Ajna Yoga Teacher Training Faculty
Jules Payne: Director, Co-Founder, Primary Instructor, ERYT-500, C-IAYT (Yoga Therapist)
“I began practicing yoga with the idea that it would make me stronger. Yoga did help my strength, but it also helped me slow down to live a happier life. As I learned more about yoga, I discovered other therapeutic benefits that have helped me with a life-long struggle with insomnia and anxiety, as well as back pain from scoliosis. I was inspired by these discoveries to pursue an education in Yoga Therapy. My practice has supported me through divorce, single parenting, and recurrent pregnancy loss.”
Jules has been training teachers of yoga since 2004 and co-founded Ajna Yoga with Michelle Schroeder in 2008. Her own training is in Vijnana, Anusara, Ashtanga, and Integrative Yoga Therapy. As a Jewish queer woman, Jules is committed to supporting diversity, equity and accessibility at Ajna. Jules lives with her family in Victoria, BC.
In her teaching, Jules is most interested in connecting people with the therapeutic aspects of yoga—guiding people to their own internal source of calm through movement, breath, and meditation. Her classes combine awareness of alignment, breath, and a sense of play. Jules teaches backcare yoga, yoga for healthy aging, yoga therapy for hips and shoulders, chair- yoga, and sees clients for private yoga-therapy sessions.
Jules has a heart-centered approach to teaching, rooted in compassion. In training new teachers and yoga therapists she provides a strong foundation in philosophy, anatomy, and alignment variations. With this full ‘toolbox’ of knowledge, new teachers and yoga therapists have the freedom to find their own voice and own style of teaching. Jules is the Director of Ajna and a lead faculty member.
Michelle Kahan: Co-Founder and Primary Instructor ERYT-500, C-IAYT (Yoga Therapist)
“Yoga has been a part of my life ever since I can remember. Since my early childhood I have felt a real calling to the postures and just sitting. Yoga has helped guide me in my life and allowed me to stay focused on my path when I have needed it the most. I feel very grateful for the gift of yoga and the path of self discovery that has come about so far. I feel very blessed to be sharing this experience with Jules and the students that come to explore with us. The path of yoga leads us to the sacred connection of our true self and the divine energy of the universe. May you stay true to your path and follow your heart. Namaste.”
Michelle completed her certification through the Chakra yoga center in July 2000 and has been teaching ever since. She has taught many styles of yoga from Hatha, Flow, Power, Pre-natal, post-natal and kids yoga. In the last 8 years, Michelle has been drawn to a style of yoga called Vijnana yoga, working from a place of within. She has completed her 3 year 800 hour Vijnana Yoga Certification with Gioia Irwin. Her other inspirational teachers are Orit Sen-Gupta and Elizabeth Peckman. Michelle is co-founder of Ajna and a lead faculty member.
Nicole Marcia, MA, C- IAYT (Yoga Therapist)
Nicole holds a Masters of Arts Degree with a specialization in Yoga Therapy through Lesley University in Boston, MA, and is a graduate of the 1,000-Hour Integrative Yoga Therapy training program.
Nicole has developed and implemented yoga therapy programs for local businesses and for community, health and social service organizations. She conducts yoga therapy sessions for groups and individuals with special needs including chronic pain, addiction, mental health issues and stress related illnesses. Nicole teaches in the following modules- ‘Yoga, Trauma and Mental Health’, ‘The Therapeutic Relationship’ and ‘Yoga, Psychology and the Mind’.
Agi Mallory, RYT-500, YACEP, C-IAYT (Yoga Therapist), MBA
Agi brings a compassionate and gentle approach to teaching, meeting students where they are at, and nurturing gentle transformation through supported practice and breathing exercises. With a passion for supporting clients in living and aging well, Agi is certified in teaching Yoga for Healthy Aging, Yoga for Cancer, Yoga for Osteoporosis, and has completed advanced studies in anatomy, joint therapeutics and movement science. Agi offers drop-in yoga classes, private yoga therapy, workshops, retreats, and has served on the Faculty at Ajna Yoga since 2016..
Agi teaches weekly Bone Health Clinic, Steadiness and Ease, and Rest and Restore classes at Ajna. She teaches in the ‘Yoga for Healthy Aging’, ‘Yoga Therapy for Hips and Knees’, ‘Anti-Oppression in Yoga Therapy’ and ‘Business of Yoga Therapy’ modules. You can read more about Agi at her website:, www.Arbutus Yoga.ca
Tanya Gita Roberts, E-RYT-500, C-IAYT (Yoga Therapist)
Tanya Gita has been practicing for 16 years and teaching since 2011. She was drawn to yoga to help manage stress and anxiety. She completed her 200 hour training at the Salt Spring Centre of Yoga and 500 hour certification at the Mount Madonna Centre, CA. In the words of her teacher Baba Hari Dass, she “teaches to learn” and believes that her students are some of her most profound teachers. Her teaching style integrates alignment, breath, subtle body and Ayurveda. She encourages students to feel the connection between body, breath, and mind; and to allow their heart or Spirit to guide their practice, finding that place where we are all one. Tanya Gita teaches in the following modules – ‘Meditation for Yoga Therapy, ‘Journey Through the Chakras’, ‘Yoga, Psychology and the Mind’, ‘Pranayama for Yoga Therapy’ and ‘Restorative Yoga Therapy’.
