Past Instructors

Pilgrimage of the Heart Yoga > Past Instructors

Each instructor here at Pilgrimage of the Heart Yoga brings their own love, style, compassion, and expertise for the practice to the students of yoga. Although these instructors are no longer currently teaching at Pilgrimage of the Heart, we still feature their stories and their videos on our site. Learn more about these instructors below.

Arezou Ghane, PhD.

Dr. Arezou Ghane is a health psychologist, yoga instructor, dancer, and founder of Auteur Health and Wellness. Her passion is to share her love of movement and the science of wellbeing to support others seeking to live healthy and intentional lives.

Arezou took her first Hatha yoga class when she was 18 years old. Since then, she continued to practice at various studios in northern and southern California. It was through her introduction to Ashtanga Yoga that she learned how, with discipline and dedication, a consistent yoga practice could improve mental and physical performance in almost any context.

Arezou’s classes focus on linking movements together so that they intuitively “flow” from one pose to the next, while also emphasizing breath, intention, strength, and balance. Arezou loves to share the art of yoga as a tool for wellbeing, and she enjoys watching her students flourish as they start to pay more mindful attention to their breath and body.

Arturo Galvez, E-RYT 500

Arturo has over 30 years of Yoga teaching experience. He is registered as an "Experienced Registered Yoga Teacher 500" the highest level of registry awarded by the" Yoga Alliance”, an international body of standards within the industry.

Arturo's Yoga teachers include B.K.S Iyengar and Indra Devi, both world-renowned masters in the Krichnamacharya tradition. His yoga studies span Latin America, India and the USA.

Started in 1980 a Yoga program at the University of California in San Diego, one of the first yoga programs associated with a major university. As part of Arturo's efforts to bring the benefits of Yoga to many, he conducted a series of yoga segments for Univision TV, produced a yoga DVD, has produced over 100 web based yoga videos through "", co-produced a radio program centered on metaphysical themes and self-help and has been conducting yoga retreats and seminars in Europe and Hawaii for over ten years.

Besides teaching the more physical benefits of Yoga, Arturo is committed to also teaching the more philosophical and historical aspects of the practice; he co-founded the MindBody seminars, combining elements of western and eastern techniques of self development, taught Yoga Philosophy and History for the UCSD extension program and started a two year yoga teacher training program at the University of California San Diego. He was a featured speaker at the Wholistic Life Expo, 2012 San Diego.

Arturo holds an engineering degree in Telecommunications and advanced studies in education and social work.

Arturo's Class Style: Arturo teaches an alignment based practice based on the teachings of B.K.S Iyengar and Indra Devi with focus on safety and proper execution of postures.

Astika Mason

Astika Mason is a 40 year disciple of spiritual master Sri Chinmoy. A universalist who has practiced several spiritual traditions in both monastic and non-monastic communities, he believes the essence of personal practice is the same across all faiths. A poet, essayist and short story author, Astika is a lay contributor to the Buddhist Text Translation Society when not working on his first novel, The City of The Goddess.

Blair Hartwell

Blair began her teaching journey here at Pilgrimage of the Heart in 2008, and has enjoyed the love, community, and growth that surrounds this beautiful studio ever since. In 2010, she took a year traveling the world, using her breath as a center within the ever-changing scenery and experiences. Incorporating a sense of balance between self, others, and the universe, Blair encourages her students to follow their own inner voice and lead a life full of compassion.

Carolina Moreira

Carolina discovered yoga in 2008 with the intention to improve physical fitness, strength, and flexibility. However, she quickly found a powerful transformative effect through a daily practice, which brought her mental and emotional benefits beyond the physical aspects. Initially, yoga fed her inside with self-discovery, balance, and acceptance. Carolina knew that she had discovered her path through yoga, and she made a choice to passionately share it with others.

“Personal growth is what I believe life is all about, and what really matters at the end. From the depths of my heart, I thank all my family, friends and teachers for their lasting love, care, kindness and support. NAMASTE !

Courtney Yezzi

My Name is Courtney Yezzi and I am a yoga teacher. I am happy to help and eager to teach what I know. I am lucky to have learned the art of asana from some very solid people and thank my own inner light for guiding me daily. I enjoy studentship and my favorite styles of learning are Iyengar and Anusara Yoga. I enjoy the form of Iyengar and the discipline of right knowing and right action. I believe the way Mr. Iyengar and his family teach asana to be the truth, the light and the very correct way to be in our bodies. I have also learned plenty and try to recall as often as I can the freedom of my previous Anusara teachers. From within our form there is a formlessness that spirals and sings from our bones and through our hearts. What I can say about my own style of teaching is that I take what my teachers have taught me, apply it to my body and then offer what comes out with as much sincerity and joy as I can muster up. I have never felt more alive or connected to the divinity of people as when I am teaching. I know that it is only from a place of stability and alignment that we can express ourselves fully with creativity and ease.

