HAYAT HAKIM, STUDIO FOUNDER
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What an amazing journey I have traveled in the past & I still continue to travel on.  I discovered the ancient art of yoga during one of my military training deployments in 2007. It helped me cope with the stress and the ever-changing fast pace of the military life. Middle Eastern Dance has been close to my heart from a very young age. Growing up in Syria I believed that following the rhythms of the drums was part of everybody’s life. Combining the extended breath work of yoga with the flowy nature of my yogic dance movements opened up my heart, spirit and physical well being. Deploying to Iraq in 2008 & Afghanistan in 2010 made me realize that sharing my love of yoga and dance had an incredible healing power to other soldiers and I knew then that I wanted to continue to teach classes upon my return to the US.  After returning from Afghanistan in 2011 I started developing a plan to open a yoga and world dance studio in Fayetteville, NC. In 2013 after 17 years of serving in the U.S. Army as a Chief Warrant Officer I devoted my life to sharing a piece of my culture, combined with my professional training and foundation in Yoga, Middle Eastern, lyrical, jazz & hip-hop dance, I created “ Hayat Yoga & World Dance Arts”.

Some of my training includes: 500hr RYT Advanced Yoga Teacher Training with Dharma (currently attending) ◊ 230hrs RYT Asheville Yoga Center, NC with Stephanie Keach ◊ Yoga Warriors International, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder focused ◊ Ayurvedic Treatments with Dr. Neil, Goa, India ◊ BatsB Barre Teacher Training Program Pilates Sports Center ◊ Hot Yoga Teacher certification course Level 1 Aura Wellness Center ◊ Complete Certified Meditation Teacher Course Aura Wellness Center ◊ 40hrs Egypt Dance 1 & 2 with Sahra Saeeda Washington, DC ◊ Level 1 Certification Suhaila International Belly dance Academy Atlanta, GA ◊ 40hrs BellyFit Instructor Training ◊10 Days Dance Intensive with Bozenka Crete, Greece 2011 & 2012 ◊ 7 Days   Dance Intensive with Aziza Montreal, Canada◊


BRIT LOPEZ , STUDIO MANAGER

I started practicing yoga in 2001 before my sophomore year in high school by watching a yoga class on a television show. It was initially a great form of exercise but quickly became more than that; yoga helped me to cope with the changes that occurred in my life at that time through concentration and meditation. Since then, I mostly practiced in solitude until regularly attending group classes in 2014 while completing my master’s degree in I/O psychology. Soon after graduating, I started teaching yoga classes and received my 200hr RYT from Hayat’s teacher training.

My greatest inspiration in my practice and in leading yoga classes comes from my own experiences in life, self-study, and the people I meet. As a lifelong learner, I am humbled by knowing that I am always a student. I teach to a multi-level class, from beginners to advanced practitioners and offer modifications and variations for all levels. My hot flow classes are upbeat, fun and challenging. Sometimes we’re serious and a lot of times playful. I encourage community, contentment/gratitude, self-knowledge, creativity and exploration within a safe non-judgmental space. While the physical practice of yoga is a great benefit and often times the initial reason for our introduction to yoga, the real benefit of yoga is in the way it transforms our minds, the relationship we have with our self, and the relationships we have with others.

KELLI EDWARDS

Kelli’s yogic journey has been evolving magically throughout the past 15 years, finding inspiration in an array of different practices. She embarked with a weekly Hatha and Bikram class, used as a tool for controlling stress of her fast paced corporate job within the Fashion Cosmetics Industry, while living in Chicago and New York City. Truly awakened by its profound effects on her emotional, spiritual and physical well being, she quickly found a new, more conscious and balanced way of living .
With a spirit of adventure and a passion for travel, in 2009 she ventured with her husband and two children to Costa Rica to study under Don and Amba Stapleton, completing her 200 hr Instructor Certification at the Nosara Yoga Institute . Through a vinyasa flow practice, Kelli focuses on breath synchronized movement and alignment within each posture. Emphasis is placed on a balance between effort and surrender, working hard and letting go. Kelli hopes to guide people in their own self- inquiry and discovery of Yoga.
As a Bhakti yogi, I love Kirtan music and to dance, on my playlist you’ll find Girish, Wah! & Ben Howard.


