Instructor Bios


Ali Ritto’s yoga practice began as a way to escape the mental stresses of the daily grind but quickly blossomed into a challenging physical practice as well. She began taking classes at Freeman Yoga in 2007 and was hooked right away. She completed her 200-hour teacher training through Cloud Nine Yoga School with Samantha Gallo and Alexis Kemp in 2010 and is certified in Prenatal Yoga through Yoga Works. She teaches at locations all over Orange County and enjoys working with a varying clientele, blending vinyasa flow and power yoga styles for all levels. Constantly wanting to grow, Ali challenges herself physically in her own practice and as teacher. Most recently she began teaching yoga to 4- to 8-year-old children, which is a wonderful, albeit noisy, change of pace! In the spring of 2012 Ali will be working as the assistant instructor in a Power Yoga teacher training in Tustin, California. Yoga is truly a gift that can be shared by all, and Ali believes that everybody can do yoga, no matter their age, physical ability, strength or other limitations. Encouraging nervous, hesitant, or sedentary people to try yoga for the first time is her passion, and enjoys seeing her students grow in her classes. Ali is very exited to be back in the community at Freeman Yoga, the very place that led her on the path she is now on.


Amy discovered yoga in 2009 when she moved to California from the east coast. Her intention was to improve her physical strength and flexibility, and through practice she connected with the mental and spiritual foundation of yoga. Since then, Amy has been dedicated to her practice and loves to share her passion with others.

Amy completed her 200hr Teacher Training through YogaWorks in Orange County, and is certified with Yoga Alliance. Amy guides her students through a well-rounded practice, focusing on breath and alignment. Amy’s classes help to cultivate inner awareness, encouraging students to work at their own pace.



“Once you have flown, you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you long to return. “ –Leornardo da Vinci

Once Elizabeth took flight in her first yoga class at Freeman, her eyes were turned skyward. She had come to the practice of yoga after years of weight training and other fitness related activities, still seeking the “missing piece”. What she discovered on her mat was not simply another exercise regimen, but instead a practice free of self-judgement; one that cultivated strength, nurtured flexibility, and supported balance in both body and mind. After working as a credentialed public school educator and teacher trainer for ten years, Elizabeth was inspired to combine her passion for teaching and her love of yoga. In 2013, she completed an internship with mentor Samantha Gallo at Cal State Fullerton, while earning her 200 hour teaching certification through Shanti Shanti Yoga School. Elizabeth believes her yoga practice has been her greatest teacher, and she is enthusiastic about guiding and encouraging students as they enrich their own unique practices.



Fitness and health has been deep rooted in Jasmine’s life since a child. Her mom has always been a healthy “junkie” and that has influenced Jasmine tremendously. Jasmine has been a group exercise instructor for over five years teaching Jazzercsie, body sculpt, boot camp etc. and practicing yoga for over seven years. Yoga has truly changed her life in more ways than any other physical exercise. After a loss of a family member in 2009, yoga found her again and she ended up taking a 200hr teacher training program with Anahata Yoga and Wellness and is currently finishing her 500hr certification focusing on Yoga Therapy. Developing a steady yoga practice helped Jasmine regain her strength physically, mentally, and emotionally. Spreading the yoga asana practice and philosophy is important to her because she believes it is the answer to cultivating peace on Earth because in yoga we find peace within, and that’s where it begins. With yoga we gain physical awareness which ultimately creates awareness in other areas of our lives, letting us become more accepting of where we are today. Yoga can be a release of emotional and physical tensions which lets us become free in our bodies and minds. Jasmine loves the positivity yoga has brought into her life and wants to share that with the world. In her classes Jasmine focuses on a meditative approach, slow and steady, including breath work (pranayama) and safety, so alignment is crucial. She also brings a lightness to her classes because sometimes yoga can be so serious, but should also be something to be enjoyed within and without. So you might be smiling a lot in her class! Jasmine wants to hold a sacred space for all of her students allowing them to let go and feel amazing when they leave her class. Jasmine’s favorite saying is “Yoga is my baby!” That is how she feels about her practice, it is something she nurtures and loves so much. Most importantly, yoga has helped Jasmine gain love for herself and she thinks we all deserve to feel that way.


