All of our Yoga Instructors have received their Certificate to teach Yoga at a minimum of 200hrs and many have over 5000 hours of teaching experience. Our teachers are also Registered Yoga Teachers (RYT) and/or Experienced RYT’s with the Yoga Alliance Organization, which sets the minimum standards for Yoga teacher training programs at 200 hrs to provide for well-rounded learning, experience, and understanding of how to provide a safe and nurturing environment while sharing Yoga with students.
Please enjoy getting to know us through our Bio’s below… and join us soon for yoga, meditation, retreats, workshops and more!
Cassandra Wallick (aka Nischala), E-RYT200, CYTx2
Ordained Healer and Yogacharya
Lightarian Reiki Practioner
Founder of Gilbert Yoga
I began my practice of yoga in California in the Ashtanga tradition in 1998. Through my first experience of yoga, I realized that this was the Path for me. It felt ‘right’; I had finally found a practice that fulfilled me…in mind, body, and spirit. As my body became stronger, my mind became more peaceful, and my spirit soared. I was gained my first certificate as a yoga instructor in Arizona in the year 2000, and later studied under an Self-Realized Master from South India (from 2006-2009) gaining my Ordainment as a Yogacharya and Spiritual Healer in India in 2007. Within these many hours of experiential practice and studies with a Master my practice became deeply spiritual, and meditation led me further inward and ultimately to connect with my Divine Self. Throughout the years on this Yoga path, I’ve enjoyed practicing and studying Sanskrit (the language of yoga), Ashtanga yoga, Anusara yoga, Power yoga, Restorative yoga, Yin yoga, Viniyoga, Nithya Yoga, Hot Yoga, Kids Yoga and more. In my classes I openly and respectfully share my Truth – we are Spiritual Beings living a Human Existence, and through Love and Oneness we can enjoy each moment as it arises, opening to Grace, allowing ourselves to Flow with the rhythm of this Dance we call Life. May you too know the end of suffering in your life, and be the beacon of Light that leads others to the Truth. Namaste’
Trainer, Reiki Practitioner
We are all born with an enlightened heart, with a calm and peaceful mind, breathing. In our yoga practice we are simply coming back to who we Are…to our Divine Essence. There are many ways to walk our path; the Art and Science of Yoga is a very special and effective one, at least for me. My journey started when I was a child; we were 7 crazy kids (3 girls/4 boys), me in the middle. Yoga for me, at first, was about trying to impress my family with some pretzel-like yoga poses I may have seen in a book at home in Venezuela. Now yoga is a way a life…a method of healing. My childhood freedom was often interrupted by broken bones, a symptom of premature osteoporosis at the age of six. Through my younger years I had two broken vertebra, a broken tailbone, ankles, foot, toes, fingers, etc… not all at once of course! At one point in my late 20’s I asked myself, ‘Do I want to live this way?’ In constant pain, so limited and restricted? Of course not! Two days later I met my first yoga teacher, Nancy. Within a few weeks I began to see the results of a consistent practice of yoga. I started to heal and transform in so many ways. The more I woke up and continue to wake up, the more I see and realize that I know nothing…and that inspires me to move on. After some years, I came to the United States, having faced many challenges but along the way learning that it is our perception that will make a difference…allowing us to remain in Peace, and remembering to continue to Trust. Along my path, I met Cassandra, who encouraged me to get teach yoga. And in 2001 in Sedona, through an amazing 30 days of yoga…of waking up… I became certified to teach and joined her at Gilbert Yoga. My training was based on ancient Tantric Techniques of Yoga and Kriyas, developed by Yoga Master Swami Satyananda Saraswati, a disciple of Enlightened Master Swami Sivananda. Meanwhile I met my husband, Carlos, who is a constant teacher, Guru, and daily inspiration. In 2002 our son David came into our lives and gave us the honor of being his parents. He is our teacher, our inspiration, our reminder to Just Be…be happy, be joyful, be grateful! So, hear I AM, continually learning, teaching, giving, and receiving the many Blessings and benefits of this science, art, discipline called Yoga. We can call it whatever we like, but it is bringing us together. It welcomes and holds us…as we are, feeding any particular need of our body, mind and spirit, gently guiding us back home to our Divine Essence. I invite you to join me in a practice of All Level or Vinyasa Flow Yoga, so that we may ultimately break free from the illusion of seperateness, boundaries and suffering. I AM YOU, YOU ARE I, and WE ARE ONE….ONE with the Divine.
Lisette Mercado-Pena, RYT
Registered Prenatal Yoga Teacher & RPYT Teacher Trainer
Licensed Hypno-Birthing Coach
Many people ask, “How were you drawn to yoga and birth education?” Several life experiences drew me toward the wonders of yoga and the amazing spiritual, emotional and physical aspects yoga offers. For me, yoga encompassed everything that I needed to keep myself healthy and sane in mind, body and spirit. My greatest joys are my children, husband, family and teaching. Evolving as a woman, wife and mother is what motivated me to become a yoga instructor. I had practiced yoga for many years, but knew that I was missing something – that was sharing my passion with others. I had already brought two amazing little girls into the world, both great birthing experiences, but not in the natural methods that I later realized and felt deep in my heart were best for myself and my baby. While in yoga teacher training, I also became a Hypnotherapist and found HypnoBirthing the Mongan Method. I then became certified as a birth educator before even experiencing a non-medicated birth. Knowing and learning about the history of child birth and how we as women gave and still give all our power away during birth, I began to strongly feel that we need to regain confidence and trust in who we are and in the bodies we were given. My next two children were birthed at home, as water births; a profound experience which words cannot do justice. I have become extremely passionate about yoga and birth education and am overwhelmingly happy to share this with students in my classes. It is so joyful to watch a pregnant woman evolve – sometimes from a place of fear and doubt, into a being full of happiness, love, joy, and excitement around their upcoming birth process. When a woman really wants to, they can trust the process of labor and birth and have the birth experience that they envision! Let me help you to envision YOUR MOST PERFECT BIRTH!
Lisa Hecke, RYT
Hypno-Therapy, Aromatherapy and Reiki Practitioner
This journey called yoga has brought me to a place of healing, love, and an overall connection to Self. My yoga path began in 2006 when I was searching for a sense of self discovery. I was pleasantly surprised when I arrived at my first yoga class and found that my spirit had been longing for exactly this. On that day I was able to find a place of Center, a place of Peace within myself that I had not ever experienced before. As the years went by, my practice began to evolve until one day I found myself awaken to a new chapter that would bring me into a 200 hour teacher training program. I have been blessed to train with Carrie Hensley, in Ashtanga, Vinyasa and the Fundamentals of Yoga. As a teacher it is my intention to create a space of peace where students can connect to the physical, energetic, and emotional sensations in the postures. Each class will gently blend steadiness with ease, while focusing on alignment, breath work, and an exploration into self discovery, allowing a safe space for students to look within and honor their truth…their authentic Self.
Jeanette Runnings, Pediatric Occupational Therapist
RYT & Certified Kids Yoga Teacher through Karma Kids and Radiant Child Programs
Certified Laughter Leader through the World Laughter Tour Program
I added yoga to my life in the late 1990’s, but with job changes and family moves it was difficult to always maintain a dedicated practice. I started teaching children’s yoga classes in 2005 in Boise, Idaho. I was motivated as a pediatric Occupational therapist, to give to the kids the benefits I got from yoga for myself. Children are different than adults and so I sought out how to make yoga more kid appealing through trainings with Karma Kids Yoga in NYC and the Radiant Child Programs. I immersed myself in both kids and adult workshops and began using yoga in my therapy practice and in the community. My Kids classes include imaginative play, stories, laughter, music, toys, games and other yoga props. Once a child is happy, confident and motivated, they soon become more open to learning not just the movements of yoga but begin to tune into breath and the spirit of yoga. Using my therapist background I am happy to be sharing yoga with both typically developing children and those with special needs. Yoga helps kids find balance in their life, aids their motor development, as well as improves flexibility of body and mind, improves anger control, and teaches self calming techniques. Just like an adult, the practice is accumulative and does not happen overnight. A consistent yoga practice will help children blossom into confident, balanced, happy individuals. When we moved to Arizona in 2008, I was so happy to find Gilbert Yoga and the support of the wonderful teachers there. Besides kids classes, I enjoy teaching Level 1-2 Adult classes and Laughter Yoga for all ages!
Heather Janesky, RYT
Yoga is my Way…I create yoga (union) with the energy that runs through my body, mind and spirit. I have been practicing since the year 2000 and guiding others in yoga since 2004. I practice all types of yoga, keeping my heart and mind open to all possibilities. In my classes at the studio, I guide the practice of Hatha yoga, allowing the students to tap into their breath, their endurance and their energies. I am the student in my class as well as the guide and Know that moving with the energies from moment to moment opens the whole being to creativity, health, joy, peace and ultimately, unconditional love.
“Be truly whole, and all things will come to you.” Lao-Tzu
Heather Ricciardi, RYT
As a student of yoga, first I am delighted to share in the experience of breath, movement and connection with each of my fellow seekers. Yoga entered my life a decade ago while I was in the process of earning a B.S. in Psychology at ASU. After graduation, my pathway and intentions seemed to diverge. I wanted to help people, but I found that traditional counseling methods are flawed and inadequate
. I discovered the Southwest Institute of Healing Arts (SWIHA) and enrolled in the yoga teacher training program in 2006. Later that year I began teaching under the mentorship of Mary Bruce, to whom I am forever indebted. Since graduation from SWIHA, I have continued to study under Mary Bruce and Rod Stryker in the Para Yoga tradition of Tantra. Currently I teach Hatha Yoga, working to incorporate a full spectrum of disciplines. Vinyasa flow is one of my favorites. Also, I teach Beginner Yoga, All Level, Kundalini and Yin Yoga to a variety of minds and bodies. My intention is to communicate consciously; to set out a buffet of possibilities from which each student may take according to their own needs. I finished a Master of Liberal Studies degree at ASU in December of 2011, with concentrations in Religion, Culture and Gender. It is my hope that in the near future, yoga and yoga therapies will be accepted by the medical and psychological communities as a form of preventative medicine. It is my dream to establish research projects to study sustainable living and yoga related CAM (complimentary and alternative medicines). Both of these fields remain under explored…until now.
My website: www.UrbanAshramYogaCooperative.com.
Joy Fichiera E-RYT
Registerd Pregnancy Yoga Teacher & RPYT Teacher Trainer
I’ve been studying yoga since my first class in college in 1996. It was then that I first experienced the stillness and clarity within that yoga can bring, and that which I hope to bring to my students’ lives. In my classes I blend many styles of yoga into an uplifting and soothing yoga practice appropriate for almost any level student. I graduated with a degree from Brown University in Health and Society and received my yoga training at the Southwest Institute of Healing Arts in the year 2000. I am currently qualified as an E-RYT (Experienced Yoga Teacher with over 1000 hours of teaching) as recognized by Yoga Alliance and am also a certified Pregnancy Yoga Teacher and a Teacher Trainer for YogaEd. I also currently teach and direct the 200 hr Yoga Teacher Training program at Rising Spirit Yoga in Wells River, VT. I live in Chandler with my husband, Paul, and children Tyler, Lucas and Haley. My website: www.JoyFichiera.com
Barb Piggott RYT
Certified Life Coach
Ordained Meditation Acharya
Hi, I am Barb…well, that is one of the ways that I am known. I am also a yoga teacher, Life Coach, Human Resource professional, college graduate, Mom, Grandmom, Wife, Friend, Sister, Daughter and dog lover! We all have many titles like mine, but we really are all just divine souls experiencing the three states of consciousness! I began to awaken to this reality in 2006 after being transferred to Arizona from New Jersey where I had lived all of my life. Shortly after my arrival, I suddenly had a knowingness that there was a deeper experience of life and I found myself walking into my first conscious yoga class at Gilbert Yoga. That was the beginning of the second half of my life and I have continued to nourish my soul to unfold since that time. My initial yoga practice was significantly focused on meditation, sun salutations and gentle restorative postures, and as I have evolved, my practice evolved with me. During 2008-2009, I was graced to have the opportunity to study with Enlightened Master, Sri Nithyananda. I was blessed to go through the Life Bliss program, study the Yoga Sutras of Pantajali with this Master, and become ordained as a meditation teacher (achayra) for the practice of Nithya Dhyaan. Then I continued to deepen my spiritual world through working with other enlightened beings and entering yoga teacher training. I have been honored to be taught and be in community with wonderful teachers that have passed down their lineage from Desikachar & Krishnamacharya. My mantra is ‘The Key to Consciousness is Your Heart’. I offer support to connect mind, body and spirit, where each soul can experience their own truth and find their journey on the path of grace. I look forward to crossing paths with you someday, and who knows what you will find me involved with at that time…the world is wide open when we just see through our heart and break free!
Visit me at www. bezenspirit.com.
Lanita Ugstad RYT
Yoga for Special Populations, Reiki Practitioner, Labor Doula, Bhakti, Prenatal Yoga, Chakra Flow
My path of Yoga began in the year 2000, when I attended my first yoga class. I instantly fell in love with the practice. At that time, I was attending classes as a way to have some “me” time and relieve stress. I continued to practice in a studio setting and at home off and on for many years. A few years ago it became apparent that my path was to teach and that I would pursue teacher training. I knew there was so much more to learn, that this practice of yoga had so much more to offer, not only through the physical practice of asana, but also through breath and spirituality. As with all things in life, listening to your heart and knowing when the time is right to grow is essential. After my family and I relocated to Gilbert from Tucson, fate brought me to Gilbert Yoga. It was the first studio I attended and I never left! Gilbert Yoga felt like home and after attending a Vision Board workshop, I knew it was time to grow my practice, gain my Yoga Teacher Certificate and become a Registered Yoga Teacher. I am so proud to say that I obtained my certification through the teachings of Cassandra Wallick/Nischala at Gilbert Yoga. My passion is to give the gift of yoga; give back to our community by offering this practice of breath, asana and spirituality by connecting with our inner light. Primarily teaching All Level, Prenatal and Chakra classes, I have also recently gained a certificate to teach yoga to special populations and I am also a Labor Doula. I have so much gratitude and love for this practice and I am excited to continue to serve our community; removing obstacles through the beautiful foundations of Yoga and healing. Namaste!
Diane Pollack, RYT
I have been a member of the Gilbert Yoga family since shortly after Cassandra opened the doors in 2003. I came out of curiosity and stayed because of the community. From my very first class at Gilbert Yoga I felt welcomed, was treated with kindness, and allowed to grow my practice over time. In teaching yoga, I enjoy making yoga practice accessible to students of all abilities and ages. I give clear verbal instructions and model poses throughout the class allowing the students to be successful at any level. In my All Level Class you will enjoy breathing, stretching, and moving into poses with light-hearted music for a fun, safe practice.
Patty Coleman RYT – Gentle/Restorative Yoga specialty, retired RN.
Patty Van Herpen
Certified Yoga Teacher
Gretchen Bickert RYT
Kundalini Yoga Teacher and Sound Healer/Gong & Tibetan Bowl Vibration Sessions
Carrie Hensley E-RYT – past owner of Inside the Bungalow Yoga/Cafe; Ashtanga Vinyasa specialty, Yoga teacher trainer