About our Team of Trainers
SOYA Lead Trainers are highly skilled, diverse and seasoned Yoga Teachers who are dedicated to continued study. Some of the master yoga teachers they have had the blessing to study with include Dr. Hari Dickman, Swami Vishnudevananda, Pattabhi Jois, Namadeva Acharya, Erich Schiffmann, Rod Stryker, and Chris Chavez. SOYA is proud to offer their students exposure to lineages and styles such as Ashtanga, Sivananda, Yin, Restorative, Anusara, Vinyasa, and therapeutic practices. All Lead Trainers are E-RYT500 with the Yoga Alliance and Full Teaching Members of the International Yoga Teachers’ Association (IYTA). This eclectic group of trainers offer a diverse and expertly informed training experience for SOYA yoga teacher trainees.
Marion, or "Mugs" to all who know her, is one of Canada‘s Yoga Pioneers. She is the co-owner of SOYA with her husband Bob. In 2012 she was awarded a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in recognition of her lifetime contribution to the Yoga community in Canada and abroad. She sits on the Standards Committee for Yoga Alliance and is the Canadian Representative for the International Yoga Teachers’ Association (IYTA). Mugs’ early training was in the Sivananda lineage under Swami Vishnudevananda. She was the last disciple of Sri Yogiraj Dr. Hari Dickman. Namadeva Acharya played a huge role in her love and understanding of mantra, which she often combines with mudra. Over the years her teaching style has been greatly influenced by additional studies with Erich Schiffmann, Rod Stryker, Friedel Khattab and Dharma Mittra, along with many others.
She directs the 200, 300 hour Advanced and 500 hour SOYA YTT programs and leads master class workshops. Mugs can be found traveling and teaching yoga with Bob, their pug Carly and cat Lucy to various locations throughout Canada and their home in Mexico.
Bob is the co-owner of SOYA with his wife Mugs. He was inspired by Erich Schiffmann to deepen his practice in yoga and become a yoga teacher. In 2009 he completed his SOYA 200 hr YTT, and then studied extensively with Erich Schiffmann in 2010-2011, becoming certified in Freedom Style Yoga. During 2012 and 2013 Bob studied Tantra Yoga at the Himalayan Institute in Pennsylvania to upgrade to RYT500.
“Erich has influenced my yoga greatly over the last number of years. He laid the foundation. Now exploring the Tantric path is my current interest in yoga.”
Over the years Bob has established himself in his personal practice of pranayama, meditation and asana. He has enjoyed deepening his knowledge of yoga through workshops with Rod Stryker, Dharma Mittra, Ganga White & Tracey Rich, and Mark Stephens. He continues to study Tantra Yoga with Pandit Rajmani Tigunait, PhD. Bob regularly teaches pranayama, meditation and asana for the SOYA 200 Hour and 300 Hour Advanced YTT programs.
Kamala, a published poet, mantra enthusiast and avid adventurer brings her whimsical magic to every yoga lesson. Kamala‘s grounded and approachable sensibilities combined with her vast and accomplished repertoire, a broad and well-informed lineage ensure SOYA students depth and a quality to their studies. With over ten years of teaching experience, Kamala considers herself a life-long student who continues her own studies since her beginnings with SOYA. Some of her studies have included Okido Yoga, Yoga Therapy, Ashtanga, Anusara and Yoga for Cyclists with many of today’s most relevant and revered master teachers including Sri Pattabhi Jois, Tim Miller, Erich Schiffmann and Chris Chavez. She is a Lead Trainer for SOYA’s 200 hour Immersion and Extended YTT programs in the Okanagan where she is the director and owner of Purple Lotus Yoga.
Carla started practicing yoga in 1995 so she could touch her toes. Eighteen years later she definitely can touch her toes, and is helping others nourish their own unique journey toward self-discovery. Her practice and teaching meld both classical and contemporary approaches to the practice with a particular focus on the mayakoshas as a means to merge with the Essential Self. She loves to work with women to help release their inner Shakti. Carla is a Doctor of Homeopathy and creatively integrates the principles of Yoga and Homeopathy to help unlock a student’s deepest potential within.
She has studied with Mugs McConnell, Shirley Daventry French, Erich Schiffmann, Shiva Rea, Rod Stryker, Dana Flynn, Minke de Vos, Geeta Iyengar and many other wonderful teachers. Carla is a founding owner of Chinook Yoga in Prince George, BC, and a Lead Trainer for the SOYA YTT programs in Prince George and Mexico.
Helen brings over 35 years of experience in the fitness industry to her students, with a background in Pilates, Yoga Therapy and Food Nutrition Management. Her yoga journey began through the SOYA training with Mugs McConnell and Dariel Vogel. Her passion lies in the rich traditions of the path, which inspire her classical approach to her Hatha yoga offerings. A devotee of Bhakti yoga, Helen delights in kirtan and mantra, having studied mantra therapy with her late guru Namadeva Acharya. Other teachers on Helen’s path have included Aadil Palkhivala, Brad Waites, Gina Hager, Jennifer Weinert, Leslie Kaminoff, Dharma Mittra, Nischala Joy Devi and Susi Hately. Helen is the founder and owner of Harmony Yoga and Pilates Studio in Calgary, where she and Mugs are Lead Trainers for the SOYA 200 hour Immersion YTT program.
