Dharma Richards, ERYT-500 – Founder and owner of Yoga Garden and Yoga Alliance Advanced Registered Yoga Teacher, Dharma incorporates a Classical Hatha-Raja style of teaching which encourages organic movement and an open heart as she routinely leads students through nurturing practices of pranayama/ breathwork, asana/physical postures, and dhyana/meditation. Dharma hosts workshops, intensives, retreats and teacher trainings nationwide and in the Caribbean. Dharma’s studies continue at the North Carolina School of Yoga with her beloved teacher Chandra Om, senior disciple of Sri Dharma Mittra, and has also studied with seasoned teachers including Seane Corn, Sharon Gannon, Judith Lasater, HarDarshan Khalsa, Doug Swenson, Angela Farmer, Paul Grilley, Sarah Powers, Jenny Sauer Klein (AcroYoga), Andrey Lappa and Stephanie Keach. Her certifications also include Core Strength Vinyasa, Relax & Renew, Prenatal, Children’s, Yin, and Yoga Warriors (for PTSD). Dharma is also a certified Reiki Master and continues studies in Kundalini Yoga & Thai Massage (Nuad Boran). For detailed information, see Dharma’s Personal Website.
David Richards, CYT – David began his yoga practice in order to compliment his dedicated exercise routine and quickly received numerous other benefits through his yoga practice. Wanting to encourage and teach others about this mind/body connection, he received his teacher training through YogaFit and is a certified Yoga Warriors instructor. David has also trained by immersions with senior Anusara teachers as well as advanced teachers including Sarah Powers, David Swenson and Jenny Sauer Klein.
Stacy Ingham - Stacy hosts Ashtanta Yoga of Cary (AYC) at Yoga Garden. She has been practicing Ashtanga Yoga since 1998, and has been teaching in the Triangle area since 2001. Certified with Yogafit, she has continued her studies in the Ashtanga tradition of yoga with David Swensen, Annie Pace, Chuck Miller and Maty Ezrati, and most recently with David Keil and Matthew Sweeney. She also studies on an ongoing basis with Fran Slavic and Kathy Hallen. Stacy also recently received her certification from Matthew Sweeney to teach his Moon Sequence – a complementary series to Ashtanga’s Primary Series. Stacy’s approach to Ashtanga Yoga is to educate students on the joy of a consistent Yoga practice, demonstrating how to pay attention to the details of form and philosophy, and making Yoga accessible for all levels.
Doreen Baum, RYT200 – Having always been interested in health and healing, Doreen has studied extensively in the fields of Physical Therapy, Kinesiotherapy, Ergonomics and Biomechanics of movement. She began yoga over 15 years ago as another form of personal fitness. It was a great adjunct to aerobics and weight training. Deciding to change her fitness routine, Doreen practiced and concentrated on Pilates and Yoga and found that yoga helped her to ground the spirit within. After focusing her personal study, she realized a deeper connection to the true science of yoga. As well as having had the pleasure to study with world renowned teachers including Stephanie Keach, Shala Worsley, HarDarshan Khalsa and Bob Hadad (Nuad Boran/Thai Massage), Doreen continues her studies with Margaret Richards. She enjoys incorporating a variety of yoga principals into her teaching practice. From breath work and flexibility to flow and meditation, you can expect basic body adjustments in your poses and stretches, as well as discovering what your body can do when you are in touch with your soul. Doreen’s goal for her students is to gather a better understanding of their individual body as it moves through space and acceptance of what its capabilities are in the present moment. Strength, peace and knowledge lie within, we just need to listen.
Doreen is also a Reiki II certified and is a Reiki practitioner at Yoga Garden of Apex.
