Owner and Founder, Yoga Heights
Yoga Instructor, E-RYT 500, Yoga Teacher Trainer
I unexpectedly fell in love with yoga because of the way it takes me out of my head and into my body by challenging me to cultivate strength, balance, and stillness. When I decided to become an instructor it allowed me to explore the history, foundations, and logic behind yoga. I continue to learn, and love, that yoga is many different things, to many different people. There is no “right and wrong” in yoga. There are safe and healthy practices that should be respected, but the sky’s the limit. Meditation, nutrition, weight loss, flexibility, stress relief, mental and physical balance – this are all things that yoga brings to me, and that I offer to my students.
My focus in leading the Yoga Heights Teacher Training Program is to empower trainees to thrive on and off the mat. Our training program focuses helping teachers connect to their true self and then teach yoga from that place of self-assured confidence. The yoga we teach is rooted in tradition, yet modernized to be adaptable and beneficial to all students.
Owner and Founder, Yoga Heights
Yoga Instructor, E-RYT
Amy Rizzotto is a yoga instructor, certified nutrition coach, healthy living blogger and wellness entrepreneur. Amy has always had a knack for business and passion for work-life balance. A yogi for 12 years and outdoor exercise enthusiast all her life, Amy turned her healthy hobbies into a career in 2014 after four years in global philanthropy and fundraising.
Amy incorporates a variety of styles into her creative classes and one-on-ones, including Rocket, Power Vinyasa, Yoga for Athletes and Budokon. Students can expect powerful and therapeutic poses linked thoughtfully in sequences designed to strengthen the body, steady the mind and uplift the spirit. Amy is certified in Mindful Yoga Therapy for PTSD and Rocket Yoga.
As a wellness coach and yoga instructor, Amy is dedicated to creating a synergy of movement, awakened eating and mindfulness for total wellness. Her ultimate goal is to to inspire and equip people to discover their own unique path to long-term mind-body health and happiness.
Membership Coordinator & Yoga Instructor
Studio Manager & Yoga Instructor
Social Media and Digital Marketing Intern
Yoga Instructor, E-RYT
With thousands of hours of teaching at yoga centers, corporations and private clients, his reputation as a skilled instructor is renowned. From years of teaching in corporate settings, he specializes in teaching all level classes, accessible to all. His teachings are influenced by the many trainings he has been a part of, including Sivananda yoga and Astanga rocket yoga. Steve embraces the concept vinyasa krama, which is about being present, with special attention to the details in and between each posture with fluidity and calm. Steve has been doing Yoga since high school just because he likes it, and he hopes you will too. Come check out his class!
Born into a yoga family, Caroline was exposed to yoga at a very early age. She dipped her toes into the practice here and there throughout her childhood , but it was not until she moved to Washington, DC in 2009 that she adopted a daily practice. Caroline received her 200-hour RYT certification in Power Vinyasa Yoga and holds a 50 hour Rocket Yoga certificate through David Kyle’s teacher training program. Her classes are influenced by her own Ashtanga and Rocket yoga practices. Caroline loves to cook and she has 2 orange cats named Fred and George.
Sivananda Yoga Instructor
A native of the Washington DC area, Jack discovered yoga after moving back to DC in the early 2000s, from an initial background in Chinese internal martial arts. He completed his 200-hour teacher training course with Sivananda in Kerala, India. Subsequently, he worked as full-time staff with Sivananda’s center in San Francisco and ashram in Grass Valley, California. Jack was assistant teacher for the ashram’s TTC, and has taught many yoga classes in the Sivananda tradition at the center. He is also trained as a Yoga Nidra instructor from the California College of Ayurveda. Jack loves all that traditional yoga has to offer the body, mind, and spirit, and he is excited to share that with you!
Budokon Yoga Instructor
Angela, a former collegiate soccer player, took the path of “healing the world” through living in the favelas of Brazil working at a Street Children’s Project, a Food Pantry in Denver, studied for a Masters Degree in Theology, and ended up living and working for 10 years at Joseph’s House. Angela brings her presence of compassion and integrity to every move she makes. In order to find balance, Angela began teaching Yoga in 2003 and since then has taught consistently throughout studios in DC and NYC, leading various Budokon Academies and 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Trainings. Angela found Martial Arts through Budokon and since then has trained competitively in Mixed Martial Arts modalities, is the Director of Budokon DC and a certified Krav Maga instructor. Through Angela’s classes and coaching you will feel a fierce compassion that challenges you in a safe and protected environment to be beautifully strong inside and out.
