Sarah Parker, Northland
Sarah grew up in Kaikohe and feels honoured to be able to return home & share this knowledge. She feels if she can assist in creating even just a moments peace in one of her students being, it makes it worth while. Yoga for her has been life-changing, and hopes it may do the same for many of the men and woman in the prison system of Aotearoa.
Sarah lives in a small slice of bush paradise on the Tutukaka coast and as well as teaching in Ngawha she teaches regular classes (Yoga Bliss) in Whangarei & also works as a yoga therapist, Naturopath (Naturewise Healing) & drama Tutor.
John Sinclair, Auckland
He takes classes in Mt Eden Correctional Facility, Auckland South, and Odyssey Trust (Drug Court) as well as regular teaching in corporates and a local yoga studio. When not teaching yoga, John coordinates volunteers to provide literacy tuition and other programmes to prisoners, is chair of the board of a tertiary education provider and attempts to parent his teenage son.
Juan Diaz, Auckland
Since an early age, Juan Diaz has had a deep curiosity for ancient techniques that help to gain a deeper understanding of existence and the self. As a teenager he found Yoga and felt the depth of this practice, realising that through movement (Asana), breath awareness (pranayama) and meditation, he would be guided further into this exploration of the self and reality.
He has been practicing for more than 10 years with different teachers around the world and is constantly developing his intuitive, fun and strong self-practices. Juan likes to integrate in his teaching, ancient and modern philosophy to create a space of connections within the body, mind and emotions.
Juan’s style of teaching is dynamic, challenging and fun. He emphasises proper alignment by guiding students to a safe space for their bodies to express their own unique way of embodying the posture (asana). Juan often ends his classes through a guided meditation and relaxation, accompanied by the sound of his flutes or voice making the class a holistic experience.
Jess Hastings, Auckland
Jess says “Initially, I was somewhat resistant to yoga, however after attending a weekend workshop with the YEPT, I became more open-minded and aware of yoga as a form of meditation, which can help connect the body and mind.
Working alongside prisoners is something that makes me feel alive and I believe providing programmes to prisoners is vital for positive change. I have almost completed my degree in criminology and education, I want to use my knowledge and lived experience to benefit others and the challenges I have faced in my own life have given me greater empathy.
My goal is to expand on developing a humanizing, mindfulness meditation programme with delivery focused on those who have been through the justice system. I am currently volunteering in various roles at Auckland Women’s Prison and working to challenge public perceptions of those with lived experience of incarceration and their whanau.
Bryan Johnston, Auckland
Bryan discovered yoga after being dragged along to a class as a way to stretch out after the physical challenges of playing years of rugby. From the first class he was hooked and as injuries mounted in rugby, yoga became more and more important until eventually, it took over.
After almost seven years of practice and experimentation in multiple styles and some great teachers he took the decision to embark on the journey to becoming a teacher under the guidance of Dyana Wells, Neal Ghoshal, Karla Brodie and Vincent Bolletta and further continuing his studies in a yearlong mentorship with Vincent.
Deb Fong, Auckland
After occasionally dabbling in yoga, Deb became serious about the practice after discovering hot yoga whilst in London in 2002. It became her sanctuary from the busy London lifestyle. She trained as a yoga teacher in 2006 after returning home to Auckland and has been teaching in hot yoga studios since then.
She has also taught in corporates and parks. Deb has continued to practice, train and teach in various styles of yoga and meditation over the years. After attending the YEPT Trauma Sensitive yoga training in 2016 she has continued the professional development for trauma.
She is passionate about sharing yoga across all communities and is really interested in the therapeutic side of yoga. She currently teaches at Wiri Woman’s.
Tamar Weka (Pragyadhara), Auckland
Pragyadhara is passionate about sharing the simple and accessible tools of yoga for all to improve the quality of life for all.
