention to what the instructor was directing, I kept finding my way driving 60 miles a day to sweat in class, coming out feeling my back pain relieved and my mind and body relaxed, whenever I possibly could. I was raised here in Modesto, and after a year into my practice, I found myself on a plane to Thailand to be certified at Bikram's Yoga Teacher Training so that I could better understand what this heated 90 minute class was all about, and how I could help share the energy and benefits I've personally experienced, with the community in which I grew up. I absolutely love teaching yoga because I love witnessing the limitless potential my students soon start discovering about themselves with each additional class that they take! Take class in a space where you can explore yourself, while being instructed in the safest and most effective way to bring your body back to its natural range of motion!
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.
Julie Betts- Albert
I am a recent graduate from the University of Arizona with a bachelors of fine arts in dance. I grew up in Ceres, California and trained at Steps Arts Dance Center and Juline’s School of Dance. I will be teaching at Sukha only for the summer because I will be moving to Chicago to begin my professional dance career with DanceWorks Chicago. While attending college, I was introduced to Pilates after facing an ankle injury. I loved how deeply I learned to understand my body and felt so strong while dancing intensely in college. I received my Fletcher Pilates certification under the direction of Kyria Waugaman with Bodyworks Pilates in Tucson, Arizona. While finishing up school I worked at Bodyworks as an instructor and also taught private classes for my dance major friends. At Bodyworks I worked with many different types of bodies and many different ages. I enjoy getting to know my clients so I can tailor each session to any individual’s needs. I look forward to helping others build strength, balance, endurance, and most importantly feeling the joy or movement.
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
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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 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.
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.
I’m Mary from Maryland! I moved out here in 2018 to be closer to family. My yoga journey started back East four years ago. It started as a good work out, a source of exercise. Of course, I started to notice a change in my mood as well as my spirit. I had more energy and was an overall nicer person! The life in me started to come back. Yoga has completely changed my life. I feel the universe has bestowed its purpose for me. When I moved out here to California I never expected to become a yoga instructor! It just happened by chance. The universe is funny like that. I am a true believer that everything happens for a reason. I am extremely grateful. That being said, I have so much more to learn and I will always be a student.
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!
As a former Web/Graphic Designer for over 20 years, my body started to show the wear and tear from years of sitting in front of the computer for hours at time. I tried to stay physically active with yoga, boxing, karate, and roller derby but the years of sedentary work still wore me down. My body started to show signs of fatigue, back pain, neck pain, headaches, and wrist & elbow injuries. It wasn’t until 2015 when I was finally diagnosed with an auto-immune disease, after years of being told I had anxiety and being prescribed medication, that I took my health into my own hands. I joined a local gym and discovered suspension training and Pilates. I discovered the benefits of Pilates first hand, from day-to-day wellness to injury prevention to a path to recovery, as well as losing weight. I decided to pursue this passion and begin taking courses. After completing my 1st Balance Body training workshop, I knew I had found my calling and decided to do the comprehensive training to become a full time instructor. I have first hand experience in the immense benefits of reconnecting with and restoring balance to your body and my challenge to you is to see what positive changes Pilates can bring to your life.
Bio Coming Soon!
"You gotta be hungry!" One of my favorite quotes of all time from my man, Les Brown, motivational speaker. You gotta be hungry to grow, to get better, to improve your mental, physical and spiritual well being. Myself? I have been in the health and fitness business for over 20+ years. This includes personal training, group training, group exercise specialist and Bootcamp drill instructor. I have thousands of hours teaching and leading others. Countless hours of training, studying and attending conventions and seminars on health and wellness. My dedication is not to my craft, but to you the individual. My belief in teaching is, ‘if you make it fun, they will come.” On my Instagram you will rarely see me in the photos unless I am with a student. Why? It’s not about me. It’s about YOU! So, let’s ROCK!!!