Shelly Prosko, PT, C-IAYT (Yoga Therapist)
Shelly is a physical therapist, yoga therapist, educator, author and pioneer of PhysioYoga with over 20 years of experience integrating yoga into physiotherapy within a variety of specialty areas including helping people with chronic or persistent pain and pelvic health issues. She guest lectures at numerous yoga therapy and physical therapy schools, presents at yoga and medical conferences globally, contributes to academic research and writing, and offers onsite and online courses and resources for yoga and healthcare professionals and the general population. She considers herself a lifelong student and emphasizes the immense value gained from clinical experience and learning from the patients she serves, the professionals she teaches, and the colleagues with which she collaborates. Shelly has written book chapters in yoga therapy and integrative rehabilitation textbooks and is the co-editor/author of the textbook Yoga and Science in Pain Care: Treating the Person in Pain. She maintains a clinical practice in Sylvan Lake, Canada and believes compassion is the foundation of pain care, healthcare and overall well-being. Please visit www.physioyoga.ca to learn more. Shelly teaches the ‘Yoga Therapy in Pain Care’ module.
Elham Ansari, BFA, CAP, RYT
Elham Ansari is a teacher and practitioner of Ayurveda and Holistic Nutrition as well as a healer and social entrepreneur. Her passion is empowering people through education and taking the mystery out of health by integrating indigenous wisdom with conventional knowledge. Elham is known for her fun and inspiring approach as a teacher and healer.
She teaches Ayurveda and food therapeutics at Pacific Rim College, in Victoria, B.C, where she was the former dean of the program. She is also a clinic supervisor in the Holistic Nutrition Student Clinic at the College as well as maintains a private clinical practice at Awakening Wellness Centre, in Victoria, which she managed and directed for four years. Elham teaches Ayurveda at several institutions including Ajna Yoga College.
Elham studied Ayurveda in New Mexico and India at the Ayurvedic Institute with her teacher Dr. Vasant Lad. She has also extensively studied Chinese Medicine, Ayurvedic Yoga, and has a degree in Art and Design from Emily Carr University. Elham has also received Honorary Board Certification in Holistic Nutrition from the National Association of Nutritionists Practitioners for her work on their Credentialing Board. Elham teaches the Ayurveda modules at Ajna.
Sanjeet scopes her entire work around creating community spaces. Whether that is throwing music events, teaching community yoga class, or running modules on Anti-Oppression, her work is centred around safety, context, and communication. Artistic Director of Toronto’s Music Gallery and currently working on her RYT-500, Sanjeet works tirelessly to open conversations on accessibility, inclusivity, and accountability in wellness and the arts.
Graduating with a BA focused on Gender, Communication and Culture, Sanjeet’s approach to yoga is gentle, meditative and self-expressive. Encouraging students to move in ways that honour their body, taking classes slowly, weaving in philosophy, and incorporating large amounts of meditation is how she navigates the complexities of Eastern vs. Western yoga. Sanjeet teaches the ‘Anti-Oppression and Yoga Therapy’ module. You can learn more about Sanjeet’s work on her website: sanjtakhar.com.
Nyk Danu, CYA-ERYT-550, C-IAYT (Yoga Therapist)
Nyk has been teaching since 2004. In addition to numerous Therapeutic & Restorative Yoga intensives, Nyk is also graduate of 800-hour Yoga Therapy Diploma Program at Ajna and is C-IAYT accredited.
Nyk’s personal practice and teaching are an infusion of Yoga Therapy & Traditional Chinese Medicine. She has studied Traditional Chinese Medicine Paciﬁc Rim College for 3 years and is expanding on that training by studying medical Qi Gong. Nyk continues to study Yin Yoga regularly with her teachers Paul and Suzee Grilley and holds an Advanced 500 hour Yin Yoga Teaching certiﬁcate.
Nyk teaches Therapeutic Yoga, Yin Yoga and Meditation both in studios and in her private Yoga Therapy practice locally in Victoria, BC. She has been training teachers in Yin Yoga and offering Yoga Business Consulting since 2014. Nyk teaches the Yin modules at Ajna.
Farah Nazarali, B.A., M.A.
Farah has been teaching and studying yoga and meditation for over 15 years and brings a wealth of practical experience in teaching and integrating yogic philosophy and practices with conflict resolution and non-violent communication.
She is the founder of Drishti Point Yoga Podcasts and recorded hundreds of podcasts with renowned authors, teachers, and speakers. She has partnered with established industry leaders in the field of consciousness; Banyen Books and Hollyhock Leadership Learning Center to produce podcasts and teach Retreats.
Farah is passionate about bringing the wisdom of yogic philosophy alive in our hearts and into our lives and supporting people in communicating and relating to one another with authenticity and compassion. Farah co-teaches the Philosophy of Yoga Therapy module at Ajna.
