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PYTT Alumni Feature: Phyllis Hartigan + Hannah Gilges


Phyllis Hartigan RYT

Phyllis Hartigan is a graduate of the Spring 2022 Prana Yoga Teacher Training. You can find her teaching Sunrise Vinyasa Yoga at Prana on Mondays at 7:00-8:00am.

When and why did you start practicing Yoga?

I started a regular Yoga practice 22 years ago. I have always been physically active; was a runner, loved aerobic classes, hiking and workouts at the gym. Growing older, I found high impact activities hard on my body. One day I was at the gym and a friend encouraged me to join a Yoga class. The timing was right – and I was hooked. Ironically, the Yoga instructor that day was Rebecca Terriete, who now teaches at Prana.

What motivated you to continue with your practice for so many years?

Like others, I was initially taken in by the physical challenge and benefits of Yoga. I am naturally flexible and, as my husband says, get a lot of “free poses.” Over many years with a dedicated practice, I began to experience and understand the many dimensions and benefits of Yoga beyond the thrill of mastering pincha mayurasana (forearm balance). I learned to integrate breathwork and came to understand the importance of alignment vs. flexibility as well as the connection between mind, body and spirit. I started using a Yoga block, which I had previously resisted and began a daily meditation practice to improve my most challenging pose of all, savasana. Yoga helped me navigate a demanding job, be a present mom and with every other physical and emotional challenge life presented. Yoga calms me and makes me feel strong, balanced and alive.

Why did you decide to get certified as a Yoga teacher?

I always knew one day I would take Yoga Teacher Training (YTT) to deepen my practice. For over two decades, I practiced Bikram, Ashtanga and Vinyasa Yoga in San Diego County and have been a regular at Prana for the past 15 years. Upon completion of a long career in Public Health, I was ready for YTT in 2022. I chose Prana because I know it is the best teacher training program in San Diego, and I wanted to learn from the teachers who were inspiring me every day in my practice.

What was your experience like in the 200hr Prana YTT?
I enjoyed every aspect of YTT. After two years of Covid and remote practice, I was particularly thrilled to be in person with a community of students, learning together and supporting each other. I learned something unique from each student. I love that Prana’s YTT brings in a variety of teachers, allowing for varying points of view and personalities. Learning philosophy, pranayama and practicing teaching/adjustments with my fellow trainees was invaluable. Putting it all together to orchestrate a balanced Yoga sequence with succinct and clear verbal cues (and appropriate adjustments) was challenging – but brought the greatest learning and growth in my own life and practice. This inspired me to complete all of the requirements for certification without delay – including teaching classes. YTT took my practice to a higher level and reinforced my love for Yoga as a framework for how I want to live my life.

How do you see your path now as both a Yoga student and teacher?
My goal is to be the best teacher possible and find my authentic voice and style for teaching. In the words of Ganga White author of Yoga Beyond Belief, I have come to think of my Yoga practice as “learning, gathering, and developing the tools for a lifetime practice of self-therapy, self-healing, and keeping (my) body in balance – remembering that balance is not a fixed place at which you arrive, but a constant adjustment process to the circumstances of each moment.” As a teacher, I hope to plant the seeds of these concepts in my students, enabling each student to make mind-body connections through Yoga.

Hannah Gilges RYT

Hannah Gilges is a graduate of the Spring 2022 Prana Yoga Teacher Training and is currently substitute teaching at Prana.

What brought you to Yoga?

I began practicing Yoga on my own nearing the end of high school because I was always looking for other ways to keep my body in good condition for dance. Yoga helped keep my muscles strong and long. When I attended the University of San Diego, Yoga became both a wholesome social activity to do with friends as well as a way to manage stress on the pre-med track. The more I did it, the more I loved it… so much so that I wanted to pursue my YTT certification so I could work by teaching others what made such a big difference in my life.

What’s your motivation & inspiration to get on the mat?
I love Yoga for the movement of the body, it’s something I crave every day. That said, I wasn’t sure getting into the business of teaching Yoga would work out, and I was almost scared to try to pursue it and fail… but I learned even more than I thought in the training. First off, you can’t really fail at Yoga. And second, I just needed courage to go for something I truly enjoy, perseverance to continue to put myself out there, and resilience to be okay with taking small steps to continue progressing, learning, and improving as a Yogi. Practicing at Prana gave me the value of those qualities.

How was your experience in the YTT?

I was pleasantly surprised by two things. First, I was capable of much more than I thought… maybe I couldn’t fully express the position in the moment, but I had the foundation and understanding of how to work on it. Second, I liked that my previous understanding of some parts of Yoga was challenged and clarified. My relatives used to ask me to lead beach Yoga classes on our family reunion vacations and I would do it even though I had no actually understanding of Yoga… just some basic flows. I didn’t like that I couldn’t actually teach a real Yoga class.
One of my favorite parts was the group of yogis becoming close, and even some becoming good lifelong friends.

