LOTUS POND TEACHERS

Wisdom. Compassion. Experience.

Val Spies
E-RYT 500 
Owner & Director of the Lotus Pond Yoga Teacher Training Programs

Val is a certified Kripalu yoga teacher who specializes in the psychological quest for joy through the practice of yoga and breathwork. She has been leading workshops, travel tours, and training sessions for yoga groups and corporate enterprises for over 20 years, and offers expertise in tailoring programs to fit the needs of individual groups. Val was originally drawn to yoga through an inner yearning to find peace and comfort in her body and spirit. Over the years, yoga became a survival tool for her as she worked in corporate America and found less and less time for inner peace.

 

Val is best known for her ability to deliver the complex studies of yoga in a comprehensive and intriguing style that appeals to students of all levels. Her teachings encompass the philosophical studies of the yoga tradition and the mind/body connection of the practice. Val is yoga mama to 400+ graduating yoga teachers across the country. 

Adria Owen
RYT 500



Adria Owen is an RYT-500 Kripalu inspired yoga instructor currently living in the sunny state of Florida. Adria discovered the practice of yoga 10 years ago and was immediately called to dive in deeper.  Having taught for 6 years now, she has had the incredible opportunity to continue her own studies as well. Adria’s workshops and retreats include a strong focus on combining breath with continuous movement and philosophy. Realizing the power that this ancient practice holds has inspired her to share it with those around her. The passion of yoga allows Adria to express herself creatively while forming a deeper connection to herself, others and the Divine. 

Joanna Miller
RYT 500

 

Joanna Miller has enjoyed teaching at the Lotus Pond since 2013, often her home away from home.  She began her practice in 2005 after her sister, a yoga teacher, encouraged her to take a class. After a couple of classes she recognized the mental health benefits the nurturing classes offered her as a mother of three young children.  After six months of practice, she realized something more profound to her at the time, her daily pain from her scoliosis brought on after the birth of her third child had disappeared. She was hooked. After seven years of practice, she felt “knowledgeable enough” to begin her carefully selected teacher training at the Lotus Pond.

 

As a former social worker, Joanna’s classes are inspired by her passion to help others find peace in their practice and to discover over time a stilling space that they create even while engaged in challenging postures. She believes patience with your practice is essential to unraveling the mysteries of the mind-body connection. The benefits, on the other hand, will be enjoyed long before.

 

Staying true to her passion for relieving onset pain from Scoliosis, Joanna has traveled far to study with Yoga for Scoliosis master teachers, such as Elise Browning Miller and Debra Wolk.  She has benefited from the intuitive workshops of Karin Stephan who frequents the Lotus Pond from Boston. She has even built a yoga wall in her home for private classes and to work with her daughter who has scoliosis as well.

 

Joanna Miller is also certified in Restorative Yoga and is a certified Pranic healer.

Lynda Savidge

RYT 200

Lynda started exploring yoga when she began studying with Deepak Chopra, MD in 1994. Soon after she became a Certified Massage Therapist in CA and opened her first healing shop. Her desire to share as she learned led to opening an integrative wellness center and co-teaching courses on Ayurveda, Meditation, Aromatherapy, and other healing modalities. Her desire to assist in the healing process led her to delve into a host of healing techniques from Reiki and Craniosacral to Sports Massage and PNF stretching. Lynda sensed a need for clients to utilize their bodies' natural ability to heal and incorporated this into her nurturing treatments.


Lynda's quest for knowledge continues, and the integration of Yoga became a natural extension of her journey. As an RYT-200 Yoga Alliance member and excited to be in the RYT-500 program at The Lotus Pond, Lynda loves teaching Hatha, Slow Flow, Gentle and Restorative Yoga. Her background lends itself to a warm, safe and meditative journey during her classes. The potential she desires for all of her students/clients— bliss.

