Bios

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Mara Healy (Phuntsok Deki) is a celebrated yogini and practitioner of mysticism, dedicated to the spiritual tradition of Free Yogis of the Himalayas. Though having been exposed to a wide variety of yoga systems and schools, Mara continues on her 12+ years-long, deep-study-dive into the parallel tracks of the Ashtanga Vinyasa System (with Manju Jois) and Universal Yoga (a system created by Andrey Lappa, a student of Sri K. Patthabi Jois). For 11 of those years, Mara worked as the primary North American assistant to Andrey Lappa and was the first person in the USA to co-teach UY teacher trainings with him. Through her studies and personal practices, Mara is dedicated to weaving together normal family life with the yoga practices of the Vajrayana (Tantric Buddhist) tradition. She is dedicated to bringing supple strength, powerful softness, spiritual joy and practical proficiency to each person’s evolving relationship with yoga. . Learn more at www.marayogini.com

(As an ERYT-500 and YACEP, Mara can provide CEUs to students upon request)

How Did Yoga Come into My Life?

I was led to yoga practice completely from within, 24 years ago. I remember distinctly being in my small studio apartment in Boston and getting this feeling that I needed to come into my body, feel it, move it, and be alone in stillness with myself. I practiced like this for a long time without ever knowing that what I was doing was yoga. One day I found myself in a bookstore where I came across a large pictorial book with the large letters YOGA written across the top and an image of Rodney Yee in Lotus Seat. I felt a strong urge to open the book and when I did I saw 100s of images of yoga postures…. With each turn of page, I saw that I had already been doing this thing called yoga. This is why I always instruct from the place that your true teacher lies within you. The discipline of yoga lies within every heart, and arises naturally as the soul awakens to the desire to know itself. Anyway you feel like moving is a yoga posture. I also believe that group practice should lead one to solo practice.

How do I practice on the mat?

Hatha and Yin practice dominated 23 years of my life until I was exposed to Kundalini practice last summer. Since then, I am a devoted Kundalini Yogi and will be for the rest of this life. I arise during the ambrosia hours of the early morning (4:00-8:00 a.m.) before the sun has risen and practice again in the late afternoon or early evening (between 4:00-8:00 p.m.) The early morning hours are the most potent for clearing out the subconscious and awakening to The Self. I use the weekend for longer kriya and meditation practices. My morning and afternoon practices incorporate both physical and pranayamic Kriyas as well as a minimum of :31minutes of meditation practice.

How do I practice off the mat?

Good Question!!! And probably the most significant question any yogi can and should ask themselves. My Wahe Guru within once told me that every moment is meant to be meditation practice and that truly, it doesn’t matter what you are “doing” but rather what are you thinking/and more importantly your intention behind every action… this is what alters your destiny. All the mat practice in the world cannot replace the choices that you make off your mat. The Mat is only there to strengthen us for the active meditation and practice we do in the world. For the tests will come!! I practice prayer, chanting (Wahe Guru/Wahe Jio), singing and meditation on God off the mat. I also play almost exclusively powerful mantra music that feeds the subconscious and creates a positive energetic environment in my home or car.

Why a Yoga Teacher?

I had no desire to become a certified teacher until I was led to work with a group of adults with special needs in 2010. It was then that I really felt a calling to serve. I had prior to this already begun leading some adult classes in downtown Lenoir before there was ever a formal yoga studio in Lenoir. From there I was led to work with more and more individuals with special abilities/special challenges and then children. I still do not like using the term “teacher” but rather see myself as the lifelong student practicing with others and allowing my guru within to teach us all. That attitude and prayer is certainly what produces the best yoga classes! I have however been repeatedly told from within that in this life I am here to “heal and serve” and that my inner nature is that of a teacher. I was told recently that “you must teach others how to experience their own inner identity.” I practice as much for all those I encounter daily on or off the mat and frankly for the world as I do for myself.

What is my teaching style?

With Hatha practice, highly intuitive. With Kundalini from my heart. The best Hatha classes were those where I had some idea of the context that I felt inspired to share on a given day but allowing things to naturally arise during the class. This is when a truly beautiful practice arose. Because Kundalini has a sacred structure that must be followed, I cannot be random with what is offered. I do nonetheless pray and mediate for guidance on the theme for a given practice. I aim to lead a class from the heart not the mind and aim to create an atmosphere that encourages self awakening within a context where practitioners can feel at ease and encouraged in a group setting.

