Meet Your Teachers
Sandy Bielenberg, Anusara-Inspired™ yoga instructor, began practicing yoga to find relief from a painful, chronic neck injury caused by a car accident as a teenager. She is a long-time student of local Iyengar instructor, Kathy Curran. Anusara Yoga became her path after taking a workshop in 2004 with Christy Burnette. Upon retiring from teaching elementary art at Needham and Animas Valley Elementary Schools, Sandy immersed herself in Anusara, studying with Amy Ippoliti, completing teacher trainings with Desiree Rumbaugh, John Friend, and Jamie Allison, and attending numerous weekend workshops with other senior Anusara teachers. She honors and delights in Anusara's five precise and elegant Universal Principles of Alignment, its heart-based philosophy, and playful style. The alignment principles offer a way to therapeutic healing, safety on the mat, ever-deepening poses, and translate to mindful, heart-full living off the mat.
Sandy is originally from Minnesota but moved to Colorado in the mid-70's working as a river guide and bookseller, then as an elementary teacher. She has lived in SW Colorado since 1984, playing in the mountains, rivers and canyons of our big backyard.
Deb Buck, as a dancer and gymnast for most of her younger life, Deb has always had an appreciation for movement. After her first yoga class in 2000, she was immediately attracted to the open possibilities asana has to offer. In finding full enjoyment through which yoga combines strength, flexibility, breath and mindfulness, Deb began to embrace asana practice as something that could nourish her spiritual way of life as well. As her practice of yoga deepened, she completed her 200 hr yoga teacher training at Yoga Durango in the fall of 2010 and felt drawn to share the gift of yoga with the Durango community. Having worked in the field of holistic plant medicine for more than a decade, Deb notices the benefits yoga can offer to facilitate a healthier lifestyle and deepening our connection to our wholeness. She is always eager to deepen her practice and explore the infinite possibilities of integrating the principles of Yoga into her daily life. Through teaching yoga, Deb enjoys fusing devotion, strength, integrity, and grace in order to inspire contagious enthusiasm in service to our wholeness.
Deb is a Clinical Herbalist, practicing from her home and teaching classes about the local medicinal plants. She is also co-creator of Chanchka Remedios. She spends as much time as possible with her wonderful son, Cedar, hiking, backpacking, and observing the wild places on the Earth.
Amber DeHerrera, born and raised in Colorado, Amber was introduced to the mountains as a young girl and naturally finds her heart and soul anchored here in Durango. She finds her connection with nature, the earth, body, mind and spirit by taking long hikes, running, and mountain biking with her little dog Frankie. The beginning of her journey began right here at Yoga Durango almost three years ago and then this summer she completed their 200 hour Yoga teacher training program. Drawn to all types of Yoga, Amber embraces the transformations that can occur when intertwining Yoga and life. Inspired by many local and visiting teachers, Amber has found the weaving of spiritual teachings and the expression of the heart to have a strong presence in her Yoga practice and teaching style. Her practice reflects a love for music,Vinyasa Yoga, and the power of intention and devotion. Her hope is that each time we come "home" to our Yoga mats we will have an opportunity for healing, learning, forgiveness, gratitude, and grace.
When she is not practicing Yoga, Amber works as a Registered Nurse at Mercy Regional Medical Center. She has also studied Nutrition and Exercise Science prior to nursing which has given her a good foundation and understanding of health, the body, and movement.
Jessica Denison first stepped onto the mat in 1996 and immediately fell in love with yoga. After 15 years as a competitive swimmer, the freedom, grace and flow of yoga was a welcome change. The practice took hold and over time became a much deeper journey steeped in all aspects of yoga. Drawing from many influences and teachers, Jessica weaves together a fun, heart centered practice rich with philosophy and spirit to help participants touch into a deeper meaning within their practice. By sharing her experiences with people she hopes to bring about connection, growth and service of the greater community. By day, Jessica works for a medical gear company, helping provide essential medical supplies to our countries military, law enforcement and first responders. When not at work or yoga, Jessica enjoys backcountry treks, skiing, traveling, dancing and leisurely hikes with her dog, Taber. A graduate of West Virginia University with roots in Rochester NY, she has been in Durango since 2003.
Celeste Greene moved to Durango almost three years ago due to her love of the mountains. With a background in ballet and creative movement, Celeste fell deeply in love with the flow of Vinyasa Yoga and has been practicing for over 9 years. Celeste received her formal yoga training in 2008 at the Yandara Yoga Institute, and has since continued her education in all forms of yoga practice. Her path has been one strongly led by the beauty of a spiritual experience and re-connection with oneself. She believes in awareness of the body as our guide to an individual practice of growth. As she now sets her roots in this community, her classes have evolved into a meditative and joyful expression of yoga. Celeste is on her way to becoming a certified AcroYoga Instructor (there are only about 200 in the acro teachers total!). When she is not practicing yoga she is cooking, planning events, playing with her dog, traveling, riding horses, or drawing.
Heather Hooten's yogic journey began here in Durango in 2000. At that time, she was primarily interested in asana as a way to connect and center herself...never suspecting that path would eventually lead to teaching others.