Working with YEPT is a way to bring much needed self-care tools to people in need and deeply appreciate them, helping them to discover and re-claim self-esteem and confidence in who they are. Practices that relieve stress and help to erode negative thought patterns is what she aims to bring into the classes. Fostering in the women a belief in their own resilience through connection to their breath and deep relaxation.
Pragyadhara likes to draw on a wide range of practices that address all dimensions from asana to meditation and where appropriate mantra chanting utilizing sound as a medium to focus and relax the mind.
Brendon Sakey (Yogeshwaran), Auckland
Brendon tried his first yoga class under some pine trees in the Himalayan foothills in his early twenties and loved everything about it and has been hooked ever since. Brendon completed a Diploma in Yoga Studies through Mangrove Yoga Academy in Australia.
He practices and teaches a traditional and holistic form of yoga while remaining open to today’s modern and evolving world of yoga. Brendon teaches yoga with mindfulness as a foundation and incorporates dynamic practices as well as a focus on developing stillness and spaciousness.
Brendon has experience teaching yoga classes and workshops in the community, workplaces, retreat centres and yoga teacher training courses. He has taught yoga in health and rehabilitation centres, including drug and alcohol programs, prison and palliative care.
Brendon is also a NZ registered social worker, currently working in palliative care. He is passionate about the therapeutic applications of yoga and is always inspired to see yoga uplifting and empowering those who practice sincerely.
Juliet Slogrove, Auckland
Juliet has been practicing yoga for 40 years, her style is warm and enriched by a deep understanding of anatomy and alignment. She is passionate about finding the balance between being and doing, movement and stillness, strength and fluidity, discipline and freedom, yin and yang.
She has been teaching Yoga for 2 years, and has recently left the corporate world behind her to follow her dream and teach yoga full time. Her mission is to help others re-establish a wholeness in their daily lives, through Yoga being the best they can be, physically, emotionally, mindfully and energetically. “Yoga is a healing art, not just an exercise routine”. Her goal is to develop community Yoga programmes, teach older practitioners and others that would not otherwise have access to Yoga.
She currently teaches at Aimz Fitness, Revitalize, Half-Moon Bay Marina Fitness and Uxbridge. From August she will be teaching in the Mum’s and Babies unit at Auckland Woman’s Prison. Juliet is a NZ Yoga Alliance 200 hour registered teacher, having qualified with the School of Contemporary Yoga Studies in St Helliers. She has 2 grown up children and lives in Bucklands Beach in Auckland.
Taane Mete, Auckland
Taane was born and raised in Napier New Zealand and began dancing while at High School. As an accomplished professional dancer, Taane has sustained his performing career for more than 36 years and is also the Co-Artistic Director of Okareka Dance Company.
In 2011 Taane stumbled upon Bikram yoga as a way of enhancing and supporting his dance career and maintaining body and mind connection on and off the mat. In 2015 Taane completed his first yoga training with Jase Te Patu and Justine Hamill from Power Living Wellington.
He currently teaches Vinyasa flow at a variety of studios throughout Auckland including eastwest yoga Studio in Ponsonby, Studio Red Auckland City, Sweat Yoga in New Market, Rise in Parnell, Urban Ashram in Ponsonby. Taane also visits Mount Yoga Studio in Mount Maunganui to share his knowledge and love of yoga. He has had the opportunity to teach Asana at Wanderlust in Taupo in 2015 and 2016. Taane has had the opportunity to teach for The Tropical Island Yoga retreat in Aitutaki in 2017 and will return as a teacher in 2018.
He values the calming effects and the associated healing benefits while improving overall confidence and strength – physically and mentally. Taane draws inspiration from his Maori culture to infuse spirit and connection into his classes. Yoga has brought Taane closer to himself and those around him and is grateful for the opportunity to teach his passion.
Donna Dean, Auckland
Donna says; ‘As a result of spending my early life in highly dysfunctional surroundings, my teen years were filled with fear, self-doubt and insecurity issues. This lead to self-defeating thoughts, experiences and outcomes. I spent years looking outside myself for relief and blaming the chaos and negativity on the bad luck or the people around me. Many troubled days passed before I found the courage and inspiration to take ownership of my personal well being and life choices.
