Teachers

Michelle Ballard

Michelle likes to move and fills her free time with multiple recreational activities with a big focus on bicycling and swimming. Recognizing that over time her body acquired a bit of damage and habits that caused her pain, she was referred to Bikram yoga by a friend in 2006. The emphasis on balancing flexibility and strength was the perfect complement to a physically active life and the mentally challenging demands of a career in the pharmaceutical industry. She came to yoga for the physical therapy but after a short while recognized the major impact of the moving meditation on psychological well-being.

In 2013, Michelle attended Bikram Yoga Teacher Training with a mission to learn more about the practice and subtleties of the postures. However, once she started teaching, her awareness of the practice as a group activity, a sharing of positive energy and joy, and a source of profound comfort for many in need increased dramatically. It is that awareness that she tries to instill in her teaching.

Michelle is a certified Bikram yoga instructor with additional workshop/retreat training from Joel Pier, Mary Jarvis, Emmy Cleaves, Rajashree Choudhury, Craig Villani, Esak Garcia, Joseph Encinia and Francisco Morales-Bermudez. Michelle is a Ph.D. Molecular Biologist with an M.S. in Genetics who worked in academia and the pharmaceutical industry for over 20 years in various roles from biological research to corporate strategy. She is a self-described nerd who is driven to figure out how things work, but in the case of yoga will often acknowledge that it’s just magic.

Chris Fluck

Chris Fluck was raised in Bethlehem PA and spent 10 years scaling the frames of tall buildings as an ironworker and drumming for heavy metal bands before finding two of his true passions, acting and yoga.

Introduced to yoga in 1999 as part of training for vocal projection on the stage, Chris found the Bikram series in 2001. In addition to being an important vehicle toward personal transformation for Chris, Bikram was a style well-suited to help him overcome several persistent physical injuries. Chris attended Bikram training in the fall of 2002, where he won the award for Best Dialogue.

Outgoing, friendly and sincere, Chris is truly committed to sharing Bikram with others. His positive, energetic and hands-on approach to helping students achieve their full potential in class is both comforting and inspiring. “Dig one well, and dig it deep,” says Chris about his practice.

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Dean Hutcherson, Dipl. ABT (NCCAOM), Board Certified (NCBTMB), LMT, Certified Instructor (AOBTA)

Dean has been practicing Shiatsu and Integrative Bodywork for over 25 years. He has a B.A. in Fine Arts from Wake Forest University, and is a graduate of the International School of Shiatsu where he served as director and as senior instructor for many years. In addition, Dean has trained in CranioSacral Therapy, Myofascial Release, Unwinding Acupuncture Meridians, and manual therapy methods.

Clients seek Dean’s help to resolve health conditions such as fatigue, tension and stress, as well as for both chronic and debilitating back, neck and shoulder pain, lower back pain and sciatica.
Dean combines a practical approach with an intuitive style for resolving energetic and bio-mechanical imbalances. During a typical session, he makes an assessment of structural and postural distortions, then develops a treatment strategy to harmonize energetic imbalances and release movement restrictions using touch, pressure and stretching.

Carolyn Jensen

Carolyn Jensen has been a student and teacher of hatha yoga for 17 years. She met Bikram and Rajashree Choudhury at Kripalu–and began practicing Bikram’s Beginning series in 1994.  She is certified through the Bikram Yoga College of India.

Jensen used the practice to heal her spine. Intense pain associated with scoliosis and herniated discs forced Carolyn to crawl into her first class with Bikram; she was unable to walk. Today, she enjoys total freedom of movement and freedom from pain.

Jensen is also a Certified Holistic Health Counselor accredited by the American Association for Drugless Practitioners.   She is a student of Ayurveda, the 5000 year old medical tradition of India, through the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health Professional Training Program. Carolyn has earned a BA in Political Science and Education from Villanova University and is a graduate of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in Manhattan in affiliation with Columbia University.

Carolyn plans to lead a series of lectures on health and nutrition at Bikram Yoga Chadds Ford. She is available for personal health coaching at carolyngjensen.com.

Lindsey Nass

Bow Pose

Lindsey grew up in the small town of Oxford, PA in Southern Chester County with her parents, twin sister and younger brother.  She attended The Pennsylvania State University and one semester at The University of New South Wales, receiving a Bachelors Degree in Advertising/Public Relations with minors in Business and International Studies.  Marketing Director and Manager at Alphagraphics, she keeps busy in a fast paced work environment, but finds the utmost joy and peace in the hot room.

Her introduction to Bikram yoga was in 2008, while studying abroad in Australia.  She quickly fell in love with the practice and has been hooked every since.  She was even asked to attend training in 2008, but wanted to finish college first.  A few short years later she completed Spring 2013 Teacher Training.  She loves the intensity and the ability to constantly change and improve oneself through the practice. “My friends joke that I need to stay in the hot room so I can never complain about being cold.”  She is thrilled and so thankful to teach at BYCF and begin this wonderful journey helping and inspiring others.

