staff & instructors

Our staff and instructors are a fun group of inspiring 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 secure and comfortable in the mountains as well as the yoga studio. We strive to help people feel capable and competent in their own Selves in the wilderness through our competent, attentive guidance.


Heather Sullivan

Executive Director, Co-Founder & WildYoga Lead Trainer

WildYoga Online Teacher Training | February-September, 2022

Balanced Heart, Nourished Soul: 3-Day Winter Writing & Yoga Retreat | February 11-13, 2022

WildYoga Weekend Intensive: Assisting & Adjusting | May 13-15, 2022

WildYoga Immersion: 5-Day Writing & Yoga Retreat | November 14-18, 2022

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 continues to serve as Executive 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.


Meaghan Olsen

Operations Manager & Yoga Instructor

Coming to Yosemite from the Midwest in 2019, Meg fell in love with the Sierras and the magic of the surrounding landscape. A lover of the outdoors, athletic pursuits and the arts, her passions range from hiking, climbing, and Brazilian jiu jitsu to appreciating natural beauty through drawing, painting, and photography.

Meg earned a dual 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; studying and performing through the Perlman-Stoy School of Ballet (Mid-Missouri Dance Theatre) under the direction of Halcyone Ewalt Perlman and Nancy Stoy. The mind-body connection in dance led her to yoga and the pursuit of a diverse self-practice.

She earned her 200-hr teaching certification in the Sacred Valley of Perú through School Yoga Institute in 2018, focusing on Hatha and Vinyasa Flow with exploration of Peruvian shamanism. Her intention as a yoga teacher is to encourage growth, patience and grace while understanding the importance of all parts that come along with being beautifully imperfect people. Playful and humorous by nature, Meg encourages her students to make mistakes, topple over (safely!) and laugh at themselves because it is in those moments that we connect with our humanness. She is also passionate about mental health, striving to create an environment in her classes that allows her students to come as they are with no judgment or shame.

Currently, she serves as the Remote Operations Manager for Balanced Rock and resides in San Diego, CA. In her free time she trains Brazilian Jiu Jitsu at Ribeiro Jiu Jitsu La Mesa, teaches yoga and Latin dance, splits time between the beach and her beloved Sierra Nevadas, and enjoys spending time with her community in Ocean Beach.


2022 Guides & Faculty


Paula Wild

Outdoor Guide, WildYoga Lead Trainer & Program Manager

WildYoga Online Teacher Training | February-September, 2022

The Relevancy of Yoga Today | September 9-10, 2022

Roots of Resilience: Yoga & The Work That Reconnects | October 17-21, 2022

Paula Wild (E-RYT 500, YACEP, MSc, WFR) has been guiding wilderness trips and offering yoga classes and trainings from a perspective of accessibility and inclusion for over a decade. Paula’s 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.

Paula holds over 1,000 hours of yoga teacher training certifications and became a certified Yoga Therapist in 2015 through Niroga Institute, which promotes equity through trauma-informed mindfulness practice and education in Oakland, CA. She 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. Paula has been facilitating the Work That Reconnects in various contexts since 2016. She is inspired and driven by the connections between adventure, wilderness travel, the practices of yoga and mindfulness, and the design of sustainable livelihoods. 

Paula is deeply committed to exploring topics of social and environmental justice in the wilderness as well as on and off the yoga mat. She was a part of establishing the Mariposa, CA chapter of SURJ (Showing Up for Racial Justice), and offered weekly yoga classes at the Mariposa Heritage House – Drop-In Recovery Support Center through 2018. From 2019-2020, Paula was a Program Specialist at the Esalen Institute, and sat on the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee there. She is deeply committed to inquiring; with compassion, honesty and humility, how we can do better to create just, equitable and liberated spaces; within ourselves, in all of our relationships, and within the institutions we are a part of. 

