Meet Nava Yoga Studio's Teachers
Wendy Lester E-RYT200,RYT500
Wendy's journey began with practicing yoga in 2000. As an avid cyclist and runner, with a degree in Physical Therapy and Health Services Administration, she recognized the many benefits that yoga brought to the body and mind. The real turning point in her yoga path was in 2009 when she attended a Yoga Philosophy Course given by Di Tyssen. The course changed her entire outlook on her yoga practice and her personal life. She has been sharing the power of yoga ever since. Wendy teaches and practices Vinyasa Flow, Ashtanga, and Gentle.
"Yoga is not a perfect downward dog or forward bend--it's the newly born self that each day steps off the yoga mat and back into life" Rolf Gates.
Victoria Lindsey-Firth RYT200
Certified Yoga Nidra
Dani Mae YT 500
Victoria spent her formative years in Missouri where her love of learning evolved into studies beyond an M.Ed. While enjoying a rewarding career in education in New York, she began practicing Yoga in 1995 in an effort to relieve painful injuries, ease the stress of everyday life, and seek better avenues to relaxation, strength, and peace within. She achieved all these goals in Yoga. After retiring and moving to Florida, Victoria found her love of Yoga a natural path to continue her enjoyment of teaching others. Certified in May of 2010 where she trained at the Adiaya Yoga Sanctuary, she attained National Yoga Alliance Certification at the 200 hour level. Her practice and knowledge has consistently grown through continuous Yoga teaching, learning, and studying, while especially benefitting from ongoing exposure to exceptional
teachers and students alike.
Victoriaʼs style is revealed in guiding strong but gentle sequencing of asanas, stressing awareness and importance of breathing, offering helpful modifications and variations in key postures,building strength and relaxation at the same time. She brings special emphasis at every ending to the empowering benefits of guided meditation into the deep core of ourselves. “I have seen amazing transformations in people of all ages and levels who routinely practice with purpose and intention. Like building any skill, Yoga needs a safe, supportive, environment where you can frequently practice and learn. Your body, mind and spirit will eventually strengthen, improve, relax and blossom through a dedicated Yoga practice coupled with the sincere guidance of sensitive and dedicated teachers.”
Dani Mae has always been a Lover of balance. A native to Sunset Beach, she fell in Love with the practice of finding equilibrium at the small age of 5 while surfing. Skateboarding, snowboarding, wakeboarding, skimboarding and stand up paddle boarding all followed naturally. Dani is also a long distance runner who was practicing asana before even realizing it. Formally introduced to yoga in 2003, it wasn’t until 2006 that she uncovered her passion in this elegant science of strength and balance. Since then, she has dedicated thousands of hours to studying all styles of yoga and has devoted her mornings to maintaining her daily practice. What she's discovered is so much more than solely an attunement of the body but an all encompassing synchronization of mind, body, heart and source. Dani has Completed various teacher trainings in both New York City and Los Angeles concentrating on Anusara, Vinyasa and Iyengar. Her focus on foundation, alignment and adjustment, along with her passion to impart the knowledge and Light of yoga, assures that her classes are both enlightening and up lifting.
Sandie Montgomery RYT200
Sandie has been practicing yoga for 10 years and Aerial Silks for the past 2 years. In the past 5 years Sandie began to focus on her yoga practice to help with her chronic migraines. In the fall of 2012, she decided to build on her practice by getting certified to be yoga teacher (200 hour level), studying with Life Power Yoga, at Lifetime Fitness, Ohio under internationally renowned yoga teacher Jonny Kest, Birmingham, MI and Life Power Instructor Carrie Treister.
Sandie focuses on teaching Vinyasa Flow Yoga, Slow Flow Yoga and Ashtanga. Believing that everyone and anyone can use yoga to build a stronger respect for themselves and the world around them.
Rissa Wray RYT 200
Rissa is a Thai Yoga Massage practitioner, licensed massage therapist (MA#67263), and registered yoga teacher at the 200-hour level. Born and raised in St. Petersburg, FL, Rissa decided to pursue a career in massage therapy after receiving her Bachelor of Arts degree in Religious Studies from Florida State University in 2010. Then, in 2012, after completing the Cortiva Institute of Florida's 750-hour massage therapy program, she went on to study in Thailand for three months with the Integral Touch Institute, receiving a comprehensive certification in Thai Yoga Massage. While in Thailand, she learned not only the traditional techniques of Thai bodywork, but also how to creatively and appropriately incorporate them in a style that is uniquely hers. More recently, in March of 2014, Rissa completed Sacred Space Yoga's 200-hour yoga teacher training program with Jade Skinner, learning concepts, practices, and techniques based strongly in the Ashtanga tradition.
