We think we have the best instructors around. They’re smart, skilled, they love yoga and, well, they’re pretty darn good looking as well! Want to find out more about them? What drives them, their favourite food or wackiest job? Take a glimpse into the lives of our team!

Bonnee Gregg

Krista VandenBrink

Suzanne Blackwell

Lisa Freeman

Mike Kozlowski

Sandra Thorne

Tiffany Rose

Anomi Beardon

Samantha Belanger

Jamie De Koning

Sarah Enright

Emily Ashmore

Andrew Moseson

Dominique Benzer

 

 

 

 

 



Bonnee Gregg

I’m a self-proclaimed yoga nerd and would quite literally talk asanas & pranayama for hours if you let me.

My relationship with yoga began over twelve years ago, when my mother became part of a yoga + cancer study at the University of Calgary.  Accompanying my mom to weekly Yoga Thrive sessions, a therapeutic yoga program designed for cancer survivors, triggered something deep within me and I was hooked. Years later, my practice led me to India where I pursued her teacher training with Himalaya Yoga Valley. Practicing and studying this ancient tradition has made me realize that every day lends an opportunity to nurture my mind and body. The opportunity to share that with others? Well that’s just icing on my yoga cake.

My teaching focuses on proper alignment, positive body awareness and empowering oneself through determination and breath. But, without a dash of humor and some sweet tunes, it all becomes a little too stuffy and serious for my liking. I think it’s really important to shelf your ego and be willing to laugh at yourself when you step on your mat, it’s called yoga practice, not yoga perfection, after all.

My most recent yogic adventures include a trip back to India where I assisted in an international teacher training, launching a Bariatrics yoga program at Red Deer Regional Hospital and introducing yoga into the Red Deer Public School system. This past Spring, I became certified in Yoga Thrive, the very program that opened my eyes to the beautiful world of yoga.

I’m forever grateful to my hunky husband who encourages me to follow heart, pursue my passions and live out my dreams.

Worst job ever?  Once upon a time I worked as a dancer on a cruise ship, this part was AWESOME! But the youngest and smallest dancer, I was quickly suckered into taking on an additional part in the evening shows. I was convinced to fill the roll of magician’s assistant. Sounds glamorous doesn’t it? Well, imagine being folded into a box that resembles origami and you have to contort yourself numerous times to avoid being stabbed by dramatically timed swords.  After about 3 months, I threw in the towel and the kimono.

 



Krista VandenBrink

My yoga journey began in 2006. I moved to Red Deer for a job, I didn’t know a soul, and I found myself infinitely bored and a little blue at the end of my work days. I began taking a regular yoga class with the goal of meeting people but, before I knew it, I was in a full blown love affair with the practise.

In 2009 I met the wonderful, Bonnee Gregg. Initially she was my yoga instructor, but we became fast friends and she inspired me to take my practise one step further and become a teacher. After a whole lot of soul searching I made a wacky, decision. In the spring of 2010, with the support of my wonderful husband, I left all of my responsibilities behind, including my full-time job, and went to India for five weeks. It was in this wonderful country, under the direction of Lalit Kumar and the Himalaya Yoga Valley, that I realized my true calling, and I became an internationally certified yoga instructor. Two years later, Bonnee and I opened Breathing Room Yoga Studio + Cafe.

One of my most gratifying, and proudest yoga moments happened shortly after I returned from India when I was invited to introduce a yoga program to the local Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). Both of my parents were police officers; making my way to the detachment twice a week to walk members and their families through a yoga practise was a small, but powerful way for me to give back to the community that was, and continues to be, a huge part of my life.

I am trained to teach Ashtanga, Hatha, Prenatal, Yin and Flow. In both my personal practise and my teaching, self reflection, awareness and compassion are the cornerstones of my approach. Alignment, breath, and a serious sense of humour are always a part of my classes.

Strange + random facts about me:

  • I was a figure skating coach for three years
  • I loathe peas (I hate how they explode in your mouth)
  • I took a full year of Scottish Gaelic in school
  • I spent 27 years in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland but you would have to bind me and hold me down to make me eat fish or seafood of any kind
  • I have a weakness for celebrity gossip…and Jake Gyllenhaal

 

Lisa Freeman

I have been teaching yoga to kids in Red Deer for the past 6 years. Kids will find my classes to be a go with the flow atmosphere. Energetic when it needs to be and calming when it needs to be. The reason yoga is so amazing for kids is they can’t do it wrong. Instead, teaching them to be constantly growing,  allowing  an environment where each kid can take what they need to take from each class;  to learn what they need to learn from all of the amazing gifts that yoga has to offer. My own practice makes me appreciate the simplicity of stillness. Allowing myself to slow down, and just breathe for a moment in time. Never have I walked out of a class without that class reconstructing the way I approach the rest of that day. Giving myself that simple feeling of peacefulness within- how could I not want to share that with everyone- Especially kids!

