Meet the Team

Shonda Laughlin

  

Shonda began a yoga practice at home fifteen years ago when searching for a practice to add more balance and reduce stress in her life.  After a long break in practice, Shonda returned to Yoga as she found her all time love of fitness practices began becoming more wearing on the body after having her second child. She quickly fell in love with the practice and has returned to her mat over and over for the peace, stillness, and joy she finds in that space.  Shonda had a few inspiring experiences, a dream, and vision of helping others find the same.

As Shonda transformed with each practice, she noticed the world around her began to transform in her home life, her children, her marriage and she just wanted to share it with anyone who was open to connecting to this space.

Shonda has completed her 200 hour “Unity” Yoga Teacher Training and is further pursuing the 500 hour teacher training.  She is also a certified Yoga Nidra practitioner under Kamini Desai, and received specialized training in: Restorative Yoga with Mary Bruce, Yin Yoga with Duane Armitage and many other styles of yoga. She is also a Reiki Master teacher.

Shonda is also a mother of two amazing children, as well as a wife to a wonderful and supportive man.  When off the mat, she loves to spend time with family, being a continuous student always, traveling, and finding new life experiences to share.  

Shonda has a huge heart and the practice of yoga has assisted her with a history of depression and anxiety by adding so many tools and techniques to utilize and share with others to help them find peace, joy, strength and balance.

Manny Gallegos

  

I grew up deeply involved in music and art. Originally from the mountain town of Bishop, CA. Yoga started its assimilation in to my life when the pain of being stuck and tired was too much.  Working like a tired dog, inspired more down dogs, to align the body after the rigors of labor. At the time I was experiencing chronic sciatica pain, I could barely touch my toes. My right hip grinded as I walked.  I was only 30 and alarmed of the suffering I had inflicted in my body. I was wound up like 10-day clock. So as advised numerous times by my wife, I set out with a morning yoga practice, watching videos online. As I got more in depth and comfortable in the breathing and my practice, I started attending studio classes at the YMCA and a few private events.

Two years later, inspired to teach and to embody my practice to the spiritual study.  I enrolled at Southwest Institute of Healing Arts & Sciences. I completed their 800hr. Yoga Therapy program with a specialty in Yoga Nidra and other Guided Meditation methods.  Studied Usui Reiki and became Reiki Master Teacher Certified, as well as obtaining a Holistic Nutrition Coach Certification. All of this over the past few year. I taught Nidra and Vinyasa at Kula Yoga, in Glendale and Lifetime Fitness of Gilbert.  

I’m looking to bring a musical flow to the meditation of moving and seated postures.  Art and music have been a part of most my life, and I would love to compose the symphony of movement. I chant, sing, play the guitar, piano and the cajon drum. My ideal class would be a slow Hatha flow led into a Nidra or guided meditation, with music and sound healing during and at the end to deepen the meditation.  Each moment we honor listening to the body and the heart, we lift ourselves up to unlock our potential and purpose.

Corinne O'Connor

  

I started Yoga in my early days of childhood. I spent most of my youth and teen years studying performing arts and used Yoga as a way to connect with the mind, body, and spirit. At first, Yoga was a means to warm up my body, but as my practice deepened, so did my knowledge of Yoga. I later realized the transformational and healing benefits of Yoga and how the lessons learned on the mat can be integrated off the mat. I became driven to awaken people to this message. I decided to leave Connecticut to ground in Tempe, Arizona where I underwent ‘Unity’ Yoga Teacher Training Program at the Southwest Institute of Healing Arts. I am also certified in Sound Healing, Yoga for Prenatal, Yoga for PTSD, Thai Yoga, Hatha Gong, and Restorative Yoga. I am currently still studying within my 800 Hour Advanced Program and am excited to finish with many more healing modalities.

Yoga is a gift that keeps on giving. It has repaired, healed, and provided purpose to my life and is continuing to each and everyday. The power of this practice is a seed that I look forward to planting in many hearts throughout this lifetime. I really enjoy holding a creative and safe space where others can heal, explore, play, and step into the best self that they can be through the power of movement, breath, vibrational healing and self-realization. Let’s meet on the mat! 

