Our Team

Our founder and owner

Michele Vennard

In her pre-yoga life, Michele Vennard was a marketing director for a line of Italian restaurants. Michele discovered Bikram yoga soon after her mother passed away from Alzheimer’s and became a certified Bikram yoga teacher in 2001. “I wanted people to find this yoga the way I did in helping me cope with such deep grief. It did that and more.”

In 2003, Michele founded Bikram Yoga San Jose with the dream to spread the benefits of Bikram Yoga to new students and to serve the diverse students that diligently practice this discipline. “Having a yoga studio gives me a chance to serve humankind but also unexpectedly filled that void in me to create connection with people. My students and staff are genuinely my family. If you come here just once, you’re wrapped up in my love, our love. It’s a place that’s truly a place of belonging. I’m so proud of that.”

Over Michele’s 20 years of teaching and 23 years of regular practice, not only has she taught thousands of students but she has also mentored teachers, coached yoga athletes, and hosted yoga competitions. In 2018, Michele became the National and International USA Yoga champion women’s 50+ division.

Our Staff

Meet the people who work together to keep our studio running smoothly, all over, inside-out.


Jill Durchslag

Front Desk Supervisor
Started in 2016

My goal is to continue building a healthy community for all to enjoy. I do Bikram Yoga to calm my mind and strengthen my body.


Tonni LeBaron

Front Desk Supervisor
Started in 2006

As I age, Bikram Yoga helps with my balance, strength, inflammation and overall emotional and mental health.

I ensure you as a student have the best membership package for your practice, and help our staff track of all of our key studio performance numbers.


Aicha Machi

Front Desk Supervisor
Started yoga at BYSJ in 2011

I do Bikram yoga to increase my flexibility and strength and as a recovery tool after running marathons and to cleanse and detox my body through heat and sweating.

As a front desk supervisor I am responsible for ordering all essential supplies for the studio, maintaining retail inventory and assisting members.


Matt Newman

Staff Teacher, Facilities Manager
I do Bikram Yoga to become happy, peaceful, and liberated.

I teach a lot and act as general house elf for the studio.


Sarah Newman

Staff Teacher
Mostly teaching a lot of yoga and continuing to learn about teaching yoga, while helping around the studio.

I do Bikram Yoga because it works!


Shirley Pak

Financial Advisor
My friend introduced me to BYSJ in 2012. I quickly fell in love with the practice and with the people. Through yoga, I’ve built a new relationship with my body. Nothing else takes care of my body like Bikram Yoga – even my back has stopped complaining. I am grateful to be able to give back to the BYSJ family in a finance and accounting role.

Michael Wickler

Marketing & Events Specialist
I first began practicing at BYSJ in 2017, driving down from San Francisco for the quality instruction and vibrant community. Bikram Yoga is my ongoing physical and mental therapy; it keeps me strong and sane, reducing pain. I’m involved in marketing the studio and communicating with members.

Jose Gonzalez

Started with BYSJ in 2010

I love BYSJ because I get to be in charge and make sure everything is clean. This is a much better place to be.

Our Teachers

Our teachers give their whole hearts to empowering you to get all of the healing benefits out of Bikram Yoga.

Michele Vennard

Michele Vennard

Teaching since 2001
I never know what might be asked of me as I start to teach a class. I always ask that I be open to what is in front of me and deliver with authenticity and compassion. The dialog is the blueprint I rely on, knowing it’s addressing everyone’s needs in some way. My wish each class is that, with these ingredients, more comes through to you than you believed could happen.

I do yoga because it helps me stay healthy, improves the quality of my life in every facet, and because, without it, I’m definitely not my best as a loving human being. There’s not a practice that I don’t come away from feeling more love!


Matt Newman

Teaching since 2014
Powerful, Kind, Awakening.

I do Bikram Yoga to become happy, peaceful, and liberated.


Sarah Newman

Teaching since 2014
Power. Present. Honest. Always learning.

I do Bikram Yoga because it works!

Irena Blom

Irena Blom

Teaching since 2022
I teach like I practice, with passion, kindness and joy. I keep my mind open and present to learn.
Bikram Yoga keeps me grounded. It increases my physical and mental strength. It cultivates my compassion towards my myself and others. I see Bikram yoga as a powerful tool to raise self-awareness, love, and joy.

Nirvana Chowdhury

Teaching since 2013
I bring pure ‘Bengal Tiger’ energy, empowering you to do this practice correctly with a happy, smiling face. With my true passion, the yoga room becomes the playground for self-compassion, love, and self-realization. Every student is a spark of joy to me!

Bikram Yoga is my stepping stone to self-realization, and brings sparkle every time I practice! It is the happiest and best medicine I have found for my mind, body, and spirit.


Yi-Ting Chuang

Teaching since 2007
I like to focus on details and give corrections.

I practice Bikram Yoga because it is my absolute ME Time.


Kelly Gibson

Teaching since 2010
Passionate, detailed and inspiring teaching style.

I practice traditional Bikram Yoga because it delivers intense improvements to both my physical and mental health and well-being. I look and feel younger, cleaner, and brighter than with any other type of yoga, exercise, sport, or meditation practice I have tried.


Jessica Guinn

Teaching since 2012
I teach a cheerful, encouraging class from the heart, while staying true to the dialogue with detailed and clear instructions on the right action, the right way.

I practice because it is how I return to peace in my mind and my body, especially while raising two young children.


Kerry Hyman

Teaching since 2014
When I teach, I like to be cheerfully caring and respectful of each student.

For me, the practice started in the body, as a gloriously heated way to work it from the inside out. It rapidly evolved into a wonderfully satisfying way to ease my mind and touch my spirit. The words (dialogue) wash over me, becoming my meditation, mental relaxation, and physical regeneration each time I practice.


Rewa Kaul

Teaching since 2013
I love teaching dialogue classes in order to give my students precise instructions.

Bikram Yoga is an anchor in my life that keeps me centered, and keeps my mind and body in (some kind of) balance.


Mari Mashimo

Teaching since 2017
I teach with passion in the authentic style, which helps everyone to access the therapeutic benefits and contributes to my students’ health and well-being.

I believe this yoga practice is a healing process; physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. It is a lifelong journey of learning to lead self-improvement and spiritual growth.


Cynthia Wehr

Teaching since 2003
I teach with joy, passion, and energy.

I practice Bikram Yoga to further enhance and understand the relationship with my true divine SELF.


Yuqin Wen

Teaching since 2015
To help you find inner peace through yoga.

They say, if you love someone, send them to yoga; if you hate someone, send them to yoga. For me, yoga helps to balance between I, me, and self – through a yoga practice I am a better, healthier, and happier person.


Claire Wright

Teaching since 2014
Gentle motivation and my sincere desire to see our BYSJ students improve in their postures – trying step by step, in the prescribed way.

I practice Bikram Yoga for many reasons! It’s the one form of exercise that challenges me so much that I’m inspired to come back to BYSJ again and again, ever since my first class in January 2004.

Our Karma Yogis

These are the students who serve our community, volunteering their time and energy to make BYSJ better.

BYSJ logo


Started in September 2017

For now, I’m doing it to stay physically fit, and wake up areas of my body that have fallen asleep.



Started in January 2018
I feel my best every single time after class. It makes me feel alive and invigorated, it leaves me full of energy, with confidence to go about my day!


Started in 2012

I saw this posted the other day and thought, “Yes, so true!”: I GOT 99 PROBLEMS. AND I’M GONNA GO TO YOGA AND SOLVE ABOUT 53 OF THEM.



Started in 2010
Bikram Yoga helps me reduce stress and anxiety.
Kristen Watts


Started in 2009
At BYSJ I found an amazing community and supportive mentors. The practice has helped me both mentally and physically through so many of life’s troubled times.


Started in summer 2016

I practice Bikram yoga for its healing power.