Yoga Chaplains

 
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Rev. Bethel Lee
(Founder of Yoga Chapel)
Vancouver, BC (Canada)

Born in beloved Seoul, Korea, Bethel has pilgrimaged across Asia, Europe, the Middle East and North America, but has always had a heart-connection with the West Coast. She lives in Vancouver with her soulmate David, their son Moses and his furry sibling Chance.


Bethel Lee earned her Bachelor of Arts in Industrial-Organizational Psychology from Pepperdine University in Malibu, California and her Master of Divinity from Duke Divinity School in Durham, North Carolina. She is an ordained minister with the United Church of Canada, an advocate for neurodiverse families, and an actor.

After attaining her 200-Hour Hatha Teacher Certification through Open Source Yoga in Vancouver, BC, Bethel has continued advanced training for her 500-Hour Certification through Semperviva Yoga College, specializing in Yin, Vinyasa, Prenatal and Kundalini yoga. She loves designing classes that are creative, incorporating various styles and approaches, while remaining sensitive to anatomy because she believes that participants should be both challenged and empowered.

Bethel is deeply grateful to the United Church of Canada's New Ministries Foundation, the Davey Family Endowment Fund, the Leadership Endowment Fund and the Kingscourt United Church Endowment Fund, which empowered the dream of Yoga Chapel to become a living, breathing reality.

 
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REV. LAUREN HODGSON
(Director of Yoga Chapel)
Toronto, ON (Canada)

Lauren was born and raised in Vancouver, BC, and although she’s now lived away from the West Coast for more than a decade, her heart will always have a special place beside the ocean. After travelling and living in India, Eastern Africa, and Europe, Lauren’s studies took her to Toronto, ON, where she planted roots after graduation from seminary and ordination. She now lives near Toronto’s Beaches with her wife, Sarah, and their daughter, Ruby.


Lauren Hodgson earned her Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Political Studies and Art History from Queen’s University in Kingston, ON and her Master of Divinity from Emmanuel College at the University of Toronto. She is an ordained minister with the United Church of Canada currently serving St. Matthew’s United Church in Toronto, as well as the United Church of Canada’s Edge Network as a New Ministry Animator.

Lauren began practicing yoga regularly as a teenager and immediately fell in love with yoga’s unity of breath, movement, and meditation. In 2008, she travelled to India where she completed her 200-Hour Yoga Teacher Training through the Sivananda Yoga Centre in Kerala. Lauren has a passion for creating sacred spaces, and she brings this deep love to each and every yoga class she leads–crafting room for the Spirit’s play and creativity.

 
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Rev. audrey warren
Florida City, FL (USA)

A native Floridian, Audrey did not venture too far from her hometown of Naples to plant some roots. Audrey currently resides in Florida City, FL, an urban suburb of Miami, where she and her husband Jose Luis are active members of their very diverse community.


Audrey B. Warren earned her Bachelor of Arts from Florida Southern College where she majored in Religion and her Masters of Divinity from Duke Divinity School in Durham, NC. Audrey then continued her studies at Wesley Theological Seminary where she earned her Doctorate of Ministry focusing on Children and Spirituality. She is an ordained Elder in the Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church and currently serves as Senior Pastor at First United Methodist Church of Miami. She is also the co-author of the book Fresh Expressions.

Though Audrey has been practicing yoga for eight years now, it was not until the death of a close friend that her practice took on a spiritual dimension. She found the deep inhales and exhales to be a form of prayer that carried her through a crisis of faith. Yoga became a profound gift and spiritual practice that continues to nurture her faith daily. With the desire to share this gift, Audrey received her 200-Hour Yoga Alliance Teacher Certificate through Sunshine State Yoga. Audrey strives to create an experience of renewal and refreshment within each class that can be taken off the mat and then shared with the world.

 
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Rev. Jennifer Witten
Los Angeles, CA (USA)

Jennifer is passionate about the intersection of movement and Christian meditation. She marvels at the mystery of the human body, mind and spirit, and how God meets us there. When she’s not practicing yoga, she is raising her boys in Agoura Hills, CA along with her husband Jeff. They share life with two dogs and a bearded dragon.