Something you should know about me is I can’t live without my green smoothies and great music- I am literally that person you look over at while driving, belting out as if I’m singing in front of thousands of people. I also love to dance to this great music, and not just dance- it’s as if I’m competing on So You Think You Can Dance! (Obviously,  this one I do in the privacy of my home, not behind the wheel!)

My greatest blessing in life is my own two kids, Mya & Kedan who challenge all my yoga principles daily; which makes them my greatest teachers in life!  I look forward to meeting all of the great kids that will come my way, and can’t wait to share with them this beautiful lifelong gift of yoga!

 

Suzanne Blackwell

Suzanne’s path to yoga really started with her background as a wilderness adventurer, nature lover, professional athlete (mountain-biking) & coach, and especially when she began martial arts practice in 1995. These taught her the importance of the mental, emotional, & spiritual dimensions of physical practices. This and an instinct to temper her own intense training with something more calming and “yin” led her to take up yoga in 2003. She loved it right away and quickly started to branch out into the “softer quieter” breathing, relaxation and healing aspects of yoga (from Hatha, Kundalini & Himalayan traditions) as well.

Suzanne began her YAA teacher training in 2005 and started teaching in 2007. Her own background of struggling to “come-back” from severe illness/injury and her admiration of the courage of people living with cancer led her to supplement her experience with specific therapeutic yoga training in 2010, taken with kinesiologist Susi Hately-Aldous (a program now called “Calm Steady Strong”).  With Power yoga also being a steady part of Suzanne’s diverse “mixed yoga arts” diet, she took Ashtanga teacher training with David Swenson in 2010 followed by a workshop with his brother, Doug in 2011 .

Doug Swenson’s Sadhana Yoga Chi style spoke to her; his mix of graceful flowing transitions with intensely challenging postures (along with his emphasis on outdoor cross-training and a healthy, “giving” lifestyle)  seemed to have “balance” written all over it. This summer 2011, she completed her one month intensive RYT-500 hour teacher training with Doug in Lake Tahoe California and loved every minute of it, 12-hour days and all. She hopes to pass on elements of Doug’s flow and serenity to her students, too!

Suzanne is a YAA certified teacher, practicing  3rd degree black belt in karate & jujitsu, NCCP coach (mountain-biking, cycling & X-C Skiing), AFLCA certified fitness leader, holds a Bachelor of Education degree, and teaches in the Kinesiology Department at Red Deer College.

Quirky fact about Suzanne: If you ever hear an urban myth about the “girl who lost her nose” in mountain-bike racing circuits, it’s actually true and that’s me!

Suzanne’s Doug Swenson TT Grad Theme Song: “Popcorn” by “Hot Butter” (circa 1960s) Holy retro! Favorite song version: Muppets’ Swedish Chef’s version on You Tube (see favourite You-Tube below).

Suzanne’s Favorite Foods:  Depends on the day you ask me but usually (I know it’s weird) green beans or swiss chard or “popcorn”; also lattes & “smogs”.  “Off-day cravings”: potato chips or raspberry martinis!!

Suzanne’s Current Favorite You Tube Clips:

Popcorn Shrimp Swedish Chef

Monty Python, Parrot Sketch

Yip Yip Martians

Manamana Guy

 

Mike Kozlowski

I’d heard that there were a few different programs for becoming a better person. There are the quick  programs – shower more often, make your own Halloween costume, open a petting zoo; and then there are the long programs – pay attention to your body sensations, breathe deeply, practice yoga. I’d been showering enough and learning to sew, but progress seemed too slow for the quick program. At the crucial moment, just before buying a llama named Burt, I stumbled upon yoga.

And so the slow program began. I wasn’t close to touching my toes…honestly, my knees were my goal and even that made my hamstrings sing. In class, my mind was unfocused and the Darth Vader breathing all around me didn’t help. I was struggling. So I practiced alone in my bedroom. Very very slowly, tight muscles began to lengthen. My mind found occasional moments of calm. My breath regulated. More importantly, off the mat I was becoming just a little more caring, more forgiving, and more patient. I didn’t understand how yoga was leading to these changes, but I couldn’t argue with them.

After completing teacher training with Eoin Finn and spending time teaching in Red Deer, yoga is still a mystery and a struggle. But it is a mystery and struggle that pushes me to understand the world in new ways, to pay attention to the way that I treat myself and others, and evaluate my experiences to see if I am able to glean any knowledge that can help me to spread more joy.