Katie Hembrough

  

Katie felt a personal connection to her first Yoga experiences as a teenager when she both cried and fell asleep in her first savasana. Yoga remained a pastime enjoyment alongside hiking for several years until 2015 when her practice became daily and her Journey had led her to fall in love with Yoga. Katie explored her purpose to help heal and lead individuals through Psychology, Leadership and Spiritual Transformation. Being a Yoga Teacher provides Katie a platform to reach into many hearts and share a way for others to have acceptance, understanding, love and joy. After certification in Spiritual Direction, she received Kids Yoga certification through mini yogis and began her teaching in 2016. Katie studied under Laura McKinzie at Southwest Institute of Healing Arts in 2017 to receive her 200 HR training and has been teaching enthusiastically around the Valley, seizing creative, communal, and charitable opportunities to bring the gift and medicine of Yoga.

Julia Matson

  

Julia is a 200 hour certified RYT Yoga Alliance teacher (in the process of becoming a 500 hour RYT Yoga teacher) and is a 100 hour certified Yoga Nidra facilitator.  She also in training to become a 500 hour Pilates Method Alliance instructor and 200 hour Holistic Nutrition Specialist. 

Julia’s passion is to help others be in the best body that they can be in by using Yoga to help them breathe, be present, and be healthy.  Using Yoga and Yoga Nidra, she helps others connect with their breath and body using different breathing techniques, yoga poses and guided meditations to alleviate mind chatter and breathe into any aches and pains.

Julia’s yoga journey began in 2002. She suffered from severe outdoor agricultural allergies living in North Dakota and every summer would go to Minnesota in order to breathe. Her cousin introduced her to her first yoga class and it helped better connect to and control her breath and even relieve congestion through different poses. She has been hooked ever since! It also helped relieve lower back pain from a rollover car accident she endured in 2000.  Training in Yoga Nidra taught her how to help others relax deeply, quiet their minds and reduce stress hormones. She hopes to share her knowledge of these powerful practices with others to help them receive the benefits. 

Marji Figueroa

Marji is a Massage Therapist, Aesthetician, and Yoga Teacher with over a decade of combined experience in Thai Yoga Therapy, Injury Management and Rehabilitation, Hatha Yoga, Yin and Restorative Yoga, Yoga Nidra, Reiki, Reflexology, and Skin Care. She combines healing modalities to empower people in their physical, mental, and emotional recovery and rehabilitation.

Rose Velasco

  

Rose began her relationship with and love for Yoga in 2012. After suffering debilitating arthritic pain as a result of whiplash 25 years prior, Rose found pain relief by strengthening the muscles around the spine and knew she had to share the healing benefits of Yoga with the world. She also felt a need to change her career and way of life after 17 years in the motorcycle business, Yoga was it! After graduating from the YTT200 program at Spirit of Yoga/ SWIHA she jumped feet first into her teaching career at two valley studios and enrolled  into the 800 hour Advanced Yoga Teacher and Holistic Healthcare Practitioner program to further her education. Rose currently offers private in home sessions and offers group classes at Body In Balance Yoga in Chandler and at Spirit of Yoga in Tempe along with serving as assistant teacher in a YTT200 program. 

Rose helps her students find a sense of relaxing into the effort of a pose by encouraging connection to breath and movement, whether the class is a simple flow or focused around settling into poses for several breaths. She also invites her students to find their edge and gives options to the depth of poses for different experience levels. Balance of breath and movement while learning your own body’s unique abilities through alignment is Rose’s specialty. Check out one of her classes and see what Yoga can do for you! 

Alex Parsons

I am a desert dweller, born and raised in Phoenix.  I am currently completing my 800 hour advanced instructor training at the South West Institute of Healing Arts. 