What are your plans as a newly certified teacher?
I will continue to practice for the longevity of my own mind and body despite whatever is going on in life. I see myself as extremely fortunate if family/finances/life-in-general allows me to continue to teach 🙂 I’ll always love teaching at Prana— there’s no better place! It quickly becomes a second home and a second family.

Learn more about the PRANA 200hr Yoga Teacher Training or contact a program advisor!

Teacher Feature: Jano Galindo ~ SENSES 2021

Jano Galindo teaches Vinyasa Yoga at Prana Yoga Center and throughout San Diego.  A dedicated and passionate Yogi, he has been teaching YOGA for 19 years. Inspired by the experiences of this last year, he created a new 1-day Yoga festival “SENSES” happening on July 18, 2021.

Q: How did you personally manage during the pandemic?

I managed through the pandemic with a lot of faith. I experienced fear of the unknown, and with so much uncertainty; managing my mental and emotional health was day by day, sometimes hour by hour. It was very challenging to remain grounded and steady as someone who sometimes people looked to for reassurance and grounding.

Q: How has the last year affected you as a teacher and also your personal practice?

I learned that we are all very connected more than we had ever known before. What I do has an effect on those all around. My actions now have to take into consideration those who are vulnerable and as a collective what is needed to protect one another. There were times as a teacher when I was very overwhelmed, and showing up to teach a class was very difficult. I would sometimes be very emotional, seeing what my kids were experiencing as they adapted to being online and being frustrated dealing with things that were out of their control.

My personal practice actually was more consistent, having to practice all the asanas as I taught was different for me. I did enjoy getting to move a lot more although it wasn’t the same as getting to go take a class.

Q: How long have you been teaching and why do you (still) teach yoga?

I’ve been teaching about 19 years now and I continue to teach because it is my calling, purpose and passion. I still get very excited to teach a class, and every time i show up to teach, I still get nervous.


SENSES: A Yogic Journey Within
July 18 – 2pm-7pm
1-day Yoga event hosted at Salt Drift Pointe in Imperial Beach, a local gem that nestles in the heart of San Diego Bay
Tickets on sale here https://www.janogalindo.com

The pandemic of 2020 rooted separation in our communities.
As we approach the peak of collective healing in ourselves, our families and our communities, together we will take a step forward. Our purpose is to look ahead.
Through the power of yoga, visual sound healing, and meditation, we invite you to create new beginnings as we honor and learn from the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19).
Join the journey as we rediscover and adapt a new lens through the SENSES.
Reset your expectations and spark your greatest comeback.

Yoga – A Space for Creativity, Balance & Connection

200-Hour PYTT Alumni Feature

Natasha Tia
, (San Diego CA) is a professional dancer and dance instructor and has been practicing Yoga for 7 years. She graduated from the Prana Yoga 200-Hour Teacher Training in April 2021 and helps people create a balanced sense of well-being through resilient practices & movement.

Why did you decide to take a Yoga Teacher Training?
Becoming a Yoga teacher is something that I have wanted to accomplish for several years. I wanted to understand the philosophy and history behind the athletic practice that we know in the US. The ‘shelter in place’ orders opened up space for me to be able to pursue this path towards understanding Yoga as a whole and myself better through breathwork and movement. As a dance instructor, I anchor my values in the mind-body-spirit approach; the 200-Hour Yoga Teacher Training at Prana has added so much value to my business.

What was your experience in the training?
My experience in this training was above anything I had expected or could have imagined. Not only did I physically benefit from this training, but I also benefited socially, emotionally and cognitively. All of the instructors were mindful in their approach and clear in their expertise. Gerhard is such a fantastic leader who is subtly, yet powerfully attuned to the needs of each student he has. I didn’t want it to end!
Admittedly, one of my favorite parts of the training was the community connection that was created in just a few short months. We grew together through this process and valued one another’s contribution to the learning experience so much. We’ve stayed in contact and are still sharing our Yoga journeys and planning gatherings! Aside from that, some of my other favorite aspects were being exposed to so many different facets of Yoga in just one program, the hands-on approach to learning that got us up, trying things and learning adjustments.

How does the Yoga certification tie in with what you’re doing outside of Yoga?
The Yoga certification absolutely compliments my profession. With over 14 years of professional dance and fitness experience combined with my newfound knowledge of the Mind/Body/Spirit science behind Yoga and Ayurveda, I am excited to continue creating a practice that enables anyone to discover their personal well-rounded well-being through resilient practices, including breathwork and movement. I recently created a two-week dance and movement program for the city of San Francisco, and as part of that program I included my first set of free Yoga classes! I plan to continue practicing teaching Yoga in North County, Encinitas for free.

What does Yoga mean to you or how does it enrich your life?
Yoga is proving to be a foundation in which I can build upon. There is limitless knowledge to pull from, yet all the space in the world to create from nothing. Yoga is a teaching I can look to for guidance in so many realms of my world. Yoga asana practice is a space where I can show up to internally balance myself, and connect with others working towards the same purpose. It’s something to be shared.
I walked away from this experience with a better understanding of what my body wants to feel balanced and how I can deliver that balance to my students. I walked away with tools and confidence to begin my own teaching journey. I walked away with strong connections and a sense of direction to steer my personal and professional practice.