Raised in Sunnyvale, CA, Jennifer Witten graduated from Westmont College with a B.A. in Religious Studies and from Princeton Theological Seminary with a M.Div. She is also trained in Spiritual Direction. Since 2001, she has served PCUSA congregations on both the east and west coasts. She is one of the pastors at Lightshine Church in Westlake Village and the host of the Fully Present Podcast, which brings together breath meditations and thoughtful Biblical reflections. 

For years Jennifer found yoga to be a powerful way to pray. Over time, she felt compelled to share this practice with her faith community in hopes that others might experience the deep nourishment found through this ancient moving meditation. This led her to yoga school! She received her first 200-hour teacher training through Holy Yoga and her 500-hour teacher certification through Yoga Works. In her yoga classes, she strives to a create a safe and welcoming space for people to breathe, move and find a deeper connection to God.

 
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REV. ANNA LAYMAN KNOX
Camp Hill, PA (USA)

Born in Central Pennsylvania, after moving nineteen times since high school, Anna has returned to serve God in the same community where her life began. She currently serves as a pastor in Camp Hill, a suburb of Harrisburg, PA and is grateful to share this precious life with her spouse and partner-in-life, Simon, and their son, Dominic.


Prior to serving as a pastor for more than 3 years in South Africa, Anna Layman Knox earned her Bachelor of Arts in International Relations from Carleton College in Northfield, MN and her Master of Divinity from Duke Divinity School in Durham, NC. She became an ordained Elder in the Susquehanna Conference of the United Methodist Church in 2014 and currently serves as Lead Associate Pastor of Camp Hill United Methodist Church. While Anna had practiced yoga off and on over the years, her love of meditation and movement was cultivated during the 4 years she served as a pastor in the beautiful Pocono community of Hawley, PA. Attending Roots Yoga Studio became a sabbath ritual that sustained and nurtured her faith and her body. Upon arriving in Camp Hill, she discovered that others in the wider community also craved the opportunity to engage in prayer through movement and meditation. For Anna, sharing yoga is a transformational way to interpret scripture and live its story through the fullness of our bodies, minds, and spirits. She is Level-One trained through YogaFit and is currently pursuing her 200-Hour certification, while offering experiences for people in and beyond the traditional church to experience worshipping God through yoga.

Anna is passionate about listening, exploring the unknown, authenticity, and Five Roses tea with milk and sugar. She loves the challenge and joy of walking alongside others, and at any given moment in the day, you'll probably catch her singing.

 
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KRISTIN MOONEY
Camp Hill, PA (USA)

Through a morning practice of the Ashtanga yoga sequence following her devotional time, Kristin discovered the beautifully meditative aspect of yoga as a pathway to a deepening relationship with Christ. Combining breath and Scripture, movement and prayer with mindful awareness of God’s presence, Kristin enjoys yoga as a spiritual discipline. She loves sharing prayer yoga with her community as a fresh and creative way to live out God’s call to share His light and truth with the world.


Kristin Mooney is Level-One trained through YogaFit and is currently pursuing her 200-Hour certification. She completed her first yoga teacher training, “Yoga from a Christian Perspective,” through New Day Yoga. She enjoys creating time and space for students to meet with God where they can experience transformation of body, mind, and soul.

Off the mat, Kristin spends her time as a freelance editor, mother, and leader in her church. She is an entrepreneur and steward of the environment with her husband Dave whose patented technology Ecoremedy converts problematic and messy wastes into renewable energy and useful animal and plant nutrients. With a passion for building Christian community, her past and current lay leadership endeavors include launching new Bible studies for young mothers, establishing a multi-generational women’s ministry, and developing a ministry for parents in the midst of raising their children. She holds a bachelor of science in communication studies from Virginia Tech.

