INSTRUCTORS


 

REBECCA PENNINGTON, OWNER

Rebecca was born in 1978 and grew up in Sebastopol, California. She graduated from Sonoma State University with a degree in Kinesiology and Psychology. She worked as a wilderness adventure guide for eight years taking teenagers and adults on outdoor adventure trips. She has also worked as a fitness coach and a physical education teacher. Her passion is fitness, nutrition, and health.

She enjoys swimming, cycling, skiing, snowboarding, rock climbing, kiteboarding, etc…sports of all kinds. She backpacked about 1700 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail from Canada to Mt Whitney, C.A.

After destroying her left knee joint from overuse, a friend introduced her to Bikram Yoga. She was amazed at what practicing Bikram Yoga did for her body. Her knee joint slowly became stronger and stopped throbbing with pain. Her body’s alignment, posture, balance, and strength improved incredibly. Her athletic abilities greatly increased in all of the sports she plays. Her stress level began to decrease and she was able to sleep better at night.

Rebecca has practiced Bikram Yoga since 2003. She has seen how much Bikram Yoga has helped not only herself, but everyone who practices around her. She has seen those of all ages, sizes, and abilities benefit greatly from a regular Bikram Yoga practice. She has seen so many students transform their bodies, and reduce aches and pains.Rebecca went to teacher training in April 2010. She absolutely loves teaching Bikram Yoga and motivating students to stay healthy and strong.


 

JULIE SHANNON

I was first introduced to yoga while living at Esalen in Big Sur in 1995. It wasn’t until 5 years later that I walked into my first Bikram class. Although I enjoy other styles of yoga; with Bikram yoga it was love at first sweat! 2 months later, 2000, I was at Bikram Teacher Training in LA taking 2 classes/day for 9 weeks. Upon graduating from the training I returned to Sonoma and taught and practiced at various studios in Sonoma county while opening my own studio Bikram Yoga Sonoma (2003). After owning that studio for 3 1/2 years I decided to sell it to become a traveling teacher. I accepted a year contact to teach in Hong Kong in 2007 which led to teaching in Philippines, Australia and New Zealand. I have also taught in numerous cities and states in the US. I have taught approximately 8000 classes in the past 16 years and have taken roughly the same.

My love for teaching and practicing Bikram yoga continues to be fueled by both personal experience and testimonials from students around the world of its profound ability to heal both mind and body. I recently went to Inferno Hot Pilate’s training in 2016 and am also enjoying teaching Pilate’s. Please feel free to share your personal testimonials with me.


 

EMMY STEWART

I was born and raised in Santa Rosa. From a young age I always had a knack for languages and a passion for traveling. I spent my junior year of high school in Brazil and by the time I graduated I was fluent in five languages.
Pursuing my initial educational pathway in chemistry I relocated a couple times, ending up back in Santa Rosa and completing the Pharmacy Technician program offered by the junior college. Through all the moves and changes physical fitness was the one constant in my life. I taught spin classes at CSU San Marcos and was an avid water polo player thru my high school years.

I now truly enjoy the sweat, hard work and rewarding feeling when I teach or take inferno hot Pilates and bikram. My passions have evolved to include food nutrition and physical fitness while i pursue a degree as a registered dietitian.

I truly believe everything in life deserves a balance, food, fun and hard work.


 

ERIN ELISABETH MARSCHALL-CARROLL

Hi, my name is Erin. If you are reading this, good for you! You’ve taken the initiative to learn more about Bikram Yoga Santa Rosa (BYSR) and get a sense of the instructors you might be working with here at the studio.
It is my honor and privilege to teach Bikram yoga. I believe, with all of my heart, that yoga has the power to Heal you (yes, you!) on physical, mental, emotional and spiritual levels. It is my goal, with every interaction with individuals—inside and outside of class—to help each person realize their own Highest Good. I am convinced that practicing yoga, especially on a regular basis, brings each of us closer to our Highest Good and our Highest Potential.

Please know that “flexibility” is not a requirement for practicing yoga. All that is required is an open mind and willingness to become more of who you truly are.
Please come in and take some classes (if you haven’t already)—we have so many classes to choose from! Every class accommodates beginning, intermediate and advanced practitioners. I speak for the entire staff here when I say that I genuinely look forward to meeting and working with you.
All blessings, Erin


 

JACKIE VICTORIO

Jackie was born in Riverside, CA in 1982. Shortly after, her family moved to Northern, CA. She attended Santa Rosa schools through to the Junior College. She took her G.E.D at an early age, and moved to Taiwan at 16 years old where she taught English and studied the Chinese language. After returning home, Jackie’s father Bill, took her to her first Bikram yoga class at the age of 17! She has been practicing ever since. After graduating the Bikram Yoga Teacher Training in 2002, she began teaching at the Santa Rosa studio. She has practiced through 4 pregnancies and been an inspiration to many students. The mother to 5 beautiful children, (she carried 2 babies her last pregnancy) she adores her babies and works her schedule around raising her incredible 5.


 

MARA LEWIS

My daughter suggested that I check out Bikram yoga in January 2006 and I am still checking it out every time I practice. At the time I was a banker and enjoyed the stress relief that yoga provided. I soon came to realize that I enjoyed yoga more than banking and decided to enter teacher training in September 2012. Since graduation, that has been my new career. I am most rewarded by the changes I see in students from their first class on as their concentration, grace and stillness in postures progress and they tell me how great they feel. On a personal level I consider myself to be a “professional Latvian”, put here in the U.S to support our little country, and I spend some time producing, directing and sometimes acting in Latvian stage plays that are performed at the Latvian Hall in San Francisco and other venues. Together with my husband, grandson and dog we enjoy camping, swimming, hiking and cooking s’mores over a campfire. Dancing is fun as well. Yoga keeps me dancing.


 

ELIAS GAITAN

In the early 90’s Elias Gaitan began his yoga journey with the study and practice of Hatha (physical) yoga. He began his practice using the book ‘Bikram’s Beginning Yoga Class’ and a video ‘Baron Baptiste’s Power Yoga’.
A trained competitive athlete his entire life, Elias’ body was already showing signs of breaking down; it needed help. A decade later this journey lead him to his first yoga teacher training and certification, Bikram’s Beginning Yoga in 2003.

Since then he has accrued numerous certifications, and has studied with notable hatha yoga masters such as; Rajashree Choudhury (Bikram yoga), Ana Forrest (Forrest yoga), Baron Baptiste (Baptiste power yoga), Mark Whitwell, Shiva Rea, Vinnie Marino, Brian Campbell (Forrest Yoga) and Duncan Wong to name a few.
Today Elias is the founder of ‘True For You Yoga’ and continues his daily practice, study and teaching of yoga. Elias teaches passionately with the emphasis on breathing, living fully in your body, and feeling good while in your yoga practice, and in turn your life.

Over this 20 year yoga journey, Elias interprets Hatha yoga as: “The healing practice of bringing the body in union with the life”.


 

KATHERINE DICHTER

I began my journey into natural health and mind/body connection in my early 20’s ( way back in 1977!) This is when I began studying the raw foods diet and natural living with Ann Wigmore at Hippocrates Health Institute in Boston, Massachusetts, and here I was also introduced to Polarity Body Therapy. Then in 1979 I spent 9 months living and studying at The Polarity Health Institute on the San Juan Islands off of the coast of Washington.

After that I spent the next 15 years at home, raising my 3 children (with my husband). First in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and then in Trinity County, in northern California, and finally arriving in Sonoma County in 1990. In the mid 1980’s we found our spiritual teacher, Adi Da Samraj, and we have continued with this spiritual practice. Here in Sonoma County I was active in the Waldorf Schools that my children attended ( Willow Wood and Summerfield ). In 1994 I started working at Whole Foods Market in Sebastopol (at the time it was Food for Thought )- where I stayed for 21 years!

In the early 1990’s I became a regular runner, and at times dabbled in some hatha yoga practices at home. Then in 2001, at the interest of my youngest daughter, who was 15 at the time, I tried Bikram yoga here at the 7th Street studio! I loved it! It felt like a good balance to my running, and my active physical job at Whole Foods. Well- I never quit! ( My husband and 2 older children practice Bikram yoga also ). Always in the back of my mind was, “I might like to teach this!”

Then in 2012 I made the decision that I would retire from Whole Foods in 2015, increase my yoga practice and take the Bikram teacher training in the spring of 2016. Which is what I did! With encouragement from Rebecca I decided to do the Evolation training in Santa Barbara. This is the training that Elias Gaitan is involved in and that fellow teacher, Larry, has also done. So- off I went last April! The training was great! I definitely felt like I made the right training choice.

I landed back here and began teaching last June. I really love my “post retirement” career.! I love our studio and my wonderful fellow teachers. I really enjoy working with everyone who walks in our doors. It’s a wonderful group of people, I enjoy sharing what I have learned, and also, always continuing to learn from those I teach. I hope to continue teaching here for a long time.


 

HANNAH

Hannah was born and raised in Sonoma County. She lived in Southern California for part of her 20s and did a lot of traveling, but she discovered she was too much of a NorCal girl at heart and came back to Sonoma County.

She describes herself as a nature and animal lover. Born with a green thumb, gardening is her happy place. She enjoys tending to her roses and baking with homegrown fruit. Her four dogs are the light of her life. When she needs to get away, her favorite place to escape to is her family’s rustic old cabin near Mt. Lassen where she can do lots of fishing and hiking. With no electricity, she thinks it’s the perfect place to unwind and unplug.

Her mother has been doing Bikram yoga for over 15 years. She and Hannah took their first Inferno Hot Pilates class at BYSR from Kristin Jones. Hannah experienced such great results and enthusiastically loved IHP so much that she was inspired to teach it. Watching students’ bodies and strength change has been just as exciting for her as her own transformation.


 

ZACH MCCLOSKEY

I began my practicing yoga in my mid twenties. Starting my practice at Bikram Yoga of Santa Rosa, I immediately found relief from all of my ailments. The heated yoga helped with the long, hard and odd hours that involved working in the Food and Beverage Industry. My sleep improved, I gained energy, strength, mobility and lost weight. That was when friends and family started to notice the change and the benefits of my yoga practice.

I then followed my passions to Los Angeles to pursue a career and life within the world of yoga. I quickly found a home at Hot Yoga LA, at the Downtown LA location. The following year I continued to learn, practice and grow and eventually went onto the 9 week Bikram Yoga Teacher Training in Khao Lak, Thailand in the Fall of 2014.

I’ve had some great mentors, friends and home studios. I couldn’t be happier with how yoga has changed my life and I hope to help yoga become an option for new students.

Currently I’m living and teaching in the Bay Area and Hosting Yoga Retreats and Events in my hometown of Calistoga.


 

BLANCA ESTRADA

Blanca was born in 1983 in Petaluma, CA. She has been a local to Sonoma County her whole life. She took her first Bikram class from Jackie. Noticing all of the benefits and changes in her life, physically and spiritually, she decided to become a teacher and graduated from Bikram Teacher Training in 2006. She has a passion for yoga that is evident as she teaches. Blanca was diagnosed with Graves Disease in February 2007. Many people, including doctors thought she would never practice Bikram again because of sensitivity to heat common in Graves. Blanca proved them wrong and returned to yoga. Practicing yoga has done nothing besides help her and convince her of the true medical and mental benefits as well as physical benefits that this yoga brings to everyday life.


 

JALENA MAYS

I took my first Bikram Yoga class 2000, when I was fourteen years old. My mother, Janine Bamberger was studying to become a Bikram Yoga instructor and planned to open her own studio. In support of her dream, my father Jules and I began to practice. I remember loving the community spirit and great energy throughout the yoga studio, but class was terribly difficult, hardly enjoyable, and I wondered why anyone would want to put themselves through such torture. It was evident that the yoga had benefited my parents’ health and greatly improved their relationship, so I knew it was the right path to take. Later that year my mother opened her own studio. In the summer of 2004, I also devoted myself to the practice and attended the Bikram Yoga Teacher Training in Los Angeles.
Above all, Bikram yoga has taught me how to listen to my body and quiet my mind. I love that Bikram Yoga is accessible to beginners and advanced yoga practitioners alike, and I have watched students completely turn their life around for the better. I also love that the practice is physically, mentally and spiritually challenging and that there is always something more to learn. In 2009 I attended the Bikram Advanced Training in Hawaii, and began to explore many other styles of yoga. In 2010 I became certified as a Maya Yoga Teacher, which is Astanga based with an Iyangar awareness. I now enjoy teaching private yoga instruction, and draw upon all that I’ve learned of these varying yoga methods. Teaching is both humbling and inspiring; it is a journey with the students as they are challenged physically, mentally, and spiritually, eventually realizing unimaginable breakthroughs. I enjoy being surrounded by a community with a common interest in health and well-being and am comforted to know it will always be a part of my life. I am a Sonoma County native, and have fortunately had the opportunity to extensively travel the world. I earned a BA in Anthropology from Sonoma State University. In addition to teaching yoga, I am the Program Director of Friendship Circle, of the JCC Sonoma County. I am a soprano in the Occidental Community Choir, love to dance, enjoy museums and theater in the greater San Francisco Bay Area, strongly support local and organic foods, and enjoy spending time with my husband and our dog in the fresh breezes of the Sonoma coast.