I landed in my first heated power vinyasa yoga class almost 6 years ago because I was a long-time runner entering middle age who couldn’t touch my toes. I was the classic “I’m not flexible enough to do yoga” type. I thought I needed a good stretch. What I’ve learned? Yoga stretches and strengthens me in more ways than I can describe. I see daily how a dedicated yoga practice transforms my perspective, shifts my priorities, and helps me find greater clarity and peace amidst the normal turbulence of life. On my mat I find space to connect with my soul–that part of me often clouded or overcome by thoughts and “things to do.” I become a witness to what is real and true for me, and what I need. I value how the ancient philosophy and tradition of yoga support what I believe and how I have been raised: to have faith, to believe in God or a power greater than me at work within me and around me, and to do my best to live a principled life serving others. The serenity I find on my yoga mat gives me courage to walk through my fears and embrace uncertainty. For me, yoga is like a moving prayer. My hope is to create a class where you can find space to feel and connect to whatever you need on your own mat—to whatever brings you to your truest YOU.
I honor ALL of my teachers who have helped me grow in my knowledge of sharing this practice as a yoga instructor, most especially Stephanie Snyder, teacher of my second 200 hour training and Jason Crandall whose anatomy courses have helped me grow in my understanding of the physical practice. Their knowledge and authenticity inspire me. So do all of the Solfire teachers! They are awesome and I learn from them daily.
Amanda Van Winkle
It seems everyone has similar stories of struggle and strife that led them to the path of yoga, I am no exception to this rule. After years of dejection, and one tragedy, in particular, it was time for a drastic change. On a whim, I hopped on a plane to live in a tent for a month on an ashram in Grass Valley, CA. Being a native of New Jersey, this was by far one of the most radical things I have done to date.
Becoming familiar with this original form of Hatha Yoga, I studied meditation, Ayurveda, proper diet, the asanas (postures) and most importantly proper relaxation. As the month immersion came to an end I was granted the title of Yoga Siromani (Yoga Teacher), was given a fresh perspective and most trepidation eased.
Over the last nine years this practice has floated me through different styles of yoga: Kundalini, Sivananda, Yin, Ashtanga, and is currently seated in a heavy Iyengar presence, stitched seamlessly into vinyasa flow based movement. My active pursuit of knowledge, coupled with my allopathic and naturopathic medical backgrounds yield a most interesting practice filled with education and a lot of laughs.
The intention now is to pass along the knowledge, love, and gifts of Yoga that were so generously given. Despite my young age, there is a wealth of knowledge I am excited to share.
Before practicing yoga I experienced fear and a lack of self-confidence – addiction to drugs and alcohol took me over. I was caught in a vicious cycle that stemmed from disfunctional thinking. Expectations of people, places and things ruled my life. Yoga has taught me that the change has to occur within, not somewhere out there. Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results is the definition of insanity. Making positive changes can be uncomfortable, but always worth it. I was introduced to yoga in rehab – I reluctantly showed up only because I was out of ideas. I returned to my mat again and again, and I began to discover qualities within me I didn’t know existed, or that I had long forgotten. Through stillness and breath, compassion, patience, acceptance and love began to take me over. I return to my mat to deepen my connection with this process of uncovering, discovering and discarding all that isn’t me, so that I can live happily and teach others how to connect with this beautiful gift that has been given to me. Join me in finding freedom through surrender!
I first came to yoga to heal and strengthen physical injuries resulting from playing many years of tennis. I know now, 6 years later, that yoga was about more than just the physical dimensions of my life. Yoga introduced me to a path and process of healing my body, my mind, and my spirit. Everything I’ve learned from yoga was only possible because of my gifted yoga teachers and the Solfire yoga community. Some of the nuggets I’ve learned along the way are:
Love and forgiveness: I’ve learned that although life can be full of hurt, I can still love and forgive others and myself. There’s beauty and resilience with love and forgiveness.
Courage: Fear comes in many forms and fear affects everyone to some degree or another in different, hard-to-see ways. Fear holds us back. I’ve learned to find courage by acknowledging my fears and acting anyway if that is the direction I want to go.
The heart: Before yoga I mostly lived my head, usually adrift in an endless sea thoughts. I’m developing the skill (key word, developing!), through my yoga practice and meditation, to observe my thoughts, to steer them, and to create space to listen to my heart and deeper intuitive powers.
Intention: Yoga poses are just physical things, but they are more than just physical things. Each yoga pose symbolizes something, and I try to move through the poses as I would like to move through life: with strength, intention, direction, and hopefully some silliness!
