Hillary Darby (WARRIORS AT EASE)
In August 2012, I took my first hot yoga class as a reluctant beginner. Soon, I was fully committed to my hot yoga practice. The intense workout appealed to my “type A” personality, and the physical benefits were immediate and quantifiable. Plagued by chronic neck and back pain from over 2000 hours of helicopter flying, the symptoms became manageable and controllable.
But those weren’t the only benefits. Although efficient and effective from a physical perspective, yoga also created space for mindfulness, reflection and gratitude. It was such a powerful experience, I began sharing the benefits with anyone that would listen, Sailors, Marines, friends and family. When our local studio came up for sale in 2015, our family leapt at the opportunity to have a platform for sharing on an even greater level. I became certified to teach in 2016, and I am now able to witness firsthand the healing that comes from the inside out as a person develops a committed yoga practice. Not only is yoga a great complement to any athletic discipline, it is energizing, empowering and quiets the mind. It is for me, a moving meditation that gives me a calm oasis in the midst of life’s challenges, and a way to constructively integrate and process difficult experiences.
I’m never going to be on the cover of a yoga magazine holding a perfect pose, but when I’m practicing regularly I feel better. I know I’m a better wife, mother and leader. It’s not about being perfect, it’s about being the best I can be. That’s what I want to share with the Bella Kai Ohana.
Gail BurselL (WARRIORS AT EASE)
I am certified in Bikram Yoga, Vinyasa Yoga, Yin Yoga, and Trauma Sensitive Yoga and have taught extensively in studios in Massachusetts and Hawaii, as well as in California, and Melbourne, Australia.
When I attended my first Hot Yoga class, even though I was completely unprepared for, and aghast, at the high temperature and physical intensity of the class, I knew immediately that this hot, sweaty, yoga was something extraordinary that I wanted to permanently incorporate into my life. After several months of regular practice and experiencing first-hand the many healing benefits of the yoga, I went to Teacher Training and graduated from the Yoga College of India in Los Angeles in June, 2005.
I love teaching Hot Yoga and my passion for this powerful, life-changing yoga continually grows. I am humbled by its mental and physical challenges, am inspired by its innumerable benefits, and awed at how it develops physical strength and flexibility concurrently with mental focus, inner strength, self-confidence, creativity, spirituality, and overall good health and well-being. I am so appreciative to have the opportunity to share this transformative series and am honored to be able to join others on their yoga journey. I am deeply grateful to my many teachers and all my students for everything they have taught me, and continue to teach me, about this practice. Can’t wait to see you in the Hot Room!
When I was 17, I experienced my first Bikram yoga class. Prior to that, I grew up classically trained in dance. The long hours/very critical dance world wore me down and that's how I stumbled into Bikram class, searching for something therapeutic for body and mind. I felt at home right away because of the repetition and discipline the class demanded. I dreamed of teaching but told myself that I couldn't, that I was too shy or that I wouldn't be good enough. Little did I realize that class would change my life and outlook. After dancing professionally in New York City with small companies; I felt lost, burnt out and much older than I should have. My yoga teacher jokingly said "If you keep coming we will have to send you to training!" and all it took was that little bit of encouragement. I decided to face my fears and throw myself into Bikram Teacher Training Fall 2009.
Through the process of training, I was able to overcome my fears and push myself out of my comfort zone. I strive to teach in a way that inspires others to find their own inner strength/peace and am very excited to be a part of the Bella Kai Ohana!
I am so excited and honored to be part of the Bella Kai studio! Before moving to Hawaii last year I spent over ten years dancing professionally in Toronto, New York, and touring across the U.S. and Canada. During that time I also worked as a personal trainer, fitness instructor, and dance teacher. I also created and taught the leading Barre method in Canada called Barreworks, which went on to be voted “Best Workout” and “Best Studio” in Toronto (NOW magazine).
I have been blessed to have performed professionally and taught dance across the U.S., Canada, Central America, and South America - working with various artists, choreographers, and dance companies; such as Ontario Ballet Theatre, OMO Dance Company, with dance photographer Lois Greenfield, Hosanna Sacred Arts, Debbie Wilson projects, SHEvisions Theatre, and numerous others. I am also the Co-Artistic director of DeviationDance and the humanitarian program Healing Through Dance - an outreach non profit organization that brings dance and healing to communities at risk (www.deviationdance.org).