PYTT Alumni Feature – 200hr Graduates

Jesica Nkouaga RYT – Eau Claire, Wisconsin
Jesica lives in Eau Claire, Wisconsin and teaches English as a Second Language at the University of Wisconsin. She also trains teachers to teach English overseas through the International TEFL Academy online.

“From 2008 to 2018, I practiced yoga at home using videos. In the winter of 2018, I was personally experiencing a good deal of stress and health issues, so I started attending yoga classes locally. I found these yoga classes, especially restorative classes, to help me feel centered, calm, and at peace.

I knew that I needed to go deeper into yoga and make it a life-long practice and to potentially teach yoga to others. I searched for a yoga teacher training that would also include an introduction to restorative yoga. I found Prana Yoga Center’s teacher training to be just what I was looking for.
As a student, yoga has brought me into greater balance, both physically and mentally. It has helped me to relieve stress and feel calm and at peace. After each yoga class, I feel relaxed and content, connected to my true self and purpose. This is true as a teacher of yoga too, with the added benefit of bringing the gift of yoga to others. It is fulfilling when students say “thank you” after each class and when they tell you about their own health achievements and how yoga helps them.”

After graduating from Prana’s YTT with in July 2018, Jesica started teaching just a few months after she finished YTT and the Yoga Alliance requirements. For six months, Jesica taught Vinyasa Flow classes at her local YMCA. Currently, she has shifted her teaching to restorative yoga and plans to get certified in teaching yoga to children.


Ana Hutz RYT – Chula Vista, CA

Ana is the founder and owner of Namaste Fitness in Eastlake/Chula Vista, CA.
Before Ana opened her own studio in 2018, she was a bank manager for 8 years. She graduated from Prana 200-Hour Summer Intensive Training in July 2018 and started teaching Yoga immediately, including Vinyasa, Yin, Restorative, Gentle and Trauma Conscious Yoga.

“I decided to get certified to be able to teach others yoga and hopefully make them feel as good as I feel when I practice yoga. The other reason is because I was in the process of opening my own yoga studio. I have always been a positive energetic person but as soon as I started practicing Yoga, I felt a sense of calm, peace and release every time I practiced. Yoga brightens up my days even more and allows me to feel like I can do and accomplish anything. As a teacher, I get to see lives changed for the better every day thanks to the practice of yoga and mindfulness. In the difficult days, seeing this evolution of my students gives me great joy to know they are feeling good, it validates what I do.”

“Being a student at Prana was an amazing experience. The instructors were amazing, patient, kind and very experienced in their field. I got to make new friends, learn so much about yoga but so much about myself in those intense weeks. I wasn’t sure if I would be “good” at teaching and sharing the message of yoga with others but the more I stand on my mat and speak in front of others, I feel like I made the right decision.

Some of my students are suffering either emotionally or physically, and to be able to aid even if it’s a minimum amount to their wellness, their healing and personal growth, I fill my heart with gratitude, humility and love. Knowing that yoga is there for me when we I need it helps me feel at ease and knowing that I can bring yoga to others gives me joy.”

Ana plans to continue teaching yoga and possibly enroll in the 300hr Professional Training at Prana in the near future to expand her knowledge and offerings.


Jennifer Takashi RYT- San Diego, CA
Jennifer is a teacher of many things. She teaches preschool and graduated from Prana’s 200hr training in the spring of 2018. Later that year she opened a studio in Pacific Beach called The Grateful Dandelion where she offers yoga, mindfulness, storytelling and arts to children and adults. She is passionate about offering others skills that can bring calmness and a bit of rejuvenation to their lives.

“I attended Yoga Teacher Training mostly for myself, to deepen my practice and understanding of the Yoga tradition and all its lovely layers. Also, I have taught children’s yoga for years and wanted to build a solid foundation with what I offer and share with the kids. At The Grateful Dandelion I mostly teach children ages 3 ½ -13 years old. My classes include mindfulness, affirmations, visualization and story flows. I have been teaching kids yoga for years, but since getting certified with my 200-hr certification, I opened my own neighborhood studio to support local families and homeschooling families from all over.”

Yoga has helped me to connect to myself and become more aware so that’s I can better listen and modulate the pace I choose for my life. It is also invaluable for my body, as I have a few medical issues that are not a big problem as long as I consistently take care of my body and do the practices it needs. I also feel that yoga has given me to have a framework for sharing with others the valuable choices of mindful living, connecting with yourself and taking time for you in our busy lives.”

Jennifer has continued her yoga education with a Yin Yoga Training with Shauna MacKay at Prana. She sees herself teaching Yin and chair yoga in the future and hopes to continue to grow the number of families she reach through her studio to support the next generation of children and parents to be creative, connected and mindful community members!