Heather Filipowicz

RYT 200

Heather discovered yoga 8 years ago when she was looking for a way to relieve stress and take time for herself as a busy working Mom. After her first beginner series, she was forever changed. Heather is an RYT-200 Yoga Alliance member and is currently pursuing her 500-hour certification- all having taken place here at The Lotus Pond. She has been teaching yoga for 3 years in group class settings and private sessions. Heather is also a Reiki Practitioner certified in Level I & II.

 

In Heather's classes, she infuses breath work with movement all while infusing inspiration and contemplation. Each class starts with a brief, personal story which she weaves into the theme of the class. Sometimes there's a mantra, a poem, a joke- yet the aim is always the same- to bring students back to their heart and develop a deeper understanding of themselves through their practice. She enjoys teaching Gentle, Slow Flow, Yin, and Restorative yoga and usually incorporates essential oils into the practice. In addition to yoga, Heather is a writer, intuitive medium, works in the online world, and is a proud wife and Mom.

Ryan Devin, E-RYT 500 
Lead Teacher in the Lotus Pond Yoga Teacher Training Programs

 

Ryan Devin has extensive training in intuitive alignment-based yoga, acrobatic yoga, pranayama (yogic breathing) and meditation. With over 2500 hours of experience in teaching, he is a passionate and enthusiastic leader with a patient and loving approach.  His co-teachers and students say he exudes wisdom and intuition beyond his years. With a Bachelor’s in Alternative Medicine, he merges an understanding of the human body and holistic practices into his teachings.


“Nothing is so strong as gentleness, nothing is so gentle as real strength.”

Pam Velez
RYT 500
 

I have been practicing yoga for the past 13 years. I began taking yoga classes at a gym with the intention of getting a good workout. What began as part of an exercise routine has become so much more. I credit yoga for making me a better person: more patient, compassionate and less judgmental. I am a goofy person who loves to laugh and I bring this element of lightheartedness to each class. My classes are taught with the end result in mind- leave class feeling like you just had a good workout and a relaxing massage. I am certified as an RYT 500 and received my training right here at the beautiful Lotus Pond. In addition to teaching yoga, I am a holistic health coach specializing in working with corporate clients.  

Paula Levesque
RYT 200

Paula Levesque has been a practicing yogi for the past 20 years and an inspiration to everyone she knows. After a successful career mentoring people in the tech industry, the perfect transition was to bring her kind heart and nurturing spirit to yoga.

She studied for her 200-hour accreditation with Maya Breuer of the Santosha School of yoga and gained her 500-hour accreditation at the Kripalu School of Yoga. She is also certified in Yoga of the Heart for breast cancer survivors and heart patients. Additionally, she studied Yoga for Bone Health at the Sivananda yoga ashram with Beata Barnard. Paula teaches a gentle yoga class for students of all levels.  Classes are given with the individual in mind. Each pose is taught to assure the greatest benefit and feeling of ease. Students report that class with Paula makes them feel “more fit, energetic, happier and peaceful”. Paula is a member of Yoga Alliance.   

Karen Frost 
E-RYT 500

 

I began practicing yoga regularly in 2001. It started for me as a way to relax, being in a high-stress job, and at the same time, exercise. As a runner, it helped my tight quadriceps and hamstrings. I began to watch amazing things happen as my body strengthened and became more flexible. And to my surprise, so did my heart and mind! In 2011, I started the 200-hour teacher training program at The Pond, with the intention of deepening my practice. It was so amazing to be surrounded by like-minded people, all of us on our own journey, yet side-by-side! And something happens to me (still!) when I arrive and head down the path toward the Pond and see the sweet log cabin - any feelings of rushing around or stress dissipate. It is a serene and magical place, right here in Tampa! After giving birth to my son later that year, I resumed the teacher training and completed it in October 2012. I realized during the months of training how much I enjoyed teaching! And then I returned to the Pond to continue teaching gentle yoga after the birth of my twin girls!

