Catherine Schmidt, Owner & Instructor, RYT - 500
Catherine has been practicing yoga since 2012 and appreciates the balance, creativity, and fun that yoga brings to her life. Catherine began teaching yoga in 2016 after completing a 200-hour Power Vinyasa yoga teacher training with Megan Rader Yoga in Grand Rapids. She attended The Little Yoga House's Kids Yoga training and has been teaching kids yoga since 2018. Catherine completed her 300-hour teacher training program in 2019 at Peacelab Yoga with Melanie McQuown - a program focused on alignment-based yoga. She’s participated in additional training with Christina Sell, Manorama, and Gioconda Parker on her journey as a lifelong student.
Catherine’s classes are a healthy mix of proper pose alignment, intuitive movement, fun, physical work, and internal contemplation.
Catherine and her husband, Bill, have lived in Caledonia since 2015 with their son, Connor, and a hound dog named Walter. Catherine enjoys spending time outdoors, biking or walking the dog, and trying new restaurants around the Grand Rapids area.
Donna Evans, Instructor, RYT 200
Donna retired from owning Yoga Plus in 2018 after 12 years of building the yoga community in Caledonia. She is excited to be a part of The Yoga Zen in her retirement! Donna’s passion for health and fitness has been in her life for many years – she has had her Ace Group Fitness certification since 1997. Before teaching yoga, she taught aerobics, kickboxing, spinning, Pilates, and Zumba. Donna has earned 4 levels of yoga training through YogaFit and has received specialized training in prenatal and senior’s yoga.
In Donna’s classes her zest for life shines through and illuminates her students with motivation, gratitude, and their own enthusiasm for life!
In her retirement, Donna and her husband plan to do long periods of traveling. When not gone away on a trips, though, Donna will be back here teaching or practicing yoga next to her many friends, old and new.
Deanie Pettengill, Instructor, RYT–500
Lloydean Pettengill, known as Deanie to her friends and yoga community, has been practicing yoga since 2000. She was in her 40’s when she first came to yoga and felt the difference it made in her life immediately. She became passionate about yoga and received her 500 RYT certification from Beaumont School of Yoga Therapy in Royal Oak, Michigan.
Deanie draws inspiration from the Iyengar style of yoga, using props to focus on proper alignment. She has additional training in Yoga for PTSD for Veterans, Adaptive Yoga for Parkinson’s and Multiple Sclerosis, and working with people over 50 on the issues that came with aging. She is fueled by her personal belief that yoga is a fountain of youth and has great possibility to help others. She continues to grow her knowledge by taking regular training programs and studying with instructors in the yoga therapy field.
Deanie enjoys traveling, gardening, horseback riding, family, and experiencing new things.
Ginger Valentine, Instructor, RYT–200
Ginger began practicing yoga in 2007. She came to the mat to find relief from chronic back pain. Yoga not only helped her to move pain-free, but supported her in becoming a better mom, teacher and friend. Ginger brings a deep knowledge of yoga alignment and technique to her light-hearted, judgement free, and challenging classes. She has deepened her skill and knowledge of yoga while training with many internationally known yoga teachers, including Christina Sell, Desiree Rumbaugh, John Friend, Dr. Douglas Brooks and Gioconda Parker.
Ginger has the heart and experience of a teacher. She taught Spanish for twenty-six years at Cedar Springs High School and has been teaching yoga since August, 2015. She received her RYT 200 hour yoga certification with AM Yoga. She has additional training in Yoga for PTSD for Veterans, is YogaEd certified K-12 and has taught hundreds of yoga classes.
Ginger’s goal is to help others feel strong, flexible, and balanced both on and off the mat. Her motto is “Love Yourself.”
Ginger enjoys yoga and...more yoga, traveling, creating glass mosaics and working on her 113 year old home.
Hollie Longieliere, Instructor, RYT - 200
Hollie is a long time movement enthusiast. Growing up she danced on competitive teams and started teaching dance as a high school senior. After high school, Hollie’s path took some wild turns (like most life paths do) and she fell completely out of touch with dance and movement of any kind. She found hula hoop and belly dancing in her early 20s which eventually led to her first experience in a yoga class. She fell in love with yoga during that first class in savasana and has been practicing fairly regularly ever since. In 2013, she began using her practice as a tool to heal and move through the depths of severe depression and PTSD. Once Hollie started to see the true mind-body connection coming up through physical asana, she began meditating on her own and studying yoga philosophy.
In 2014, Hollie started her 200 hour training through Seva Yoga in East Grand Rapids. It was her sole intention to help others that led her to the training and inspired her to dive deeper. She continues to learn and attends various classes and teacher trainings.
In her classes you can expect to find balanced intuitive movement, be challenged, and find freedom within your body. It is Hollie's truest and deepest intention to guide others on their path to becoming the highest versions of themselves. She believes there is a guru in each of us, and all we have to do is slow down, surrender, and listen.
Hollie lives in the Grand Rapids area with her husband and puppy - Louie.
Sheila Lenhart, Instructor, RYT 500
Sheila began teaching Heart Centered Hatha Yoga in 2017 and has had a dedicated practice since 2011. She first came to yoga searching for balance and a desire to stay healthy and capable in life. Sheila completed her 200-hour teacher training in 2017 and her 300-hours in 2019 at From The Heart Yoga and Tai Chi Center, training with Behnje Masson and Rick Powell. In 2018 she received certification for a Wisdom Warrior teacher training with international yoga instructor Desiree Rumbaugh and physical therapist Karen Church. Sheila has studied extensively with Desiree, Professor Douglas Brooks, Ayurvedic Practitioner Sonam Targee, and internationally known instructor Christina Sell.
Sheila loves sharing her passion for yoga and how through this practice we can age gracefully with strength and vitality. She is dedicated to her studentship and enjoys participating in classes and workshops. She finds this to be life enhancing on and off the mat!
Leisure time is spent with family, her husband Dan and their Frenchies Buddha and Lotus.
Ashlee Elliott, Instructor & Reiki Practitioner, E-RYT 200
Ashlee has been practicing yoga for over 16 years. Her love and inquiry for the practice led her to enroll in teacher training in 2015. Ashlee completed her first 200 hour teacher training in April 2015 at The Asheville Yoga Center followed closely with another 200 hour program in August of 2015 through AM Yoga. She completed Veterans and PTSD training through the Veterans Yoga Project in 2018. Ashlee has been teaching yoga in the Grand Rapids area since 2015, has taught over 1000 classes, and has experience teaching a variety of styles and ability levels. Ashlee likes to blend her knowledge of power vinyasa, alignment, and personal development into creating classes that are intentional, accessible, and fun loving.
Ashlee has also been a student of Reiki, a Japanese form of energy healing, for over 6 years. She completed her training in Colorado from Rocky Mountain Reiki in the lineage of the Usui System of Natural Healing. Reiki is a form of light hands on and aura healing that helps to relax the nervous system and balance out the energetic body. Energy is neither good, bad, positive, or negative. Energy simply exists but too much or too little of it in areas of the body can cause discomfort, disharmony, and illness. Reiki helps to bring balance to the body and can help reduce stress, relieve pain, increase quality of sleep, lower blood pressure, and much more. In a Reiki session, Ashlee's goal is to help you feel supported and seen as you connect to yourself and your life force energy.
When not practicing yoga or reiki, Ashlee is probably making healthy vegan food, snuggling with her dogs, or enjoying the outdoors.
Jill Johnson, Instructor, RYT 500
Jill Johnson first found her yoga practice in 2015 and fell in love with the physicality of the vinyasa style. Soon after, Jill realized that yoga aligned with her life coach training in that how you show up on your mat is how you show up in other areas of life as well. Inspired and eager to have another tool to teach people about themselves she signed up for teacher training and received her 200 hour certification in 2016. In 2018, wanting to learn more about yoga and desiring to become a more knowledgeable teacher, Jill completed her 500 RYT at PeaceLab Yoga Shala with Melanie McQuown.
Although Jill loves a good vinyasa sweat, these days she’s leaning more towards a practice and teaching that unites people with their inner selves. She believes that in order for asana to not become another coping mechanism, we need to be mindful of why and how we are practicing and have a sense of humor about our bodies and our humanity!
When Jill is off her mat she loves laughing as much as she can, spending time with her husband and helping others by organizing their things and planning their day to day in her coaching practice.
Jessie Lucas, Instructor
Jessie was first introduced to yoga as an adolescent by her mother, and dabbled in yoga on and off throughout her years growing up. In 2013, she began a routine home practice, and ultimately found consistent studio practice in 2017. Her at home practice helped her see the beginnings of the “something more” yoga has to offer as she saw benefits in both her physical and mental health, as well as her overall emotional state. However, it was studio practice that unlocked the host of possibilities of that “something more.” Jessie began teaching in November 2017 after completing training through Yoga Fit, and is currently enrolled in the Peace Lab Yoga Shala’s 200 hour teacher training program with Melanie McQuown.
Jessie hopes to bring others the opportunity to grow and discover the beauty and power within themselves. Her classes try to blend opportunities for self-discovery with moments of lightheartedness, and provide accessibility to students of varying levels of experience.
Outside of yoga, Jessie enjoys spending time with her husband, running, curling up with a good book, and expressing her creative side through writing/calligraphy, home projects, and crafts. Most who know Jessie will tell you she absolutely LOVES everything about Christmas and celebrates the season as long as she can. She also appreciates a good "Dad Joke," and will laugh at them harder than most would, without fail.
Maria Hallowell, Instructor, E-RYT 200
Maria began teaching yoga in 2004 as a volunteer for the American Red Cross National Headquarters in Washington, DC. Maria started her yoga studies under master instructor Pat Joselyn, in North Carolina to receive her yoga certifications, and with Reiki Master Bryce Goeble (NC) for her reiki certifications. In 2009, Maria co-founded a yoga studio in Charlotte, NC's historic arts' district, and specialized as a private/group instructor for clients with Alzheimer's, dementia, and cancer, with a focus on how energy moves through the body.
Maria lives in Alto, Michigan with her husband, 5 year old daughter, and lazy-but-lovable dog.
Katie Richter, Instructor, RYT - 200
Katie first discovered yoga at the age of 19, but it wasn’t until serving in the military that she became truly dedicated to her practice. Yoga became the tool that helped her combat the pressures, demands, and stresses of serving on active duty in the US Army. In 2017 she enrolled in her 200-hour training and studied under Jenny Lintvedt at Yoga Fever in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Katie is also a certified Reiki practitioner; trained in the Usui Shiki Ryoho System of Natural Healing with Reiki Master Jennifer Nicol at Yoga Loft in Waipio, Hawaii in 2018.
As a Veteran, she remains a very strong supporter of our military and is extremely passionate about working closely with our Service Members, Veterans, and their families to bring the healing properties of yoga to this community. As a result, she completed her Level One Warriors at Ease Yoga training which focuses on trauma-sensitive yoga, meditation, and breathing practices to facilitate and promote growth, connection, and healing. The classes she teaches combine fluid sequencing of Vinyasa, meditation through mindful movement, and connection to the present moment through breath. Her goal as an instructor is to cultivate a space where all students feel safe, connected, and have fun in the process!
Katie is from Middleville and lives in Grand Rapids with her son and enjoys concerts, traveling, and hiking.
Cristin Jamba, Instructor, RYT-200
Cristin began practicing yoga in 2017 after having been in dance for 18 years. Yoga offered her a renewed sense of spirit and grounding during a very difficult time in her life where she was faced with numerous uncertainties, both personally and professionally. Cristin immediately connected to the practice, valuing the balance, joy, and calm it brought to her life.
Cristin decided to further her practice by becoming a certified yoga teacher. She completed her 200 hour teacher training in Power Vinyasa through Megan Rader Yoga in Grand Rapids and is certified through Yoga Alliance. Cristin appreciates the strength building nature of a power vinyasa practice but on the flip side, also has a passion for Yin as way to cope and promote healing while she navigates connective tissue disorders. Cristin pursued her Yin Yoga certification with Lynne Baum in Bloomfield Hills in order to help others on their road to healing and recovery, as well as those wanting to round out their practice with grounding, balance and stillness. Her favorite styles of yoga include Power Vinyasa, Yin, and Restorative, and has a special interest in Sound Healing as well. She is elated to be a part of the Yoga Zen team where she can teach, learn, grow, and connect with this community!
Cristin lives in Grand Rapids and likes to spend her free time traveling and being outdoors. She is the proud fur mom of two adorable cats, Stella and Stanley.