Michelle Mae Orr
Yoga Instructor, E-RYT
After receiving her 200-hour certification in 1996, Michelle practiced self-study before beginning to teach in 2004. During that time Michelle delved into the philosophy of yoga and took on a serious meditation practice, in addition to getting her certification in Pilates. She has since managed several yoga studios in the DC area, and taught yoga and meditation in a variety of settings. From 2007 to 2012 she lead a 200-hour teacher training program, certifying hundreds of new instructors. Michelle’s classes can be challenging or gentle, with a focus on alignment, safety and most importantly, presence. “I love sharing the art of yoga. May we all become vividly aware of, and uncover, the perfection and peace of our being.”
Dance Instructor & Yoga Instructor
As a life long student, performer and maker of dance, Sadie finds her bliss in the heat, strength, and mobility that comes from focused physicality. She brings this purposeful playfulness into her dance classes as well as her yoga practice and classes, encouraging her students to move both gracefully and joyfully. Aside from teaching dance, Sadie is involved with the performing arts in DC as a company member of Pointless Theatre, and as a back up singer/dancer in a local band.
Yoga Instructor, E-RYT
Mimi Rieger has been practicing yoga since 1998 and has been teaching for over 12 years. Her physical journey began with ballet at the age of four through her teens and progressed to martial arts and yoga in her twenties to the present day. Through the practice of yoga and the evolution of the mind/body connection, students will find a greater sense of self and confidence on the mat by taking their physical practice to the next level. Mimi received her yoga certification in 2003 at the Ashtanga Yoga Center in Washington, DC. In 2005, she became the first certified Budokon® teacher in the area and is the Regional Director of Budokon® Yoga for Budokon® International. In 2009, she received her Progressive Ashtanga Yoga certification and in 2010 received her Rocket Yoga certification.
Yoga Instructor and YHDC Jack of all Trades
Gregory manages day to day operations in the studio for any and all things YHDC; the YH Jack of all trades, Master of some. A former division one soccer player, Gregory first discovered yoga in 2006 when a extended work trip abroad led him to discover his very first home practice. A regular practice helped him build the strength and flexibility to overcome the lingering effects of two ACL surgeries and run for the first time in several years. At the same time that Gregory was reaping the physical benefits of yoga, he also realized that the spiritual aspects of yoga were unbeatable for alleviating the stress of a fast-paced DC lifestyle. Gregory completed his RYT 200 training at Yoga Heights and has since become a member of the Budokon DC Academy. Through the practice of yoga, Gregory has come to believe that wherever you are, you’re exactly where you’re supposed to be.
Kids Yoga Instructor
Mariela Gomez took her first yoga class in 2001 as a way to change up her gym routine and had such a great first savasana she’s never stopped. In 2011 she became a certified kids yoga teacher. Plans went on hold as she soon found out she was expecting! In 2014 she became a Lil Yoga Baby instructor, under the mentorship of Pleasance Silicki at Lil Omm yoga. Her daughter brings such joy, fun, energy and love to her life and she wants to share that experience and playfulness with her students, helping them disconnect from their everyday stresses and connect positively with their children and families.
Paige discovered yoga while cross-training for the Marine Corps Marathon more than five years ago, and has been practicing daily ever since. She soon found that yoga brings life into balance; it energizes, while grounding; it strengthens, while limbering; it encourages, while humbling; it is external, yet every bit internal. She is grateful to have amazing teachers who help to bring this balance into her life and is energized by helping others to work towards this beautiful balance as well. She is registered through Yoga Alliance and received her 200-hour RYT certification in Power Vinyasa Yoga from Mimi Rieger Teacher Training. She is also 100 hour Rocket certified through David Kyle’s Teacher Training. She practices Mysore style Ashtanga daily, so you will find that her alignment cuing is Ashtanga-based. Come ready to work and play, fly and deepen, root and rise. She strives to offer a powerful class, great for arm-balance and inversion junkies. Rest assured, however, that there is always opportunity to amplify or modify according to your current needs.