Yoga is for me an ongoing process. It’s plenty of very hard work, and I feel my journey of yoga has only just begun! Thank you, Solfire community! Cheers, and I hope to see you in the studio!
Ditas began practicing yoga in 2008 when she wandered into a Power Vinyasa studio and signed up for a 40-day transformation. Her life was transformed and yoga has saved her life over and over again. Ditas’ vinyasa practice helped her through the biggest challenge of her life when her husband of 7 years was diagnosed with terminal cancer. She found the one place where she could truly be vulnerable and fall apart, yet feel so supported was “on her mat”. Since 2012, Ditas expanded her practice to explore Kundalini Yoga which has infused some well needed “discipline or sadhana” into her otherwise chaotic life as a now single working parent. Ditas completed a rigorous 8 month (200+ hour) Kundalini Teacher training and continues to attend workshops of her teachers – Kia Miller, Krishna Kaur and Jai-Dev Khalsa at Esalen and other retreat centers. In Kundalini Yoga, as a teacher you receive a spiritual name. Ditas’ spiritual name is “Sevakjot Kaur” – “seva means service and sevak is servant”, “jot means light” – so Sevakjot means “True servant of light”. Ditas is also an artist – painter and jewelry maker and enjoys helping her students activate their chakras and energetic and emotional centers to find their own state of bliss.
I enjoy the inner peace and serenity afforded me through yoga. I am truly humbled by the experience. I have a powerful teaching style and I love getting my class to feel their inner strength and passion to stand up, look up, and throw their hands in the air! As relayed by Martin Luther King, Jr. I enjoy helping students bring the disconnected aspects of their reality into a harmonious whole—all through the practice of yoga. I love being of service to others by relating my experiences to them and assisting them in their struggles—all in a non-judgmental way.
My journey with yoga began at a gym, wearing baggy white socks on my mat to my first ever class, looking around the room to make sure I was doing it “right”. Ever since, my practice has evolved into the wildest, most magical love affair with my soul.
As a person who struggles with perfectionism, obsessive thoughts, and frequent anxiety, my mat has become a place I repeatedly come back to in order to simply breathe and be. After many years of attending classes for the physical benefits, my yoga became a heavily spiritual practice as well. It didn’t happen overnight. I just kept growing more and more in love with closing my eyes and spending time with myself, moving and breathing, without all the outside noise. It has reformulated the way I think to myself and about myself. It has carried me through breakups, family troubles, uncertainty, depression, fear…you name it. I have witnessed it transform me into a brave, loving, powerful, creative woman.
I decided to sign up for my first teacher training after many years of practice. To say I was terrified would be a huge understatement. I never thought I could stand in front of a room and guide people, when I barely trusted my own words. I was so scared that I cried my way through teaching several practice classes. I put it on the back burner for a couple years, then signed up for my second training, more fierce than ever. Being a teacher has made me even more of a student. I get to witness beautiful people from all walks of life arrive on their yoga mat for various reasons. I get to share a practice that has provided me sanctuary through life’s journey. And I get to witness the transformational effect of breathing, moving, and being together in community.
I started practicing Ashtanga about 11 years ago Columbus, Ohio on my relentless quest for long, skinny legs. I dabbled with yoga on and off until I moved to Sacramento in 2011. It was here that I discovered vinyasa yoga and some amazing teachers who showed me yoga could reach far beyond just the physical. The past 3 years my practice became more diligent and devoted. I realized that yoga has a way of illuminating the things you truly need (which for me, shockingly, was not long skinny legs.) This practice continues to show me challenge, humility, joy, friendship, and love. I hope by teaching yoga I can provide others with opportunities to truly find something they need in their life, whatever that may be.
Janna began practicing yoga in 2009 and teaching in 2010. After her first yoga class, she found healing and a life transforming journey on her mat and she immediately knew she wanted to share the amazing gifts she’d been given by her teachers. Janna lives in Sacramento with her two boys where she teaches middle school and high school science to teachers and students. Janna is inspired by love, friendship, music, God, children and animals. Her classes are challenging, fun and soulful. Janna believes that life can be challenging and so should our yoga practice. This way students can see just how strong and powerful they truly are when they meet their edge. Janna’s intention for every class it that of empowerment and possibility for all students. Janna believes we are so much stronger than we know and If it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you!
I discovered yoga in 2013 when my gym friend pointed me to try a Groupon yoga deal. Prior to yoga, I loved taking turbo kick-boxing classes to release stress and feel strong but I soon realized that yoga gives that and so much more. At that time I was struggling with several life changes and discovering unconditional love for myself and others through yoga was the first step towards easing my suffering.