Brittney Powell, RYT200 – Also a graduate of the North Carolina School of Yoga, Brittney offers a genuine, nurturing spirit to her classes. A school teacher specializing in instructing children with autism, Brittney shares her kind heart and special skills with everyone in whom she comes into contact. She allows for relaxed effort in her teachings and gently and lovingly challenges students of many levels. Brittney completed Anusara Yoga Teacher Training in 2011 through the Triangle Anusara Yoga Institute and also holds certifications in Mini Yogis for children at both the foundations and advanced levels, Yin and Restorative Yoga. A compassionate and beautiful soul, Brittney continues to blossom as a truly gifted and fully dedicated teacher.
Stacy Smith, RYT500 – Stacy Smith has a life long relationship with fitness. She was a competitive cheerleader and swimmer and a professional dancer. She owned 4 dance studios in New Hampshire, where she also taught fitness classes including Yoga and Pilates. Stacy has been teaching in the fitness industry for 28 years and yoga for 20 years. She is a Yoga Alliance ERYT (experienced registered yoga teacher) at the 200 hour level. She travels teaching yoga as a national presenter for the Aerobic and Fitness Association of America, (the number one instructor certification company in the United States) and at resorts, all over the word, (through NRGTOGO, Inc.). She has training in Vinyasa, Asthanga, Bikram, Trance Dance, Chakra Yoga, Prenatal Yoga, Seniors Yoga, Yoga Therapy, Kunga Yoga, Thai Yoga Massage and Kids Yoga. She has taken workshops with Baron Baptiste, Kristen Cooper, Deon DeWet, Hilary Garivaltis, Judith Lasater, Shiva Rae and Rodney Yee. Stacy’s love of yoga and of people shines in her teaching style.
Outside of fitness and yoga, Stacy is a professional writer and artist. She lives in Apex with her husband Jeff and their two daughters Alexandra and Savannah.
Molly McKinley, RYT200 - Molly was drawn to yoga after her children were born as a way to manage daily stress and to strengthen her body. She found that yoga provided so much more for her life and now wants to share her love of the practice and these benefits with others. A student of Dharma Richards, she incorporates a classic Hatha-Raja style of teaching including basic pranayama and guided meditation. Molly is also holds a Yoga Alliance Children’s Yoga Certification. A lover of the arts, Molly has also developed Art & Yoga Workshops to help students tap into their inner creativity. Through dedicated practice and fine tuning, we can learn to truly love ourselves and see the Divine in all things.
Zora Savage, RYT200 – Zora learned her first Sun Salutation in her teens in the Czech Republic where she spent the first 30 years of her life. As a life time fitness fanatic, runner and swimmer she rediscovered yoga to offset her high impact routine. Zora’s dedication to yoga continued to grow and by 2007 it became her dominant physical practice. In 2009, she decided to study yoga more in depth and signed up for teacher training at Yoga Garden with Dharma Richards. After discovering amazing effects of yoga on her own body she wishes to share the healing and therapeutic powers with others.
Anne Bequet, RYT200 – Anne has been a language teacher for many years. Exercise has always been essential to her physical and emotional wellbeing. As a child, Anne loved Ballet and as an adult, she studied Tap Dancing and Pilates. She is an outdoor enthusiast and has a passion for natural healing. In 2007, she started focusing more on Yoga practice. She discovered the benefits of pranayama and asana practices through her daily routine. Anne studied under Dharma Richards and became a RYT200 Graduate in May 2011 at the Yoga Garden of Apex School of Yoga. As part of her training, Anne became interested in Trauma Sensitive Yoga as taught by Crys Rivers in a pilot program that she was introduced to. Last July, she also participated in a workshop focusing on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder with Dave Emerson. His work includes scientific studies as well as direct experience in teaching yoga to people suffering from this debilitating condition. Through gentle flow yoga and restorative poses, Anne believes students will develop renewed body awareness and reduce their stress levels. She is currently teaching an ongoing monthly workshop with Melinda Hunt at the Yoga Garden.
