Teachers & Staff

Yoga Instructors

Sara Turk - TittibhasanaSara Turk, 500ERYT:
Cherry Blossom Yoga owner, Yoga Association of Houston, Lululemon Yoga Ambassador (The Woodlands, 2010-2011)
Sara began her study of yoga in 1997, as a compliment to her dance training, and came to Ashtanga yoga in 2005. She has had the fortune of in-depth study with great teachers such as Doug Swenson, John Friend, and Patricia Gray. Sara has attended workshops with Sharath Jois, Michael Gannon, and Andrew Eppler. Sara completed her 500RYT in Sadhana Yoga Chi with Doug Swenson (June 2011) - emphasizing a holistic approach to yoga (Ashtanga, Vinyasa, Power, Yin & Restorative asana, along with meditation, nutrition, and cross-training). Sara is a dedicated yoga practicioner, teacher, and health & animal rights advocate. Most recently Sara was honored to be part of the Hyde Yoga clothing photoshoot for their Spring catalogue. She has served as a Yoga Ambassador for Lululemon (2010-2011) and as a result, brought yoga to a new population of TriAthletes and beginners to yoga. Over the years, Sara has cultivated a successful healthy recipe blog - The Innocent Primate Vegan Blog - which has won several health and veganism awards, was featured in Green Child Magazine, and offers vegan baked goods at Feast of Artisans Farmer's Markets on Wednesday evenings (Woodlands TX).  After leaving the life of a scientist (Neuroendocrine Physiology), Sara opened Cherry Blossom Yoga (Spring TX) with her sister (Johanna), and in addition to regular classes at the studio, now travels offering workshops, teacher trainings, and assists Doug Swenson in his trainings and workshops nationally. Her teaching philosophy: "Yoga heals the mind, body, and spirit - loosens what's tight, unbinds that which hinders, and comforts what aches."

sapha ariasSapha Arias: 200hr Certified Yoga Instructor
Sapha was born and raised in Mexico city until the age of 15, when she and her mother moved to Miami FL. In 2005, Sapha and her family made the move to Houston, where she was introduced to a form of blended qui-gong and yoga through her employer :: noticing an immediate improvement in her health and her inner peace. After months of dedicated practice, she became certified to teach this particular type of qui-gong/yoga to the other employees; something she did for several months with increasing joy, until the company dismantled their employee wellness program. Two years later, continuing her search for wellness and peace, she found it through the practice of Vinyasa Yoga. From this moment on, Sapha began to study as much as she could about yoga, researching and reading endlessly. In this search for knowledge and growth, she came across Cherry Blossom Yoga and felt right at home. It is at this point that Sapha began a deeper journey into the heart of yoga and the ability to open up to grace. At Cherry Blossom she was introduced to Ashtanga Yoga, which has become her personal daily practice and inspiration. Feeling joyous about having found the gift of yoga, Sapha feels deeply called to share this practice with others, and completed her 200 hr yoga teacher certification with Lex Gillan at The Yoga Institute of Houston Texas in 2011. Sapha now strives to help others reap all the benefits that yoga has to offer.

virginia beauchamp

Virginia Beauchamp: 200 hr Certified Yoga Instructor, 200hr Life Power Yoga (Johnny Kest)

Virginia brings her love for helping individuals to find spiritual, cognitive, physical & emotional health to her practice and teaching in yoga. Since her first class in 1996, Virginia saw how this practice increased her own sense of well-being and encouraged her to greater levels of happiness and health. Early in her career, Virginia used her Bachelor’s of Music to teach music to help both young and older students enjoy, and find harmony, through the love of music. Later, she added additional training to become a music therapist, which furthered her ability to use music as a powerful tool to help herself and others find healing in their lives. Virginia has also had a lifelong relationship with healthy eating, dance and fitness. So, the introduction of yoga into her life in 1996 and the yoga instructor trainings that followed seemed the next obvious step in her life’s intention to love and serve God by loving and serving others. Virginia is 200hr certified from  the Yoga Institute, as well as 200hr certified in Life Power Yoga (Johnny Kest). Virginia currently teaches both group and private yoga and is a yoga teacher at Lifetime Fitness Champions as well as at Cherry Blossom Yoga.

Brenda Bochar: 200hr Registered Yoga Teacher

Karen Henderson: 200 hr Registered Yoga Teacher
Karen began her study of Ashtanga Yoga with Norman Allen while living in Kona, Hawaii.  Fueled with curiosity, yoga quickly became an integral part of her life.  After moving back to Texas she began studies with Jill Lampert and Andrew Eppler.  Karen is deeply grateful for their patience, grace, gentle yet determined teaching.  In addition to being inspired by her Ashtanga teachers, she has been influenced by studies with Nicki Doane, Eddie Modestini, Jill Miller, Robert Boustany, David Williams, Ann Hyde, Doug and David Swenson. Her teaching comes from the knowledge of her own experience as a practitioner.  Karen understands the challenges of yoga, but also its rewards.  She brings to her teaching a profound respect for the healing and calming effects of yoga, focusing on the flow of the breath and steady movement.  She works to make her classes fun and engaging, infusing kindness, humility, and lightheartedness, inspiring to make yoga both accessible and non-intimidating to her students. "On this path no effort is wasted, no gain is ever wasted; even a little of this practice will shelter you from great sorrow." ~Bhagavad Gita 2.40

