staff & instructors

Our staff and instructors are a fun group of inspired mountain adventurers who have honed their skills living and loving life in connection with wilderness. Accomplished musicians, artists, naturalists, yogis, healers, chefs, and free-spirits Balanced Rock instructors have a knack for making people feel super safe and comfortable in the mountains. We strive to help people feel capable and competent in their own selves in the wilderness through our competent, attentive guidance.


Heather Sullivan

Managing Director & Co-Founder

HalfdomeHeather_200pix

Heather has lived in the Yosemite area for over 17 years. The steep granite valley walls, seasonal change of the river song, and community of animals and humans have deeply shaped her being and world-view. She co-founded and served as the first Executive Director of Balanced Rock. She now serves as Managing Director using her skills of non-profit management and leadership, group facilitation, community building, mentorship, and program development to hold the vision for Balanced Rock and lead the organization through its continued evolution. She delights in creating unique, powerful programs and supporting staff and instructors to shine their magic in the world. She is a gifted teacher and seasoned mountain guide at heart and makes sure to get in the field as an instructor each season.

Balanced Rock is Heather’s life work which blends her passions of yoga and mindfulness practices, creative writing, play, connecting community, creating transformative and healing experiences for individuals and groups and emphasizing the importance of healthy local food.

She is 200hr ERYT and 200hr CRYT certified with Yoga Alliance. Her latest joy and success is creating a Kid’s Yoga and Mindfulness Program for grades K-6 in the El Portal School System.

She is a CMT in Shiatsu and Lomi Lomi massage, an Ayurvedic body-worker and a certified Birth Doula.

Other passions include: river boarding, rock-climbing, skiing, mountain rambling, and music. She seeks new experiences and learnings with a child-like twinkling curiosity and hopes to share that joy and zest for life with others.


Deana Barone

Administrative Assistant

Deana Barone, a Sicilian powerhouse originally from the East Coast, made her way to California in 1999 and served 15 years working for the National Park Service as a seasonal Park Ranger in Yosemite. Currently, she serves as the Administrative Assistant for Balanced Rock and also is a Certified Breastfeeding Specialist and Lactation Educator.

In addition to many years working in customer service and community healthcare, Deana also holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Art and Social Change from the New College of California in San Francisco.

Deana is deeply passionate about community outreach and strives to inspire new mothers through in-home consultations, offering nutrition and well-being services in and around the Yosemite area.

Deana currently resides in Mariposa, CA with her partner and daughter and works to provide a happy and healthy environment for her family.

 


Meaghan Olsen

Operations Manager & Yoga Instructor

A recent transplant to Yosemite from the Midwest, Meg fell in love with the Sierras and the surrounding landscape. A lover of the outdoors and the arts, her passions range from hiking and climbing to appreciating natural beauty through drawing, painting, and photography.

Meg earned her Bachelors of Arts in Spanish Language and Literature, as well as International Studies with a Latin American focus, from the University of Missouri in 2013. Having served as a bilingual aid in Spain, her love for the language has driven her to seek ways to connect with and advocate for Latinx communities on a local level. She spent a year working with Centro Latino, a non-profit in her hometown of Columbia, facilitating after-school and summer programs that implemented educational, health, and environmental initiatives while encouraging youth toward participation in local and global communities.

Through this work she discovered Latin dance, and since 2010 has traveled the US and abroad instructing and performing bachata and salsa, leading workshops that focused on fundamentals and women’s body movement. Her ethos for dance has evolved into one of connection and expression, opting for grounded, intentional movements and finding an effortless, playful flow. She continued her studies with modern, classical ballet, and African dance, among others. The mind-body connection in dance led her to yoga and the pursuit of a diverse self-practice. She earned her 200-hour teaching certification in the Sacred Valley of Perú through School Yoga Institute, focusing on Hatha and Vinyasa Flow with exploration of Peruvian shamanism. Her intention as an instructor is to facilitate growth and compassion, creating space for each student to connect with their bodies and highest Selves.

Currently, she is continuing her healing studies in Trauma-Informed Yoga instruction and Neuroscience; focusing on how trauma affects the brain and body.


2020 Instructors


Miho Aida

Activist, Filmmaker and Educator

Miho Aida (she/her/hers), originally from Tokyo, is the founder of environmental media project called “If She Can Do It, You Can Too: Empowering Women Through Outdoor Role Models.” By producing videos and films of dynamic outdoor women of color, Miho hopes for girls and women of color to have role models who look, sound and live like them so that they know what outdoor careers, adventures and leadership opportunities are possible.

As a Liv-Cycling supported adventure cyclist, Miho has been taken her award-winning film: The Sacred Place Where Life Begins: Gwich’in Women Speak on bicycle film tours since 2014, riding over 3,000 miles across the country. On her tours, in collaboration with the Gwich’in Steering Committee, the Sierra Club and Patagonia, Miho is calling for a permanent protection of Gwich’in people’s sacred land from oil development in the Arctic. She is a featured athlete among the 2019 World’s Most Adventurous Women in Men’s Journal as well as the recipient of 2018 NOLS Alumni Achievement Award and the 2017 SHIFT Adventure Athlete Award. She also serves as a member of Diversify Outdoors and its Outdoor Industry CEO Diversity Pledge steering committee.


Grace Anderson

Activist and Adventurer

Grace Anderson fell in love with wild spaces after a week long backpacking trip with the Student Conservation Association in Joshua Tree National Park. Grace enjoys backpacking, climbing and bike touring and is always looking for new adventures. She’s passionate about being outside with folks of color and has the desire to share her skills and resources with people in those communities in hopes of creating a more radically diverse outdoor community. 
 
As the director of Operations and Strategic Partnerships with PGM ONE, she supports the organizing of people of color who work in the outdoor and environmental sector. The annual PGM ONE summit is an affinity space that attracts 350+ folks of color from around the country (and abroad) working in these fields and has become the largest summit of its nature in the nation.
 

Nancy Aronie

Nationally Acclaimed Author

Nancy Slonim Aronie is the author of Writing from the Heart. She has been a commentator for National Public Radio’s All Things Considered, was a visiting writer at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, wrote a monthly column in McCall’s magazine, and was the recipient of the Eye of The Beholder Artist in Residence award at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. Nancy won teacher of the year award for all three years she taught at Harvard University for Robert Coles.​


Patrick Bremser

Medical Qi-Gong, Chef, and Co-founder of Shri Cuisine

PatrcikBremser_bio

Patrick has been studying the visual, energetic, medicinal and culinary arts since before highschool. With a innate interest in indigineous cultures, shamanism, and natural healing, he began personal studies in the Taoist and Tibetian healing arts as a curious kid in gradeschool. During his highschool years he met his first teachers outside the family that taught him all about the alchemy of food and the healing potential of Intention. Here he began his culinary track taking him through the process of healing with the culinary arts for the last 18 years. Within the family circle, Patrick was influenced greatly by his mother who is an award winning metalsmith and alchemist at heart. She first introduced him to the magic between the lines of ordinary reality.

Just after highschool, Patrick experienced a series of spontaneous energetic and spiritual awakenings allowing him an estute awareness of the subtle energetic states of the body. Since then he has studied with many masters mainly focusing on healing the subtle body through ancient Hawaiian, Tibetian, and Taoist meditations and techniques. Patrick currently works out of the San Francisco and Monterey Bay Areas and is empassioned in bringing the visual, medical and culinary arts together to balance the body, mind, and spirit. Through his medical Qi Gong practice he strives to bring his clients closer into their own inherent Divine light, allowing them the opportunity to experience their highest potential.

Website: QiChef.com
ShriCuisine.com
PatrickBremserArts.com


Dennis Eagan

Outdoor Guide, Yoga Instructor, Founder of WildYoga

DennisEaganDennis Eagan E-RYT 500 is the Director of the Balanced Rock Yoga Alliance-certified WildYoga Advanced Study and Teacher Training Program as well as the instructor for the Balanced Rock Energies of Nature backcountry course.

He became a dedicated sadhaka in 1989 and gradually developed an hour-long home practice under the guidance of Lynne Minton, an Iyengar-style teacher in Anchorage, Alaska. Yoga saved him from back surgery twenty-three years ago and since then it has allowed Dennis to lead a very active life. The positive results in his own body inspired him to learn more about yoga.

