Instructor Biographies


Rachel Shishido

Certified Yoga Therapist.

Rachael focuses on utilizing the breath with asanas to cultivate a practice that serves in bringing greater vitality, peace, and presence of mind. Her instruction offers options of therapeutic variations to classical asanas so that the student may develop on their path in a way that honors their individual body type. Variations are also used to challenge particular muscle usage. Her instruction encourages alignment and awareness. Yoga has personally been instrumental in her healing and transformation and she is grateful to share her love of the practice.
Rachael brings over 18 years of experience as a teacher. Her first teacher training was in 1991 with Rod Styker and Erich Schiffman. From 1992-94 she completed her studies with Gary Kraftsow’s Viniyoga teacher training. She was deeply moved by the vedic chanting taught in the Krishmacharya lineage and continued chanting and text studies with Lisa Goodwin from 1993-96.
Her passion for studying yoga continued over the years with senior Iyengar teachers as well as teachers in Pattabi Jois tradition of Astanga yoga (1st and 2nd series).
Influential meditation practices with teachers such as Mother Meera, Prema Dasara (tibetan Tara and Vajrasattva practices), taoist Sifu S.K. Lew and Sifu Jerry Alan Johnson provides stable ground for her commitment to evolving with greater compassion and clarity. rachael.shishido@gmail.com


Beth Christopher, RYT (alumni)

Certified Yoga Therapist.

Beth is a dedicated teacher and practitioner of yoga and loves her work. She began studying yoga and meditation at age 19 and both continue to be part of her spiritual practice. Her philosophy is one of inclusion, believing that anyone can benefit from a yoga practice, and excels at teaching beginners and those with physical challenges. She creates a safe and supportive environment paying particular attention to principles of alignment, and uses her knowledge and intuition to personalize students' asanas. Beth helped to co-create the adaptive yoga project with Annica Rose. She teaches creative movement and dance to elementary school children, has taught yoga to at-risk youth.
Feel free to contact her via email, bchristopher08@gmail.com


Lila Specker - RYT200

Lila grew up in Vermont but fell in love with Yoga on Maui, and completed her teacher training with Nadia Toraman of Maui Yoga Shala in 2009.  Her teacher Nadia inspired her to practice yoga for love, peace and health.  Lila's personal yoga practice focuses on strengthening and opening the body, and in the words of Chuck Miller, in "finding resolution in opposition."  Lila believes in the power of yoga to transform bodies and lives.  Her passion for health and medicine as an EMT and as a pre-medical student at the University of Vermont drew her to yoga therapy.  Currently, she is pursuing her graduate degree in nursing and intends to combine both methods of therapy to better serve her students.  She was fortunate to connect with Annica Rose. Lila grew up in Vermont but fell in love with Yoga on Maui, and completed her teacher training with Nadia Toraman of Maui Yoga Shala in 2009.  Her teacher Nadia inspired her to practice yoga for love, peace and health.  Lila's personal yoga practice focuses on strengthening and opening the body, and in the words of Chuck Miller, in "finding resolution in opposition."  Lila believes in the power of yoga to transform bodies and lives.  Her passion for health and medicine as an EMT and as a pre-medical student at the University of Vermont drew her to yoga therapy.  Currently, she plans on becoming a Physical Therapist and looks forward to combining both methods of therapy to better serve her students.  


Henry Cleveland

Henry initially began practicing yoga to improve his physical flexibly.
Since his discovery of the Sutras of Patanjali Henry has been on a delightful journey into the deeper elements of the eight limbs of Yoga. His primary teachers have been Mark Stephens, Kofi Busia,, Keri Peterson and Judith Lasater. .  His teaching approach mixes vinyasa and traditional hatha influences to bring the joys of yoga, in his unique and generous style to the students before him.
He currently teaches at Janus of Santa Cruz,  In-Shape health club and is an invaluable assistant instructor and supporter of the Adaptive Yoga Project.   He remains a student of yoga; grateful for the many fine teachers who continually expand his awareness, appreciation and presence in yoga; union.


Romy Narayan

Romy has been studying and practicing yoga since 2001, and has been blown away by the benefits it has brought to her life. Since an early age, Romy was fascinated by body movement. A lifelong athlete, Romy was a competitive gymnast until the age of 13, she played soccer and volleyball throughout her teens, and earned her first degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do in her early twenties. More recently, Romy explores her love of movement through dance and yoga. When she began studying yoga, Romy noticed an immediate increase in the level of comfort she felt in her body. This discovery led her to delve deeper into the practice under the guidance of her highly appreciated teachers Baba Hari Das, Kofi Busia, Annica Rose, Vannessa Ewing, and Steve Zlatunich.
In February 2012, Romy completed her 200-hour teaching training at Mount Madonna Institute. She is delighted to continue her yoga education through teaching. She volunteers as an assistant teacher in the Adaptive Yoga Project under Founder Annica Rose, where she continues to learn that yoga truly is adaptable and beneficial to every Body