max jonesMax Jones:  200 hr Certified Yoga Instructor
Originally being in trained in all forms of dance since he was little, Max has decided for the past few years to focus further on his Yoga practice. He completed his 200hr Yoga Alliance Teacher Certification with the Yoga Institute of Houston in 2011 and is starting to spread his love for Yoga all over the area. His classes are unique in that they focus on the breath, alignment, and the bodies natural rhythm and flow through all the postures, while always feeling inspired by positive thoughts and awesome music.  All levels are encouraged to attend- just be sure to show up and always expect to have a a great time! 

Karen Orvos-TothKaren Orvos-Toth: 200hr Certified Yoga Instructor
Karen Orvos-Toth is currently enrolled in the Ayurveda Wellness Counselor Program via through the Kerala Ayurveda Academy in Seattle, Washington.  Karen completed a 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training Program at the Dallas Yoga Center in early 2011.  Karen’s passion for yoga and wellness has lead her to further develop her education with a focus on Ayurveda.  Karen has been actively involved in yoga since 2000.  

Britney MaxwellBritney Maxwell: 200hr Registered Yoga Teacher
Britney's yoga path began in 2009, when she began taking classes to help her stay flexible while training for marathons. Britney has studied many different styles of yoga including Hatha, Bikram, Ashtanga, Forrest Yoga. However, she feels that it was Vinyasa Flow that ignited her passion for yoga. It allowed her to move through asanas linked with the breath, creating a platform for transformative meditation. Britney also believes yoga class for body awareness that moves one beyond critiquing one's flaws and instead forces one to accept where the body is each day and celebrate it's ability. Britney is certified through the Yoga Institute. She is also a Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT) with the Yoga Alliance. Her classes are musically charged, fun, challenging, and consistently diferent. She is very thankful to be able to share her love of yoga with others. When she is not practicing yoga, she is a mother to two sweet girls and two wild dogs, wife and youth minister, all of which keeps her from taking herself too seriously.

Melanie Merle-RootMelanie Merle-Root: 200 hr Certified Yoga Instructor, Lululemon Yoga Ambassador (The Woodlands) July 2011-July 2012

Melanie's first essay into yoga was in 1993 under the instruction of Ruby Diamond (AKA Carroll MacDonald). "We were yoga gypsy's from the start - holding class wherever we could find space, practicing without mats, simply following our leader." Yoga quickly became more than a physical practice for Melanie - it became a solace, a vehicle of self-discovery and a new lens through which to view the world.  Ten years later, while living in Edmond, OK, one of Melanie's teachers, Rachel Mor, suggested Melanie take over teaching a yoga class at a local private high school. "I was a yoga gypsy again. The high school hadn't secured a space for the class, nor did we have yoga mats. We were moved room to room in a nearby YMCA. At one point, we practiced on a racquetball court. At another, there were 25 of us in a cramped, unheated storage room. The girls would tumble out of vrksasana onto one another. It was a blast. I knew then that I really wanted to teach."  It was during her time at Mor's studio that Melanie had the good fortune to study with many teachers and enjoyed a variety of yoga styles, including vinyasa, hatha, Iyengar, restorative and Ashtanga. She lucked into an intensive with one of the founders of American Power Yoga, Beryl Bender Burch. "I was pretty much clueless. I'd heard of Burch and I enjoyed the flow of vinyasa-style classes, but I wasn't familiar with the rigors of Ashtanga. It was a new awakening. That's the thing about yoga. There are so many layers, subtleties, mysteries. It offers a journey for many lifetimes." 
"Whatever you do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now."  ~Goethe

Patty McCann-GonzalezPatty McCann-Gonzalez: 200hr Certified Yoga Instructor
Patty grew up always having a love for fitness; swimming, dancing and running to name a few favorites. In 2008, she began to practice Yoga in hopes to find a balance between her workouts, daily life, and work. It wasn’t long until she found out that Yoga was more than just cross-training; it was a way of life! She started to practice regularly, soon discovering how amazing she felt physically, emotionally and spiritually. Her love to share Yoga with the world began to grow. In 2012, she received her teaching certification to continue this journey with each and every person her path may cross. 

