Steven Ross – School Director
Steven Ross E-RYT200 is Director of Sacred Roots and co-founder and Director of Eastside Yoga. Steven has dedicated much of his life to the search for greater truth and Self awareness through his study and practice of yoga. Born and raised in Scotland, it was his journey to Texas that transformed his outlook and began his quest in earnest. After years of searching a friend brought him to sit with an Indian Guru and from that point on he developed an unquenchable thirst to realize the higher states of yoga. This journey eventually led him to open Eastside Yoga in late 2009 so he and his wife Elsa could make a positive impact in their local community.
Certified by Srivatsa Ramaswami to teach vinyasa krama yoga, a systematic method of hatha yoga utilizing several hundred vinyasas practiced with slow yogic breath. This lesser known method taught by Sri T Krishnamacharya is ideal for those looking to develop a meditative hatha practice. Steven’s teaching emphasis is to bring upliftment and enjoyment to his students then to utilize this as a gateway to controlling their life force (prana) effortlessly. His vision for teaching yoga sadhana is to offer classes in line with Patanjali’s Eight limbed path (Asthanga) in line with a more traditional yoga practice this led to development of Raja Yoga classes. The intent is to cultivate a meditative Self-aware practice utilizing teachings of the Himalayan yogis in a modern and easy to digest manner.
Devoted to his practice, study and realization of Yoga, his spiritual path lies with Paramhansa Yogananda and his direct disciple Swami Kriyananda, and their deep teachings for the modern age. A spiritual healer trained by Francis the Healer he offers healing sessions and spiritual counsel at ESY and he is an officiant of sacred ceremonies in the greater Austin area.
Mary Renee – Lead instructor 200 hour program
Mary Renee E-RYT200 has always had a passion for new experiences and places, given that her family was quite nomadic before settling in Nashville, TN. Early in her yogic journey, Mary traveled to India twice for several months at a time to immerse herself in the practice and culture. In this birthplace of yoga, Mary learned Pattabhi Jois’ Ashtanga Yoga, and explored pranayama and shat kriya practices under the guidance of her esteemed teacher, V.K. Shesadre.
Now with 15 years of practice and over 3000 hours of teaching experience, she has honed an approach that effortlessly integrates lightheartedness and depth, exploring yogic philosophy and the ancient sacred traditions of self-discovery and realization. Along the way, she’s deepened her training by studying with knowledgeable teachers from very diverse traditions. She completed her teacher training at the Living Yoga Program and finished a BA at the University of Texas focusing on Studio Art (painting). She continued her studies at UT in the South Asian Studies Department focusing on Indian Philosophy/Culture and Sanskrit.
Mary is a steady and gentle guide and is actively involved in workshops, teacher training, private lessons and advanced trainings. Given her passion for the history and traditions of yoga, she meets regularly with a professor, Stephen Phillips, to study such texts as the Upanishads, and to continue her studies in Sanskrit. Mary effortlessly blends a reverence for these ancient traditions with a carefree and playful spirit that will leave you laughing along with the levity of the moment.
Melissa Spamer – Lead instructor 300 hour program
Melissa Spamer, M.A., LMHC, ERYT 500, LMT, C. Ay.
Melissa has been exploring the world of healing arts for more than twenty years. She has been facilitating classes, retreats, groups and seeing private clients since 1997. Melissa holds a Master’s degree in counseling psychology and a graduate certificate in holistic healthcare. She has accumulated thousands of hours in Yoga, Body & Energy work, Ayurveda and Psychotherapy training.
Melissa completed her first certification to teach Yoga in 1997, and has been consistently teaching Yoga for eighteen years. She has completed more then six 200-500 hour teacher trainings since then. In 2005, Melissa completed a 500 hour teaching certification with the International Yoga College, specializing in Yoga and Conflict Transformation, under the guidance of Rama Jyoti Vernon. Her approach to Yoga is very organic and weaves together a rich tapestry of inspired teaching. Her practice is continually evolving, always becoming more alive in spirit and form. She feels incredibly blessed to be carrying the light of Yoga beside so many radiant beings in this great ocean of awakening.