Daniel Sannito, RYT 500

Daniel (they/them) first came to the practice of yoga in 2010. They quickly fell in love with the ancient teachings and philosophies and their world shifted. In 2013 Daniel completed their 200hr YTT in New York and by the end of 2014 they finished a 300hr YTT.

Daniel enjoys teaching creative, dynamic flows while incorporating themes and intentions, seamlessly weaving the philosophies of yoga in with the physical practice. In their classes, Daniel focuses on alignment, breath, and intention setting, allowing for the mind, body, and heart to connect throughout the practice. They are known for their authentic teaching style that creates a safe environment for students to explore their own practice.

Daniel is trained in many styles including, but not limited to Hatha, Vinyasa, and Restorative Yoga. Their ultimate goal through sharing this practice is to cultivate a space where any and all students are able to dive a little bit deeper into themselves and embrace their true essence, offering them more peace and joy in their practices on and off the mat, every single day.

Danielle Brand-Lemond

Danielle is a yoga practitioner and teacher, a writer, and a mother. She strives to align her actions with her deepest held values—an aspiration that has led her family across the country from Washington, D.C., where she taught yoga professionally for many years, to a remote Colorado homestead, and finally to San Diego. As a teacher, she delights in sharing the benefits that she has found in her personal yoga practice, and in helping her students feel at ease in their own bodies, in each moment, just as they are. As a writer, Danielle seeks to illuminate something real about the nature of consciousness and the human condition with stories from her own life and experience. Becoming a mother has opened her heart wide and she sees it as a privilege and challenge – as well as her primary dharma, or life’s work at this moment – to help guide two souls to be who they are truly meant to be.

Danielle studies yoga primarily at the Kripalu Center (350+ hours formal training) and has been blessed by wonderful teachers from many different styles of yoga and related disciplines such as mindfulness training and breath work. She holds a M.A. in International Peace and Conflict Resolution and a B.A. in Women’s Studies. Danielle lives with her husband, two children and a patch of ground waiting to be transformed into an organic garden.

Jano Galindo, E-RYT 500

When I started studying music in my early teens it enhanced a deep connection to the divine. From music came meditation, and from meditation came the desire to study yoga. It wasn’t until a few years later when I took my first “real” yoga class. After that first class, I had never felt anything like that before. I have been truly blessed to be able to share the gift of yoga to the world. My amazing journey with yoga has led me all over the world teaching workshops, retreats, and teacher training programs. Yoga has truly changed my life for the best, and my goal is to serve you in whichever way I can.

Josie Duraso, E-RYT 200

Josie’s (she/her) curiosity of nature and philosophy guided her to the harmonious system of yoga in 2008. She deepened her practice with San Diego based Happy-U Yoga Center’s teacher training in 2015 and has been passionate about sharing the wisdom of yoga since. Her teachings center around the breath and self-love to guide students through a safe and balanced practice, with the ultimate goal of aligning oneself with their very aliveness and wholeness. She believes people are the experts of their bodies and aims to hold space for students to explore their yoga practice with curiosity and compassion. She teaches trauma-informed yoga in a variety of settings including schools, community centers, and yoga studios. She teaches at the E-RYT 200 level and is YACEP certified.

In her free time, Josie loves to read, spend time in nature with her dogs, attend live music shows and dance!

Kara Willingham

Kara (she/her) discovered the benefits of yoga, meditation, and regular practice in 2013. After embarking upon her first yoga retreat and taking the time to listen to her body, she simply fell in love. Over the years, Kara has immersed herself in the world of yoga and enjoys how her practice is ever-changing and always growing. With a passion for gentle and restorative yoga, Kara's classes are focused on what feels good in each individual's body.

Kara is a graduate of Pilgrimage Yoga's 200-hour teacher training program and is grateful to be a part of such an inspiring team. She finds joy in teaching yoga, chanting mantras, building relationships within the community, and sharing her passion for wellness with others.

Kat Gulino-Pérez

Kat found Yoga when looking for a complement to long-distance running. She found that practicing Yoga not only enhanced her physically but also helped ease her struggle with stress and anxiety better than anything she had tried before. After a devastating knee injury left her permanently sidelined from running, she dove into Yoga further, enriching her knowledge and practice.

Having taught English and Kindergarten abroad in multiple countries, she wanted to extend her love of teaching to Yoga and got her Yoga Teacher Training in Baja California, Mexico to spread her love of Yoga with others.

Kat believes Yoga is much more than a physical practice and is constantly learning and practicing mindfulness in an effort to improve her life and that of her students, both on and off the mat. In her time off she enjoys hiking, traveling and cooking delicious and nutritious meals.