As well as my background in dance, fitness, and yoga, I have also earned a BA in Psychology from York University graduating summa cum laude. My education, experience, and past in dance, fitness, yoga, and psychology have all contributed to me striving to provide health and happiness to all people. I am now loving teaching yoga and Barre at Bella Kai Studio, and I look forward to seeing you in class!
Ashley Burnett has been a dedicated teacher of barre since 2012, pilates since 2010 and Gyrotonic since 2004. She is certified in barre through Tracey Mallet’s The Booty Barre and in Pilates mat and all apparatuses’ through InBalance Pilates. In addition to this she holds multiple certifications in other specialties such as: Pre-and Postnatal Pilates through Balanced Body and Core Reform- Smart Movement. In addition to her pilates training she is a certified Gyrotonic Instructor with a training specialty in Gyrotonic for Dancers. She has completed master teacher training hours under the tutelage of world renowned pilates teacher Mejo Wiggin and has traveled to Mexico to study Gyrokinesis. Ashley attended the University of South Carolina and studied Nursing and Biology with a minor in Dance before pursuing her career as a professional dancer. She danced professionally for 7 years before retiring and moving to Charleston, SC to work in clinical research and teach Pilates, barre and Gyrotonic. As a professional dancer Ashley connected instantly with these movement modalities. She is very passionate about teaching and educating people about their bodies. Ashley teaches with compassion and intellect. She brings a smile and positive energy to every session and class and strives to offer each client a beneficial and enjoyable experience. She and her family moved to Kailua in July and are loving it! Ashley is very excited to be in the Bella Kai Ohana!
I was first introduced to Bikram Yoga when I was a teen. My mom and I practiced in our living room along to a tattered copy of Bikram’s first book, and a hand-drawn chart of the postures and breathing exercises. I had no idea that the yoga was done in the heat or part of a class. I was finally able to take an official Bikram class when I moved to Boston to attend University!
I went to the Fall 2010 Teacher Training in San Diego, after being motivated by a few significant experiences. I had the opportunity to compete in the Northern California Regional Asana competition for the first time in 2010, which allowed me to meet and be inspired by so many amazing teachers in the area!
A few months later, I spent a week in Las Vegas at Bikram’s Advanced Yoga Seminar, which was held in the same yoga tent as teacher training. The energy in the room full of hundreds of yogis from all over the world was electric and I knew I had to be a part of it.
I am reminded every day how grateful I am for Bikram yoga. I started practicing purely for a physical workout, but I have received so much more out of this practice. Bikram yoga has taught me to be patient with myself and others and has helped me become stronger mentally and emotionally! I am grateful that no matter where I travel to in the world, I can step into a Bikram studio and feel like I’m home.
CHRISTINA FINLEY (WARRIORS AT EASE)
Christina served as a soldier in the US Army for 5 years. Over time, her body began to break from the intense physical demands being put upon it. Doing so much, so fast, and so hard - without proper knowledge, or self-awareness, of personal limitations - took its toll. As a result of her variety of physical injuries that progressively worsened with each day, Christina finally found herself unable to perform her job. Her lengthy list of medical diagnoses included lower back and right shoulder injuries - both of which were a constant source of pain. Though she diligently pursued the several forms of treatment offered to her for her physical problems, Christina’s injuries became so debilitating that they ended up dictating her ability to navigate everyday activities.
In 2004, Christina was medically discharged from the Army and resumed civilian life. Plagued by her physical injuries, Christina spent ten years accommodating and catering to them, but ultimately reached a point where surgery was her only option. Her determination to not be permanently handicapped by her injuries and their ensuing treatment, led her to seek alternative treatment modalities. In the course of that pursuit, Christina discovered that yoga offered her a way to heal her body, and her mind and soul.
In 2016, Christina’s love of yoga and her desire to share its many physical and mental benefits with active duty soldiers, fellow veterans, and military family members, led her to complete a RYT200 Yoga Teacher Training with VETOGA and then the military sensitive Warriors at Ease Advanced Yoga Teacher Training. In 2017, she completed a further 200 hour training at Hawaii Yoga Institute. She currently teaches yoga at Tripler Medical Center and on Oahu’s Windward Side.
Christina hopes her story will inspire others traveling down a similar path of injury and pain, including active duty military and veterans, to try yoga and experience firsthand its many physical and mental benefits.