Sharon Took-Zozaya

MFA, MS, BA, Dip

Counseling, has taught, choreographed, and performed here, in Scotland and abroad in a wide variety of professional, university,college, education and community contexts, working with both able-bodied and disabled dancers of all ages. She currently teaches dance at Cabrillo College, where she initiated adaptive and integrated dance classes as well as teaching yoga, Pilates, Applied Somatics and many other dance courses.
She has previously taught for UCSC, Dancenter and Mount Madonna School and is now teaching adaptive yoga classes for students with disabilities through the AdaptiveYoga Project in Santa Cruz. She also coordinates the Advanced Improv Lab at the 418 Project and is a SPECTRA artist. Her choreography has been selected for several Bay Area festivals, most recently the Santa Cruz Fringe 2012, where her piece SELKIE TIDES, which
featured a cast of able bodied and disabled dancers, sold out.


Ruth Caudell

B.A. E-500 RYT

Ruth is known for her sweet and nurturing nature, her extensive knowledge and insite of yoga and ayurveda and the vedas and her passion for her own yoga practice. Her students claim that her class is always a wonderful treat. Ruth has been practicing for over 40 years, has a degree in Physiological Psychology and continues to study under her original Iyenger instructors and additional seminars for special needs populations. Ruth’s altruistic nature led her to collaborate every week with the Adaptive Yoga Project in 2010 and when she is not teaching in Mexico she lends her skillful attention to the students in those classes.


Jamie Ackley - Yoga Therapist

Jamie worked for fifteen years in advocacy for people with developmental disabilities and/or sensory impairments. The children and families she was with inspired her to study holistic health...bodywork, yoga and meditation. Jamie began teaching yoga in 1998 when her first yoga teacher recovering from a severe injury asked her to assist her return to teaching. Her training has been with yoga teachers of Body Mind Centering, Yoga Therapy, classical Ashtanga, Iyengar and most recently, Anusara. Her first life teacher was her mom, Rose who demonstrates the constancy of love and compassion through any circumstance. Jamie is a graduate of the San Francisco Hakomi Institute’s two-year Comprehensive Training in body-centered psychotherapy. She maintains her massage therapy license and has over ten years of medical and rehabilitation massage experience. Her instruction is also shaped by her students, imagery from Nature, poetry and art, forms of Eastern bodywork like shiatsu and Thai yoga massage, and insights from her own practice. Students have described her classes as contemplative and creative, nourishing and supportive. The intention of her teaching is to foster compassion for our bodies and minds, steadiness in our natural wisdom, and the sweet recognition of our innate goodness. Jamie especially likes to make the heart-centered and life-affirming benefits of yoga available to people who do not have easy access to yoga or do not think they can “do” yoga. She is happy to teach publicly, and has a private practice based in Santa Cruz. Feel free to contact her at jameslyne@cruzio.com.


Amy Rawlings

Amy Rawlings is a devoted yoga practitioner, with yoga being a part of her life for over 15 years. She took her first yoga class at Cabrillo College in 1997, and has been an avid student ever since. Over the years, Amy’s exploration of different teachers and styles of yoga have allowed her to gain a broad base of knowledge and wisdom within the practice.
In 2008, Amy completed the Vinyasa Flow Yoga Teacher Training and In-Depth Studies program with Mark Stephens. She then completed an intensive kid’s yoga training certification course in 2009 with It’s Yoga Kids in San Francisco. She recently studied with Lynda Meeder, and completed a Yoga Kids, Inc. Foundations training.
Amy has been working with children for most of her life, and before having her own two children she was a pre-school teacher for many years. She has taught kid’s yoga in Santa Cruz for over five years at pre-schools, elementary schools, camps and beyond!
Amy finds pure joy in linking her love of children with her devoted practice of yoga, she hopes to inspire a lifelong foundation for well being in all of the children with whom she practices.




Alumni (past instructors and assistants of AYP)

With much gratitude and love we recognize our past talented and compassionate instructors and assistants.

Deborah Dixon Hill, MA. CYT 500 Certified Adaptive Instructor.
Elaine Ruckle CYT 200
Dawn Hayes CYT 500
Eugenia Hepworth Petty CYT 200
Alicia Taylor CMT
Lisa Lamucci CMT
Nora Doyle M.A. CYT 500
Irene Ericksen CYT 500
Michelle Naklowycz CYT 200
JD M.S., CYT 200
Laura Albrect CYT 500
Lisa Chandley CYT
Adrienne Schwartz CMT
Sylvia Marton, UCSC Intern
Michael James UCSC Intern
Luba Pryadkina UCSC Intern
Beth Christopher, RYT
Word Smith, Doctorate in Medical Qi Gong
Dayna Vogt,
Yoga Assistant
Tom Simkins, RYT 200