Melanie Freeman is the owner of Arrow Heart Yoga. After traveling the country in an ‘83 VW Vanagon, and only knowing Ojai from a magical dream 10 years ago, she finally decided to make Ojai her home and open her dream Yoga studio. Melanie loves teaching Yoga and is passionate about a healthy body and an open mind to circulate a positive vibration throughout your whole life.
"I have learned that having an active body can allow the mind to rest. After years of experience I am in a position to help lead others in this practice of body control, breath movement, and mind clearing by strengthening, lengthening, energizing, and meditating. Yoga is not only a mental and physical exercise, but also an exercise that permeates into other parts of your life."
Lyz Merola was living in Meiners Oaks when Arrow Heart Yoga opened up in 2015. She was there on day one as an enthusiastic & regular practitioner. Between a physically demanding job and lots of desk time while in college, a regular yoga practice was an easy choice to find balance. She was so inspired by the caliber of instructors that she took the steps to become a teacher in order to share this joy with others. She trained with Shivakali Yoga and received her 200 hour RYT certification in 2017. She instructs a spirited alignment-based vinyasa class and enjoys pairing the flow with beats to inspire movement.
Lyz has lived in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and California, landing and planting roots in the Ojai Valley. She began her life here as a baker, then followed her love for the natural world outside to work as a vegetable farmer. She currently spends her time between the soil and the mat, finding time to explore the wilderness and identify all it's inhabitants in the meantime. She is an avid naturalist and enjoys combining the physical practice and meditation with a wild environment.
Sat Puran has been a long time student of Kundalini Yoga and is a KRI/ 200 hour RYT/YA certified Level 1 Kundalini Yoga Instructor since 2000. She has worked with Gurmukh Khalsa and Golden Bridge Yoga for 15 years coordinating their student trips to India and their International Teacher Training program guiding the students through to their certification to become teachers.
Along with living in the yoga world, SP is a photographer, baker, and traveler. SP has a great love for India, going there at least once a year to soak in the colors, beauty, and amazing culture.
Sat Puran truly enjoys sharing the teachings of Kundalini Yoga. This shines through in her heartfelt, uplifting, and challenging classes. All are welcome.
Francesca Michelle Gold has been teaching yoga to diverse populations for 7 years. Her path has led her to deep study within two potent lineages: The Himalayan Institute of Yoga Science and Philosophy (a world authority on Yoga, Meditation, and Ayurveda) and in the Tradition of Krishnamacharya (widely regarded as the Father of Modern Yoga). Francesca has a degree in Psychology from Carlow University and studied Clinical Yoga Therapy at Loyola Marymount University.
Francesca is hired by a wide variety of individuals, organizations, and corporations to lead classes, workshops, and retreats. Her approach blends yoga, mindfulness, guided relaxation, meditation, and self-inquiry as a holistic approach to meeting life with an open mind and compassionate heart. Her sessions strike a balance between holistic, mindful, and meditative with a teaching style that’s grounded, practical, and accessible. In a nutshell, she crafts individualized therapeutic yoga sequences for people from all walks of life.
Lori Hansen started taking classes once a week at the age of 16 to complement her competitive and recreational hobby of baton twirling. After finishing her endeavors as a featured baton twirler in college, she committed herself to a regular yoga practice when she moved to Boston in 2013. As her involvement with yoga grew, the constricting nature of working in the healthcare system also began to set in. Wanderlust took hold, and Lori spent time diving into self-exploration and expanding her horizons throughout Central America, Australia, New Zealand, Europe, and finally on the southern coast of Morocco, where she completed Yoga Teacher Trainings in early 2017. It was in Morocco that she began her yoga teaching career – sharing awareness and insights with her students who mostly came to ride the waves, while vacationing at local surf camps.
Trained in vinyasa, restorative, and yin yoga, as well as self-myofascial release, Lori has developed a tenacious passion for holistic health, wellness, and preventative medicine. Her approach to yoga, both personally and for her students, is to cultivate awareness and presence through meditation, conscious movement, mindful alignment, and pranayama, bringing clarity and balance to the mind. Currently living in Ojai, Lori works both as an Occupational Therapist and Yoga Instructor throughout Ventura County.
Kiki Schwartz has lived her entire life in New England, having grown up on the south shore of Boston, spending her college years in Vermont, and moving back to Boston after graduation. She recently moved to Southern California with her husband and is excited to be part of the Arrow Heart team!
She was first introduced to yoga and meditation by her father, who took her to both her first yoga class in 2005 and to see the Dalai Lama speak in 2007. It wasn’t until entering college that Kiki developed a regular yoga practice, and became more acutely aware of the mental and spiritual benefits of these efforts. She completed her 200 hr teacher training at an Ashtanga studio in Burlington, VT and feels immense gratitude for her teachers that helped expand her knowledge and appreciation of the 8-limbs of Ashtanga Yoga.