Melinda Hunt, RYT200 – Melinda is a longtime student of yoga and graduate of Dharma Richard’s and the Yoga Garden teacher training program, and she is grateful to all her teachers for sharing this practice, their knowledge and support. Yoga was first a means of stress relief and escape, and then greater joy and freedom as she learned to listen to and inhabit her body, restoring a love of movement she hadn’t experienced in years. Practicing self-inquiry, mindfulness, and compassion have added further challenges and sweetened the journey. Passionate about yoga’s adaptive set of tools that meet each individual where they are, Melinda would love to share this practice and path with you. With fellow teacher Anne Bequet, Melinda currently leads a monthly karma (donation only) workshop, Cultivating Your Home Practice, providing a supportive community for students and their personal practice. Learn more about Melinda online.
Dr. Heather d’Ambrosi Cassese, RYT200 – Heather began teaching group fitness in 1998 at East Carolina University while studying for her Bachelor’s in Exercise Physiology. During that time she began to attend hatha yoga classes as a means to stay connected to her gymnastics background. After graduation she moved to Portland, OR where she continued her studies at Western States Chiropractic College and received her Doctorate in Chiropractic in 2005. During her time in Portland her love for yoga expanded exponentially as she began to practice Bikram, vinyasa, and Ashtanga forms. She attended her first yoga certification in 2002 and began teaching hatha yoga and BodyFlow© at the local gym where she taught aqua and group fitness classes. Throughout the years she began to gravitate more toward vinyasa as constant for her own home practice. Self-study and attending classes allowed her to deepen her knowledge and passion for more. She has always seen the connection of yoga and chiropractic in overall health and healing, and delivers that in her whole body approach to class and treatments. In 2010 she committed to a deeper level of understanding as she gained her RYT-200 at the Yoga Garden. Dr. Heather loves to challenge her students with powerful vinyasa flows, good humor, and how to break down difficult poses into the attainable. She also teaches gentle yoga, Pilates, and Yin Yoga. With a smile and a laugh, her positive energy can inspire and change those she contacts.
Dr. Heather lives near Jordan Lake with her husband, Jim, and her 2 labs, Reece and Bailey. In addition to yoga and chiropractic, she enjoys traveling, snow skiing, scuba diving, painting, gardening, and napping!
Heather Dunn, RYT - Heather, a 230 hr Certified Yoga Teacher, has been practicing yoga for over ten years. Having taught herself through books, she believes that you are your own best teacher. She hopes to lead others to listen to their intuition or inner voice and re-discover the truth that has and always will be inside. She loves to create fresh and creative sequences and always incorporates music into the class theme. Inspired by many different teachers and styles over the years, she has an eclectic style, paying attention to details of alignment and most importantly, the breath! Keeping her classes lighthearted and playful, but also challenging, she hopes to keep you smiling. Heather has taken the level 1 YogaFit certification and completed a 230 hr Total Yoga Immersion with Stephanie Keach in 2011. She continues to study and discover at home and with many different teachers around the Triangle.
Mary Ribando, RYT - Mary has been practicing yoga for over ten years and continues to be amazed with the nurturing benefits she receives. She credits yoga for her spiritual and physical body awareness, and believes yoga to be the key in finding and maintaining a well-being life. Stepping onto her mat brings her great joy, fulfillment, and inner peace, and she hopes that as a teacher, she can help her students share in some of her experiences by offering them pranayama and meditative techniques, along with an asana flow. Mary is currently advancing her studies through the 500-hour Teacher Training program at Yoga Garden with Dharma Richards.
Brinda Ramaiya Harper, RYT200 - Yoga found Brinda the beginning of 2008 as a New Year’s Resolution to focus on health (and a life long dream to finally touch her toes.) In the process of studying yoga, she also found pilates. Never considering herself an athletic person, she was drawn to the challenge and focus brought by practicing both together. She has maintained a regular weekly practice of both ever since. Through her experiences, she learned spiritually that we cannot give to others unless we give to ourselves first. With this desire to develop as a person and be a “student of life”, she pursued both her PowerPilates mat and RYT 200 yoga certifications. Her two yoga programs, EmbodiYoga with Lisa Clark and David Beadle in 2010 and Live Your Yoga with Dharma Richards in 2012, both gave her perspectives of Iyengar and Classical Raja yoga that she loves infusing in her practice and teaching. She also holds certifications in TRX Suspension Training, Reiki and plans to pursue prenatal yoga certification. Brinda aims to help people connect with what they love about life through their practice and help people be at their best. She also enjoys connecting with nature outside by running, hiking and scuba diving. She is dedicated to promoting an active lifestyle with her husband and their ridiculously cute golden retriever.