I walked into my first yoga class in 1999. Having had detachment issues with my body in my early years, the yoga gave me a feeling a re-connecting with my body. The presence of Yoga in my life not only heightened my awareness of the connection between body, breath and mind but has helped significantly raise the level of inner quiet and gratitude in my life.
I began studying Yoga with Barbara Coley in Auckland in 2008. I completed a 200 Hour Principles of Svastha Yoga Therapy Teacher Training course (2009). I am working towards a Diploma in Yoga Therapy. As of December 2017, I have completed modules 4, 5 & 6 of Svastha Yoga Therapy training with Ganesh Mohan and Barbara Coley.’
Anne Scott, Auckland
Anne completed an 18 month Teaching Diploma with the International Yoga Teachers Association (N.Z. Inc.) in 1997. She has been teaching yoga continuously since then and is currently studying to be an Esoteric (inner-most) Yoga teacher.
Anne has a Diploma in Sports Science also and her classes are a combination of gentle yoga and exercise in true connection with the body and gentle breath. She was inspired by the YEPT to present programmes in prison and is currently presenting meditation and body awareness classes in Mt Eden Correctional Facility, which she very much enjoys.
What she loves most is connecting with the men in their true essence, where we are all the same. She also used to teach at Odyssey Trust (Drug Court). Anne also works as a complementary healing practitioner and a mediator in family disputes.
Emily-Rose was motivated by her personal journey which started with Yoga at 16 and trained in 2018 with The Yoga Corner and Om Yoga Studio completing her 200hr YTT.
She has undergone workshops in Trauma-informed Yoga with Jill Ippolito and YEPT and is dedicated to all classes she teaches with a full heart, inside and outside of prisons. Alongside Yoga, Emily-Rose teaches English and Literacy and is a Spanish translator.
Sara found yoga 30 years ago in London while trying to manage injures resulting from years of high impact sport. The sports eventually fell away but the yoga remained. She completed her teacher training in 2000 with the Sivananda School of Yoga in India. Returning to NZ with a young family, she taught at several venues around the Auckland before eventually opening The Yoga Tree studio. 11 years later and looking to focus on her own practice again, she re-trained as a registered nurse and now works in an urgent care medical centre. Sara teaches at Auckland Prison and enjoys teaching yoga in a way that treads the middle path – accessible and relatable.
Linda Trubridge, Hawkes Bay
Since first encountering yoga in 1970, Linda has continued the practices that harmonize body, mind and spirit. Since then she has trained and taught yoga and art, travelled the world while raising a family, working, building, creating and above all trying to live a yogic life.
While she cannot imagine how her life would have been without the physical, emotional and spiritual support of yoga she has often felt that if she lost her freedom she would still be able to practice yoga and meditation. Of course, Linda admits it’s not that easy and those who find themselves imprisoned are often there because their childhood did not provide them with the stability or skills to manage the freedoms she has enjoyed.
Linda has always intended to teach yoga in the jails in Britain and eventually found herself in the privileged position of having time to take yoga into Hawke’s Bay Regional Prison. During seven rewarding years teaching inside she has found the prisoners exceptionally receptive to yoga; that they recognize and take advantage of this opportunity to turn their lives around.
She would like to see yoga valued as a vital catalyst for change in our penal system and society. Hopefully, these practices will someday be recognized and applied as mainstream classes and until then we will persevere on a voluntary basis.
Temaari (Sevamurti), Turangi
After teaching community yoga classes previously in Turangi, Ohakune and National Park, and currently in Taumarunui and Raurimu for the past 17 years, Temaari has been volunteering as a yoga instructor at Tongariro Prison for 16 months.
