Our Team

Our Studio 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 balance, strength, inflammation and overall general 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.

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 now.

Jessica Guinn

Director of Teaching, Events & Marketing

When I practice Bikram Yoga, I feel at home in my body and find peace in my heart and mind– it is freedom from the rollercoasters of everyday life, particularly with two small children to raise. I am a better parent, partner, and human being!

I am here to support the teachers, plan our events and communications, and spread the spirit of BYSJ! If it takes organizing, I’m probably involved somehow.

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.

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!

Jose Gonzalez

Janitor

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

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!

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.

Chris Gray

Teaching since 2006.

Sometimes fun and usually encouraging.

I do Bikram Yoga because after all these years I still find it challenging, and I continue to learn more about myself and how I relate to others and the world.

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, 2003.

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.

Jason Rahlwes

Teaching since 2009.

My teaching is dialog-oriented and detail-driven.

Yoga provides a vehicle for transformation.

Jennifer Bird

Teaching since 2014.

I try to teach with compassion and humor.

I do Bikram yoga because it is the only time I can quiet my head. And I love the all-over sense of wellness when I am practicing!

Jennifer Hohman

Teaching since 2010.

My teaching style is compassionate.

I practice Bikram yoga because I love the spine strengthening series and it helps me process challenging circumstances in a healthy way.

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.

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 my body inside out. It rapidly evolved into an even more wonderfully satisfying way to ease my mind and touch my spirit. The words (dialogue) wash over me, becoming my meditation, my mental relaxation and my physical regeneration, each time I practice.

Lee Dickinson

Teaching since 2016.

I teach with a focus on breath and precision of form.

I do Bikram yoga to stay present, heal my body, sharpen my mind, and change the world.

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 the healing process physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually, and it is a lifelong journey of learning to lead self improvement and spiritual growth.

May Kitayama Nagafuji

Teaching since 2019.

I lead energetic, fun, and upbeat classes.

I practice Bikram yoga because this specific type of yoga balances my body with my mind, which in turn leads me to mindfully connect to my family and greater community.

Ashley Arai

Teaching since 2014.

Bikram yoga is so multifaceted & so are our teachers. In this season of my teaching, I am highlighting relaxation at the peak of each posture every practice.

I first started this yoga for chronic lower back pain & lifelong knee pain, but stayed for the unlimited brain-functioning benefits.

Murshida Choudhury

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 my 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.

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 my mind and body in (some kind of) balance.

Yi-Ting Chuang

Teaching since 2007.

I like to focus on details and give corrections.

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

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 yoga practice, I am a better, healthier, and happier person.

Our Karma Yogis

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

Angelo

September 2017

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

Christine

January 2018

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

Cindy

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.

Johanne

Started in 2018

Bikram Yoga gives me a physical challenge, with meditative focus, that allows me to handle all the chaos and emotional turmoil in my life with grace.

Nataliya

Started in October 2018.

Bikram yoga gives challenge and structure, BYSJ gives the feeling of community and belonging.

Lori

Started in summer 2016.

I practice Bikram yoga for it’s healing power.