Teacher Bios

Teaching Yoga

It doesn’t matter who or what set in motion
the wheel of stars across the sky, a divine spark
resides in each of us. If you’ve ever blown on embers
and watched them flare, you know what it is

to teach yoga, to see the spark catch and burn
in every student. The earth and all its beings
abide in each of us – the moon’s pull on the tide,
the ebb and flow of our shared breath.

How can we not be humble when in any moment,
we are as much student as teacher?

  – nancy allen

Nancy Allen, E-RYT 200 and E-RYT 500, YACEP – Alignment Based (formerly Anusara Inspired) Yoga 

Nancy Allen is a long time yoga practitioner and a 2005 graduate of the Willow Street Yoga Center teacher training program, 200 hours (Takoma Park, MD), and 2016 graduate of Sun and Moon Yoga program, 500 hours (Arlington, VA). She continues to study with Desiree Rumbaugh, Andrew Riven, Doug Keller and other wonderful yogis. Nancy is a student of Thich Nhat Hahn and has attended a number of retreats with him, both in this country and abroad. Nancy provides clear direction and individual attention to students so they can discover their own capacity for alignment and joy in every pose.  She receives regular referrals from area doctors, chiropractors and massage therapists because of her reputation and her attention to the individual student. Nancy continues to inspire and be inspired by her students, and is always in the process of learning herself.

Paul Webb, E-RYT 200 and E-RYT 500, YACEP – Paul began studying yoga in 2008 with Kathy Graham and in early 2009 with Nancy Allen.  In 2011 he completed the 200 hour program at Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health and began teaching at James River Yoga.  He completed a second 200 hour vinyasa training with Cyndi Lee and his 500 hour certificate through the Integral Yoga Training Academy at Yogaville. Paul teaches with a deep compassion for the people with whom he is working. A veteran, former alcoholic, and cancer survivor himself, Paul uses the tools of his training, and all of his personal experiences, as he guides students toward health, acceptance and contentment. Paul is deeply grateful for all of his teachers and mentors through the years and for every student who crosses his path through the joyful experience of sharing yoga together.

Jan GrayJan Gray, STOTT Pilates – I started practicing Pilates a bit by accident!  My husband was the only bidder on a 6 week beginner class at a silent auction. As he noticed himself becoming stronger, he suggested I take the classes.  So I did and I was hooked!  I have always been active.  One of my earlier careers was working as a wilderness Outward Bound instructor.  I rowed a raft on the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon, managed my own online store selling women’s athletic clothing, and ran eight marathons.  After a few years of participating in Pilates as a student, I enrolled in a comprehensive STOTT Pilates Mat and Reformer class.  The next step in my development was training on the Stability Chair, Cadillac, and Barrels, along with an Injuries and Special Populations course.  My certifications date to 2006 and I take continuing education every year to keep my training up to industry standards and the certifications current. In 2009 I became a NASM Certified Personal Trainer and am working to earn the Fitness Nutrition specialty. I love that Pilates has a powerful and positive impact on persons of all ages and fitness levels.  When not at JRY, I can be found making kitchen linens in my handweaving studio on the second floor of Riverviews.

11170309_10204104683157369_2089950420427672656_oAnne Alfieri, RYT 200. Anne completed her RYT 200 hour teacher training with Cyndi Lee in 2015, and has also completed teacher training in Yin Yoga and Pranayama (breath awareness and manipulation). She has been practicing yoga in Lynchburg since 2005, primarily with Nancy Allen, but has had the opportunity to attend workshops and classes with many other wonderful teachers. Anne is a strong believer in the benefits of yoga, finding joy, strength, and mindfulness in the practice, with a passion for continued learning and sharing her love of yoga with others. Her teaching is hands on, using the breath and clear instruction to find openness and strength in each yoga pose, while ensuring safe body alignment. She has a background in accounting and serves in a volunteer capacity for many organizations in the community, and she complements her yoga practice by regularly swimming with the Master’s swim team. Anne is studying for her 500 Hour RYT at the Asheville Yoga Center – exploring therapeutic yoga traditions, modalities, and practice. She is planning to concentrate her advanced studies in Asheville on yoga for seniors and people with injuries.