Paty Macias RYT – Porterville, CA
As a full-time elementary teacher living in central California, Paty has a passion to make a difference in the lives of others.

“I started practicing Yoga 18 years ago and I fell in love with it. In the summer of 2018 I graduated from Prana Yoga Teacher Training with my 200-hour certification. I decided to become an instructor because I loved how Yoga provided me with so many physical and emotional benefits and I knew I wanted to offer this to my community. Gerhard and his team are very knowledgeable and strategic they have an effective program designed to get students ready to teach.”

Right after Paty got certified at Prana, she started teaching at a local gym in Porterville. Six months later in January of 2019, she joined Balance By Design CORE Fitness Studio and now teaches at both places. For now, she primarily teaches Vinyasa and Hatha Yoga styles. However, her hope is to keep growing and learn new styles and continue to expand the Yoga community in Porterville.

“Yoga has been a blessing in my life and I love that as an instructor I can make an impact in the lives of others.”

Prana Yoga Center offers the 200-Hour Foundational Teacher Training for aspiring teachers ands interested students in the spring, summer and fall each year. Registration is now open for the upcoming 200-Hour Summer Intensive Training on June 14-30, 2019.

Never Stop Learning – with Shauna MacKay

Dear Yogi friends!

In June, I had just returned from a 9-day study retreat in Northern California with Master Yin teachers Paul and Suzee Grilley. 

On my journey to become a well-educated teacher and Certified Yoga Therapist, I’ve had the opportunity to study with many senior and master teachers. Needless to say, I’m used to a certain quality of experience. Particularly, in the last two years as I’ve taken a deep dive into Yin Yoga training and completing workshops with the incredible Bernie Clark and Sarah Powers. However, the Yin training I attended with Paul Grilley and his lovely wife Suzee was truly life changing!

Both Paul and Suzee demonstrated Yoga in so many simple, yet powerful ways, it was truly inspiring. From how they spoke to each other… lovingly, respectfully and often even joyfully, to their thoughtful explanations of both functional anatomy and the teachings of Yin Yoga. Not to mention their enormous generosity. They told us that they claimed no ownership over Yin Yoga and that they had decided years ago there would be no system to maintain, no proprietary sequences, no patents, no ‘Yin police.’ They invited us to make Yin Yoga your own!

But it was more than that. At one point Suzee said,

“The purpose of Yoga is to become more kind, more compassionate.”

They especially encouraged us to use our new knowledge with compassion and understanding with those teachers who may not yet have learned to teach yoga from a functional lens (asana adaptation to individual skeletal variation).

My fellow students in the training were seasoned, well educated, international-based Yogis so committed to learning from Paul and Suzee that most had traveled thousands of miles to participate. And some of us had waited almost two years for the opportunity to attend in this highly coveted training! As you can imagine, our after dinner discussions were rich with a variety of yoga stories and wisdom. Yet we always concluded that teaching Yoga to human beings is essentially the same, no matter what language is spoken or country lived.

I am certain of one thing. I’ll never stop taking courses from others. I continue to commit my time, money and resources to learn, train and study with teachers further along a Yogic path than me. I hope you won’t either. Yoga is the topic – but it’s the people, the connections and the love that are the real. And these are really the reasons I’ll sign up again and again.

Love & Namaste,


Shauna MacKay, B.P.E., E-RYT, C-IAYT, is an inspiring and passionate teacher known to bring a depth of knowledge and intention to her classes that take students far beyond the physical practice. With a background in athletics and trained in therapeutics, students from a wide variety of levels find a place in her class. Shauna is a teacher’s teacher, with a passion for teaching and fueled by a commitment to never stop learning. She is a graduate of YogaWorks 200 & 300 Teacher Training programs. Additionally, she has acquired several advanced qualifications and certifications: Judith Hanson Lasater’s Relax and Renew© Advanced trainer, Integrative Restoration – iRest© Yoga Nidra training, Yin Yoga, Urban Zen Integrative Therapy Program, Yogaworks Restorative Teacher Training – Level 2, Yoga of the Heart© Cardiac and Cancer Certification, Yoga of Awareness Cancer Training at Duke Integrative Medicine; Yoga for a Happy Back Certification, Dr. Yang’s Yoga for Cancer, Chakra Yoga and Street Yoga. She is mentor and faculty member in the Yogaworks 300 Professional Teacher Training program. She is a trained Master Integrative Coach and a member of the International Association of Yoga Therapists.</
Shauna will be leading a YIN YOGA Teacher Training & Weekend Immersion at Prana Yoga on October 12-14.