Olimpia Lee (350-RYPT) is an Interdisciplinary Yoga Instructor certified through the Nosara Yoga Institute. Olimpia keeps her classes playful & inspirational while encouraging students to find strength & grace through a mix of challenging, empowering & therapeutic practices, including meditation, pranayama, asanas, mantra, yoga nidra, patience, perseverance, gratitude & trust. While she loves working with a wide variety of groups, as a labor assistant, birth doula & women’s health educator, Olimpia’s passion lies in promoting women’s wellness by providing education on accessible & empowering approaches to holistic healing, living, birthing & being. She translates her deep respect for the feminine processes of life into her yoga classes through the inclusion of nurturing hands-on posture assistance, creative visualizations & the intention to allow each student the space to listen to their own needs & inquire into their own experience with courage & compassion.
Kristin Queen Shaffer
A native Texan, Kristin moved to DC after graduating from college. A life-long athlete, running track and cross-country in high school and college, Kristin was looking for a way to get back into shape after her first child, and more importantly, find some “me time.” At the encouragement of a friend Kristin took her first barre class in 2008 and loved it! But a crazy work-travel schedule, pregnancy and life as a first-time mom prevented her from attending regularly until fall 2010 when she “re-discovered” barre for the second time. In 2015, she took the plunge and trained to as a barre instructor and has been teaching and taking barre ever sense. As a barre student she returned time and again because of the community, the music and the challenging workout that was never predictable or old. As a barre teacher, she brings her love of barre and exercise and powerful playlist to her classes each week.
Liz has been practicing yoga since June of 2005 and Pilates since 2010. It has helped teach her how to create space and cultivate compassion for herself and others. Although she loves to practice, yoga is more than physical shapes to her. She is trained and has found her home in Vipassana meditation. She has been teaching yoga for over 7 years and Pilates for 3. Liz received her 200 hour RYT in February 2011 from Flow Yoga Center in DC and will complete her 300 hour RYT with Jules Mitchell in 2018. She is mat and reformer Pilates certified as well. She draws on her knowledge of functional movement biomechanics, Ashtanga, Pilates and Prana Flow for her classes. She is also an active volunteer in the D.C. community; especially through N Street Village and loves to travel.
Jess has been teaching yoga since 2011. After a career teaching ESL and preschool, in 2017 she took the plunge into teaching yoga full-time while attending Maryland University’s Master of Yoga Therapy program. She is a Pelvic Floor Yoga Therapist and specializes in prenatal yoga and children’s yoga. Her passion is guiding people to communicate more intimately with their bodies. Each class is a combination of creative movement, anatomically based alignment, and purposeful movements meant to activate a deeper conversation with the physical body. When you’re in Jess’ class expect intentional transitions, deep breaths, loving assists, quotes, and a long savasana.
Maicie began practicing yoga on a whim when she joined a gym that offered free classes as part of her membership. After a back injury left her in severe pain, yoga became a lifesaver to Maicie as she incorporated it into her rehabilitation, on the advice of her doctor. Maicie, now a 200 hour registered yoga teacher, is exited to share a safe and balanced practice with students of various skill levels, body shapes, and athletic goals. Besides yoga, Maicie enjoys martial arts, scuba, and exploring the outdoors.
Becca fell in love with yoga after a friend coaxed her into a class with the promise of happy hour afterwards in 2014. She left dripping in sweat, sore, and unsure of what just happened but knew she had go to back. She initially enjoyed the physical practice, linking breath and movement, but realized that yoga is so much more than the physical practice as she cultivated inner peace, strength and community on and off the mat. She completed her 200 hour training with Yoga Heights in Washington, DC in May 2017 and is eager and grateful to share yoga with anyone and everyone. Students can expect a thoughtfully sequenced flow rooted in power and vinyasa yoga – building heat, strength, and breath throughout class with plenty of time to explore, build on foundations, and laugh.
