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Susan Mondi Bowen

Susan Mondi Bowen

Susan created Thrive Yoga more than 14 years ago and has lived a healthy lifestyle for more than 30 years. Like many people seeking a life of vitality and joy, Susan created Thrive Yoga after several life events made it clear that her trajectory was successful but lacking freedom, joy and vitality. Susan traded a high-pressured and lucrative corporate career for a future that would be uncertain but free and true to her soul. Susan’s personal story of creating Thrive Yoga and the ThriveStyle has been featured in The Washington Post; The Gazette; WUSA News and other various local newspapers and TV news. As the Yoga Training Director, Susan (E-RYT500; YACEP) has created training curricula that integrate yoga with complementary techniques from science, philosophy, and spirituality. Susan’s experience in teaching integrated methods for human change and transformation spans more than 16 years and 10,000 hours. Training curriculum is current, fresh and exciting while still being rooted in the foundational study of yoga (experience) and research (knowledge). Numerous practices and methods invite the individual student to find their formula to lead a joyful life regardless of the conditions of the outer world. Susan has studied and practiced various yoga styles and practices for more than 25 years, including: Baptiste Power Vinyasa; ISHTA; Kundalini; Iyengar; ViniYoga; Yin; Restorative; Prenatal; Yoga Nidra; and Therapeutic Yoga. Originally developed curricula from Susan in the Thrive Trainings include:  Dynamic Sequencing; Assisting and Adjusting Students of All Ages; Anatomy; Chakras and Subtle Body; Neuroscience; Quantum Healing; The Effects and Solutions to Stress; Thai Massage; Emotional Intelligence; and Sound Healing. Thrive Yoga Trainings have graduated more than 500 yoga teachers who today continue to uniquely influence yoga in America and around the world. More About Our Founder

Jessica Apo

Jessica Apo

Jess (E-RYT500; YACEP; RPYT) holds a Master’s degree in education and started her teaching career in elementary school until she realized stress was a major issue in her life.  After practicing yoga, Jess experienced an expansion of her spirit, feeling it was her calling to make a career change to teaching yoga. Jess has been teaching at Thrive since 2009 and has been a Teacher Trainer since 2012. Jess uses powerful cueing of physical alignment and teaches her students to understand vibrational movement to inspire them to engage with universal source. Jess honors both the practices and the philosophy of yoga and teaches from her personal experience. Jess is skilled at dynamic sequencing and connecting to the individual student’s needs.  She uses Yogic philosophy, sequencing, and hands-on adjusting as tools for transformation in her classes. Jess loves teaching many styles of yoga and enjoys watching transformations in her students on and off the mat. She leads yoga retreats all over the world, taking her students to exotic locations to immerse themselves in yoga.  Jess had created an original 85-hour prenatal teacher training from her vast teaching experiences including teaching prenatal yoga while she was pregnant with her children.

Derek Clark

Derek Clark

Derek (RYT200) has been practicing yoga for nearly a decade.  As a lifelong athlete, he began his yoga journey to alleviate injuries including herniated discs in his lower back.  During his journey, he found that yoga helped him process anxiety, fear, sadness, and past traumas that had been blocking him from seeing his purpose.  As these blockages were removed, Derek began to shift his perspective and reoriented himself to a new life path. In 2014, a spiritual journey into the Amazon rainforest, and yogic practice led to a redefining of self.  Soon after, Derek began shifting his life to align with his purpose, “to help people become the best versions of themselves.”  To do so, he needed to continue deep work on himself. During this period, he began training Brazilian jiu-jitsu “the gentle art” to refine his discipline, develop more body awareness, and to protect those dear to him without having to injure assailants. He also began studying psychology and social work in efforts to help those with mental health, substance abuse, and trauma issues. Derek earned a Master of Social Work (MSW) in 2019 and works full time as a clinical social worker.  In this role, he helps trauma survivors, people experiencing suicidal thoughts, severe mental illness, substance abuse problems, depression, anxiety, and homelessness recover.  In addition to providing evidence-based talk-therapy, he teaches yoga based on trauma-informed care principles.  Derek currently teaches a Hatha style class, with an emphasis on self-discovery, healing, and breathwork to process difficult thoughts, sensations, and emotions. His dream is to combine martial arts, yoga, and talk-therapy/philosophy to help people move from surviving to thriving. “Every challenge is an opportunity to grow.”