Pooja is blessed to have started her yoga journey from her 6th grade when yoga was introduced to her as a part of her school education. Her love and passion for yoga grew with her ever since then. She feels a complete sense of rejuvenation when she finishes her everyday yoga practice and meditation. Pooja is an expert at Hatha Yoga, Asthanga Yoga and Bhakti Yoga and has many years of experience of taking Yoga classes to people of all ages. Hatha Yoga is the original form of Yoga introduced by seer Patanjali thousands of years ago. Pooja has undertaken traditional yoga training from various yoga universities in India. She has completed her Residential Yoga Instructor Certification (300hr), Post-graduate Diploma in Yoga Therapy (1 year residential), and Masters in Yogic science (2 year non-residential) and most recently completed her RYT-200hr certification here in the States. Pooja also has a BS in Engineering and MBA in Healthcare Service and Management. A student of Hatha yoga and Bhakti yoga, Pooja rightfully blends Universal peace chants from Sanskrit Mantras, Mudras, and different breathing techniques and focuses more on providing the right method and right postures. She is also well experienced with beginners, experienced and advanced level Yoga students. In her Yoga Therapy classes, she focuses on Yoga postures that help with bodily ailments and recommends on such postures that are to be avoided. Pooja also takes beginners and advanced level meditation classes that induce a sense of well-being in the body and the mind. Through her teaching she seeks to help others thrive, by nurturing the body, mind and soul both on and off the mat. Her practice has helped her grow stronger, be more flexible enough to adapt to the life’s happenings. Yoga inspires her to live each moment mindfully. Her strong belief and commitment is to Life, as a continuous learning opportunity, a belief she is dedicated to sharing with others. Her love for teaching and sharing her experience and knowledge with fellow yogis aspires her to bring ancient wisdom and traditional yoga practices to the contemporary western world in a useful and understandable way. Sign up for her classes and build a strong foundation to your yoga practice through traditional Hatha yoga. Experience the power of Yoga taught in its traditional way and notice the difference.
My name is Rayonna Williams, I'm currently in enrolled in Paul Mitchell the School of Modesto where I practice cosmetology! Ever since I was little I have always found an interest in the beauty industry, I do hair, makeup, nails, & esthetics! I am a very family oriented person and love being surrounded by people that I hold close to my heart. So far I love working at Suhka Yoga Studio, it’s a very relaxing environment and has helped me get a taste of what it may be to work at a Salon and interact with many different clients!
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.
Sharon is a Modesto native, returning home after more than two years spent traveling the globe. In 2010, Sharon completed her 200hr Vinyasa Teacher Training Program at Yogaworks in San Francisco, a program that she credits for helping to deepen and enrich her own personal practice, as well as laying the foundation for her more rigorous studies abroad. Whilst traveling the world she had an opportunity to practice yoga under many varied teachers and modalities, but it was within the practice of Ashtanga that Sharon really found the grounding, stability and routine that she needed within her nomadic life on both a physical and an emotional level. She loves the combination of strength building, self reflection, and exploration as well as the humbling challenges that Ashtanga provides. Sharon's most recent adventure took her on a five month journey across India, where she had the opportunity to deepen her practice within a traditional yoga environment, completing her 200hr Ashtanga Vinyasa Teacher Training at Tattvaa Yogashala, on the banks of the Ganges River, in the stunning Himalayan foothills of Rishikesh. Now that Sharon is back in her hometown, refreshed from her travels, she's very excited to be a part of the growing yoga community here in Modesto, and she is really looking forward to meeting everyone and sharing her love for Ashtanga.
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.
RYT 200 AKA Tayoga My love for yoga began in 2015 after I sustained a knee injury that required surgery. Shortly after my recovery, one of my friends mentioned she was going to a yoga class. I thought it would be the perfect form of exercise since my injury hindered me from doing other forms of exercise. Yoga started out merely as a way to stay in shape and has gradually evolved into something so much more. I like to say yoga brought me back to life after my injury. In 2018 I furthered my love for yoga by becoming a Registered Yoga Teacher. Creative flows and playlists are only a couple things I love about teaching yoga. My favorite part is sharing this love of mine with others and seeing the yoga community grow. Yoga is truly one of the best decisions I have ever made. Maybe it could be for you too?