Teachers

Bikram Yoga Pasadena

Val Sklar

Val Sklar discovered Bikram yoga when she was 27 years old after months of discomfort from degenerative arthritis in her right hip joint (caused by a broken hip at the age of 13).

Her Orthopedist told her there was nothing that would improve her condition. His prognosis was joint deterioration until the pain became unbearable, leading to an inevitable hip replacement within a few years.

Several months later, Val tried her first Bikram yoga class.  After six months of regular practice, her joint pain improved as long as she continued to practice. Val was so overwhelmed with the healing power of Bikram yoga that she gave up her corporate career to become a Bikram teacher. She opened Bikram Yoga of Pasadena, in November 1998.

Val is very grateful that Bikram Yoga has sustained her body, mind and spirit the last 14 years. The yoga was invaluable during two pregnancies and the challenges of caring for two small children. While she outlasted her original prognosis by 10 years, in December of 2010 Val underwent hip replacement surgery. Despite determination to avoid a hip replacement altogether, she realized the surgery would restore her ability to move through her life without any limitations.

She returned to teaching 3 weeks later and practicing 3 months later. You can follow her journey at www.valsnewhip.blogspot.com.

Nafisa Abdul-Jillil

teachers_r6_c1Nafisa was born and raised in Anchorage, Alaska moving to California to dance professionally. While doing so I met an interesting woman who told me about Bikram Yoga. I went to my first class and of course like most people I DIED…. I was so inspired by the lady who was next to me that I said to myself, “I have to go back because I want to have what she has, Peace, Calmness, Strength and Ease!!!” 8 years later, my body has changed dramatically from this practice and I have more balance in my life. Graduating from teacher training in spring 2007, I have loved guiding a strong, challenging, balanced practice that helps students push themselves to be their best.

Michael Beran

“I’m very happy to be a certified teacher and practitioner of Yoga. I value what Yoga has done for me in reestablishing my path in life; helping me focus on my health as well as the way I think and see the world.”

I always knew I would like yoga. I took my first yoga class in the Summer of 2002 at Mount San Antonio college in Walnut California. After that first day of class I was excited about taking more classes in the future. I saw yoga as a great exercise, and yearned for more; I just didn’t know how to gain this additional knowledge besides taking classes here and there.

A couple of years passed, and my practice slowly began to dwindle. I struggled through hard events in my life, I found myself and losing direction. In December 2011, one thing led to another and I basically hit, “rock bottom”.  Something had to change.

I remember thinking about continuing my yoga practice, since my teachers said it has great health benefits beyond the physical form – and that’s exactly what I did. While living in Pasadena, my friend told me to try hot yoga at Val’s studio and to take Jeff Rangel’s class. Like most of Jeff’s classes, it kicked me into shape and I felt GREAT! From that point on, I haven’t looked back.

With the support and motivation from teachers and friends, I decided In the Spring of 2014 to pursue my first teaching credential. I obtained certification from Satya teacher training and then in the summer of 2016 I also decided to pursue hot yoga teacher certification to teach the 26/2 hot yoga series. I’ve been teaching ever since.

Today, I continue strong in my Yoga practice and plan to expand my education and teaching well into the future.

“Now I can say I have never felt so good drinking so much water. Namaste…”

Valerie McCann

teachers_r1_c1Valerie began her daily Bikram Yoga practice March of 2007 in Brooklyn Heights, NYC. She needed something to counteract the intense physical theatre work she was doing, and the warm room was like a beacon during the brutal NY winters. From her first class in Brooklyn, she knew this practice was going to become part of her life. The physical benefits quickly became evident – relief from chronic back pain, digestive disease and insomnia, increased energy and focus and decreased anxiety. The practice was a perfect complement to her work on stage, strengthening mind-body connection, breath control and presence. After moving to London to pursue further theatre studies, Valerie competed in the 2009 International Yoga Asana championships as a UK representative. She completed teacher training in Spring of 2009. Outside of the studio, Valerie continues to work in LA theatre as a founding member of ARTEL.

PJ Akbari

PJ Akbari began practicing Bikram Yoga in 2007 when he was suffering from back and neck pain due to years of office work, stress, and misalignment. After observing so many physical and psychological benefits, PJ quickly evolved his Yoga practice to a high degree and decided to to become a Bikram Yoga teacher and share this unique experience with other people who are suffering from various physical and mental discomfort. During day time, he enjoys his other job as a university professor at Cal Poly Pomona. Yoga completes his personal professional life.

Bernadette Moore

teachers_r7_c1Bernadette started practicing Bikram Yoga 12 years ago at Val’s Pasadena Studio. At that time, she was diagnosed with a auto-immune disease which caused chronic  inflammation and resultant pain throughout her body.  She decided to practice Bikram Yoga instead of following several doctors’ opinions to take medication.  She is pain- and medication-free. The yoga also helps her to maintain focus on her priorities as a mother of three children, wife and homemaker. She became a Bikram Yoga teacher in 2009 to share the myriad of benefits  to the mind,  body and spirit.

Jeffrey Rangel

pose_3Jeffrey Rangel began practicing Bikram’s Yoga in Pasadena in the fall of 2000 while working as a doctoral candidate at the University of Michigan. Intuiting a life change at hand, Jeff jettisoned a career in academia to pursue his growing passion for yoga. upon the recommendation of studio owner val sklar robinson and with the moral and financial support and the Bikram Yoga Pasadena community, he became a certified teacher in the spring of 2001. Jeff has taught full time at bikram yoga pasadena ever since. In the meantime, Jeff has studied extensively with bikram and Rajashree Choudhary, emmy cleaves, mary jarvis and the late jason winn. Jeff has taught in studios across california as well as Hawaii and for a stint on Bangkok, Thailand. Jeff has been a regular competitor in the yoga asana championships and is a four-time southern California yoga asana champion as well as the 2008 usa mens national champion.