Although I’ve traded in my gym boxing classes for yoga, I still love a strong upbeat physical practice – which is what students can expect in my classes. My other passion is travel and taking yoga classes everywhere I visit. Even though I am not physically at home, I always feel at home in a yoga space. I strive to give my students that same feeling when they come to my class.
So Hum. I am. Here Now. A Yoga Instructor. It was “love at first class” for me. I fell head over heels and knew that it would become a way of life for me, strengthening my body, expanding my mind and opening my heart.
Yoga has been the discipline that has kept me in the present moment, not racing ahead toward what might be, not looking back at what was or might have been. So Hum. I am. Here Now. Yoga teaches me that in every situation love and gratitude are possible.
In 2014 I made the commitment to become a certified instructor, with the desire to inspire and share, on and off the mat, the strength, harmony, compassion and joy that yoga has brought to my life.
At first I came to yoga for the physical benefits, but I continues practicing for the mental and emotional benefits. I love teaching because it allows me to share the yoga I am so passionate about! Yoga has completely changed my life, for the better, and it is an honor to teach others! The Solfire community is quite unique, everyone is so warm and welcoming. Solfire truly feels like family. By day I work in finance at a software company and yoga is definitely my equalizer, this practice helps keep me sane after hard word days.
I am a yogi, lover of music and flow. My love of movement and breath was awakened through dance and musical theatre at a very young age. My yoga journey began in 2008 when I tried yoga in my college gym, looking for a different way to work out. Very quickly I discovered the physical and mental benefits of the practice and discovered the healing power of yoga.
The practice of yoga has taught me that my stories are not set in stone. All battles, internal and external, can be met with compassion and ease. Through the practice I am reminded of my strength, intuition and the intention to share my feelings to create a more conscious world.
Through teaching yoga, I hope to create a space that helps everyone find their connectivity to ease, energy and joy. My classes are known for having humor, awareness and precision. I am grateful to share the gift of yoga with others.
My yoga journey began after a breakup. I needed something to do that didn’t involve crying, and yoga seemed better than the other vices Midtown has to offer.
I’d never taken a class before, but something compelled me to walk into Solfire and sign up. I muddled my way through my first class, emotionally raw and unsure of the movements, but I never felt judged. The wave of calm that came afterwards was revolutionary, and from that point on I was hooked.
For months I showed up nearly every day to practice, chasing the calm that followed me home after every savasana. Little by little my life started to change. I learned how to calm my anxieties with movement and breath. I became less critical of others, and myself. I grew more confident – which led me to advance in my career and open myself up to new friendships. Most importantly though, I learned to love myself completely. No halfways, no whatifs, genuine love and appreciation for the person I had become.
In 2017, after some fence sitting, I signed up for Solfire’s Assisting Workshop. (There may have been a loving nudge from a teacher or two.) Assisting opened my eyes to new aspects of yoga, teaching me how to provide supportive touch to others in poses.
In 2018 I signed up for Solfire’s Teacher Training (no nudging needed). I walked in confident…but was very soon humbled. I laughed, cried, pushed my boundaries, showed my vulnerability, and worked the hardest I have ever worked in my life. After graduating my vinyasa teacher training, I completed Solfire’s Yin Teacher Training. I love the contrast of the fire and the grounded softness between the different styles.
As a teacher my only goal is to hold space for my students, so they can spark their own revolutions.
And as a Solfire grown yogini, I am so grateful to be part of the teaching team!
My journey to my mat began five years ago when I started taking vinyasa classes once a week to make time for myself. Over a few years, my weekly practice became a deeper exploration of breath and strength. I never thought I was a “Yogi” since I wasn’t flexible enough and thought it would never grow. But that was never the reality. The reality was that everyone can come and practice, as yoga doesn’t see skill level, size, or strength, but rather the juiciness inside, the place where you lead with your heart. Yoga started to be a safe zone, where I felt the most authentic and acted as a brief reset from the craziness that was life at the time.
I took a leap and decided to apply for teacher training. From the moment I walked through the door to the first class I took, I knew that this was the most powerful choice I could ever make for myself. There is so much beauty, space and strength as we move together, breathing, sweating and grooving. Through my classes and my own practice, I love to see where I can take my breath and strength, all while getting lost in the present. I love to listen to music, across all genres, and seeing people lose their shells and breath in to their best selves is a revelation that will never cease to amaze me.