Out of her friends and family, Jen was always known as the “healthy” one who loved taking fitness classes at the gym and eating her favorite bowl of greens. After receiving a B.A. in Psychology from UCLA, she went to Korea to teach as an English teacher where she again found yoga to be her comfort. Yoga not only taught her to honor her physical body but to also nurture her mind and soul. It made her truly understand the value of connecting with her inner self and learning to just let go. In 2013, she completed her 200-hour teacher training program through Shanti Shanti Yoga School with Samantha Gallo and Alexis Kemp. She is excited to share her experience and to help bring a little part of yoga to her students’ everyday lives.



Colette “Coco” Baran, RYT 500 has been teaching and sharing the benefits of yoga since 2008.  Her love for yoga started with her own physical challenges of wanting to feel better physically, mentally and spiritually.


Incorporating alignment, breath control and free flowing sequencing she helps guide students to move inward creating their own individual practice.

Using the many tools of yoga she weaves together asana, pranayama, philosophy, mantra, meditation and music, creating overall balance for the body, mind, and spirit connection.   She teaches all ages and specializes in Prenatal and therapeutic Yoga.  She is currently working towards becoming a certified Yoga Therapist, Doula and Reiki Master. 



Kathi found yoga about 14 years ago at the local gym and fell in love after her first Savasana. Trained at Yogaworks, her class is focused on alignment, lots of core work and blissful moments of silence in a safe and playful environment. She enjoys sharing her own experiences and guiding students to their inner self and their own light that shines from within. She LOVES music so you might find yourself tapping your foot to the beat while holding your Downdog or humming a familiar tune in your Warrior 2. Come to her class to brighten up your spirit and shake off your busy day.



Katie found her way onto her yoga mat while in college at Boston University as a way to connect with peace and compassion within. She found the practice of stillness offered by yoga to be the most challenging aspect, but something kept drawing her back. In the process, she discovered an ability to listen to her body and spirit with an open heart, setting her on her path to wellness and cultivation of her full self. Her growth continues to uncover the depths of compassion, awareness, and joy within. This practice of deep listening eventually led her to complete her 200-hour teacher training through YogaWorks with Natasha Rizopoulos. Katie teaches dynamic hatha yoga classes, helping her students to align their flow, and find strength and openness in their body.


Melanie Cherney

Melanie Cherney, M.A., MFTi, RYT, is a Yoga Alliance registered instructor, marriage and family therapist and holistic health coach. She received her yoga certification through Cloud Nine Yoga and has advanced training in Yin and Restorative Yoga. She is currently pursuing her RYT-500 through YogaWorks. In addition to teaching yoga classes, Melanie has a Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology and is a graduate of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. She works with clients individually and in groups to create vibrant health through integrated approaches, utilizing yoga, psychology, nutrition, and mind-body-energy practices. While her yoga classes range from Restorative to Advanced Vinyasa, Melanie maintains a particular focus on alignment and always seeks to incorporate and emphasize that special connection between mind, body, and spirit.


Monica found yoga 6 years ago here at Freeman yoga as a way to find fitness, but quickly she realized that yoga was way more than that. Through Yoga she found a connection with herself, a tool to re-discover her true essence and a way of living. Because of her passion to Yoga and its benefits, she decided to become a Yoga Teacher and in 2009 she deepened her understanding by completing her 200 hour teacher training thru “True Flow Yoga” and registered with the Yoga Alliance. Monica teaches a Vinyansa Flow class focused on synchronizing breath and movement with detail attention in alignment. Monica encourages her students to come to their mat just as they are, to leave their ego at the door, to connect with their breath, and that is OK to let go and surrender. Monica is excited to teach at the same place where she felt in love with yoga and hopes that each student leaves her class a little closer to their inner self.