In addition to teaching yoga, Christina continues to serve and support in a civilian capacity as a full-time employee at Tripler Army Medical Center where she spends her days alongside active duty military, veterans, and civilians. In her spare time, she is a leader of a local platoon of The Mission Continues, a national non-profit dedicated to empowering veterans-in-transition allowing them to find a sense of purpose through community impact projects.
Deb Schroeder (WARRIORS AT EASE)
I am a fun and mindful teacher; striving to engage each participant to connect within and build a physical (and soulful) house of health and happiness. Born and raised on this island, I am also a licensed massage therapist, a mother of 2 daughters and have been married forever (23 years)! I LOVE how I am able to spend my time on this earth and feel grateful for each day. Namaste.
Anna Sommer (WARRIORS AT EASE)
Anna Sommer is a RYT200 yoga instructor, certified meditation instructor (C.MI), Reiki Master Teacher, and Shamanic Energy Healing Practitioner. She began practicing yoga in her early 20s, but really dove into the practice as a tool for stress reduction during her husband's deployments. She also began utilizing yoga and various breathing exercises with her children to help with deployment stress and her son's asthma.
Anna specializes in bringing yoga, meditation, and energy healing to the military community, children, and anyone who wants to explore these practices. She approaches these as tools for integrating the body, the mind, and the heart into a healthy and harmonious balance with each other.
JILL C PETERSON
Jill is an iRest® Yoga Nidra Senior Teacher & Trainer, Kripalu trained RYT-200 and Clinical Psychologist who specializes in assisting students to connect with their True Self through the practice of iRest, a guided meditation practice. This is the perfect practice for someone new to meditation or for the seasoned meditator who is interested in learning how to meet the “content” of thought, emotion and sensation in a more easeful, compassionate and expansive manner, allowing for the experience of Awareness to move from the background to the foreground. The practice of iRest allows for the body and mind to experience true REST and relaxation, while enabling you to learn the skills of focused attention and embodied self-compassion. When we have the ability to truly meet all aspects of the Self, we learn how to relate to ourselves in a kind and trusting manner. The practice of iRest can help you connect to your own inner wisdom and allow your authentic, unique and joyful Self to emerge. Come experience for yourself the amazing gifts of this practice!
I took my first ever yoga class (bikram method) in 2008. I had no idea what to expect or what yoga was all about, but I was looking for something to shift my perspective and give me renewed hope and faith in myself. That is exactly what I found. Prior to my first class, I was in a dark place in my life; struggling with disordered eating habits, depression, confusion, and general dissatisfaction with my life and what I was doing. Yoga helped me find and reconnect to the goodness within myself. It challenged me on many levels, but also helped me to discover a profound peace I had never experienced before by encouraging me to look deep within myself and battle my demons head on. That process and the practice of yoga has brought me and continues to bring me empowerment through deeper levels of discovery about myself. I have regained my love for myself, my faith, my trust in my body and my being. It continues to grow and transform as the years go on and I am so grateful to be on this journey with you all. I have been blessed to travel and meet so many amazing friends, learn from so many wonderful teachers, peers, students and connect with people that I otherwise may have never met since completing Bikram Yoga Teacher Training in Los Angeles in 2011. Since then, I have taught in Boston and along the Northeast, Chicago, New Zealand, Australia, and Hawaii. I also had the privilege of training with Yogi Amrit Desai and his talented team of teachers completing a 200RYT certification at the Amrit Yoga Institute in Ocala, Florida. Every day that I get to wake up and share my love and passion for the healing power yoga has with others is a gift. I am so happy to be here on this beautiful island and share the knowledge I have gained through my experience with you and likewise, receive from you all. Aloha!!
Yoga has opened the doors for Ruby to develop a balance between strength and flexibility, contraction and expansion, movement and stillness in both body and mind connecting the two as One.
In 2010, Ruby completed the Bikram Yoga Teacher Training in Las Vegas. The following year, she moved to Hawaii to live her dreams and completed her 200-hour RYT at Open Space Yoga. Her studies include Ayurveda, the sister science to yoga with Kathryn Templeton and Sanskrit with Dharma Widdman. Currently, she is finishing her 500-hour RYT program offered by Open Space Yoga in collaboration with teachers from the Himalayan Institute.
Yoga has redefined for Ruby, the possibilities of greatness. As a lifelong yoga practitioner, and licensed massage therapist Ruby is dedicated to living a well-balanced life of service, healing, growth and an abundance of love. As we move into stillness, and quietly listen within, we begin to experience our greatest joy…we rediscover, reconnect and return back to our essence, our highest Self -- love.