Our Instructors

Brenda Norris

E-RYT500 and owner of Uplift Yoga

Brenda believes EVERYONE needs yoga in their lives, and seeks to guide every individual in her class toward building a practice that works for them. A modern dancer in her past life, she immediately felt a connection to the yoga practice the moment she stepped on the mat, pleasantly accompanied by a change in her physical body, and a transformational shift in her thinking. She completed the Charm City Yoga 200-hour yoga teacher training at YogaWorks, and immediately began teaching. Years into her teaching, she completed her 300-hour Advanced Studies yoga teacher training program at the Bhagavata-Sevaya school of yoga. Brenda’s approach to class is lighthearted, positive, and fun, and she welcomes all who step into her class to share in an ever-moving, music-driven, and breath connecting Vinyasa style flow, and begin moving toward discovering their own transformations.

Dana Pupkar

 

Dana Pupkar has been an avid fitness, equestrian and golf enthusiast for much of her life. When her golf training group started offering weekly Yoga classes she fell in love with the practice after seeing the benefits to her performance mentally and physically. After suffering several injuries in her active lifestyle, Dana was advised to include more Yoga in her rehab program. Seeing the benefits to the body as well as the mind, the practice became a way of life for her. Her passion for Yoga lead her to complete a Yoga Teacher Training Program to become a Registered Yoga Teacher, RYT 200 and continue to dive into other trainings. She strives to help other active (and non-active) individuals discover the amazing mind-body benefits of Yoga to enhance their life as well as elevate their performance. Dana has had training in a variety of Yoga styles but has a special love for teaching empowering, strength based Vinyasa flows, emphasizing mindful alignment.

Tanya Proffitt

 

Tanya is a former competitive tri-athlete, and long time Vinyasa Flow yoga, Mat Pilates, and suspension (aerial) yoga instructor who believes passionately in the transformative power of yoga. By combining movement, meditation, and breath work to gain self-knowledge, she supports each student in creating an environment to deepen their connection to the intuition, strength, and love to be found within. Her style of teaching is fun and flowing, and always aims to evenly distribute the body’s energies throughout the body, eliminating mental, physical and emotional blockages. Tanya’s hobbies include cycling, going to the beach, reading, cooking, being with friends, being with her dogs, 2 children and being outside.

Kristin Cook

 

Kristin began practicing yoga over 15 years ago as a form of exercise and stress relief. After being diagnosed with a chronic pain disorder in 2016, she recommitted herself to a regular yoga practice and discovered that through yoga, she was able to help heal her body, declutter her mind, and nourish her spirit. She received her RYT-200 and then an additional advanced Yin Yoga Certification. Being able to share yoga with others so that they too may discover the healing properties of yoga quickly became her passion. A former teacher with a Master’s degree in Education, Kristin brings clear instruction, inclusivity, warmth, and playfulness to her classes. She believes in providing students with options and encouragement based on what feels best in their bodies.

Kia Locksley

Kia is an RYT-500 with over 20 years of teaching experience. She strives to introduce yoga to everyone as an option for a healthy lifestyle and as a tool to help breathe through life’s challenges. She has had the pleasure of teaching athletes on various levels, from high school soccer and football players to division I and NFL athletes. Taking a break from her practice for a few years as a result of the sudden and tragic death of my adult son, she was able to find peace again as she returned to practicing yoga and then began teaching. Kia believes that being of service promotes healing and shows leadership and gratitude which led her to to volunteer teaching yoga at a juvenile detention facility. Relying on her understanding that movement is medicine and breathing feeds the soul, she loves spending time with her kids and dogs, watching sports and being in nature.

Frank Thomas

After practicing yoga over many years for his personal health and well-being, in 2004, Frank began to deepen his study and practice, and realized a strong desire to pass on to others the benefits of the practice; he earned his yoga teacher certification in 2006.

Since then, with every passing day and every yoga session, formal and informal, he has gained new appreciation for the vital life force that is yoga, both on and off the mat. Through regular classes and study, he has enriched his own life and humbly accepts as the deepest of blessings every opportunity to help others enrich their lives through yoga.

Frank received his 200-Hour Teacher Certification from the Lotus Gardens Yoga School in Connecticut and is a registered teacher with Yoga Alliance. In his classes he integrates his knowledge and experience of various approaches to yoga including Ashtanga, Forrest, Iyengar, Sivananda, Vinyasa, and Yin Yoga.

As a yoga teacher, Frank often integrates other disciplines such as Qigong and meditation, and always encourages a lightness of spirit in his classes. His goal is to provide a safe and open environment in which all students may find their way to the deep joy and the unity of body, mind, and spirit that is yoga.