It is Rissa’s belief, as Friedrich Nietzsche said, that "there is more wisdom in your body than in your deepest philosophy." Because of this, it is her goal to calm the mind and quiet the ego in order to more effectively listen to what the body is trying to signal and communicate - to more effectively meet each person’s unique needs.
Tamara Harte RYT 500
I found myself on the yogic path while my daughter was in high school. I also have a son but he was already off to college. Anyway, I would get to yoga class at the local gym and then find myself sneaking out right before the savasanas in order to get to the kick off of my daughter’s soccer games. The first thing I learned from yoga, Balance.
I share this little story because once you find yourself on that Path, it will take you into the heart. Yoga helps you to slow down, take a breath and enjoy the moment.
It took me two tries between 2008 and 2009 to officially become a 200 hour certified yoga instructor. Why two times, in 2008 my husband decided he wanted to take us across the Atlantic Ocean and in our own boat. I took a deep breath and off we went.
I received my 500 hour Ashtanga training and graduated in 2011. It always makes me smile when I think back on the start of my journey and about what I said to my instructor . . . that I wanted to “eat, live and breathe yoga”! So that is what I hope to inspire in any one that walks into my class.
Yoga is a journey to into understanding not only how your body works, and what your muscles are capable of doing, it can also become a passion to uncovering the real you. I hope to meet you in my class and look forward to your companionship along the way.
Christa Fairbrother RYT200
Christa came to yoga to balance out the physical demands of being a farrier. She started with an Iyengar practice, developed a personal practice that carried her through several large life changes, and then continued practicing with instructors from a variety of styles. 20+ years later the time was finally right to do the 200hr yoga teacher training at St. Pete Yoga. Focusing on the direction she wanted to move in as a teacher, she completed the Yoga for Arthritis training with Dr. Steffany Moonaz. Her teaching style draws on skills developed through her experiences as a farrier, her masters in museum education, and living with arthritis and lupus. She strives to be a teacher who is fun, engaging, and responsive. She firmly believes everyone is capable of yoga.
Joanna Ozkaya RYT 500
Joanna is a 500 hour Yoga instructor registered with Yoga Alliance. She is also co-owner of Nava Yoga Studio and a practicing attorney.
Due to the demands of the law practice, Joanna needed to find a healthy way to relieve stress and to find a harmonious balance between her professional and personal life.
After participating in a few Yoga classes, Joanna became interested in seriously pursuing the practice for her own personal growth. She enrolled at the Adiaya Yoga Sanctuary where she completed 500 hours of training in April of 2012.
Joanna soon got involved teaching classes at the Baycare Carillion Wellness Center and classes for the staff at the Home Shopping Network. Joanna enjoyed the positive feedback from her students. She then began thinking about opening her own Yoga studio. Her dream was realized when the Nava Yoga Studio opened in November of 2012.
Joanna states “the practice of Yoga has provided me with a sense of equilibrium, serenity and a connection with my body, my mind, my spirit, and with those around me."
Gail Walker RYT 500
Certified Prenatal Yoga
Gail began practicing yoga about ten years ago at the suggestion of her chiropractor to help relieve constant severe back and hip pain due to scoliosis. Yoga immediately resonated with Gail and she not only gained mastery over her physical pain but over other areas of her life as well. As she continued her yoga practice she noticed that her life was transforming before her eyes. During a story boarding exercise in a yoga workshop, Gail received a sudden clear vision of her future life as a healer and began to move toward this goal immediately following her vision. Since then she graduated from the 200-hour Integrative Yoga Therapy Teacher Training Program at Living Room Yoga in 2008 and obtained her certification in Prenatal Yoga from Janice Clarfield of Urban Yoga of Vancouver, Canada. Gail also completed her 500-hour yoga teacher certification in January, 2012. What is Gail like as a teacher? Gail is a thorough, caring teacher with a strong commitment to her students and her yoga community. Her classes are well-rounded and follow a philosophy of giving individuals what they need even within the class setting and helping students carry their practice into their daily lives, to provide them with a means of regaining their ground and reconnecting with their truer selves, finding peace amidst whatever pain is pressing in on them, be it physical, emotional, or spiritual, and to help them move forward in the process of returning to wholeness.