Website: wildawakewellness.com


Dennis Eagan

Outdoor Guide, WildYoga Founder & Lead Trainer

WildYoga Online Teacher Training | February-September, 2022

DennisEagan

Dennis Eagan (E-RYT 500, YACEP) 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


Jiling Lin

WildYoga Instructor, E-RYT 200, LAc

WildYoga Online Teacher Training | February-September, 2022

Summer Solstice: 4-Day Yosemite Yoga & Backpacking Adventure | June 16-19, 2022

Women of Color Camp-Out: 4-Day Yosemite Yoga & Camping Experience | July 7-10, 2022

Jiling Lin is a Licensed Acupuncturist (L.Ac), herbalist, and yoga teacher in Ventura, CA. She provides the best integrative medicine and experiential education to empower thriving health and environmental stewardship in our bodies, communities, and world. Jiling practices acupuncture and integrative medicine locally, writes a Chinese medicine column for the Mountain Rose Herbs blog and journal, records monthly Tea Talks podcasts, leads retreats at Esalen, volunteers with Surfrider and other Ventura County environmental organizations, and follows her bliss. Guiding wilderness immersion trips since 2009 and teaching yoga since 2012, Jiling’s clinics, classes and retreats nourish resilience through nature, art, movement, and ritual. Between running her clinical practice and teaching all over, Jiling loves backpacking, surfing, climbing and playing in wild places with reverent gratitude. Visit Jiling at JilingLin.com , Instagram and Facebook!

 


Dr. Breezy Jackson

Ecologist, WildYoga Lead Trainer and Adventurer

WildYoga Online Teacher Training | February-September, 2022

WildYoga Weekend Intensive: Assisting & Adjusting | May 13-15, 2022

Summer Solstice: 4-Day Yosemite Yoga & Backpacking Adventure | June 16-19, 2022

Breezy Jackson, RYT 500, is an ecologist, adventurer, and yoga teacher in Yosemite National Park, CA. Breezy has studied the influence of fires and floods on ecosystems in Idaho and California and currently directs field stations in Yosemite and Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Parks for University of California, Merced. In addition to her work as a scientist, Breezy has worked in a support role to facilitate science expeditions in Antarctica, travelling with scientists to some of the most remote corners of the Earth. She has also worked as a fire lookout and wildland firefighter in the Cascade Mountains in Washington state. Breezy’s yoga 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.


Eliza Kerr

Balanced Rock Co-Founder, WildYoga Instructor & Clinical Ayurvedic Specialist

WildYoga Online Teacher Training | February-September, 2022

WildYoga Immersion: 5-Day Writing & Yoga Retreat | November 14-18, 2022

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, WildYoga Lead Trainer, Chef & Writer

WildYoga Online Teacher Training | February-September, 2022

A born seeker, Jana (E-RYT 500, YACEP, CAP) 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


 

Catherine Wortmann

Yoga Instructor & Lead Facilitator

A Date with the Divine: New Year Sankalpa Retreat | January 2, 2022

Catherine’s primary goal is helping her students find passion and purpose in life. She offers workshops, group classes, and private sessions ranging in topics from Reiki to Financial Freedom. She owns & operates a small farm in Groveland, California. Beyond her finance degree, Catherine is a Reiki Master Candidate in the Usui Shiki Ryoho tradition of healing, and certified in Yoga (500hr) & Meditation (285hr). She is also a Stand-Up Paddle pro! Currently, she is teaching private lessons via Zoom, or in person and offering outdoor group yoga experiences. Catherine also works as an accountant, and guides in Yosemite National Park.

Website & Social:

Catherine Wortmann Yoga (cwhealing.com) | IG: (@sierra_nevada_yogi) | FB: (@C.W.healing)


Koren Stewart

Yoga Instructor & Lead Facilitator

Stronger Together: Yoga & Empowerment Retreat | March 12, 2022

Born in New Orleans and raised in Albuquerque, Koren’s journey with yoga began over 14 years ago. It wasn’t until moving to California that her husband encouraged her to complete the 200-hour RYT training with the Balanced Rock Foundation. Along with the multitude of tasks of being a mother of two boys, Balanced Rock fit Koren’s schedule and made it easy to complete her training hours. 

     Although Koren is currently a loan officer for the US government, teaching yoga as a side business fulfills her desire to help others realize its benefits. As a mobile yoga teacher, Koren feels that she can reach more people who may not feel comfortable or have the means to go to the local yoga studio. Her professional background is in financial management and facilitator of diversity and inclusion practices.