Julia Shelton Otten

After losing her father to cancer and getting diagnosed with some health issues, Julia struggled to make sense of her new normal. It wasn’t until she started practicing yoga that she was able to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Yoga became her outlet and helped her realize she had the strength within herself to get through the highs and lows of life. Helping others see this is what made her want to become a teacher.   Julia received her 200-hour yoga training at Thrive Yoga as well as additional Prenatal training and certifications.   We are stronger than we give ourselves credit for and if we can take a few minutes on our mat each day transformation will happen. Every BODY is welcome in Julia’s classes! She combines pranayama and asana to encourage students to work through mental and physical sensations in order to stay present and receive the many blessings yoga offers. 

Jamie Sellouk

Jamie’s path with yoga began with a single class. The exhilaration he felt after having woken up every system in his body was immense, and he knew then that he was hooked.

After practicing for 8 years in a range of styles It became clear to to him that being a teacher was the next step in his personal path.

Jamie believes that yoga offers us an opportunity to understand ourselves through concentrated movement. Being aware of our bodies and internalizing our attention to the breath we learn and re-learn how it is we participate in the world. After 8 years of practice he received his certification in Ashtanga yoga and today brings his familiarity with movement, breath and gaze to the mat. His classes make use of the complexity and rigorousness of the Ashtanga method to give students an opportunity to extend their bodies as well as their minds by accommodating practitioners of all experience levels with adjustments and variations to postures to suit their needs. Jamie teaches a range of styles from traditional Ashtanga, utilizing the Sanskrit count and posture names, Vinyasa and Yin Yoga. His belief is that all methods have valuable lessons to teach us along our path and offer an incorporative style to give practitioners a rewarding, centering experience.

Carol Ames

Carol has been practicing yoga on and off for many years, but she learned of its transformative power when rehabbing from a painful shoulder surgery in 2012. After experiencing first-hand how a regular practice alleviated pain and accelerated recovery, Carol decided to incorporate yoga into her work as a personal trainer and health coach. She received her first yoga certification through YogaFit in 2012, followed by a 200-level certification in 2015, and 300-level certification in 2017 at the Yoga Center of Columbia. She has received additional training in Ayurveda, as well as certifications in teaching Yoga for Arthritis and Restorative Yoga.

Carol believes that Yoga is a vast resource that is accessible to everyone, regardless of age, body type, injury, or health condition. Carol’s approach to teaching is one that encourages self-exploration by cultivating a sense of curiosity and the joy of movement. She invites you to come to your mat with an open heart and a sense of adventure, ready to experience all the gifts a yoga practice can offer!

Colleen Long

 

Colleen started practicing yoga more than twenty years ago! What began as an interesting new activity soon put her on a life long path of self inquiry and discovery.

Her passion for yoga blossomed and while she attended workshops, festivals and practiced various styles of yoga, Colleen still had a deeper desire for more learning.

Recently she spent the winter fully immersed in the study of yoga and philosophy and has completed her RYT-200 hour with Amy Ippoliti at 90 Monkeys Studio in Boulder, CO.

Colleen’s classes are fun and dynamic combining the authentic teachings of yoga with alignment based vinyasa sequences and restorative flows. She invites students onto the mat and into a deeper relationship with themselves and their own potential through awareness, vitality and their connection to breath.

She is a self employed jewelry designer and graduate from the Gemological Institute of America. Her passion for rocks and minerals and anything pertaining to the element earth has kept her amazingly happy, grateful and fulfilled.

Tara Lemerise

 
Tara Lemerise is known for teaching the time-honored philosophy and practice of yoga in an accessible and joyful way. Her teaching is based on the belief that there is nothing to “fix” with yoga. Instead, there are only more opportunities to understand and be more fully present to our separate and together experiences of being embodied. From handstands to savasana and everything in between, she offers clear and helpful instruction to students at all levels in a relevant and relatable way. 

 
Registered with Yoga Alliance at E-RYT-200/RYT-500 with more than 8,000 teaching hours, Tara has been teaching yoga philosophy, movement, and meditation since 2005. She leads a thriving and welcoming online yoga community with students from all over the US. You will also find her in person at Restorative Yoga weekend retreats and workshops, teacher training, and continuing education programs for yoga teachers. 