A Yogi’s Journey: Feeling Empowered

Our latest TT Alumni feature highlights two passionate Yogis – Lyz Scott, Clovis, CA & Cindy Fifield, San Diego. Both are graduates of our 200-Hour Teacher Training and we love following their journey as Yogis, humans & teachers! Follow them on IG @lyzscott and @cindyfifi

Lyz Scott RYT200 is a photographer, Yoga instructor, wife and mother of 2 sweet boys based in Clovis, CA.  She attended Prana’s 200hr Teacher Training in the summer of 2017 and can be found teaching at Old Town Yoga in Clovis as well as at a local Cross Fit Gym. Lyz has also been teaching in-store community Yoga classes at lululemon in Fresno, CA.  IG @lyzscott, www.happinessinfocusphotography.com

Why did you decide to get certified as a Yoga teacher and how has it impacted your life?

My goal was to improve my own practice and grow personally. I also wanted to be able to bring Yoga on a deeper level to my husband and two boys and potentially teach in my hometown of Clovis, California. Taking the Teacher Training,  I knew that I would have to face some of my biggest fears – like failure, talking in front of large groups, and remembering sequences.

After the training, my knowledge of Yoga, both the asanas as well as personal and spiritual side of Yoga has grown so much. I can tell a difference in my life in how I show up as a parent, a friend and as a spouse, and that’s really gratifying. I also immediately got a job teaching at my local home studio and have enjoyed the continual growth and challenge Yoga is constantly bringing.

On a personal level, how has Yoga impacted your life in general?

I find myself slow-er to speak, more patient, my breath is stronger and my belief in myself deeper.

What are you doing now with your Yoga and what is you plan for the future?

I’m teaching yoga at a studio about 5x per week. I have had three other organizations ask to have me as well. My plan for the future is to have a dedicated space in my house where I can deepen my practice and continue to grow. I want my boys to explore and enjoy Yoga. I plan to become the best teacher I can be and hope to inspire many Yogis along the way.



Cindy Fifield RYT200 is a graduate of San Diego State University  and got certified as a Yoga teacher through PRANA’s 200hr Teacher Training. She is currently enrolled in the Professional 300-Hour Teacher Training at Prana Yoga Center and will be a certified RYT500 teacher in April 2018.  Cindy teaches at a gym in Chula Vista, CA and has been substitute teaching  for some of her favorite teachers at Prana.

What inspired you to become a Yoga teacher?

After stepping into my first Yoga class in my freshman year of college, I knew right after the first savasana that I was hooked for life.  I practiced Yoga on my own for three years and upon graduation, I decided it was time to deepen my Yoga journey. I wanted to deepen my practice both physically and spiritually, and I knew I wanted to teach and guide others into their Yogic journeys. I’m fascinated with the human body and bio-mechanics and wanted to grow my knowledge of both Yoga and the human body. After careful online research, Prana Yoga Center took the spotlight with raving reviews and love for their Yoga studio and family. A family I knew I wanted to be a part of.

How was your experience in the teacher training?

During the Teacher Training (I attended the Summer Intensive in 2016), we ate, slept, and breathed Yoga. It was “Yoga 24/7” and it made me immensely happy and grateful for the experience I was undergoing. My body was sore almost every day, but from the soreness and exhaustion, I quickly realized my true love and devotion for Yoga and how I wanted to keep it that way for as long as I lived. The training is dense with knowledge about asana alignment, safety and contraindications of every pose, how to teach and sequence effectively, Yoga philosophy and its roots, and so much more. On top of that, you’ll gain an amazing Yoga family from both students and teachers in the program who you can always turn to in life.

What has changed for you since diving deep into Yoga as a student and teacher?

Yoga has helped me become mindful and present in life. I make smarter choices in regards to my health and everyday decision-making. It has made me realize how short life is and to cherish every moment we share with our loved ones. It can be as simple as keeping the phone away from the dinner table or tuning into your breath on the mat during a challenging Vinyasa flow – or even as challenging as letting go of a difficult relationship.

Where do you see your Yoga journey taking you?

I have taught Yoga for Athletes at a strength and conditioning facility where my knowledge of human anatomy, exercise science and Yoga flourished. My dream job is to be a contracted yoga teacher for professional, collegiate or high school athletics departments, around the US or even the world.


Prana’s 200hr Yoga Teacher Training is offered 3 times per year and taught by an expert faculty of passionate Yogis, incl. Prana founder Gerhard Gessner E-RYT, Sara Deakin E-RYT500, Shauna MacKay E-RYT, C-IYAT, Dr. Alison McLean PT, E-RYT, Vicki Abrams, IBCLC, CBE, and special guest teacher & Yoga Sutra scholar and Yoga Therapist, L.A.-based Robert Birnberg. Learn more

200-Hour TT programs for 2018:

  •  January 26 – April, 2018
  • June 2018 – Summer Intensive
  • September – November 2018


PYTT Graduate Spotlight: Yoga of Transformation

The yoga postures and breath are tools to rebuild and transform ourselves.
The goal is not to tie ourselves in knots – we’re already tied in knots.
The aim is to untie the knots in our heart.
The aim is to unite with the ultimate, loving and peaceful power of the universe.
~ Max Strom

“My story is not unique, my story is one of transformation.
Stories of transformations have been told since the beginning of time, from mythological Greek stories to more modern books like ‘Metamorphosis‘ by Franz Kafka. Tales of transformation reverberate throughout our history. Everyone has their own story of metamorphosis, an ever-evolving transformation happening over their lifetime. Normally we think of stories as having a beginning, middle and end, but that is… oh so wrong! As a neuroscience student I know that our brain likes to compartmentalize things, put them in boxes so we can better understand. But, often times the walls of these boxes keep us blind from reality. The reality is that the transformation is never over, that it keeps going on and on and on.
The question most people ask a yoga instructors is,“what brought you to yoga and how long have you been teaching?”
The answer to this question inherently brings about a story of being lost and then being found, for whatever reason, maybe an injury, heartache, or emotional instability brought you to the mat and helped you heal.