CLAY MERRITT

Clay discovered yoga during the final years of his military career. Having served 23 years in the Army (16 years with Special Operations), several injuries kept him from the normal physical activities. From the suggestion of his wife, Clay attended his first yoga class in 2012. Clay soon discovered that yoga provided him the coping mechanisms to manage disabilities and allowed him to remain physically and mentally fit. After several years of practicing Vinyasa style yoga, Clay began the journey into advanced
movements and inversions. He now incorporates those movements and inversions into his personal practice. Embracing his failures and achievements in this journey, Clay shares that experience through workshops and guided classes for those seeking an increased challenge in their own practice. When his free time permits, Clay provides free classes to military and veterans.
200 RYT
Yoga Alliance
YogaFit level 1
15 hours Dylan Werner Yoga.
22 hours Noah Maze Anatomy
21 hours Tom Myers Myofascial and Anatomy


 

AMBER WEEKS

Nine years ago I wanted to be a better rock climber because I didn’t have any upper body strength. A friend told me I should try yoga to get stronger. Little did I know, before my first yoga class that this is where I would find healing and strength in every area of my life.
After five years of practicing daily and falling in love with my yoga hobby I decided to share it with the world around me! I completed my 200 hour yoga teacher training in Encinitas, California from Core Power Yoga. I have been teaching in studios, gyms, and giving private lessons starting in 2013! I believe each of us is here on Earth to be the best version of ourselves and to live fully alive!! Yoga is a deeply beautiful tool that will enable you to find wholeness spiritually, emotionally, relationally, physically, and mentally.
Please join me on your mat in this adventure of life!


NAKIYA SMITH  

I love to dance. Dance has “saved” my life on more than one occasion. In 2015 I once again sought rhythmic movement to find the answers to confusion and loss in my life . However, it was my love of dance that began my yoga journey. In February, I met Hayat while Latin dancing and then I started coming to the studio to practice. As I was trying to put the pieces of my life back together yoga began to be that glue. In January of 2016 I began the Yoga Garden Teacher Training here at the Hayat Yoga World Dance Arts. As the mysteries of yoga were unchained for me, so were the self- imposed chains in my life. As an act of gratitude to the universe for the blessings bestowed upon, my teaching journey begins in this same studio. I teach (school aged) Kids Yoga, Hot Flow and Yin. See you on your Mat.


MARIAH NORTON

our years ago Mariah began yoga as a hobby, but quickly realized it was so much more than just physical exercise. Since than Mariah has received her 200 RYT from Be Kind Yoga Teacher Training at The Yoga Pilates Barre, NC. To Mariah, yoga is about finding a connection between the body, mind and spirit. With guided meditations and vinyasa flows, she aspires to help people find that connection in a playful and welcoming environment. Being upside down is Mariah’s favorite way to view the world so inversions are always offered and encouraged.

In her free time you can find Mariah hula hooping, arranging her crystals, cooking, blending essential oils, or simply hanging out with her family and friends.

Mariah’s goal in life is to use yoga as a tool to change people’s lives as it did hers. It is to not only teach people who already love yoga but to teach the people who need it. To teach the people who are skeptical, who doubt their body’s ability to bend, who do not know where to begin. For the ones who already have an understanding of yoga and it’s benefits she wishes to inspire them by helping them deepen their practice with playfulness and freedom. Freedom to be who they are. There is no mask on the mat, only hope.


TOMMYE NELSON

Tommye has been practicing yoga on and off for many years. It wasn’t until she moved to California in 2012 and discovered Ashtanga that it really took hold. In 2016 she decided to formalize her practice by completing the 200 RYT through Hayat Yoga and World Dance Arts. She is also registered with Yoga Alliance. Yoga has provided her with an abundance of self growth, mindful peace, spiritual healing and a more positive outlook on life. She believes there is a yoga for everyone and would love to share it with you. “See you on the mat!”
Positive mind-positive vibes-positive life.