Gratitude for this day, this breath, and a chance to share yoga.

Sandra Thorne

How did Yoga find me?

Yoga and I first meet when I was about 16.  I was flipping through a teen magazine, when I came across a stick figure, drawn by Helen Hunt, of her doing Tree.  Around the photo Helen wrote “I DO YOGA”.  At that moment, I felt a calling to do yoga.  Way back then Yoga wasn’t what it is today, so it wasn’t until a few years later that I finally found a Yoga VHS to try.  I fell in love instantly.  I did that tape every day!  It was during my first live class that I knew I needed to teach!

What is my training background?

Fast forward to 2008…at this point yoga has been a huge part of life for about 14 years.  Yoga gave me support during my battle with post-partum depression, it loosened my tight muscles as I worked off 60lbs, but most of all yoga helped me learn to keep my feet on the ground.   Through all of this, my love for yoga grew more and more.  At this point, I was very involved in the fitness industry and the gym I was working at was in need of a yoga instructor.  I jumped at the opportunity to take a yoga course.  I took a number of weekend training courses;  but they always left me wanting for me.  In early 2009, my life flipped upside down and again Yoga came to my rescue!  I found a 200 hour teacher training out on Salt Spring Island.  Everything just fell into place and my long-time dream of teaching became a reality.

What is my favorite romantic comedy?

I love Sweet Home Alabama!  I know when I watch this movie I will get a good belly laugh and a good cry.  The most perfect movie for a lazy Sunday afternoon!

 

Tiffany Rose

Tiffany Rose, SOYA, IYTA, YA RYT500

Tiffany’s life of devotion to her path has been steeped in spiritual tradition and study of philosophical belief. From her beginnings as a missionary living homeless in Haiti, to a spiritual pilgrimage across Mexico and the United States living out of her backpack and a van, she has lived the deep blessing of in depth real life studies in Buddhism, Taoism, Hindu and Christian religion and the Yogic Tradition. A great curious observer of belief and it’s effects on humanity, she offers this rich background in her teachings wrapped in a lighthearted, open minded blend of philosophy and grounded reality.

Tiffany presents workshops on various specialty topics including, asana alignment, philosophy and a topic very close to her heart, Yoga for PTSD. For fun she enjoys facilitating and practicing partner and Acro yoga. Tiffany’s blog and website can be found at: unguru.ca

 

Anomi Beardon, PhD Psychology, E-RYT

Anomi was raised practicing Surat Shabd Yoga (yoga of light and sound). She has been involved in Hatha, Kundalini, and Ashtanga Yoga since 2002 and has been teaching ashtanga-based classes since 2010. Anomi completed David Swenson’s Ashtanga Yoga Teacher Training in 2010 and completed 200 hr Hatha training in June 2012. She enjoys teaching the things that she is most passionate about, as this allows her to share her joy with others. Anomi is drawn to yoga through her interest in health and wellness as yoga promotes mental, emotional, and physical well-being through exercise, mindfulness and relaxation.

Jamie De Koning

My yoga journey began in 2003. I was a college student looking for a form of exercise. I initially went to my first yoga class to gain physical benefits but what I didn’t know was that yoga would touch me on a ‘whole’ new level. I was hooked! After benefiting in so many ways from yoga, not only physically but mentally, emotionally and spiritually, it became my dream to share this wonderful practice with others.

That dream came true in December of 2009 when I completed my 200 hour traditional Hatha yoga teacher training at From Within Wellness Centre, Edmonton, AB with Priya Dasyam.  I knew starting up my training that I wanted to teach children. My practicum even included teaching my adult classmates to find their inner child. We barked in our down dogs, meowed in our cats and walked around like monkeys.  Like adults, kids also have busy lifestyles. There is little time to “just be”. I wanted to provide tools to kids so that they can find ways to stay calm, stay healthy, love and respect their bodies, find peace within themselves and of course have lots of fun doing it.  In September 2010 I completed my kids yoga teacher training with The Yoga Tree, Vancouver.

Also true to my heart is yin yoga. At the time of my 200 hour training one of my classmates introduced me to yin yoga. I was working a full time job in the corporate world and needed some yin energy.  In August 2011 I completed my 50 hour yin yoga teacher training with Bernie Clark at the Semperviva Yoga, Vancouver. This training touched me deeply. I wanted to reach out to all yangsters and welcome them over to the yin side as Bernie would say. In today’s lifestyles we are non-stop go go go.  Yin yoga helps you truly be in the present moment and enjoy the stillness of the body, mind and breath. Step out of a yang world and come to the yin side!