Kayma Englund, E-RYT 500

Kayma has fostered a deep interest in the teachings of yoga and natural healing from an early age and with signs too clear to ignore that this was her calling, she has devoted her life and over 1,000 hours of organized training to study and explore these ancient teachings in order to serve the well-being of individuals and of the planet. She is an E-RYT 500, having completed a 200-hour training with Arhanta Yoga Vedanta Ashram in Northern India, a 300-hour training in Yoga Therapy, along with training in Thai massage, In-Depth Channeling, Crystology, and levels 1, 2, and Master Reiki. Her classes stem from her personal practice, which blends traditional teachings and therapeutics with creative and thoughtful sequencing of Vinyasa Yoga. When not teaching or practicing yoga, she can be found enjoying nature and making magic at her Crystal Shop and Healing Center in Carlsbad, CA.

Kriday Whitlock, RYT 500

Kriday is a former athlete with a passion for mindful movement and fitness.  She was raised with a competitive mindset from an early age and first viewed yoga simply as a new challenge.  A few years into her practice, she experienced benefits beyond the mat that undeniably transformed her perspective and life's purpose. After undergoing these shifts in mental health and towards personal development she felt called to introduce the practice to others and recieved education through Eastern and Western trainings.

Above all, Kriday strives to create an environment that is inclusive, paired with movement that is accessible for all body types.  Knowing that each body is different and feels different from day to day, she empowers her students to take on shapes that best serve them in any given moment.  
Kriday's classes are built with her students' goals in mind, setting them up for a successful practice each step of the way. She takes pride in teaching vinyasa consciously centered around a focal posture or intention that will leave you feeling mentally prepared, physically engaged, and energetically awakened.

Laura Dasi

Laura Dasi began practicing yoga in 1999 after having spent more than 20 years as a classical ballet and modern dancer. She was drawn to the flowing style of Vinyasa yoga not only for it’s physical benefits but also for the mental, emotional and spiritual freedom she felt after each class. With her vast knowledge of body mechanics and alignment principals from her years of dance training, Laura felt inspired to become a yoga instructor. In 2002 she completed a 200-hour teacher training course and began incorporating her love of both dance and yoga into her teaching style. Laura strives to make each of her classes a rhythmic, moving meditation allowing her students to develop flexibility, strength and grace as well as allowing them to find greater self-awareness and acceptance. Laura believes that yoga affects all aspects of one’s life and that with continued practice you will be able to relieve physical tension, mental anxiety and emotional stress, leading to true happiness within yourself. Laura is also a professional aerialist who thrills audiences across the world with her daring feats of acrobatic artistry high in the air. She appeared on America’s Got Talent in 2014 and won praise from the celebrity judges and audience alike not only for her aerial skills but for showing strength and dignity in overcoming the challenge of living with Alopecia (autoimmune hair loss) since 2008.

Laura’s Class Style: After a series of warm-up movements to awaken the body and lubricate the joints, Laura will lead you through a series of progressively challenging variations of Sun Salutations at a moderate pace. With an emphasis on following the rhythm of the breath and honoring the intelligence of your own body’s wisdom, Laura’s class will leave you feeling invigorated and strong, yet centered, open and relaxed.

Lauren Knuth, RYT 200

After graduating from the University of Colorado, I spent ten years in the corporate world, not enjoying it much and doing a ton of yoga to compensate. After having two babies in two years, my husband and I were trying to adjust to life with small children and took a course in transcendental meditation. Long story short, it was life changing and I have spent the last five years practicing, reading and listening to everything I can get my hands on about meditation and mindfulness practice. I made a decision not to go back to my cubicle and instead pursue a career where I could practice doing what I love - teaching yoga & meditation. I have been practicing yoga for 15 years and enjoy teaching a variety of styles, from a vigorous vinyasa flow to a meditative restorative. I also teach meditation and currently work with the San Diego Police Department, leading officers through mindfulness during their pre-shift line-up. It has been one of the most rewarding things I've ever done and am proud to be a part of the pilot program, which is proving to be successful and quickly expanding to other departments around the country. 

Lauren Mahlberg, RYT 200

Lauren first discovered yoga in her first year of college, and immediately found a deep sense of purpose. In 2015, she traveled to Costa Rica to get her 200hr. Yoga Teacher Certification, earned her Bachelor’s degree in Marketing from SDSU, and became a certified Wilderness First Responder. Lauren is a firm believer in taking a holistic approach that includes nutrition, exercise, and spirituality to achieve well-being. When Lauren isn’t practicing, she enjoys bouldering, coloring, making jokes, and exploring the great outdoors.

Maneli Jodat, RYT 500

Maneli's yoga journey began in 2010 when she was facing a mysterious neurological disorder. Western medicine had not brought her any relief and she was curious about yoga. She started practicing with no expectation and found yoga to be surprisingly effective. It eliminated her symptoms, while providing additional emotional and spiritual benefits. Maneli was amazed at what yoga can offer by simply connecting her breath to her body, using her mat as a blank canvas. To deepen her practice and learn more about the science of yoga, Maneli completed her 200 hour Vinyasa Yoga Teacher Training in 2011 with no intention of teaching. As her practice continued to grow and deepen she began sharing the gift of yoga in 2013. After a few years of teaching Maneli was ready to go further in this life long journey and completed her 300 hour Vinyasa Yoga Teacher Training in 2016, followed by a Kids Yoga Teacher Training and Yin Yoga Teacher Training in 2017.

Believing that asana practice is a tool, Maneli’s goal is to encourage her students to cultivate a deep sense of breath awareness first, to further deepen the physical practice of yoga, giving students possibilities to move in their practice with an attitude of balance between ease and effort. She believes yoga is a life long journey and that it can have a profound impact on other's lives just as it has had on hers, regardless of age or any physical limitation. Maneli teaches both adults and kids yoga and loving it.

Mike Flynn, E-RYT 200

Mike took his first Yoga class in 2003 and in 2011 completed his teacher training at the Chula Vista Yoga Center. He has continued his education with certifications in Yoga for Veterans with PTSD, Restorative/Yin Yoga and classes at Loyola Marymount University. Mike’s classes are demanding and kind. They are intended to help others shift and change perspective of their physical and internal worlds. Beyond the mat Mike is a graduate of the University of San Diego. He is an avid traveler and songwriter. Mike is an ERYT-200.

Salil Wilson

Born in Australia Salil has lived in New York since 1990. He was first introduced to meditation in 1984, at the age of 19 and shortly after began to incorporate a daily practice into his life. In 2004 Salil’s meditation teacher Sri Chinmoy asked him to serve as the Executive Director of the Peace Run, a running relay which takes a “Peace Torch” to over 100 countries each year. Salil still serves in this capacity.

Sara Szunyogh, RYT 200

Sara discovered yoga in 1997 and immediately felt a draw to the physical practice and philosophical teachings.  She completed her 200 hour Registered Yoga Teacher training in January of 2007 in Cleveland, OH with revered teacher Marni Task. Sara enjoys teaching a variety of levels of vinyasa, incorporating dynamic asana, pranayama, meditation, philosophy and uplifting music.  

Sara served in the Peace Corps from 2010-2012 in Fiji, teaching yoga and meditation to native villagers in some of the most remote parts of the world. Sara also has a decade of Latin dancing experience as well as Afro-Cuban and West African styles of dance & loves to incorporate world rhythms into her classes. Sara loves the feeling of inspiration, strength, confidence, tranquility and sense of community that yoga fosters.  Sara is also a Superfood Chef and Wellness Concierge, leading workshops, retreats and boutique wellness events across southern California, Mexico and around the globe.  To learn more about Sara and her upcoming events, please visit her website at and join her on Instagram @spicygypsy.

Tom Warner

Tom Warner, the studio’s musical director, currently leads Pilgrimage of the Heart’s Kirtan ensemble (Chanting, Musical Meditation), guides free meditations and works on community development. Tom has been haunting Pilgrimage of the Heart almost since it’s inception, 9 years now.

Tom’s exposure to yoga occurred in 1990 in Los Angeles. After over 20 years of practice he enrolled and completed yoga teacher training at Pilgrimage in the spring of 2011, and then completed Silver Age Yoga teacher training and certification, a practice of safe yoga for senior citizens.

Tom is a life-long musician of over 40 years, and says, “The Kirtan practice we have developed at Pilgrimage of the Heart has been one of the best experiences of my life, both musically and for my soul. We are in our 5th. year and are rapidly approaching 250 meditational sessions. We have had close to 75 musicians perform in this group over the years and what a fantastic experience it’s been to work with such talented individuals. Over 1500 people a year participate in this practice. Participation is the essence of Kirtan. Join us Thursday at 8:15pm.”

Tom looks forward to a deep immersion in the yoga world for the rest of his life, and extends his gratitude to the entirety of the Pilgrimage family, Sujantra, staff, teachers, studio members and friends. Together, peace…

Tyler Lavigne

Tyler grew up in a spiritual community. He is one of the founding teachers at the Pilgrimage of the Heart. He has a Bachelor of Science degree in Kinesiology. An avid surfer, Tyler incorporates the natural organic movements of the body and breath to open the heart and create avenues to relax the everyday activity of the mind.

“I am inspired to share the joy of yoga, and to make yoga a way of life for others to enjoy.”