Yoga Den Bayard Instructors
Heather Benzal is a Registered Yoga Teacher (200 RYT) with Yoga Alliance. She began practicing yoga in 2010 at with Kelly Kamm at Happy Buddha Yoga in Goshen, NY. Quickly falling in love with the philosophy, graceful movements, and spirituality, yoga became a huge part of day to day life.
Inspired to learn more the journey took her to Marrakech, Morocco in 2015 where she deepened her understanding and joy for the philosophy of yoga as a lifestyle. This experience exponentially increased Heather’s passion for this ancient practice as well as her deep sense of gratitude for all we have in this life.
In 2017, her life path brought her to Jacksonville, Florida. While volunteering with Horse Sense & Sensibility, an organization serving disabled children, she learned about Yoga Den’s program. This was the universe sending a sign that it was time to share the gift of yoga with others.
She graduated from Yoga Den, a Registered Yoga School (RYS), December of 2019, teaching ever since, passionate about living the yoga (both on and off the mat) , welcoming and inspiring others for self discovery and their own yoga experience!
Ashley found her yogic path in 2011 walking into her first yoga studio in Baltimore in 2011. She immediately was drawn to the practice; being moved on a spiritual, physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, & an energy level…and there was no looking back! After practicing for 7 years as an Architectural Designer, with a BA from Clemson University, she made a decision to shelf her career in pursuit of the one thing that she was more passionate about than anything in the world = Yoga!
Finding her way home to Jacksonville, FL, she discovered the Yoga Den and joined this amazing studio, finding her ‘yoga home’, practicing day in and day out! Ashley felt a soul calling to dive as deep as she could at the time to understand yoga & its’ roots. She moved to Sivananda Ashram in Paradise Island, Bahamas where she was completely immersed in the yogic life as a karma yogi for three months, and then continued on to received her 200 hr TT in Hatha Yoga. During this time, she was exposed to many teachings, Ayurveda, Vegetarianism, Chanting, Meditation, Sanskrit, Theta Healing, Reiki, Buddhism, Hinduism, Sacred Art, Sacred Sound, Bhakti, Positive Thinking Course, Aroma Therapy with Yoga, Chair Yoga, Yoga for the Spine, Yoga and Sacred Healing, Qi Gong, Remote Viewing, Yoga of Recovery, Enlightenment & Self Realization. After her stay in the Bahamas and initial teachings at the Sivananda Yoga Center, she made her way over to the Florida Keys where she taught yoga at various studios & resorts, as well as teaching paddleboard yoga & guided paddleboard tours.
Ashley moved back to Jacksonville in 2015 to complete her 500 hr teacher training with Yoga Den in Jacksonville & start up her non-profit Yoga For Peace. She has been teaching in Jacksonville, since 2015. She continues to grow her personal practice & love for yoga. She has lead multiple yoga retreats in Costa Rica, and plans to continue to annually. With a heart full of passion for yoga, and an enthusiasm to share the gift of yoga, she is excited to extend her prana energy into all of her teachings!
~ Pura Vida & Namaste
Find Ashley on Instagram: @yoga4love4life
Yoga is a profound practice that goes beyond the physical realm, encompassing the intricate interplay of body, mind, and spirit. Within this transformative discipline, lies a fascinating aspect known as fascial connections – the intricate network of connective tissues that run throughout
Introducing Betsy Weiss, a passionate and experienced yoga instructor who has dedicated her practice to exploring the therapeutic potential of fascial connections within each asana. With 12+ years of experience and a deep understanding of the human body, she combines the wisdom of yoga with the science of fascia to create a truly holistic experience on the mat.
Guided by her belief in the power of mindful movement, Betsy incorporates precise alignment cues and subtle modifications to enhance the therapeutic benefits of each pose. By consciously engaging the fascial lines and exploring their connections, she helps students tap into the innate intelligence of their bodies and experience a deeper sense of release, expansion, and vitality.
Through her classes, workshops, and private sessions, Betsy guides students on a journey of self-discovery and self-healing. She creates a safe and supportive space where individuals can explore the subtle sensations within their bodies, encouraging them to listen to their intuition and honor their unique needs.
With a gentle and nurturing approach, Betsy helps students develop a greater awareness of their fascial network, allowing them to unravel tension, improve posture, and cultivate a sense of spaciousness within their bodies. She believes that by awakening the fascial connections, one can not only experience physical relief but also promote emotional well-being and a profound sense of inner balance.
Join Betsy on the mat and embark on a transformative journey where yoga and fascial connections intertwine. Discover the power of conscious movement, breath, and mindful awareness as you tap into the body’s innate wisdom, unravel patterns of tension, and unlock a profound sense of well-being.
Toni started her yoga journey in 2020 during the covid pandemic. Fifteen minutes a day of videos on YouTube gave her more mental peace than any other exercise had, which turned into a mindful passion that she wanted to be able to give to others. In 2022 that led her to Yoga Den to complete their 200 teacher training program where she was fortunate to train under Allison, Kristi, Heather and Michael. She uses the mindfulness of yoga to enhance her leadership skills within her profession, and can’t wait to teach it to you on the mat!