 
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Shannon Savage-Howie
Los Angeles, CA (USA)

Although Shannon has called California home now for the better part of 20 years, her roots run deep from the Montana Rocky Mountains to the fertile soil of Eastern Washington. After college, she married a true California boy, and together they are raising three more California boys in Thousand Oaks. When they’re not soaking up as much sunshine as they can with their oh-so-sweet mastiff “Baby,” they like to travel and see the world.


Shannon is a certified Spiritual Director and Community Storyteller who loves to hold space for people to explore faith, spirituality, art, and yoga. She has been deeply impacted by the intersection of these pieces in her own life and is passionate about using these elements to draw people into deeper relationship with themselves, with others, and with the Divine. She is a certified 500-hour yoga teacher through YogaWorks. In addition, Shannon received her undergraduate degree from California Lutheran University, majoring in Religion with a minor in Ethnic Studies, and her Master of Arts degree from Luther Seminary in Children, Youth, and Family Ministry. She is rostered as a Deacon in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Throughout the many manifestations of her time in ministry—whether mentoring youth, providing adult spiritual direction, working with clients in substance abuse treatment centers, and now teaching yoga—Shannon’s deepest joy is in helping people find wholeness and balance of body, mind, and soul.

 
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Rev. Charissa Jaeger-Sanders
Jacksonville, FL (USA)

A native Floridian, raised in Tallahassee, Charissa practiced yoga for the first time in college, but it was her reconnection with this practice in 2013 that she found truly transformative; an experience that would set her on a path toward wholeness and peace.


Charissa Jaeger-Sanders earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from Florida State University, where she majored in Studio Art and minored in Spanish. She completed the first half of her Masters of Divinity at Duke Divinity School in Durham, NC and finished her degree at the Orlando, FL campus of Asbury Theological Seminary. She is an ordained Deacon in the Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church and currently serves as the artistic missionary, director, and founder of Grace Works Studio, LLC.

Yoga is grounding, centering, and embodies prayer in motion. Thus, for Charissa, it is a sacred, life-transforming practice that reminds her to be actively present in this moment. Charissa completed her 200-Hour Yoga Teacher Certification through Many Rivers Yoga Teacher Training in February of 2018. She especially loves teaching Vinyasa flow-style yoga, which pairs postures with breath, creating a moving meditation while improving strength, flexibility, and balance.

Charissa has been married to her husband Chris since July of 2000. They have 2 dogs: a cockapoo named Molly and a labradoodle named Magdalena Mae. When Charissa is not practicing yoga, she is a teacher, professional artist and writer, lifelong learner, amateur chef, food connoisseur, globe trotter, and beach bum.

She currently offers Yoga Chapel at Asbury United Methodist Church in Orange Park, FL.

 
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Kamala (Kami) Fair
Ventura County, CA (USA)

Kamala Fair grew up in Thousand Oaks, California, and always felt blessed to live in such a wonderful community near the beaches and mountains. She eventually moved to Moorpark with her husband to raise their two girls, and though raised a Lutheran, she fell in love with the faith community of Moorpark Presbyterian where she is actively engaged in both the Women’s and Children’s Ministries programs. When she isn’t working or practicing yoga, she enjoys spending time with her family and pets (2 cats, a bunny, and 2 leopard geckos!).


Kamala (aka Kami) graduated from California State University, Northridge with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. She spent over 25 years in the health insurance industry, and was exposed to mindfulness meditation through her employer. After experiencing the amazing impact it had on her mental health and physical wellbeing, she was inspired to integrate it with her Christian faith and yoga practice. She has studied mindfulness meditation through UCLA’s MARC program as well as Palouse Mindfulness, and she became a certified yoga instructor through YogaWorks

In 2019, ready for a huge leap, she left the corporate world to work as the office manager at her church where she is also an ordained deacon. She teaches the integration of mindfulness meditation, faith, and yoga, and enjoys making these practices accessible for people of all ages and levels. Join Kami Mondays at 9:30am for Yoga Chapel at Moorpark Presbyterian Church!