     Before the pandemic, Koren taught yoga to first responders, staff, and teachers for the City of Clovis and City of Fresno. She also taught the Clovis West Football Team, various athletes, juice bar promotions, African American youth groups, and online classes for the Fresno Black Metro Chamber of Commerce.  Recently she has been asked to be a guest speaker on the lack of diversity and disparity in access to the great outdoors for African American people and POC (a task that has awakened a new passion and intrigue for her).

      In sharing her love for yoga, it is her goal to reach as many people as possible to teach and share the benefits of yoga, being in the great outdoors, and living a healthy lifestyle.  Koren strives to be an instrumental resource to create a space of inclusion and diversity along with finding the balance of mind, body, and soul.


Clara Baena

Yoga Instructor & Lead Facilitator

Stronger Together: Yoga & Empowerment Retreat | March 12, 2022

Clara Baena, 200-RYT, was born in Medellin, Colombia. Currently she lives in Mariposa, California. Clara has a degree in Science and Environmental Education, and was a biology teacher in middle and high school. In addition to her academic roles, she is a Traditional Karate Do instructor for children and teenagers. 

Since 2007, Clara has devoted herself to the study of Yoga and Reiki and its philosophies, techniques, and spirituality. In Colombia, she shared her love for Yoga as an instructor for six years. After living in Colombia for 35 years she arrived in the United States to start a new life with her husband and daughter.

Currently, she works as a Yoga Instructor at Pure Training Studio and is a Teacher Assistant and Spanish Instructor. Clara continues to deepen her studies of Ayurveda, healthy nutrition and meditation.


Julia Clarke

Yoga Instructor & Lead Facilitator

Restorative Yoga Workshop | April 8-10, 2022

Julia Clarke, E-RYT 500 and MS Maharishi Ayurveda is the author of the book Restorative Yoga for Beginners, a yoga teacher and university instructor currently based in her hometown of Glasgow, Scotland.  Julia’s creative and passionate teaching weaves her deep connection with nature and her love of Ayurveda through dynamic and powerful Vinyasa Flow, contemplative Yin Yoga and thoughtful Restorative Yoga. She is an avid hiker and writer whose winding path brought her from growing up in Scotland to teaching yoga in Vail, CO via eight years as a radio DJ and music promoter on the east coast. She offers a natural sense of ease in surfing the waves of life, and meets students best in the realm of empowering transformation. Julia firmly believes that without direct experience of nature, yoga is merely an intellectual concept. Each class with Julia is artfully designed to invoke nature’s five elements within every student, eliciting confidence and curiosity. She creates an inspired space for students to witness themselves in a state of constant evolution using intentional sequencing, an infectious sense of adventure, and good Scottish humor.

Grace Anderson

Wilderness Guide & Trip Leader

Women of Color Camp-Out: 4-Day Yosemite Yoga & Camping Experience | July 7-10, 2022

Grace Anderson fell in love with wild spaces after a week long backpacking trip with the Student Conservation Association in Joshua Tree National Park. Since then she’s been chasing wild spaces in places such as Patagonia, the Yukon and Nepal. 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 for those communities in hopes of creating a more radically diverse outdoor community. In addition to instructing for Balanced Rock, Grace has instructed for NOLS and GirlVentures.

When not working in the field, Grace is an independent consultant working to build the capacity and opportunities for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color in the outdoor and environmental space.


Miho Aida

Educator, Filmmaker & Activist

Women of Color Wilderness Trek: 4-Day Advanced Yosemite Backpack | June 30-July 3, 2022

Miho Aida (she/they) is originally from the Island of Rising Sun, aka Japan. The two characters of her name 民 (mi) 穂(ho) represents her parents wish for her to become a creator of the greater democracy and a protector of people, culture and environment. Her birthdate is a day that the US Congress officially recognized as Women’s Equality Day. Miho thrives to live up to her name and birthdate. She is the founder of an 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 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 an environmental science educator and Equity & Inclusion Manager at NatureBridge, a member of Leadership Council for PGM ONEDiversify Outdoors and its Outdoor Industry CEO Diversity Pledge steering committee.


 

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave