Presenter Profiles

Ali Tilley

Ali is the director and head teacher of Sādhana Yoga Ltd. (est. 2006), and recently she set up the NZ Yoga Centre in rural town Marton – two hours north of Wellington.

Bridging worlds between modern yoga and academia, Ali completed her BA (1st Class Hons.) in Religious Studies in 2015 (specialising in South Asian Religions at Victoria University, Wellington), and finished her Master’s Degree in 2017. Ali’s MA thesis focuses on the changing cultural dynamics within NZ yoga communities.

www.researcharchive.vuw.ac.nz/xmlui/handle/10063/6596

Ali’s unique ‘insider-outsider’ perspective offers an intriguing look at changes taking place in the Aotearoa/ New Zealand (NZ) yoga industry over the last century. She also considers where local yoga trends are heading in the future. Ali’s viewpoint has been further informed by 15 years in the Fitness Industry, working as a manager and trainer at busy women’s gyms.

In addition to teaching yoga and pursuing academic research, Ali frequently returns to India, yoga’s birth place, to visit sacred sites, live amongst sadhus (in particular the holy men of Juna Akhara), and run yoga tours for practitioners from NZ. This connectedness with diverse cultures has led Ali’s to her role as yoga ‘guru’.

With feet straddling 3 worlds – yoga, academia, and sadhu life – Ali keeps a keen eye on how transcultural trends shape and redefine NZ’s homegrown yoga marketplace.


Amy Green 

Amy L. Green (MA, E-RYT 500, YACEP, STOTT PILATES Reformer & Foundation Training Instructor)
Amy is the Founder of Mind Body Movement Yoga & Pilates Studio in Whakatane, NZ, and has studied, practiced, and taught for 18 years. She was named the ‘Mind Body Instructor of the Year 2017’ by the Exercise Association of NZ.

Amy’s main objective in each class is to teach yoga asana in a way that is accessible, sustainable and mindful; supporting students to get out of the head, into the body and even beyond the body. Her teaching style holds space for students to tune into a subtle ‘felt experience’ of abundant gratitude as they practice. Though Amy’s teaching style is less traditional and more exercise science based, it is all about the dynamic balance of stihra and sukha, of yin and yang, of movement and stillness; building greater mind/body awareness. Amy’s classes have an element of play, fun and laughter—because she believes if it’s not fun, why bother? Life is a play and yoga is a dance.

Amy is an avid learner and is frequently training to keep on top of research and developments in the field. She endeavours to make all participants feel safe, supported and welcome in her classes. Amy believes that our health is our wealth and when we aren’t healthy, we can’t enjoy the things we love in life. Her classes and private sessions are taught with that simple philosophy in mind.

www.mindbodymvmnt.com 


Chaitanya Deva

Chaitanya is the owner & senior teacher at Studio Evolve Nelson, he created & leads their 200hr Teacher Training program, as well as being a guest teacher on a number of Yoga Teacher Trainings around NZ, specialising in applied anatomy (the anatomy of movement), where the thousands of hours of yoga teaching and study, alongside the 16+ years as a therapeutic/sports massage therapist, and 25 years of intensive meditation practice, combine to form a broad and experiential knowledge base, which Chai loves to share.

The main styles he teaches are Vinyasa Flow, Yin, Hatha and Meditation.


Donna Farhi

Donna Farhi is a Yoga teacher who has been practicing for 40 years and teaching since 1982. She is one of the most sought after guest teachers in the world, leading intensives and teacher training programs internationally. Her approach to Yoga is informed by the refinement of natural and universal movement principles that underlie safe and sustainable Yoga practice. Considered the “teacher of teachers” students return to Donna’s intensives year after year to be a part of the inspiring evolution of Donna’s own practice and teaching.

Donna is the author of four contemporary classics: The Breathing Book, Yoga Mind, Body & Spirit: A Return to Wholeness, Bringing Yoga to Life: The Everyday Practice of Enlightened Living, and Teaching Yoga: Exploring the Teacher-Student Relationship which is a curricular text for teaching trainings worldwide. Her fifth and most recent book, co-authored with Leila Stuart, Pathways to a Centered Body: Gentle Yoga Therapy for Core Stability, Healing Back Pain and Moving with Ease is becoming the go-to text for Yoga teachers, therapists and somatic practitioners. In April 2017, Donna broke her pelvis in two places as a result of a riding accident. Her exploration and discoveries during the many months of rehabilitation that followed have given her deep insights into the profound consciousness of the body and its ability to heal.

www.donnafarhi.co.nz


Heather Robinson

Heather Robinson is a yoga therapist, mentor, teacher and teacher trainer, trained in the teachings of T. Krishnamacharya and T.K.V. Desikachar.  She specialises in one to one teaching, therapy work, and teacher development. Her aim is to help bring life and lightness to the use of yoga for self-help and self-development.

Heather began teaching yoga in the 1990s in the UK with ‘British Wheel of Yoga’ Teacher & ‘Viniyoga Practitioner’ qualifications. Training in Europe and India in early 2000s led to Yoga Teacher Trainer status. She trained yoga teachers in the UK, and presented a broad range of yoga workshops. Her Yoga Therapist qualification included internships at the Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram, Chennai. She has experience with a range of conditions and has taught those living with cancer in a hospital and complementary setting.

She has been an active member of the British Council for Yoga Therapy (BCYT), developing a core curriculum for yoga therapy, and was a Yoga Profession Specific Board Member 2010/13 for the UK Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council.

Heather is a member of Yoga New Zealand and over the last year has acted on a voluntary basis as Yoga New Zealand’s coordinator. 


Helen Williams

Helen WIlliams (200-ERYT, 500 CYT, BA/ LLB) has been a student of yoga, advaita philosophy and meditation for over 20 years.

Introduced to yogic philosophy and meditation at 13, in yoga she discovered a system of wisdom and questioning that helped to make sense of her experience of not feeling completely at home in this human existence.

Having trained and worked as a lawyer for a period of time she made a heart fuelled choice to retrain and teach yoga and mindfulness fulltime in 2011.

Since 2011 she has spent her time adventuring, studying and teaching around the world. Her recent adventure has been in becoming a mum, which has cracked her heart and faculty of wonder wide open all over again.

Her classes interweave philosophy of daily life with intentional breath and bodywork. She invites her students to be present, to move intentionally and compassionately, to breathe, and to investigate how our practice on the mat can influence and enhance our life off the mat.


J.Brown

For more than twenty years, J. Brown has been developing techniques to teach people how to practice yoga in a deeper and more fulfilling way. He is also a well-known writer and podcaster, having been featured in Yoga Therapy Today, the International Journal of Yoga Therapy, and across the yoga blogosphere. His podcast has become the premier resource for yoga teachers and center owners.

J. Brown came to yoga by way of his mother’s death. Reconciling that loss, and wanting to be free from the crippling grief and disillusionment that came with it, fuelled his passion for learning to make himself well.

First, he gravitated towards an Ashtanga, power vinyasa style. The intensity suited his struggling temperament. After sustaining several injuries, he explored an Iyengar based approach to learn better alignment. But he soon discovered that better alignment alone was not the answer. Despite having achieved proficiency in both the Ashtanga and Iyengar styles, studying with renowned teachers such as Alison West and Richard Freeman, J admits: ‘I still had chronic pain and was horribly disillusioned and unhappy.’ The next phase of his search would be in India.

In Rishikesh, J. found a rare and special teacher in Swami P. Saraswati. He taught J that yoga practice was not a linear progression towards some unknown thing, but rather a process of learning how to take care of yourself. Back in NY, J. stopped going to regular group classes and devoted himself to a self-practice, ultimately meeting one his most influential teachers Mark Whitwell and finding his way to an entirely therapeutic orientation inspired by the TKV Desikachar/Krishnamacharya tradition.

