Sara Elizabeth Ivanhoe
Director of Yoga USC, Instructor
Sara Elizabeth Ivanhoe, M.A. has been teaching yoga since 1995. She was the Yoga Spokesperson for “Weight Watchers,” “Yoga for Dummies,” “Crunch Yoga,” and appeared as a series regular on “Dr. Drew’s Celebrity Rehab” as the therapeutic instructor. She served as the yoga columnist for Health magazine for three years and has written and appeared in almost every yoga and health publication. Twenty years after graduating with honors from NYU, Ivanhoe completed her master’s degree in 2015 from Loyola Marymount University as part of the inaugural class in Yoga Studies where she served as Senator of the student body for Bellarmine College. Most recently she partnered with Oprah Magazine to co-create the “Just Breathe” brand of yoga and meditation now taught on Holland America Cruise lines internationally. She currently serves as the Yoga and Meditation Content Curator for Glo, teaches at LMU in the Yoga Studies department and is part of the regular MindfulUSC faculty where she teaches a 5-week progressive course on sleep.
Laura Baker has been practicing Iyengar Yoga since 2004, and is a Certified Iyengar Yoga Teacher (CIYT; Level 1). She has traveled twice to Pune, India to study with the Iyengars, and to B.K.S. Iyengar’s birthplace in Bellur, India for an intensive retreat. She is also a USC Psychology Professor and a member of the USC residential faculty. Laura incorporates Yoga and Mindfulness programs into the USC residence halls and her courses in Contemplative Neuroscience, and serves on the Mindful USC Steering Committee.
Salena Collins is a Yoga 120A & Yoga Therapy Lecturer at USC.Since 2012 Salena has been a wellness advocate in her local community of south Los Angeles, and the Inglewood area. She has dedicated over a decade to the yoga and mindfulness practice. She began practicing at Yogaworks in 2005, her appreciation for the practice drove her to apply to the Yogaworks 200 hour Teacher Training Program in 2011. Upon completing her training, Salena launched the first yoga studio in Inglewood, CA in 2012. Clear Gardens Yoga Studio became a space for peace & comfort, with a mission to serve the community quality yoga and wellness resources. She founded The Balance Of Life Project in 2013: a yoga & mindfulness program that serves over 12 schools grades k-12 in the Los Angeles, Inglewood and Compton area. In 2015 Salena continued her training at YogaWorks, qualifying at the 500 hr certification level. Salena has served as yoga instructor to the following organizations: LAUSD, CUSD, IUSD, Nasdaq, NBCUniversal , The Grammys, Staples Center, Kaiser Permanente, KJLH Women’s Forum, Inglewood City Hall, ICEF Public Schools, UCLA David Geffen School Of Medicine. In 2016 Salena was featured on Fox 11 News, and received the Rising Star Award given by City National Bank, for her dedication to bringing the practice of yoga and mindfulness to inner city schools. As of 2020 Salena has completed Yoga Therapy Certification, obtained a certificate from Harvard CEEL Graduate Program in Stress Trauma, and Adversity, as well as a Meditation Certification from Yoga Journal.
Siwen Xi is a certified yoga teacher with Yoga Alliance in Dharma Yoga (a classical Hatha-Raja Yoga), Yin Yoga, Pregnancy Yoga, and Children Yoga.
She started her journey of yoga and meditation in 2010 when she was in high school. Suffering from anxiety of the auditions for music schools and exam preparation, as well as the confusion about the future life as a teenager, she found her inner peace from yoga practice and meditation.
Growing up in China, she was immersed in Daoism and confucian philosophy, meridian theory and Chinese medicine from the older generations. She deeply believes in the philosophy of wu-wei (無為), non-purposive action and doing without force. Wu means none, nothing, non-existence, while wei means purpose and action. The concept of wu-wei slows down her pace, calm down her mind. She discovered her way of wu-wei, Yin Yoga. The practice of Yin Yoga embraces both ancient wisdom from China and classic Hatha yoga asanas from India. While holding each pose for a prescribed amount of time, there is an opportunity for meditation, for tuning the breath, mind, and the body.
Moving to New York City to pursue her master’s degree at Columbia University and living a stressful life between study and work, she found and gained the opportunity to study yoga with her guru Sri Dharma Mittra and her mentor Pam Jones. Influenced by them, She gained a deeper understanding of yoga as a lifestyle. She believes that success comes from constant effort and what she needs to do is to try her best but not expecting any results.
She is positive that yoga is for ALL, regardless of one’s age, origin, gender, or physical condition. People will develop not only a healthy body, but also a kind heart and a calm mind through yoga practices. Yoga provides everyone a safe pathway to develop one’s flexibility and mobility, to become more mindful, to heal and to love yourself. Due to the fact that our bodies structure differently and everyone has different purposes and needs for yoga practice, her teaching is inspiring and always provides different variations or modifications to support and help everyone’s yoga practice.
