MEET THE TEAM
Because of our mission, we attract teachers that are passionate, with diverse backgrounds and trainings. Our team is comprised of teachers that are committed to, adhering to, and advancing the cause to make yoga more accessible and inclusive. As beacons in their field or community, YW teachers are advocates, aren't afraid to make mistakes, and don't feel limited by the status quo or modern yoga trends.
We’re both mamas of two young kids, obsessed with the great outdoors, in love with Tacoma, and passionate about service.
Casey Hubbell, E-RYT 200, is our co-founder and Director of Yoga and Community Engagement. She is either teaching, taking care of #TeamYW, or setting up classes and series. Casey is passionate about bringing yoga into places that need it most, offering inclusive classes and styles, and encourages students to cultivate their inner wisdom. Fun facts: she is a Potterhead and bibliophile. Prounouns: she/her
Kelsey Alshememry, BSBA - Project Management, is our co-founder and Director of Operations. She is mostly behind the scenes doing all things not yoga. Kelsey handles our social media, web development, graphic design, photography, finances and day-to-day operation of our company. Fun facts: she and her family eat plant-based and live in a tiny house on wheels. Prounouns: she/her
Alli Ewing, pronouns: she/her
Alli Ewing is a yoga teacher and trainer passionate about empowering people to discover their own ability to find healing and connection from within. She was inspired by her background in Special Education, her Peace Corps service as a Health Education Volunteer in Tanzania, and work with youth in foster care to integrate methodologies that promote and empower individualized healing and address harmful power dynamics.
She completed her 200-hour teacher training in Taoist Yoga and has completed her 300-hour advanced teacher training in Trauma Center-Trauma Sensitive Yoga - an evidence based methodology developed specifically for facilitating yoga with individuals who have experienced chronic abuse, neglect, and treatment-resistant PTSD. She has been offering trainings in the States and internationally since 2010. Alli has additional experience facilitating yoga with children with special needs, refugees, pre/postnatal/birth trauma, LGBTQ+ youth, and youth in residential treatment and foster care.
In addition to yoga, Alli loves to travel, bake chocolate chip cookies, see live music, attempt to keep indoor plants alive, and spend time with her family.
Chris Gallardo, pronouns: he/him
I was born and raised Tacoma and wouldn't want to live anywhere else. I LOVE Tacoma and I would do anything for the city. That's why I picked up a camera in the first place. I wanted to show people, my "hood". Besides taking pictures of Tacoma, I also just like having my camera on me, and seeing what comes my way. If I don't have my camera on me it is because I'm usually off to Muay Thai practice, the gym, or longboarding somewhere.
Erica Chang, pronouns: she/her
Erica has practiced yoga since 2010 and completed her 200 hour yoga teacher certification with Pamela Higley at Samdhana Karana Yoga. She has also completed the Yoga Behind Bars training and has volunteered at Remann Hall, teaching yoga and meditation to youth.With yoga, she has found a melding of the best things in her life: spirit, athleticism, sweat, breath, laughter, community, and rhythm. Her goal as an instructor is to offer a space to explore, allowing others to become curious about what they are capable of as they leave a little stronger, a little softer and a lot more balanced.
Kara O'Toole, pronouns: she/her
Kara brings over 30 years of dance teaching experience to her yoga classes and is devoted to sequencing aligned poses with a joy of movement and breath. Her love of yoga has been building for over 20 years and her practice has been fueled by the restorative power yoga has had in her life as a retired professional dancer.
Kara has studied with many inspirational yoga teachers, most significantly Gina Caputo, Shiva Rea, Troy Lucero, and Djuna Mascall. Kara holds an MFA in Dance from the University of Washington,
She moved with her family to Tacoma from Orcas Island. She was Artistic Director at the Tacoma Urban Performing Arts Center (TUPAC) and currently teaches Dance for Parkinson's for the Seattle Theater Group and is studying Yoga Therapy with Brandt Passalacqua. She is honored to be part of the inspired community at Yoga Wild.
Mandi Jo Murtaugh, pronouns: she/her
Hey there, I’m Mandi. I’m a Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist and a yoga teacher on the side. I have a self-named private physical therapy & yoga practice in Tacoma, WA, where I work with people primarily through the birthing years to address pelvic floor, pregnancy, and postpartum symptoms. I love teaching women about their bodies, in all shapes and sizes, and all the parts and functions we don’t openly talk about.
