Our Tribe

Dharma Headshots

Dharma Richards, ERYT-500

Founder and owner of Yoga Garden and Yoga Alliance Advanced Registered Yoga Teacher, Dharma is an instructor of both the Classical Hatha-Raja style and Kundalini Yoga, and encourages organic movement and an open heart as she routinely leads students through nurturing practices of pranayama/ breathwork, asana/physical postures, and dhyana/meditation. Dharma hosts workshops, intensives, retreats and teacher trainings nationwide and in the Caribbean. Dharma’s studies continue with her beloved teacher Chandra Om, senior disciple of Sri Dharma Mittra, and HarDarshan and HarBhajan Kaur Khalsa.  Her certifications also include Core Strength Vinyasa, Judith Lasater’s Relax & Renew, Prenatal, Children’s, Yin, and Yoga Warriors (for PTSD).  Dharma is also a certified Reiki Master and continues studies in Thai Massage (Nuad Boran).  For detailed information, see Dharma’s Personal Website.

Andrea completed 200-hour yoga teacher training through Carolina Yoga Company and is Yoga Alliance Certified.

She enjoys a variety of styles of yoga and consider everyone I meet, a teacher. It is my desire to offer yoga to students of life who want a fuller, richer, more profound experience both on and off the mat. Andrea offers classes that empower students to connect mind, body, and soul through focused and thoughtful movement and stillness.

 

Brittney Powell, RYT200

Also a graduate of the North Carolina School of Yoga, Brittney offers a genuine, nurturing spirit to her classes. A school teacher specializing in instructing children with autism, Brittney shares her kind heart and special skills with everyone in whom she comes into contact. She allows for relaxed effort in her teachings and gently and lovingly challenges students of many levels. Brittney completed Anusara Yoga Teacher Training in 2011 through the Triangle Anusara Yoga Institute and also holds certifications in Mini Yogis for children at both the foundations and advanced levels, Yin and Restorative Yoga. A compassionate and beautiful soul, Brittney continues to blossom as a truly gifted and fully dedicated teacher.

 

Andrea completed 200-hour yoga teacher training through Carolina Yoga Company and is Yoga Alliance Certified.

She enjoys a variety of styles of yoga and consider everyone I meet, a teacher. It is my desire to offer yoga to students of life who want a fuller, richer, more profound experience both on and off the mat. Andrea offers classes that empower students to connect mind, body, and soul through focused and thoughtful movement and stillness.

 

Dr. Heather Cassese, RYT200

Dr. Heather began teaching group fitness in 1998 at East Carolina University while studying for her Bachelor’s in Exercise Physiology. During that time she began to attend hatha yoga classes as a means to stay connected to her gymnastics background. After graduation she moved to Portland, OR where she continued her studies at Western States Chiropractic College and received her Doctorate in Chiropractic in 2005. During her time in Portland her love for yoga expanded exponentially as she began to practice Bikram, vinyasa, and Ashtanga forms. She attended her first yoga certification in 2002 and began teaching hatha yoga and BodyFlow© at the local gym where she taught aqua and group fitness classes. Throughout the years she gravitated to vinyasa as a constant for her own home practice. Self-study and attending classes allowed her to deepen her knowledge and passion for more yoga. She has always seen the connection of yoga and chiropractic in overall health and healing, and delivers that in her whole body approach to class and treatments. In 2010 she committed to a deeper level of understanding as she gained her RYT-200 at the Yoga Garden. Dr. Heather loves to challenge her students with powerful vinyasa flows, good humor, and how to break down difficult poses into the attainable for all levels. She is also trained to teach gentle yoga, Pilates, and Yin Yoga. With a smile and a laugh, her positive energy can inspire and change those she contacts.

Dr. Heather currently owns and practices chiropractic at Back to Basics Chiropractic here in Apex. She lives near Jordan Lake with her husband, Jim, her daughter, Elizabella, and her 2 labs, Reece and Bailey. In addition to yoga and chiropractic, she enjoys traveling, snow skiing, scuba diving, painting, gardening, and playing darts for the Raleigh Dart League.