Christine Dance

Christine Dance

Christine (E-RYT500) has been practicing yoga since 2000. Christine began teaching yoga to special populations in 2008 in her classroom at Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore and quickly realized the immense benefits yoga has on all bodies and abilities. Christine completed her 500-hour training at Thrive and has certifications and trainings in Childlight Yoga, Yoga for the Special Child, Adaptive Yoga, Trauma-Informed Yoga, Yin Yoga, and Aerial Yoga, with additional experience in yoga for athletes. Christine has a special passion for special populations and teaches trauma-informed yoga as well as adaptive yoga. Christine utilizes therapeutic techniques to explore new physical abilities and achieve the impossible safely. After figure skating in her early years, Christine found yoga as a natural step in understanding the beauty of a posture and sequence, as well as the human body. Christine shifted from her own personal practice into teaching yoga to students in her special education classroom. Shortly after her teacher training Christine suffered deep impacts of a Traumatic Brain Injury. Yoga became not only a tool to relearn skills like walking with balance, but the postures themselves became a place of comfort. Through this experience, Christine developed a different relationship to yoga and is beyond grateful to have access to something that so profoundly changed her life. 

Evan Downey

Evan Downey

Evan (RYT200) teaches with the belief that movement is good for the body, stillness is good for the mind, and living in the present is good for the soul. His class provides space for all levels of students to work up a sweat and surrender. Evan began his yoga journey by looking for a new form of exercise and stayed for the benefits beyond the physical body. He believes yoga helps to better understand yourself and live a happier and healthier life. He teaches as a way of sharing what he’s experienced and to hopefully inspire others to find enjoyment in the practice, each in their own way.

Ugonma Fontaine

Ugonma Fontaine

Ugonma (E-RYT200; YACEP) is currently pursuing E-RYT500 at Thrive. Ugonma is the Thrive Yoga Studio Director. Along with the rest of the team, Ugonma creates the programs and events at Thrive. She has studied/ taught Vinyasa Flow and Kundalini styles of yoga for over 10 years. She is a teacher and forever a student of yoga. Ugonma is a Teacher Trainer at Thrive and Reiki Master/Teacher. She leads Reiki Trainings and yoga classes for non-profit organizations, NIH and Children’s Hospital. Her work has been featured at holistic health fairs, conferences, and wellness centers on the East and West Coasts.  She continues to develop her specialty in energetic wellness through integrating earth-based and meditative practices into her yoga journey. She believes yoga is a path to self-transformation, peace, and joy.

Isabella Fortunato

Isabella Fortunato

Isabella (RYT200) is currently pursuing RYT500 at Thrive. Isabella teaches a variety of styles of yoga and meditation including Vinyasa, Hatha, Chair/Office Yoga, Kids Yoga, and Meditation. Isabella’s teaching style encourages presence, connection, and freedom while acknowledging the importance of gently building mental/physical tenacity. Her contemporary approach to yoga aims to cultivate a space of self-exploration in the practice of each student. Isabella first found meditation as a means for anxiety relief and mindset work which resonated with her in a very uplifting way. She soon after began to explore a more physical practice which brought her back to the joy of the flexible, free movements she enjoyed as a child. She fell in love with the sensation of mental peace and physical joy that a regular yoga practice presented. Bringing awareness to the fluctuations of the mind and body — and how the two interact — has allowed her to find a fulfilling connection to herself and the world around her.

