Our Tribe

HAYAT HAKIM, STUDIO FOUNDER

Hayat Hakim

Hayat Hakim is the founder and owner of Hayat Yoga Shala. She discovered the ancient art of yoga during one of her military training deployments in 2007. It helped her cope with the stress and the ever-changing, fast pace of military life.

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KELLI EDWARDS

Kelli Edwards

Kelli’s yoga journey began in the late 90’s while living in Chicago, she stumbled into a bikram heated class and never looked back as her life at the time was fast paced, high stress, as she traveled the country for over 18 years in the Corporate Cosmetic Industry, a career she found very rewarding and demanding.

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CLAY MERRITT

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.

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AMBER WEEKS

Nine years ago, Amber wanted to be a better rock climber because she didn’t have any upper body strength. A friend told her that she should try yoga to get stronger. Little did she know, before her first yoga class that this is where she would find healing and strength in every area of her life.

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NAKIYA SMITH  

Nakiya loves to dance. Dance has “saved” her life on more than one occasion. In 2015, she once again sought rhythmic movement to find the answers to confusion and loss in her life . However, it was her love of dance that began her yoga journey.

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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.

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DENISE WESTENHAVER

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

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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, Leyla employs sculpture and printmaking primarily for their requirement of thought, planning and physicality when making work. She finds the physical and mental demands of printmaking and sculpture similar to those of yoga.

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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.

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GEORGE ZAUN

George Zaun

George’s first experience with yoga was at a gym in Dubois, PA in 2001. Had not done group classes of anything before, but it was something he had been curious about for a long time. He practiced weekly there for about a year or so. He loved the classes – always something new to learn. Initially, he was impressed by how good it felt to counter weight lifting and cardio – Always enjoyed the adjustments to keep me on track and go deeper into poses. Then George really started to gain an appreciation for meditation.

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ASHELY SKENTERIS

Initially, Ashely attended yoga classes as a means to counter the negative effects of a high impact fitness routine. She had begun to realize that, over time, the pavement had taken a noticeable toll on her knees and joints. Supplementing her regular exercise with yoga appeared to be a logical solution. It didn’t take long for her to recognize that the benefits of yoga far transcended simply stretching. Her mind and soul were also being nourished.

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HANNAH BRANDON

Hannah Heil Brandon was born and raised in Fayetteville, NC.  She achieved her Bachelors of Science in Nutrition with a Health Studies minor from NC State and moved back to the Ville after she graduated.  She met her future husband, Joel, and bought a cute little bungalow in Dunn.  While Hannah and Joel were dating, he empowered her to go back to school @ FTCC for Aesthetics Technology and she has been faithfully following her dharma ever since!

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CRYSTAL PLUNKETT

In today’s world, Crystal believes that we all need more Yoga in our lives and wants everyone to just try it! She first stepped onto the mat out of curiosity nearly fifteen years ago when she was stationed in Hawaii. Since then, Crystal has practiced various types of yoga (off and on) across the world from Bikram in Bangkok, to Ashtanga in Africa, and yoga/surf retreats in Bali and Costa Rica. However, it wasn’t until she was stationed here at Fort Bragg, that her practice began to truly deepen past the asanas of Yoga and into the philosophy and science of Yoga.

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LINDSEY STEWART

Lindsey has never regretted a single time she stepped onto her yoga mat. She loves yoga and is passionate about sharing it with you. She has learned a lot about yoga over the years and continues to learn with each new day.

In 2017, Lindsey did her Holistic Yoga Flow teacher training with Travis Eliot and Lauren Eckstrom. Holistic yoga flow is a series of vinyasas, controlled breathing, and some yoga philosophy, or manifesting yoga in to your life on and off the mat. Her goal as your teacher is to get you completely present on your mat while you move your body through a yoga flow that will send you to the moon.

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RUTH EGGERT

Ruth did yoga for decades, but makes the distinction she wasn’t practicing it until 2014. Yoga was just another exercise until she found herself in a physically and emotionally challenging environment to reveal yoga as a means of recovering her body and developing her resiliency. She was able to get deeper into her practice during a deployment to Afghanistan because of support personnel who were also yoga practitioners from different countries.

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MANYLA MORALES

Manyla took her first yoga class in college as an elective, doubtful it would benefit her. A tragic car accident had put her on a downward spiral for several years and left her void of happiness, motivation, and a positive outlook. Her initial time on the mat was literally lifesaving. She felt the stirrings of life and positive energy reemerge after being dormant for so long. After the course, she practiced on and off using DVD’s until she moved back home in 2011 and found a studio. She was introduced to hot yoga by a friend and instantly fell in love. Over the next few years she learned to control her PTSD, depression and anxiety through yoga and meditation. She is eternally grateful for the healing path yoga opened for her.

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