After nine years of dedicated practice, Dennis moved to Berkeley, California to pursue yoga studies full time at the Piedmont Yoga Studio, directed by Rodney Yee. He graduated from their 320-hour program in December of 1998 and has been teaching ever since. Dennis spent seven years in Berkeley, teaching 15 classes a week and attending weekly classes with Donald Moyer, the director of the Yoga Room (one of the earliest yoga programs in the country), Tony Briggs, the director of Turtle Island Yoga, and of course Rodney. During that time he experienced a wide range of students from the high-energy vinyasa/ashtanga students at 7th Heaven in Berkeley to wheelchair bound yogis at the Cerebral Palsy Center in Oakland. In addition, he attended many weekend workshops with other top teachers including Ramanad Patel, Tias Little and Richard Freeman. Currently he directs the Advanced Study/Teacher Training Programs at the Yoga & Movement Center in Walnut Creek and the Bo Tree Yoga Studio in Davis.

Dennis has also been a wilderness guide and outdoor educator for over three decades. His guiding experience ranges from the Artic to Baja and from the summit of Denali to the depths of Grand Canyon. Dennis offers workshops and wilderness retreats throughout the west, from Alaska to Mexico. He is a contributor to Prana, the online newsletter of the Green Yoga Association, and is writing a book about the Gulf Coast of Alaska from the perspective of a kayaker.

Website: wildyoga.com
Dennis Eagan on Youtube


Dr. Breezy Jackson

Ecologist, Yoga Instructor and Adventurer

Breezy Jackson is a 7th generation Californian whose grandmother took the stage coach into Yosemite Valley to vacation as a girl. Deeply familiar with Sierra Nevada ecology, Breezy completed her doctorate in Ecosystem Ecology. For her dissertation work, she studied how past and present forest fires affect streams and rivers in Yosemite. Breezy began practicing yoga in 2003 to enhance her balance, core strength, and mental acuity as a collegiate rower. Later she studied Iyengar Yoga for five years with Jeri Stewart at the Moscow Yoga Center in Idaho. During this time, Breezy also received a Masters of Science in Leadership in Physical Education and Recreation, worked as a graduate assistant in the Wellness Program at the University of Idaho, and designed and tested an evaluation and assessment tool for group fitness instructors as her culminating thesis. Breezy’s teaching style is vigorous and playful while drawing on a foundation of proprioception and breath awareness. She enjoys spontaneous self-discovery and contemplation enhanced by wilderness travel and simplified living in a stunning landscape. An adventurer, Breezy has worked in Antarctica where she met her husband and volunteered as the Yoga coordinator, as a Fire Lookout in the Cascade Mountains, and as a research scientist in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness in central Idaho. She always looks forward to an adventure of body, mind, and spirit shared among good friends, old and new!


Eliza Kerr

Co-founder of Balanced Rock, Yoga Instructor, Ayurvedic Specialist

elizakerr

Eliza has been living in Yosemite since graduating Phi Beta Kappa from UC Berkeley in Conservation and Resource Studies in 1993. She has been leading people on adventures in the outdoors since 1989, working for NatureBridge (formerly Yosemite Institute), Outward Bound in Colorado and Alaska, Where There Be Dragons in Tibet, and Wild Women Workshops in Alaska and Yosemite. Eliza co-founded Balanced Rock in 2007 and since then has served as an instructor. She has served as both President and Vice President of the Board of Directors.

Eliza first discovered yoga in 1991 while living and studying in Nepal and India for a year. Since then she has been a passionate practitioner, studying a variety of styles including Iyengar, Bikkrim, and Ashtanga with Pattabhi Jois and her primary teacher, Richard Freeman, with whom she has completed two month long teacher trainings, as well as twelve other week-long intensives. Eliza has been teaching a blend of these styles in Yosemite since 1995 with an emphasis on breath, flow and joy. She was certified as a Clinical Ayurvedic Specialist from the California College of Ayurveda in 2000 and also holds Ayurvedic certificates from the Amercian Institute of Vedic Studies, Rishikesh College of Ayurveda, the Kripalu School of Ayurveda, and the Ayurvedic Institute. She is currently practicing Ayurvedic medicine and offering residential Panchakarma in Yosemite.

Eliza is passionate about making the world a better place through cultivating personal balance and awareness and facilitating others doing the same. For Eliza, connecting with the natural world and yoga have been two powerful forces for growth and peace. In her work she aims to share these experiences so that others may reap the benefits. 