She is a qualified Satyananda Yoga Teacher. As a teacher, Temaari feels enriched by the experience. She thinks it is of utmost importance to share the tools that yoga can provide to help people develop a real sense of awareness of themselves at a physical level and also at more subtle levels so that they are better equipped to make positive life-changing decisions for themselves, whatever their circumstances.
Holly Cahill, Waikato
Holly’s yoga journey began in 2013 when she first started to practice Vinyasa yoga. The physical element of yoga drew to her attention and she was fascinated with how supple and graceful the body could be once influenced by yoga.
After a few years of continuous practice, She was truly hooked. Compassion, mental clarity and strength – the results of yoga had amazed her and She wanted to share this with others. Holly completed her 200-hour yoga teacher training in Sri Lanka in 2016 and has since been teaching in Sri Lanka, England and New Zealand.
She is currently studying a Bachelor of Sport and Exercise Science and hopes to integrate her knowledge of the body and how it moves into her teachings and her own practice. Combining the science with the spiritual, Holly hopes to encourage individuals to uncover the potential of the mind and body through yoga. She believes that yoga can be a useful tool towards rehabilitation and would like to offer the journey through yoga as a means of healing and liberation.
Tracy Collins, Whanganui
Tracy says; “Yoga started as a way to balance my physical lifestyle, full-time gardening, running, gym, paddle boarding, tramping, generally not sitting still unless there was an injury.
Through trauma I was taught Hatha Yoga from there I continued on my journey to study and now teach at the local prison. As I still do all of the above I feel can relate when teaching a class, especially as most of the boys work out, how yoga can be a benefit to working with the muscles in a different way and even the smallest of movement can have a great effect on the body and the mind.
I love seeing the boys relaxed after meditation and I hope that just an hour will help clear a few heads and help cope with the stresses of prison life. When someone says “I’ve been practising that in my cell Miss” I think “cool, seed planted”.”
Chris Henderson (Atmabhava), Wellington
Currently based in Golden bay Atmabhava came to yoga because of health reasons and the practical and scientific methods of the Anahata integral yoga style immediately made a strong impression on him.
He spent 10 years living the yogic lifestyle and teaching yoga, meditation and chanting at Anahata Yoga Retreat. He is a living example of how health can be transformed through yoga and shares his interests in Yogic Lifestyle, Diet & Nutrition, Pranayama, Meditation and Mantra & Kirtan.
Atmabhava is also an experienced adventure guide with a background in ecology; he blends the techniques of yoga with the beauty of the outdoors to inspire connection with our internal nature.
Murray Hemi, Wellington
Based in the Wairarapa Murray started in Astanga yoga about 12 years ago after a long and tiring period of contact sports. Several babies later he discovered power vinyasa in a heated room and loved it. After completing studio-based teacher training he realised he had two teaching options to ‘show up’ or ‘show off.’
Murray completed his Trauma-sensitive training with YEPT in April 2016 and, as a result, found his niche.
Discovered yoga as a way to transform ones life in 1996 and went on to study, live and teach through the Bihar School of Yoga system. Adhyatma started teaching in Waikeria in 2007, and formed YEPT 2 years later in 2009 with the vision to support more teachers to share in more prisons.
Adhyatma has a Diploma in Ayurvedic Lifestyle Management, and has studied with Shirley Hicks (Trauma Aware Yoga – Aus). As a mother of a 3yr old she now works from home managing the daily admin of the trust and occasionally teaches in local prisons Arohata and Rimutaka.
Adhyatma is passsionate about empowering teachers to help empower incarcerated individuals, and assisting them with their reintegration back into the community.
Yoga Rhapsody (Jemma and Paul), Wellington/Manawatu
Jem (yoga instructor) and Paul (singer/songwriter) are a Wellington-based couple who combined their passions in 2015 to create Yoga Rhapsody – yoga classes accompanied by live acoustic guitar and vocals. The sessions are designed so that the music and movement work together, and the lyrics of the songs complement the themes of the classes.