My focus as a teacher is to bring my students a sense of well-being, focus on alignment, breath, strengthen and tone the body, help with flexibility and balance and achieve relaxation through mindful breath work and basic meditation. Karen is a Kripalu inspired yoga instructor.

 

Katie Beene​
RYT 200
With a background in dance and circus arts, Katie has a passion for movement. She has performed at many local venues, including Ruth Eckard Hall and the Straz Center for Performing Arts. She was first introduced to yoga in 2016 as an alternative therapy for PTSD and anxiety and soon after made it part of her daily life. After a year and a half of personal practice, she went through her 200 Hour Teacher Training at the Lotus Pond. She feels privileged to be able to share the knowledge and life skills she has learned (and continues to learn) through yoga. Her style of teaching ranges from beginner level Hatha classes to advanced Vinyasa flow. She strongly encourages her students to dive deeper into their practice to explore different sensations in the body while linking breath to movement. Her goal is to provide a safe atmosphere for her students to journey within so that they are free to release what is no longer serving them, which in turn creates space for manifesting their intentions.
Roger Mallory
RYT 500
Roger discovered, early, the bliss of blending the nourishment of spirituality and meditation with an intensely focused physical practice of yoga and karate. After obtaining his undergraduate degree in Experimental Psych., his Juris Doctorate (law) degree at Univ. of Fla., working in the part-drama, part-straight-jacket life of a trial lawyer, and, circa 2005, suffering a rapid series of traumatic personal losses, Roger “stopped the clock” and consciously assessed his life to determine whether there was a “way out” of intense and persistent suffering. Roger came to realize that professional success, widespread recognition in various areas of law practice, and financial stability, did nothing but deepen his increasing alienation from who he truly was at the core of his being; the Light of the Divine. Roger consciously chose to return to the practice of yoga, meditation, and the pursuit of greater spiritual wisdom. After several years of practicing Iyengar yoga, Roger discovered other traditions or “schools” of yoga. Roger obtained his 200 Hour RYT certification in early 2015 from the Lotus Pond and is currently working to obtain his 500 hr. yoga teacher certification. Roger brings his years of teaching experience, yoga and meditation practice, gifted speaking and writing abilities, and his bright energy and humor to teaching yoga and meditation, and increasing the awake awareness of his students on and off the mat.
Zach Zenios
RYT 200
Zacharia is a 200-hour yoga teacher RYT-200, a NASM certified personal trainer and a corrective exercise specialist.  Zach also served 4 years in the Marine Corps Infantry.  He first started a mediation practice when he was deployed to Japan and was immersed in their culture.  When he was honorably discharged from the Marines in 2016 his mom suggested going to a yoga class with her to help him with several of his injuries.  He immediately fell in love with the way yoga made him feel and the connection between mind, body, and breath that became clear on the mat.  As he got deeper into his practice, he realized he wanted to share the gift and healing potential of yoga with everyone, so he enrolled in the 200hr teacher trainer program at The Lotus Pond.  He is also a Yin certified yoga teacher.  He is currently studying Exercise and Nutrition Science at The University of Tampa.
Carla Jiminez​
E-RYT 500
Carla Jimenez is a native to Tampa, Florida where she started teaching yoga and dance in 2002. Carla has taught yoga and dance to people of all ages and abilities, including the football team at the University of South Florida, The Florida Dance Education Organization Conference, Various Performing Arts Elementary, Middle, and High Schools and The Patel Conservatory in Tampa. In 2011, she became a Yoga Teacher Trainer at the Lotus Pond Yoga Center in Tampa and continues to be a part of the school. She is currently a Dance Director at Orange Grove Middle Magnet School of the Arts. Carla is a Yoga Alliance 500 E-RYT and 200 E-RYT. She also has attained a State of Florida Dance Teaching Certification, Prenatal Yoga Certification, and American Ballet Theater Teacher Certification. Her yoga classes are creatively fluid and always include her singing the healing sounds of Mantra in the final meditation. Carla specializes in classes and workshops such as Gentle Yoga, Mom and Baby Yoga, Prenatal Yoga, Yoga for Dance, and Mantra Meditation.