In 2007, after more than a decade as a popular teacher at various schools in Manhattan and Brooklyn, J. founded Abhyasa Yoga Center in Brooklyn, NY to provide a home for yoga practice that adapts to individual needs. In 2017, J closed the center to travel, write, and talk about the important issues and focus on his work changing the dialogue and direction of yoga practice in the west.


Jac Wilson

Co-Director of the Wellness Collective and the Contemporary Yoga Centre in Auckland, Jac Wilson spent her formative years Highland Dancing before graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree in Physical Education (Otago) and a Diploma in Contemporary Dance (Performing Arts School, Auckland). Yoga was a foundation to her physical training which she spent a good decade practicing before even contemplating teaching.  During this time she was creating movement, performing on stage and in film while also assisting bodies of limited function. Yoga became a place of rebalancing as well as a place of exploration and rehabilitation. Studying with Vincent Bolletta revealed a strong, fresh practice that was less reverent and more relevant and highly functional.  Teaching since 2002, Jac revels in sharing her extensive expertise, knowledge and experience in a way that opens up space for everybody to understand, access and to feel more comfortable both on and off the mat.  From handstands and advanced asana to relief from niggles, chronic illnesses and recovering from significant injuries and stress, to restoring confidence in mind and body. Function remains her primary consideration. She makes what appears unpalatable, possible.

Currently Jac is running community classes for people living with chronic illnesses, assisting Vincent Bolletta (Hansa Yoga) develop teacher training manuals and teaches on Tropical Island Yoga’s retreats in Aitutaki.

www.tropicalislandyoga.com/teachers
www.jacwilson.com
www.contemporaryyoga.nz/teachers/jac-wilson
www.greyisthenewblond.net/2017/11/04/yoga-saved-my-life


Jase Te Patu

Jase Te Patu is co-owner of Power Living Yoga in Wellington, winner of the coveted Studio Facility of the Year at the NZ Exercise Industry Awards 2017. A former dancer who toured overseas and competitive sportsman who represented NZ in springboard diving, gymnastics, and aerobics, he is known these days in as an International yoga and meditation teacher and trainer, speaker, and advocate for mental health and well-being.

Jase found yoga from an injury whilst dancing in South Africa. He has trained with a wide range of teachers including Les Levanthal, Ana Forrest, Eion Finn, Mark Breadner and Tiffany Cruickshank, but it was Power Living Teacher Training in 2010, that shifted Jase’s life path into the world of Mindfulness.

Recently Jase has released “M3” – A Mindfulness programme for tamariki ages 5-10years. M3 takes Māori myth and shares our beautiful stories through movement, with an emphasis on the ‘how you’re being”, rather than “what” you’re doing. The mindfulness comes from the breath work at the end of the session, beautifully integrating the ideas of ‘Hau Ora’ i.e. through whānaungatanga or togetherness, the children cultivate awareness through body and mind, thus creating a brighter spirit! HAU O-RA meaning ‘ the vital essence of the sun”… OR the light that exists within you and in me!


Kara-Leah Grant

Kara-Leah is an internationally-renowned retreat leader, teacher and author. She has impacted millions of people over the last decade through her articles, books, videos and teaching. Passionate about liberation in this lifetime, KL practices and teaches an every day path of dissolving layers of the conditioned mind into deeper and deeper heart-felt presence. Her work, through her teaching, writing and retreats, focuses on using the process of compassionate inquiry to reveal conditioned mind and so help people to drop down into beingness and presence.

Find her here: www.karaleah.com


Katie Lane

Katie has been teaching yoga and facilitating spaces for group learning in NZ since 2005. Her yoga teaching blends supportive physical alignment into progressive and creative flow. Katie offers alignment as a way to coordinate broad patterns of movement and as internal touchstones for our attention. Her hope is that we cultivate a deeply intimate awareness in our practice so what grows through yoga over time is the possibility of really knowing ourselves and the empowerment of being able to make choices on and off the mat that truly serve us and those we relate with.