MAGGIE BOEHM

I found yoga back in 2010 as a way to change up my workout routine and gain more flexibility. I fell in love with it immediately and found that not only was I bettering my body physically, but the sense of peace and calmness it had over my mind had me hooked. I remember being amazed at how I have never left a yoga practice in anything less than a great mood, no matter how I walked in that day.
Having been a hairstylist for the last 6 years, I decided to take a leap of faith and further my love and devotion to yoga. I attended the 200 hour teacher training program at Hot Asana Yoga University in Southern Pines, NC. I gained a deeper understanding of the practice of yoga and a deeper understanding of my true self. The passion grew stronger for me as I felt the need to help guide others in their own journey with yoga and to discover their true selves. I am eternally grateful for all the teachers and mentors in my life and believe there is always more to learn.
I was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York where I met my husband who is currently serving in the US Army. His career took us to Fort Bragg and we have been happily living here for the last 3 1/2 years. After alittle convincing, he has started his own yoga practice, which has helped him physically and mentally, in his daily life as a soldier. I have two huge and silly dogs whom I adore and take on long walks everyday. I love spending time outdoors, meaningful conversation, great food, traveling and enjoying life to its fullest.
I teach warm and hot flow classes, ranging from gentle to powerful – but all having some laughs and fun in there too! I truly believe everyone can benefit from yoga and I encourage you to take that leap of faith and begin your very own journey! It is never too late to start…
Love and Namaste.

DENISE WESTENHAVER

My yoga journey began in 2004. I bought Bryan Kest’s Power yoga DVDs and started a home practice for physical fitness. I began to have a positive shift in my perspective and attitude, which I hadn’t expected. This intrigued me and led me to delve deeper into yoga, creating a strong home practice.

On moving to Savannah, GA, in 2010, I joined Savannah Yoga Center and really thrived in group practice. I gained so much in self realization and connection to my spirit through yoga that I was compelled to take teacher training. I received my RYT 200 hr in May 2017 at Savannah Yoga Center, and shortly thereafter moved here to Fayetteville.

I am a military spouse, an emergency room nurse of 9 years, and a mother. Yoga has helped me undertand and work through the stress and chaos in my life, and I feel it is my dharma to help others understand themselves and attain peace through yoga. I am excited to bring my knowledge and inspiration gained through my practice, teacher training, and retreats to the mat. In my personal practice, I love backbending and arm balances. When teaching, I love to share creative and introspective flows. I also love to lead yoga nidra classes for deep relaxation. I would be honored to have you come practice with me…I truly believe yoga is for everyone!


SANDRA HEALY

Sandra Doherty Healy (E-RYT 200, RYT 500) discovered yoga in 2000 when the unnamedchallenges of juggling a career & graduate studies prompted her to explore pathways to alleviate stress. Sandra’s yogic journey began at the NYC Sivananada Yoga Vedanta Center & since then Sandra has studied other forms of yoga to include Yin, iRest® Yoga Nidra, & her personal favorite Ashtanga Vinyasa.

The peace Sandra gained from her daily Ashtanga practice proved essential during her multiple deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. While engaged in her own personal practice at the gym, soldiers, often yoga novices, would ask if they could join her and quickly an informal yoga community emerged. A few times each week these gatherings offered participants a tranquil respite from the stress and tension of life in a war zone. Inspired by those who joined her on the mat, Sandra obtained her 200 RYT (Yoga Alliance Registered Yoga Teacher designation).

After her return from Afghanistan in 2011, Sandra continued her work with military personnel & became particularly interested in the benefits of yoga for individuals coping with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and combat-related injuries. Sandra is both a certified Level 1 iRest® Yoga Nidra & Yoga Warriors® teacher; both yoga techniques designed specifically to help release negative emotions, calm the nervous system, & develop a capacity to manage the stresses of daily life.

Sandra, along with her then fiancé Tim, decided to forgo a “traditional” honeymoon in 2012 & instead sojourned to India where she completed her 500 RYT with a focus on the Ashtanga Vinyasa system. Sandra has continued her yogic studies with Ashtanga teachers David Swenson & Kino MacGregor, as well as Vinyasa teachers Seane Corn & Dana Trixie Flynn.

Off the mat, Sandra is a former business strategist turned anthropologist & holds graduate degrees in Arab Studies and Anthropology from Georgetown University School of Foreign Service and the City University of New York.


MELISSA WHISEANT

Yoga has always been a part of my life but it wasn’t until 2013 that my practice became more regular. My husband and I had recently moved to Germany and I decided to sign up for yoga teaching classes taught by YogaFit Training Systems Worldwide, INC. While attending, I had the pleasure of teaching yoga to the men and women returning home from Afghanistan in the Navy Warrior Transition program. In 2015 the military brought us to North Carolina where I obtained my 200hr RYT certification with Hot Asana Yoga University in Southern Pines. Recently I was offered the amazing opportunity to work at Hayat Yoga and World Dance Arts where I will be teaching a variety of classes.

