Instructors 2017-09-13T08:04:28+00:00
anujaAnuja Chaudhri
Anuja started yoga as a kid when her father insisted on going through classes. Today she is grateful for that push. She went through her own internal journey to realize her passion – yoga and teaching. She got certified in 2006 under Linda Schlamadinger-McGrath and has been teaching since then.

Finally in 2010, she decided to take the plunge to open her own studio – Almaden Yoga. Her dream was realized with the help of her loving husband Ron Victor.

Anuja brings in her class a combination of her Indian upbringing and her exposure to the western world of yoga. She is lively, caring and passionate about teaching yoga.

Anuja in her previous life was a Technical Writer working in the high tech world. She then joined NASA and was a contractor with them for five years. You will not hear her talk much about her previous life as she is enjoying her new life and the world of yoga.

When not teaching she is trying to bring new things to Almaden Yoga, updating her Bucketlist and is working towards 3000 Wheels (Urdhva Dhanurasana) by the time she turns 50, which is not too far.

What Almaden Yogis are saying about Anuja –
“Two thumbs up!! Caring, humorous, philosophical, and serious/challenging workout.  Love her voice and her delivery.  She makes the class fun.”

Amanda Nasar
Amanda found her love for yoga when she moved back to California after living abroad for a year. Eight years ago, she attended her first yoga class at a local gym and was immediately impressed by the energy of the yoga instructor. From that day forward, Amanda’s yoga journey began. Drawn to the ability to strengthen herself physically, yoga also provided teachings to improve herself mentally which created an even deeper connection to the practice than expected. This connection has inspired her to correlate yoga into other areas in her life. As a preschool teacher, she would practice yoga with the four year olds in her classroom three times a week. Throughout her years of practice, Amanda has grown to appreciate how focusing on breathing can ease oneself by bringing awareness to release everything in the body and mind, focusing simply on the present moment upon a mat. In efforts to continue furthering her yoga journey, Amanda enrolled with ‘Alamden Yoga’ to attain a 200-hr teacher training certification.

Currently, known for her high energy flow class, Amanda offers many modifications to accommodate all yogi levels. Amanda recalls having continuously returned to yoga because of self-doubt and the inability to achieve certain poses, but with a steady practice, she began to see the change and progress to achieve more than she ever imagined. She thrives on sharing this with others to bring this element of joy into her yoga class, and help fellow yogi’s impress themselves through their personal yoga journey.

ashleycurranAshley Dong

Ashley’s yoga journey began when she accompanied a girlfriend to a Vinyasa class. Having only been to one yoga class years before that, she had no idea what to expect. The class brought her the perfect balance between challenging herself and finding peace and contentment. After exploring a variety of classes and styles, Ashley found herself deepening her Vinyasa practice.
A teacher at heart, Ashley wants to share the benefits that she has received from yoga with those around her. She completed her 200-hour Flow Yoga Teacher Certification at Yoga Source in Los Gatos.
Ashley enjoys offering challenging, yet compassionate classes where she encourages everyone to listen to their bodies and move mindfully. She offers different pose variations which makes her classes are accessible to all levels. Her goal when teaching on the mat is to help bring a balance between strength, flexibility and focus in a safe and nurturing environment. We all have different intentions when stepping onto the mat, but whatever that intention is, she wants everyone to feel better walking off the mat than they did when they walked on.

Barbara Branaman

Barbara Branaman has had an interest in eastern and western healing arts and fitness since she was a teenager, and has been fortunate to study with many great teachers. She is blessed to be guided on her yoga journey by master teacher Arkady Shirin. Barbara is fortunate to have received her doctorate in Medical Qigong from Dr. Jerry Alan Johnson, with whom she continues to study taiqi and bagua.

Her personal journey to health includes being blessed to receive a kidney and pancreas transplant fifteen years ago. Since that time, she has committed herself to representing the concept of the body as a self-healing organism given the appropriate tools and attitude. As the president of a high-tech software services company in the Silicon Valley, Barbara brought yoga classes into the work environment by teaching in conference rooms, hallways and offices.

