Gerhard Gessner E-RYT, M.A.  - Teacher Training Director 

Gerhard founded Prana Yoga Center in 2001 pursuing a life-long passion for Yoga, meditation and the healing of the body & mind. He leads Prana's highly acclaimed 200-Hour Yoga Teacher Training Program (offered 3x/year) and is a teacher & mentor in the Professional 300-Hour Yogaworks Teacher Training. Gerhard is also faculty member in the MFA programs in Acting at UCSD (since 2000) and University of San Diego (since 1998).  He holds a B.A. in Mechanical Engineering, Education, M.A. in Counseling Psychology and is a trained bodyworker.  

Gerhard's extensive training, his grounded non-dogmatic approach along with his life-long dedication to Yoga, meditation and spirituality, gives Prana’s 200hr Yoga Teacher Training the unique imprint and reputation that it is known for.  As the lead teacher and program director, he developed a solid, integrated curriculum with an interactive methodology and a hands-on approach,  while bringing on leading specialists in their respective fields to the teacher training faculty to ensure only the highest standards of teaching ~ and living ~ the ancient art and wisdom of Yoga.

Gerhard is known for a light-hearted, down-to-earth approach to Yoga as well as his compassionate spirit that makes everyone feel at ease.  Always remaining a humble student of Yoga, Gerhard has been a teacher for over 35 years and has trained many teachers from all over the world. He studied a variety of styles of Yoga, including Ashtanga, Iyengar, Ananda and Contact Yoga. He has personally studied with Sri K. Patthabi Jois, B.K.S. Iyengar, Tim Miller and many other influential Yoga teachers across the US and abroad. 

Sara Deakin RYT500 

Sara is a sought after teacher and teacher trainer in Prana’s 200hr & 300hr teacher training programs. A graduate of the 300hr Professional Yogaworks Training, she now mentors students and is a lead teacher in Prana’s 200hr Teacher Training. Her grounded expert instruction, warm personality and heartfelt spirit make Sara a valued addition to Prana’s teacher training faculty.

 Sara has been practicing Yoga since 1999. Like so many people Sara began Yoga for physical benefits. With numerous knee and shoulder injuries from competitive tennis and running, she turned to Yoga for rehabilitation. The therapy went far beyond her joints, and started to resonate in her mind and spirit. From surfing, to traveling, to being a student of natural medicine, she has been able to integrate yoga philosophy into all aspects of her life. Sara received her Yoga teacher training certification from White Lotus Foundation in Santa Barbara, CA. Her classes are inspired by her well-renowned teachers Ganga White, Tracy Rich, John Friend and Gerhard Gessner. She creates energetic classes by balancing strength, flexibility, and enjoyment. She challenges her students with vigorous flow sequences, breath work and core strengthening. Sara enjoys teaching practical uses of pranayama because she believes that breath is a great teacher and a great healer. Her classes leave you strong, calm and ready to deal with daily stress.


Dr. Alison McLean RYT  - Yoga Anatomy

Dr. Alison McLean, DPT, HHP, RYT-200 is a doctor of physical therapy and brings her extensive knowledge of anatomy and alignment to Prana’s teacher training.  She has also been a dedicated student of Yoga since 2001 and received her 200-Hour Yoga Certification at Prana Yoga Center. Additionally, Alison has studied under Rachel Krentzman, PT, E-RYT and Happy Back Yoga Program Director, as well as Judith Hanson Lasater where she practiced integrating Yoga with Physical Therapy techniques. She has a Bachelor of Science in Health and Exercise Science from the University of Delaware, where she was also a Division I Springboard Diver. After suffering multiple diving injuries, Alison felt physically exhausted and emotionally drained. It was during this time that Ali began a deeper journey with Yoga and started the process of physical and spiritual rehabilitation. The teachings of Yoga enlightened Alison to strengthen her mental state and awaken her spiritual practice.  In addition to her Yoga teaching, Alison is also a Massage Therapist with over 1,000 hours of experience. Her daily Yoga practice helped relieve stress when she studied Physical Therapy at Chapman University, where she received her Doctorate in 2010.


Shauna MacKay E-RYT, C-IAYT, B.P.E.

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 Yoga 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 received her Bachelor of Physical Education from Dalhousie University in Canada and spent the next 10 years as a Health and Fitness Consultant. 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.  She is a member of the Yoga Alliance, YogaWorks Alumni Association, and The International Association of Yoga Therapists.

“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.” - Max Strom


Robert Birnberg  - Yoga Philosophy

Robert Birnberg is a Los Angeles-based scholar of Yoga philosophy who has spent the past 20 years, 10 in India, studying the Yoga Sutras and traditional Yoga Therapy personally with the late TKV Desikachar and his senior students. He is honored to have had the opportunity to be one of a handful of students certified by the Yoga master himself to train Yoga teachers and therapists and is now passionately devoted to sharing these teachings. Robert has a unique ability to simplify and break down the teachings of the Yoga Sutras and make them accessible to students in their everyday lives. Robert is also a Certified Positive Psychology Coach and Master EFT Practitioner.  He spent 15 years creating Yoga and Spirituality programs at various addiction treatment centers throughout Los Angeles and Canada.  He currently teaches the Yoga Sutras and Addiction Components at Loyola Marymount’s Yoga Therapy Program. At The Breathing Space, Robert’s wellness center in Silverlake, Ca., he trains Yoga Wellness Coaches and provides Sutras-based coaching on relationships, careers, co-dependency and addiction. With any luck, his comprehensive book on the theory and practice of Yoga will be published by the end of 2016.


Dr. Manoj Chalam - Hindu Mythology

Manoj Chalam is an Indian-born scientist with a PhD from Cornell University. He uses humor and personal anecdotes in his lectures and workshops to illuminate Hindu mythology. Manoj helps individuals find their archetypes in Hindu Yogic deities and teaches the 4 ways to work with an archetype as a Vedantic practice. He has also compiled a book on the symbolisms of Hindu and Buddhist deities. Manoj presents workshops on Hindu symbolisms and Vedanta at yoga studios, keynotes at festivals, Yoga Journal Conferences, ashrams, and universities across the globe. His presentation in Prana's teacher training is always a special experience giving students an illuminating insight to the world of deities and mythology.

Prof. Lori Stewart - Buddhism, Hinduism, Yoga 

Lori Stewart is a Lecturer in the Religious Studies Department at San Diego State University where she teaches World Religions, Religion & Psychology, and Goddess Studies, and is currently developing a course in Nature, Spirit, and Ecology.  Professor Stewart also teaches Buddhism classes at Prana Yoga Center in La Jolla, CA, and is presently under contract with Cognella Academic Publishing to author a World Religions text scheduled for publication in 2018.  Professor Stewart is an ordained minister (Cheraga) and teacher (Khalifah) in the Sufi Movement International, and a Level-One Reiki practitioner with 10 years of experience. 


Vicki Abrams, RYT, IBCLC  - Yoga for Pregnancy/Postnatal

Vicki is an expert in the field of Yoga for Pregnancy with over 25 years of teaching experience.  Additionally, as a Childbirth Educator, International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, and the Director of the Childbirth Education Program at the Chopra Center for Well Being in La Costa, Vicki provides a wealth of resources and support for students - whether in teacher training or in her classes.  She is co-author with Deepak Chopra, MD and David Simon, MD of the acclaimed book and pregnancy guide: Magical Beginnings, Enchanted Lives: A Holistic Guide to Pregnancy and Childbirth.  Supporting women through pregnancy, birth and parenthood is Vicki's dharma and she creates a unique, nurturing and safe environment for students to learn and grow while honoring their own process. For more information about Vicki, please her website: