Leah is The Collective studio owner and teacher. She is a passionate yogi, human rights activist and storyteller. Drawing on the inspiration of sages, poets and freethinking minds, Leah’s classes are fuelled with purpose. Linking the physical body with the intellect, breath and spirit, Leah uses here skills in storytelling to create a class that takes her students’ practice off the mat and empowers positive change.
She is an eternal student to the practice who has shared her love of yoga with men, women and children in Australia and London, as well as with refugee women as a way of healing. She found her spot on the mat more than 10 years ago and has been mentored by Mardi Bell, Mary-Lousie Parkinson, Joy Kunkanit, Ricardo Martin, Kat Clayton and Noelle Connolly in Ashtanga, Hatha, Vinyasa, and Pre-Natal and Post-Natal Yoga. During Leah’s classes, all levels of experience are respected. You will be guided through the movement of postures, while linking the breath, the drishti (point of gaze) and the body’s bandhas (energy locks). Combining a flow of movement with relaxation, you will learn to better understand who you are and how you connect with the world.
Through Leah’s many years of advocacy work, she has discovered a profound truth: Yoga and social justice are one and the same. Yoga teaches us to live and speak our truth (Satya), to collaborate with comm‘unity’ (Sangha) and to be of service to others (Seva). Yoga is a vehicle for the ethical and sustainable changes we seek. The Collective is an initiative of Leah’s social enterprise Freethinker Co., which offers workshops and events to connect people to community. See our events page. Leah is also an Off the Mat Community Cultivator.
Mardi gained her teacher accreditation in 1992 and has continued her studies in different Yoga traditions both in Australia and Internationally with Yoga Masters: Simone Borg-Oliver Australia (Anatomy and Physiology). Sri. K. Pattabhi Jois Mysor India (Ashtanga). Clive Sheridan India (Hatha). Rodney Yea Australia (Iyengar). Shandor Remit Australia (Iyengar). Donna Farhi New Zealand (Vinyasa). David Life New York (Jivamukti). Manjui Jois Bali (Ashtanga) David Swenson India (Ashtanga). Twee Meridan Australia (Flow Yoga), Shiva Rea Bali (Flow Yoga). Mardi has taught both nationally and internationally, gaining her teaching experience in both Hatha, Ashtanga and Vinyasa traditions in New Zealand, Bali, Nepal, India and Bhutan. On the first Sunday of each month, Mardi leads a two hour Ashtanga Primary Series Practice in the tradition of her teacher, Pattabhi Jois. Mardi also teaches Holistic Birth Preparation Workshops, sharing her experience of yoga as an aid to pregnancy and the birthing journey. Her intention is to support woman to embrace their unique experience, prepare themselves physically, mentally and emotionally, and to ultimately embrace the courage to birth their family.
Nana has been studying yoga for nearly 19 years and explored the likes of Hatha, Ashtanga, Iyengar, Vinyasa, Yin, Restorative, Acro, Kundalini, pre-natal and postnatal as well as yoga therapy and senior yoga. She discovered yoga after a various traumatic experiences and found her roots and wings again when practicing and studying yoga. Nana is a registered yoga teacher with the Yoga Alliance and has over 500 hours of professional training to support her teaching. Her real love is yoga philosophy and the thought shift that can take place in a yoga class when there is intention and purpose. Her background is in psychology and welfare where she assisted the less fortunate residents of the Central Coast for nearly a decade. Her passion is in making a real difference and for this reason she has dedicated her last few years to sharing the healing benefits of Yoga with the elderly and those seeking refuge from their challenging existence. Her dream is to see more people step into the roles of yoga teacher and to see yoga spread to all corners of the world.
Jeannie’s yoga practice began growing up in the foothills of Byron Bay. Here she also trained in classical and contemporary ballet. Finding a passion for music later she became an electronic music producer and D.J, founding her own record label. This took her on many travels around the globe, sharing her love for music and dance and helping many others to fall in love with movement through music. Jeannie was blessed with a pathway to yoga teaching training through an internship with Sandy Delgado (Savvy Soul Yoga U.S.A) and Samantha Bijok at Austral Yoga. Samantha and Jeannie are sisters and it was because of her constant love and encouragement that she finally came back to yoga and now to teach others this way of healing. Jeannie teaches Vinyasa Flow, Vinyasa Power, Pranayama, Yoga Nidra and meditation, using music and mantras as sound therapy throughout class. Focusing on breath, creating freedom through movement, restoring strength and flexibility, Jeannie’s intention is to help others find peace, internal strength and wellbeing … with a dash of music and a whole lot of Aum!
After promising a friend for 6 months that she would join her for a yoga class in Sydney then running out of feeble excuses as to why she was not living up to these promises, a vague sense of guilt finally brought Phiona to the mat for the first time in 2004. Phiona was thrilled to discover that she left that first class with a profound feeling of euphoria and peacefullness. As she floated out of the yoga studio, Phiona knew that she had found an incredible spiritual practice and she has been a keen student of hatha yoga ever since. In 2006, Phiona completed her Bikram’s teacher training in Los Angeles and went on to teach at her home studio in Brookvale under the guidance of her beloved teacher and mentor Jodie Petersen. Phiona has been teaching Bikram’s and Hatha Yoga for 11 years. Her teaching and personal practice centre on somatic observation in which focusing on the physical sensations of the body during asana creates states of deep meditation that transcend the limitations of everyday consciousness. Phiona encourages students to surrender their minds to the observation and acceptance of the here and now without judegement or self-criticism; to focus and rejoice in the feelings of physical manifestation such as muscles stretching and contracting, the heart beating and the lungs filling and emptying. Phiona is a two time Australian asana champion and has represented Australia three times in world asana championships. She has been teaching advanced asana postures for many years, has coached people for asana championships and has a strong technical understanding of asana techniques and alignment.
Yoga came into Samie’s life 7 years ago when she experienced her first yoga class right here at The Collective. Finding her place on her mat in a beginner’s Ashtanga class taught by Mardi Bell, Samie fell in love with the practice instantly. Growing up as a dancer, she had spent most of her life training and performing in most types of dance, particularly contemporary ballet. Eventually her love for dance was replaced with the busy-ness of life, stress and the drive to succeed in the corporate world. Yoga entered her life at the right time, teaching her awareness and to honour her truth. Samie is a devoted student to yoga and will always describe herself as a student first and teacher second. She has been mentored in Ashtanga yoga by Mardi Bell, Gregor Maehle, Monica Gauci and Leah Davies and is forever grateful for the wisdom and teachings they have shared. Samie is passionate about sharing the gifts of yoga with everyone, supporting her students through a nurturing practice to discover union of mind, body and breath. Samie weaves yoga philosophy, nourishing asana, pranayama and essential oils to support her students to feel grounded and restored during her classes.
As well as loving yoga, Suzi is a Mental Health Nurse, a mum of two beautiful kids, an avid gardener and a surfer. In her daily work, she sees the detrimental effects of lifestyle choices, life events and everyday stress on people mentally, emotionally and physically. Teaching yoga offers an empowering opportunity to expand on ways to help people strengthen, heal and grow. Suzi has practised yoga over the last 20 years and trained with Tara Fitzgibbon Byron Yoga Centre and Sarah Powers Insight Yoga and Mysan Sidbo from The Sanctuary. Teaching is such a privilege, one that Suzi is grateful for every day. She looks forward to sharing this powerfully healing practice with you at our monthly Yin workshop held the last Sunday of the month.
Lou has a BSc in Psychology and has been practicing yoga for 20 or so years. “I have a passion for yoga, meditation, psychology and philosophy; my studies will never be complete.” Lou has trained with the Byron Yoga Centre in Purna/Hatha yoga, Rainbow Kids Yoga, Sarah Powers Insight Yoga (yin and meditation) and Maria Kirsten (Remedial Yoga) and the journey continues. Lou is English born but has now spent half of her life in England and half in Australia. She has 2 teenagers who are the light of her life, she loves nature, laughter and sharing a positive energy with all beings.
Diana helps both kids and their parents and caregivers discover an emotionally empowered practice so they can feel more joy in relationship with themselves and each other. After receiving an ‘At Risk of Redundancy Notice’ by her 10 year employer, Diana knew it was time to serve others as she long desired. During her last week of corporate employment she serendipitously stumbled upon her first Rainbow Yoga Teacher Training. As a mother herself, she was in awe of the power of connection she witnessed between families, completed Level II Rainbow Kids 300 HRS, and founded Yoyful. Diana serves as a Connection Coach, teaching and support-ing families about connection and relationships on and off the mat.
Philip has been curating spiritual experiences internationally over the last 25 years. Recently he and his wife Susan started The Gathering Cloud; monthly groups that meet in homes in NSW and QLD. These practice based gatherings focus on communing with a higher power, and being community to one another; that we are created from love, for love. Through practices such as Centering Prayer, Breathe Prayer, Divine Gaze and other forms of contemplative spiritual disciplines, that we can experience life from our divine indwelling connected to the universal divine, be transformed through participation, and operate from a collective unitive consciousness based on love, rather than the hyper-individuation that society has brought.