My first experience of yoga was through football practices in high school to help recover the day after games.  It was challenging but fun.  I felt yoga as a physical practice. 


Fast forward.... a couple years.  I was really stressed out and struggling over at ASU. Looking for something different, I enrolled in a yoga class there.  I was introduced to yogic philosophy, meditation and breath awareness.  


It was the only class at that time that I regularly attended. Shout out to Rasoul! Receiving the emotional and mental effects of this practice.  


My practice shifted out of sight/ mind and life stresses continued stacking.  Struggling with a sweet mixture of anxiety and depression, and feeling frozen, I attempted to remember what gifted me calmness and joy.  YOGA energy moving!


Modalities I specialize in and really enjoy include the vibrations of the Gong, Yoga Nidra and Yin.


Thankful for things that I am learning and have experienced. 

I am looking forward to providing space to explore your limitations with creativity.

Joshua Moke

Bio Coming Soon! (Yoga Teacher, Sound Healer, Restorative Yoga, Yin Yoga Teacher)

Tristen Reis

  

RYT 500, Yoga has been a part of Tristen’s life for many years and was what catapulted her into her transformation process. After experiencing anxiety and depression, yoga was what brought the light back into her life. After realizing the healing power of yoga, Tristen left Massachusetts and began the Yoga Teaching Training program at SWIHA. She completed the 800 hour Advanced Yoga Teacher Training program specializing in Polarity, Yoga Nidra, Yin, Restorative, Transformational Yoga Coaching, and Prenatal. Yoga is the foundation of Tristen’s self-discovery and healing. She says the most rewarding part of teaching for her is holding sacred space for students while they discover what yoga has to offer. 

Crystal Valentina

  

Crystal Valentina is a 500RYT instructor with an emphasis in Sound Healing and Yoga Nidra at Spirit of Yoga for the Southwest Institute of Healing Arts in Tempe, AZ. Crystal fell in love with the practice of yoga and meditation while discovering the transformational healing power to obtain peace amidst the chaos and anxiety of a busy and overstimulated lifestyle in modern day. She believes in making yoga accessible to EVERY body at any stage of life and creating a space for students to feel safe and guided as they explore how to utilize the mind, the body, and the breath to create a strong sense of well-being.

Sara Ann Mata

Sara Ann Mata became dedicated to being of service after witnessing first hand how impoverished children lived in third world countries. In early childhood, Sara attended boarding school in India. She spent her teenage years traveling internationally and volunteering for medical mission trips in Africa. The suffering she witnessed during these experiences provided her with drive and commitment to help children feel supported, loved, healthy, and safe. She dedicated her time and focus towards education to become a medical infectious disease pediatrician.

Unfortunately after a severe back injury, Sara spent 2 years bedridden, and another 4 years disabled in a wheelchair. Her recovery process thrived when she began to incorporate integrative healing therapies, including Yoga Nidra, meditation, Hypnotherapy, Polarity therapy, Craniosacral therapy, sound healing and yoga. With renewed conviction, Sara is committed to being a beacon of light while helping others to find health, peace, and relaxation.

Sara is a California native, currently residing in Tempe Arizona. She is a graduate of Arizona State University with a Bachelors of Science in Biochemistry. She is a student of the award winning Southwest Institute of Healing Arts. She will be graduating in January 2019 with a AOS in Transformational Mind/Body Psychology. She specializes as an Advanced Yoga Nidra Facilitator, Clinical Hypnotherapist, Polarity and Craniosacral Therapy Practitioner, Reiki Master, and Empowerment Coach. She is student of A Course in Miracles and an ordained minister through the Teachers of God Foundation. 

Her mission is to create safe, sacred space and facilitate transformation. She believes in the powerful benefits of Yoga Nidra, mindfulness meditation, and relaxation for overall health, well-being, and resiliency in the face of challenges. She combines extensive scientific knowledge of the human body and effective integrative healing techniques to provide young people with tools to grow and thrive. Sara is here to remind every child of their ability to find peace and cultivate a healthy lifestyle.