She sings mantras during savasana in each yoga class and has delivered numerous workshops on chanting. Carla’s passion is teaching her students to achieve bliss by integrating yoga into every part of life.
Charles Burgess
RYT 200
Charles has been coming to the Lotus Pond for the last 5 years after discovering how yoga brought joy and relief to his life that was otherwise filled with bouts of corporate burnout, running-related injuries, and the stress of everyday life. Now, through the teachings of yoga, he helps students find more balance, confidence, and compassion on and off the mat. With a background in comedy, acrobatics, and mentorship, he takes a light-hearted approach to teach a class that focuses on proper alignment and finding the fun in each posture.
Margie Sagafi
E-RYT 200 & RYT 500
Maryelin, E-RYT200 & RYT500, has been practicing and studying yoga for more than 15 years, traveling the world and attending numerous workshops and conferences with Rodney Yee, Cindy Lee, Laurence Biscontini, David Regelin, Karin Stephan and others. She traveled to India seeking deeper knowledge; after a month of submerging into the practice of the physical and spiritual aspects of yoga, she received her yoga teacher certification from The Himalaya Yoga Institute. She is trained in Raja Dhiraja Yoga, a more extensive and comprehensive form of Ashtanga Yoga. Her teaching methods emphasize strong practice, precise alignment, meditation, visualization, and intention; flowing in coordination with breathing techniques. She is certified in Prenatal and Restorative Yoga. She teaches private lessons as well as group classes.
Melissa Caroll
E-RYT500, YACEP, MFA
Melissa Carroll is a lead teacher in the Lotus Pond Teacher Training Programs, college creative writing professor, and the author of four books, including Going OM: Real-Life Stories on and off the Yoga Mat. In 2006 Melissa discovered yoga and Reiki as paths toward inner peace, and she has dedicated her life to sharing these practices with others. Melissa has taught yoga for the past 11 years and specializes in philosophy, alignment, Yin Yoga, meditation, and the subtle body. Learn more at www.TheYogaWriter.com.
Creator of the online course SHADOW+LIGHT: A Journey Toward Self-Mastery
Michelle Caulde
RYT
Bio soon to come!
Manasa Kanithi
RYT 500
Manasa, RYT 500, is a Kripalu inspired yoga instructor.
Her journey with yoga began at the tender age of five and that was the birth of her passion for health and the human body. Manasa graduated from the University of South Florida Honors College with a major in Classics (Ancient Greek/Latin Studies) and a minor in Chemistry. She carries a Certificate in Ayurvedic Studies and is currently studying Aging and Neurosciences.
Manasa has volunteered extensively with various non-profit organizations both locally and abroad in the areas of community development, disaster relief, and food justice. Her passion for health and volunteer experiences continually reconnects her to what it means to truly accept and love oneself and to make the world a healthier happier place by first beginning from within. Her enthusiasm for world cultures and medical sciences inspires her to teach from a place of compassion and joy to foster self-exploration, self-acceptance and unconditional love.
Dana Khazendar
RYT 500

Dana has been working and studying health and wellness for over twenty years. After she got her Bachelor’s Degree in Exercise Science she worked as a personal trainer and a group fitness instructor. She added a health counseling certification from the NYS Education Department to expand her knowledge about human health. Wanting to be able to help more people live life to the fullest, she started studying the mind-body connection through yoga and was called to dive deeper into the yoga studies.

Dana’s classes include a strong focus on the alignment of the poses while flowing with the breath. She offers modifications and props to make the practice accessible for everyone.  Her goal is to allow the students to build strength and balance while stretching and creating space in the body, with the intention of finding peace in the mind and connecting with the now. 

6201 Lynn Road

Tampa, FL 33625

813.961.3160

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