When I’m not spouting off anatomy or bladder tips, I can be found quilting, running, exploring the wilds of Tacoma, or snuggling with my pup, Reba. You can find out more about me or schedule a free 15-minute phone consultation at www.drmandimurtaugh.com.
Sarah Low, pronouns: she/her
Sarah was exposed to yoga for the first time in a fitness center in Massachusetts. As she walked past a dark room filled with quiet people sitting in rows, she wondered what is happening in there. That moment of curiosity sparked an interest, not just in yoga, but also in the possibility of a different way of being. After dabbling in yoga for many years, Sarah found herself needing something more, needing a way to cope with stress, and needing a way to heal. At that point, yoga was no longer a class that Sarah took; it was a practice. From this practice came some peace and a greater ability to be present in the moment. Being in the moment more of the time gave Sarah clarity and gratitude, which inspired her to become a yoga and mediation teacher. Sarah teaches from a place of compassion knowing that each one of us is on our own path and yet we are all in this together.
Sarah has completed a 200hr RYT, the UC San Diego Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Teacher Training Intensive, Mindful Schools Educator Essentials Training, and is soon to complete the Mindful School One-Year Certification Training. Sarah also has a Bachelors Degree in Fish and Wildlife Conservation and a Masters Degree in Watershed Science and Management. Sarah is a certified arborist and a long-time community forester and urban ecologist.
When she is not doing yoga, she can be found gardening with her daughter, planting trees with Tacoma Tree Foundation, or looking for seals with her family at Owen’s Beach. And now after many years of being one of the quiet people sitting in a row, she still wonders what is happening in there.
Tera Bucasas, pronouns: she/her
Tera is endlessly curious and loves to constantly be learning. She is fascinated and inspired by the interconnection between all things. Tera believes yoga allows us time to connect to ourselves and others in a sacred way. An opportunity to not only take care of our physical, mental and emotional selves, but a time to connect to our shared humanity. She believes in the power of exploring yoga in and out of postures. What she loves about teaching is the opportunity to connect to people, in person, to create a space that is safe to show up, be real and continually grow together.Outside of instructing yoga you may see Tera thrift shopping, climbing or exploring public lands with her partner in their camper van. She loves to nourish people with tasty food, to have deep meaningful conversations and go to drag shows. While she is wants to get back to reading fabulous works of fiction, for now you can usually find her with a book on nature/environment, social justice, personal growth, yoga, anthropology, the human body or women's studies.
Vanessa Barrios Judge, pronouns: she/her
Vanessa started her yoga journey in 2013 as another form of exercise but it slowly became a part of her own healing journey back to self. She received her Kid Yoga training and level one Urban Zen Therapist certification through YogaWorks in Los Angeles in the spring of 2014. In 2015 she official completely her 200 hr teacher training at Liberation Yoga.
Vanessa's passion for trauma informed care has led her to train with Zabie Yamaski through her Transcending Sexual Trauma through Yoga teacher training. Vanessa has led yoga as healing classes at the University of California and at the East Los Angeles Women's Center a non profit agency that works with Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence survivors.
Chloe Strand, pronouns: she/her
Yoga has been a passion of mine for many years and I earned my certification after an immersive 200-hour training in The Dalles, Oregon. I am reiki attuned and a meditation instructor — I enjoy utilizing both in the studio.
My favorite thing about yoga is how it connects both mind and body. When practicing in a group the shared energy is amazing it is a beautiful way to connect to yourself and the world around you. I am a licensed massage therapist and aesthetician practicing for 9 years with a passion for the healing art of touch and self-care.
When I am not my salon, Oh So Chlo in Stadium District, or on my mat, you'll most likely find me reading, baking cookies, or snuggling my pets (Dre & Porter). I love rainy days, thrift shopping and being barefoot outdoors.
Shari Larson, pronouns: she/her
I walked into my first (hot) yoga class in 2002. The entire 90 minutes I ran through a variety of emotions, mostly frustration and anger. I was so glad when it was finally over but realized that perhaps there was something there to be uncovered. Over the next several years whenever I tried a new style of yoga and experienced intense emotions I had to go back to figure out why. This curiosity has led me to a variety of teacher trainings from Vinyasa to Yin to Kundalini and to more anatomy trainings than I care to admit.
These days the styles I practice and teach the most are the quieter practices of Yin/Restorative and slower practices of yoga where there is time to be curious about the thoughts that arise and the sensations that move through the body. I love to incorporate a variety of tools - balls, stretchy bands, blankets, and even pool noodles to explore new ways of moving the body. My favorite moments in class are when I look around and see a variation in the shapes being practiced. Every body is different and we've lived different lives, so it makes sense that no one alignment would work for everyone.
When not teaching or preparing to teach, you can often find me walking my dog or wandering around the Puget Gulch, my favorite escape from the city.
Julia Nathe, pronouns: she/her
Julia Nathe has been offering yoga for youth of all ages around the South Sound since 2014. She has a passion for working with children and creating safe and sacred space for all children to blossom and grow. She owns a small youth yoga business called Blooming Lotus, offering kids yoga classes and leading girls empowerment circles around Tacoma and Puyallup. When she is not holding space for young people, she spends her time offering energy healing work to her community and spending time with loved ones.
Hailey Olafson, pronouns: she/her
For a long time, I thought of yoga as intimidating and unattainable. As a person with limited flexibility, chronic back pain and zero matching yoga outfits in my closet, I avoided classes with endless excuses until a kind and persistent yoga teacher who got me to, reluctantly, roll out my mat for her class. What started as a social obligation to my friend, lead me to experience the physical, mental and emotional healing powers of yoga with my mat serving as a space to be myself and connect with my body, breath and community.
I strive to provide an approachable, inclusive and empowering space for students of any background to show up authentically as you are, cultivate a sustainable practice, and explore a mindful connection to your body. I like to offer a lot of movement, encourage you to personalize your practice, and invite you to explore what does and does not serve you in each moment.
When I’m not on my mat, you can find me lost in the mountains, soaking in a sea breeze on the beach or sitting in a coffee shop. I enjoy hiking, camping, ultimate frisbee, rock climbing, skiing, snuggling dogs, learning new things, being creative and finding the best iced almond milk latte in as many new cities as I can travel to.
Liza Higbee-Robinson, pronouns: she/her
I experience yoga as a creative, generative practice that guides toward new ways of knowing and growing, honoring and trusting, opening and connecting. As an instructor, my primary influences are Rishikesh Hatha, Vinyasa (flow), and Anusara yoga traditions; I have also integrated prenatal yoga, trauma-informed yoga, and mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) trainings in my teaching. Since studying with Melissa Longfellow to become an RYT-200 in 2014, I have facilitated more than 3,000 hours of yoga offerings in the Puget Sound.
When I take the seat of the yoga teacher, my intention is to hold space for others to land in their bodies, attune to their breath, and open to what this moment holds. I craft energizing and empowering flow sequences that instill a sense of play and exploration, often building to a peak pose, like an arm balance or a backbend. I attend to sustainable alignment in every class and encourage my students to practice from a place of authenticity and self-care.
Off the mat, I spend as much time as possible in the great outdoors, trail running, hiking, biking, bird watching, wild foraging, beach combing, and gardening. If I could come back to earth as another life form, I would want to be a duck or other water bird so I could directly experience moving across land, water, and air!
Nancy Perez, pronouns: she/her
My personal yoga journey began in 2008 with a book called Meditation for Beginners. From there, I began practicing Hatha yoga and continue to be greatly intrigued by anatomy, biomechanics and philosophy of the human experience. During a life-changing trip to Cambodia, I was asked to lead a yoga class each morning. This was the start of my love of teaching.
I am a descendant of South America and have a background in music. Students can expect creative classes with strong foundations. I love being in nature and nurturing my plant children at home. I appreciate the infinite worlds of art, exploring old/used books stores, and love animals.
Skye Deuel, pronouns: she/her
Physical movement is an activity that has always made me feel at home. With over 20 years of dance experience, movement allows me to express myself more dynamically and creatively than any other art form.
My yoga journey began after giving birth to my son. I wanted to return to an active lifestyle that respected the physical and mental recovery process I was experiencing. I started watching yoga videos online and immediately fell in love! My fascination led me to learn about the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali and begin a strong home and studio practice. I received my 200-hour yoga certification through Uplifted Yoga.
For me, yoga means building a relationship with yourself. When I teach, I strive to create a space for students to express themselves and find their power. “We Chant, We Learn, We Move!” is my mantra for what to expect from my classes. We discuss yoga philosophy and explore somatic movement, breathwork, and mudras that allow the subtle body to harmonize and meditation to seal the bond between mind, body, and spirit."
Some fun facts about me are that I LOVE to cook, I enjoy reading, especially about history. The best place to grab coffee is Wake up espresso in Lakewood!