I welcome all students and hope to enlighten each one of you!

One random fact about me
I am a Saskatchewan farm girl. Loving all things nature and passionate about animals. Yes, I even rode my pet cow.

Namaste.

 

Samantha Belanger

My journey with Yoga began many sun salutations ago..

I vividly recall stepping into a warm room, where many yogis lay peacefully on their mats, quieting their minds and getting ready, mentally and physically for their practice. Being that it was my first experience with Yoga, I had no idea what to expect and even though it was intimidating, I wasn’t scared. The room felt safe; a place where there was no such thing as judgment. It was an invigorating feeling. The instructor waltzed into the room with such poise and a contagious energy that could brighten anyone’s darkest day. She led us through a power flow class and although I am sure I did not get any of the postures right, I still felt grateful and very satisfied. I felt that the for the first time in a long time, I was a part of something so beautiful and so much bigger then me and it felt like I had finally made it home.

After continuing to practice for several years, I started to feel like I too wanted to share the gift of yoga with others. So what’s an inspired yogi to do? Pack a bag and devote 5 weeks to an incredible teacher training, somewhere far away from home. I chose Goa, India where I was able to receive my 200 hour teacher training certificate. I was fortunate enough to learn from the same amazing teacher/ lineage that Bonnee Gregg and Krista Vandenbrink (owners of Breathing Room) also studied from. On top of that, I am lucky to be the recipient of the first ever Breathing Room Scholarship, which helped me out immensely on my training! I am forever grateful. I am back home, teaching at my all-time favorite studio, and I feel so proud to be a part of a something that strives to build a better community in Red Deer, Alberta. My experiences so far have allowed me to grow as a person and as a yogi.

My goal as an instructor is to provide a fun and uplifting class that gives every student, who is willing and able, the opportunity for personal growth, on and off of their mat. The ultimate aim for each class that I will teach is to offer postures that help strengthen and lengthen the muscles and the mind in everyBODY. Yoga is a light in all of us, and I am honored to be given the opportunity to share that light, with everyone, for the rest of my life.

 

Sarah Enright

Ever since I was 5 years old I have been doing headstands. I remember my aunt and my grandpa both taught me by having me snuggle my head up close to the short stone wall that surrounded our hot tub; they supported my feet from above. I loved the feeling of being upside down. It gave me new perspective, both inside my own body and of the environment around me. Things looked prettier upside down. Life looked more exciting, and soon it became my addiction. I began developing a sound yoga practice when I was 15 years old. Not only was I introduced to many other stimulating inversions, but I learned how to find peace. This was the greatest gift. The inversions sparked my love for yoga but the spirituality component made me stay. I did my 200 hour yoga teacher training when I was 18 years old while living in Maplewood, New Jersey. I was extremely blessed to have two amazing yogi’s teach me everything that I know. Thank you, Debbie and Amba, for teaching me that yoga is a lifelong practice. Yoga is in the studio and out of the studio. Yoga is patience, persistence, light, and love.

Fun facts: I love music. I play piano, guitar (kind of, I’m learning), and I sing.

Nicknames when I was younger: Little hummingbird, Sarah Gadget, and Goober (what were you thinking, dad?)

Goals for 5 years from now: I will have traveled to Asia, more around Europe (I have been to Germany, Greece, and Spain). I will be in Graduate school for something I am passionate about and excited to learn about (Chiropractic or Physiotherapy combined with yoga rehabilitation… but who knows, right?). My heart will be open and my life will be full of love.

 

Emily Ashmore

My yoga journey actually began at the dog park. Yes, the dog park. As I was walking my pup, I crossed paths with the delightful Bonnee Gregg. At that time she was a complete stranger, so like any normal person would, I told her my complete life story. I told her I was new to Red Deer, and explained that I was searching for a sense of community in the city. She handed me her business card and a complimentary class, and the rest is history!

As my relationship with yoga grew, I felt the urge to not only deepen my own practice, but to share my knowledge with others. So I quit my cushy job, filled my backpack with anatomy and alignment text books, and jetted off to Bali for a month to complete my 200hr YTT certificate. My goal as an instructor is to provide students with a safe and welcoming space that encourages personal growth and development.

Random facts:

  • When I was 5 years old I decided to become a vegetarian, and I am still a veg-head to this day.
  • I enjoy singing and playing the ukulele.
  • I would rather rollerblade than use any other form of transportation.

I feel blessed to be a contributor to the thriving community at Breathing Room. The same community I strived for when I moved here in 2010. I am forever grateful for what yoga has offered me, and am excited to pass my knowledge and experience onto other students.