Angelina Frisch

Angelina Frisch

Angelina (RYT500; Reiki I & II certified; Thai Yoga Massage certified). Her continuing education includes: The Art of Teaching Prenatal Yoga at Thrive Yoga; Asana Yoga Immersion Series at Asana Studio in Arvada, CO: Prana Vayus (principles defining the elemental relationship of the physical body with the subtle body), Applied Anatomy (including deep stretch), Panchayat Maha Vidya (Five Great Knowledges), Partner Yoga Therapy “Loving Touch” (yoga and massage), Yoga Therapy Basic Applications (safety and modifications). Angelina enjoys teaching a variety of styles of yoga including Hatha with Yoga Nidra,  Family & Kids Yoga, Prenatal and Postnatal Yoga, Yin, Hatha, Restorative Yoga, and more. Her teaching style aims to connect students with their inner world — into dormant aspects of self as a way to unlock unused potential and “gold” within the shadow. She teaches her classes from an intuitive approach based on the energy in the room in relationship to time of year, weather patterns, and her current personal state of being/practice. Angelina dated CrossFit but married yoga. She fell in love with yoga because she believes that it is the most honest path for self-healing, awareness, and exploration. Each practice offers us an opportunity to observe, witness, and learn more about ourselves so that we can thrive closer to our full potential.  

Kristen Garaffo

Kristen Garaffo

Kristen (E-RYT200; Souluna certified life coach) has trained at the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health with Coby Kozlowski, Wanderlust, Spirit Junkie Masterclass with Gabby Bernstein, and Tony Robbins’ Unleash the Power Within. Kristen is a Teacher Trainer at Thrive. Her teaching style is tailored to help students find ease and joy in their mind and body, and help them feel relaxed and safe. Students show up for her light-hearted spirit and ukulele. Kristen is an actor and singer, and received a BFA in musical theatre at the Boston Conservatory. Conservatory life was a dream; however, the stress slowly began to build and the lifestyle of being a professional actor led to burnout. She knew she needed a change, and yoga was the answer! Through a consistent yoga and meditation practice, Kristen turned her stress and anxiety to freedom and joy. She is passionate about living yoga and supporting others in finding their unique gifts and sharing them with the world.

Rikki Gritz

Rikki Gritz

Rikki (RYT200; RPYT; Radiant Child Yoga certified). Her teaching style can be described as empowering, calming, and bonding. She was first introduced to Iyengar yoga in Gunnison, Colorado in 2010 while attending college. She immediately fell in love with the practice, and, as a result, bought a plane ticket to embark on a yoga journey to India. Since then she has dedicated herself to the study, practice, and teaching of yoga. She believes being a prenatal yoga teacher is an amazing experience that can be used to guide women toward the ways they can positively affect their experience. She feels great joy when she can hold a space for women to experience an honest, authentic, and raw version of themselves, as well as sharing her own love and passion for this practice.

Alison Heilig

Alison Heilig

Alison (RYT200) is currently working on completing her 500-hour certification through Yoga Medicine. In addition to teaching yoga, Alison is a human movement and corrective exercise specialist as well as both a running coach (RRCA Level 2 Certified) and CrossFit coach. She has completed extensive advanced-level training in anatomy, biomechanics, myofascial release, and injury prevention with Tiffany Cruikshank, Sage Rountree, Jason Crandell, and Jules Mitchell. Alison specializes in working with individuals who have injury concerns and athletes. Alison primarily teaches Hatha, Restorative, and Yin classes. Her approach to teaching is compassionate, grounding, and empowering. She encourages students to explore and experience movement in new ways in order to build body awareness, gain confidence, and be more comfortable in their own skin. Alison was looking for something to help her manage the stress of major life changes and all the emotions that go along with that. At that time, she felt like her life was spinning out of control. Yoga provided her the time and space to reconnect with herself and then ultimately deepen that connection in the most profound and meaningful way. Her practice has changed over the years but her dedication to it (and herself) has remained steadfast through it all. And that’s the coolest part of the practice in her opinion — it grows with you.