Patrick is more than an instructor of yoga, he embraces all aspects of yoga in his daily life. Patrick began his journey of discovering and studying yoga at the young age of 12, and now has over 40 years of hatha yoga practice, including over 35 years of teaching experience. Patrick has studied yoga and meditation through the teachings one of India’s most prominent yogis, Paramahansa Yoganada, founder of Self-Realization Fellowship. Patrick was initiated into the Kriya Yoga meditation technique in 1974. Living the better part of his life with chronic pain he has always been searching for methods of physical relief. His personal adventure of overcoming pain has made him familiar with the many types of healing arts and helped him develop an acute ability to help others overcome their own physical adversity. Patrick brings care and compassion to students of all ages, types and ability levels. He has integrated his own unique teaching style, utilizing the best of various hatha yoga disciplines as well as TaiChiChuan and QiGong. He affirms, “There is a yoga practice for everyone. All people can benefit greatly from the incorporation of yoga into their daily lives.” Patrick has studied at the University of Michigan, where he received a Master’s Degree in Social Work.



Rohaya has long been involved in health and fitness at a very young age.  She experimented with many forms of cardiovascular fitness, strength and endurance exercises.  She has many years in the health and fitness industry and competition, with many formal trainings and certifications under her belt.  Yoga has come in and out of her life, and did not become a permanent dedication until after 1996; culminating in formal classes and training at various cities throughout the world.  Rohaya started teaching Yoga thereafter at a well-known health and fitness center in Asia Pacific.  She has taught and donated her time and experience throughout the world, as she travelled, at various established health and fitness centers, including facilities throughout Asia Pacific, North California, and Orange County.  She is certified in various programs, including certification in 500 hour Yoga Alliance and YogaWorks teacher training with Erika Burkhalter; and a lifetime MADDOG Athletic spinning certified.  Coming from a very athletic background competing in Asia Pacific equestrian and a few marathons; she bring a vinyasa-flow vigorous style of yoga linking breath and moment, with an established nimble sequence of sun salutation and numerous poses that catered to all levels.  Her passion for teaching gives her the feeling of fulfillment, purpose and liberation.


Samantha Gallo is a food-loving, wellness-inspiring, globe-trotting yogini who found yoga in 2001. Ever since, she has educated and inspired herself and others about the joys of yoga, now teaching at universities, studios, corporations, sports teams and gyms of north and central Orange County. Samantha also leads teacher trainings, workshops and retreats, and serves as professor at California State University, Fullerton. Once an avid runner, she considers herself a born-again runner and fitness enthusiast. In 2009, she completed her Master’s degree in kinesiology in which she incorporates her understanding of human movement and physiology into her style. Her vinyasa flow is powerful, playful, thoughtful and often times challenging, but she always encourages her students to practice with a smile.



Sasha has always been familiar with working with energy. Growing up she was taught about the chakras, intuition, meditation, reiki and massage by her family. Her family was also very much into music. Everyone in her family was gifted with the ability to sing and play an instrument. So naturally, Sasha is a singer, dancer, musician and some say a healer. For years she combined holding stretching postures & meditation as a supplement to her dance training for increasing flexibility long before she knew what restorative yoga was. In 2001 she attended her first official yoga class at her local gym and was lucky

enough to have a Yogaworks trained teacher. She immediately fell in love with the mind, body, breath connection unique to yoga. After maintaining a dedicated yoga practice for six years, she was encouraged by her teacher to take the Yogaworks teacher training. She completed the 200 hour certification program with Yogaworks, OC studying under Kim Heagele-Labidi & Carmen Fitzgibbon. She continued on to complete the 300 hour professional program with Yogaworks, LA where she apprenticed under Jeanne Heileman, (a master student of Rod Stryker’s Para Yoga). Durring that time she also studied under such accomplished teachers such as Lisa Walford, (Iyengar / Restorative Master); Annie Carpenter, (Vinyasa Flow Master); and Paul Cabanis, (Another Iyengar / Restorative Master). She uses her personal experience and training working with energy, subtle body awareness and breath control to help students get deeper in their practice in a relaxed and accepting environment. She is also a practitioner of sound healing and kirtan, (a part of bhakti yoga). Sasha believes that yoga is a lifelong journey and she continues to study with Rod Stryker, Jeanne Heileman and LB Iddings in the lineage of Tantric Hatha Yoga called Para Yoga.