Jem and Paul have been offering yoga and music in Linton Prison since 2017. Jem also heads into Arohata each week, guiding yoga as part of the therapies program delivered to the Drug Treatment Unit.
Wendy Reynolds, Wellington
A theme that weaves its way through my work is a passion for CREATING SPACE TO BE IN BALANCE, with a particular interest in the parasympathetic nervous system, the ‘rest and digest mode’.
I focus on pain management as an acupuncturist; weave energetics into Yin Yoga; work with slow, embodied flow with Vinyasa; and am currently exploring the impact of yoga ‘off the mat’ in my PhD research. iRest® Yoga Nidra is a powerful meditation protocol that I am thrilled to have in my toolkit to share with my clients.
Natalie Robinson, Wellington
Natalie and the team at Katoa – Wellington’s Wellness are extremely passionate about the health and wellbeing of ourselves, businesses, and community.
They understand; in order to be the best we can, individually and as a society, we need to focus on strengthening ourselves, mentally and physically. The body and mind are tools for us to utilise and as we begin to understand how they work, we can begin to control how they respond.
Katoa – Wellington’s Wellness, teaches and practice holistic health techniques to help find and maintain a happy and healthy lifestyle.
Massage Therapy, Yoga & Meditation are some of the oldest health care treatments, practiced in numerous cultures for over 5,000 years and it is still a leading therapy today. All three practices have been scientifically proven to improve your health and wellbeing, mentally and physically.
They do whatever they can to help empower our community. When they aren’t at the studio they are volunteering their time and skills to like-minded causes and companies.
Check out their website to keep up to date with their talks & events, projects, and ideas.
Jane Allen (Gyanidhi), Christchurch
Jane was introduced to Yoga in the late ’90s through her own health issues with Fibromyalgia. It was through the benefits and insights she gained that she went onto study and become an Accredited Yoga Teacher.
She is passionate about teaching and passing on the practices so others can benefit and empower themselves. Jane has taught over the years in a variety of areas – ashrams, retreats, primary and secondary schools, communities, special needs and prison.
She is currently Chair of YEPT (Yoga Education in Prison Trust). Jane remains herself a perennial student of Yoga blissful in the knowledge that there is still so much more to learn and is indebted to all her teachers. Jane is also an Accredited Bowen Practitioner and Tutor.
Jacinda Gilligan, Christchurch
Jacinda has been practising yoga for over 20 years but only undertook teacher training so as to deepen her practice in self-care after her mother died 6 years ago. Since then she has taught yoga classes in her community in the Lyttelton Harbour, teaches a trauma-informed yoga programme in Christchurch and works out at Christchurch Men’s Prison.
Beyond yoga, Jacinda is a happy homeschooling mama living and learning alongside her two teenage daughters. She facilitates community performing arts projects and has developed and runs a year-long programme for young women on the cusp of adolescence, teaching self-awareness, resilience and self-determination.
Sannyasin Atmavidya, Christchurch
Honouring the great wisdom traditions, Atmavidya welcomes the opportunity to share ancient practices of Yoga and Meditation that unfold the natural inherent goodness, wisdom, beauty, harmony, kindness, joy and freedom in our lives.
For the freedom, happiness, and consciousness of all beings, Atmavidya gently supports discovery of the different ways that practices can be experienced, in order to liberate energy for the well-being of body, mind and spirit.
She delights in the yoga that can be practiced by everyone irrespective of the level of mobility, body shape or apparent capacity to practice. Inspired through her practice, and long experience of sharing practices in many walks of life, she welcomes the opportunity to give practices currently in Christchurch Women’s Prison.
Atmavidya has received Accreditation as a teacher of Yoga in the style of Classical Hatha Yoga. She is affiliated in her practice with Bihar Yoga in India. She has given service, and received the opportunity to learn in ashrams in New Zealand, Australia, Munger and Rikhia in India (in India in 2006, 2009 and for nine months in 2013). She is currently part or Yoga For You teachers collective in Christchurch.