Jessie Hill

Jessie Hill

Jessie (RYT 200) stumbled into yoga after years of athletics. As a hammer thrower at the University of Maryland, she had always enjoyed lifting & training, but never took time to slow down and listen to her body. After graduating from college, she tried a hot yoga class and was instantly hooked! It was unbelievable the difference yoga made in her body in such a short time. After beginning a consistent practice, Jessie noticed her back pain disappearing & at the same time, she developed core strength she had never experienced as an athlete. Not to mention the relaxation & other benefits of yoga she began to experience… The teaching journey began when Jessie started her 200-hour teacher training at Thrive Yoga in Rockville, MD, to simply deepen her own practice. Working as a full-time financial advisor, she did not plan to become an instructor. Teaching, however, became the natural next step when friends, teammates, and co-workers started asking for classes. She went with the flow! Jessie is SO BLESSED to share her practice with others and enjoys challenging her students with creative sequencing and helping them to feel good.

Laura Lacy

Laura Lacy

Laura (RYT200) started practicing when she was pregnant with her first child. Yoga spoke to her and she found that even though she had gone for the physical benefits she kept going back because of the mental benefits — a calm and peaceful mind.  In 2013 she completed her 200-hour training at Thrive and began to teach Prenatal, Vinyasa, and Hatha yoga. She has continued her education with a regular practice, prenatal training at Thrive, and workshops with a variety of teachers including Barron Baptiste and Kathryn Budig. She loves connecting with her students and especially women during their pregnancies to make them feel stronger, more confident, relaxed, and present.  You can expect a balance of heat-building flow, breathing, and meditation exercises in Laura‘s classes.

 
Virginia Logan

Virginia Logan

Virginia (RYT 200) originally from Texas, recently moved to Maryland in May of 2019 and completed her 200 Hour Teacher Training here at Thrive. Growing up, she took ballet from an early age and later made physical fitness a priority with weight training. Finding yoga in 2013 with friends at Louisiana Tech University provided a creative challenge she had missing. She completed a bachelors degree in Psychology and a minor in Business Administration in 2016. When experiencing how yoga can benefit mental health, she knew more people needed this peace and awareness. 

Virginia believes every individual already possesses a beautiful and unique practice, and her job as an instructor is to help it grow. With the power of breath to influence movement, her vinyasa style is empowering and purposeful, aiming to focus the mind, challenge the body, and feed the soul. 

Lisha Megginson

Lisha Megginson

Lisha (RYT500; Reiki Level II practitioner) is a member of the International Association of Reiki Practitioners. She’s also a Certified Holistic Health Coach through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, and a Certified Crystal Healer. Her teaching style can be described as meditative, grounding, and all-inclusive. Lisha teaches yoga because she believes yoga opens us up and paves the way for self-discovery and connectedness to all that is. Yoga has made her a much more open person in so many aspects of her life. She loves sharing what yoga has to offer in body, mind, and spirit, and she loves holding space for others to have their own unique experiences both on and off the mat.

Allie Newsom

Allie Newsom

Allie (RYT200) is currently pursuing RYT500 at Thrive and is Aerial Yoga Level 1 and Aerial Restorative certified.

Allie’s personal practice is quite varied, and this is reflected in her teaching. She teaches vinyasa, aerial, and restorative styles of yoga. In all of her classes, you can expect a welcoming environment for all students, a balanced practice with space for movement and stillness, and to leave class feeling good in your body, mind, and soul.

Allie first started doing yoga over 10 years ago, primarily for the physical benefits. Over the years, she started to practice yoga more consistently and to take yoga off of her mat and into her everyday life. This helped Allie to realize that yoga can benefit her mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, as well as physically. Once she realized that, she knew she wanted to share this with others and took the leap to become a yoga teacher.