The real question to ask a yoga teacher, where the uniqueness comes from, is the following question:
“What kept you practicing yoga?”

No one ever asks the question, what kept or keeps you motivated to do yoga?
My answer: the oxymoron of constant transformation.

Why? Let me explain.
Like I said earlier, I study neuroscience, I love to know how the brain has and has not transformed over the centuries, I love to learn about the transformation of knowledge that happens between our neurons. My love for the brain started started when I was a competitive soccer player and track & cross country runner in high school. I got into these sports to mask an eating disorder that I had. Insecure with my body, but tired of having an eating disorder, I took the quick fix of competitive sports. It worked for awhile, until I got injured. No longer able to get my energy out through sports, I became depressed and anxious. I had tried yoga when I was 15 and I decided to try it again. What other physical activity could I do?
Within a couple of months of doing yoga not only did my injury improve, but my brain got better, I felt sharper and happier. No longer plagued by an eating disorder.
One day I was sitting in my anatomy class when I read over the term neuroplasticity in the table of contents of my textbook. I stopped paying attention to the teacher and started reading about neuroscience and how malleable the brain is. I felt like I had experienced that malleability of the brain through yoga and I wanted to know what was happening and why. Since that moment, I became hooked. I became a neuroscience nerd. I started practicing more and more yoga, and before I knew it I was training to be a teacher 7 years later. I thought I had already gone through my butterfly transformation, but little did I know that transformations don’t happen once in a lifetime.

Growing up with two gay dads on the west coast and a bisexual mom on the east coast, I spent a lot of my childhood on airplanes. And a lot of time explaining to my friends how my family works. I loved my family and thought it was the coolest thing that I got to grow up in both places and be exposed to different cultures. It was the best of both worlds. The only hard part came when I became a teenager and started on my journey of self-discovery. I’ve always been a stubborn and tenacious person, one who likes to be unique, so when I realized that I’m bisexual too, I rejected it. Naturally, as a teenager should, I didn’t want to be like my parents.

It was through diving deeper into my yoga practice, through learning to teach, that I experienced a new transformation, that I allowed myself to let go of my stubbornness that was keeping me unhappy. I stepped fully into my identity, into a proud bisexual woman.

Since then I have started teaching yoga for athletes on Sundays where we do a 3 to 5 mile run and then yoga with the Just Run Shore Store. I’ve also been blessed to teach restorative flow at Prana Yoga Center and Vinyasa flow for my college classmates for donations. I’m also beginning an adventure with hikyoga where I’ll be teaching yoga as we hike through San Diego. I feel so fulfilled and am not sure where my yoga journey will take me, but I’m sure it will keep transforming.

From an injury to an eating disorder to self-identity, yoga has been my backbone, particularly the practices of meditation, breathing, and movement to breath. What keeps me coming back to the mat is the sure knowledge that practicing will help me be calm and clear and help me through my next transformative phase.
My next step is to graduate college, work for a year, and then apply to neuroscience grad schools as I continue to teach yoga. Going from a college student to a working professional is going to be a scary and foreign transition, but one that I know I can handle because of my yoga practice.”

Hannah graduated from the Prana Yoga Teacher Training in spring of 2016. She now teaches Yoga at Prana, on campus and at her house.

Yoga for Cancer Therapy: Human Resilience is Infinite

Cancer TT_Prana2017

On April 6-8 we are excited to host Dr. Ingrid Yang, M.D., J.D., E-RYT-500 again at Prana for a continuing education intensive for certified Yoga teachers on “Cancer Therapy Yoga.”

Ingrid has been teaching yoga since 1999, cancer therapy yoga since 2006 and has been leading this training since 2009. She specifically designed this training for certified yoga teachers to learn how to teach cancer yoga therapy with skill and confidence. In addition to being a passionate Yogi and former Yoga studio owner, Ingrid is a physician specializing in rehabilitation medicine at Northwestern University in Chicago, IL, with a particular emphasis on spinal cord injury, sports medicine and cancer rehab.  Here is a brief interview with Ingrid:


You’ve been offering this training for 7 years. What is the most profound change you see in your trainees while they undergo this training?

How much more confident and comfortable students become to teach cancer survivors and the courage they find within themselves to teach this population.


