Faculty & Staff
As a long-time yoga practitioner and teacher, 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 16 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.”
Prajna Manager: Tess DiNapoli
Tess is an artist and writer. Her yoga practice inspires her art and her art inspires her yoga practice. She discovered yoga when she unrolled a yoga mat for the first time in 2004 while in art school, having never been particularly keen on “fitness” and with little idea as to what yoga was. The practice quickly made her life a little lighter, a whole lot stronger, clearer and revitalized. Eleven years and a whole lot of yoga later, she’s a RYT 500 yoga. Teachers who influenced her the most are Yonnus Becker, Courtney Harms and Mary Beth LaRue, Annie Carpenter and Maty Ezraty.
Tess’s classes blend alignment-based vinyasa and exploration, hatha informed where there are longer holds and less “flow” and gentle yoga. She knows that the hardest part of the practice is often getting to your mat and honors every moment a student decides to show up for herself. She teaches yoga as a way to get grounded, get centered, and to act from a place of reflection rather than immediate reaction.
Megan met yoga the summer of 2002. Swept-up in the constant movement of life as a twenty-something living in San Francisco, yoga classes provided a place where she could silence the noise of daily troubles. She found stillness and the ability to exercise her mind in yoga—providing the balance and peacefulness that she was craving. This proved important as she created a career in event planning leaving her working long hours and stressful days.
Megan moved to the Napa Valley in 2007 and began practicing under Ulrika Engman, Yoga Teacher and Halprin Life Art practitioner. Megan then completed a 200 hour Yogaworks teacher training, October 2014; and a 100 hour Samdhana Yin teacher training with Alicia Cheung focusing on Chinese Medicine and Healing.
Megan believes there is beauty in playing with the equilibrium of stillness and movement. She integrates both yin and yang into any practice to achieve a balanced and well-rounded persona. In her class you can expect gentle to more dynamic movement with focus on well-being and mindfulness.
Ben began his studies of yoga in 1996 with his primary teacher and mentor, Yogacharya Ben Thomas. Throughout his journey, he has also had the good fortune to study with many other wonderful yogis in a variety of different traditions. Some of the yogic training courses he has attended over the years include a year of study in the Iyengar Yoga Institute Advanced Teacher Training program, teacher training with Doug Swenson, as well as living and practicing at the Sivananda Yoga Ashram in Grass Valley for several months as staff. In addition to his practice of yoga, Ben has been engaged in the practice and study of taiji and qigong since 1999 and has had the opportunity to study with many different masters, including Master Wong Wai Yi, his primary sifu. In his yoga classes, he draws from a variety of different yogic practices including asana, pranayama, meditation, relaxation, chanting, and yoga philosophy.
Essentially, Ben is most interested in what is here, allowing life to unfold naturally in this timeless moment. He is devoted to the light of wakefulness shining in the heart, and it is this wakeful presence which naturally guides and inspires his life and teachings. For more on Ben and his offerings you may visit www.wakefulway.org.
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. (www.LotusSeedsTherapy.com)
Susan teaches yoga because she wants to share what has brought her so much joy and fulfillment. She has benefited most from the freedom, discipline, and sense of connectedness she’s gained through yoga. She believes that yoga is a tool which can enable us to realize our truest potential.
She has completed an Anusara Teacher Training with Sianna Sherman and Noah Maze in 2011, and is inspired by Anusara, Iyengar and Vinyasa traditions, having practiced for 13 years. She continues her studies with Sianna Sherman, Desiree Rumbaugh, and various local teachers. She teaches with a smile and a sense of fun, encouraging students to empower themselves in practice and in life.
Uli began her yoga practice in 2001. Now certified 500 hour Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT), she studied primarily with Noah Mazé, but also with Desiree Rumbaugh, Stacey Rosenberg, Kenny Graham and Samantha Shakti Brown. Currently, she continues to study with Noah Maze.
The goal in all her practices is to influence body and mind in a way that one feels more energized and more positive and as such become 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, a fun lighthearted nonjudgmental environment and a supportive community all of which help us finding our inner strength. In addition to yoga, she is also certified in Pilates Mat 1 and Mat 2 through the Balanced Body University.
Professionally, she holds a Master’s of Science In Architecture from the University of Frankfurt, Germany, and works at a local architecture firm. Besides yoga and work, Uli enjoys horseback riding and art.
Yely was born and raised in Caracas, Venezuela and came to the United States to learn English as a second language and to obtain a Master Degree in Law (LL.M). After graduating, she moved to Chicago where yoga discovered me and my relationship with yoga has continued to grow and develop every day since and now she considers yoga a very close friend. Today, after a decade of practice, Yely is a certified bilingual Vinyasa Yoga Instructor based near San Francisco, California. She is currently teaching all levels of Vinyasa yoga class in English and Spanish, and assisting some of the yoga classes lead by Jason Crandell in San Francisco. Yely received my 200H certification at Yoga Medicine with Tiffany Cruikshank, whose training is a fusion of anatomy and physiology with traditional yoga. http://www.yogayely.com/
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.
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.