Strong Vinyasa


This class is taught by:

Deborah Light-Pacheco

Deborah has always been a fan of movement. She began ballet and tap dancing as a child, and continued her interest in dance with course work in modern dance while attending California State University at Northridge where she received a degree in psychology. She briefly considered becoming a dance and movement therapist, but once she completed her psychology degree, shifted her interests to politics and attended law school. Recognizing early on that this shift in interest was not her true dharma, she re-entered the fitness field managing a health and fitness center in Los Angeles and becoming an ACE certified personal trainer. Shortly after certifying as a trainer, she found Yoga and found her home. Yoga has transformed Deborah’s life in so many ways, bringing a peace and tranquility to her that she loves to share with her students. She loves to share her story of “trying” a class one day and walking out feeling as though she were a completely different and whole person for the first time in years. The ability of a practice to bring such contentment and peace was just short of a miracle for Deborah who is a single parent of two special needs children. Deborah loves to share her Yoga experience with others as they journey on their own quest for calm, peace and fulfillment. She also loves to work with “mama’s to be” on their journey through the pregnancy process…a very special time in a woman’s life, by bringing a sense of community and love to women as their bodies change in the creation of a new life and spirit. To that end, she received her prenatal/postnatal yoga certification through the Yoga Alliance. Deborah has studied Yoga with many of today’s well-known and sought after yogi’s including James Brown, Alexandria Crow, Kathryn Budig and Chrissy Canning. She studied pranayama with Peter Sterios and mediation with Rolf Gates. She is certified as an E-RYT200 and RPYT with the Yoga Alliance. She also has earned a B.A. in psychology (emphasis on special needs children and personality disorders).

Chandra Hardester

Chandra is our Studio Director and a certified YOBarre Instructor at Smiling Dog Yoga. The daughter of a nationally ranked cheerleading coach mother and a state wrestling champion father, one of Chandra’s earliest memories is of stretching and exercising. She spent time in gymnastics, figure skating, and track and field, before ultimately falling in love with ballet for it’s unique combination of athleticism and art. After a young career spent as a professional dancer, instructor, and choreographer with The Oakland Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, and the Theatre Ballet of San Francisco, an injury took her down a different path into retail leadership and talent development. Chandra discovered yoga as a way to ground herself after long work days, and after experiencing its’ vast benefits was inspired to enter a new career in wellness. When not at the front desk, Chandra can be found studying for her RYT-200 at SDY, on the mat, at the barre, or most likely doing both at the same time in YOBarre class. Chandra isn’t quite sure what took her so long to become an avid yogi, and she looks forward to helping others experience all of the benefits our yoga oasis has to offer.

Chelsea Leiby

Chelsea began dancing around the age of 4 and didn’t stop until she was in her early 20’s. She decided to stop and focus on her studies to become a special education teacher. Teaching individuals with special needs and emotional disturbances began to take a toll on Chelsea, and she found it hard not to take her work home. She then enrolled in yoga to help her deal with the stress and emotional drainage. Yoga helped her immensely and opened her eyes to a beautiful journey she was so excited to embark on. She began using her yoga practices throughout her day and even with her students. She found peace in everything she did, and attributes it to yoga. After a few years of consistent practice, Chelsea decided to become a yoga teacher. She wanted to help share the magic of yoga with everyone. She received her yoga certification through our very own Smiling Dog Yoga studio under Roxy Banta and J Gabriel. Chelsea has a great passion for people and yoga and is so excited to share that with students at Smiling Dog. When she is not practicing yoga, Chelsea likes to spend time with her family. She loves the beach and you can find her in Avila just about every weekend with her husband and smiling dog, Oliver.

Leslie St. John

An Arkansas native, Leslie came to yoga through competitive figure skating and modern dance. Before attending graduate school at Purdue, where she earned an MFA in creative writing, she immersed herself in the practice of dynamic yoga with Matthew Kreps. She continued her training with Tias Little, whose methods synthesize the safety and stability of Iyengar with the strength and mobility of ashtanga. Leslie currently dances with Variable Velocity and teaches English at Cuesta and Cal Poly. Her yoga classes emphasize practicing “right effort”—finding the balance between exertion and surrender.

Sera Melini

Sera has been a grateful student of Yoga and Ayurveda for many years. She has been blessed with teachers who have searched classically for the patterns of the Universe and Spirit. Her studies and experiences in the realms of Yoga, Mantra, and Ayurveda all serve to assist in increasing depth, sensitivity, and simplicity in ways that both utilize and increase grace and observation.

Some of her teachers include, Andrey Lappa of Universal Yoga, Kula Yoga Project, Sankalpah College of Yoga (Yoga), Sadhvi Abha Saraswatiji and Raghunath Cappo (Mantra), Vaidya Ravi of Poonthottam Ayurvedasram, the California College of Ayurveda, and BCD (Ayurveda). Her teachers of touch include those at Sunshine School (Chiang Mai, Thailand) and Ohm (Omsala Chiang Mai, Thailand) for the wisdom of Thai Massage and Chi Nei Tsang.

Each of her teachers has forever moved her to be more observant, respectful, humble, and sincere - qualities ever present in yoga and its teachings.

In classes we will focus on the science behind the relationships between the body, the mind, and their bridges . We are concerned with the flow of prana, how and where it moves and does not move in posture, in nadi, with consciousness. Using the paradigms of Ha-tha Yoga and Ayurveda we will explore our capacity to be both strong and flexible, moving and still, Ha and Tha, and of course, migrating in the direction of steady appreciation and awareness.

These more advanced and active classes will energize, challenge, and inspire you. For those who like more of a workout, these classes turn on the internal fire and focus on building strength, stamina, and flexibility with lots of standing poses and some inversions. These classes are faster paced and connect movement with breath. Good for those with at least 3-6 months of (sweet) vinyasa yoga experience. Not suitable for beginners.

Upcoming classes:

  • Thu Jun 22 10:30 am - 11:45 am with Deborah Light-Pacheco
  • Fri Jun 23 7:00 am - 8:00 am with Chandra Hardester
  • Sat Jun 24 11:00 am - 12:15 pm with Chelsea Leiby
  • Mon Jun 26 5:30 pm - 6:45 pm with Leslie St. John
  • Thu Jun 29 10:30 am - 11:45 am with Deborah Light-Pacheco
  • Fri Jun 30 7:00 am - 8:00 am with Sera Melini
  • Sat Jul 01 11:00 am - 12:15 pm with Chelsea Leiby
  • Mon Jul 03 5:30 pm - 6:45 pm with Leslie St. John
  • Thu Jul 06 10:30 am - 11:45 am with Deborah Light-Pacheco
  • Fri Jul 07 7:00 am - 8:00 am with Sera Melini
  • Sat Jul 08 11:00 am - 12:15 pm with Chelsea Leiby
  • Mon Jul 10 5:30 pm - 6:45 pm with Leslie St. John
  • Thu Jul 13 10:30 am - 11:45 am with Deborah Light-Pacheco
  • Fri Jul 14 7:00 am - 8:00 am with Sera Melini
  • Sat Jul 15 11:00 am - 12:15 pm with Sera Melini
  • Mon Jul 17 5:30 pm - 6:45 pm with Leslie St. John