Susan Mondi Bowen
Susan Mondi Bowen, Yoga Master, founded the studio in 2005 and has instructed yoga, stress reduction and meditation for more than 20 years and lived a healthy lifestyle for more than 30 years. Susan became a boutique fitness and wellness entrepreneur by creating Thrive Yoga after several life events made it clear that her professional trajectory was successful but her life was lacking freedom and vitality. Thrive Yoga received a lot of press and media attention in 2005 due to the uniqueness of a yoga center in the DMV. Susan was also given accolades for her business acumen and was awarded seed money for Thrive through the StartRight! Women’s Business Plan Competition. Susan and her Thrive Yoga team of professional trainers, have graduated more than 600 yoga and wellness professionals since 2009, through the comprehensive Thrive Yoga Training Programs. Susan mentors new wellness professionals in weaving practices through their personal lives as well as in the business of yoga.
Susan has received awards as a business leader in Maryland including awards in leadership, entrepreneurship and community giving by: City of Rockville, Rockville Economic Development (REDI), and has been awarded runner-up Entrepreneur of the Year 2017 through the Maryland Women’s Business Center. Susan serves on the Board of Directors of the Montgomery County Family Justice Center Foundation.
Susan’s personal story of creating Thrive Yoga has been featured in The Washington Post; The Gazette; WUSA News and other various local newspapers and TV news.
Susan (E-RYT500, YACEP, Certified Sound Healer; Certified Integrative Reflexologist) has created training curricula that integrate yoga with complementary techniques from science, philosophy, and spirituality. Susan’s experience in teaching integrated methods for human change and transformation spans more than 20 years and 15,000 hours. Susan has studied and practiced more than 25 various yoga styles and physical healing modalities. Susan is a public speaker and corporate wellness trainer, specifically in the areas of stress-reduction and shifting paradigms from stress to joyful living.
Susan’s broad experience, sense of humor and natural charisma is represented in her classes via technical alignment instruction; creative sequence variations; latest research on being human and playful storytelling.
Daniele Lorio (RYT500) walked out of her first yoga class 14 years ago, and the elation she felt told her that yoga was a practice meant for her. Daniele comes from a home steeped in the visual arts and, at 15, went to conservatory for classical voice and later opera. After many years of rigorous preparation, regimentation, and riding the emotional roller coaster of a performing artist, she finds solace, clarity, and acceptance on the mat.
In Daniele’s class, her students’ inner wisdom is honored in practice. She endeavors to create a space that is both physically and emotionally safe for her students. As a singer, Daniele has used her body and voice as a tool to create bonds between people and to help move listeners through music. Yoga, too, is an instrument by which we may grow together and help one another to realize a kinder world.
In Daniele’s classes, you can expect to move, build strength, get to know yourself, and smile.
As a life-long teacher, Felicia’s (RYT500; E-RYT 200) passion for teaching and learning shines through in all of her classes, workshops, and progressive series. She is an advanced yoga practitioner who is able to make students feel welcome and at ease. She is highly involved in teacher development and mentoring, and is a Teacher Trainer at Thrive. Felicia teaches hot vinyasa and core vinyasa classes and loves breaking things down for beginners in vinyasa flow. She has a popular following in workshops such as arm balances, inversions, and deep explorations of intermediate to advanced yoga poses. She understands the importance of balance, inner peace, and revitalization, and has even gotten many students at the studio knitting — discovering the meditative properties of her other favorite passion! Felicia’s classes are highly energetic and provide direct instruction, authenticity, and fun! Felicia took her first yoga class in 2006 and immediately found what she was looking for—a physical challenge, a spiritual comfort, and relaxing aftereffects. She knew she had to share this with others, and enrolled and completed her 200- and 300-hour training programs at Thrive. She has been teaching exclusively at Thrive since 2009.
Mary Rivas (RYT500) signed up for her first in-studio yoga class (at Thrive!) 5 years ago to help relieve prenatal issues during her second pregnancy. After having the most amazing experience, she couldn’t wait to be back after the baby was born. Mary loves coming into the studio for class, especially now that her 3 children are a bit older, but she never misses a chance to open her mat up at home. She says that the time spent playing on her mat at home helps bring inspiration to her fun vinyasa sequencing.
Mary’s prenatal classes are focused on four main elements: anatomy, connection with baby, self-love, and community. Her teaching style is designed to provide mothers the tools and techniques to tap into the power and strength they already possess.
Her vinyasa classes have been influenced by former years of ballet and a natural love for being upside down. Which means expect a strong dynamic flow with some advanced posture play. Like her prenatal class, she aims to bring body awareness and empowerment to all students ranging from a curious beginner to a seasoned yogi.
Jane (E-RYT500) has trained at Duke University’s Integrative Yoga for Seniors, Brain Longevity® Therapy Training offered by the Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation, and is a member of the International Association of Yoga Therapists (IAYT). In 2012 she founded Sarasvate, Yoga Designed for the Brain, whose mission is to help prevent Alzheimer’s. Jane is also a Teacher Trainer at Thrive. Jane enjoys giving students the ability to align in a pose and connect to how it feels in their body and breath. Her teaching style is challenging but accessible to all — with an emphasis on alignment and compassion for the body. She tries to reach students right where they are. Her classes include hands-on assists to help with realignment and are experiential, incorporating music, gongs, singing bowls, writings, yogic concepts, and themes. Her mother introduced her to yoga and meditation as a kid, and that in and of itself is special for her. She’s continued to practice yoga her entire life. Still, it wasn’t until she found Thrive that she really integrated yoga into her life, starting with the 40-day program, then teacher training, and through the many wonderful workshops offered at Thrive. She knew she felt the impact of yoga on her life when her friends and family noticed the changes that she had felt. Jane is here to pay it forward and share.