 

Andrea completed 200-hour yoga teacher training through Carolina Yoga Company and is Yoga Alliance Certified.

She enjoys a variety of styles of yoga and consider everyone I meet, a teacher. It is my desire to offer yoga to students of life who want a fuller, richer, more profound experience both on and off the mat. Andrea offers classes that empower students to connect mind, body, and soul through focused and thoughtful movement and stillness.

 

Beth Farlow, RYT200

Beth is a Yoga instructor and Integrative Health Coach, trained and certified through Duke University School of Integrative Medicine. Beth is also trained in Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction and Meditation / Relaxation Response techniques. Prior to becoming a health coach, Beth worked for large corporations in executive positions as a transformational change leader and job-plus coach. Beth is a graduate of Yoga Garden’s Live Your Yoga teacher training program. She combines her skills as a coach with mindful awareness, intuition and fully being in the present to support, partner, teach and coach her clients on their journey to optimal health.

 

Dr. Heather currently owns and practices chiropractic at Back to Basics Chiropractic here in Apex. She lives near Jordan Lake with her husband, Jim, her daughter, Elizabella, and her 2 labs, Reece and Bailey. In addition to yoga and chiropractic, she enjoys traveling, snow skiing, scuba diving, painting, gardening, and playing darts for the Raleigh Dart League.

 

Andrea completed 200-hour yoga teacher training through Carolina Yoga Company and is Yoga Alliance Certified.

She enjoys a variety of styles of yoga and consider everyone I meet, a teacher. It is my desire to offer yoga to students of life who want a fuller, richer, more profound experience both on and off the mat. Andrea offers classes that empower students to connect mind, body, and soul through focused and thoughtful movement and stillness.

 

Stephanie Hutcherson, RPYT-200

Steffi’s favorite observation about teaching yoga is watching students overcome obstacles and achieve what they never imagined was possible. She teaches Prenatal, Gentle and Level 1-2 classes with a focus on working with women during the childbearing year in her prenatal and postnatal classes. Stephanie discovered yoga through a need for physical activity. After attending her first class she immediately feel in love learning that yoga is not only a physical practice, but a mental and spiritual one as well. Stephanie enjoys all types of yoga, but has a great love for pushing the limits and achieving new goals. Her purpose in teaching is to guide students on their own path toward health and happiness. Stephanie is a RYT-200 graduate of Yoga Garden. In her spare time, Stephanie enjoys spending time with her family and her beloved poodles.

Deborah Dixon, RYT-200

Deborah began practicing Hatha Iyengar style yoga in 2006. It was a revelation to her practice when she found Dharma Richards in 2010. Her practice blossomed and she completed 300-hr. yoga training with Dharma in 2013. She practices classic Hatha Raja yoga with particular focus on breath, alignment, and finding a true expression of a pose in every level of practice. She also holds a certificate in Restorative Yoga and has been a Reiki Master Teacher practicing Usui/Tibetan Reiki since 2008.

Susan Hecht, RYT-200

Susan began practicing yoga 15 years ago, quickly finding that her practice evolved into something much greater – a way to stay centered and bring peace and awareness into all aspects of her busy life. In 2014, she took the plunge and enrolled in Teacher Training at the Yoga Garden with Dharma Richards simply as a way to deepen her own practice. Her intention shifted as she was nearing the end of training, realizing she wanted to share this knowledge and the gift of peace that yoga provides. An artist by profession, Susan has witnessed the many connections between the practice of yoga and the creative process. “As an artist I know that beauty abounds in the simplest of things; and as a yogi I know it very much abounds in each of us. If I can help someone see and experience these gifts, well…. What better gift could I give? “ Through breath and movement, Susan’s classes focus on finding balance, building strength, and working on flexibility. Susan hopes to inspire peace and promote happiness both on and off the mat. When Susan is not on her mat, you will most likely find her at her easel.

Leah Shugars RYT-200

Leah began taking Yoga classes in 2011 as a way to compliment her daily fitness routine. She was drawn to the practice of yoga through reading various books on the mind, body, spirit connection and found that yoga was a beautiful way to combine her interest in spirituality with her desire to remain both physically and mentally healthy. While practicing yoga she began to feel a shift happening physically and emotionally and decided to go deeper into the practice. In 2013 she completed the Live Your Yoga Teacher Training at Yoga Garden with Dharma Richards. While her intention was to deepen her own personal practice she now wants to share her love and knowledge of the practice with others through teaching. Yoga has provided so much more for her life then she expected and she looks forward to the opportunity to share with others. Leah lives in Apex North Carolina with her husband, Shawn, and two daughters Shelby and Sarah.

 

Connie Bisesi, RYT-200

Connie began taking Yoga classes in 2003 and for the first time experienced a deep connection to mind and body. She incorporated the practice of Yoga into her life and its many benefits helped her to grow in many aspects of her life. Connie is an elementary school Art teacher and has always felt a natural inclination for leading and supporting others in their learning and growing their own lives. She felt a pull to teaching Yoga and in 2013 completed the Live Your Yoga Teacher Training at Yoga Garden. Connie found that the training not only give her an opportunity to grow in her own practice but also created another opportunity to connect with others.

 

 

Laura Funk, RYT-200

Laura began attending yoga classes in 2008 and quickly realized the many benefits regular practice brought to her daily life. She became a dedicated practitioner and signed up for the Live Your Yoga Teacher Training with Dharma Richards at Yoga Garden of Apex. In 2013,Laura completed 300 hours of study and earned her RYT-200 certification. Laura’s initial goal was to fine-tune and advance her personal practice, but she now feels inspired to share her knowledge with others through teaching. Laura encourages students of all levels to explore the many physical and spiritual benefits yoga can offer. She is dedicated to living a life based around compassion and loving kindness and continues her yoga studies through attending various types of classes, workshops and self-study programs. Laura lives in Apex with her husband and four children.

 

Heather Blanchard, RYT-200

Heather initially discovered the soothing benefits of yoga through a local gym she was teaching aerobics at in 1995. At the time, her passion for movement stemmed from a lifelong love for dance, and she was fond of the alignment and lengthening the asanas provided. After being asked to teach a yoga class while working overseas for Club Med, she quickly worked with local instructors to learn a very basic hatha yoga “routine.” Soon, yoga became her favorite class to teach and she began to search for a deeper understanding of the tranquility found through her physical practice. After returning to the state in 1998, Heather was mentored by the founders of Triangle Yoga in Chapel Hill while learning to teach to special populations at the Duke Diet and Fitness Center. Their vast knowledge inspired her to explore many different styles of yoga, and she began a regular home practice. After a ten-year liaison from the fitness business due to long hours in the corporate world and to having children, she was ecstatic to find the Live Your Yoga Teacher Training program at Yoga Garden in 2012! The diverse program allowed her to explore the rich history and spiritual side of yoga, and begin sharing her love for teaching with students again. It’s a privilege to create a tranquil yet challenging environment for people to move in together, and to meet their needs at varying fitness levels. She strives to encourage everyone to practice with a smile on their face, and realize each moment spent in a limb of yoga is a gift. Heather lives in Raleigh with her husband Eddie, daughters Mackenzie and Lauren, and their goddaughter Sunshine. She gratefully works with Infinity Ballet Theatre, a nonprofit company in Apex, NC, and with the beloved staff of Yoga Garden.

 

 

Jon-Erik Lido, L.Ac., RYT-500

Jon-Erik came to yoga after years of studying Chinese internal martial arts and qigong. He took his first yoga class in 2007 and realized its incredibly transformative effects. Since then he has been studying and practicing yoga, becoming especially passionate about the styles of Classical Hatha-Raja and Yin Yoga.

Jon-Erik completed Yoga Garden’s RYT-200 and RYT-500 teacher trainings in 2012 and 2013 respectively. He holds a certification in Yin Yoga from the Asheville Yoga Center.

Jon-Erik is a licensed acupuncturist trained in Classical Chinese Medicine. He informs his Yin Yoga classes from years of experience with the acupuncture theories that form the basis for Yin Yoga. He translates and transmits Classical Chinese Medicine theory and Daoist philosophy through his Yin Yoga classes.

It is Jon-Erik’s mission as a teacher for his students to feel empowered to improve their own health through yoga. His style of teaching is infused with compassionate and playful energy. His classes invite a meditative inward journey of self-discovery; students experience ample quiet space for reflection as well experiential illumination of the body and mind.

Pablo Escalera, RYT200

Mechanical engineer by profession, animal lover by Karma. Pablo completed his certification as a Yoga teacher at the 200 hour level with Dharma Richards at the Yoga Garden of Apex. Pablo had his first serious encounter with the physical activity around the age of 16 as a late start playing football (the American way), and first ever encounter with Yoga at the age of 31 when by curiosity attended Heather Cassese’s Power Flow Yoga session one Fiday evening. His approach to Yoga is contemporary, having explored Power Yoga, Ahstanga Vinyasa, Prana Flow, Hatha Raja and several other Vinyasa Yoga offerings around the Triangle region in NC. He strives to embrace the Eight Limb Path to Yoga through everyday life. He ‘turned’ vegetarian when he started his Yoga teacher training as part of the commitment to Ahimsa and sustainability of the planet. An enthusiast for motorsports, Pablo travels several times during the year to race tracks working as a volunteer communications official for national and international events. As an enthusiastic runner he also participates in 5k, 10k, half marathons, adventure races and fitness competitions.

Jon-Erik completed Yoga Garden’s RYT-200 and RYT-500 teacher trainings in 2012 and 2013 respectively. He holds a certification in Yin Yoga from the Asheville Yoga Center.

Jon-Erik is a licensed acupuncturist trained in Classical Chinese Medicine. He informs his Yin Yoga classes from years of experience with the acupuncture theories that form the basis for Yin Yoga. He translates and transmits Classical Chinese Medicine theory and Daoist philosophy through his Yin Yoga classes.

It is Jon-Erik’s mission as a teacher for his students to feel empowered to improve their own health through yoga. His style of teaching is infused with compassionate and playful energy. His classes invite a meditative inward journey of self-discovery; students experience ample quiet space for reflection as well experiential illumination of the body and mind.

Melissa Feimster Lido, RYT500

Melissa has been practicing yoga for over ten years. Through a steady and consistent home practice, she quickly discovered that yoga imbued her with overall improved sense of well-being and deeper connection to her own spirituality. She began taking regular yoga classes with Dharma Richards in 2008 and was inspired to deepen her practice through Yoga Garden’s Live Your Yoga Teacher Training.

Melissa’s mission is to provide students with opportunities to discover new possibilities and transform themselves spiritually, mentally, and physically through the science of yoga. Melissa’s classes come from a place of patience, love, and joy. She offers her students classes rooted in creative and well-rounded Asana sequences, breathwork, and meditation. By cultivating a supportive class environment, she encourages students to be true to themselves, acknowledge and honor the teacher within, and tap into that deep awareness that ultimately leads to self-realization.

Melissa has a special interest in restorative yoga, and holds a certification in this specialty area from the NC School of Yoga. Additionally she has had the privilege to study with several master teachers including, Sri Dharma Mittra (Classical Hatha Raja Yoga), Judith Hanson Lasater (Restorative Yoga), Susan Jackson (Hatha Yoga), Satya Tara (Ashtanga Yoga) and Hardarshan Khalsa (Kundalini Yoga).

One of the ways Melissa “lives her yoga” off the mat is by exploring the benefits of a “raw/live foods” diet and vegetarian lifestyle. Combining her love of yoga, raw/live foods, and vegetarianism, she has authored a blog, “The Avocado Queen”, www.theavocadoqueen.com.