She is delighted to be teaching at Almaden Yoga. Currently Barbara’s passions include her company,, and continuing her studies in yoga, taiqi, bagua and fitness. As the CEO of Medicine Yoga, Barbara strives to provide the optimal integration of western and eastern healing, yoga, fitness and lifestyle coaching for people from all walks of life ranging from patients to elite athletes.

breeBree Gwinner

In 2011, I found my yoga practice through the teachings of Ashtanga. In 2014, I studied with Emily Kuser of High Vibe Yoga, in Ubud Bali. This is where I completed my 200 hours in Hatha with Anusara inspiration. When I returned back to the states I began teaching right away and never looked back. Yoga has become so much more than a movement practice for me. It is my way of navigating and dancing through this life with grace. It is seeing the light in a very dark situation. It is acknowledging the good in someone who has treated you less than you deserve. It is forgiving yourself and being kind when you have reacted poorly. And it is Love. It is Love all day, every day, within everyone and everything. My body is not my Yoga practice, my heart is.
Anusara-Inspired Hatha with Bree will encourage you to become more connected with your physical body and perhaps more importantly, your emotional body. Bree teaches from her heart in hopes to relate with everyone in the room; reminding her students that no suffering is greater or lesser, but equal. To learn more,

dani Danielle Vergara
Danielle, aka Dani, trained under Anuja Chaudhri receiving her 200-HR teacher training at Almaden Yoga. Her first and lasting impression of yoga was as a skeptical teenager. After constant encouragement from an elderly yogi at the gym, her curiosity took over and she attended a yoga class. There was the physical challenge that surprised her and a blissful feeling that kept her intrigued. Danielle’s knowledge of yoga was only surface level at that time but her passion was ignited.After inconsistent practice and some years of no practice, Danielle explored different types of yoga before finding Almaden Yoga. Here, she became more disciplined in her practice. Her curiosity guides her through the philosophical side of yoga as well as the physical Asana, building
strength and stability while creating a sound body, mind and spirit.

Heather Goodman
Heather Goodman completed her 200-hour teaching training under Noell Clark in Alignment-based Vinyasa. She teaches yoga the way yoga taught her, with grace, courage and a deep introspective lens. This practice has transformed Heather’s life and the way she serves community. This year she launched her own business, Sister Roots, which combines the 8 limbs of yoga, improv and creative expression in empowering women to share who they truly are with the world. This practice continues to lead the way she builds her business and teaches classes, uniting the heart, body and mind with engaged breath and joy. What she wants to share most: life is short and it doesn’t have to be so serious. By teaching her classes with a sense of play, she fills the room with energy, very aware that this time on the mat is precious and can change the way we live our lives.

Heidi Wierzba
Living an active lifestyle is something Heidi has always enjoyed. While growing up she participated in every sport she could, from softball and swimming, to hiking and running cross country. Naturally, she has faced her share of injuries, therefore an emphasis on mindful movement is woven throughout her practice, and now her teaching. Her career in teaching began with swim lessons, progressed into the preschool setting, and then onto dance lessons. She finally landed in the elementary classroom before finding yoga.
Heidi first found her joy and refuge in yoga at home while trying to fit workouts into her busy life as a mom. She expanded it into her career as an elementary teacher when she became certified to use Yoga-4-Classrooms in schools. Through that, she discovered a passion for sharing the emotional regulation and physical release found in breath work, meditation, and a balanced yoga practice, which then led her to become a certified yoga teacher at Almaden Yoga.

Now, she enjoys teaching students of all ages from the classroom to the yoga mat.

James Kiernan
James experimented with yoga for the first time 10 years ago in a community college class in Chico, CA. Being stiff would be an understatement, as he could barely touch his ankles. Although he was sore after his first class, the calming sleep which took place that night had him coming back for more. After transferring south to San Jose State to finish his degree, he began to find a more steady practice.

