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Beginner/Intermediate


This class is taught by:

Kate Coughlin

Kate is a passionate and dedicated explorer of movement, meditation and yoga which spans 40 years.

She is an inspired practitioner who loves the precision of alignment, and teaches with a creative joyful approach.

Kate has been an inspiration to thousands of students during her 30 years of teaching. She has developed two Advanced Studies Programs with over 100 graduates who now teach throughout the U.S.

She has studied intensively with such wonderful teachers as: Donald Moyer, Erich Schiffmann, and Arunji of Bangalore, as well as teachers all over the Bay Area. Kate is also a world traveler including trips to India to study yoga.

Kate created and taught the yoga program at Stanford University from 1989-2001. She is the Founder and Director of Downtown Yoga in Pleasanton California. She is an international teacher offering retreats for inspiration and restoration.

Her students describe her as warm hearted, inspiring and caring. She is a radiant, beautiful soul who honors the beauty and presence of each and every moment.

Shauna Lay

Shauna Lay has been studying and teaching yoga for over 13 years. Shauna’s passion for teaching yoga is evident in her classes. Her attentive nature, alignment based teaching, and peaceful approach encourages students to go deep with awareness and confidence. She is particularly interested in how Yoga will prevent back pain.

Shauna has a passion for Personal Development and Spirituality and is interested in how yoga, as a whole, transforms our minds and our connection with the spirit.

Shauna credits her teachers, Nancy Roberts as well as Manuoso Manos and Elise Miller for her in-depth training into the body’s alignment and Yoga as a whole. She credits her ongoing studies in Personal Development and Spirituality to Eckhart Tolle and many other Spiritual teachers. As well as her ongoing work with Vision, Accountability, and Commitment. ShaunaLay.com

Jim Coughlin

Jim was introduced to yoga in 1967 at the age of 10. He began practicing yoga in earnest in 1993. Jim has traveled to India extensively to expand his knowledge of yoga with his teacher H.S. Arun. Jim teaches yoga with a sense of humor and grounded in the fundamentals of the Yoga Sutra's of Patanjali, the Bhagavad Gita, and the teachings of B.K.S. Iyengar.

Jim was born in Buffalo, New York in 1957, and has lived in California since 1964. Jim's "other" career has been as an executive recruiter. He has managed and owned several staffing companies since 1989. He also has worked as a career counselor and outplacement consultant.

In 2005 Jim had the privilege of traveling to India several times over the next three years. It was during this time that he met his beloved teacher and friend Yoga Praveena H.S. Arun from Bangalore, India.

You will find Jim practicing at the studio at 6:00 a.m. every day except Sundays when he sleeps in and teaches the 8:30 a.m. class.

In addition to the above, Jim manages the business of the yoga studio, including building our online presence and community. If you have comments or suggestions as to how we could make this site better, please let Jim know.

Check out Jim's Yoga Blahgasana.

Marilyn Steppe

I am a 2008 graduate of Downtown Yoga’s Advanced Studies/Teacher Training program and am finishing up the 500 hour program, also at Downtown Yoga. (2013). I been practicing Yoga since 2000 and teaching since 2008. In addition, I am a practicing Family Practice Physician but currently work part time in Occupational Medicine. I also hold a Masters degree in sports performance enhancement and sports injury prevention.

I am a martial artist and have earned a black belt in Shaolin Kenpo Karate and currently study the Japanese martial art, Aikido. I initially studied Yoga to improve my flexibility for Karate, but as we know, Yoga becomes a life of its own.

This varied background allows me to approach Yoga with a thorough understanding of anatomy and physiology (which I love and use in my teaching), as well as understanding the individuality of each body, the concept of centering, and the importance and use of energy and breath in our practice. To paraphrase New York Yoga teacher Cyndi Lee, “The body provides an obstacle for the curious mind to grow stronger and more stable. The pendulum swing of putting our body through various asana and the accompanying stabilization becomes smaller and smaller until finally the body, mind, and heart become integrated….and that’s Yoga. “

I continue to study with Kate Coughlin and frequently travel to attend retreats, conferences, and workshops to expand my own practice and incorporate new teaching methods.

I was born in North Carolina but grew up in Virginia on a farm with 2 brothers and 2 sisters-as the middle child! I was (and am) an avid horse lover. I married my husband half way through medical school in Virginia in 1977. We have 2 daughters, a son, 2 granddaughters, and my daughter’s brilliant service dog, Walter the Wonder Dog.