After swimming competitively for most of her life, Colleen found herself in a yoga class while looking for a form of exercise that was challenging, cathartic, and didn’t require shoes. She immediately felt the special something that occurs when you unite the body and breath, and fell in love. Colleen completed her 200 hour teacher training in June of 2016 and continues to study and immerse herself in the wide world of yoga, drawing inspiration from Ashtanga, Budokon, and cool stuff on the internet. With playful sequences and funky playlists, she creates a lighthearted environment for her students to find their edge in a thoughtful, compassionate way.
Pasquale Guiducci comes from a background in dance and performing arts, which translates into his teaching style. His classes are funky, upbeat, and draw from various styles of yoga, including, but not limited to, ashtanga, budokon, rocket, and a little bit of modern dance. Sometimes you may hear Top 40 s and other days you could have complex and energizing instrumentals! Know that you will come into class with the intention to work hard, take a risk, try something different, and feel accomplished!
A native of Kalamazoo, Michigan, Matthew has lived in the DC area for 25 years. About three years ago a friend invited Matthew to a hot yoga class. In what may have been a mind-over-matter situation, Matthew accepted the challenge of high heat and humidity, and developed a consistent, daily practice. In 2016, Matthew sought to broaden his yoga practice, and was particularly drawn to Yin Yoga and Yoga Nidra. An inversion workshop let him to Yoga Heights, where he began to practice regularly. Inspired by the many teachers he’s encountered, Matthew enrolled in and completed the 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training at Yoga Heights in May 2017. He also completed a 100-hour Yin Yoga Teacher Training at Yoga Heights in June 2017. Matthew brings his mellow vibe into the studio, with the intent of making yoga accessible and fulfilling to your body and spirit. When not in the studio, you’re likely to find Matthew grooving to music, behind the lens of a camera, somewhere on his road bike, on the hunt for good paper and pens, or challenging someone to board games or Unō.
Cheryl first discovered yoga in 2005, when a friend took her to a Bikram Yoga class. She left covered in sweat and more relaxed than she had ever been. As a competitive rower and coach, she immediately recognized the benefits of yoga for both herself and her students: stretching the muscles, slowing down, turning inward, and breathing deeply. Cheryl found Yoga Heights in July 2015 and has practiced yoga almost daily ever since. Yoga has helped her find inner strength and peace that she never knew she had, and it has completely transformed her mind and body. She enrolled in the Yoga Heights Teacher Training program because she wants to help others discover these benefits and show that yoga is accessible to all bodies. In her classes, expect to move with breath and joy while working through a powerful vinyasa sequence, and leave feeling energized and refreshed. A native of Buffalo, NY, Cheryl has lived in DC since 2010. Outside of the studio, she works in communications at a local private school, participates in competitive karaoke, and coaches with Girls on the Run.
Kundalini Yoga Instructor
Julia Duncan first discovered yoga in 2000, but it wasn’t until years later when personal loss left her searching for a meditative way through grief that she discovered Kundalini Yoga. Julia quickly fell in love with Kundalini because of its ability to strengthen the body while calming the mind and offering innovative ways to meditate. Julia especially appreciates the opportunity to bring Kundalini to those completely new the practice. She offers Kundalini Yoga as an experience within which students learn to utilize the breath and specific postures in order to build strength and shift negative energy. Julia also focuses her teaching on short, concentrated meditations which are especially good for those like her who find traditional methods of meditation challenging. Julia completed her training at Golden Bridge Yoga in New York City and is a KRI-certified teacher in Kundalini Yoga and has received her 200-hour certification. She lives in Takoma Park and is a mom to her eight-year-old son, Von.
Baby & Me Yoga Instructor
Rachel has been a student of yoga for nearly 20 years. Through various phases and locations of life, yoga has been a constant, serving as a living experiment for what can happen when breath and movement are intentionally linked. She completed a 200-hour yoga teacher training in 2013. During pregnancy, Rachel continued her regular yoga and mindfulness practice and, after her daughter was born in 2016, breathing, omm-ing, and moving with the baby became a daily source of joy and discovery. This, in combination with her work as a public health researcher studying the well-being of early childhood educators, led her to bring yoga to caregivers (parents and teachers), babies, and children. She has been coached on this path by her mentor, Pleasance Silicki, and Rachel is deeply grateful to her.
Justina, a former runner and self-proclaimed gym rat, realized quickly that yoga offered more than a “good work out.” Through mindful movements, conscious breathing, and intention setting, she found the practice to be the perfect antidote for a busy lifestyle. What started as a way to find balance and mental clarity from work and school quickly blossomed into a deep respect for the transformative power of yoga when she completed her 200 hour YA-certified training at Yoga Heights. Justina’s teaching style emphasizes strong, fluid movements to help students get out of their head and into their body. She aims to create a space for her students to feel safe to explore what feels good in their body while flowing to fun music and playful sequences. Most importantly, her hope is that every student walks away with more awareness and appreciation for how yoga can meet everyone’s individual needs at the present moment.
With a background in ballet, Amanda has always used movement to find balance on and off the mat. She feels that the mat is a great place to test your limits and learn about yourself. Amanda’s teaching style emphasizes foundational movements that will build strength and flexibility. Students can expect to work hard and sweat, while deepening their practice and understanding of yoga. Amanda completed her 200 hour teacher training under Angela Meyer and Jess Pierno in June 2016.
Natalie Weinstein (RYT) completed her 200-hour yoga certification from the Maui Yoga and Dance Shala (RYS) in March 2016 and started teaching in the Washington, DC area after completing her training. As a dedicated yogini for more than a decade, Natalie keeps returning to the mat as a way to stay centered and grounded, regardless of life’s twists and turns. Natalie believes yoga should be accessible to everybody; you can expect her classes to be intentional, powerful, creative, and uplifting, with lots of modifications and a focus on alignment.
Emily (RYT, RPYT) is committed to teaching dynamic, strong, yet lighthearted yoga classes to students of all levels. She has practiced yoga for over thirteen years, and taught yoga for over seven years. She received her 200 hour yoga teacher certification in 2010, and her 85 hour prenatal yoga teacher certification in 2016 (while pregnant with her first child). Emily sees the value in practicing many different types of yoga and enjoys helping students see that some days you may benefit from a power vinyasa class and other days a restorative class is what the body needs.
Nicole (“Cole”) Bennett
Nicole (Cole) began her yoga practice in 2007, first as part of college course and then with Bryan Kest and Ally Hamilton in Santa Monica. The practice continued to ground her, in Atlanta, San Francisco, and now in DC. In early 2015, she completed her 200-hour vinyasa yoga certification with Tranquil Space and discovered a rich and inspirational yoga history and philosophy – something, she notes, continues to ground the yoga community. As a yoga teacher, she seeks to create an experience for students to learn more about their authentic self, through movement, mindfulness, and music. She approaches each session with a balance of comfort and challenge, creativity and tradition, and uses hands-on, safe assists.
Dianne’s love of travel and language study has taken her on some interesting adventures, including year-long stints teaching English in Japan and China. The coolest thing she did was travel the Khunjerab Pass to cross the China-Pakistan border. Dianne fell in love with yoga because, just like traveling, yoga has the power to transform — without ever needing to leave your mat. Dianne likes to incorporate a variety of different styles and influences into her practice so that each class is its own adventure.
Jennifer Fernandez is a native Californian with over 8 years of yoga experience. She completed her RYT200 hour training under Jess Pierno and Angela Meyer at Yoga Heights in Washington, DC in 2016. Jennifer teaches and practices primarily Vinyasa flow but has taken additional training in Yin. With a background in comedy and music, Jennifer strives for fun, accessible classes for yogis with all levels of experience looking for a good workout. When she’s not on the mat, Jennifer is with her Dalmatian/Beagle mix, Boba Fett.
Isabel moved to DC for grad/law school, loved the area and has set up camp. A former college athlete missing the surfing, rowing, and field hockey life, she was looking for a new challenge. So trained for and ran over six half marathons. In 2016 after sustaining a knee injury from running, a bit too much, Isabel discovered the low impact but strength-building workout that barre provided. She decided to get trained as a way to continue the practice, remain accountable, and help bring the shimmy-shake life to the Yoga Heights community. Join Isabel for an inclusive hip tucking and muscle pulsing good time. The beats will move you, your heart will soar, and your bottom will thank you.
MEET OUR AMAZING SUBS
Amy Fisher Bruey
Yoga & Pilates Instructor