Vanessa Doherty, RYT-200 - Vanessa has been practicing yoga since 1994 (primarily Ashtanga yoga). In 2008 she found a style of Hatha yoga that resonated with her, and she was inspired to teach. In September 2010, she received her 250 hour certification from the NC School of Yoga. Vanessa has continued her training while teaching and has attained certifications in Children’s Yoga and Yoga for Seniors. Vanessa follows the traditional principles of yoga and teaches through the heart. Her classes are meditative in nature, teaching her students to move organically, and to release negative thoughts and desires about the body. In Vanessa’s classes, students practice santosha (contentment) and satya (truthfulness) — to never move beyond our capacity. She keeps a keen eye on alignment and encourages her students to close their eyes while they move — to go within and to find the joy in the movement. Vanessa is a calm and patient teacher who reflects on what each student needs in her class. Her goal is have all students complete her class feeling more grounded and connected to the beauty of their true self.
Melissa Feimster Lido, RYT500 - Melissa has been practicing yoga for over ten years. Through a steady and consistent home practice, she quickly discovered that yoga imbued her with overall improved sense of well-being and deeper connection to her own spirituality. She began taking regular yoga classes with Dharma Richards in 2008 and was inspired to deepen her practice through Yoga Garden’s Live Your Yoga Teacher Training.
Melissa’s mission is to provide students with opportunities to discover new possibilities and transform themselves spiritually, mentally, and physically through the science of yoga. Melissa’s classes come from a place of patience, love, and joy. She offers her students classes rooted in creative and well-rounded Asana sequences, breathwork, and meditation. By cultivating a supportive class environment, she encourages students to be true to themselves, acknowledge and honor the teacher within, and tap into that deep awareness that ultimately leads to self-realization.
Melissa has a special interest in restorative yoga, and holds a certification in this specialty area from the NC School of Yoga. Additionally she has had the privilege to study with several master teachers including, Sri Dharma Mittra (Classical Hatha Raja Yoga), Judith Hanson Lasater (Restorative Yoga), Susan Jackson (Hatha Yoga), Satya Tara (Ashtanga Yoga) and Hardarshan Khalsa (Kundalini Yoga).
One of the ways Melissa “lives her yoga” off the mat is by exploring the benefits of a “raw/live foods” diet and vegetarian lifestyle. Combining her love of yoga, raw/live foods, and vegetarianism, she has authored a blog, “The Avocado Queen”, www.theavocadoqueen.com.
Pablo Escalera, RYT200 – Mechanical engineer by profession, animal lover by Karma. Pablo completed his certification as a Yoga teacher at the 200 hour level with Dharma Richards at the Yoga Garden of Apex. Pablo had his first serious encounter with the physical activity around the age of 16 as a late start playing football (the American way), and first ever encounter with Yoga at the age of 31 when by curiosity attended Heather Cassese’s Power Flow Yoga session one Fiday evening. His approach to Yoga is contemporary, having explored Power Yoga, Ahstanga Vinyasa, Prana Flow, Hatha Raja and several other Vinyasa Yoga offerings around the Triangle region in NC. He strives to embrace the Eight Limb Path to Yoga through everyday life. He ‘turned’ vegetarian when he started his Yoga teacher training as part of the commitment to Ahimsa and sustainability of the planet. An enthusiast for motorsports, Pablo travels several times during the year to race tracks working as a volunteer communications official for national and international events. As an enthusiastic runner he also participates in 5k, 10k, half marathons, adventure races and fitness competitions.