The great thing about trainings is that you spread your transformative work exponentially through your students/teachers. Where are some of these teachers teaching now? 

Many students have gone on to teach training to their respective students, but also at cancer centers, community centers, and even at hospitals in both group classes and one-on-one in the inpatient setting.


Some of your students are cancer survivors themselves. What have you learned by working with this population?

The capacity for human resilience is infinite.


Part of this training helps teachers with poses which address pain management. What yoga techniques can help with this?

meditation, meditation, meditation, pranayama, and more meditation!


How are eastern and western philosophies merging when it comes to caring for people who are dealing with cancer?

More and more allopathic physicians and oncologists are adopting yoga techniques of embodiment, breathing techniques and meditation.


Where do you see the future of cancer therapy going in the future?

Integrating all modalities of healing for whole-heart and comprehensive medical therapy — acupuncture, meditation, yoga, physical therapy, and more!


IY1Ingrid Yang, M.D., J.D., E-RYT-500 is co-author of Hatha Yoga Asanas and founder and past director of Blue Point Yoga, a yoga center in Durham, NC, where she developed this training while she was employed as a research associate at Duke Medical Center’s breast oncology department. At Duke, she focused her research on breast cancer and genetic and protein signatures demonstrated in chemotherapy treatment. Having worked closely with cancer patients in both clinical and yoga settings, Ingrid is uniquely qualified to inform and inspire teachers to lead cancer patients though the healing process of Yoga. She currently resides in Chicago and leads workshops, trainings and retreats nationally and internationally. www.ingridyang.com

Find out more about the upcoming Cancer Therapy Yoga Teacher Training on April 6-8, 2017 at Prana Yoga Center in La Jolla/San Diego.


Yogis from Across the Globe gather for Summer Intensive!



Spring is in the air and that, for many of us, marks also the beginning of planning new summer adventures. Something to look forward to, works towards and pin on our visionboard, or simply above various to-do lists on the fridge.  Today many Yoga students combine their love of Yoga and desire to learn more with a Yoga destination training and San Diego is on the top of the list!  Ever since we started offering Prana’s well-established 200hr foundational training as a Summer Intensive, we’ve had Yogis from across the globe join us in our beautiful seaside town of La Jolla (San Diego). And what’s not to love?

Prana Yoga’s Summer Intensive is an ideal destination experience for aspiring teachers and students who want to deepen their knowledge and learn more about all things Yoga – the Yoga postures and philosophy, meditation, anatomy, the business of Yoga, how to structure classes and give verbal and hands-on adjustments, and much more.  With a carefully designed curriculum and a top notch teaching faculty at one of the most beautiful spots on the West Coast, our training is sort of like ‘summer camp for Yogis.’   You do what you love all day long, make new friends, and end up with a network and community of newly-minted Yoga teachers – all, while immersing yourself in SoCal’s laid back lifestyle.

We found that the condensed format works well for out-of-towners and locals alike, and makes for a fun and interesting mix of Yogis from all over world.  While we take the study of Yoga seriously and go deep, there’s be plenty of time and opportunities to connect with each other, unite as a group and enjoy the best of San Diego’s summer with fun ‘field trips,’  like oceanfront Yoga at the La Jolla Cove, Stand-Up Paddle Board Yoga on Mission Bay, and a visit to Paramahansa Yogananda’s Meditation Gardens in Encinitas, CA.

Meet some of our PYTT alumni from around the world!


Hannah Sekovski – High School Graduate, Colorado


Hannah graduated high school in 2016 and is currently busy building her Yoga business.   She will begin her college studies this year with a focus on a bachelor’s degree in nutrition.   “I got certified to teach Yoga at Prana Yoga  in June 2016 following my high school graduation. I wanted to increase my skill level and gain a certification so I could lead others. It was important to me to develop higher levels of competency and confidence in order to effectively teach and guide students in class. Currently, I am in rotation at two local health clubs.  In addition I have launched my own business teaching Vinyasa Flow to corporate clients as part of their health and wellness programs.  I also offer in-home sessions for clients who prefer the convenience and privacy of doing their practice at home.  I am forever indebted to my experience at Prana Yoga Center as the foundation upon which I build my Yoga career.  The lessons I learned under the kind and watchful eye of Gerhard were and continue to be invaluable.”



Aisling Hill Connor Yoga & Ballet Instructor, Kansas

Asiling Hill

“Yoga is and will always be a constant adventure of diving within for new knowledge and discovery.  Ballet is my passion, Yoga is my life! 