Melissa is an Ayurvedic Practitioner and professional member of NAMA. She is a graduate of the Ayurvedic Institute, having completed more than 1200 hours of study. She has studied with Dr. Vasant Lad, Swamini Mayatitananda, Sonia Masocco, Dr. Claudia Welch and Dr. Robert Svobodha. Melissa offers Ayurvedic consultations, treatments and educational workshops. In her private practice she specializes in women’s health, chronic pain, auto-immune disorders and nutritional coaching.
She has completed her professional massage certification from the Kalamazoo Center for the Healing Arts and has trained in a range of modalities including myofascial release, reflexology, deep tissue therapy, and craniosacral therapy. Melissa completed a one year internship studying acupressure therapy and has trained extensively in Chakra and Marma Therapy. She incorporates the energetic systems of Asia in all of her treatments. She has traveled to Thailand several times and is certified in Thai Massage.
Melissa is a licensed counselor in the state of New Mexico. She also holds a graduate certificate in holistic health care with an emphasis in expressive arts therapy. She works with a range of modalities to address the individual needs of each client. She has co-facilitated groups and retreats incorporating a full range of therapeutic processes to help unveil the truth of the soul’s yearning for engagement.
Denise Deniger – Faculty 200 & 300 hour program
Denise E-RYT200 has performed as a circus artist in contortion, aerial dance, and tight-wire. She has also trained in and practiced several massage therapy modalities, Reiki, and Thai Yoga Massage. Denise is a graduate of the Asian Classics Institute’s foundational curriculum in the Dalai Lamas’ lineage of Tibetan Buddhism and she is currently completing the advanced studies courses under Lama Sumati Marut and Cindy Lee.
Denise formally stepped into the yoga world in 1996 while training for a bodybuilding competition and has been immersed in the practice of yoga ever since. She completed her first teacher training with Bikram Choudhury in 1998, and opened Dallas’ first Bikram yoga studio in 2000. Denise completed her power yoga training with CorePower Yoga in 2006. In 2009, she trained in Tibetan Heart Yoga with the Yoga Studies Institute. She studied Sanskrit at Naropa University and is currently studying the Tibetan language.
Denise and her husband are co-founders of Inner Jewel Dharma, a not-for-profit community that offers a modern interpretation of time-tested Dharma through study, meditation, yoga, service, and retreat in order to learn to live with greater compassion and wisdom. For more information: innerjeweldharma.org.
M. Elsa Bui – Faculty 200 & 300 programs
Elsa bui, PT,MPT,NCS, E-RYT200 is co-founder of Eastside Yoga and also Steven’s wife. A Vietnamese native of Texas, she has been a licensed physical therapist for 12 years, is board certified in neurologic physical therapy and experienced with orthopaedics. She has years of practice with traumatic injury care, rehabilitation, chiropractic-based care and orthopaedic care of adults with sports injuries. She has mentored and taught many physical therapy students, as well as supervised therapy staff caring for patients. Working in the home health setting now, she teaches people with medical injuries to optimize their function using neuromuscular training for posture and alignment, gait training and balance. In her experience, the key to attaining and maintaining function AND your yoga practice, is to strive for a body balance/symmetry in core stability, flexibility, awareness and strength.
Iva Drtina-Hall – Faculty 200 & 300 programs
Iva Drtina-Hall E-RYT500, From an early age, she explored all facets of body awareness, from ballet to jazz dance, African dance, gymnastics and yoga.Her interest in health, nutrition and alternative medicine began when she studied Physiology at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, It was also at this time that she was introduced to Yoga by her mother in 1985.
Iva’s extensive travels throughout Asia, North America, Europe and Australia had broadened her view of different cultures, philosophies and traditions. She spent many years living and working in Japan, teaching cross cultural awareness, running a café-lounge with her husband in Tokyo and teaching yoga.
Her experiences and her studies opened the doors to many new healing modalities such as fasting, cleansing and vipassana meditation, which she incorporates into her yoga and meditation classes, workshops and retreats in India, Japan and the US.
Iva completed her Yoga Arts Teacher Training in 2002 in Byron Bay, Australia and is certified under Yoga Alliance. She has been teaching in San Francisco, Japan and Austin focusing primarily on Vinyasa Flow and Yin Yoga. She continues her own education, participating in Yoga workshops from Seane Corn, Shiva Rae, Donna Farhi, Gary Kraftsow. Her interests recently reside in the complement of a Vinyasa Flow practice with a Yin restorative practice to fully balance and restore harmony to oneself. She has studied under great Yin teachers such as Paul Grilley, Sarah Powers and Bernie Clarke. She has developed her own Yin Intensive training, teaching students and yoga teachers how to practice and teach Yin Yoga. Iva hosts retreats and workshops internationally as well as facilitating on teacher training programs in Austin, Hawaii and India.
James Boag – Faculty 300 hour program.
James Boag is a unique teacher of practical, applied yoga philosophy. Drawing on his background in languages and teaching, he brings the practical essence of traditional Indian teachings into the vivid context of our human lives today. James uses mythology, storytelling and interpretation to bring forth the beating heart of a tradition that has stayed alive because it is relevant. He has been a teacher since 1993, teaching yogasana and leading kirtan since 2003, and teaching yoga texts, direct from the Sanskrit originals since 2006.
James’ practice and teaching continue to evolve from their roots in the Shankaracarya Vedic tradition and the school of Kashmir Shaivism. Recently he has been significantly influenced by Khyapa Baba Kulavadhuta Satpurananda.
From 2008-2012, James spent about half his time in Mysore, where he completed his MA in Sanskrit, and where he continues to lead kirtan and courses on the Bhagavad Gita and Yoga Sutras, attended by international students of many of Mysore’s renowned yogasana teachers.
Lisa Feder – Faculty 200 hour program
Lisa Feder, E-RYT500 believes Yoga can help everyone feel better, and be more fully engaged and effective in all areas of life, both personal and professional. Her passion is helping regular people discover and explore yoga to create space and ease in the mind, body and heart. The Yoga practice will meet you where you are on the path, and that is different for everyone. “In my classes, students set their own intention and work where they are comfortable and challenged, allowing their practice to meet them where they are that day. introducing beginners to Yoga and watching them on their journey of discovery.In addition to teaching Yoga, I’ve been working in the corporate world for over 20 years. Not surprisingly, Yoga practice and principles have helped me become a more effective professional. There is a great benefit to bringing the presence and mindfulness of Yoga into the work place. When I am not teaching Yoga or at my Marketing job, I spend time with friends and family, my husband
and two teens. I love hiking, reading, cooking and movies—and of course, practicing Yoga!
Pam Johnson – Faculty 300 hour program
Pam Johnson E-RYT500 has been teaching yoga for 20 years she continues to study the Upanishads, Samkya, Vedanta philosphies, and many other ancient texts pertaining to all aspects of yoga. She is one of a few certified E-RYT-500 Senior teachers of the classical form of Krishnamacharya’s Vinyasa Krama yoga, a method of Astanga Yoga, which she has learned from her teacher of 20 yrs, Srivatsa Ramaswami. These teachings include the detailed use and healing properties of the breath, asana sequencing, chanting, and meditation. She has studied Sanskrit, Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, the Upanishads and many other ancient Vedic texts.
Focused and detailed training in the refinement of body alignment anatomy for yoga asana and hands on adjustments through therapeutic massage techniques. Pam’ focus taps into the subtle energy body through synchronized movement to the breath; specific pranayama techniques, bandha’s and meditation to harness the mind for healing and longevity. She has seven years of advanced teacher training in anatomy and body alignment from Tias Little, founder of Prajna Yoga based in Santa Fe, NM.
Pam founded the Heights School of Yoga in 2007with a mission to offer quality teaching so that students could embrace all areas of yoga and become fully present to their daily experiences. As a 200hr RYS yoga studio, the Heights School of Yoga is dedicated to the ancient tradition of connecting teachers to students and students to teachers.
Serving on an Annual Oncology Training Conference panel at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, she shares her personal experience and perspective of the benefits of employing both eastern and western healing modalities. She teaches comprehensive 200 hr courses in Krishnamacharyia’ Yoga Vinyasa Krama, gives monthly Yoga Nidra guided relaxations. For the past 6 years she has taught and continues to teach Yoga Vinyasa Krama asana for the venerated Swami Vidyadhishananda’s meditation initiation camps along with the lifestyle and sustainability workshops through his Self Enquiry Life Fellowship Organization.