Practicing more on than off, Heather became most dedicated when pregnant with her son, Grady. Committing to a regular practice changed her perspective of yoga, learning what the asanas have to offer both physically and emotionally. A Winter Retreat (2008) was a first for Heather in many ways, her first time away from her baby, and her first intensive practice...she never looked back. She began taking advantage of every opportunity to continue her education, including workshops with Christy Burnette, Darren Rhodes, Peter Sterios and Alanna Kaivalya. When her local studio offered a Yoga Teacher Training, Heather was the first person to turn in her application. She completed her 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training through YogaDurango in fall of 2010. Heather teaches a variety of Vinyasa style asana, and infuses her classes with the other seven limbs of yoga as well. She recently attended a 20 hour PreNatal Yoga Teacher Training, and is excited to add yet another path on her yogic journey.
With a blind leap of faith, Heather moved to Durango in 1992 with the support and encouragement of her Aunt and Uncle. She is a graduate of Fort Lewis College and holds a Bachelor's Degree in Anthropology. In 2002, Heather went back to school and received an Associate's Degree in Nursing, and has a background in Labor and Delivery. Shortly after her son was born in 2007, she created and now teaches a Childbirth Education class, Go with The Flow.
Heather considers herself lucky to live in an area like Durango that nourishes her both emotionally and physically...none of which would be possible without the unyielding love and support from her husband since 2003, Jason.
Joy Kilpatrick is a certified, registered (RYT 200+) Yoga Teacher and Thai Yoga Therapist as well as a Wholistic LifeStyle Coach and Fitness Professional. Joy has over 20 years experience guiding students safely and sacredly on the Path of Transformation. Joy has also been featured in InStyle Magazine and has written and instructed a "Quick Fix" Power Yoga DVD for Current Wellness which aired on Fit TV. Joy and her daughter, Dewachen, have been teaching 'Lil Yogi' classes since 2008. Joy works privately with individuals as well as in group practices.
Joy relocated to Durango's natural, wild beauty in 2010 from the glossy, frantic pace of LA. Playing and communing in the SouthWest outdoors with her husband, Coach Steve ilg and Dewachen; along with gardening next to the Animas River and teaching the path of Yoga is Joy's Svadharma.
To learn more about Joy, visit: BreathWorksWithJoy.com
Heather Menzie has been teaching at Yoga Durango since 2007. She completed her initial 200 hour teacher training through Core Power Yoga in Boulder, CO in 2006. Heather recently completed her 300 hour Yoga Therapy training through Inner Peace Yoga Therapy in Asheville, NC. As a body-centered psychotherapist, Heather sees the benefit of integrating yoga into her therapeutic practice. She has a passion for supporting individuals in their healing process. In addition to teaching Vinyasa Flow and Yoga for Grief and Loss classes, Heather offers 1:1 Yoga Therapy sessions, which is an individualized practice that emphasizes breath work, asana, and intention. She believes that by offering time to connect with one's inner wisdom, an individual can build awareness and identify as well as work towards removing obstacles. Yoga Therapy addresses and offers relief for mood imbalances, anxiety, depression, trauma, grief/loss, chronic pain, addiction, OCD, and body image challenges and can bring healing to one's body, heart, mind, and spirit. In 2008, Heather completed her graduate degree from Naropa University in Transpersonal Psychology, emphasizing in Wilderness Therapy. She has been working as a therapist, family quest guide, and yoga instructor at Open Sky Wilderness since 2007. Heather grew up in Westford, Massachusetts. In 2000, she graduated with a BA in English from the College of William and Mary and ventured out West. Before making her way down to Durango in 2007, Heather spent several seasons leading river trips for Arkansas River Tours and wilderness trips for the Women's Wilderness Institute, a non-profit company focused on strengthening the courage, leadership, and confidence qualities of girls and women through individual and community-based challenges. She loves combining river time, mountain time, yoga, and laughter into the trips that she leads. Her heart is open to holding sacred and safe space for students to practice and experience the union of yoga.
Daniel Pelletier First learning about yoga in 1998, Daniel began practicing regularly in 2002 when he took his first Bikram Yoga class. Reading his first yoga book, Religiousness in Yoga by T.K.V. Desikachar, he learned early on that yoga is much more than a physical practice. With an undergraduate degree in Philosophy, the philosophy of Yoga resonated with Daniel. Pranayama and meditation quickly accompanied his asana practice at home. Daniel has a deep appreciation for all forms of yoga and also for the martial arts. In 2006, Daniel went to massage school in Crestone, Colorado where he learned Kundalini Yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan. Kundalini Yoga combines several schools of yoga including Hatha Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Raj Yoga, and Laya Yoga. Kundalini Yoga blends asana, pranayama, mantra, music and last but not least, meditation; it is an energetic practice affecting the student on many levels beyond though still including the physical. Daniel quickly fell in love with the discipline of KY and started his first 40 day meditation less than a week into massage school with several more to follow. The main 'goal' of KY is to raise the Kundalini energy (referred to as prana, chi, or life force in other disciplines) so that the practitioner may activate her fullest potential, physical and beyond. Yogi Bhajan brought this technology to the West in the late 60's in order to create teachers, not disciples; he wanted to prepare mankind for the coming changes of the Aquarian Age. Daniel has had profound life changes and realizations with this practice and hopes to share it with you soon. Daniel also practices massage and continues to study various forms of health and healing including diet/nutrition, Astrology, ecstatic dance, music, the power of intention, communication, breakthroughs in science and technology, social/political theory and more. He enjoys spending time with his dog, hiking (barefoot), cold plunges in the river, traveling, learning and teaching what excites him, and more. He believes that all things are possible and that each person is capable of anything. Daniel is excited to be alive in this day and age.