Jessica Homer

 
Jess believes that everyone has a place and space in a yoga class, and it is her primary goal to make everyone feel that way! Following several years of dipping her toe, but never fully committing, she fell in love with yoga at a Baptiste yoga studio in Louisville KY. As much for the physical movement as for the mental health break from law school. After a move to Florida, she found a similar, heated power studio and decided to take the plunge and do Yoga Teacher Training in Feb 2020 (it ended up being a VERY LONG training!). She received her first 200 hr certification at Yoga Lab in Naples, FL. While she primarily went in as a form of exercise, she found herself being very drawn to what she calls the “crunchier” side of yoga, delving into the philosophy and the “whys”. In 2022, she opted for a second 200hr at Fusion Yoga and Wellness, as she was already a sub at the studio and she liked what she was learning there. The combination of wildly different trainings gave Jess wide exposure to different forms and teaching methods that she is excited to bring to Uplift!

Jess is a Usui Tibetan Master and Holy Fire Advanced Reiki practitioner.

Wassa Lakkham

 

A  former office worker who suffered from multiple office syndromes until she discovered yoga over 10 years ago. Yoga changed her life in many aspects and introduced her to the balance of life: body, mind, and spirit. Through a decade of practice, she have met and studied with several experienced yoga teachers from across India. Each of them introduced her to different techniques and principles of yoga, inspiring her to take a yogic path. After years of practice, she travelled to the heart and the world capital of yoga: Rishikesh, India. There, she underwent advanced training that included over 500 hours of intense practice earning expertise in Hatha and Ashtanga Vinyasa, and became a pupil of a famous Hindu monk, Swami Omkaranada, who taught her a yoga philosophy of life. After completion of her practice in India, she was motivated to introduce a change and promote better health in herself and others. Wassa works to inspire students to practice the middle way principle and guide them on the path to the cessation of pain and suffering through yoga. The Vinyasa class is designed to be fun and energetic ,and introduce a various set of asana (yoga postures) for balance and improvement of self-stamina, flexibility, and strength. You will find both sweat and love joining Wassa’s class.

Nikisha Gordon

 

With a Bachelor’s Degree in English and a Masters in Executive Leadership, Nikisha Gordon has taught diverse populations in English, History, wellness and now yoga. She is a passionate and dedicated educator with a deep-rooted belief in the healing power of yoga. She is excited to pair her love for education with yoga, in order to guide participants and herself in their yoga journey. Her teaching style includes focus on curious movement, breath awareness, and intuition to cultivate a flow throughout one’s entire being. Trained in various yoga traditions, Nikisha enjoys practicing and teaching Vinyasa yoga. Each session is thoughtfully crafted to support the entire being, engage in dialogue with self and community, and space to apply our learning. Her desire is to promote autonomy and self-expression to ensure a fulfilling experience for everyone.

Heather Brittain

 

Heather first meet-and-greet with yoga wasn’t motivated by the allure of elegant poses or the prospect of turning it into her primary profession. Instead, her once fiercely competitive nature as a Division 1 swimmer initially deterred her from embracing a physical practice that required so much patience and quiet strength (something she now finds to be the most meaningful part of her practice). It wasn’t until an exceptionally difficult phase of life, when persistent stress began sending sweet messages in the form of chronic pain and illness, that she waved “hello” to the practice of yoga intentionally.
 
Not knowing any other way to turn, or how else to rekindle function in mind, body, or spirit, Heather decided to meet her cold, hard basement floor with Yin Yoga. It was here that breath and body met intentionally for the very first time, and the only space where tension felt willfully unraveled and welcomed with compassion rather than resentment.
 
Over time and with continued practice and exploration (whether in postures, breath, stillness, meditation, or off-the-mat self-studies), Heather came to know yoga as her dearest friend – one that meets her with equal acceptance in both challenge and celebration.
 
Nothing makes Heather more jived than helping students feel heard, supported, and held in their unique journeys with yoga. As both a private and group yoga teacher, master certified holistic wellness coach, and Insight Timer meditation teacher, Heather holds true the principle of “your body, your yoga”. She believes that she is the guide, and you are the guru. You know your mind, body, and spirit far better than anyone ever could, and she is here to help guide, support, and honor your cultivation of self-awareness and self-trust.
 
As a 200 Hour Experienced Registered Yoga Teacher (E-RYT) and advanced student of Yin Yoga, Chinese Medicine, and Meditation from the Josh Sommers School of Yin Yoga, Heather takes pride in creating classes (both in Vinyasa and Yin) that are rooted in functional movement – encouraging curiosity, acceptance, and playing with the balance between intensity and surrender both on and off the mat.  
 
Outside of a yoga class, Heather can be found frolicking in nature, writing reflective prose and poetry, learning new crochet patterns, over-nourishing every houseplant she’s ever owned, and snuggling under mass amounts of blankets with her two cat daughters and husband.