Sports have always been a major aspect of his life. Growing up in the Washington D.C. area, this was especially true with lacrosse. Quickly seeing the connection between a yoga practice and fewer injuries on the field, James began to share yoga with his teammates. Over the past five years he has enjoyed teaching yoga to lacrosse teams all over Northern California. It was a natural step to seek the yoga training necessary to integrate teaching into his life. James completed his 200 Hour Yoga Alliance Certification through Jennifer Prugh’s Joy of Yoga Teacher Training in 2014.
Off of the mat, James continues to teach yoga to high school and college athletes, as well as coaching lacrosse at the youth level.

jimiannwongJimiann Wong
Jimiann began practicing yoga in June 2002. Her friend told her to prepare for it to be “hot and to bring a towel and a water bottle.” She had no idea what impact that yoga class would have on her life several years later. Having had two babies at the time, she craved for something to alleviate her emotional and physical fatigue. Upon taking flow yoga classes in 2005, she was completely smitten by this style of practice and has never looked back.
In her class, you will find a vigorous and light hearted flow, where students will be reminded to move with their breath and listen to their bodies. By gradually warming the joints and the body, she prepares you to move through your practice with strength and ease. She hopes to provide a safe and nurturing space to allow students to explore, to feel inspired and to leave with a sense of well-being.
Jimiann completed her 200 Hour Teacher Training with Linda McGrath at YogaSource Los Gatos. She is currently pursuing her 500 hour teacher training credential. Aside from working part time and raising four kids, she enjoys snow skiing, playing golf and watching the kids’ sporting events.

What Almaden Yogis are saying about Jimiann –
“Jimiann is sweet and translates how to endure hard poses with calm and ease. Her playful spirit keeps a smile on my face throughout the entire class, and it is a tough one!”

kathleencallanKathleen Callan

As a young athlete, yoga and meditation came naturally to Kathleen, while desperately seeking to calm her mind in order to balance and align her into physical presence, she instinctively began to link breath to movement, overall enhancing her performance in competitive sport. Kathleen brings over fifteen years teaching experience, and elite athletic development, to the enlightened process of yoga. Her passion for yoga asana equally parallels her adoration of teaching yoga to students of all ages and abilities.

Her love of teaching involves connecting into the collective energy, alleviating areas of tightness, preparing the student physically and mentally, Kathleen facilitates a wonderful practice experience. She enjoys teaching restorative yoga such as yin and gentle yoga, as well as the more yang-based practices such as power yoga and vinyasa flow. Kathleen creates a well thought-out yoga experience, built on a technically solid foundation, as she beautifully links movement to breath. A RYT at the 200-hour Level, Kathleen regularly attends continuing education workshops, specialty seminars, and leadership conferences, working with and learning from, the pillars of Yoga teachers. She holds a B.A. in Economics, with an emphasis in National Policy, from the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Kathleen volunteers her time to children with Let’s Look At Art, an outreach program that caters to Santa Clara County, thereby bringing Art, Education, and Experience to the classrooms. She also serves as President of LLAA, and delegate to the Board of Trustees of the San Jose Museum of Art.

Kathryn Petak

Kathryn started exploring her passion for movement at age 3 through ballet dancing. While dancing professionally she was drawn to the quiet and introspection Yoga provided. The emphasis on community, stillness and uncovering inner peace was the perfect antidote from the competitive environment of dance. After dancing she naturally progressed to teaching. She has taught Yoga, Pilates and dance throughout the Bay Area, Santa Barbara and New York. She has certifications in both Pilates, through the Physical Mind Institute and Yoga through Mount Madonna Center under Baba Hari Dass. She likes to incorporate all three of her passions into her classes for students looking to build strength, flexibility, and proper body alignment. She is down to earth with her teaching style which allows students to feel comfortable regardless of experience or physical ability. Kathryn still continues her love of dance and movement in musical theater.

What Almaden Yogis are saying about Kathryn –
“Kathryn’s yoga tone class is tough but fun. She combines yoga, pilates, and dance in a great way to give you a unique class experience. I have made her class part of my weekly routine and love the challenge each class gives me.”

Kaye Lathe

Kaye Lathe began a relationship with yoga almost 20 years ago when going through a difficult time in her life. Through that experience, yoga became a touchstone when times were challenging, and eventually became a foundation for each day. She is in the process of becoming a certified Yoga Therapist through the Niroga Institute in Oakland, learning how to bring a deeper practice of yoga to others, addressing specific needs, whether emotional, physical or mental. As a large-bodied yoga teacher and a certified Yoga for All instructor, Kaye encourages people of all sizes, genders, backgrounds, and abilities to come and explore yoga, working to encourage all bodies toward embracing daily joyous movement. With warmth and good humor, she welcomes everyone to class.

Lisa Kone

Lisa Konie learned early on that an outlet to release stress was critical to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and was essential to sustainability within the chaos of Silicon Valley. She was introduced to yoga over a decade ago in the Bikram yoga style. Although initially an intermittent practitioner, in 2015, yoga really “found” Lisa. She embarked on a 60-day challenge to practice daily, and those 60 days morphed into 120 days, 240 days and beyond. While a regular practice brought huge benefits, being introduced to some of the philosophy behind yoga really broadened her perspective and this is when Lisa decided to pursue yoga teacher training. Lisa deepened her practice by completing the Joy of Yoga training program under Jennifer Prugh. Lisa is registered with Yoga Alliance (RYT-200) and is currently pursuing her 500-hour certification as well.

Lisa combines a mindful approach with attention to proper alignment and physical, body awareness. She is also dedicated to conveying the importance of the philosophy of yoga through readings, quotes, imagery, and themes in the classes she leads.

Off the mat, Lisa loves animals and is a long-term volunteer with the Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley, where she volunteers in-hospital, as well as caring for native wildlife in her home.

mariamartinezMaria Martinez

Yoga has brought breath to Maria’s life and has been her teacher of this world. She practices yoga trusting that every day, living with intention, she will be a better person and share the light of yoga with all that wish to step into the journey. Always being intrigued with the human body Maria studied Kinesiology at San Jose State University and found yoga along the way. She fell in love with all of yoga’s aspects such as the physical, philosophical, and spiritual. For Maria yoga is a lifelong journey of opening to awareness, accepting what is, letting go of what isn’t, and evolving along the way.

She has taught many yoga classes such as vinyasa, gentle, prenatal, and power throughout the SF Bay Area. All classes encourage safety, promote awareness, inspire intention, and motivate individuals to find freedom within their own bodies in a spirited & respectful atmosphere. She believes there is a yoga for every body & hopes to assist people finding their way. Most classes focus on meditation and pranayama with the asanas. Not only will your body be strengthened and stretched but also, your mind will connect with your spirit via awareness and intention leaving class with feelings of accomplishment and empowerment.

Maria is grateful for her teachers Seane Corn, Vidya Jacqueline Heisel, Jennifer Yarro, Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa, & Akal Khalsa to name a few! She is a RYT200 with Yoga Alliance & is striving to complete her advanced studies(RYT500) in 2015.

When Maria is not teaching or on the mat you will find her over indulging in motherhood with her one year old son.

maryannMaryAnn DeCristofaro

MaryAnn DeCristofaro began practicing yoga in 2001 as a means of staying in shape. She soon realized yoga was more than just exercise. Yoga provided a complete mind and body transformation. MaryAnn’s love of yoga guided her in completing her 200 Hour Foundational Flow Teacher Training by Yoga Alliance at Yoga Source in Los Gatos in 2010. In the same year she also completed teacher training in Pre-natal Yoga at Yoga Tree in San Francisco and teacher training in Restorative & Yin Yoga at Yoga Source in Los Gatos. MaryAnn teaches Prenatal Flow, Gentle Flow, Vinyasa Flow, and Yin.
MaryAnn emphasizes linking breath with movement to allow the body to move with grace from pose to pose. Her sequences are like choreography, as the body follows in time and eventually learns the movements with ease. This makes for an energizing and dynamic flow sequence that is well-balanced and restorative. Her classes are accessible for all yogis, providing them with the essentials of alignment with breath and intention to discover personal equanimity.
Nanci Shakthi Nardona

Almaden’s Nanci Shakthi Nardona has been passionate about yoga since discovering it on a meditation retreat in 1990 while living in Los Angeles. She was truly blessed to study there with teachers Rod Stryker, Shiva Rea, Ana Forrest, and especially Bryan Kest. She studied with Bryan Kest for over five years focusing on Power Yoga and Hatha flow. Moving to San Jose in 1998, Nanci continued her yoga training with more amazing teachers: Kent Bond, Julianne Rice, Scott Blossom, Paul Grilley, and Max Strom. She is a Registered Yoga Teacher and a member of Yoga Alliance. Nanci is an active member of Bay Area Birth Information (BABI) which supports and educates new families and mothers-to-be.
Nanci teaches weekly classes in San Jose and leads yoga workshops in the Bay Area throughout the year. (

She understands the body/mind connection and how yoga can create and maintain balance in one’s life. “When people think of yoga, they often think of flexibility. Yoga is not so much about flexibility but about moving prana by way of the breath and creating space and lightness within to feel good in one’s skin.”

What Almaden Yogis are saying about Nanci –
“Nanci teaching meditation or restorative is always a great class. I don’t get up early enough for the Nanci AM class. Nanci relates very well to the students. She reminds us to use the props because we are better yogis for it. The restorative class in particular is relaxing, and wonderful.”

Nate Jones

As a lifelong athlete Nate was always looking for ways to become more physically dynamic. Hoping to gain more flexibility he went to his first yoga class ready to kick back and stretch it out, but he was pleasantly surprised by the physical challenge the class posed! He found himself dripping sweat, out of breath, and ready for savasana. As he continued his practice other aspects of yoga began to interest him like breath control, meditation, and working with feelings and emotions on the mat.

Today, yoga is a lifestyle for Nate. He practices with focus and honesty and preaches the same to his students. By focusing internally and being honest about what is encountered is how he has grown and hopes to help others in this way. He successfully completed his 200-hour teacher training at Almaden Yoga and is ready to share his passion as a yoga teacher.

From a young age Nate was intrigued by the human body which eventually led him to study Kinesiology at SJSU. Currently working as a sports performance trainer he applied this knowledge training youth and collegiate athletes. This mostly involves high impact strength and speed training with a heavy emphasis on GO GO GO! Kids were stressed, and rigid physically and mentally, and he saw a strong need for yoga in this environment. So he incorporated yoga classes at the training facility hoping to open his athletes up to something new. It’s been a blessing and he loves introducing yoga to those wonderful kids at a young age.

pamPam Collaco

Pam started her yogic journey started almost 10 years ago when she wanted to add a new element to her fitness regimen. Through dedicated practice, yoga has become an integral part of her life on and off the mat. The more she gained knowledge, the more she realized that the fruitful returns greatly outweigh the effort. She credits this life practice for teaching her compassion and kindness, toward others as well as herself.
Pam feels that she has come a full circle now that she has completed her 200 hours of training to become a Certified Yoga Instructor. She has so enjoyed practicing under the guidance of Anuja and other wonderful teachers at Almaden Yoga, so it seems fitting that now she have moved into teaching at the Via Valiente Studio. She is looking forward to meeting more members and seeing them all on their mats soon!

patricia_kentPatricia Kent

I have been practicing yoga for over 20 years. It’s the one constant in my life. Coming to my mat is like coming home! The one place I can be with myself as I am at that moment. I’ve practiced Iyengar, Vinyasa, Hatha, Kundalini, and Bikram. In 2007 I was stressed out with a health crises and family issues. I was seeing my acupuncturist for help and he suggested I try Yin yoga for awhile, that perhaps my yoga practice was a little to Yang for what was going on in my life at the time. My first class and I was hooked! The meditative aspect of Yin allowed me to quite my mind and de-stress. The postures of Yin opened my body in ways I had never experienced before. Healing me physically, emotionally, spiritually, and mentally. Deepening my yoga practice tremendously. This is when I decided to teach Yoga. To bring to others the healing benefits that I received.

My practice now incorporates the softer Yang style of Gentle yoga along with my love, Yin. Adding in some Restorative for those days when I’m recovering from an illness or are emotionally depleted. We need both the Yang and Yin in our lives and our practice in order to stay balanced, strong yet flexible

Shannon LarsenShannon Larsen

A Bay Area California native, Shannon spent her childhood playing in the outdoors, whether it be hiking, camping, or riding her bicycle with siblings. After graduating college with a degree in Exercise Science, Shannon knew she wanted to encourage healthy living as preventative medicine but wasn’t sure in what realm. Two years into working with a nonprofit encouraging positive empowerment and physical activity through play to under served elementary kids, she found herself lacking balance, and decided to give deep therapeutic yoga classes a try. It was in that class Shannon met Sherry Han, her first yoga instructor and inspiration for the change that occurred in not only her body but her soul and mind. Shannon knew she too wanted to eventually share the beautifully empowering and healing gift of yoga with others. After relocating to Los Angeles, Shannon found Julie Rader’s Mukti School of Yoga and completed 250-hours of training with electives in both Therapeutic Yoga and Yoga for Athletes.  Beginning her yoga teaching career in the SouthBay of Los Angeles, Shannon is grateful to be back in her Bay Area sharing the gift that changed her life with others in her hometown.  She can be found in many different spaces, including Juvenile Hall sharing yoga with girls through The Art of Yoga Project as well as boys in lockdown through a self-created program. Not only does yoga encourage life balance through movement, it also incorporates one of her other great loves, music.  Expect a class combining safe alignment, breath, and movement to create a challenging yet playful flow suitable for all levels.

Sheetal Kalidindi

When Sheetal experienced Yoga for the first time, she felt like everything fell into place; not just physically, but also mentally, feeling light and content. Her yoga experience left her with a deep sense of calm. She instantly knew she wanted more of this feeling in her life, and that’s when she began her journey with Yoga.
She has been practicing Vinyasa flow yoga, a powerful and dynamic system that combines asana and pranayama. In 2014, she completed her 200 Hour RYT under the expert guidance of Ganga White and Tracey Rich at the White Lotus Foundation in Santa Barbara. In addition, Sheetal trained at the renowned Krishnamcharya Yoga Mandiram in India. She has also participated in various workshops and training programs locally as well as in India.
She feels, when it comes to yoga, she will always be a student. Yoga to her is not just a physical exercise, but a way of life. She strongly believes in the wonderful connection of the mind, body and breath and that Yoga is the discovery of self through the movement of the body.
Sheetal encourages all her students to find their personal Yoga and to use the asana practice as a tool to expand their consciousness and to bring more awareness to their mind, body and spirit. She aims to guide each student into that place of peace and calm by linking breath and movement. She encourages her students to try new things and most importantly to have fun with their practice!

Wei Martin

Wei initially started practicing yoga to maintain flexibility during her triathlon years in the early 2000′s. After later getting certified as a personal trainer and discovering the many incredible benefits that yoga could provide for her clients, she decided to get certified as a yoga teacher. Having already completed the 200hr Flow Yoga Teacher Training Certification with Linda Schlamadinger-McGrath at Yoga Source in Los Gatos, Wei is currently in the midst of completing another 200hr Yoga Teacher Certification with Mark Stephens, a highly respected teacher in Santa Cruz.

Wei sincerely enjoys sharing her love of yoga. Through her teaching, Wei shares a sense of compassion, love and gratitude with all of her students. She wishes to share with as many people as possible the boundless joy that can come from the inner peace reached from a dedicated and committed yoga practice.
When Wei is not teaching or practicing yoga, she enjoys time with her husband, hiking with her dog Roxy and hanging out with friends. You can learn more about Wei at

What Almaden Yogis are saying about Wei –
“Wei is kind and very sincere. She is just a lovely person. Class is just the right amount of difficulty.
Her personal training capabilities come through in class.  She is a great demonstrator. Great music, great focus.
I love her attitude about just being part of the universe. She is also very good at calming us down and getting us ready for class.”