I started ballet at the age of 6 in Texas. Ballet Austin’s training was great and provided a well-rounded curriculum. As I finished my training at the North Carolina school of the Arts in Winston-Salem, NC (now known as UNC School of the Arts), I was offered a company contract with the Kansas City Ballet. Being completely in love with all that was ballet I decided to make it my career. The accomplishments were not without difficulty. In 2005, at the height of my career, I noticed some knee pain. Well, that knee pain turned into four knee surgeries and many years of rehabilitation. During this time, I used many different methods of rehab – traditional physical therapy, Pilates, and Yoga being my main sources. One in particular stood out as the most impactful, and that was Yoga. I had never known how much yoga could help the body not only stretch and relax, but strengthen and balance. Not to mention the psychological benefits. My doctors and physical therapists were saying I may never get fully back to ballet, but I returned and danced a total of 15 years with the Kansas City Ballet. Yoga has become a major part of my life. With all the positive things it has done for me, I am now sharing those benefits with others.

I have practiced many different styles of yoga, but when I was introduced to Vinyasa my eyes were opened. Being the closest form of yoga to dancing, using breath connected with the asana to guide you through a flowing practice, I realized I was hooked. First being drawn to Yoga for its physical benefits, I now live with a deepened understanding of what yoga means in my life as well as many others.’  It is and will always be a constant adventure of diving into new knowledge and discovery. Yoga is and will always be a constant adventure of diving within for new knowledge and discovery. I received my 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training certification in June of 2013 under the direction of Gerhard Gessner at the Prana Yoga Cente . I am a 200hr RYT with the Yoga Alliance. I use alignment-based training as the basis for all of my classes, and as such, you will enjoy a nurturing yet challenging Vinyasa flow-based class that will cultivate your body and mind.”


Rhiann Suen –  Yoga Teacher, Hong Kong


I attended Prana’s Summer Intensive in 2014 and loved every minute of it.  Since then, I’ve moved back to Hong Kong where I now teach Yoga. The most important things I learned are to be more aware of my breath and senses, listen to my body mindfully and live in the present moment. I teach Yoga because I want to inspire my students to find their purpose and discover what Yoga means to them and how it can enrich their lies.”

Rhiann currently teaches public classes at Yoga BamBam, Yoga UP, Yoga Refine and Emi Yeung Dance Academy in Hong Kong.




Cola Hart – Chicago

Cola_Hart2“I attended the Prana’s Summer Intensive Training in 2014 so I could learn and be certified with the intention to share my knowledge of and love for Yoga.  Prana is my Yoga home, my original root where I started Yoga. Yoga is now an integral part of my life and its benefits serve me off the mat as much as on.  I am passionate about making a mindful and healthy Yoga practice available in areas where it is scarce.  I currently offer community classes and donation-based classes, volunteer and pay-what-you-can classes in Chicago and the Chicagoland area. For me, Yoga is about connecting with the breath, the root of our being.  It is being conscious, meaningful and learning to balance life in every sense of the word.  It is an individual and universal practice, while it is also great, euphoric workout.”





Registration is now open for the 200-Hour Summer Intensive, June 16 – July 2, 2017.  The Yoga Alliance certified training is taught by Prana founder Gerhard Gessner, E-RYT, visiting senior guest teachers Robert Birnberg, (L.A.) and Manoj Chalam, and some of San Diego’s most sought after teachers and Prana favorites incl. Sara Deakin RYT500, Shauna MacKay E-RYT500, Vicki Abrams E-RYT and Dr. Alison McLean, PT.

The first free Info Session will be held on Sunday, March 19th at 12-1pm at Prana Yoga Center. Call 858 456 2806 or email to alex@prana-yoga.com to RSVP.


I’m a busy, stay-at-home mom of four beautiful children ages 7-17.  I just graduated from the 200hr Prana Yoga Teacher Training taught by Gerhard Gessner and an amazing group of teachers in November 2016. The training was held at the Chula Vista Yoga Center, close to where me, my husband of 19 years and our kids live.   I have been practicing yoga for about fours years.  In the last three years I lost three loved ones.   I lost my father suddenly in March of this year and Yoga has helped me to Let It Hurt, Let it Heal and Finally To Let It Go.   For me, Yoga means healing.


One of my favorite quotes that really speaks to me is by B.K.S. Iyengar:


” Yoga allows you to rediscover a sense iof wholeness in your life, where you do not feel like your constantly trying to fit broken pieces together.”


Yoga  has been such an important part of my healing process and has added peace to my everyday life.  Yoga also helps me balance my life. I decided to take the teacher training because Yoga has brought me peace in a time where I needed it most.  It help me through my healing process and I felt I was ready to share it with others who might be in a similar situation.  Like with my Yoga practice, my experience with the teacher training was deeply healing one.  It empowered me and gave me strength to move forward in life.  Some of my favorite parts were the holistic approach with Shauna Mackay and an entire weekend studying the Yoga Sutras with Robert Birnberg, a guest teacher from L.A., who studied in India with one of the Yoga gurus, TKV Desikachar.  My plan is to teach classes so I can hopefully help others through their healing process with the help of Yoga. I’m so grateful for this amazing opportunity that has been truly life-changing for me.. I feel blessed to been able to learn from Gerhard and I’m especially grateful for his kindness and depth of teachings that I aspire to pass on to my students.


~ Alina Sanchez, RYT 200, PYTT Graduate November 2016


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