Johanna Olivas

Johanna Olivas

Johanna (RYT200) is currently pursuing RYT500 at Thrive. She is also a Reiki Master. Her teaching style is compassionate,  easy going, and explorative. Johanna fell in love with yoga from the very first time she tried it 10 years ago. Her love of yoga was cemented when she was pregnant with her daughter. She regularly practiced prenatal yoga at Thrive. Yoga was the only thing she could do physically that could make her feel comfortable in her ever-changing body during that time. She was that woman who took her yoga mat to labor and delivery, practicing all kinds of pranayama and asana until she delivered her daughter — more than 30 hours of labor — yoga WORKS! Yoga has been a foundational piece of her life, keeping her grounded even in the most chaotic times and equally in the most blissful times and she’d like to share that with her students.

Felicia Piacente

Felicia Piacente

Felicia (RYT500; E-RYT 200). As a life-long teacher, Felicia’s passion for teaching and learning shines through in all of her classes, workshops, and progressive series. She is an advanced yoga practitioner who is able to make students feel welcome and at ease. She is highly involved in teacher development and mentoring, and is a Teacher Trainer at Thrive.   Felicia teaches hot vinyasa and core vinyasa classes but also loves breaking things down for beginners in vinyasa flow. She has a popular following in workshops such as arm balances, inversions, and deep explorations of intermediate to advanced yoga poses.  She understands the importance of balance, inner peace, and revitalization, and has even gotten many students at the studio knitting — discovering the meditative properties of her other favorite passion! Felicia’s classes are highly energetic, and provide direct instruction, authenticity, and fun! Felicia took her first yoga class in 2006 and immediately found what she was looking for—a physical challenge, a spiritual comfort, and a relaxing aftereffect.  She knew she had to share this with others, and enrolled and completed her 200- and 300-hour training programs at Thrive. She has been teaching exclusively at Thrive since 2009.  

Anna Pigotti

Anna Pigotti

Anna (RYT200) is currently pursuing RYT 500 at Thrive. Anna teaches a variety of styles of yoga including Hatha, Vinyasa, Restorative, and Sound Bath. She also teaches Senior Chair Yoga and Trauma-Sensitive Yoga. Anna loves to encourage in her classes the union of body, mind, and spirit through conscious breath using thoughtful asana sequencing.  She brings to her students a peaceful and loving demeanor. Her intention is to offer a well-rounded practice to restore freedom of movement, ease stress, create mind-body awareness, and promote a sense of peace and joy. Yoga has inspired Anna to live in the present moment, grow stronger, flexible, and fearless on and off the mat. She believes that through yoga she is able to create space in her mind and body to free and release obstacles from life.

Becki Portis

Becki Portis

Becki (RYT500) completed her 200 and 500 hour Teacher Trainings at Thrive. Becki has also received training through Life Power Yoga and has certifications in Buti Yoga, Reiki Levels I & II, and is in the process of completing Thai Yoga Massage Level 1 certification. She is a highly dedicated, enthusiastic, and passionate yoga teacher who approaches practice as a way to live life, consciously and with purpose. Becki sees yoga as a means for exploration in self-discovery and growth. Her teaching style connects ancient wisdom with modern day techniques, with a heavy focus on alignment, breath, and sensation. She believes this allows the student the freedom and safety to explore their own body-mind consciousness and potential. Becki discovered yoga during an emotional challenge in life and it became her medicine for change and growth. The community and support she received from Thrive continue to be her catalyst for healing and self-empowerment.

Shelly Sheetz

Shelly Sheetz

Shelly (RYT200; Reiki Master) is pursuing RYT500 at Thrive. In Shelly’s classes, expect to feel safe and nurtured. Shelly started out as a type A personality, needing to be physically active, and moving as much as possible, which meant a lot of high-intensity exercising. She first tried yoga 25 years ago when she was pregnant with her oldest son and became an almost daily yoga practitioner when she joined Thrive as a student. Since then she has woven yoga, meditation, crystals, energy healing, and essential oils into her life and her personal growth has been constant and exciting. She believes if she can inspire one person to look inside themselves and expand, she’s making the world a better place.