I took my first yoga class in college and only dabbled for many years because I felt that form of “exercise” made me too “emotional”. Hahahaha I look back at that now and chuckle, as yoga has become such a massive part of my life, and the hunger for deepening my understanding, teaching and practice continue to grow. I wish I could tell 18 year old Lindsay that it’s ok to work really hard and then enjoy a good old fashioned ugly cry on her mat.
I completed my teacher training here at Solfire and it was the first time I really leaned in and listened to myself, learned about myself and developed a ritual of self inquiry.
I teach yoga because I want to share the gifts I received and hold space for people to truly be themselves. We are so inundated with messaging like “be this”, “act like this”, “look like this”, “eat this”, “buy this”, “watch this”… everywhere we look something or someone is telling us who we are supposed to be. I teach yoga so I can provide a space of freedom, support and compassion for people to be their authentic selves.
My introduction to yoga came at one of the most stressful times of my life. This was during the late 1990’s, while I was pursuing my graduate degree in psychology and working on my dissertation. Yoga was my place of peace during that stressful time of my life. Over time my passion for yoga grew as being on my yoga mat was always a place where I could find refuge.
Eventually, I decided that completing training in yoga and meditation would complement the psychological work that I was doing in areas of stress reduction, depression, and anxiety. In addition to competing a 200 hour hatha yoga training (2013), I have received additional training in iRest yoga nidra, yin and restorative yoga, and mindfulness meditation.
My teaching focuses on the yin practices of restorative yoga and meditation. It is during these quiet moments that we can rest into our true being. I love seeing the positive effects that restorative yoga practices have on calming the nervous system and offering a sense of peace and renewal. I so enjoy teaching at Solfire Yoga and sharing this gift of peace with my students.
I first experienced yoga in a college elective course many years ago, and while the physical benefits appealed to me, it was not enough to hook me. I had a strong martial arts practice that kept me busy, was an active cyclist and runner, full of confidence and energy, and just didn’t feel the need for anything else in my life. Fast forward 20+ years: I was working long hours at a demanding and unfulfilling job after a string of career mis-steps and failures. I had explored numerous spiritual traditions in a quest for something more meaningful than my daily grind, always finding glimmers of truth, but always packaged in ways that didn’t fully resonate with me. And my body, while still strong, had experienced numerous serious injuries and was longing for a more gentle and nurturing practice than the intense workouts to which I was accustomed. I’d also struggled consistently with drugs and alcohol in what was an attempt to get past my increasing frustrations and feelings of sadness and self-condemnation at a life that had not turned out as I had expected. I was stressed out, angry, unhappy, increasingly unhealthy in mind, body, and spirit, and not a good friend or companion to myself or the people around me. Finally, one day, I attended a yoga class in support of a friend who was a new yoga teacher. I left feeling great, having been physically challenged, mentally stimulated, and spiritually tickled…and I was relaxed. Intrigued, I signed up for a 30-day intro, and the rest is history.
I came for the sweat and found a way of life. I was a long-time athlete looking for a challenge and was hooked from my very first yoga class. After my son was born, I turned to my mat in a life-saving-and-changing way. It gave me a deep sense of purpose. The practice of yoga is simple, be yourself. I believe that showing up for yourself is one of the greatest gifts you can give to this world. I am passionate about encouraging others to live inspired and love big.
I found my way to yoga in 2008 and have been teaching full-time since 2014. My teaching background began with an alignment-based method, studying the therapeutic benefits of yoga. I’ve continued education through numerous trainings in functional movement, breath-work, philosophy, and living yoga. Much of my classes are inspired by “flow state” (aka: to bring meaning or purpose to life through breath and movement). It’s a balance of science, spirit, rhythm and play.
In my everyday life, I’m a play-at-home mama, yoga teacher, life photographer, mentor, writer, artist, Tahoe-lover, a sucker for dark chocolate, dark beer, and a life well-lived. You can find me on my mat with a wide-open heart teaching weekly yoga classes and hosting monthly-ish write club workshops.
It wasn’t my fault that I fell in love with Yoga. It was a very good friend of mine that brought me to my first class, leaving an indelible mark to this day. Without a doubt, this was where I needed to be; it felt like home. It gave me a sense of comfort and strength, which continues to resonate deep within me.
Since that very first class I have been charging forward without looking back. In 2011 I enrolled in my first 200hr Teacher Training program and set fire to what became a very personal journey. This summer I completed my second teacher training, a 100hr anusara inspired training; nurturing a new found faith in me and the lives of those around me. I continue to pay homage, seeing yoga as a gift to be shared, ultimately finding myself humbled by the opportunity to teach amongst an enriched community of people, with their own ability to inspire.