Jon-Erik Lido, L.Ac., RYT-500 – Jon-Erik came to yoga after years of studying Chinese internal martial arts and qigong. He took his first yoga class in 2007 and realized its incredibly transformative effects. Since then he has been studying and practicing yoga, becoming especially passionate about the styles of Classical Hatha-Raja and Yin Yoga.
Jon-Erik completed Yoga Garden’s RYT-200 and RYT-500 teacher trainings in 2012 and 2013 respectively. He holds a certification in Yin Yoga from the Asheville Yoga Center.
Jon-Erik is a licensed acupuncturist trained in Classical Chinese Medicine. He informs his Yin Yoga classes from years of experience with the acupuncture theories that form the basis for Yin Yoga. He translates and transmits Classical Chinese Medicine theory and Daoist philosophy through his Yin Yoga classes.
It is Jon-Erik’s mission as a teacher for his students to feel empowered to improve their own health through yoga. His style of teaching is infused with compassionate and playful energy. His classes invite a meditative inward journey of self-discovery; students experience ample quiet space for reflection as well experiential illumination of the body and mind.
Heather Blanchard, RYT-200 – Heather initially discovered the soothing benefits of yoga through a local gym she was teaching aerobics at in 1995. At the time, her passion for movement stemmed from a lifelong love for dance, and she was fond of the alignment and lengthening the asanas provided. After being asked to teach a yoga class while working overseas for Club Med, she quickly worked with local instructors to learn a very basic hatha yoga “routine.” Soon, yoga became her favorite class to teach and she began to search for a deeper understanding of the tranquility found through her physical practice. After returning to the state in 1998, Heather was mentored by the founders of Triangle Yoga in Chapel Hill while learning to teach to special populations at the Duke Diet and Fitness Center. Their vast knowledge inspired her to explore many different styles of yoga, and she began a regular home practice. After a ten-year liaison from the fitness business due to long hours in the corporate world and to having children, she was ecstatic to find the Live Your Yoga Teacher Training program at Yoga Garden in 2012! The diverse program allowed her to explore the rich history and spiritual side of yoga, and begin sharing her love for teaching with students again. It’s a privilege to create a tranquil yet challenging environment for people to move in together, and to meet their needs at varying fitness levels. She strives to encourage everyone to practice with a smile on their face, and realize each moment spent in a limb of yoga is a gift. Heather lives in Raleigh with her husband Eddie, daughters Mackenzie and Lauren, and their goddaughter Sunshine. She gratefully works with Infinity Ballet Theatre, a nonprofit company in Apex, NC, and with the beloved staff of Yoga Garden.
Laura Funk, RYT-200 – Laura began attending yoga classes in 2008 and quickly realized the many benefits regular practice brought to her daily life. She became a dedicated practitioner and signed up for the Live Your Yoga Teacher Training with Dharma Richards at Yoga Garden of Apex. In 2013, Laura completed 300 hours of study and earned her RYT-200 certification. Laura’s initial goal was to fine-tune and advance her personal practice, but she now feels inspired to share her knowledge with others through teaching. Laura encourages students of all levels to explore the many physical and spiritual benefits yoga can offer. She is dedicated to living a life based around compassion and loving kindness and continues her yoga studies through attending various types of classes, workshops and self-study programs. Laura lives in Apex with her husband and four children.
Amy Watkins – RYT-200 – Amy has practiced yoga for many years, having taken her first class in a church gymnasium as a seven year-old. Yoga has been a refuge, a challenge, a path to health, and a constant source of renewal for Amy. In 2013, she completed the teacher training program with Dharma Richards at Yoga Garden and has been honored to be a teacher and share in practices since the end of 2013. Amy studied Yin Yoga with Sarah Powers, and looks forward to deeper studies and training in yoga. And sharing yoga, for every body.