And now, she is pursuing her doctoral degree in Music Teaching and Learning at USC’s Thornton School of music. Apart from being a doctoral student and a yoga instructor, she is also a Japanese koto performer. She finally moved to Los Angeles and is ready for the new endeavors ahead. She is honored and excited to continue teaching yoga with Yoga USC!
Gabrielle started her journey into the world of mental health at the University of Durham, an Ivy league school in England, graduating with a first class honors degree in Applied Psychology.
Since then her love for understanding the science of how the mind and body connect has led her to study the ancient practice of yoga and meditation with world renowned teachers. Having experienced first-hand her own mental health challenges with anxiety and depression, Gabrielle has found the science of yoga and meditation to be invaluable and truly transformative in supporting her own mental health.
As Gabrielle can relate to those with mental health struggles, her passion for psychology, yoga and meditation has fused all of these elements together. Today she finds herself teaching in many different environments from mental health facilitates, the corporate world, universities, nationwide assisted living homes, speaking at conferences and events, as well as working with a Special Forces Unit.
After working in different in-patient and out-patient programming for mental health, and being involved in different teacher training programs, Gabrielle identified a key missing link in the current infrastructure of how we treat mental health: Education. Gabrielle’s vision is to provide a new global framework for how we view and treat mental health, by delivering an integrative approach in empowering the individual in understanding, and supporting their mental health, surrounding three key principles: Education, Experience, and Evolution.
Gabrielle also has a keen interest in research, sitting on Research Advisory Committee, and is currently researching the stress response in different demographics, and health conditions.
Born and raised in Los Angeles, Jennie first stepped onto a yoga mat when she was eight years old. Having spent most of her young life in a dance studio, her asana practice came naturally and she learned at an early age how powerful it was to connect breath and movement, especially amongst community.
While completing her Bachelor’s Degree at Barnard College in New York, Jennie leaned on her yoga practice to feel more at home in a city far away. Since then, Jennie’s yoga practice has been a constant in her life that has provided support and stability. As a teacher, Jennie strives to share everything her yoga practice has given her with her students.
A passionate storyteller, Jennie has spent her professional career primarily in entertainment, media, and marketing. Most recently, Jennie led Internal and External Community for the health and biotech start-up Seed Health. Shifting gears after the loss of both of her parents to mental illness, Jennie is now pursuing a Masters in Social Work at USC’s Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work in the Adult Mental Health and Wellness department. With this degree, she looks forward to continuing to advocate for mental health and bringing therapy practices to areas where mental health is often neglected.
Over the 15+ years of her steady yoga practice, Jennie has practiced with and been inspired by esteemed teachers including Sara Ivanhoe, Patti Quintero, Anaswara, and Kyle Miller. Jennie completed her 200hr Teacher Training with Love Yoga in 2019.
@JennieOstendorf on Instagram
Shreya Ranganath is a 200-hour certified yoga teacher in Sri Sri Yoga, which encompasses elements from Hatha, Raja, Jnana, Karma, and Bhakti yoga. The primary components of her training include pranayama (breathing), asanas (exercises), and meditation.
3 years ago, Shreya was fortunate enough to complete a happiness program in Baroda, Gujarat, which was a wonderful primer into the world of traditional holistic wellness practices. This program helped shift her mindset and find light within darker situations.
These courses allowed Shreya to begin a true healing process and brought her closer to her South Asian cultural identity. However, upon returning to her home in San Diego, California, she observed yoga being diluted to simply a trend only available for a limited group of people (skinny, white, and rich).
Shreya’s philosophy is that yoga should be a practice for everyone, regardless of race, class, and other barriers that have historically prevented BIPOC communities from participating. Through a holistic and authentic approach, true to ancient scriptures such as Patanjali Yoga Sutras and The Bhagavad-Gita, she hopes to change the stigma surrounding yoga and assist her peers on their journey of healing.
Bill is a retired Army Special Forces Lieutenant Colonel, a veteran of our wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Kosovo, and East, Central and North African, and a Purple Heat and Bronze Star with Valor recipient. He writes and speaks on the “invisible wounds of war”; how overwhelming subjective experiences change the body, which includes the brain, impairing our innate capacity for enjoyment, engagement, self-control, and trust.
He is the author and contributor of multiple books and essays, to include the critically acclaimed memoir God Is Not Here, the anthology War and Moral Injury: A Reader, The Ugly American in Iraq, After Moral Injury, and A Compassionate Nudge. He is a new graduate student in USC’s School of Social Work and works at Legacy Wellness Centers, an inpatient clinic serving veterans and active duty military where teaches Mindfulness
Bill currently lives in Cambria, California with his wife, Cheryl, and their two daughters, Natalie and Ava.
Marina Kaypaghian first started her yoga journey at 13 years old when she took a class as cross-training for Equestrian Vaulting (gymnastics on horseback). She fell in love with the practice because of the mental and physical rejuvenation that it provided her.
Marina became certified as a yoga instructor in 2020 and began teaching classes this past summer. She hopes to share her love for the practice by fostering a supportive community within class allowing students to reap the benefits of yoga practice including improved strength/mobility, increased energy, deeper focus, less stress, more gratitude, and more effective introspection.