Holley Dagenhardt, MA, RD, LDN has been a registered dietitian in the Hickory area for over 15 years. She specializes in adult weight management and wellness. On a daily basis, Holley helps individuals take a closer look at their diet habits and assists them in making changes to better their health.

Holley is a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, licensed to practice in North Carolina, and nationally registered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration. She has a BSPH in nutrition from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a graduate degree in nutrition from Appalachian State University.

Tricia Cooper has been in the Fitness Industry for over 30 years.  She has been a Personal Trainer for 25 years.
Tricia has taught in many arenas of fitness:
  • Special Populations:
Active older adults, infants, obesity, at risk teens, Pre/post natal
  • Adult Fitness:
Yoga, step, Zumba, spinning, pilates, aerobics, kickboxing, pump, TRX
  • Athletic Trainer:

Marathons, Triathletes, Spartan Trifectas, Body building, Race Walking

I am from around here…
I grew up in Arcadia, NC playing in the creeks and working on our farm. From there to college, graduate school and living in Charlotte, Atlanta, and the Washington DC area. Later my husband Bill and I retired to Hickory. Along with yoga, I enjoy gardening, kayaking, hiking, playing the Native American flute and crocheting.

How did yoga come into my life?
Yoga first came into my life as a calming moving meditation during a stressful life transition. For most of my life I was active through sports, walking, running, or working out at the gym, but yoga felt different. Yoga grounded me in wholeness and opened a path of self-discovery and transformation. Yoga continues to support a desire to live in my body and nurture it for healthy movement as I age. Incarnation takes courage and yoga is a source of courage as I seek to embody and live my soul’s purpose.

How do I practice Yoga on the mat?
Often when I practice yoga I experience a sense of worship and connection to my body and creation. Practicing yoga is like the experience of being immersed in nature. Both creative flows and standard yoga flows (like sun and moon salutations) interest me. I enjoy standing on my mat in my home practice and letting a flow emerge as my body and mind enter the conversation with my breath. Sometimes I dance and wiggle my practice to drum beat to remember yoga is a living unfolding practice. Healthy alignment in physical poses, interior experience, the unique journey of my body, and spiritual transformation are important to my yoga practice.

How do I practice Yoga off the mat?
Off my mat I practice yoga by bringing attention to breath, or specific breathing exercises as I sit at a stop light or take a break. Standing in checkout lines I do mini balance poses and abdominal engagement for core strength. No mat needed for a Sun Salutation in the drive way, rest stop or airport! There are little a-ha moments when the intentional movements on my mat are alive in my body as I reach down to plant a seed in my garden or stretch out to pull a weed. The more I practice yoga, the more I experience an arising of beauty in my everyday life, yoking my mind, body and spirit to source. There is a blessing I say at the end of most classes. “May the seeds of peace, presence, beauty, truth, loving kindness and steadiness grow in us as we move on our mats and move in the world.” Yoga teaches me to nurture these seeds on my mat and manifest this way of being in my life off the mat. Every moment is ripe with opportunity to nurture these seeds.

Why a yoga teacher?
Like many others, I went to teacher training to deepen my practice and to be with my dear friend Judith. With her encouragement I began teaching. Yoga brings me transformation, peace and grounding amidst the ever changing flow of life. I teach out of a desire to live yoga, and to share yoga with others on their unique physical, emotional, and spiritual journey. Mark Stevens speaks of yoga as a process for awakening the truth of one’s being, to an abiding sense of equanimity amidst the shifting tides of daily experience and the seasons of one’s life. He writes that yoga is not a practice of attainment; it is an unending process of self-discovery and self-transformation. Yoga teaches us a way to consciously participate in the constancy of change. Breath by breath we evolve along our unique path. That speaks to me, as I inhale and exhale, moving with the breath, yoking body, mind and spirit. I teach what I most need to learn and find blessing in beholding beauty shining in each person’s yoga practice. And maybe if I teach I’ll finally learn left from right? That brings me to Rumi - “Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field. I’ll meet you there. When the soul lies down in that grass, the world is too full to talk about. Ideas, language, even the phrase each other doesn’t make any sense.” Teaching yoga is about that for me.

What is my teaching style?
My teaching style honors all the many reasons students come to yoga – physical healing, emotional healing, relaxation, building strength and flexibility, and spiritual transformation. Inspiration and reflection are invited with poetry and other readings. Ahimsa, doing no harm, guides class design as I honor the muscular, skeletal and nervous systems of our amazing bodies. Connecting breath to movement, exploration of poses, and intentional movement into and out of each asana are important. I seek to create safe welcoming space for everyone through well designed classes, clear instructions, and modifications for different body capabilities. My classes encourage students to honor where they are while exploring their growing edges of self- discovery and transformation.

