Roots & River Instructors
Machelle Lee, MA, E-RYT-500, CMT, YACEP, Roots & River Founder and Yoga Instructor
Machelle has 27 years of experience as a yoga teacher, massage therapist, and childbirth educator. She holds a Masters Degree in Mythology and Depth Psychology from Pacifica Graduate Institute and has completed a 300-hour advanced yoga teacher training in yoga psychology. Machelle leads therapeutic movement through Vinyasa Yoga and Yin Yoga in a way that weaves together yogic teachings with modern scientific research on tissue rehabilitation, traditional medicines, and psychology. This approach to the whole person aids one in feeling and understanding the bodymind connection both somatically and intellectually. Specializing in the health and rehabilitation of fascia, connective tissues, and joints, Machelle is committed to serving students in a way that best fits their unique abilities and anatomic structure. Machelle combines storytelling, archetypes, poetry, neuroscience, psychology, and Five Element Meridian Theory across a variety of yoga styles in a way that is always aimed at facilitating a creative and grounded approach to self-development for each participant.
Sierra Carlson, RYT-200, LGSW - Yoga Instructor
Sierra took her first yoga class during college and vowed that she would never try it again. Luckily, she ended up taking a college course that incorporated yoga and acting, thus beginning her life-long love affair with yoga. When Sierra was living in India in 2014, she studied yoga and decided to become a yoga instructor. She completed her training at Blue Heron Wellness in Silver Spring, Maryland. Her mission is to provide yoga to populations that may never step foot inside a yoga studio. Sierra is a mental health therapist and uses yoga in her work with underprivileged high school students and trauma survivors. She uses yoga in both group and individual mental health therapy. Self-love can be very difficult to develop, but Sierra tries to help her students find appreciation for the divinity within. Her classes provide a safe and fun environment to explore and make accessible each of the eight limbs of yoga. She enjoys sharing a wide variety of practices with her students, ranging from dynamic vinyasa practices to restorative yin practices.
Carrie Dennison, RYT 200 - Yoga Instructor
Carrie’s love of yoga fostered from a need for balance in her life after struggling with anxiety from a high-pressure corporate job. With a strong desire to support others in finding peace in this crazy world, she earned her 200-hour RYT training at Ananda Shala in Frederick, MD. After discovering the importance of rest and stillness to complement a busy life and active yoga practice, she was drawn to incorporate restorative yoga in her practice and teaching. She studied Restorative Yoga under Tara Lemerise ('Rest for All' Teacher Training). Carrie earned her level 3 Reiki Master certification in 2019 and utilizes the therapeutic benefits of doTERRA essential oils in her classes. Carrie's goal is to assist others to learn about different tools to support healing and stress management and build integrated community.
Ani Binkley, RYT-200 - Yoga Instructor
Ani Binkley is a trauma-informed yoga teacher and an interfaith/interspiritual minister who approaches the instruction of yoga with compassion and lovingkindness, fostering a nurturing, non-judgmental environment of openness and acceptance for each of her classes. Experienced in the teaching of meditation, vinyasa (flow) yoga, gentle yoga, yin yoga, and restorative yoga, she most enjoys teaching gentle, calming styles yoga for healing and stress-relief with special emphasis on diverse meditative practices and sound healing. In addition to completing her RYT200 holistic yoga teacher training at Pure Prana Yoga Studio in Alexandria, VA, in 2009, she has completed specialized yoga teacher training with Anodea Judith, PhD, on utilizing the chakra system to attain radiant health and higher consciousness; restorative yoga teacher training with Judith Hanson Lasater; has studied yin yoga under Biff Mithoefer; and has completed a number of trauma-focused teacher trainings, including “The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma” with Bessel van der Kolk and “Surviving Trauma: Yoga Therapy for Early Complementary Intervention Following Assault or Trauma” with Diana Tokaji. She is also trained in the art of sound healing and enjoys playing her Tibetan brass and crystal singing bowls in her classes. Most recently Ani graduated from One Spirit Interfaith Seminary in New York in 2019, and as an ordained interfaith/interspiritual minister enjoys introducing her students to different spiritual traditions and incorporating diverse practices and philosophies into the practice of yoga.