Kelly McCabe RYT 200
Yin Yoga Trained
I discovered yoga in 2005 while living in Vancouver, BC. My journey began with an asana practice. I rolled out my mat in my first yoga class at Flow Yoga on Burrard Street, and attempted to participate. Mostly, I watched, appreciating the shapes and forms bodies were taking in this big, open 2nd floor city space. The room was filled with warmth both in temperature and sound from everyone breathing audibly and in sync with their subtle, yet precise, movements. I had no clue what was going on, but I knew I wanted to be a part of it.
My respect for yoga continued to grow the deeper I dove in to this powerful, transformative practice. I learned about meditation, chanting, philosophy, and many different styles of asana with the importance of proper alignment. I felt that I was healing myself from the inside out: emotionally, spiritually and physically.
In the summer of 2010, I moved back to my hometown of St. Petersburg, Florida. I continued a daily practice, and I decided I wanted to share my love of yoga with anyone willing to participate.
In 2012, I completed my 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training Program - under the expert guidance of Chris Acosta, and the skilled instructors of St. Petersburg Yoga. I have learned about yoga through many great teachers, although I feel I am still just scratching the surface. “Yoga is a lifelong practice,” as they say, and I look forward to many more years of absorbing information that is revealed to me in this steady and alluring journey.
I teach a variety of styles of Yoga, ranging from beginner to strong/intermediate classes. I teach traditional Hatha postures with Vinyasa Flow style sequencing. In 2014, I also became certified in Yin Yoga. I want all students, of any skill level, to step on their mat and receive the therapeutic benefits that this practice has to offer.
Kimmie Copley RYT 200
Kimmie Copley, RYT200, B.S., R.N., first discovered yoga as a teenager in high school. She knew it would be a lifelong journey and practice. She began teaching before any formal training for a worksite wellness initiative when she was employed by the State of Florida. She completed her RYT200 at Journeys in Yoga in Tallahassee in 2010 studying primarily Ashtanga and Vinyasa and also fell in love with Restorative and Yin styles. She recently finished nursing school and cares deeply about providing safe instruction for all bodies. Her style of teaching is playful, light-hearted, and joyful. She's thrilled to join the team at Nava Yoga and hopes to see lots of beach yogis and yoginis in her classes.
Chelsea Singer RYT 200
Chelsea was diagnosed with a degenerative neurological disability at the age of eleven. She had several surgeries to try to correct the problems with her feet, but the surgeries went wrong and ended up doing more harm than good. Chelsea was told she would be in a wheelchair by her mid thirties. One day she was reluctantly dragged into a hot power yoga class, which ended up changing her life forever. After under a year of doing yoga only 2-3 times a week, Chelsea noticed she was no longer in constant severe nerve pain. She became a certified RYT 200 to spread the physical, emotional, and spiritual healing she found through yoga. Chelsea teaches gentle, beginner's, power, vinyasa flow, hatha, chair, and kids yoga. Visit cmtyoga.com for more info on Chelsea.
Katy Swanson RYT 200
Katy was introduced to Hatha yoga in 2004 while completing a degree in Environmental Studies from Eckerd College. Being raised around Chinese Medicine, Massage Therapy, Acupuncture and other alternative therapy traditions, it was a natural transition for her to seek the path leading Katy to complete her 200-hour RYT through Sacred Space Yoga in 2013. A sailor and climber, she is a lover of all outdoor activities and equally enjoys being on or in the water or above sea level immersed in the mountains. Katy teaches modified Ashtanga, Vinyasa Flow, Gentle, Hatha, and occasionally a Yin Class or two. She wants you to focus on the here and now. To be present and engaged in every action you take. To always remember we are One; infinitely connected to each other. To be mindful that we are a reflection of the other, that at our deepest truth-We Are Light. To be mindful to not take things personally and always remember to laugh, even at yourself.
Allie Flavio RYT 200
Allie is a born and raised Florida girl who has a passion for movement, creativity, and connection. After years of competitive gymnastics and cheerleading, Allie naturally fell into the practice of yoga and by fell, she literally fell head over heels in love. Allie received her 200 RYT certification from the Lotus Pond in Tampa, FL and loves to teach heart pumping, soul moving, creative flows. Be prepared to sweat with her!
On a personal note, Allie is a marketing manager by day, a yoga teacher and student by night, and an avid traveler and full-time blogger in between. It’s her goal to create a yoga + travel + life inspiration blog that motivates and inspires everyone to live their journey. You can check out her blog at www.thejourneyjunkie.com.