Jane Stelboum

Jane Stelboum

Jane (E-RYT 200; RYT500) has trained at Duke University’s Integrative Yoga for Seniors, Brain Longevity® Therapy Training offered by the Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation, and is a member of the International Association of Yoga Therapists (IAYT). In 2012 she founded Sarasvate, Yoga Designed for the Brain, whose mission is to help prevent Alzheimer’s. Jane is also a Teacher Trainer at Thrive. Jane enjoys giving students the ability to align in a pose and connect to how it feels in their body and breath. Her teaching style is challenging but accessible to all — with an emphasis on alignment and compassion for the body. She tries to reach students right where they are. Her classes include hands-on assists to help with realignment and are experiential, incorporating music, gongs, singing bowls, writings, yogic concepts, and themes. Her mother introduced her to yoga and meditation as a kid, and that in and of itself is special for her.  She’s continued to practice yoga her entire life but it wasn’t until she found Thrive that she really integrated yoga into her life, starting with the 40-day program, then teacher training, and through the many wonderful workshops offered at Thrive. She knew she felt the impact of yoga on her life when her friends and family noticed the changes that she had felt.  Jane is here to pay it forward and share.

Nahla Tebcherany

Nahla Tebcherany

Nahla (RYT500) seeks the effervescent, peaceful, and potent experiences. She lives her life through a journey of wellness and play and is eager to share that outlook with others. After a successful endeavor as a public school teacher for seven years, Nahla stepped full time into the world of yoga. Nahla’s desire to delve deeper into wellness only strengthened after her trip to Thailand. There, she completed her levels of study in Thai Yoga via Nuad Bo-Ran, specializing in postnatal body treatments. Nahla has studied and practiced various yoga styles for over 13 years, including Thai Yoga, Vinyasa, Kundalini, Yin, Restorative, Prenatal and Postnatal, Yoga Nidra, Aerial, and Kid’s Yoga. Her focus of teaching is on the following styles: Restorative, Yin, Thai, and Kid’s Yoga, in a private and semi-private setting.

Nahla’s teaching integrates science and meditation and includes numerous personal assists through the practice of Thai Yoga, Nuad Bo-Ran, and Quantum Healing.

Traci Tufano

Traci Tufano

Traci (RYT500; Reiki Level I & II; Thai Yoga Massage Level 1; Aerial Yoga Level 1 and 2; completed Trauma-Sensitive Yoga with David Emerson) is the Aerial Yoga Program Coordinator at Thrive. She teaches and is a Teacher Trainer at Thrive for Aerial and Restorative Yoga. Her teaching style is supportive and playful. She uses props and makes her classes accessible to all. Traci first started yoga in high school as a way to condition for sports and was quickly drawn to the additional mental benefits. She used yoga as a way to heal past traumas and reconnect with her true self. She became a yoga teacher to help create a loving and safe space for her students so they can discover their inner and outer strength. Traci would practice hot power yoga almost every day, sometimes twice a day, until a major injury caused her to slow down. She found her way into a restorative class and loved how the props provided support in different poses for a deeper yet easily accessible stretch. Wanting to explore more styles of yoga with props, Traci went to an aerial yoga class. It was a combination of her new love of prop support and the fire she had missed from her hot power days. She wanted to learn everything she could about the world and co-created a Level 1, 2, and Restorative Aerial Yoga Teacher Training.

Lydia Willig

Lydia Willig

Lydia (RYT200) is currently pursuing RYT500 at Thrive. She teaches Vinyasa and Hatha style classes, led with the intention to enjoy movement and feel good in your body. Always active, Lydia was drawn first to sports and dance, then later to weight-lifting. In the search for movement that was more kind to her body, Lydia ventured into her first yoga class at college. After feeling not only the physical benefits of the practice but also the deeper mental and energetic impact, she felt called to teach yoga and began doing so in 2015. Lydia completed her 200-hour training at Asheville Yoga Center in North Carolina in 2017, and a short time later her love for physical fitness led her to become a certified Group Fitness Instructor as well. In her classes, Lydia aims to cultivate a warm environment in which you may freely explore your yoga practice on and off the mat.

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