 
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Rev. Beth Birkholz
Detroit, MI (USA)

Rev. Beth Birkholz was born in Flint, and has made her way back to Michigan after forty years of wandering. She is wife to Scott, mama to two teenagers, and companion to a 75-pound lap dog plus two cats. Her favorite place in the world is the Cinque Terre in Italy, but she loves living in the old village of Plymouth, Michigan.


Beth earned her B.S. in Communications from the University of Tennessee, and studied public relations, journalism, and French. She received her Masters of Divinity from Trinity Lutheran Seminary in Columbus, OH, and began parish ministry at an ELCA Lutheran Church in downtown Atlanta, Georgia in 2001. She is currently the Director of Congregational Engagement for Samaritas in Detroit, MI.

While in seminary, she began practicing yoga after her father died unexpectedly, and found it to be an incredibly healing practice for grief and daily life in general. She practiced yoga on and off through pregnancies, illnesses, and moves, continuing to experience it as a wonderful spiritual practice that complemented her life as a pastor.

In 2013, Beth began practicing and studying Ashtanga yoga, and received her 200-Hour Certification in 2015. She is currently studying for her certification in Kids Yoga through Cosmic Kids, and enjoys teaching several kinds of yoga for diverse ages in a chapel setting. She finds it so beautiful to witness her longtime practice of healing yoga being shared in a church setting, occasionally on the labyrinth her congregation installed several years ago. She absolutely loves teaching yoga to pastors, teachers, and others who need to reconnect their body, mind, and spirit. 

 
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Rev. Melissa Madara
Adams County, PA (USA)

Melissa Madara is a native New Mexican, born and raised in Carlsbad, who has spent the majority of her ministry journey in and around Albuquerque. She and her husband David, their two children, and their two gregarious cats recently relocated to central Pennsylvania where she serves as pastor of Bendersville and Wenksville United Methodist Churches, near Gettysburg.


Melissa earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Music and Religion from McMurry University in Abilene, TX, and her Master of Divinity from Duke Divinity School in Durham, North Carolina. She was ordained as an elder in the New Mexico Conference of the United Methodist Church in 2010, and has focused most of her ministry on exploring nontraditional worship expressions that draw together the body, mind, and soul. From hiking, backpacking, and outdoor adventures to yoga and contemplative prayer practices, Melissa believes that our worship is most authentic when it is embodied and experiential; when we bring the fullness of ourselves to our expression of faith.

Melissa discovered yoga nine years ago during a difficult “dark night of the soul” season in her life, and through yoga, she discovered a powerful prayer practice that allowed her heart and body to pray when words simply fell short. She received her 200-Hour Teacher Training through Holy Yoga in November 2018, holds specialty certifications in Kids Yoga and Chair Yoga, and is currently seeking Hikyoga certification (taking yoga outdoors).


 
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ALLIE WILLIAMS
Atlanta, GA (USA)

Born in the heart of rural Appalachia in Brevard, North Carolina, after exploring life in various places and spaces across the globe, Allie has returned to the southeast U.S. where she is currently living, working, and learning in Atlanta, GA.


Allie Williams earned her Bachelor of Science in Health and Exercise Science from Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, NC. After graduating, she traveled the world: volunteering on llama farms, in permaculture gardens, and in hostels, while connecting with kindred spirits from many nations along the way. She is currently a student of the Master of Divinity program at Candler School of Theology at Emory University, interns as a hospital chaplain, and serves as the Children's Minister at Ormewood Church in Atlanta.

Since attaining her 200-Hour Hatha Teacher Certification from Samma Karuna in Koh-Phangan, Thailand, Allie has taught classes in Thailand, Panama, and back in the United States. She loves to work with a variety of styles (particularly Hatha, Vinyasa, Yin, and Restorative yoga), teaching heart-based classes that emphasize the integrity of movement through proper anatomical alignment. She views yoga as a moving meditation and an opportunity to check in with the heart, body, and emotional world.