Suzanne began practicing yoga in 1998 in attempt to find a new level of fitness, but quickly found that the practice of yoga brought much needed balance to her life as she began her transition from college to working in Corporate America. In 2004 she began to deepen her understanding of her practice by completing Iyengar teacher training modules with Marla Apt and Paul Cabanis and has since completed her 200 hour teacher training certification through True Flow yoga with Brynn Rybacek along with trainings with Tim Miller on the Primary Series of Ashtanga. Suzanne’s classes focus on Vinyasa Flow with detailed instruction on alignment; allowing the student to explore and refine each pose throughout their practice. Suzanne believes in the power of music to connect with the body, and students can expect an eclectic mix of music in her class: anywhere from Radiohead to Bach. She believes she is a better person because of her practice, and looks to share that experience with her students by providing them the guidance to reflect on who they authentically are in order to strengthen and heal.

Tamara has been practicing yoga for over 10 years, initially as a way to enhance her fitness to complement her regimented running and sports practices in college.  It wasn’t until she had her 1st child in December of 2006 that she truly realized all of the many ways that yoga helps to change the body, mind, and spirit.  It was then that she became a devout believer in the true healing effects of yoga which help her stay calm and grounded both on and off the yoga mat.  Tamara received her 200 hour certification from Cloud Nine Yoga in 2008, taught by Samantha Gallo and Alexis Kemp, and has been teaching at Freeman Yoga ever since (with a few maternity breaks).   Tamara teaches a vinyasa flow style class which is both energetic and playful.  She enjoys watching her students evolve in their practice and gets much satisfaction out of helping students progress.



The soul is dyed the color of its thoughts... Day by day what you choose, what you think, and what you do is who you become. Your integrity is your destiny - it is the light that guides your way.-Heraclitus

I know that God's power is limitless; and as I am made in His image, I, too, have the strength to overcome all obstacles. -Paramahansa Yogananda

Happiness depends to some extent upon external conditions, but chiefly upon mental attitudes. -Paramahansa Yogananda

As a mortal being you are limited, but as a child of God you are unlimited. -Paramahansa Yogananda

When you make up your mind to do good things, you will accomplish them if you use dynamic will power to follow through. -Paramahansa Yogananda

Nothing is impossible, unless you think it is. -Paramahansa Yogananda

Even the thought of wanting God changes you. -Paramahansa Yogananda

Love only what is beautiful and pure... See, hear, smell, taste, and touch only what is good... Will and feel goodness, and ever seek the sweet nectar of God's presence in meditation. -Paramahansa Yogananda

There are three marks of a superior man: being virtuous, he is free from anxiety; being wise, he is free from perplexity; being brave, he is free from fear. -Confucius

Don't be afraid to be amazing. -Andy Offutt Irwin

Definition of happiness: The full use of your powers along lines of excellence. -John Fitzgerald Kennedy

The quality of a man's life is in direct proportion to his commitment to excellence, regardless of his chosen field of endeavor. -Vincent Lombardi

Only a life lived for others is worth living. -Albert Einstein

Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life's coming attractions. -Albert Einstein

I want to know God's thoughts... the rest are details. -Albert Einstein

Whatever there is of God and goodness in the universe, it must work itself out and express itself through us. We cannot stand aside and let God do it. -Albert Einstein

It is my view that the vegetarian manner of living by its purely physical effect on the human temperament would most beneficially influence the lot of mankind. -Albert Einstein

Once you can accept the universe as being something expanding into an infinite nothing which is something, wearing stripes with plaid is easy. -Albert Einstein

Everyone who is seriously involved in the pursuit of science becomes convinced that a spirit is manifest in the laws of the Universe - a spirit vastly superior to that of man. -Albert Einstein

We still do not know one-thousandth of one percent of what nature has revealed to us. -Albert Einstein

In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity. -Albert Einstein

If your treat an individual... as if he were what he ought to be and could be, he will become what he ought to be and could be. -Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

Curiosity is the wick in the candle of learning. -William A. Word

I never learned anything while talking. -Larry King

Commitment is doing what you said you would do after the feeling you said it in has passed. -St. Camillus de Lellis

