Email us! Check us out on Yelp! Check out our Blog! Follow us on Twitter! Connect with us on Facebook!

Beginner/Intermediate


This class is taught by:

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.

Georganne Benesch

Yoga became an integral part of Georganne’s life from the moment she first stepped on a mat. Like many, Georganne tried out Yoga to help recover from an illness. The first day she walked into the DTY studio, Georganne felt at home. She loves how a consistent Yoga practice has helped her achieve more strength and balance in her life – physically, mentally & spiritually. Motivated to share her practice, Georganne graduated from the Downtown Yoga 200-hour Advanced Studies Program and soon became a DTY teacher. In her classes, she offers supportive instruction that encourages each and every student to find energy, ease and enjoyment in their practice. Georganne built a career in high-tech marketing and runs her own consulting business; Tiger Team Marketing. She delights in balancing her professional work with practicing and teaching Yoga.

Mary Monahan

Mary wants to share the healing, transformative power of yoga with others. She was introduced to yoga when her physician recommended it as a way to help recover from cancer. Long since cancer free, she continued to deepen her yoga practice through movement and breath, graduating from the 200-hour Advanced Studies program with Kate and Jim Coughlin in June 2011. Mary is passionate about Iyengar-inspired yoga because its emphasis on good form and alignment is essential to avoiding injury and increasing strength. She strives to create an open, positive space where students are free to explore the mind, body and spirit, in the most compassionate way possible.

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

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.

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.

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

Bridget Galli

Bridget began practicing yoga in 2009 as a path to greater strength, balance, flexibility, and serenity. She tried many styles of yoga, but found a deep connection to Iyengar inspired instruction with its focus on connecting mind, body, and spirit through awareness, alignment, and breathing. Over the years, her practice has grown from one to two days a week to a daily asana and meditation practice. After years of encouragement by her wonderful teachers Nancy Leigh-Smith and Eva Kastel, Bridget earned her 200 hour RYT at Downtown Yoga last year and began teaching soon after. The experience has been so profound and rewarding that she is currently pursuing her 500 hour RYT at Downtown Yoga as well. Bridget credits the transformative power of yoga and meditation for deepening and enriching her pursuit of balance emotionally, physically, and spiritually. She brings all of this into her experience on and off the mat as a seeker, student, teacher, wife, and mother of four sons. She hopes to share the light and joy of yoga in a welcoming and supportive environment in her classes.
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:

  • Sun Jun 25 8:00 am - 9:15 am with Kathleen Genereux
  • Sun Jun 25 10:15 am - 11:45 am with Natascha Thomson
  • Mon Jun 26 9:30 am - 11:00 am with Georganne Benesch
  • Mon Jun 26 7:30 pm - 8:45 pm with Mary Monahan
  • Tue Jun 27 6:00 pm - 7:15 pm with Shauna Lay
  • Wed Jun 28 9:30 am - 11:00 am with Kate Coughlin
  • Wed Jun 28 5:45 pm - 7:00 pm with Natascha Thomson
  • Thu Jun 29 10:15 am - 11:30 am with Marilyn Steppe
  • Thu Jun 29 6:00 pm - 7:15 pm with Natascha Thomson
  • Fri Jun 30 7:00 am - 8:15 am with Jessica Sinclair
  • Fri Jun 30 10:15 am - 11:30 am with Bridget Galli
  • Sun Jul 02 8:00 am - 9:15 am with Kathleen Genereux
  • Sun Jul 02 10:15 am - 11:45 am with Natascha Thomson
  • Mon Jul 03 9:30 am - 11:00 am with Marilyn Steppe
  • Mon Jul 03 7:30 pm - 8:45 pm with Mary Monahan
  • Tue Jul 04 6:00 pm - 7:15 pm with Shauna Lay
  • Wed Jul 05 9:30 am - 11:00 am with Kate Coughlin
  • Thu Jul 06 10:15 am - 11:30 am with Marilyn Steppe
  • Thu Jul 06 6:00 pm - 7:15 pm with Natascha Thomson