My husband and I love to sail, scuba dive, collect wine, explore other cultures, and of course study and practice Yoga. We bareboat charter a sailboat every year and have visited such places as Tahiti, Tonga, Greece, Belize, Italy and New Zealand among others.

In short, we love to live and experience life.

MIchelle Grady

Michelle Grady-Bressler, RYT 200
 
Michelle loves combining her knowledge of bodywork and meditation and bringing it to the mat. She is a Nationally Certified Massage Therapist and Health Educator with 19 years experience helping clients on their healing journeys. She was first introduced to yoga in 2001 and has had a daily practice since 2015. She has completed Downtown Yoga’s 200 hour Advanced Studies Program and is currently enrolled in their 300 hour program.

Michelle is light hearted, nurturing and welcomes all. What she loves about alignment based yoga is that it is accessible to everyone. She has experienced that practicing yoga has benefited her body, mind and spirit. Her goal is to bring yoga into as many people's lives as possible.
 
WARNING Yoga has been known to cause Health and Happiness

Jessica Sinclair

Jessica began practicing yoga 17 years ago after the birth of her first child. Her love of practicing yoga blossomed over the years and led to her becoming a certified yoga teacher through Downtown Yoga’s 200 – hour Advanced Yoga Studies Program under the guidance of Kate Coughlin.

Jessica believes that practicing yoga on a daily basis not only calms the mind and keeps you present but also aids our bodies with strength and flexibility, helping to avoid injury. She teaches with certainty and safe instruction, allowing her students to feel each pose as they move through their practice. Jessica has practiced Vinyassa, Ashtanga and Yin yoga over the years but is extremely inspired by alignment based yoga such as Iyengar.

Jessica has always lived a very active and healthy lifestyle. She has trained and competed in several triathlons, half marathons and countless swim meets and open water long distance swims. Outside of sport she also enjoys quality time with her husband and two teenagers and loves to cook healthy meals.

Have a look at Jessica's yoga blog as she continues to evolve through her practice of yoga. paradiseyoga.me

Kavita Patel

Kavita first discovered yoga in college when she was pursuing her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Acting. She used yoga in her movement and vocal training. Kavita found that it grounded and relaxed her for performances. Although, it was not until the birth of her first child that she was deeply drawn to yoga. Kavita needed to reconnect with her body and find a place of peace within herself. Yoga has given Kavita that and so much more. She finds solace in her practice and sense of empowerment for having an understanding of how her body moves through space. Kavita recently completed her 200 hour training at Downtown Yoga with Kate Coughlin. She loves to teach because it allows her to share her practice and passion for yoga as a way of life. At home Kavita has two little yogis in training; a 5 year old daughter and a 2 year old son. They give her lots of opportunities to remember to breath and be in the present!

Kathleen Genereux

Kathleen discovered Iyengar Yoga nearly 40 years ago. She was looking for a meaningful practice to bring integrity and aliveness into her daily life. The practice of Yoga gave her this. Gradually, her practice of the postures, breathing and the study of yoga philosophy gave her the strength, balance, flexibility and serenity in her character as well as her physical body and helped her to develop a conscious mindfulness that brought with it a deeper ability to appreciate and be grateful for the truly valuable.

Wanting to share the powerful gift of yoga, she studied in the teacher training at the Iyengar Institute of San Francisco for several years and then at the Yoga Room in Berkeley in their Advanced Studies Program for another three years where she received certification to teach yoga asana and pranayama in the year 2000. From there she moved to the Mendocino coast and opened the Fort Bragg Yoga Studio. She very much enjoyed the studio for three years, still, wanting to be with her family she was drawn back to the East Bay.

Kathleen has been teaching gentle, beginning, all levels, pre-natal, restorative yoga and meditation classes in Walnut Creek and Danville.

Kathleen also practices chi gong and she wears a humble orange belt in Aikido. She has studied Ayurvedics, the life science of yoga and hold certification as a massage therapist and as a Reiki Master.

Kathleen is very happy to be teaching the beginning yoga class at 9:00 on Sunday mornings at Downtown Yoga. There is a very special energy to Sunday morning yoga and she invites all who are interested to come and enjoy the experience with her.

Natascha Thomson

Natascha is a Registered Yoga Alliance Teacher and graduate of Downtown Yoga's 200-hour Advanced Yoga Studies Program, with a focus on Iyengar-style yoga. Iyengar yoga is a form of hatha yoga that emphasizes alignment by using props like blocks and bolsters to perform poses (asanas). It builds flexibility, and core strength, while calming the mind and helping practitioners to develop a peaceful inner sense.