Website: elizakerr.com


Jana Kilgore

Ayurvedic Practitioner, Yoga Teacher, Chef & Writer

A born seeker, Jana began studying meditation, healing arts, cooking and plant medicine as a kid in Florida and then in the Midwest. After graduating from Michigan State University with a BS in Cultural Anthropology and Environmental Policy she moved to western Washington to teach environmental education, farm and hike. She began practicing yoga to balance the farm work, cooking and hiking and fell in love. In 2002 she completed her first 200 hour YTT with Theresa Elliott at the Yoga Tree in Seattle.

Life took her back to Western Michigan and she taught yoga full time in the Anusara lineage in taught herbal medicine and clinical nutrition at the Blue Heron Academy of Healing Arts and had a private practice. She apprenticed with her first Ayurvedic teacher Sonam Targee for 3 years in Grand Rapids and at his clinic in Rochester, NY. In 2008 she moved to California to teach yoga and continue her Ayurvedic studies. She completed her Ayurvedic training at Mount Madonna Institute in 2014 and holds certificates from the Ayurvedic Institute, Ayurmamas and East-West Herbal School. During this time she studied and practiced Ashtanga Yoga from Erika Abrahamian, Chuck Miller, and Mojdeh Zahiraleslamzadeh and Shadow Yoga with Scott Blossom and Chandra Eastman. 

After a decade in the Bay Area of California running a wellness center in Silicon Valley and teaching from Santa Cruz to Yosemite she and her husband, Patrick Bremser, moved to Kauai, HI in 2018. She currently teaches yoga at Metamorphose Yoga in Kilauea, gives Ayurvedic treatments, does postpartum support, works with clients online, leads seasonal cleanses, travels to California to teach, hikes, gardens, occasionally surfs, writes and is working on a book for Falcon Guides. 

Website: janakilgore.com


Jon-Paul Salonen

Yoga Instructor, Co-Founder of Blue Oak Ayurveda

jpsalonen

Jon-Paul Salonen grew up in Mariposa County. It was in the rolling central California foothills as a youth that he found peace and edification. He discovered yoga early in high school and was hooked from the beginning! 

JP has explored a wide range of yoga and other philosophies and health modalities. He began teaching yoga classes in 2006. He continues to practice and teach an eclectic and inclusive style of yoga. Yoga that is practical, with basis in accessible Asanas and Pranayama. And yet Yoga that is also engaging, as challenging or easy, as the individual wishes. This openness, coupled with JP’s interesting verbal style, makes for a reliably pleasant practice.

JP studied Ayurveda, a sister science to Yoga, at the California College of Ayurveda (CCA), and graduated in 2002. He went on to found and work through Blue Oak Ayurveda for the next 14 years, doing body work, individual health consultation and product development.

JP is also a Certified Massage therapist, trained in Myofascial release, trigger points and Ayurvedic Abyanga, Shirodhara, and Swedana relaxation and cleansing treatments.

In his own rural renaissance way JP tries to be a “Jack of All Ways”: owning his own construction company, guiding Yosemite backpacking trips, catering, DJing and MCing local events, and being a member of the local Search and Rescue team.


Paula Wild

Yoga Therapist and Wilderness Guide

PaulaWild

Paula Wild, E-RYT 500, is a masterful yoga instructor who most deeply enjoys practicing and teaching in nature’s outdoor studio. She combines movement and breath-work to increase physical awareness, strength, and mental clarity. Paula’s classes elegantly weave yoga philosophy and biomechanical alignment into a thoughtful, enjoyable, and accessible practice. She has been studying yoga since 1999, holds over 1,000 hours of yoga teacher training certifications, and became a certified Yoga Therapist in 2015. 

Paula also holds a Masters Degree in International Agricultural Development from UC-Davis, a certificate in Permaculture Design from the Regenerative Design Institute, and has studied extensively with Joanna Macy in the Work That Reconnects. She is fascinated by the overlap between the practice of yoga, mindfulness, and the design of sustainable livelihoods. 

Her greatest intention is to provide opportunities for more people to explore and enjoy the wild world within, and around us. She believes that the tools yoga and time in nature offer are the most effective ways to connect with our own inner wisdom and expand our potential in the world. Access Paula’s latest musings and offerings on her blog and website: wildawakewellness.com


 

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave