NANCY SESSOMS, OWNER, E-RYT 500
Nancy started her training in 2012, teaching in 2013 and in January 2020 earned the designation of E-RYT 500. Nancy is certified by Dr. Loren Fishman to teach his 12 pose program for osteoporosis.
Nancy believes that each class belongs to the participant. She cultivates an atmosphere where each individual is challenged, yet comfortable, in his or her poses. She understands that every person is unique and that there are many reasons for participating in yoga. Whether it is to improve one’s overall health, for socialization, or to find those pockets of tranquility in a busy life, she is there to help guide you along your path as you discover yoga’s healing powers and what it means to you.
As a third-generation scoliotic child, with a moderate “S” curve, Nancy started floor exercise early in her life to keep her back and body strong. After running track in high school and continuing on for several decades thereafter, she found that her maturing body yearned for a physical workout program without the repetitive impact to her spine. After consulting with Dr. Fishman, she has added several poses to her daily practice which have been shown to reduce pain and improve the scoliotic curves.
Having been diagnosed with osteoporosis, another personal purpose for yoga has surfaced. Since yoga has been proven to slow or reverse the effects of bone loss, she enrolled in Dr. Fishman's second study in mid-January 2020 and has practiced the 11 poses (plus savasana) almost every day. In mid-January 2021 she had a DEXA scan on the same machine as previous scans and here are the numbers!
12/17/19: Lumbar -2.8; Femoral Neck -2.1; Total Hip -1.4
1/18/21 (13 mos. later): Lumbar -2.4; Femoral Neck -2; Total Hip -1.4
Aside from the proven physical benefits of yoga, she embraces yoga as a lifestyle and believes in its efficacy to find one’s stillness and peace within.
Nancy grew up in Two Rivers, Wisconsin. She earned a business degree from CNU and retired from NASA after 35 years with the Federal Government. She is a wife and mother and currently resides in Gloucester with her very supportive husband and three wonderful four-footed beings.
GRETCHEN BROWN, RYT 500
Gretchen has lived in Gloucester for almost 30 years. She raised her children here and continues to expand her small farm, lovingly known as Brown Acres. Here she raises chickens, grows organic fruits and vegetables, and spends time hiking with her two dogs, Leroy and Buster.
Gretchen began her yoga practice at home almost 20 years ago as a compliment to her running. It became an integral part of her healthy lifestyle. Having never attended a formal class, Gretchen decided she was ready to deepen her understanding of yoga and enrolled in the teacher training program at Zenya Yoga Academy, where she completed her 200-hour teacher training in May of 2017. There she fell in love with all aspects of yoga and has committed to a lifelong study. In January 2019 she completed the 300-hour advanced training to receive her RYT 500 designation. She plans to continue education through workshops and classes so that she is able to bring the benefits of yoga to all populations. One of Gretchen's favorite quotes: "If you can breathe, you can do yoga."
GALINA MACKEY, RYT 200
Galina was born and raised in Russia. As a child she found herself doing random poses in which she would find peace. She would find the highest point she could find, interlace her arms and legs and balance in peace. Later in life she discovered that all those poses were yoga poses and her favorite pose at that time was the Eagle.
Galina received her RYT 200-hour teacher training at Zenya Yoga Academy in September 2018. She works at Patriots Colony, a decorated military officer retirement community in Williamsburg. Galina teaches chair yoga once a week to the residents, and a weekly yoga session for her team members who would like to decompress after work. She enjoys teaching a variety of yoga flows for different ages. She plans to continue her yoga education.
Galina believes that all people can experience inner peace and emotional tranquility if they just let themselves experience the joys of yoga.
Galina has two beautiful daughters who also like it when mom spends time teaching them yoga.
CHERYL BROWN, RYT 200
Cheryl is an RYT 200 and a certified health coach. She loves all things health and wellness and has a passion for empowering people in their health and wellness journey. Cheryl has been doing yoga personally for over 10 years and in 2020 decided to take her practice to the next level and become a yoga instructor. She enjoys the variety that yoga offers, from a high-energy Vinyasa class, to the slower paced, more mindful practice of Yin... and everything in between.
Cheryl believes living a healthy lifestyle is attainable for everyone. "Yoga is accessible to everyone; daily movement is one of the keys to making changes in your life that will affect your tomorrows. Being mindful of how you live, how you move (exercise), how you think, and how you eat all come together to create a zenful life."
Cheryl is an Air Force wife as well as a proud mom to twin boys who serve in the Air Force and Army. She comes from Kansas, considers Virginia her second home, and currently lives in Puerto Rico; La Isla de Encanto (the island of enchantment). "Being a military spouse is a wonderful opportunity to meet amazing people, embrace different experiences, serve in the community, and create growth in your life. My most recent military move to Puerto Rico has taken me out of my comfort zone and is giving me daily opportunities to 'get comfortable with being uncomfortable;' a phrase I use frequently in my Yinyasa class."