Miranda Liu

teachers_r4_c1Val invited me to her studio to try Bikram Yoga over a decade ago, so my first yoga class ever was at Bikram Yoga Pasadena in 2000.  While I liked the workout, I was not hooked. With the demands of traveling for work and twelve hour work days, I gave up my practice a few weeks later without much thought. I was young, single, working, traveling, and living a pretty unhealthy lifestyle; so no time for yoga! It wasn’t until years later after getting married and having a baby that I realized I needed a change. After an unhealthy pregnancy, difficult labor, and later the inability to lose the baby weight, followed by depression, insomnia, etc… I tried the gym and everything I could think of to feel better mentally and physically. Finally in 2006 I forced myself back into that dreaded hot room. Surprisingly that first class back was not so bad. I think I was ready to receive the benefits of the yoga, mentally, physically, and spiritually. I began practicing five days a week and lost the weight in about a month, but more importantly I gained a sense of calm and ease about being a mom and about my life and my future in general.

I continued with a steady practice for about a year and was so inspired and encouraged by the teachers at the studio that I decided to go to Teacher Training in the Fall of 2007.  Teacher training was definitely a life changing experience. When I returned from training  I was pregnant with my second child. I continued to practice and teach until a few weeks before giving birth. I had a stress free easy pregnancy and labor, and a strong healthy yoga baby. I attribute the night and day differences of my pregnancies to the yoga. The most wonderful and inspiring aspect of teaching Bikram yoga is the idea that in some small way I can be a part of and even witness a student change their life direction and start living their life to their fullest potential. The gift of Bikram yoga has done that for me.

Byron Franklin

I took my first Bikram Yoga class while I was studying dance at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. About one year before my first class, I was diagnosed with severe panic disorder. I suffered from panic at a point where I could not leave my home for over a month. I was on 150mg of Zoloft and 4mg of Clonazepam a day. The medication I was on eliminated the symptoms of my panic disorder, but in turn made me feel completely numb. I knew there was no way I could possibly live a happy and productive life while taking these prescription medications. Shortly after the start of my Bikram practice, I felt ALIVE for the first time in my life!  I knew without a doubt that I needed to know more about Bikram Yoga, so I gently deepened my practice according to what my body, mind, and spirit would allow. Consequently, I was able to stop taking the medications.

It is clear to me that teaching yoga since 2003 has rewarded me beyond measure. The experience has certainly ranked among the best years of my life thus far. I was fortunate enough to start my teaching career in Philadelphia at Joel Pier’s studio, where I assisted Joel with his studio for 5 years.  I then relocated to Brooklyn for a change in my life and career. I’ve taught at many studios around New York City including, Bikram Yoga Union Square, Park Slope, South Slope, Williamsburg, Greenwich Village, Soho, Chelsea, Grand Central, Astoria and also in the Penn Station studios.  Today I find myself in Los Angeles teaching at Bikram Pasadena with YogiVal and I couldn’t be happier.  Val really has such a big heart for the yoga and really applies it well with her students in Pasadena.  It’s been a really great and very rewarding to have traveled to such amazing cities and taught at some of the most prestigious Bikram schools in the U.S.  I’m very grateful.

Y Thuan La

ythY Thuan La graduated from the University of California, Irvine with a degree in Women Studies and Psychology in 2001. Her studies took her on a career path working with the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender community on tobacco prevention and healthy living. Three years later she began teaching life skills to predominantly youth of color, diagnosed with mental disability and emotional disturbance. Stress and dis-ease had begun to take a toll on her body, evidenced in x-ray photos that showed a degenerated disc in L4/L5. At this time, Y Thuan entered her first Bikram Yoga class in 2008. Her first class was instantly transformative and life-changing, so much so that she graduated from teacher training a year later. She has since maintained a regular 4-7 classes a week practice. The persistence and consistency of her yoga practice has made Y Thuan lighter in mood and it has helped her spine strengthen, heal, and regain flexibility. Y Thuan now enjoys sharing the practice with others as a tool to help ride the roller coasters of mental chatter and daily life. She strives to inform each class she teaches with compassion, humility, positivity and persistence.

Jessie Gonzales

jessie-teachersJesse is a native to the San Gabriel Valley, Graduated from the California School of Culinary Arts Le Cordon Blue in 2004. A strong passion for food and cakes he traveled all over the United States training with some of the best and celebrated chefs in the country, landing him a job as Executive Pastry in Lake Tahoe CA. Long Hours in a hot kitchen and long nights behind a computer was stressful on any person regardless of age; at 23 years of age he felt like a man well into his 50’s, bad knees, bad back, gaining weight, and arthritis in his shoulder that made his passion for creating cakes very challenging and sometimes impossible. It was here in Lake Tahoe that Jesse started doing Bikram Yoga in 2008. Very Soon after about a month the long hours flew by and the weight just melted like warm butter, the cakes became easier to do and life felt good to be young, Jesse had known he had found the recipe for life. Very shortly Jesse moved back to his home in Rosemead Ca and continued his practice, competed in the 2009 Southern California yoga asana competition, and in 2011 his dreams to become a Bikram Teacher came true. After spending many years getting people fat and sick from his sinfully delicious and award winning confections; Jesse now enjoys healing people the way the yoga has healed him, breath by breath.