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 – Jan started practicing Pilates after her husband completed a beginner class and suggested to her she would enjoy it, and she did!  After a few years of participating in Pilates as a student, Jan enrolled in a comprehensive STOTT Pilates Mat and Reformer training, with subsequent classes on the Stability Chair, Cadillac, and Barrels, along with an Injuries and Special Populations course. Her certifications date to 2006 and she takes continuing education every year to keep her training up to industry standards and the certifications current, adding to her credentials in 2009 as a NASM Certified Personal Trainer.  In September 2020 Jan certified as a Polestar Pilates Studio Trainer after a year of study, practice, and testing with Brent Anderson and Shelly Power. Jan loves that Pilates has a powerful and positive impact on persons of all ages and fitness levels.  When not at JRY, she can be found making kitchen linens in her backyard handweaving studio.

11170309_10204104683157369_2089950420427672656_oAnne Alfieri, E-RYT 200 and E-RYT 500, YACEP.  Anne has been practicing yoga for many years.  She completed her 200 hour OM Yoga Teacher Training with Cyndi Lee in 2015, at which time she began teaching at James River Yoga Studio.  She graduated from the Asheville Yoga Center 300 Hour Advanced Yoga Studies in 2020, specializing in working with older adults and people with injuries and chronic pain.  She has also completed yoga teacher training in Yin Yoga and Pranayama (breath awareness and manipulation) and continues to study with many wonderful teachers across the country.  Anne subscribes to the notion that “motion is lotion,” and offers classes that incorporate safe, gentle movement and careful sequencing in conjunction with a focus on the breath.  Her clear instruction is designed to help students find flexibility and strength in every pose, while giving them the space to trust their own inner teacher.  Anne continues to be grateful for and amazed by how nourishing and transformational the practice of yoga can be, both for herself and for her students.

.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. Maureen is certified in chair yoga, enjoys leading classes at area assisted living facilities, and is able to offer chair modification or classes if there is need or interest. 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).

Teresa Julian, STOTT Pilates. Teresa is a seasoned Pilates professional. With over 30 years of experience in the fitness industry in the Lynchburg area, she maintains two full Pilates certifications that include mat and pilates equipment: Stott Pilates and Polestar Pilates. She is working on a third certification through a national board: The Pilates Method Alliance and should complete that by November 2020. Teresa feels like the best version of herself when she is a teacher, a helper, and serving clients’ needs. It is her personal goal to make sure the Pilates Method is accessible in the Lynchburg Community and The Principles of Whole-Body Health and Commitment are taught to as many fitness enthusiasts as possible. Above all she believes we all need to have positive movement experiences and she strives to deliver that in each group or private session.  She is a breast cancer survivor and a champion for using exercise to combat the stress and strain of a cancer diagnosis, treatment, and survival. Fostering RESILIENCE is at the core her values along with having respect for one another’s differences, and for believing in lifelong learning. Teresa says,” Each day we have a choice: live our core values and maintain a positive attitude. Really, that is about all I feel like we can control.” Her mantra: BE KIND, DO GOOD, and WE ALL DO BETTER TOGETHER!

Kassie Gada, Certified iRest® Teacher. While suffering from years of debilitating anxiety and insomnia following cancer treatment, Kassie was first introduced to iRest at a workshop led by Dr. Richard Miller in 2011. Dr. Miller, the founder of the Integration Restoration Institute, is a clinical psychologist and yogic scholar. Kassie is a nurse and CASA in Lynchburg with a passionate interest in the integrated science and applications of meditation in health and resilience. As such, she has pursued further training and certification in trauma informed care, iRest in trauma, and the Safe and Sound Protocol® based on Dr. Stephen Porges’s Polyvagal Theory.  Kassie recently contributed Meditations for an iRest app for teachers called JabuMind®.

Shelly Childress, RYT 200. Shelly began yoga as a way to add stretching and flexibility to her workout routine.  As a personal trainer and group fitness instructor, she was drawn first to the purely physical aspect of yoga. When she enrolled in yoga teacher training her goal was  to increase her knowledge and understanding of yoga and to bring its physical elements to her own practice.  But yoga had other plans for her! The more consistently she practiced and grew as a yogi, the more her practice and teaching changed. She began to discover and explore the power of breath and use it both to increase stamina during aerobic activity and to manage the stresses of daily life. Yoga became part of her daily life and the practice became not a thing to do, but a way to be. Shelly’s mission is to engage others in a relationship with movement and self awareness. She hopes to help students let go of tension while building strength and flexibility    She is honored to teach yoga.

Ellen Mackey, RYT 200.  Since being diagnosed with scoliosis in her teens, Ellen has been aware of the importance of strengthening her body and maintaining flexibility. It was through this personal experience that she discovered both yoga and massage therapy. Ellen has a Masters in Education with classroom experience at the Middle School level as well as Community College instruction with Adults returning to the classroom. She completed her RYT 200 hour teacher training with Cyndi Lee in 2015, and has received Yin Yoga teacher training with Corina Benner, studied meditation with Sally Kempton at Yogaville, and attended a Kripalu weekend with Richard and Dana Faulds. Ellen has facilitated her own workshops including, Yoga as we Age, and Yoga for Back Care.  As a massage therapist and yoga teacher, Ellen brings a knowledge of anatomy along with compassion and gentleness to her teaching. She strives to share with her students the therapeutic qualities of yoga – the union of breath, body, and mind.

Jeanne Pribble, RYT 200. Jeanne began her yoga journey at the beginning of 2018 with primary teachers, Paul Webb and Nancy Allen.  Shortly after, she recognized the growing importance of self-care in her life and knew yoga was for her. The relaxation, strength, and sense of accomplishment fed her soul. Once she established a regular yoga routine, she noticed a huge change in her self-esteem and inner peace. The next step was learning how to share this feeling with others. She completed her  200 hour Yoga Teacher Training through Mandala Wellness in 2019.

Lyndsey Hoyle, RYT 200.   Lyndsey’s life changed after moving from Virginia to Colorado in 2010. In a small mountain town at 8,700 feet, she found her spiritual path as a yogi. Being away from home for the first time gave her a sense of freedom to choose a new direction than the one she felt was already chosen for her. After years of self-discovery and personal expansion, she was able to manifest what she genuinely wanted from life. She moved back home, started a tea company with her partner, and opened Good Karma Tea Co. in 2014. The goal was to create a brand that would focus on the mindfulness practices she had learned while away and to share what changed her life with the people back home. After attending yoga classes in Lynchburg for several months, Lyndsey decided to take teacher training to deepen her yoga practice. She completed OM 200 YTT with Cyndi Lee in 2017. Lyndsey continues to use her practices learned towards other avenues such as meditation, mindful tea blending and sound healing.

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.

Kristen Prosen, E-RYT 200, YACEP directs the YTT Program offered at James River Yoga. She studied yoga with the late Sarasvati Devi in Tampa, FL and graduated from a 200 hour yoga teacher training in 2011. Kristen is a licensed therapeutic bodyworker who combines clinical massage, herbal medicine, and corrective yoga movements to help others feel good in their bodies so that they can live full, service oriented lives. She works with clients who believe that the work we do on ourselves is the work that our friends, family, community, and world needs.

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.

945598_10200736412005659_1741555391_nSteve Simpson, RYT 200 – Meditation Workshop.  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.