Deeply informed by long time studies in non-dual Tantra (modern yoga philosophy) and current interests in applied psychology and Non Violent Communication (NVC), Katie weaves both practicality and soulful intention into her teaching in ways that are accessible, down to earth, and change making. She is an ERYT-500, Certified Yoga Therapist (C-IAYT), and Yoga Teacher Trainer (RYS). Outside of her work with groups, she is devoted to sharing the healing potential of yoga in one-on-one yoga therapy. Off the mat, Katie is currently working towards a Masters in Counselling.

More at www.katielane.co.nz


Kylie Rook 

Kylie has been teaching movement and studying the body over half her life.  She found yoga at a crossroads in her life and immediately fell in love with it’s innate ability to carve a path of recovery, strength, acceptance and self-love. This is what inspired her to teach.   Her passion for anatomy led her to study towards 500hr with Yoga Medicine and she excels at guiding private students through the healing and rehabilitation process

She has studied with Tom Myers (Anatomy Trains), Noah Maze, Amy Ippolitti, Shiva Rea, Cameron Shayne, Jo Phee and also teaches Anatomy as part of Om Yoga & Raw Yoga Teacher Training.

Auckland acts a Kylie’s base but she regularly runs workshops throughout NZ and has recently launched her online teaching platform.    She believes it’s important to move the body in a variety of ways, and that handstands are a great way to tap into our inner child and unlock our potential as we learn to release our fears.

www.yogawithkylie.co.nz
www.facebook.com/yogawithkylienz
www.instagram.com/yogawithkylie


Leanne Davis  (Sponsored by Yoga Australia)

Leanne Davis is not only the current President of Yoga Australia and Yoga New Zealand, the peak professional bodies for setting standards and advocating for Yoga teachers and Yoga therapists in Australia and New Zealand , but also serves on the Certification committee for the International Association of Yoga Therapists based in the USA. Having completed her first Yoga Teacher training with the Sivananda Yoga and Vedanta Forest Academy in South India in 1988 she has taught Yoga consistently from that time. Since 1996 Leanne has studied extensively in Yoga teaching, Yoga therapy and Vedic Chanting in India and Australia in the tradition of Sri T. Krishnamacharya. She is the founder and principal teacher of Viniyoga Australia. Leanne has worked in complementary medicine for 35 years and has a Bachelor of Health science in Acupuncture. She is a practicing Yoga teacher , Yoga teacher trainer , Yoga therapist and Acupuncturist residing in Brisbane, Australia.


Melissa Billington

Melissa Billington’s hippie parents introduced her to yoga while still in the womb. At age 6 she spent time at Kripalu Ashram, at 16 she began practicing Kundalini Yoga and after leaving the US in 1999 to roam India, she returned to Kripalu for her 200 hour certification in 2002. Although privileged to teach in a number of countries, Aotearoa New Zealand is where Melissa has lived the longest (since 2005) and feels the most at home. In 2008 she opened Powa Centre in Wellington and organized her teachings under the brand MYOGA which stands for Manifest Your Own Greatness thru Awareness, and which was coined with the intention that each person must “own” their own practice. MYOGA’s guiding principle is freedom to unfold. Each practice has been chosen for its efficient and effective ability to cultivate both union and liberation. MYOGA Basics recognize the value of caring for our foundations, while MYOGA Seasons honour the powers and energies within us–our chakras–as well as those without us–the seasons of our natural environment. Additionally, Melissa’s own journey with hearing loss led her to place great emphasis on the healing power of vibration and learning to own and speak Truth, found in MYOGA Sounds. Melissa has certifications in Pregnancy Yoga (2003), Radiant Child (2009), Forrest Yoga Advanced Teacher Training (2016), and has been registered with the Yoga Alliance since 2004. She formulated and led two Yoga Alliance-certified 200 hour teacher trainings, taught on TVNZ’s Good Morning Show and also in the local women’s prison for two years. In 2014 she put most of her teachings online and in 2015 she took a “spiritual sabbatical” to question deeply what has become of the Yoga Industry. While on walkabout, Melissa connected deeply to the welfare of water, women, animals & children.

www.myogafreedom.com
www.earthwidetribe.com
www.youtube.com/channel/UCMbZuq3eiUZq6cTtdbEozEg