Sheryl Light has been practicing yoga since 1994. With her undergraduate, and graduate work focused on fine art, Sheryl views finding creativity and expressing beauty, paramount in the world. She has been a painter and writer for many years, and using meditation and mindfulness techniques to help bring the ideas, colors, and patterns she is drawn to from within onto the page or canvas.

Teaching Vinyasa yoga since 2001, with thousands of teaching hours, and wisdom from some of the world’s most influential yogis, a certified Life Coach and Mindfulness Trainer, Sheryl brings a comprehensive picture to her teachings. She concentrates on providing her students with the tools to discover equilibrium between body and mind. Mom to 3 adult boys, she is ever the caretaker, nurturer, and organizer of those looking to take their practice to a whole new level.

In her yoga teachings there is a constant playfulness while attempting to free the more subtle spiritual elements of the mind through physical poses, breathing techniques, and meditation.

We all do yoga all our lives but I think for my bio something different is wanted. In my mid to late teens I practiced Bajiquan and Taijiquan, even yoga once or twice a month. Then needed a change. I spent four years in Western North Carolina at the John C. Campbell Folk School. There I got more into yoga with the help of friends. Work started soon after and on my off time I would venture into a yoga studio. It was mostly Vinyasa Yoga with a Yin class once in a while. I still love Yin or any restorative yoga. I moved to Germany in 2006 to be close to my lady and there I started Ashtanga at a great studio in Stuttgart called Yoga Mitte. I have been doing Ashtanga since. When I was home in Florida I would go to Surya Yoga, another Ashtanga school(may have changed). I now live in Asheville, NC and help Ashtanga set roots here. I have taken the Asheville Community Yoga's 21 Day Intensive Yoga Teacher Training program and am now a RYT 200 hour certified yoga teacher — what ever that means. Also through the years of Ashtanga practice I have found myself in workshops with David Swenson, David Williams, and other Ashtanga practitioners. Having had over 250 hours of training from Kino MacGregor and Tim Feldmann I consider them my teachers. I continue to do Ashtanga everyday, with one day off a week from asana and no asana on New and Full Moons. Whoo that was a lot about myself.

Jonathan Harrah is a Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT) with Yoga Alliance, which acknowledges the completion of a yoga teacher training with an approved and active Registered Yoga School (RYS).

How did yoga come into my life?

I found yoga as an answer to this '30 something working mom of two' stage of life that I was in about 14 years ago. But the simplicity of a mat, a small space in my bedroom and a few DVDs kept me motivated to return to my mat many evenings. Then came classes at a local gym and cable TV shows that worked with my daily schedule. My decision to teach was prompted five years ago by my best friend who encouraged me to explore teacher training. We were actually walking through church having that discussion! I believe God's nudge led me to Holy Yoga, an international nonprofit Christian ministry that trains yoga teachers. I trained in 2010 with Brooke Boon, founder of Holy Yoga based in Phoenix, Arizona, for my 225 level teacher training and now for the 500 level Masters certification.

How do I practice on the mat?
...with gratitude. I bring it to the mat each time I practice. I am truly thankful for yoga in my life, and especially for my teachers. I need the flowing movement, intense expression, breath and stillness that yoga brings. Sometimes my worries follow me to my mat; and over the course of a practice, they are brought into perspective. I believe this is the Holy Spirit working in my life.

How do I practice off the mat?
Right now, I am working on seeing details of my life and strengthening them one at a time. That feels like yoga to me. I look for the fruits of the Spirit in others as well in myself...love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. And when I fall down, in life and in yoga, I am learning to consider the experience as part of the practice.The same is true when I'm serving others through my work in the public sector. Yoga helps me balance against the unpredictable nature of life.

Why a Yoga Teacher?
When you are given a gift that changes your life, you want to share it, right? You want to SHOUT IT FROM THE ROOFTOPS! The gift is the personal practice available to each of us. Teaching just lets me celebrate in community with participants, again and again, the gifts of breath, movement, strength, and peace. Every practice is new and different.

What is my Teaching Style?
Creatively challenging and accessible. I enjoy lengthening poses and exploring balance, but we cover lots of ground in this flow style class. You will learn what poses feel like, as if you practiced with your eyes closed. And for every Holy Yoga class, I develop an original scripture meditation from the Bible. That is where I draw my strength. That is what I want share. Your heart never leaves feeling empty. Namaste.

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