Co-Owner of Simply. yoga + wellness and soon-to-open I Love Juice Bar in Belmont, NC, Jessica found yoga at a young age. Over time she found that yoga complimented other activities and made her high-stress job more bearable.
"I believed (and still do) that people need to move and breathe and get quiet. They need to learn what they are capable of and feel supported to step out into the big things they were created for. People need help connecting the dots. They need to connect their body, their mind and their spirit. They need to connect to others. People need to be seen and heard and experience authenticity. People need all this to be convenient and accessible in order to do it. I originally opened the studio because I was 'people' and I had no place to go that wasn't a 30 min drive, I believed (and still do) I wasn't alone. If I needed all this, surely someone else does too."
A local gal born and raised, Jessica has deep roots in the Belmont area. She lives in Belmont with husband, Brian and kids, Logan and Izze. A lover of nature Jessica can likely be found with the family on a local trail or falling off the grid camping in the mountains of NC.
Co-Owner Sue-Ann Grillo-Keistler has a passion for people and seeing them happy brings her joy. She says, “When people are physically strong and healthy they're more likely to speak about positive life experiences. There's usually a difference in the way they carry themselves and they may even smile more easily."
Kinesiology has always been a top interest in her studies. Helping others understand how the physical body works kinetically often translates to an awakening or pursuit of better health. She became a personal trainer, CPFT, through AFAA and eventually ACSM in 2004. This was when she added personal training to her many existing years of group fitness instruction at the YMCA.
Her training approach always starts with alignment principles, proper physical form and safety.
It seemed natural for her to incorporate a yoga practice to her own workouts. Attending varied types of yoga classes and studios sparked her desire for formal teacher training.
She did this over a 5-year span with YogaFit where she earned her teaching certification and 200 hr RYT.
One deeply held belief she maintains is that whether someone has a physical disability or is in top form, yoga asanas will improve what they are feeling physically and mentally.
She fills her days with her passion of instructing personal strength and alignment training and one-on-one yoga instruction for individuals. She also enjoys teaching several yoga classes a week. She wants people to hone in on happiness as they gain understanding about the intelligent design of the human body.
I fell in love with yoga 10 years ago when I was in a desperate search for something physical to help me relieve stress. I have been physically active my whole life but yoga, specifically power yoga which I started with, was a totally different experience. I am a sociable person. I enjoy other people, connecting, smiling, communicating, learning. When I walk into a gym to workout I do not feel a connection to anyone else there. A few people may smile at me as I smile at them. There are rarely any impactful conversations and there are often eyes of judgment and barriers to connection like music and looking down. When I walk into a room/studio/space to practice yoga I feel a connection. There is someone to genuinely greet me and welcome me. I feel supported on my mat by my instructors and the other students in the room. Connection often happens before and after class. On my mat I can tune into my true self, my powerful self, my compassionate self, my imperfect self. On my yoga mat it is okay to not be perfect, it is called a practice for a reason. I can try on new things on my mat. I can fall on my face, knock over a classmate, laugh, and start over again with the support of my instructor and a true belief in myself that has only been developed through a consistent yoga practice over the years. Yoga has opened a whole new world for me. I was once a depressed, easily agitated individual, often referred to as a "bitch" and selfish. I now see myself in a new light and can see the good inside of me. I feel like I know myself better and am willing to know others better. I seek out positive relationships with others and I am kinder to myself.
I teach yoga because I want to help empower others to drop their facade of being perfect. I want to help people see their true, best, most brilliant imperfect selves. I want to empower people to try on new things on and off of their mat. I want to empower people to be kind to themselves and others and to not fear making mistakes.
I teach yoga because I want to change the world, one mat at a time.
I've always been interested in health, nutrition, and being fit since I was very young. I have worked out doing aerobics,step, weights and everything in between that was popular at the time since my early twenties, until I found yoga in 1998 at Charlotte Yoga, it resonated with who I am immediately, the breathing the overall use of all your body parts, the spirituality and honoring oneself , brought my spiritual side together with my desire to stay fit along with helping me with anxiety.Of all the years I've tried to help others with all the knowledge I have gained through my life experiences I now know its was all to prepare me for this moment in time, that I now get to share with others the gifts of yoga.Giving back the gifts I've received from others along this journey, finding my way home to myself.Teaching others that Love starts with oneself,and showing up on the mat is the beginning of a life changing ,healing, experience of self love,and a healthier life.
Having practiced yoga for years and possessing several physical limitations, Julie found yoga to be healing and reliving of both pain and stress. Julie came to Simply Yoga upon the opening of the new studio space and has attended almost daily since and quickly became involved in our work exchange program. She completed her 225 hr Holy Yoga Teacher Training program in May 2015. You may find Julie answering phones, shooting you an email, cleaning, practicing alongside you or teaching yummy Gentle & Deep Stretch classes.
Julie's story is one of beauty from ashes and strength from fear. Delivered from a dark place her light now shines apparent to all who meet her. Stories like Julie's is the reason Simply Yoga exists; to offer opportunity for all students to become still, find space and healing on a yoga mat thus positively affecting their lives and those around them.
Danielle Bisheit is a California girl who has lived in the Charlotte area since 2005. She is a wife and mother of 2 little girls, she loves hiking, kayaking, and adventures in travel! She began practicing yoga in 2002, but it wasn’t until after the birth of her second child that she began to take her practice seriously.
"I teach yoga because it was the only thing I ever thought I could do and actually wanted to do! I didn't go to college because I never really knew what I wanted to be when I grew up, until my first yoga class in a studio. I was 36 and my youngest had just started preschool so I had a few hours each week to myself and I took that time to get on my mat. I love the connection between body mind and spirit, it gives me peace like nothing else. I don't like traditional exercise, I get bored easily with it and my brain wanders off easily. Yoga however keeps me focused, calm, and moving and I want to give that to other people like me. Then I learned about all of the benefits of yoga and I was completely hooked! People need to do yoga. People with back problems, hip problems, knee problems, shoulder problems, digestive problems, focus problems, weight problems, self esteem problems, pretty much everyone should have a yoga practice as far as I'm concerned and I want to help them in their journey.
I know it's not the most eloquent reason but it's an honest one!"
My Yoga Journey Began.... And in the beginning my practice started quietly at home and among the great outdoors. A more mindful practice than a physical one at first guiding me during life’s ups and downs as I journeyed onward the mental and physical benefits of yoga began to deepen for me bringing forth changes that ultimately lead to a lifestyle change. Following this ebb and flow of life I could not ignore the great life-force within to extend my own practice and knowledge. Therefore going onward to share the wonderful joys found in a yoga practice… Both "On and Off the Mat!" As the divine plan unfolded, I obtained my 220-hour certified Yoga Alliance Kunga Teacher Training & Lifestyle Immersion at the Wilmington Yoga Center in Wilmington, North Carolina. I began implementing simple healthy lifestyle changes into my daily routine giving me greater insight on how I view myself & the world all around me. Learning that like yoga, Life is a practice… Unmastered where learning is truly never over. As we continue each day, step by step, one breath at a time. “A yogi’s practice is life-long, always keeping an open heart to change, always learning, always growing and always sharing.” Yoga has taught me much more than physical stretching of the body but how to think outside the box & stretch my mind, reconditioning more to a state of wholeness, a state of LOVE! For this I am so truly grateful that I found yoga or that it found me, either way it truly changed my life! Namaste'-The Light in Me, Honors the Light in You!
Gao, (pronounced 'gal') is a gal of many talents. She holds a 225hr yoga instructor certification with Holy Yoga, trained and is masters level certified at SVG Thai Massage Training Center in Chiang Mai, Thailand, Licensed Massage Therapist and holds a B.A. in Philosophy focusing in applied wellness and nutrition of the body from UNCC.
"Never say never", is what "Gao, today" would have adviced "Gao, 10 years ago". She lives and breathes a life she never thought she would come to find herself being submerged within and throughout, as a yoga instructor (and Thai Yoga Massage Therapist). In all honesty, she practiced yoga here and there, during her college years and even afterwards. She didn't really understand the power of movement and breathwork until an unfortunate event happened in 2010, that forced her into the trenches of having to brace her fall, find courage and calm her mind, soul and heart. Unbeknownst to her, yoga and Thai Massage found her (or should we say, "woke" her up). Today, Yoga and To Live is synonymous for Gao. Yoga for Gao, means to practice accountability; To honor her breath/pace, to have the courage to show up (on your mat/life), to find the grace to accept where you currently are/are not(physically/emotionally/mentally/spiritually), to challenge self (forcing self to grow beyond self) and to practice the presence of "being". Being an Instructor, teaches her how to be a better student and being a student, teaches her the compassion to be a better instructor.
As a psychotherapist and a yoga practionioer, Tanvi is passionate about integrating alternative style of healing and promoting personal growth in her practice. With a Masters in Psychology and a Social Work Degree from Columbia University, New York, Tanvi has extensively worked with trauma survivors and survivors of interpersonal violence. Her work then primarily focused on helping survivors relearn ways to befriend their bodily sensations and overcome imprints of trauma using tools such as yoga and breath work. Also, as a psychotherapist at the District Attorney’s Office in New York and a clinician at Carolinas Healthcare Systems in Charlotte, Tanvi creatively incorporated alternative styles of healing; such as mindfulness, meditation, pranayama and restorative/gentle yoga into order to assist clients find a healthy mind-body connection in their lives. Tanvi completed her 200 hour RYT from Enlighten Yoga, Ballantyne; and is currently working towards her 300 hour RYT from Asheville Yoga Center, with special focus on therapeutic healing practices. Tanvi is devoted in creating a compassionate and safe space for her students to shine in their own light. Tanvi’s classes are intention based with empowering messages and soothing hands- on assists to help students deepen their practice. She also weaves in ancient teachings, Ayurveda knowledge, and alignment based information with her personal experiences in her classes.