Annie Martinello, C-IAYT, CYA E-RYT-500
Annie has been sharing the teachings of yoga since 2002 with her first 250 hour training with Jess Gogol at Moksana Yoga in Victoria. She has been integrating the practice of yoga therapy since she started with Ajna in 2011 and completed her training in 2014. She was drawn to yoga in her early twenties to find balance in her physical body and clarity in the mind from her very active lifestyle in Whistler. After her first pregnancy in 2006, Annie began teaching pre and post natal yoga. In her teachings she comes from the heart and from a place of being mindful, in touch with our natural rhythms, sensations and deep listening to our body messages to enhance our internal wisdom to find balance and create our own healthy patterns. Annie is a dedicated support in her community to all the new and experienced parents creating a safe loving open space for them to explore and share with each other the world of parenthood. Annie teaches the ‘Pre and Post Natal Yoga Therapy’ module
Lindsay Campa, RMT, C-IAYT (Yoga Therapist)
Lindsay is a Registered Massage Therapist and a Yoga Therapist. Over the years she has taught various styles (therapeutic, trauma-informed, flow, hatha, ashtanga) and worked with a wide population of students (Homeless population, people with cancer, MS, arthritis, anxiety, trauma). Lindsay teaches from a place of gentleness, curiosity and spaciousness. She encourages her students to slow down, listen to the body and feel the more subtle sensations. As a teacher, she employs a trauma informed approach and uses humour and inquiry to support the learning process.
Lindsay uses Yoga in a Therapeutic context in her private practice; supporting the process of healing from injury and trauma.In addition to her private RMT/Yoga Therapy practice in Cowichan Bay, Lindsay is on Faculty at West Coast College of Massage Therapy in Victoria, and teaches Yoga therapy tools to RMTs. Lindsay teaches in the ‘Yoga Therapy for Wrists and Shoulders’ module.
Regina Pfeifer, CYA-RYT Gold, C-IAYT (Yoga Therapist), MA
Regina offers yoga therapy group classes, workshops and private sessions. She supports people living with neurological conditions (MS, PD, ALS, PLS) and persistent pain. Her gentle, genuine and deeply caring approach supports people’s self-awareness and self-care. She believes in empowering participants through gentle strength combined with nourishment that allow for transformation.
Regina has taken specialty training in Yoga Therapy for Pelvic Health which can help with conditions of the pelvic region like pelvic floor dysfunction, pelvic and lower back pain, organ prolapse, incontinence, constipation, prostatitis and more. She collaborates with Pelvic Health Physiotherapists and teaches the pelvic floor portion of the Back-Care training module.
Elena Henwood, M.A., GCFP, CPT
Elena Henwood was born and raised on Southern Vancouver Island, on the traditional territories of the Lekwungen and WSÁNEĆ peoples. As a Certified Feldenkrais® practitioner, Elena has been teaching Feldenkrais® lessons since 2014. Developed by judo master and physicist Moshe Feldenkrais, the Feldenkrais MethodTM of Somatic Education comprises 1000+ Awareness Through Movement® lessons to improve the efficiency of repetitive mundane human actions, such as walking, bending and reaching.
In 2019, Elena developed a balance and falling strategies course, “Falling With Grace”, and is keen to share her expertise with other movement professionals. Whether teaching groups or individuals privately, Elena helps people to develop better skeletal and neurological organization: Precise skeletal awareness during movement, including yoga and other forms of exercise, brings about more power using less muscular effort. It reduces the likelihood of injury and leads to better form and more grace. Elena is also a BCRPA-Certified Personal Trainer. Elena teaches in the ‘Balance and Fall Prevention’ module.
Paul Mross, C-IAYT (Yoga Therapist)
Paul Mross lives in New Glarus, WI with his wife and son. He has been the project manager and yoga consultant for 5 research studies on Fall Prevention and Yoga with UW-Madison.
Paul is the designer of The Happ:y Mat, a portable template with visual cues that assist the therapist and client in basic mobility instruction. Paul is also the co-founder of a nonprofit called YAFA, Yoga Accessible for All, which is a coalition of yoga teachers, community partners and academia whose mission is to increase access to the benefits of yoga in under-served communities. Paul teaches in the ‘Balance and Fall Prevention’ module.
Tyla Arnason, C-IAYT (Yoga Therapist)
Tyla Arnason is an accomplished yoga therapist with national achievements and programming that supports those with cancer, care teams and yoga instructors through her specialized yoga therapy protocols, classes and teacher training. Tyla has been working in the cancer community since 2007. She is the lead facilitator for Yoga Thrive, North America’s largest sustainable community programming for those with cancer. Since 2011, Tyla, alongside Dr. Nicole Culos-Reed of the University of Calgary, leads the Yoga Thrive Teacher Training Program. Tyla has been teaching weekly yoga therapy classes at Wellspring, Calgary’s cancer care facility since 2008. She volunteers with Kids Cancer Care Foundation of Alberta as well as the Sage Centre, Calgary’s Community Hospice.
Mabel Chong (1979-2018)
Mabel was a gifted teacher with a gentle spirit and love for learning. In her yoga therapy practice, she specialized in knee and back care injury recovery, as well as women’s health. We miss Mabel deeply and hold her in our hearts forever.