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 began my practice in, some say, the most challenging pose-easy seat. I started meditating regularly once I noticed the pause-the space that was really here between the incessant worry, fearful thoughts- really PTSD from trauma (as many of said- this practice saved my life). I then found myself looking for 30 day challenges when I moved back to Sacramento- could I really find a practice that was a moving meditation? Spoiler Alert: I did and I have so much gratitude for the local studios in Sac for opening me up to this practice and to my own dharma.
Years later- during a New Years day, you know the day we are all comparing ourselves to others of feeling like we aren’t ‘doing enough’ or ‘aren’t enough’ (not very yogi like I know! But hey it’s the human experience). Anyways, as I was reading an educator magazine- I found a YTT specifically for teachers in the classroom- to not only learn about yoga philosophy, anatomy, cueing, etc- but also how to incorporate yoga in a school setting- with staff and students. And that was that- I took the training and began teaching. I knew I wanted to hold this space, not just for teachers and students, but for the local community- to support others in exploring the space, the pause that this moving meditation has provided me.
To sum it all up: yoga has become not only a way of moving my body mindfully, but a way of moving through the world mindfully. I am so blessed to practice every day and to teach in this community!
There is something about practicing yoga that feels oh-so-right. It doesn’t always make logical sense to me but the only way I can explain it is that I can feel my practice guiding me toward myself. It is through my practice that I attempt to open, connect, and empower myself because it is my belief that practicing these characteristics on my mat helps me carry them off of my mat and into my daily life.
I teach yoga because I believe it changes lives for the better and I would love to be able to serve you in an uplifting way. I hope that I can share what I have learned along my yoga journey as well as grow and learn more. I hope to inspire myself and you toward vulnerability, connection, and acceptance. Ultimately, I would love to support you during, and maybe even inspire you toward, making decisions that are more compatible with your ultimate intentions and how it is you want to experience the world.
One breath at a time, one moment at a time, one conscious decision after another.
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.
Nine years ago I was a ballet dancer looking to stay active during summer break and found myself on my mat in my very first yoga class. My introduction began slowly with the occasional practice, feeling the physical benefits almost immediately. When I left the ballet world in 2012, I turned to yoga for guidance. During this time of transition, yoga brought me clarity and strength as I went through a period of self-reevaluation. I fell in love with the creativity of power vinyasa and the way it constantly redefines my limits. In my classes students can expect to feel both challenged and supported. I strive to provide a safe and playful space for others to reconnect with their mind, body, and soul.
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 is at a place in her life where she knows she was born to teach yoga. Janna began practicing yoga regularly in 2009 and began teaching in 2010. After her first yoga class, she instantly fell in love and it was the beginning of her new life of love and freedom. She found peace, healing and a complete life transformation on her mat and she immediately knew she wanted to share the amazing gifts she’d been given. Janna has done teacher trainings with Baron Baptiste and her teacher and inspiration, Diana Vitantonio. She lives in Sacramento where she teaches middle school and high school science and yoga. She teaches because she is passionate about social justice and wants a better future for all children. Janna was married last fall and she and her husband recently had their first baby boy, Kingston. Janna has two amazing dogs (Boxers) named Solace and Paz. She is inspired by God, love, friendship, music, children and animals. Janna’s classes are vigorous, playful and spiritual. She is a soul teacher and her hope is to create and hold a safe space for her students as they journey on their path to peace and freedom.
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.
Yoga has paved my road to recovery and self-love. In 2011 I accepted a friend’s invitation to the practice and instantly experienced a shift in my thinking and being. Never before had I felt so alive and challenged, so connected to my body and heart.
Before yoga I was engulfed in self-destructive thought patterns and behaviors that kept me from being my highest self. Through practicing, trainings, teaching and connecting to fellow yogis, I’ve discovered how to treat myself with compassion, unconditional love and acceptance.
Teaching is how I give back what was given to me – a safe space to feel and heal. This practice is a prayer I repeat regularly and offer to anyone who’s willing!
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 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 Training. (There may have been a loving nudge from a teacher or two.) Assisting opened my eyes to new aspects of yoga, teaching me hot to provide supportive touch in 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 boundaries, showed my vulnerability, and worked the hardest I have ever worked in my life. After graduating my vinyasa teacher training, I completed Yin Teacher Training. I love the contrast of the fire and the grounded softness between the different styles.
As a teacher my 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 a part of the teacher 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.
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 was hooked from my very first class and loved to sweat. As a longtime athlete, yoga was the perfect dose of physical exertion I longed for going into adulthood. It wasn’t until after having my son that I began to truly connect with yoga as a way of life. It became my breath on and off the mat, my connection to the universe and continues to teach me to live in the present. I took a step into the unknown and completed my first yoga teacher training in 2013 in Sacramento, CA. Through this training of self-discovery is where I found myself and my calling; I wanted to teach and give back through yoga. Everyday is a practice. A practice to love, a practice to be kind, a practice to be human.
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.