Your mental attitude is something you can control outright and you must use self-discipline until you create a Positive Mental Attitude - your mental attitude attracts to you everything that makes you what you are. -Napoleon Hill

Think for yourself and let others enjoy the privilege of doing so too. -Voltaire

You cannot be lonely if you like the person you're alone with. -Wayne W. Dyer

If I can put one touch of rosy sunset into the life of any man or woman, I shall feel that I have worked with God. -G. K. Chesterton

Blessed are the hearts that can bend, they shall never be broken. -Albert Camus

In a gentle way, you can shake the world. -Mahatma Gandhi

You must be the change you wish to see in the world. -Mahatma Gandhi

Prayer is not an old woman's idle amusement. Properly understood and applied, it is the most potent instrument of action. -Mahatma Gandhi

Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever. -Mahatma Gandhi

As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world - that is the myth of the atomic age - as in being able to remake ourselves. -Mahatma Gandhi

The difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing would suffice to solve most of the world's problems. -Mahatma Gandhi

Life is here to enjoy! -Maharishi Yogi

Happiness radiates like the fragrance from a flower, and draws all good things toward you. -Maharishi Yogi

Observe good faith and justice toward all nations. Cultivate peace and harmony with all. -George Washington

You cannot teach a man anything; you can only help him find it within himself. -Galileo

I have always found that mercy bears richer fruits than strict justice. -Abraham Lincoln

Love is the force that ignites the spirit and binds teams together. -Phil Jackson

In this theater of man's life, it is reserved only for God and angels to be lookers-on. -Pythagoras

There is a magnet in your heart that will attract true friends. That magnet is unselfishness, thinking of others first. When you learn to live for others, they will live for you. -Paramahansa Yogananda

In deep meditation the flow of concentration is continuous like the flow of oil. -Patanjali

If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other. -Mother Teresa

I know God won't give me anything I can't handle; I just wish he didn't trust me so much. -Mother Teresa

That old law about \"an eye for an eye\" leaves everybody blind. The time is always right to do the right thing. -Martin Luther King Jr.

Darkness is only driven out with light, not more darkness. -Martin Luther King Jr.

My life is my message. -Mahatma Gandhi

Be master of mind rather than mastered by mind. -Zen wisdom

Anger has no eyes. -Hindu Proverb

Call on God, but row away from the rocks. -Indian Proverb

The only lasting beauty is the beauty of the heart. -Rumi

Within you there is a stillness and a sanctuary to which you can retreat at any time and be yourself. -Herman Hesse

There's only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving and that's your own self. -Aldous Huxley

All you behold; tho? it appears Without, it is Within; In your Imagination; of which this World of Mortality is but a Shadow. -William Blake

Art is the elimination of the unnecessary. -Pablo Picasso

This is It, and I am It, and you are It, And so is That, and he is It, and she is It, and it is It, and that is That. -James Broughton

As our case is new, we must think and act anew. -Abraham Lincoln

I have been all things unholy; if God can work through me, he can work through anyone. -St. Francis of Assisi

I may give out - but I will never give up. -Chuckie Mullins

Iron rusts from disuse, stagnant water loses its purity and in cold weather becomes frozen; so does inaction sap the vigors of the mind. -Leonardo Da Vinci

Our bodies are gardens, to which our wills are gardeners. -William Shakespeare

A fall into a ditch makes you wiser. -Chinese Proverb

Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase. -Martin Luther King Jr.

The meaning I picked, the one that changed my life: Overcome fear; behold wonder. -Richard Bach

It is not enough to aim, you must hit. -German Proverb

Give me a lever long enough and a prop strong enough, and I can single-handedly move the world. -Archimedes

I possess the creative power of spirit. The infinite intelligence will guide me and solve every problem. -Paramahansa Yogananda

Losers visualize the penalties of failure. Winners visualize the rewards of success. -Dr. Rob Gilbert

I relax and cast aside all mental burdens, allowing God to express through me His perfect love, peace, and wisdom. -Paramahansa Yogananda