Since leading her first class in 2012, Kiki has sought to teach classes that honor the roots of traditional yoga practices, while offering varied and accessible sequences for students of all experience levels. To Kiki, yoga is about honest observation and acceptance of the present moment, and she works to support students to be attuned to their own responses to limitations, abilities and challenges that arise throughout class. Her goal in teaching vinyasa yoga is to create a space for students to connect their breath with their movements safely in order to promote mental clarity and overall wellness.
Outside of teaching yoga, Kiki is an Independent Clinical Social Worker specializing in trauma treatment for adolescents and children. She loves animals, dancing, music and and spending time in nature. Kiki is excited to explore the West Coast in the months and years ahead.
Lauren Harris leads a poetic, articulate and intelligently-sequenced yoga asana practice. Having unrolled her mat in Alaska, Spain, Nepal, Costa Rica, Thailand and coast to coast across the continental US, she finds the practice of yoga to be a journey home.
She draws upon her extensive massage therapy training and her professional bodywork experience to instruct each pose and sequence with an attention to anatomical alignment and ease. From her perspective, an alignment based practice not only clears the mind, but helps us to practice refining our attention, intention and actions in our daily life.
She hopes to lead you inward with a compassionate and loving presence to remember the wisdom that resides within.
Gina Zimmerman has been teaching yoga and meditation for 11 years. She started practicing while living in New York in her early twenties. Immediately, yoga offered Gina access to life and to wellbeing in a way that had eluded her until that point. After returning from an ashram in Argentina, she completed her first teacher training, and then moved to LA in 2003. Gina teaches in a way that is deep and transformative: she is known for her capacity to shift a student’s practice with her subtle articulation and attention to detail. In addition to studio and private classes, Gina leads international and local retreats and workshops. Gina is a devoted student of meditation and yoga philosophy, as well as subtle anatomy and body wisdom. She offers sincere gratitude to all of her teachers, as it is in becoming a true student that she can fully embody her roll as teacher. Especially high regards are given to Paul Muller-Ortega (teacher of Blue Throat Yoga), who has shown her how to sit for meditation; how to place the mind on the seat of the heart, and to live from that place.
Gina now lives in Ojai with her husband and two children; the practice continues.
Brooke Kettering began practicing yoga in the Iyengar tradition while studying for her BA in psychology at UCSD. She then discovered vinyasa yoga and fell in love with flowing to the beat of one's breath. Brooke began teaching yoga in April, 2011, after learning from a broken wrist that her yoga practice had become an integral and irreplaceable part of her well being.
As a lifelong music aficionado, combining music with yoga has always been one of her favorite parts of being an instructor. She strives to always learn more about the mind/body connection. She recently finished her master's degree in Depth Psychology Counseling at Pacifica Graduate Institute.
Belinda Hill discovered yoga over 15 years ago and quietly began down its path. Drawn ever more deeply into the practice and its’ ability to shape her life in a profoundly positive way, she attained her AIReal Yoga teacher training certificate in 2013 and immediately began teaching. She has found what makes her most happy is helping others and uplifting everyone she comes into contact with to reach their highest potential.
Belinda’s background as a gymnast, dancer, actress, runner, and mother infuses each and every class that she teaches. She lives in Ventura, California with her husband, four children, and mother. She continues to be a student of Carmen Curtis, founder of AIReal Yoga and looks forward to expanding her education. Seeing the amazing changes and opportunities that opened in her life from the practice, she became a teacher so that she could share the same treasures and wisdom with others. Belinda feels blessed to share the platform of the ancient wisdom of yoga while using a hammock as a prop with her students. Her classes are intuitive, heart opening, uplifting and challenging. She encourages students to re-discover the power within by connecting to their breath, body, mind and soul. Belinda is delighted to be a part of the first and only AIReal Yoga approved by the Yoga Alliance. All are welcome, her classes are a refreshing way to prepare and support the body for a strong yoga practice.
“Peace. It is does not mean to be in a place, where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart.” (unknown)
Kate Greer (Dickson) has been practicing yoga since 2001 and teaching since 2005. She teaches Shadow Yoga, which she studies with Shandor Remete, founder of the Shadow Yoga school, and Emma Balnaves, its director. She began practicing Shadow Yoga in 2010 initially with Scott Blossom, Chandra Easton, and Matt Pesendian. It is a privilege to have been given permission to share this practice which has been so transformative for her.
Kate is also a mother of two boys, a graduate student in counseling psychology, and a regular meditator. She teaches both yoga and meditation at yoga studios, and also teaches mindfulness in schools and in corporate settings.
Connor Hill has been practicing yoga since 2011, and received his RYT 200 HR certificate through Shivakali Yoga in June 2018. He is enthusiastic to share his practice with the Arrow Heart community as a teacher.
For Connor, a yoga class is an opportunity to deepen our relationship with self, connect with our bodies using the breath, and support ourselves in the flow of life. Connor likes to integrate intentional sound and music, philosophy , and a healthy dose of humor into his classes with the intention to create more peace, presence and compassion in the world! He invites his students to join him in practice and realize the masterpiece within!
Maka Fouchi teaches Creative Kids Yoga & Movement.