Yoga and meditation have had a profound impact on Natascha's life and provide the perfect balance to her high-tech career. She'd like to share this passion with you to help you discover a happier and healthier self.

Build upon the basic standing and seated postures taught to beginning students. Intermediate classes can be more vigorous as they focus on building strength and stamina in the poses. Learn more about our Pose Syllabus here.
What is covered in the Beginner/Intermediate Yoga classes?
All 50 poses in the Beginner’s Yoga syllabus are frequently practiced within the Beginner/Intermediate classes. The main addition in the Beginner/Intermediate class is the introduction of Inversions in class.
What is an Inversion?

An Inversion is any pose where the head is below the heart. Theoretically, downward facing dog pose is an inversion. But when we speak of Inversions in relation to the Beginner/Intermediate class – we are mainly refer to these three poses: headstand (sirsasana), shoulderstand (sarvangasana) and handstand (adho mukha vrksasana).
Why are these poses so special and important?

Headstand (or Sirsasana) has been referred to as the “King” of all poses. Shoulderstand (or Sarvangasana) is referred to as the “Queen” or “Mother” of all poses. The benefits of these poses are many. The most immediately recognizable benefits are increased strength, balance, stamina, flexibility and vigor.
Isn’t it dangerous to be on one’s head or shoulders? It doesn’t seem natural.

If you have specific concerns about your particular physical condition and limitations, please consult your physician. With proper preparation, support and guidance most of the inverted poses are safe. There are times when a person should NOT do inversions. It is recommended to NOT practice inversions when a woman is menstruating, if you have extremely high or low blood pressure, eye issues or neck issues. Again, please consult your physician if you have any concerns prior to beginning inversions.
Are those three poses the only difference from a Beginner’s Yoga to a Beginner/Intermediate class?
Not quite! Not only do we begin to introduce the 3 inversions listed above. We also start introducing other combinations of inverted and more challenging poses, which are detailed here.
Is there anything else I should know about a Beginner/Intermediate class beside the emphasis on Inversions?

Yes! Poses are held for longer duration in Beginner/Intermediate class. Standing poses may be held for several minutes at a time. The purpose of extending duration in the poses is to find a deeper release, relaxation and strength while in the pose.
Also, the teacher will require the student to be in the pose with finer and finer precision and accuracy. The reason for this is we are trying to remove any resistance to finding complete ease and comfort in the pose while retaining firm strength and stamina. This principle is known in Sanskrit as “Sthira Sukham Asanam”.
When would I be ready to move into the Intermediate Classes?

If you have been practicing at least 2-3 times a week, for a minimum of a year, and you can hold either Headstand (Sirsasana) or Shoulderstand (Sarvangasana) for 5 minutes without the support of the wall – AND – you can comfortably perform 80% of the 65 poses listed above (52 poses), then you are welcome to proceed to an Intermediate Class.

Upcoming classes:

  • Wed Dec 13 9:30 am - 11:00 am with Kate Coughlin
  • Wed Dec 13 5:45 pm - 7:00 pm with Shauna Lay
  • Wed Dec 13 7:30 pm - 8:45 pm with Jim Coughlin
  • Thu Dec 14 10:15 am - 11:30 am with Marilyn Steppe
  • Thu Dec 14 6:00 pm - 7:15 pm with MIchelle Grady
  • Fri Dec 15 7:00 am - 8:15 am with Jessica Sinclair
  • Fri Dec 15 10:15 am - 11:30 am with Kavita Patel
  • Sun Dec 17 8:00 am - 9:15 am with Kathleen Genereux
  • Sun Dec 17 10:15 am - 11:45 am with Jim Coughlin
  • Mon Dec 18 9:30 am - 11:00 am with Marilyn Steppe
  • Tue Dec 19 6:00 pm - 7:15 pm with Shauna Lay
  • Wed Dec 20 9:30 am - 11:00 am with Kate Coughlin
  • Wed Dec 20 5:45 pm - 7:00 pm with Kavita Patel
  • Wed Dec 20 7:30 pm - 8:45 pm with Jim Coughlin
  • Thu Dec 21 10:15 am - 11:30 am with Marilyn Steppe
  • Thu Dec 21 6:00 pm - 7:15 pm with Natascha Thomson
  • Fri Dec 22 7:00 am - 8:15 am with Jessica Sinclair
  • Fri Dec 22 10:15 am - 11:30 am with Kavita Patel
  • Sun Dec 24 8:00 am - 9:15 am with Kathleen Genereux
  • Sun Dec 24 10:15 am - 11:45 am with Jim Coughlin