Nafanua Kersel 

Born in Samoa and raised in Aotearoa, Nafanua Kersel is a yoga teacher, writer, and home-educating mother. At age twelve, a small but potent seed of yoga was gifted to her through a school teacher, in the form of simple pranayama, meditation and asana. This has grown to become a deep connection with yoga practice and philosophy, as well as yoga teacher’s training through Dru Yoga NZ. Nafanua has a BA in Social Cultural Anthropology, through which she enjoyed focusing on the politics, forms and expressions of identity of indigenous South Pacific peoples. She credits her children and her elders as her main role models and teachers in life. She lives in Mangatahi, Hawke’s Bay where she enjoys life alongside her husband, their three children and extended whānau.

www.facebook.com/curveandbend
www.instagram.com/curveandbendyoga


Nicole Mackes

Nicole comes from Stuttgart in the South of Germany. Living in Christchurch, NZ since 2005, Nicole has 2 boys now aged 9 and 11 and runs her own business ‘7 doors’ where she offers individual yoga sessions and therapeutic massage. Nicole also teaches classes at a collection of yoga studios in Christchurch. Back in Germany she trained and worked as a qualified physiotherapist in a spinal unit within an orthopaedic hospital for 6 years. Nicole worked in an interdisciplinary team focused on the rehabilitation of patients with spinal injuries as well as other neurological and orthopaedic challenges. During these years Nicole learned that the healing journey for every person is very individual and depends on a holistic recovery and rehabilitation where all aspects of the patients health are considered.

After Nicole began her yoga teacher training a lot of these understandings came together for her, as she gained deeper insights in the meaning of unity and synergy between body and mind combined with an integrated wholesome approach to achieve a sense of well-being through the practice. As a yoga teacher Nicole is very passionate in applying and sharing her knowledge about the physical body, including yoga teachings, to facilitate an informed and holistic journey for her students .


Sam Loe

Sam offers conscious movement and Restorative Yoga classes, private sessions, workshops and retreats in Nelson, New Zealand.

With nearly two decades of yoga practice and teaching under her belt, Sam has developed a somatic approach that involves listening deeply within and moving in sustainable ways and honoring self-care. She has studied with a wide range of teachers from many lineages and styles, but feels blessed to have studied in depth with Donna Farhi whom she has assisted on retreats, workshops and online content over the last 10 years. As a certified iRest Teacher® Sam uses the non-dual teachings of Yoga to connect people with a sense of wellbeing and ease. She works with those who are living with stress, chronic pain, cancer, anxiety and depression and all the challenges that life throws up.

www.samloe.yoga


Sandra Palmer

Sandra Palmer is a yoga teacher and Registered Psychologist. She was drawn to yoga by the calmness and clarity it provided her and is curious about the interface of yoga and psychology to support wellbeing. She is on a lifelong journey to lead a slower, less stressed, more embodied and mindful life fuelled by her practices. She focuses on teaching slow yoga practices which support healing and awareness of self.

Sandra has completed 500 hour yoga training with the Contemporary Centre for Yoga Studies, 50 hours Embodied Flow® yin yoga training, 20 hour TCTSY Trauma Sensitive Yoga training, Level 1 and 2 iRest® yoga nidra training and is enrolled in the iRest certification process.

As a psychologist, Sandra works in private practice primarily working with those recovery from trauma, as well as undertaking work in the suicide prevention and post-vention fields.

www.integrativetherapy.co.nz


Victoria Pomeroy

Victoria Pomeroy is the forever student. She found her passion for yoga some years ago after initially seeking to heal her broken body from major historic injuries.

Yoga became an absolute way of life and since then has continued to upskill & challenge her knowledge base & ideas to constantly bring new information & mindfulness to her own personal practice but most importantly her beloved students. Being one of the ‘original’ Flow founders, she holds it close, has immense appreciation & love for the community & continues to look toward growth for everyBODY.

She fills her life with yoga, family, food & hospitality and last both not least… her treasured grand babies!