Yoga is my passion. It is something I have always been completely infatuated with. Yoga is different to everyone. For me, it has helped me accept myself as I am and it has taught me to be patient with myself, and others around me. To me, yoga means staying focused on the present moment and being grateful for even the smallest things in life. Yoga reminds me that we are all students. In a life where the only constant is change, yoga allows me to find stillness and to create space for beauty in discomfort. It allows me to deepen my understanding of myself, and allows me to enable self-growth.

In teaching at Hayat Yoga and World Dance Arts I hope to help others find their own meaning of yoga. I hope to create a space where students can come to relax, sweat and unwind while finding their inner peace.

“ Yoga is the dance of every cell, with the music of every breath that creates inner serenity and harmony.” ~ Debasish Mridha

~ Namaste


LEYLA PUSKAR

Creating art is a state of mind, what you think and feel will inevitably show up in the outcome of your work. Much like how the attitude you bring to your yoga mat has an effect on your yoga practice. As an artist, I employ sculpture and printmaking primarily for their requirement of thought, planning and physicality when making work. I find the physical and mental demands of printmaking and sculpture similar to those of yoga.
To me, both yoga and art is about understanding the mind, the body and the connection we have to the world around us. It is about finding that moment of singularity through complete awareness. Through yoga and art making I am able to find this flow state. This state unites me with the moment and my genuine self. It is here that I find strength and understanding.
My objective in both art and yoga is to inspire those around me and myself to live up to our fullest potentials. As a yoga teacher I seek to guide students into their own flow states. Combining every movement with a breath, I create an environment that harbors focus, intention and a good amount of sweat! Ultimately my goal is to lead people to find their own ways to live moment to moment with conscious intent and direction.


MELISSA BIERKORTTE

My name is Melissa Bierkortte and I am a sweet but sassy brand new yoga instructor. I recently received my 200 hr RYT level instructor certificate in November 2015. I love teaching fun hot flow classes. I discovered yoga around 2010, when I went to a hot flow class with my friend in Charlotte, NC. Since then, I’ve been hooked. Yoga has been a great asset in my life. My full time job is very stressful and yoga had provided me with the grounding and inner peace, that only yoga could provide me. I’m excited to begin my journey as a yoga instructor and know it will include meeting lots of interesting people and guiding them through their own inner yoga experience.


JENNIFER WEAVER

Yoga has been such a transformative influence in my life. I feel like it helps me to be a better wife, a better mother to my two amazing kids, and a better person all around. I love being silly, having fun, meeting new people, and sinking into my mat after a juicy vinyasa class. I recently completed my 200hr RYT with Savannah Yoga Center and I am so excited to be part of the Hayat team. See you in class!


DANIELLE ROTH

Danielle was first introduced to yoga in college as an elective credit, she thought that it would be a good physical workout and a class she would enjoy.
She quickly became attached with how her body felt and how she was positively effected inside and out. After her semester was over, she reached out to find studios in her area, but with no luck of finding a home studio, she continued her own practice periodically through videos and yoga like workout classes at her gym.

Her journey has been a long one, with really becoming developed in
her practice at the beginning of 2016 after a new friend from the gym invited her to a class at Hayat Yoga Shala. The flame had once again been ignited and she dove even deeper into the yogi world. Yoga was an amazing addition to her current workout regimen. It continued to improve her flexibility and she could feel the spiritual transition.

In the beginning of 2017 she decided to take her practice even farther and enrolled in her RYT-200 course. After completing her 200hr she had found a warm place
in her heart that drove her to share the positive impact that yoga can have in your everyday life. She teaches Hot and warm vinyasa flow, really hoping to guide others to connect to their inner self and even just for a moment, take the time to nurture the mind and body. Everything starts with a step, or in this case an asana. She would love to share a space with you, combining all energies in one room, growing the yogi family and making the world a happier place.


WENDY MERRITT

After ten years of practicing yoga with no great consistency, Wendy took her first yoga training in 2012. A flame had been stoked with that training, and she has been a student of yoga ever since. Wendy completed 200hr RYT training with YogaFit in the spring of 2014; and, she will finish her 500hr RYT program with them this fall. She is persistent in her goal of guiding all she meets to find their own perfect asana practice (postures) and breathe in hopes of becoming more in tuned with their authentic self. In addition to being a yoga instructor, Wendy is a NASM certified personal trainer and a NC certified school teacher. She teaches yoga regularly a fitness center in Fayetteville and is a substitute instructor at a few additional places in the area.