My name is Alexander Puentes. My journey into the realm of yoga began just 2 years ago in 2018 when I began attending Alamden yoga through a groupon! I was hooked from day one! Having always been involved in some kind of sport since I was a child, being a swimmer nearly all my life, I wanted the ability to explore the body in different ways. I’ve always been drawn to the physical aspect of life, I love to move! Be it on a bike on any terrain, hiking through the mountains, rock climbing, dancing the night away with beautiful souls and especially travelling the world. Place me in any environment and I can groove to the tune of life!
Life after college at Chico State brought me into the world of Wildland Firefighting, and with that came extreme discipline and the ability to persevere under any circumstance. It allowed me to become hyper aware of not just my situations but also my body. It drew me even deeper into the world of strength and endurance. During that period I also spent a short time on an ambulance as an EMT separate from firefighting. This taught me compassion, love and empathy for all those around me.
Yoga was the doorway to merging all of those attributes and using them for good, using them to inspire. When taking my 200hr teacher training at Almaden Yoga, my world changed and I began to see it in a different light. I then felt the pull to being a teacher more than ever, wanting to guide people with the “fire” I carry inside and show them their path to enlightenment. Yoga being a place to focus on not only the physical body, but what truly happens inside. It has allowed me to face my obstacles head on and see beyond them. I want people feeling inspired to be the best versions of themselves everytime they come to my class.
Anuja Chaudhri - Owner and Founder of Almaden Yoga
Anuja is a believer of alignment – no, not just in the body but in every aspect of life. She believes and tries to live in alignment with her work, family, friends and the various demands of life. She teaches yoga and believes that every class is a learning process for her own growth.
Anuja was born and raised in India. She came from a liberal family where, both her father and mother exposed her to the best in art, music, dance and most of all to the world of yoga. Her father was the one who pushed her into doing yoga as a kid. At the age of 6-7 years she didn’t enjoy the yoga classes but loved the attention as her body was super flexible. In high school she took up yoga as a subject and practiced diligently for two years and topped in her state of Delhi.
With time and adult life, yoga took a back seat. In 1995 Anuja moved to the USA and found herself starting a new life. A dream came true to live in this country but it was nowhere close to the Hollywood movies that fascinated her. As she restarted her hi-tech career she got into everything except yoga. The charm was in the corporate world, making the 6-figure salary and enjoying life.
Her personal life went through a divorce and a time of losing all that she had built in this country. A go-getter by nature she revived her career and confidence. During this time she met Ron Victor whom she married in 2001 and dreamt of starting a family and living her second dream of becoming a mother. But motherhood seemed to have deluded her and after trying for 6-year, she decided to let go of this dream and the path of motherhood. Her Buddhist practice of 25 odd years kept her strong and grounded. In the two years of going through depression, she restarted her yoga practice. It was power yoga that not only gave her physical strength but also the ability to be a fighter and make the most of what life had gifted her.
In 2006 Anuja fell into the hands of the first teacher training program started at Yoga Source, Los Gatos by Linda McGrath. Those 6-months changed her life yet again. A time to renew, revive and come alive. It was when she started teaching in September of 2006 that she discovered her love and passion of teaching yoga.
Teaching and learning took her into the opportunity of opening her own yoga studio. Anuja was looking for her own space to avoid driving all over the Silicon Valley to teach yoga. This is when Almaden Yoga was born. It was her child which she could nourish and use as a space where love, peace, health, and community could be built.
After 11-years of running Almaden Yoga, teaching over 2500 yoga classes, giving birth to over 50 new yoga teachers, taking a number of international yoga retreats, Anuja continues to evolve as a human being, constantly self-studying and is inspired to accomplish and spread peace in the community through yoga.
Anuja has beautifully blended her Indian upbringing and her exposure to the western world of yoga. Her classes include alignment of the body, her silly sense of humor, sharing her learning through the journey of life and most of all spreading her infectious smile and energy. She brings tremendous amounts of love and community feel into the world of Almaden Yoga.
Hope you will join her class and always come and introduce yourself. She may forget your name but she will remember your face in any part of the world.
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.
Isabela Da Costa
Bela began her yoga journey during her Junior year of high school as an attempt to find some stress relief since she had been suffering from stress migraines for several months. After her very first class at Almaden Yoga, she knew this was something she wanted to pursue throughout her life. Within a month of practicing consistently, Bela no longer experienced any more migraines and has not experienced them since. Yoga provided her not only with contentment and awareness, but it also taught her how to take care of herself both physically and emotionally.