Off the mat, Tanvi is either traveling to a fun destination with her husband or cooking an Ayurveda inspired feast to feed her family & friends! Her motto in life is to Just Breathe & Just Be!
Amanda lives in Mount Holly with her husband and two children. She's been practicing yoga for several years as a student and it's here where she developed her desire for teaching yoga and sharing her passion with others. Some of her favorite things about yoga are that it's very therapeutic in its connecting of the mind, physical body, breath, and soul- it's unlike any other workout in that way; also that you build strength within your own body using just your body, without weights and hours on treadmills, you build muscle tone and have the cardio component too. Amanda holds her 200 hour Vinyasa Flow Yoga Teacher certification and is also certified in CPR and the Les Mills Body Flow program (Yoga and Pilates combination class). She's excited to be teaching in the Belmont community!
Sarah has been practicing with us as a student for a while but is excited to come on board as an instructor. A Yoga Alliance certified instructor, Sarah was first certified with YogaFit in 2012, then went on to obtain her 200hr level certification with Ayana Yoga. Since receiving her B.S. in Exercise Science from UNCC she has been teaching yoga for several years while pursuing a Masters in Health & Wellness Promotion from Western Carolina.
Classes with Sarah are welcoming and relaxing but at the same time just challenging enough to feel alive and well!
Jessie lives in Belmont with her husband and two children. She first discovered yoga in 2002 while living in Winston-Salem, NC after experiencing shoulder discomfort related to many years of dance and really found her consistent practice in 2012 when she began taking classes here at Simply Yoga and Wellness. Jessie’s yogic journey has led her to understand the importance of integrated physical, mental and spiritual well-being for a life well lived and offering this philosophy so others may feel nurtured and whole in their bodies. She believes yoga is for Everybody and can be made accessible to the individual with guided practice and use of modifications and props. She enjoys a variety of styles of yoga including yin and aerial and exploring ways to incorporate them into her practice and teaching. Jessie received her 200 hr Vinyasa Flow Yoga Teacher certification in May 2016 and when she’s not spending time with her family, doing yoga or crafts she’s in the clinical lab working as a Medical Technologist. She is excited to be teaching in Belmont and invites you to flow with her soon!
Local girl, born and raised in Belmont, NC Lauren went to Appalachian State University in Boone and obtained a Bachelors Degree in Elementary Education in 2009. She's been teaching 5th grade for 8 years at Kiser Elementary in Stanley. A lover of the outdoors, Lauren enjoys paddle boarding, backpacking, live music, and working with children. You can find her either teaching them, coaching them in Girls on the Run, or "white watering" with them in the summer at the US National Whitewater Center.
"I started my yoga journey 5 years ago, Yoga literally was my saving grace. I was struggling and needed some way to get out of my own head. Yoga was a place of balance and grounding. It helped me to build back my confidence and helped me in the path to discover who I am. As a teacher, I see kids struggle daily, in so many aspects of their life. They just want to be heard, and to be noticed. Introducing yoga to kids is my way of giving back a small part of what yoga has done for me and showing kids that yoga can change you; physically and mentally. That this space is a place of peace and they can leave any of that negativity or stress they've felt through out the day on their mat. "You are enough! i am good, I am are kind, I am strong, I am brave." We repeat that at the end of every class. Kids need reassurances not themselves. You just never know what they've experienced in a day. They, like myself, need to know that they have the power and strength to accomplish anything in their life. That is why I teach.
Stephanie began her exploration with yoga 12 years ago as a way to complement her studies as a dancer. She returned to yoga 6 years ago as a busy mom searching for peace and stillness. It only took a few years until she developed a "serious" relationship with her yoga practice.
I teach yoga because, "After years of soul searching and "trying on" different jobs, I know that I am a healer. That is my nature, my passion, and my gift. I enjoy seeing people heal and thrive physically, mentally, and emotionally. I have been in the darkest parts of mind and I know how that feels, and the thoughts that go through your head. And I just want to help people know hope, and peace, and joy. I want those that struggle to know they are never alone."
Michelle Leonhardt of TOTAL BALANCE is your dedicated instructor who works day-in and day-out to create the most amazing workouts for a physically fit lifestyle. Join her select Mondays at 11am for our NEW M. Method Barre class.