945598_10200736412005659_1741555391_nSteve Simpson, RYT 200.  Steve’s interest in mediation and yoga began in the early 1970’s with the Transcendental Meditation movement. He later became involved in martial arts, studying Kung Fu, Tae Kwon Do and Shito Ryu, which led him back to meditative practices for the purposes of to improving mental focus, reducing mental stress and and increasing physical reaction speed. Steve earned Ea Dan rank in Tae Kwan Do and served as chief instructor and manager of two TKD schools.

In 2010 he experienced a significant shift of perspective. As a result, his meditation practice deepened and he began a serious exploration of yoga – quickly realizing that a highly-physical asana series often led him into meditative states.  Steve studied under Helen Maxwell at the Bedford Yoga Center and received his RYT 200 Certification in May, 2016. His favorite classes to teach are vigorous vinyasa flow classes and mindfulness meditation sessions – as different as these seem on the surface, they may lead to the same place. Steve is studying for his 500 Hour RYT at the Asheville Yoga Center – exploring therapeutic yoga traditions, modalities and practice.

.936391_4829129281235_761242654_nMaureen Webb, R-HYI 225 – Holy Yoga.  Curious about what her husband found healthful and helpful in yoga, Maureen began her own practice in 2009 with teacher Nancy Allen. A Faith Community Nurse course in 2010 brought evidence regarding the health enhancing discipline of yoga that paralleled her personal discovery of the body, mind, spirit connection – that greater flexibility in body led to a relaxed mind and an open spirit better able to hear God’s voice. Maureen continued her studies under local yoga instructors until interest and opportunity led her to pursue certification as a Holy Yoga Instructor in 2015. Maureen instructs alignment based yoga, set to Christian music, that combines breath work, movement and meditation on God’s Word. Her goals are to encourage experiential worship, and to create compassionate, caring classes where students can connect to Christ and each other.  (Please note: Maureen is registered with Holy Yoga, as opposed to Yoga Alliance).

Rachael Hartless – RYT 200, LMT.  Rachael began practicing yoga as a child, urged on by her father who had been practicing since his own teenage years to manage back pain and agility. Inspired by teachers like Erich Schiffman, Bryan Kest, and Sri Swami Satchidananda, her passion for a home-based practice grew and she began taking a variety of classes wherever they were offered during her undergraduate years at JMU, integrating what inspired her into creating organic sequences for her personal practice. Landing in Virginia Beach for some time following graduation, Rachael began practicing regularly at Atma Bodha Yoga Studio, taking classes based in Jivamukti, Ashtanga, and Dharma Mitra, as well as a weekly kirtan. She completed a 200 hour teacher training in 2012 and left the beach shortly after, moving to Lynchburg, Va to become a massage therapist. Her goals include completing her 500 hour training before 2020 while continuing to integrate her knowledge of yoga, anatomy, and holistic therapies to make improving health and self-awareness accessible for all.

Marisa Freeman – RYT 200.  Marisa attended her first yoga class out of curiosity and kept going back because of how amazing it made her feel. Falling in love with the practice, she began to notice the benefits not only in her body but in her mood as well. She enrolled in a 200 hour teacher training course so she could share those benefits with others. She teaches a mindful vinyasa style with an emphasis on smart sequencing and careful alignment and modifications.  Marisa’s classes are suitable for all-levels and tend to place importance on mobility and range of motion in the joints.

Allison Schroeder – Meditation Workshop. Allison was first introduced to meditation and mind training through practicing yoga and tai chi in the late eighties after deep personal loss. She eventually found her spiritual home within the early Buddhist tradition, attending yearly silent retreats since 1998.  She did MBSR training with Jon Kabat-Zinn in 2008 and began teaching mindfulness with the Blue Ridge Prison Project under the guidance of its founder Pat Coffey shortly thereafter. Wanting to foster a meditation community close to home, she started a local practice and discussion group at Randolph College in 2011.  Allison leads that group weekly and continues to be inspired by the sincerity and curiosity of its members. She also offers periodic daylong silent retreats.
Leesa Williams, E-RYT 200 and RYT 500 – Meditation Workshop. Leesa has been practicing yoga and meditation since age 18. After receiving her training at Asheville Yoga Center she taught yoga, mediation, and conscious relaxation at local studios and at Lynchburg College. Her interest in meditation and self inquiry has taken her to retreats around the world to study with various teachers. She has been actively involved with a local philosophic/self inquiry group for the past seven years and has done several meditation workshops in the area. Her current interests involve helping others reduce the stress and anxiety inherent in daily living through calming meditative and yogic practices – hoping to approach the silence and stillness at the ground of our being.