In addition to yoga and seminary, Allie loves hiking, exploring nature, traveling, dancing, baking bread, and cuddling up with her cat, Theo. She strives to live a life of love and wholeness in the midst of the bustle of Western culture.

 
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MONETTE BENJAMIN
London, ON (Canada)

Deeply and literally moved by how yoga helps her to understand, experience, and connect with the Trinitarian God of Christianity in a tangible and holistic way, Monette passionately serves her community of London, Ontario as an Addiction Counselor and Yoga Teacher committed to the vision of wholeness in body, soul, and spirit for all.


Monette Benjamin earned her Bachelor of Arts in Counselling at the University of the Nations, while serving as a missionary with YWAM internationally for a number of years. She then worked with the Life Resource Centre, a community outreach centre for North Park Community Church, supporting refugee families settling in Canada for 5 years. With an Addiction Careworker Certificate from McMaster University, Monette currently works as an Addiction Counselor at a live-in treatment center for alcohol and drugs.

Monette's desire to experience the healing and transformative presence of Jesus through yoga, led her to YogaFaith (a Christian Yoga Academy) where she completed her RYT 200-Hour Yoga Teacher Training in May 2016. She has taken additional training in Trauma Sensitive Yoga, iREST Level 1, Yin, and Yoga Anatomy. Monette offers yoga classes, workshops, retreats, and trainings through her ministry JOY Yoga (Jesus Orientated Yoga) with the hope that others may experience the same joy that has transformed her life!

 
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Niki Karmali
North Vancouver, BC (Canada)

Niki was born in London, England and grew up traveling with her nomadic father and family, first around England, then to New Zealand, and finally settling in Canada. She makes her home now in Lynn Valley where she and her husband raised twin boys who have all grown and flown, giving her more time to both deepen her faith and nurture her passion for yoga.


Niki graduated from Guy’s Hospital in London, specializing in pediatrics, and after nursing in England and Saudi Arabia for ten years, returned to Canada for a final placement at Vancouver Children’s Hospital where she enjoyed another 30 years before retiring in 2016.

Throughout her travels, Niki found her peace and solace on her yoga mat, which was always tucked away in a suitcase. She studied with senior teachers trained by BKS Iyengar and completed her own teacher training in 2008, receiving a Level 1 & 2 certificate from Pune, India. Niki has led both children and adult yoga classes. After taking a break from teaching to focus on family and career for the past several years, she is now working on a 200-hour Yoga Renew course as a refresher to prepare her for leading Yoga Chapel classes, which will be offered at her beloved Lynn Valley United Church, where she also works as custodian and volunteers whenever she can.

 
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Artemis Calogeros
North Vancouver, BC (Canada)

Born in Beirut, Lebanon, Artemis Calogeros immigrated to Vancouver, BC with her family in 1975 to escape the civil war. Today, Artemis lives and teaches yoga near the mountains in beautiful North Vancouver, BC with her husband and daughter.


Artemis first discovered yoga as a child when she found “Kareen’s Yoga” on CTV (Kareen Zebroff was a pioneer in televised yoga), and then rediscovered the practice in high school. After an on-again-off-again relationship with yoga that spanned decades, she committed to obtaining her 200-Hour Yoga Teacher Certification through Karma Teachers, and then completed additional training in Restorative Yoga and Yin Yoga, both of which are slow, calming, meditative practices that often include contemplative teachings.

Artemis owns and operates The Yoga Root, a small, award-winning community yoga studio in North Vancouver, BC. In contrast to the fast pace of fitness yoga, The Yoga Root offers slower, mindful yoga that provides benefits for body, mind, and spirit. She is a member of the Lynn Valley United Church and feels deep gratitude for having been invited to teach “Yoga on the Labyrinth” and Yoga Chapel sessions as part of their Centre for Spiritual Practices. As a Yoga Chaplain, Artemis is excited to share the gift of contemplative yoga guided by Yoga Chapel’s three pillars: Spirit, Meditation, and Movement.