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When the student is ready, the teacher will appear
-Buddhist proverb
Golden Chakra

Amanda Barnes


Amanda Barnes has a degree in Early Childhood Education and 14 years of experience working in the education field. Amanda is currently a Director for Primrose Schools. She is also certified in CPR and First Aid.

A Pittsboro native who was always active and involved in sports, Amanda took her first class at Yoga Garden in 2019 and instantly fell in love with Yoga. She immediately began a regular and dedicated practice. Teaching has always been one of Amanda’s passions, so she enrolled in Yoga Garden Pittsboro’s 2022 yoga teacher training and graduated in October.

Amanda is excited to combine her passion for teaching children with the many amazing benefits of yoga - including self-love.


Connie Bisesi


Connie attended her first yoga class on a whim and found a home immediately. She found a connection to her body for the first time as well as the peace of mind that she had been seeking. After many years of practice, Connie felt called to know more and share that with others. She completed her 200-hr training with Dharma Richards at Yoga Garden Apex in 2013 and taught there for 8 years. She recently completed her 300-hr training at Blue Lotus in Raleigh in 2022. Connie's classes are an energetic mix of breath, movement, and meditation and she loves to challenge students while giving them space to explore. Connie likes for her classes to be open and inviting and a place where everyone can find what they need.


Susan Bone 


Susan loves teaching and practicing yoga.   She believes it is good for her body and soul.  The lessons she learns “on the mat” support her “off the mat” day in and day out.  As a young child and teenager, she was the last picked in sports and did not understand or experience that EVERY BODY has gifts and ways to move.   As a result, she was not confident or physically active in her younger years because she had inaccurate beliefs about her body based on the outer world.  Through her yoga experience and training she has come to value EVERY BODY, including her own.  Susan especially likes to guide people who are new to yoga and invite them to experience the personal benefits of the practice which are far beyond the physical postures (asana). 

Susan started practicing yoga in 1997 and has had many formal and informal teachers along the way.  In November 2009 she proudly completed her 200-level yoga teacher training program with Dragonfly Yoga in conjunction with River Rock Yoga in Ocean Springs, MS.  Having the experience of two teachers with different teaching styles was awesome and taught her that there are as many ways to practice yoga just as there are many ways to live our lives without comparing ourselves to others.     


 Yoga teacher training changed the way she explores living her life and in her relationships with others.    It has helped her look at herself in new ways that are not always easy but meaningful for herself and hopefully to others.  Since her yoga teacher training, she has continued to practice on my own and with other teachers, has attended silent retreats, and workshops to help expand her practice.  Susan has been teaching in Hattiesburg, Mississippi in a variety of different group venues as well as private sessions.  She teaches chair yoga, slow flow, and restorative based practices as well as four -week beginner series session.   Susan recently moved to North Carolina after many years in Mississippi and looks forward to continuing her yoga journey by teaching and taking classes.    


Heather Bryant


Heather found yoga as a way to help gain healing and strength after experiencing a broken back. She has been practicing for over 20 years and realized she wanted to share the practice with her community.


Heather received her RYT-200 certification in 2019 and her RYT-300 in 2021 from Yoga Garden. She shared her journey with many students teaching under her mentor, Dharma Richards.


Heather teaches children’s yoga classes and also found a great love for teaching gentle flow classes for adults. Heather also teaches Pre-K special education in Wake County and enjoys sharing calm in her classroom. She is a forever student and thrives on learning from her students and fellow teachers.


Heather intertwines breathwork, yogic philosophies and her love of music into gentle flows that allow for a sense of security, compassion, and mindfulness. “My hope is that my students step off the mat feeling loved, nourished and joyful.”

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Heather Cassese

Teacher + Chiropractor-in-Residence

Dr. Heather Cassese is a yoga teacher as well as a chiropractor with practices in Apex and at Yoga Garden PBO.  


A Raleigh native born and raised, she graduated from ECU in 2001 in Exercise Physiology. She then moved to Portland, OR and attended Western States Chiropractic College (now University of Western States) and graduated in 2005. She has been practicing in Apex at Back to Basics Chiropractic since 2005 and became the owner in February 2008.


Heather began her yoga journey in 1998, during her time at ECU. She became a group fitness instructor and at the same time began attending yoga classes. In 2002, while in chiropractic school, Heather began teaching Hatha yoga and other various group fitness yoga and Pilates classes. She continued to teach when I returned to NC and met Dharma Richards while both were teaching at O2 Fitness in Cary. Heather was a part of the first 200 hour YTT class instructed by Dharma in 2011.


Heather taught Power Flow at Yoga Garden of Apex from 2013 through August 2019. She has taught all over the Apex/Cary area through the years and currently teaches yoga and CrossFit at CrossFit Surmount next door to her chiropractic office in Apex as well as yoga at Yoga Garden PBO. 


Katie Cousins


Katie grew up in Sanford, North Carolina and graduated from NC State University with a BA in Communications. She moved to Charleston, South Carolina in February of 2013 and discovered she would need something to balance out all of the delicious southern food the Holy City had to offer. Katie wanted a new workout routine and agreed to accompany a friend to her first Hot Yoga class. It was the best decision she ever made. Almost immediately, Katie became addicted to the challenge and the physical and mental empowerment of vinyasa. The sweat, the flow, the personal discovery, the emotional breakthroughs — radical transformation and a renewed sense of self-worth kept her coming back for more, week after week, month after month. This “workout routine” became her greatest passion and she quickly pursued her certification.


In August of 2014, Katie completed her 200-hour teacher training and Art of Assisting program with a Baptiste affiliate studio in downtown Charleston. She received her Prenatal and Restorative Yoga certification in January of 2015 and completed Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy Levels 1 and 2 in 2017. Katie has also completed over 30 hours of anatomy training through Yoga International and Yoga Medicine and is very passionate about the biomechanics of the human body. Her teaching style can be challenging, but is always fun and light-hearted. Sound effects, laughter, and smiles are strongly encouraged in all of her classes. Come to your mat prepared to play. :) Katie lives in Pittsboro with her husband, Chris and daughter, Clara, and two adorable pups: Arlo and Addie. Outside of yoga, Katie also enjoys traveling, exploring new restaurants, NC State football, and riding her horse, Sassi.


Meadow DeFosche-Christ

Senior Teacher + Director of Teacher Training

Meadow, eRYT-500/YACEP, was originally drawn to explore yoga in 1998 as a method of stress relief and a way to maintain flexibility while serving in the U.S. Army.  Although her practice was initially sporadic and as a compliment to a traditional fitness program, the benefits became apparent after a car wreck left her with chronic, debilitating pain that prevented her from doing many of the physical activities that she previously enjoyed. Through a regular practice, she was able to find relief when physical therapy and countless doctor visits didn't seem to help.


Meadow decided to deepen her practice by studying Classical Yoga under Dharma Richards, earning her 200-hour yoga teacher certification in 2015 and completing her 500-hour certification in 2017.  She is certified in Restorative Yoga, Yoga for Post Traumatic Stress through Yoga Warriors international, Integral Yoga for Stress Management through Satchidananda Ashram, and Yoga Nidra through Arhanta Ashram. She has also completed studies in Ayurveda and Yoga for Pain Management.  She takes the approach of a lifelong learner, and  continues to seek out new knowledge about Yoga and Yogic philosophy, as well as other complementary practices.

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Cathy Brooksie Edwards 


Brooksie is a North Carolina professional licensed counselor and professional licensed bodyworker with over twenty five years of experience. Her private practice is a somatic experiencing therapy which involves learning how to calm or discharge stress, tension and trauma. She is the founder and director of heart2heartnc, a non-profit that provides supportive and alternative services to death, dying, grief and renewal.

Brooksie received her 300-hour Kundalini Yoga teacher training in 2020 from Yoga Vision. She uses Kundalini Yoga as a modality to heal stored grief in the body and for healing, spiritual upliftment and transformation.


Bethany Gribble 


A native of North Carolina, Bethany Gribble grew up wanting to become a teacher. She followed her dream and began teaching in 2001. Bethany has taught kindergarten and first grade in the Raleigh area, and kindergarten in the Asheville area.


In 2021, Bethany decided that she wanted to become a teacher outside of the classroom. She completed her 200-hour yoga teacher training in 2021 through Yoga Garden Apex under the guidance of Dharma Richards. Bethany began teaching yoga to adults and children in the summer of 2021.


Bethany loves the connections, healing, and peace that yoga has brought her, and hopes to pass this goodness to her students as they find their love for yoga.


Deanna Harrington


Deanna is a passionate and energetic yoga instructor with 7+ years of personal practice and over 100 hours of teaching experience. Originally from Sanford, NC, Deanna spent some time living in Wilmington and Boone, NC, and graduated from Appalachian State University with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology. In June of 2021, she completed a 200-Hour Teacher Training at Yoba Studio in Raleigh, NC. She is interested in working with trauma survivors, particularly those who have experienced gender-based violence. Deanna’s intent is to engage with a yoga community that has similar practices and beliefs on social justice issues and the intersectionality of the ways we can all end racism and oppression. Deanna has experience teaching Restorative, Yoga Sculpt, Vinyasa Flow, Multi-Level Flow, Chair, Slow, and Power Yoga. What she loves about teaching yoga is the freedom and release that can be created for students. Deanna truly believes that movement is medicine. In her spare time, Deanna enjoys reading, being outdoors, loving her fur babies and human baby, and any form of bodily movement.

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Ca'ren Hudson


Ca'ren is a graduate of the 2022 RYT-200 teacher training at Yoga Garden PBO, as well as a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist specializing in Couples & Sex Therapy. She dabbled in yoga briefly during undergrad in 2015 but found her way to her current practice through her mentor and supervisor who also took their RYT at Yoga Garden. With a desire to integrate somatic work into her therapeutic practice, Ca'ren ventured into the world of Yoga with a focus on helping her clients and quickly learned how transformational this Yoga journey would be for herself.

Through Yoga, Ca'ren has been able to find her way to self-acceptance after a long battle with her body image that began early in her teens. Ca'ren has found that Yoga creates space for all of her, allowing her to embrace and accept all of the parts that make her whole. Her yoga journey has helped her see the strength, flexibility, and power that her body holds just as it is. She centers her classes around the diversity of all body shapes and sizes but most importantly, she holds space to honor inclusion. Ca'ren hopes that during her classes, you will feel seen, accepted, and loved as you are and leave feeling excited to take up all the space you need on your journey. You can find her teaching gentle and mindful-based classes where she integrates breathwork, body acceptance, and meditation.

Off the mat, Ca'ren loves spending time in nature, whether it's hiking or just talking to the trees. A self-proclaimed foodie, she loves eating her way through different cities, and as a Baltimore native, she loves nothing more than enjoying Ravens football.

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Iryna Merideth 


Iryna is a dedicated yoga student and yoga teacher. When she first started attending yoga classes after the birth of her youngest child, she was looking for “light exercise” that would suit her tired body. As she continued practicing, she discovered, to her surprise, that breathing, being still, and moving her body with intention allowed her to connect to her spiritual side, finding meaning, peace, self-compassion and more awe in the everyday. She was so taken by this practice, that she decided that she wanted to share it with others. In spring of 2020, she completed her 250-hour Yoga Teacher Training with Ti Harmony of Loving Kindness Yoga School. She considers Ti her main influence in how she approaches physical yoga on the mat (asana) as well as yogic philosophy and how she brings yoga into her daily life.

In her teaching, Iryna is on a mission to help people find comfort in their bodies, to trust themselves, and, ultimately, to find inner peace. She tries to connect with each student, and suggests individual modifications and ideas that work for her students' bodies in the moment. She values introspection, self-compassion and self-trust - on the mat and in life - and so she always encourages her students to listen to their bodies and to tune into their inner feeling. Iryna teaches Hatha yoga and considers the physical practice to be a gateway to more subtle awareness of the mind, energy, and compassion. Her students are encouraged to hang out in each pose for a little bit, finding comfort, depth and awareness of body and breath. She encourages self-compassion and self-awareness, with an ultimate goal for her students to become their own best teachers, or at least take the responsibility for their bodies and minds. She likes to guide a deep long Savasana, because that’s where the work on the mat becomes integrated and our physical and energetic bodies prepare to face life outside of the yoga class.


Iryna is a creative person, a beginner gardener, a decent cook, a mother, a wife. She was born and grew up in Ukraine, moved to the United States as a young adult, first to New York City, then to Chapel Hill to attend graduate school. She tried living elsewhere (the beautiful but cold New England, for example), but North Carolina called her back! The pandemic made her double down on her pollinator and vegetable garden ambitions - whatever the deer don’t eat, she’s happy to grow! She also dabbles in fiber crafts - embroidery, knitting, felting. For a few blissful years, Iryna owned a vintage home furnishings business. She lives in Carrboro with her husband, two elementary-aged kids, a dog named Juno and a parakeet named Oatley. 

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Lisa Pigeon


Lisa Pigeon moved to NC in 2016 intending to study and teach yoga, and completed her 200 hr training with Sage Rountree at Carolina Yoga Company, in April 2018. She is fully committed to sharing her practice with others because of how profoundly it changed her own life. Yoga gave Lisa the necessary tools for reversing negative thought patterns and belief systems and supports her in enjoying the fullness of life.


While teaching, Lisa guides students into their optimal physical alignment, while encouraging them to practice self-love and acceptance as a means of cultivating inner peace. This approach weaves together movement, breathwork, and self-study so that each student can bring their mind, body, and spirit into greater health and alignment. It brings Lisa great joy to observe students as they expand into their fullest expression of Self.




Melissa Russell 


Melissa is a certified yoga therapist; a 500 hour registered yoga teacher trained in ashtanga, anusara, and pelvic floor health; and an iRest level 2 meditation teacher. Melissa began her yoga journey over 20 years ago while leading innovative teams in the world of publishing and educational technology. Knowing how much yoga helped her maintain clarity while juggling work, family, and self-care, she began teaching yoga to her colleagues. Melissa left the corporate world 5 years ago to teach yoga full time. Her work is inspired by her belief that everyone has the power to evolve throughout their lives. We are not stuck being overwhelmed, stressed, and/or in mental or physical pain.

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Nicole Souther 


Nicole fell into yoga in the 90's and enjoys encouraging others in their asana practice.


 To compliment her practice (and help with more ambitious poses) she began Pilates in the early 2000's, and became a mat certified instructor in 2004.


In 2018, Nicole completed a 200-RYT program with Thousand Petals Yoga and began teaching yoga movement shortly thereafter. In 2021 she completed her 500-RYT training with Dharma Richards. 

Her classes are thoughtfully sequenced with the intention of guiding more movement exploration. She's taken many trainings and workshops through the years and credits Ti, Stuart, and Pat for taking her practice to a deeper level. She has a supportive and loving family, and is grateful her husband has endured and continues to endure her "self-discovery" quests.


Hallie Thompson 


Hallie Thompson is a dynamic individual with diverse interests and pursuits. Her work life centers on the world of Human Resources, where she is fueled by a passion for psychology, talent development, coaching, and human-centered design. A self-proclaimed 'people person', she is passionate about creating psychologically safe and inclusive work environments that foster connection and authenticity.

A longtime fitness enthusiast, Hallie began practicing yoga regularly in 2009. In 2018, she became certified to teach Yoga Sculpt with CorePower Yoga.  Drawing on this experience, she was inspired to create the FlowBurn classes for Yoga Garden. Hallie believes that exercise and movement is essential for her mental, physical and spiritual health, and she's experimented with a wide range of modalities including HIIT, cirtuit training, CrossFit, spin, running, obstacle races, and more. Last year, she embarkend on a journey to compete in bodybuilding for the first time, challenging herself to step out of her comfort zone and test her self-discipline. 


A western Pennsylvanian native, Hallie, her Husband Tom, and their two cats, Puckchop and Fern, made Pittsboro their home in 2023. Hallie channels her love for nature and animals into her farm sitting side-hustle, 'Incognito Alpaca', where she nurtures and cares for animals, fostering a connection with the outdoors. In her leisure time, she indulges her creative side through thrifting adventures, vintage finds, and engaging DIY projects. On the weekends, you can find her volunteering at Second Bloom Consignment Store in Pittsboro, where she channels her appreciation for repurposed and vintage items and enjoys connecting with members of the community. 


Aviva Tulasi


Aviva Tulasi (she/her) holds a Master of Arts in Teaching Physical Science and is a

Certified Yoga Therapist (C-IAYT) with an 800-hour yoga health educator certification

and a 200-hour yoga teacher training certification. In addition, she has completed

training in chair yoga, gentle yoga, yoga for osteoporosis, trauma-informed yoga, and

yoga nidra. Aviva enjoys playing in the dirt, sitting in a hammock surrounded by trees, and

exploring new places. She taught high school science for 15 years and is the chair of

Fuel Up at Perry Harrison School. Aviva’s approach to yoga is to slow down and

experience the present moment. She applies the teachings of classical yoga

(movement, focused breathing & meditation) to reduce stress and balance the nervous



Jaime Warkonyi


Jaime Warkonyi, RYT-500,  found her breath and began #trainingforlife on her mat in 2000 while attending weekly Hatha Yoga classes at  Edinboro University of Pennsylvania.   Having licensure in elementary (K-6) and special education (K-12) teaching and with a Master's in School Administration (MSA) from ECU,  she understands the importance of cultivating and building trusting relationships through “Seva” or service.  Since her move to North Carolina in 2005, she proudly serves as an elementary school assistant principal in the Wake County Public School System.  She provides access to yoga, meditation, and reiki throughout the community she serves. While living out her dharma of service to others, she advocates for self-care, wellness, inclusivity, and community resiliency.

Attuned to the Moon and mythology, Jaime crafts magickal musings into her sacred practice and rituals. "There is a moon inside every human being.  Learn to be companions with it."  -Rumi.

“No mud, no lotus” is one of her personal mantras.    She embraces the muddy waters of life, trusts the guidance of the Divine, and meditates on the #OMazing lotus garden creation before her.  

Jaime completed her RYT200 hour yoga teacher training in March 2018 at Asura Yoga Academy (RYS) in Cary, NC.  She studied under Jennie Wise, E-RYT500, YACEP Specialty in Yoga Psychology, and Master of Health Science (MHS).  

Jaime completed her RYT300 hour Mindful Muse Advanced Yoga Teacher Training in September 2019. She studies under her Guru and mentor,  Dharma Richards from Yoga Garden School of Yoga (RYS) in Apex, NC.  She is recognized as a Yoga Warriors International Teacher.  

Jaime is a Usui/Tibetan Holy Fire®III Karuna Reiki®  Master Teacher, and studies with Deborah Dixon of Subtle Wellness in Durham, NC.  She is a member with the International Center for Reiki Training.  

She recently studied under Nikki Meyers and is a trained Y12SR Peer Support Guide for Yoga and 12-step recovery. 

She will begin her Level 1 Kundalini Teacher Training in January 2024 under Keval Kaur.


Anne Waters 


Anne Waters took her first yoga class in 1996 at Hanes Park YMCA in Winston-Salem from Wes East, an old school yogi whose favorite pose was bujangasana (cobra), the “pose of Cleopatra.” She was hooked.

From there she studied with Paige Bentley, an early Asheville Yoga Center graduate, and many other Triad-area teachers including American Ashtanga pioneer David Williams, a native of Greensboro.

In 2007, Anne earned her CYT 200 at Asheville Yoga Center, opening the Blue Ewe Yoga Studio in
Spencer, NC, at the end of her 9-month training. For the next five years she humbly and gratefully learned how to teach yoga from her wonderful students, several of whom went on to become yoga teachers and open their own studios.

From 2013-2023, Anne, her husband Andrew, and their son Elias made their home in Spartanburg, SC, where she led a weekly vinyasa flow class at Yogalicious Yoga Studio and taught in their yoga teacher training program. Weaving poetry and music into her classes, she enjoys choreographing fluid asana sequences and creating weekly playlists inspired by the seasons, passages, and other life-affirming events. A lifelong lover of literature (and alliteration), she enjoys closing her practices with a poem and soothing hands-on savasana. Her current favorite asana is shirshasana (headstand), which she also loves to teach! She is grateful to be a part of Yoga Garden’s generous, loving community.

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Lexie Wolf

Owner + Teacher

Lexie Wolf is a devoted practitioner of yoga and wellness. Lexie has practiced yoga for over twenty years and began teaching after she graduated from Yoga Garden PBO's first 200-hour yoga teacher training class with Dharma Richards in August 2018. She completed her RYT-500 training with Dharma in 2021. 

Lexie's approach to teaching is to encourage students to practice deep mindfulness on the mat, utilizing the practice of yoga to become attuned to their inner landscape as well as their physical body. 


Lexie is passionate about living an active and healthy lifestyle. When not on the mat she can be found enjoying the woods of Chatham County, hiking, running, gardening, and playing tennis. 

Lexie was born and raised in the New York City area and relocated with her family to North Carolina in 2007. Her professional background includes a decade in marketing and public relations and seven years in the public health/nonprofit world focusing on nutrition and physical activity.

She founded Yoga Garden PBO in 2017 in collaboration with Dharma Richards and a host of dedicated yogis. She is dedicated to helping make Yoga Garden PBO a joyful and loving community, and is incredibly grateful for the gift of this work.

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