Faculty & Staff
Founder – Yoga Instructor: Yiwen Chang
As a long-time yoga practitioner and teacher of decades, Yiwen emphasizes authenticity in practice where the heart is open and soft. She encourages self-exploration and self-expression, and not a practice based on static imitations. Yiwen uses various limbs of yoga and/or healing modalities to move the class from a “thinking-dominant” practice to a “heart-endearing” practice. She has taught yoga for over 19 years and studied with a number of well known teachers; however, no one taught her more than the conscious experience of the “practice” itself.
Yiwen is also trained in various therapeutic bodywork and uses intuitive healing on those whom she serves. She offers these services at Prajna Yoga & Healing Arts.
Yiwen is extremely discerning whom she studies with. Grateful to study under Ashtanga teacher, Tim Miller, who exemplified and modeled integrity, love, kindness, and devotion. Over the years, Yiwen’s attention to psycho-anatomical alignment became key focus. This is based on the notion that “yoga is all about subtleties and about the process of waking up the body and mind holistically.” So, on a fortuitous day, Yiwen found the one and only yoga teacher she will study with for the rest of her life: Annie Carpenter. Yiwen is overjoyed to study with Annie who is grounded, real, most knowledgeable and far from the prevalent yoga sensationalism. Further, it is Dr. David R. Hawkins who deconstructed her limited mind and showed her a different way of “seeing.”
Owner – Yoga Instructor: Yely Staley
Yelitza (Yely) Staley is a Venezuelan born American bilingual 200H- RYT Vinyasa Yoga Instructor who resides near San Francisco, California. Her first yoga class was a beginners’ class at “Crunch'” when she used to live in Chicago, IL back in 2004. Since then yoga has been a big part of her life. She received her 200H certification at Yoga Medicine with Tiffany Cruikshank, whose training is a fusion of anatomy and physiology with traditional yoga. She is currently enrolled to start her 500H certification with Jason Crandell in 2017. Yely teaches yoga, meditation and plant based classes and workshops around the world in English and Spanish, and specializes in ‘Mindful Vinyasa Yoga’ which focuses on proper alignment, anatomy, breath, meditation, and compassion.
Yely is also a business owner, who currently owns and operates two successful businesses. ‘YogaYely’ is her yoga business and personal brand, which provides yoga and meditation classes, inspirational articles, and healthy tips for embracing a plant-based lifestyle. She also owns and operates ‘Prajna Center’ a conscious living center in a charming eco-friendly space located in Belmont, CA, which provides classes and workshops in Yoga, Meditation, and Ayurveda.
Yely is passionate about affecting healthy change through yoga, she is an advocate for veganism and an activist against animal cruelty and environmental protection. Before Yely discovered her passion for the yoga lifestyle, she was a successful lawyer and business owner. Yely is now living her dream and making it her life’s purpose to spread awareness, compassion, kindness and light wherever she goes and to whomever she meets.
Iyengar Instructor: Maria Calabria
Maria first fell in love with yoga in 1985 and begun a regular practice. She dedicated herself to Iyengar Yoga in 1996 and began teaching full-time in 2000. Maria graduated from IYISF’s teacher training program in 2001 and is currently certified at the Intermediate Junior 3 level. Maria has had the great fortune of making regular pilgrimages to India to study with the Iyengar family. She follows the traditional, disciplined Iyengar approach to yoga with a lot of energy and humor. She believes yoga integrates body, mind, breath and spirit; it is a philosophy and a way of life. She brings this perspective into the classroom and teaching. In addition to her yoga training, Maria holds degrees in physical education and Expresion Corporal (a form of modern dance) from her native Argentina.
Aska is a registered Hatha Yoga Teacher; E-RYT 200, RYT 500 with Yoga Alliance, a Therapeutic Yoga Teacher certified by Cheri Clampett, a Certified Massage Therapist, a Certified Esalen Massage Practitioner, and a Reiki Master.
Since 2007, based on her belief, “Anyone breathing can enjoy yoga practice,” she has been teaching yoga to those who think that they are not fit enough for yoga due to their stiffness, injuries, or other various issues. Her strong and comprehensive knowledge of body, mind and their connection, from her over 2,500 training hours from various styles of yoga, bodywork, energywork, and psychosomatic fields, enables her to serve both beginning and experienced students evenly in a mixed or all level classes.
Aska invites students to play their own physical and emotional edges, not somebody else’s edges, in a safe and fun class environment, so that they can cultivate deeper self-awareness and self-compassion on the yoga mat. Then, she keeps reminding them that the most important yoga practice happens off the mat; yoga is all about how to apply what we learn on the mat to our daily life.
If you have any specific concerns regarding your yoga practice, please talk to Aska prior to the class.
Yoga Instructor: Katherine Lindeburg
Katherine believes yoga is beneficial to all people and works to expand the availability of yoga classes from the traditional yoga studios into the broader community. She teaches yoga at a mental health rehabilitation center and also works with one of her mentors, JoAnn Lyons, and the Piedmont Yoga Community to offer yoga classes to people with physical disabilities. Katherine is most influenced by her mentors, Richard Rosen and Leslie Howard, who she first met in the advanced teacher training at (the former) Piedmont Yoga Studio. She continues to regularly study with Richard to deepen her understanding of traditional hatha yoga and pranayama and with Leslie to teach and write about the therapeutic application of yoga for pelvic issues.
Katherine (RYT-500, RCY) regularly teaches hatha, restorative yoga, mindful vinyasa, and yoga for pelvic health, and she seasonally teaches yoga for children and teens. All classes are heavily influenced by the Iyengar tradition and prioritize physical alignment and the cultivation of steadiness and ease in the body, breath, and mind. Her hope is to provide the space for students to use the teachings of yoga to learn about themselves with curiosity, compassion, and gratitude.