Joel Pier

joelpier

We were deeply saddened to lose Joel in 2022, after a long illness. A yoga practitioner for over 35 years, Joel spent 14 years abroad studying different forms of yoga and martial arts in India and Asia. A naturally gifted instructor, Joel was one of the best teachers in the country, often mentioned in editorial features on yoga. His endearing nature, teaching finesse, extreme patience, outward encouragement, and tendency to interject into class humorous metaphors from Eastern philosophy drew students from near and far.

Joel graduated from one of the first intensive Bikram’s yoga teacher training programs. Joel dedicated his life to educating students in the advantages of Bikram’s yoga and in the implicitly philosophical aspects of the exercise.

Chris Robin

Chris grew up in Philadelphia, and he grew up with the yoga. Senior teacher Sandy Robin, a beloved leader at Bikram Philly, is Chris’ mother. As a young adult, Chris found himself at a personal crossroad. Sandy convinced him to take his first formal Bikram yoga class. He immediately completed a 30-day challenge and registered for teacher training.

The training session that Chris attended (Acapulco, 2008) is notorious among Bikram teachers, as the hottest, most grueling session ever. Teachers who completed Acapulco have proven that they are without doubt ‘heat proof, stress proof, everything proof’.”

Since graduation, Chris has taught pretty much nonstop–both here in the Philadelphia area and around the world. Highlights include Bali and British Columbia.

Chris loves to travel, which is evident when you look at his credentials. He has also completed advanced yoga training in Costa Rica.

Robin is a certified Thai massage therapist, who has trained in Bangkok and Chiang Mai. He is available for massage therapy at Bikram Yoga Chadds Ford. Ask for details at the front desk.

Maria Spano

Maria Spano is an RYT-200 with an eternal curiosity for wellness.

After reaching a crossroads in her own life, Maria stepped into the hot room with a long history of anxiety and debilitating fatigue and joint pain from Hashimoto’s thyroid disease. Class felt impossible, but she was compelled to go back. Within weeks, everything began to change. Inflammation subsided dramatically and restlessness became more manageable. In a few months’ time, the healing was undeniable. Maria also rediscovered the mind-body connection she enjoyed as a child through ballet lessons and team sports. Her path became clear: help others to find their strength, both on and off the mat. Maria’s classes aim to encourage students, instill discipline and uplift spirits. Her experience also includes teaching kids yoga and group fitness.  

Heather Towne

Heather was born in Anchorage, Alaska and raised in the Pacific Northwest, just east of Seattle in the foothills of the Cascades. A long-time fitness enthusiast she stumbled into a Bikram yoga class in 2008 to try something different and was challenged to take 10 classes in 10 days…not only did she accept the challenge she instantly was hooked and drawn to the structure and accessibility of the Beginning Bikram series. Over the next nine years, she continued to fall in love with the practice, and her desire to share it with others deepened. In 2013, Heather relocated to Ann Arbor, MI, where she was fortunate to be welcomed into Michigan’s tight-knit yoga community. It was here she was inspired and encouraged to continue her yoga journey and completed teacher training in 2017.

Heather is a mother to two girls ages nine and 12, which currently serves as her full-time job. Her favorite activities are yoga (duh!), camping, hiking and traveling. Heather, her husband, their two girls and three dogs moved to Kennett Square in 2021.

 

Megan Lynch van Riet

A long-time dedicated runner, Megan was immediately attracted to the discipline and intensity of the Bikram Method. She found the Bikram Series to be more challenging than distance running. It gave her a better mind/body connection and a new community of friends.  Megan stayed with the practice because it healed all of her assorted running injuries–and resolved her chronic shoulder pain. Megan took her first class, fell head over heels and never looked back.

Six months later, Megan began practicing the Advanced Series and training for competition. One year after her first Bikram class, Megan attended Teacher Training. She wanted to anchor the yoga at the center of her life–and share it with others. Since then, Van Riet has completed Advanced Seminars, attended Posture Clinics and Workshops and taught regularly, both in the US and abroad. Megan is a practicing Ashtangi, deeply dedicated to the rigorous lineage and teaching of the late Shri K. Pattabhi Jois. She studies at the Ashtanga Yoga School of Philadelphia, under David Garrigues.

Van Riet is Director, Founder and Owner of Bikram Yoga Chadds Ford.

Megan (strongly) prefers to practice daily, so you will most likely see her at the studio on a regular basis. Van Riet is a bit of a nomad, and has lived in Belgium, China, England, the Netherlands and Switzerland, as well as the US. She holds dual citizenship in Ireland and the US. Now, Megan’s favorite journey is the one to the studio. Prior to becoming a yogi, she worked as a translator, an equities analyst, a writer and a global marketing director. Megan holds a B.A. in Modern Languages and Studio Art (Kenyon College) and an M.B.A. in Strategic Management and Finance (The Wharton School).

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