Ruthie Campbell, RYT 500 - Yoga Instructor
Ruthie is certified in Prana Flow affiliate training and studied with Maria Garre, Shiva Rea, Dr. Vasant Lad, Radhe, Lorin and Camille Roche. In addition, she has advanced training in Yin Yoga and continues to study Ayurveda and yoga therapy. Ruthie is a lifelong yoga student and practitioner and believes that a sustained yoga practice, including asanas, pranayama and meditation, can help one to live a life of peace and contentment while maintaining a healthy, strong body.
Dee Gold, MA, E-RYT 500
Dee is an advanced yoga teacher with over 30 years of teaching experience. She is a certified Yoga Therapist and an award winning author/member of the United States Association for Body Psychotherapy. Dee’s teaching encourages great respect for the human body, mind, and spirit at every age. Her philosophy on aging is to joyfully embrace it. It is her true passion to assist her students see their “golden years” as their prime time.
Sam Francis, D.Ac., L.Ac., Dipl. Acu. (NCCAOM), Qi Gong Instructor
Dr. Sam is the owner and chief acupuncture practitioner of Five Dances Wellness Center, specializing in the treatment of chronic pain, anxiety and neurological complaints. She graduated with her Master’s Degree in Acupuncture from Tai Sophia Institute in 2010 and completed her Doctorate in Acupuncture at Maryland University of Integrative Health (MUIH) in 2017 and leads Qi Gong practices at Roots & River Yoga.
Alison Kennedy, RYT-200 - Yoga Instructor
Alison came to yoga as a result of a chronic illness in 2009. After earning her 200 hour Teacher certification, she delved into an intensive training in Ayurveda, which included study in the healing art of Shirodhara and Abhyanga. Alison's awareness of the potential power of the somatic practice of yoga deepened and she was drawn to study the psychological and physiological fields, including how fascia profoundly impacts everything from one's posture and movement to one's internal rhythms. This led her to complete trainings in Positional Therapy, Yin Yoga, and Trauma Informed Teaching. Alison holds a Certificate in Early Child Development and had an early career as a preschool teacher. The natural progression into yoga included earning her certification in Child Light Yoga. She approaches her practice and teaching as she does her life, showing up to the mat in the most authentic and honest way possible. In her uniquely warm, compassionate and engaging way, Alison delights in sharing the joy and play of yoga. It is her hope that through teaching from her own varied life experiences she can help facilitate a journey of self-healing and love for all her students.
Amy Rider, Yoga Sculpt Instructor
Aimee is a resident of Brunswick but discovered Yoga Sculpt while living in DC. The practice resonated so deeply with her, she went through specific Yoga Sculpt teacher-training in the summer of 2015 and has been teaching ever since. Aimee also works for the US Army as an attorney and spends her free time cooking, exercising, and traveling.
Lisa Tumbarello - Yoga Instructor
Lisa was introduced to yoga while in high school via one of her ballet instructors. She’s been an on-and-off practitioner since college and in recent years started deepening her yoga practice. She decided to embark on her RTY200 yoga training, with Balanced Life Yoga in Ellicott City, to gain a deeper spiritual and physical understanding of how yoga manifests in the mind and body. After becoming a mother in 2017, Lisa turned to her yoga practice to help calm her anxiety and cope with the stress of new motherhood. When she’s not practicing yoga, Lisa enjoys learning about interior design, exploring the pages of her cookbook collection and is working on developing her green-thumb. She has an energetic toddler named Andy and lives with her husband Paul and two noisy dachshunds on a quiet county road in Sharpsburg, Maryland.
Catherine Wycoff, PT, DPT, GCFP, PHCS, CERP - Feldenkrais Instructor
Catherine has been a physical therapist for 29 years and earned an undergraduate degree in Physical Therapy from Belgium and a doctorate degree from Des Moines University. She was introduced to the Feldenkrais Method in the early nineties and was amazed by how such gentle Awareness Through Movement® sessions can rewire our brain to improve the way we move and live our lives. She decided to take the four-year Feldenkrais professional training in 1997. She loves to watch her students learn to improve their flexibility, balance, posture, and rediscover how to move with ease and joy at any age. Catherine is also trained in Myofascial Release (MFR) and incorporates both her Feldenkrais and MFR training in her practice. She has volunteered and set up private practices in Belgium, Laos, Taiwan, China, Burma, Australia, and Austria in addition to the US. She recently moved her family and her practice to Lovettsville, Virginia.
Roots & River Sub Teachers
Stephen Bascietto, RYT-200 - Yoga Instructor
Stephen shines his light on chasing passions, growing a small business and, spending time with the people he loves. Autumn of 2014 brought a consistent asana practice into his life in the form of a two week class pass when The Happy Yogi first opened its door in Fulton, Maryland. His reverent curiosity for the very real and noticeable benefits of yoga eventually brought him to completing his RYT-200 with Blue Heron Wellness during the summer of 2016. As an instructor he believes quality alignment is the foundation for yogis and yoginies to reach their fullest potential. Stephen hopes to offer a rejuvenating class from an authentic and unique perspective.
Kellee Martin RYT-200 - Yoga Instructor
Kellee discovered yoga in 2002 and it supported her in stress release and physical recovery from an injury. As a #yogasponge, Kellee soaks up as much yoga experience as she can and has sought out advanced training and certification in Yin Yoga, Trauma Informed Yoga, and Reiki energy work. She is currently expanding her studies into yoga as part of addiction recovery and aims to guide others to discover the benefits of a regular practice. Kellee leads classes in a way that provides students the opportunity for stillness and reflections within the vitality that comes from flow-based movements. With her light and playful humor, Kellee hopes for students to leave the yoga practice feeling grounded, tension-free, and tuned into themselves.
Benita Mayo RYT 200 – Yoga Instructor
In 2006, during one of many diet & exercise endeavors, Benita was introduced to yoga by her personal trainer. She was drawn to yoga for the physical benefits and didn't expect it would completely transform her life. She completed her Yoga Teacher training at Sol Yoga in Frederick, MD and has additional certifications in Trauma Informed Yoga and Yoga for All. Benita is passionate about holistic health, wellness and life balance; and strives to make yoga accessible to every-BODY. Benita uses her experience as both a larger-bodied yoga student and teacher to partner with her students to make classes welcoming and inclusive. Benita is a native of Virginia and received her BA from the University of Virginia. Benita is a Fine Art Photographer and enjoys traveling and riding her bicycle on the many Virginia trails. Benita teaches Slow Flow, Gentle and Yin.
Stacey Swierzbinski RYT 500 - Yoga Instructor
Stacey's yoga journey began in 2009 after a long struggle with depression and anxiety. Stacey was looking for ways to help with these issues and came across an article how yoga can help and decided to give it a try. Stacey immediately fell in love with the practice and continued to attend weekly classes. In 2012, she decided to take the Blue Heron Wellness 200-hour yoga teaching training in Silver Spring to deepen her personal practice and played with the idea of teaching. After graduating she began teaching a small group of friends and slowly found the confidence to continue teaching adding additional classes along the way. In addition to the 200-hour YTT, Stacey completed 30 hours in Kundalini yoga at Sky House Yoga in Silver Spring and 25 hours in Yin Yoga under Machelle Lee. Stacey's teaching style includes meditation, slow flow, building strength, Yin Yoga, and finding ease while holding and breathing in the postures. Stacey is the owner of Branches of Yoga in Sykesville, MD and is currently working toward her 300-hour advanced yoga teacher training at The Yoga Center of Columbia under the direction of Bita Jenkins.