MARIA PETERS, RYT 200
Maria is a transplant from Pennsylvania. For most of her life she has worked in the healthcare field as an EMT, radiographer, and then owner of a medical transcription business and later switched careers to work as a purchasing/logistics agent for a small local engineering company. She holds a B.S in health arts.
She has always been interested in some form of physical fitness. She has been participating in Body Flow and hot yoga classes for approximately eight years. Her career transitioned to group exercise instructor in February 2017 and received her certificate to teach Body Flow in November 2018. The transformation in mind and body led her to Garden of Zen for her 200-hour yoga teacher training program which she completed in July 2021. Maria appreciates the benefits of many styles of yoga from Yin to Vinyasa. Maria resides in Yorktown with her husband, Steve, and yorkie-pom, Pitch. She is a mother to two sons and stepmother to a son and daughter. She enjoys running 5Ks to ultramarathon distances, hiking and traveling.
CRYSTAL CYR, RYT 200
Crystal studies various styles of yoga including Vinyasa, Gentle Yoga, Yin Yoga, and Bhakti Yoga as well as Meditation and Ayurveda. Crystal started her yoga journey over a decade ago when a friend recommended that she do yoga to help alleviate knee pain from running marathons. As she grew stronger in her yoga practice she realized how healing yoga is, not only for the body, but also the mind and soul. Crystal is now pain free and living her best life with her wonderful husband and four-year old son in Newport News, Virginia.
Crystal completed her 200-hour yoga teacher training program in July 2021. She believes yoga is for everyone and has experienced the healing power of yoga in her own body and life. Crystal finds it a joy and privilege to share the ancient practice of yoga and the yogic lifestyle with everyone she meets.
LEEANN RIGAU, RYT 200
LeeAnn moved to Gloucester from New York 30 years ago. She is a retired educator, having taught middle school for 31 years.
LeeAnn discovered the benefits of yoga about 4-1/2 years ago when her oldest daughter, herself a yoga instructor, suggested she give “the new yoga studio in Gloucester” a try. Stress, lack of motivation and a non-existent exercise regime were negatively impacting her health and overall wellness. Her first yoga class at Gloucester Yoga changed all that.
LeeAnn grew up riding and showing other people’s horses. As an adult, she was privileged to own and love several of her own. With horses comes injury. Yoga made it possible to move through these injuries, regaining a sense of strength and flexibility. It also brought a renewed sense of acceptance and a commitment to her own self-care and wellbeing. She found yoga to be a truly adaptive and accessible practice for people of all ages, shapes, sizes and level of fitness.
She is forever thankful that she followed her daughter’s wise advice and attended her first yoga class with an open mind. She is also very excited and honored to be able to share the gift of yoga with others.
LeeAnn is a certified health and wellness coach, having earned her certification through the Institute of Integrative Nutrition. She completed her 200-hour yoga teacher training program in July 2021. When not practicing yoga, she enjoys traveling, hiking, boating, biking, reading and learning new things.
She is blessed to have three successful and caring adult children and four awesome grandchildren. She shares her tiny condo with her husband who accepts and supports her yoga obsession, and with Jade, her fabulous four-footed 75 lb. fur-baby, whose favorite yoga pose is Savasana.
EMILY ANDERSON, 200 HR
Emily received her teacher training living for a month at the International Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Center in Val Marin, Canada in 2003. She has been practicing yoga for about 25 years. She has experienced a bouquet of yoga styles: Sivananda, Kripalu, Iyengar, Vinyasa, Hot Yoga, Ashtanga, Yoga Nidra and Yin Yoga. She has done retreats at Yogaville and taken classes at Kashi Ashram in Florida. She loves to take classes while traveling, and had special classes in places such as Berkeley CA and Albuquerque NM. Emily taught yoga for Gloucester Parks and Recreation for about 15 years. She also taught Yoga Intramurals at Peasley Middle School.
Emily believes experiences on the mat or in Yoga Nidra carry over into your life with time and practice. This would include peace, flexibility, overcoming challenges, acceptance, strength, and even bliss.
Emily was born in Washington, D.C., grew up in Springfield, Virginia, attended college at Bridgewater, Virginia and O.D.U., and has lived in Gloucester 45 years. She is an avid cyclist, quilter, and reader. She was a school teacher and librarian, but currently relishes retired life with her husband and best friend, Bob. She also enjoys time with her daughter Alia and her fiancé, Jeremy, as well as their fluffy white dog Mr. Fox, who prances.