Uli began practicing yoga in 2001. She is a certified 500-hour Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT). She studied with Noah Mazé and graduated as a YogaMazé Certified Yoga Instructor. In addition Uli regularly studies with Desiree Rumbaugh, Stacey Rosenberg and Christina Sell.
The goal in her practices is to influence body and mind in a way that one feels more energized and more positive and as such becomes a healthier person. Uli’s mantra is to Go With a Smile through life and be happy. Key to success is proper physical alignment to enter poses that heal and prevent injuries. On top of that there should be a fun, lighthearted and non-judgmental environment as well as a supportive community which help us find our inner strength. In addition to yoga, Uli is certified in Pilates Mat 1 and Mat 2 through the Balanced Body University.
Professionally, she holds a Master’s of Science degree In architecture from the University of Frankfurt, Germany, and works at a local architecture firm in Palo Alto, CA. Besides yoga and work, Uli enjoys horseback riding, bike riding and art.
Serena takes pleasure in sharing yoga with the intention to expand flexibility and strength to the body as well as to cultivate peace to the mind. She integrates breath-oriented sequences with attention cues to encourage students to discover their embodied anatomy and energy. Her classes are guided by proper alignment and intermingled with creative transitions, pranayama and meditation. Having received her 200-hour certification through Avalon Art & Yoga in Palo Alto, Serena continues to learn different styles of yoga from studying with teachers in the Bay area.
Serena holds a master’s degree in public administration. Off the mat, she works in higher education and enjoys travel adventures.
Yoga Instructor: Brittany Rothhammer
Starting out as a ballerina, Brittany learned body awareness at a young age. What she didn’t plan on learning, but has helped her immensely in teaching yoga, was how to care for a spinal injury. After breaking her back while dancing, Brittany went through several years of physical therapy to regain her ability to walk and eventually get back to doing what she loved most, yoga. Brittany received her 200-hour certification through Nosara Yoga Institute in 2012. She has her bachelors in psychology with a minor in physiology and is currently working towards her M.B.A at Pepperdine University.
As a busy working mother and non-profit professional, Marcie found herself intensely drawn to the clarity, peace and relaxation of quiet yoga practices taught by Carol Allison, Serena Lucchesi and Pattie Stafford. Marcie pursued her dream of becoming a restorative yoga teacher and studied with Judith Hanson Lasater, becoming a Certified Relax and Renew Restorative Yoga instructor in 2014. Marcie’s passion is to help you discover your own tranquility through your yoga practice
Iyengar & Mindfulness Yoga Instructor: Susan Hiestand
Susan began practicing yoga in 1997 and completed her first teacher training in 2008. She holds a 500 hour certificate from Spirit Rock Yoga and Mindfulness Training and a 200 hour from Iyengar Institute of San Francisco. She has practiced with many senior teachers and also completed the Yoga Tune Up Level I 40 hour training.
Susan believes yoga is a journey into the mind/body connection that can change and enliven our human experience. Her introduction to yoga was in the Iyengar method where she focused her practice for many years. In 2001 she was drawn to insight or Vipassana meditation and her interest expanded to mindful awareness and Buddhist practice. She shares her love of the physical practice of yoga by stimulating mindfulness through alignment and range of motion in asana to encourage freedom of the body and mind.
Sarah is a 200 + 500 hour Registered Yoga Teacher in Yang and Yin Yoga. She completed her 200-hour Ashtanga Vinyasa training with Doron Hanoch in 2012 and her 500-hour Yin/Yang Insight Yoga training with Sarah Powers in 2015. In addition, she has completed a 100-hour Anatomy and Yin Yoga training with Paul and Suzee Grilley and a 50-hour Rocket Training at San Francisco’s Asta Yoga. A true believer in the need to continually develop her own practice, Sarah has a dedicated Ashtanga Vinyasa practice as taught by Pattabhi Jois and is currently a student of Amynthas Franco. Sarah artfully weaves her experience in Ashtanga Vinyasa, Yin Yoga and mindfulness meditation together to create classes balancing physical challenges with a conscious attention to the breath, alignment, and the subtle flow of energy in and around us.
Originally from Hawaii, Heather Law (RYT 500) has been practicing yoga since 2004. She credits her regular yoga practice for helping her to heal sports-related injuries by correcting the imbalances in her body caused by scoliosis and emotionally in helping her to deal with stress. Heather teaches alignment-based vinyasa (Anusara and Forrest influenced), meditation, and restorative yoga. As a public health scientist specializing in mindfulness research, her classes incorporate empowering themes based on yoga philosophy, Buddhist psychology, and the latest scientific research on yoga and meditation.
Heather received her 200-hour yoga teacher certification from YogaKula in Berkeley, completed a 20-hour Yoga for Scoliosis training at the Iyengar Yoga Institute of San Francisco, and recently completed SF Yoga Tree’s Advanced 300-hour training in Alignment-Based Yoga in 2016. Heather earned her master’s degree in Asian American Studies at SF State and received her graduate training in Medical Sociology at UCSF.
A. Franco – Ashtanga Instructor
Franco was introduced to Ashtanga Yoga in January 2001 in San Francisco where he, following the tradition, committed to a daily Ashtanga Mysore practice and never looked back. Later in 2011, when practicing daily with senior teacher Tim Miller in Encinitas, he was introduced to the Ashtanga 3rd Series which remains a work in progress up to this day. In 2007 Franco became a full-time teacher in the Bay Area where he worked mainly for Yoga Works among other local studios. After a few years away, Franco returned to the South Bay and is now offering his ‘Ashtanga Improvisation’ classes at Prajna Center.