Joan Pope moved to Durango in 2006 from Boone, North Carolina where she taught Iyengar influenced since 1996. Joan received her teacher training from Lillah Schwartz, a certified Iyengar Yoga instructor in Asheville, NC. Since then she has continued her studies with teachers in the Iyengar tradition including: Patricia Walden, Elise Miller, John Shumaker, and Manouso Manos. Locally Joan studies with Kathy Curran, certified Iyengar instructor. She also enjoys exploring other alignment based practices with such teachers as Rodney Yee, Doug Keller, Eric Schiffman, Aadil Palkhivala, and Desiree Rumbaugh. Joan also works as an Occupational Therapist at 4 Corners Health Care Center here in Durango where she incorporates Yoga into her treatments to assist the aging population with postural alignment and more effective breathing. Joan feels that one of her missions is to teach people ways to use yoga throughout the lifespan to enhance quality of life. Her classes are infused with practical ways to weave yoga into everyday life. Nonviolence is a key focus in Joan's classes as she encourages each individual to meet themselves where they are and to allow yoga to help free them both physically and mentally.
Rusty Toth enjoyed a career as professional ballet dancer and found the need to do some cross training when he discovered Ashtanga yoga. He fell in love with the practice and upon retiring from the stage, completed a teacher training program with At One Yoga in Scottsdale, AZ. He began teaching power vinyasa yoga and discovered a passion in the practice. His journey with yoga has been founded on energetic movement balanced with grounding postures. His hope for guiding a practice is that it may be like a journey, beginning in one place and reaching another.
Lynn Wickersham (RYT 200) has been practicing yoga and meditation since 2001 and has studied a variety of yoga styles including Iyengar, Hatha, Ashtanga, Kundalini, and Yin Yoga. A former fitness instructor, Lynn initially turned to yoga to increase her flexibility and reduce stress; but, through regular practice, she experienced not only yoga's physical benefits but also deepened her connection between mind, body, and spirit. Lynn received her formal yoga training in 2009 at the Yandara Yoga Institute, Baja California Sur, where her practice blossomed as both a teacher and a student. She believes that the practice of yoga is a journey into the self, which leads to compassion for others, attunement with the environment, and personal contentment. It is her intention to guide students along their own journey to realize the physical, mental, and emotional benefits that yoga has to offer.
Outside of her yoga practice, Lynn is a professional wildlife biologist, primarily conducting avian research and monitoring in the Four Corners region. She lives and plays in Durango with her husband John, and together they enjoy backpacking, skiing, hiking, and other outdoor activities.
Katie Walsh, RYT, Calming Kids Certified Instructor, and MA/Ed. has been practicing yoga for 17 years. A former fitness instructor, competitive runner and cyclist, Katie sought out yoga due to injuries and a quest for spiritual fitness.
Katie's primary practice is rooted in Anusara Yoga, which she is fortunate and grateful to be guided by master teachers Desiree Rumbaugh, Christy Burnett, and Christina Sell. Katie continues to develop her practice and instruction by attending workshops with Seanne Corn, Rusty Wells, Tias Little, Richard Freeman, John Friend, Noah Maze, Regina Zwilling, and Scott Blossom. In addition, she has attended Kripalu Yoga Institute with Shiva Rea and Kundalini master, Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa. A breast cancer survivor, Katie believes strongly in the gifts, lessons, motivation, and well-being that the discovery of yoga offers.
Katie is a former educator of 25 years, teaching elementary and middle school students in Arizona and Colorado. She is an ambassador for the Calming Kids program, focusing on yoga principles and anti-bullying education. Katie is recognized throughout local school communities sharing her knowledge, enthusiasm, and love for yoga and kids. Katie also teaches toddlers for Durango Pediatric Associates. The most rewarding aspects of her teaching, Katie finds, is watching her students/gurus grow in their own personal and physical transformation. Katie believes that the challenges that occur on the mat often parallel those in everyday life. Through her practice and teaching of yoga, Katie has found that transforming ourselves is a process rather than an event. Katie also believes that through the consistent practice of yoga that we begin to acknowledge our true grace and connection to self, others, and our communities.
Originally a Durango native, Katie takes advantage of every outdoor activity that the San Juan Mountains offers. She instructs weekly hot vinyasa classes and kids yoga classes.