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.


 

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.


 

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.


 

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.


 

ERIN PAULSEN

I started practicing Bikram yoga in 2007. The day I arrived in San Francisco a friend took me to a class. I remember the teacher separated us because I had never done it before. She put me in the back. Half way through the class the guy next to me said, “You sure you haven’t done this before?” I loved it! I didn’t want to leave at the end. I had never experienced anything like it before but it was like I had been doing it my whole life. A few years later a Bikram teacher told me I should become a teacher. I hadn’t really thought about it, but then I realized she was right. I went to training in 2010 and have been teaching ever since. I love this yoga. I learn something new about myself every time I take class; it never gets boring. When I practice my body connects with my mind, my mind is cleared and focused, and I receive all the answers I need. Bikram yoga is so much more than just a physical practice for me. In the Bhagavad Gita the meaning of Yoga is explained as; “a deliverance from contact with pain and sorrow”. It’s about never giving up, building inner strength and creating inner peace and happiness. The class is designed to be challenging but I find that when I push past my limits, they are no longer limits and a new world opens up to me. It’s a lifelong practice.


 

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”.


 

TOM ROBERTS

I love yoga! I love how strong and supple the body gets, how calm and centered the mind becomes and the inner peace and awareness that develops from a continued practice. I look at yoga as a moving meditation…quieting the mind while enlivening every muscle and cell in the body. Flowing through the asanas helps us to flow gracefully through the changes in life. Finding our physical and mental edge, we build strength, stamina and endurance. Linking our breath, body and mind helps us remain calm in challenging situations. How we learn to practice yoga carries through to how we operate in our daily lives.

In yoga, we practice becoming more aware of our breath, our bodies, our thoughts, our patterns, ourselves. When our awareness of ourselves deepens, we become more finely attuned to the world around us. We raise our level of consciousness. We learn not to judge, not to compete, not to criticize, to be less bound by our egos. We begin to accept others and ourselves, become better people, more at ease, more peaceful, more powerful, more loving, more compassionate, more present in every moment.

As a native Californian, I have had the privilege of practicing yoga with many talented teachers for over 20 years. In my classes, I draw on my wide range of experiences. I teach with love and compassion, anchored with breath, focus and detailed attention to alignment. Expect to challenge yourself, take care of yourself, deepen your practice, and have some fun along the way. Then observe the ripple effect it all has…

Who we are is not who we’ve been or who we might become, it’s in our present moment awareness of our “being” where we can connect to the miracle of life and expression of Love..

Breathe…. Om…. Peace…


 

PATTI MAZZUR

Patti is excited to share the transforming powers of yoga that she has discovered.
Through her commitment, it is her desire to inspire others to embark upon the yoga journey.
Patti graduated from Duquesne University (Pittsburgh, Penna) with a Masters in Physical Therapy.
She loves helping people see their potential.
Witnessing students use yoga as a safe environment to move beyond life challenges is truly amazing.
Her classes are energetic, challenging and will connect you with your spirit.
She is thankful to her students who continually inspire her with their amazing dedication to yoga.


 

BRITTANI POULSON

I was born and raised in Santa Rosa; and grew up in an active lifestyle. I started out with gymnastics as a child. I was raised going to the lake, camping, snow skiing, dirt bike riding, now wakeboarding and snowboarding. I love the outdoors; definitely my favorite place to be on a nice day. In my early 20’s I put life on the back burner while I partied. I realized I needed to make a change and found Bikram yoga. I had never in my life tried yoga prior to that; I didn’t even know what ‘Bikram’ was. Two days after I quit smoking cigarettes, I took my first class… I won’t lie, my first class was extremely challenging. I never realized I could sweat that much! I did the best I could; laid out on the floor in the final Savasana. I felt absolutely AMAZING… My body was tingling, I had a sense of accomplishment that I never felt before and at that time in my life, needed to feel. Just a couple of months after I first started practicing, I decided that I wanted to become a teacher. For me, teaching is way out of my personality type. I’m more a wallflower, an observer, not one to be center of attention, let alone telling people what to do! I attended the Fall, September 2011, teacher training in Los Angeles and it was the best decision of my life. I now love what I do for a living, which not all can say. I have a passion for it and can share it with others. Watching my students grow in their practice is beautiful. And being able to be a part of that, helping others heal their bodies, minds, injuries, stress, whatever it is that they come into class for that day or that year, is so rewarding.

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