Cindy started practicing Yoga in 2002, and it was “love at first sight” practice. She completed the SOYA 500 hour Yoga Teacher Training program and now owns and operates Intuit Yoga in Mackenzie, BC. She has studied Therapeutic Yoga with Susi Hately of Functional Synergy so offers SOYA students a safe and comfortable approach to asana with therapeutic modifications as needed. She loves the creative flow of vinyasa, the quiet release of yin, and the meditative quality of mindfulness yoga. Cindy is a Lead Trainer for SOYA’s 200 hour YTT programs at Chinook Yoga Studio in Prince George, BC.
Heather was first called to yoga by illness, and through yoga found what was missing in her life. Since experiencing her first class in 2006 she hasn’t looked back. Heather is a REIKI Master, a Registered Massage Therapist (RMT) and a CranioSacral Therapy Practitioner. She is passionate and enthusiastic about her path and lives to share this joy with others. "I feel that the most important thing in life is to follow one’s heart. When you listen to the whispers of the heart you find your truth and through that truth, joy."
Heather is the owner and operator the Ananda Center for Balance in Fort McMurray. She has been teaching yoga since January 2007 after completing the SOYA program, and now is a Lead Trainer for the SOYA YTT programs in Fort McMurray.
For Kapila, yoga is a way of life and it has been a transformative journey. She feels she has a bigger role to play in this Universe by having a positive attitude towards life and her fellow beings. Kapila’s expertise includes laughter yoga, Yoga Thrive for cancer survivors and an honours degree in Hindi with a minor in psychology. Her passion is currently Yoga Therapy where she is completing further certification. With her roots in India and her branches in Canada, Kapila has an amazing ability to share the gems found in yoga philosophy. Her teachings incorporate gentle yoga poses to heal and build strength to develop the strong body and mind. Kapila is a Lead Trainer for the SOYA YTT programs in Fort McMurray.
Dariel has been an avid teacher of yoga since 1978, training as a teacher of teachers with the Yoga Association of Alberta. She has been a Lead Trainer with SOYA since its inception. A deeply grounded, soft-hearted inspirational teacher, Dariel guides her students through a blend of her own yogic imaginings. She is caring and kind in every aspect of her teaching, sharing her great love for the precision and alignment offered in the Iyengar tradition. She complements this with her intensive training in the Okido Yoga System from Master Friedel Khattab. Dariel teaches prenatal, restorative, and gentle Hatha yoga at the 200 hour Immersion in Penticton and is one of the Lead Trainers for the SOYA 300 Hour Advanced YTT program.
Dorothy began her yoga journey over 30 years ago. As a long-time student of Mugs she was one of SOYA‘s first RYT graduates! Dorothy’s yoga career has had many outlets. As an Early Childhood Educator and her love of traditional Hatha yoga she blended her yoga wisdom to develop and teach yoga workshops for young children. At the same time she pursued a path of Karate and has since achieved Shodan level and her first level black belt in Chito Ryu Karate. Her teaching style is eclectic and dynamic. Dorothy helped establish the SOYA Yoga Teacher Training in Vancouver in 2005. She currently is the Lead Trainer for the Vancouver Program and the SOYA Distance Education YTT program out of Pitt Meadows, BC.
Natasha Scott graduated from the SOYA 500 Hour training in 2009 with a specialty in prenatal yoga. Since then she has continued her prenatal studies becoming certified by Janice Clarfield, and offering amazing yoga classes for kids. Never one to stop learning her enthusiasm to serve others led her to specialize in Yoga for Chronic Pain, certified by Neil Pearson.
Natasha teaches a wide range of Hatha Yoga with a strong background in Sivananda (from her Teacher Mugs). She is a Certified Thai Massage Practitioner (Metta in Motion with Mia Blackwell), and also a Reiki practitioner. She brings all of these yoga tools to her classes to create a full yogic experience. Natasha is a Lead Trainer for the SOYA YTT Immersion at God’s Mountain Estate near Penticton.
What began in 1999 as a way to help Jeff cope with chronic back problems became a practice in learning about himself and the world around him. As an enthusiastic teacher of hatha and restorative yoga, Jeff brings many inspirations to the mat from those who have influenced him: Erich Schiffmann, Richard Miller, Robert Thurman, Annie Carpenter, Michael Stone, Joni Mitchell and Bob Dylan to name a few. He completed his 200hr SOYA teacher training in Mexico in February 2010 with Mugs McConnell and Carla Wainwright and recently upgraded to a 500 hour designation in 2014 through the SOYA program. "The more I practice the more I feel that Yoga is an opportunity to connect with the profound power of nature that we see and experience around us continually and the intimate space where that power exists within." Jeff is a co-owner of Chinook Yoga in Prince George, BC, and a Lead Trainer for the SOYA YTT programs in Mexico.
Gail’s yoga practice was initiated by watching Erich Schiffmann’s video “Yoga, Mind and Body” which she picked up on a whim! It was love at first practice! A need to learn more yoga philosophy led her to take teacher training. She is committed to creating a supportive space for students to explore self-awareness, self-acceptance, and inner presence through breath, movement and stillness. She teaches hatha yoga from dynamic to restorative with playful encouragement. Gail is influenced by the teachings of Erich Schiffmann, Marion McConnell, and Rod Stryker. She completed teacher training with S.O.Y.A., Erich Schiffmann, and has attended many workshops with a variety of yoga masters and teachers. Teaching for 11 years, she is on the independent teaching faculty with South Okanagan Yoga Academy, and also a registered teacher with International Yoga Teachers Association and Yoga Alliance ERYT-500.