When Bela graduated high school in 2019, she decided she wanted to spread what yoga had taught her and completed her 200-hours Yoga Teacher Certification at Almaden Yoga. As a teacher, she wants to help others take care of their physical bodies and reap all of the health benefits of yoga, and to inspire others to take their yoga practices off the mat and into the world, spreading compassion and positivity.
Isabela Da Costa
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.
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!”
Katherine first experienced yoga in Bali in 2012 and was amazed by how the physical practice affected her emotionally and mentally. What began as a few classes a week to help cope with the stress and exhaustion of a corporate job slowly transformed into a journey of self-reflection and self-love. She pursued her RYT 200-level certification with Anuja at Almaden Yoga in 2018 to deepen her practice and fell in love with teaching. Katherine is grateful for all the joy and positivity that yoga has brought to her life and loves encouraging yoga students of all levels to be playful and curious on their mats. She enjoys teaching flow classes to groovy tunes and looks forward to saying hi to you at her next class!
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 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 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.
Kelley’s first exposure to practicing Yoga was in 2002 but at that time it wasn’t a consistent practice. Over time, she began to develop rheumatoid arthritis (RA) which drove her to again pursue Yoga for the therapeutic benefit for her joints. When she committed to a regular and consistent Yoga practice she quickly noticed improvement in reducing joint pain, improving joint flexibility and function, improve muscle strength, improve balance as well as lowering stress and tension.
Kelley is a Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT200) instructor teaching hatha, flow and yin classes in an approachable but challenging manner with an emphasis on body control, strength building movements combined with utilization of the breath to carry her students through practice. She encourages students to play with their edge, challenge their mind with strong movements and long holds while providing a safe, encouraging, and non-judgmental environment where each student can achieve their full potential. She’s studied under Anuja Chaudri, Nate Jones and attended workshops by Candace Moore, Ashlee Dong Curran, Shannon Larsen, Bre & Flo, Kino MacGregor to name a few.
Kristen Smyth is a life and wellness coach dedicated to helping people find their strengths and reach their full potential by investing in their bodies,hearts and minds.
Kristen is also a certified yoga instructor and has completed 300 hours of Teacher Training at YogaSource and Breathe Together Yoga in Los Gatos. In addition, she brings twenty-one years of coaching experience at the college level including sixteen years as the Head Gymnastics Coach at Stanford University.
Kristen is at her best when she’s helping individuals find balance in their lives where they can devote their highest self to their family, health, career and community.
E-500 RYT, RPYT, YACEP
Lorena is an experienced registered bilingual yoga instructor, that has lead yoga classes, trainings, workshops and retreats in the San Francisco Bay Area and in Mexico for over a decade.
Her journey started in 2002 when a low back injury lead her to try yoga and it was on that first class when she knew yoga would be part or her life forever.
Early on she travel to Rishikesh India with her mentor Samantha Shakti where experienced the roots of the practice at Paramath Niketam Ashram.
She took her first 200 hour Teacher Training at Avalon Yoga Center in Palo Alto in 2007, followed by a Prenatal Yoga training in Santa Barbara Yoga Center and soon after a Whole Birth Yoga certification with Robin Sale in Santa Cruz.
She expanded her yoga studies by completing a 108-hour Anusara Immersion at Yoga of Los Altos followed by the 100 hour Anusara Teacher Training with Kenneth Graham in 2008.
On 2010 she received her “It’s Yoga Kids” certification in San Francisco, this has allowed her to share her passion with her own kids’s and offer family yoga retreats.
She later did her 300 hour advanced yoga certification in 2016 at BAY (Balanced Action Yoga) with an amazing faculty of teachers such as Samantha Shakti, Kenny Graham, Alice, Kennedy, Siri Cavanna, Kelly Blaser, Mike Lane and other guest teachers. This training gave her the tools to fully understand the biomechanics of the body to prevent and work around injuries and build smart sequences for a sustainable yoga practice suitable to ANY population.
Learning continues to be her passion, on 2020 she became a graduate of Functional Nutrition Lab, Full Body Systems training and is about to complete her final certification as a Family Nutrition and Lifestyle practitioner.
Marissa has been teaching for 9 years alongside her health science studies, that include a Bachelors of Science degree in Kinesiology. She has experience working in a physical therapy clinic where she studied injury and post operation healing modalities and her awareness of therapeutics is delivered through her classes with a strong attention to alignment for injury prevention. A lover of surfing, hiking & art, this teacher makes sure to infuse her classes with an uplifting and positive personality.
Not only does Marissa believe in the importance of a strong mind-body connection, she also teaches the importance of emotional healing through an intentional and balanced yoga practice and self care. She promotes living a happy and healthy life and strives to increase every one of her students’ personal well-being and quality of life.
Marissa teaches with a playful and passionate open heart while exploring energetic, challenging and balancing sequences within her classes. She teaches calming Yin, powerful yoga Flow, and level 2-3 Vinyasa classes and pairs every class with a moving music playlist and uses elevating aroma therapy oils during shavasana. Everybody is encouraged to work at their own pace, ensuring their safety as well as cultivating a deeper connection to their inner-personal practice. The goal is to experience every benefit yoga has to offer and leave class feeling happier, uplifted and strong. With much compassion, Marissa enjoys connecting with every new face that comes into her classes and looks forward to creating an unforgettable yoga experience for all!
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.
Meredith is passionate about helping people discover self-love and serenity through yoga. Whether it’s teaching community classes or one-on-one through movement, she helps guide individuals in finding their true self, resulting in positive self-image. After finishing her first Yoga teacher training with Noell Clark she had a yearning to dive into a training with a focus in Yoga Therapy. Attending Niroga Institute added a whole other layer to her understanding of an holistic approach. Meredith is also a Reiki Master and enjoys offering workshops and individual sessions to help others heal themselves. She is passionate about her path and it shows when she is working with others, whether its in the studio, corporate yoga, or private sessions. Meredith listens to the needs of the student and finds the most supportive and encouraging route to guide them.
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. (www.aatmayoga.com)
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.”
Nanci Shakthi Nardona
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 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, emotions, and challenges in a productive way.
Today, yoga is a lifestyle for Nate. He practices with softness, strength, and a flexible mind and encourages others to do the same.Yoga class is an opportunity for us to come together as a community and practice kindness, acceptance, and light-heartedness.Each one of us can come to class, learn from one another, or teach one another.What a beautiful thing.
He completed his 200-hour teacher training at Almaden Yoga and a 50-hour Bhakti Flow advanced teacher training with Rusty Wells.
Paige came to Almaden Yoga in search of a way to exercise without having to wear shoes…
After her first class, she fell in love with the way her mind, body, and spirit felt and the rest as they say is history! Two years later, and her love of yoga has only gotten stronger as her practice continued to blossom and she dove deeper into the yoga community around her.
It is safe to say, Paige found a lot more at Almaden Yoga than a barefooted workout – she found her voice 🙂
In February of 2019, Paige completed her 200 Hour Vinyasa Flow training at Almaden Yoga with Anuja, and she is excited to bring her creative and unique style to her alma mater. Paige loves to empower and inspire students to find their edge and step outside their comfort zone in the safe space of the studio. Paige knows there is no better way to strengthen your core than with laughter. Her playful sequences and fun playlists will keep you coming back for more, so come join her for some giggles and vinyasas!
As a child and most of my adult life I was very overweight, unfit, and generally unwell. I had attempted to get healthy many, many times but nothing stuck in the long run. Then fast forward to when my son was 2 years old: I was almost 300 lbs, was sick often, and my joints ached. At that time, I had a moment of clarity and reached a turning point: I began to eat healthier and started light, but consistent exercise.
A few years after that, I began to practice yoga at home and really enjoyed the physicality of the practice, but also the peace and contentment yoga brought into my life. Practicing once a week, over time, turned into several times a week and exploring different styles of yoga. I was hooked and wanted to learn more! I am amazed at all the wonderful things the mind and body can do and am still enjoying a lifelong love of learning.
I completed the 200 hour yoga teacher training at Almaden Yoga in February 2018 and am thrilled to guide you through your yoga practice!
My hope for anyone practicing yoga is to have fun, feel good, and connect with oneself. I’d love to connect with you about yoga, and various healthy mind/body ideas on my Facebook page: Rebecca Dawn Yoga.
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.
Sudha is a certified cardio fitness instructor (Bombay Jam). She has been teaching various Bombay Jam classes since March 2016. She collaborated with Anuja, Founder of Almaden Yoga, to put together an innovative program that combines Bombay Jam with the best aspects of Yoga. This program received rave reviews and participation is continuing to climb.
She was always interested in dancing and loved attending various fitness classes and thought it would be a fun challenge to teach one! It is a perfect combination of dance and fitness. Since then, there has been no looking back.
Her interests include trekking, biking, and camping. She reads voraciously, both, fiction and non-fiction. She is actively involved in a number of personal philanthropic activities in India.
Fitness Philosophy: Your body is one of your greatest assets… nourish your body with the workout you deserve.