Theresa PazTheresa Paz: 200hr Certified Yoga Instructor
Theresa is a Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT) with Yoga Alliance. She began practicing yoga in 2002 and has been a dedicated practitioner since 2011. Recognizing the profound impact that yoga has had on her life, she became a teacher to share the gift of Yoga with others. In August of 2013, Theresa received her 200 hour teaching certification at Cherry Blossom Yoga and feels honored to be a part of the CBY community. “I love yoga because it quiets my mind, brings me into the present moment and opens my heart to receive the gift of life..." ~Theresa Paz

Lyndsay RogersLyndsay Rogers: 200hr Certified Yoga Instructor





Aubrey SwansonAubrey Swanson: 200hr Registered Yoga Teacher
Aubrey’s life changed when she stepped into her first studio in Denver, Colorado in 2006. By the end of her first class, she knew she must make yoga a part of her life. After several life changes, Aubrey found her true calling in this world for healing and helping. She moved to Houston and enrolled in a graduate program to work with children with autism and low-incident disabilities. It was Aubrey’s first class at CBY with Emily Williams that inspired her to become a yoga instructor. She felt it would not only deepen her practice, but spread her joy of both the physical and mental awakening that yoga has to offer. She began studying under Sara Turk and achieved certification in 2012. Aubrey specializes in Restorative/Yin classes and feels everyone can benefit from a grounding and renewing practice. She personally enjoys the challenge and balance of the Ashtanga primary series, and hopes to continue working towards her personal goals in this 8-limbed practice. Aubrey strongly believes that yoga is for every age, gender, yoga experience and body type. She structures her classes so that all levels will find a challenge, yet feel safe and free of judgment. --“Yoga teaches us to cure what need not be endured and endure what cannot be cured.” ~ B.K.S. Iyengar

Emily WilliamsEmily Williams: 200hr Registered Yoga Teacher

Emily’s journey with yoga began to blossom in 2006. Guided to yoga by a hope to deepen her spiritual journey, find peace and happiness within her heart and connect the energies of her mind and body; she fell in love with the principles and sequence of the Ashtanga practice. 

She received her 200 hour RYT from Sara Turk in 2012, where she focused on Ashtanga-Vinyasa (flow) style yoga, as well as anatomy, physiology and the energetics of yoga. She is a Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT) with the National Yoga Alliance. Her Vinyasa style blends yoga postures with music, sprinkles of humor and applicable wisdom. Emily strives to create a wisdom practice for all levels, hoping to reach each student who enters her classroom. Her classes always address the body mind connection that can turn daily stress into a tool for self-discipline and growth.  

Emily is also a middle school language arts teacher at a private school in the Spring/Houston area. Her students help her embrace the vivacity of youth, and live in the moment. She utilizes her understanding of yoga and the mind/body connection in her classroom to help engage all students, including those with ADD, ADHD, autism, and other learning differences.


Luke Wright (lotus)Luke Wright: 200hr Certified Yoga Instructor


 

 

 

 






Substitute/Part-Time Staff


christina bowdenChristina Bowden: 200hr Registered Yoga Teacher
Christina became certified in 2007, joining Yoga Alliance, and has never looked back. She specializes in Restorative Yoga, which is beneficial for all levels and abilities. Her focus is on breathing and holding gentle poses for several minutes allowing the mind to settle and still. These poses are basic which encourage flexibility and healing within the body. In this busy world, this mother of two young children knows it is very important for the mind and body to reconnect in a healthy and positive fashion, in order to function happily. Christina is also a certified personal trainer through International Sports Sciences Association since 2008. She has worked with clients of all ages and aliments. Her yoga background helps create a streamline of breath and flexibility in her classes. Take the time to restore the body and mind is essential in today’s fast paced world.

Kesandra karimKesandra Karim: 200hr Registered Yoga Teacher, Certified Thai Massage Therapist
Kesandra is an avid yoga practitioner and her relationship with yoga is continually evolving through a combination of playful exploration and dedicated study to healing the body and the mind. Her classes blend mindful slow-flowing sequences with meditation, guided relaxation, and the integration of Thai massage techniques to promote physical and emotional well-being. Each practice influences the other and provides multiple possibilities for transformation. She most recently completed hiking of the Appalachian Trail ~ a journey like no other. She is dedicated to sharing the healing powers of yoga with people of all ages and modalities. “To be fully alive, fully human, and completely awake is to be continually thrown out of the nest.” -Pema Chodron
Kesandra currently resides in New York, but loves to offer her teaching and Thai Massage services at CBY when she visits home.


CBY Staff:


Carol RackleyCarol Rackley: Studio Manager

Carol is the mother of the two daughters behind Cherry Blossom Yoga, Sara & Johanna. Her yoga journey started back in the early '00s when Sara dragged her to a yoga class (it wasn't uncommon for Sara to bring Carol to various benefit/donation dance classes and/or yoga classes - and it seems some things never change). After various paths in life serving our future generations :: public education Math teacher, assisting youth and adults find funding and/or job training at Workforce Solutions:: she now offers her services  helping all generations find peace and tranquility at CBY.  She was an integral part in the genesis of the studio, and continues to offer her support as a friend and mother to Sara, the studio, and every student who walks through the door.


Jerri StephensonJerri Stephenson: Front Desk/Boutique Staff

Jerri is currently a graduate student working on a Masters/PhD in clinical psychology. One of her main interests is in yoga as treatment for PTSD. Jerri offers her assistance at the front desk a few nights a week, and sometimes mornings.