Lisa Dearie, RYT-500, began practicing yoga in 2000 while living in Adelaide, Australia. Her early years of practice focused on hatha yoga and Iyengar yoga. Back in the states, she was introduced to vinyasa yoga. In 2006 Lisa received her first RYT 200 from YogaFit in Memphis, TN. She began teaching at her local YMCA, as well as the Germantown Baptist Church recreation center. Lisa also taught out of her home for group and private classes. Lisa’s continued education trainings include all styles and master teachers such as Shiva Rea, Jason Hulshof from Jonny Kest Yoga, Bryan Kest, and most recently Michael Johnson. When Lisa returned to the Jacksonville area, she taught and trained for several years at Big Fish Power Yoga in Jax Beach and Nocatee. Lisa has been teaching at Yoga Den Studios since 2019. She completed her RYT 300 at Yoga Den with Alyson Foreacre. Lisa has a deep love for yoga and more importantly her students. Lisa is friendly and warm, and creates a welcoming environment for all levels of students. Currently, Lisa teaches Mind Body and Sun Power Bhakti at Yoga Den Bayard and assists with the YTT trainings at Yoga Den.
I have always been drawn to yoga but really fell in love with yoga during the pandemic . I started practicing hot yoga every day and haven’t looked back since . I started my 200 hour teacher training in fall of 2022 with Yoga Den and graduated in January of 2023 . I love yoga for the joy and peace it brings me and love to share it with others. I like to think of yoga as a love letter to the body and a pathway to access the higher self. When I’m off my mat , you can find me spending time with my husband and 4 daughters (including a set of twins ), at the beach, hiking, reading, and working as a Speech Language Pathologist with special needs kids.
I am an E-RYT 500 and have been teaching Yoga for 10 years now, approaching 4700 hours of teaching experience. I teach 12 times a week in varying styles including chair yoga to those who have suffered from TBI (traumatic brain injury). I worked as a computer programmer for 10 years and left that career to stay home with my children though I am almost an empty nester! I love dance and music which helps me to hear the rhythm, to be able to move and breathe to the beat which I love to do. I often play and sing with my ukulele or harmonium in my classes. I have a strong mediation practice and have attended several retreats including two 10 day silent vipassana courses as well as serving a 3 day silent course. I love sharing all of this with my students and I am a forever student myself as I keep up a personal practice, read and study and continue to attend teacher training. I am honored and humbled to be able to teach Yoga.
My love for yoga began a few years ago during classes at my local gym. This launched my journey of self-discovery, self-awareness, and mindfulness. As a result, my mental and physical health improved tremendously, and I knew I had to share this practice with others! I received my 200-hour Teacher Training Certification with Yoga Den and plan to further my education by obtaining the 300-hour Teacher Training Certification.
My goal is to create a safe space where anyone, regardless of age, shape, or size, can feel welcome to improve themselves both mentally and physically in a judgment-free zone. Whether you want to break a sweat and get a good workout before starting your day or simply lay down, listen to good music, and soak up all the positive energy in the room, you’re free to do so. I want to help people become the best version of themselves because we all deserve it! I’m thrilled to be a part of others’ journeys of self-discovery and growth, whether they are just starting or continuing their practice.
Andrew Paul Williams
ANDREW PAUL WILLIAMS, PH.D., E-RYT 500 has a Doctorate in Mass Communications from the University of Florida, College of Journalism and Communications, an M.A. in English and a B.A. In Communication and English from the University of North Florida. He received his 200 and 300 Hour Teacher Training (RYT 500) at Yoga Den In Jacksonville, Florida. He teaches all-levels classes at Yoga Den Mandarin, World Golf Village, Bayard, and Fleming Island. He is the author of The Space Between: Cultivating Mindfulness, Peace, and Empowerment In Your Life Through Meta-Awareness, Framing, and Yoga,
Good Eats Jax: A Local’s Guide to the Best Independently-Owned Restaurants Along Florida’s First Coast and co-author of The Book of Empowerment. He is a media professional with extensive publishing and public relations experience. Dr. Williams is an internationally-recognized Communication scholar whose interdisciplinary research focuses primarily on Framing Theory and Digital Media. He has taught communications classes at numerous colleges and universities and has presented his research at many national and international conferences. He has published multiple academic journal articles, book chapters, and encyclopedia entries. He has also written business and lifestyle articles for newspapers and magazines. He works with businesses as a brand and media strategist and with individuals as a personal development coach. Andrew is also a multimedia artist and DJ. His approach to teaching yoga is that he is sharing a healing practice that has helped him so much with students of all abilities so they can develop a safe and sustainable practice on and off their mats.
I came to yoga later in life. I was 54 years old and was living with my husband and elderly father. I was looking for something that might relieve a little stress so I took a class at my local gym. I felt comfortable with the mindfulness and movement and followed up with a class at my local studio. I was
in love. I started taking classes regularly and was hooked. Yoga began to change my life. I was more calm, more reasonable, my comfortable in my own skin. A serendipitous opportunity came up to go to Teacher Training, and with the encouragement of my husband, friends and fellow yogis, I enrolled in a 3 week immersion program. I have been a teacher for almost 3 years ( a slow start with the pandemic) and have never felt better about myself. As the saying goes “I am nicer after yoga”. I have a dance background and teach different types of yoga, but my favorite by far is anything with a flow. I like to move and breathe and embrace the entirety of my practice, and I love sharing that with others on and off the mat. I am a daughter, a sister, a wife and a mother, but one of the greatest joys I have had is adding “Yogi” to that resume.
Hi, I’m Emily! Like many of us, I am a Florida transplant. I’m originally from Dallas, Texas and currently live in St. Augustine with my husband and dachshund, Bailey.
Yoga has given me tools to strengthen, stretch and restore my body to keep pain at bay. Learning to find solutions within my own power, connecting the mind with the body, and feeling more mobile as a result is so empowering.
Yoga is the ultimate teacher and flows into every aspect of my life. The most satisfying thing about teaching is witnessing the mental and physical shift in energy from the start of a class to the end. Teaching yoga is such a trip. Hope to see you out on the mat!