Vanessa Doherty, RYT-200

Vanessa has been practicing yoga since 1994 (primarily Ashtanga yoga). In 2008 she found a style of Hatha yoga that resonated with her, and she was inspired to teach. In September 2010, she received her 250 hour certification from the NC School of Yoga. Vanessa has continued her training while teaching and has attained certifications in Children’s Yoga and Yoga for Seniors. Vanessa follows the traditional principles of yoga and teaches through the heart. Her classes are meditative in nature, teaching her students to move organically, and to release negative thoughts and desires about the body. In Vanessa’s classes, students practice santosha (contentment) and satya (truthfulness) — to never move beyond our capacity. She keeps a keen eye on alignment and encourages her students to close their eyes while they move — to go within and to find the joy in the movement. Vanessa is a calm and patient teacher who reflects on what each student needs in her class. Her goal is have all students complete her class feeling more grounded and connected to the beauty of their true self.

Sally Raspberry, RYT-200

Sally is a graduate of Yoga Garden’s Live Your Yoga Teacher Training program, an Ayurvedic Practitioner and Educator with a background in Therapeutic Massage and Yoga. Her journey toward bliss through balanced living began in 1998 when she traveled to Sweden; It became clear during her four month stay that being in tune with nature, eating well and meditating were essential to living blissfully. After traveling the globe and graduating from massage school, Sally opened an in-home, yoga-based Buddhist preschool (Zen Garden) so she could maximize her time with her two amazing daughters. As her children grew, Sally continued her studies in meditation, Ayurveda and yoga. Sally is a member of the National Ayurvedic Medical Association, Yoga Alliance, and the National Certification Board for Massage and Bodywork Therapists.

Heather Dunn, RYT

Heather, a 230 hr Certified Yoga Teacher, has been practicing yoga for over ten years. Having taught herself through books, she believes that you are your own best teacher. She hopes to lead others to listen to their intuition or inner voice and re-discover the truth that has and always will be inside. She loves to create fresh and creative sequences and always incorporates music into the class theme. Inspired by many different teachers and styles over the years, she has an eclectic style, paying attention to details of alignment and most importantly, the breath! Keeping her classes lighthearted and playful, but also challenging, she hopes to keep you smiling. Heather has taken the level 1 YogaFit certification and completed a 230 hr Total Yoga Immersion with Stephanie Keach in 2011. She continues to study and discover at home and with many different teachers around the Triangle.

Karen Gibbons, RYT200

Karen is a dynamic, compassionate and heartfelt teacher, with a grounding, friendly and fun-loving presence. She has always been a mover and connector – able to tap into both the physical and meta-physical aspects of life. With a background as a dancer and dance instructor, and a Masters in Transpersonal Psychology, Karen appreciates Yoga as a Moving Meditation – a flowing together of body, breath and being; an empowering pathway towards integration, healing and transformation. Karen enjoys guiding students through embodied journeys of self-awareness, self-care and self-expression. Karen found Yoga at a time of struggling with overwhelming anxiety, a sense of powerlessness and insecurity. In search of ways to befriend the body, balance the mind and soothe a restless spirit, she recognized instantly Yoga’s ability to re-connect us to a place of peace and grounding within – A way to remember, listen, honor and move with integrity into wholeness. Karen has been practicing yoga and meditation for about 18 years and received her 200-hr teacher certification through Om Sweet Om in NY. She has taught regularly to a diverse range of students including Developmentally Disabled adults, Teen girls in crises situations, and people experiencing Alzheimer’s and Dementia. She is also YogaKids Foundations trained and has taught classes for kids in schools, camps and community centers, as well. Karen enjoys building conscious and creative community and engaging in the arts. She is on the board of United We Om- a nonprofit bringing yoga and meditation to underserved populations through grassroots efforts. Come to her class and enjoy a connected, compassionate and embodied experience!

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