Katie (RYT500; Reiki I & II certified; Thai Massage certified) is a Health Education Specialist and gives health education seminars and webinars on various health topics and implements wellness and fitness programs for employees in offices. She also teaches chair yoga and meditation sessions for the employees and has been teaching yoga for over 6 years at multiple locations. She has a passion for teaching hatha, vinyasa, yin, and restorative yoga. When she is not doing yoga, one of her other favorite activities is lifting weights. Her favorite poses are hip openers and heart openers.
Alyson (RYT500) began practicing yoga in her early 20s at a time when she was working in a corporate job and running a lot. It was just the complement that she needed to undo the stress of work and the impact of running. It wasn’t until she became a mom, though, that she really started to prioritize and value the time on her yoga mat. Alyson believes yoga has the unique ability to challenge physically but also to calm mentally and emotionally through all of life’s transitions. She loves to teach powerful flow classes that build strength and explore the ever-changing edge in physical abilities. To complement those classes, she teaches yin, which is a gateway to exploring the inner landscape while deeply soothing the body.
Elise Pierre (E-RYT200 and E-RYT300 Yoga Therapist/body psychology) began her yoga journey 20 years ago after a trip to India where, intrigued by a sage in a village, she asked him to teach her how to sit still. In her early 30’s, she was a musician, playing electronic music in Paris and producing artists on her record label. It was while dancing in a contemporary company for non-dancers that choreographer Rina Koivisto introduced her to Hatha Yoga. Life brought her to the United States where after the birth of her second daughter she became certified in 200h Vinyasa Fluid Yoga. Elise is a certified 180h I Am Yoga Nidra facilitator and is also certified in I Am Yoga Nidra for children. Most recently she became certified in 100h Yoga Therapy/Body Psychology.
Elise found relief from chronic pain through the practice of Yoga Nidra. She brings a sense of curiosity and exploration to her teaching. Her favorite yoga pose is the mountain pose, for the ground/sky connection she feels in her body as an invitation to move. This is how she perceives yoga, the infinite possibility for the body and mind to open to itself and to the unknown. When not teaching, Elise enjoys spending time with her two daughters, adventuring in nature, and tending to her vegetable garden.
Lalita completed her 200-hr Yoga Teacher Training in 2016 at The Tree Yoga Cooperative in Los Angeles, CA. Continuing her education, she has completed certifications in Yoga Therapy Level 1 at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles (CA), Sound Healing Practitioner at Reiki Wellbeing in West Covina (CA), Professional Thai Massage Therapy Level 5 at TMC Thai Massage School in Chiang Mai (Thailand), and Pre/Postnatal Yoga at Nature Yoga Sanctuary in Chicago (IL). She is currently earning a diploma as a Maternal Child Health Specialist at Midwest Maternal Child Institute and served as an on-call birth doula for a volunteer doula organization in Chicago.
She is a mother to an infant and a toddler and used prenatal yoga to help her achieve her own goal of natural births without drugs or intervention in a birth center and at home. Her love for yoga began over a decade ago way before pregnancy when she realized it was helping her to achieve strength, flexibility, and balance not only on the mat but in her everyday life as well. And with this, she continues to renew and transform while holding space for others to do the same. Her practice allows her to find equilibrium and be mindful in caring for her children. Her favorite pose is Standing Forward Fold and when she is not taking care of her babies she loves to travel, garden, sew, be by water and nature and learn new things.
Dana Cohen-Valerio humble yogini, servant of the heart, teacher, healer.
Dana lives with an open heart & an eye of curiosity, seeking connection, transcendence, & meaning. Dana has shaped her life with the profound yogic principles, & holistic healing for over 25 years. Dana’s teaching include: Yoga Asana, Pranayama, Meditation, Vedic Philosophy, Bhakti, Kirtan, Traditional Thai Massage, Biodynamic Cranial Sacral Therapy, Visionary Cranial Sacral Healing, Reiki, All Natural Herbal Healing, Herbalism, Flower Essences, Aromatherapy, Indigenous Spirituality, Sustainable Permaculture & Organic Farming, Vegan/Vegetarian/Healthy Diet, Child & Family Development, Dhoula birth support, Natural birthing, Prenatal Yoga, Trauma/Pain/Injury, Art Therapy, Sacred Devotional Music, & Self Expression!
Dana has a deeply inspired to approach the world through bhakti: the path of devotion; the path of the heart.
A native Marylander and world traveler, Dana just returned to Thrive from living in India and the West Coast with her husband & children.
Kirstin (RYT200 + Reiki I&II Certified) a recent graduate of the Thrive Yoga School is a long time practitioner of yoga with a background in science, is highly attuned to energy and is a natural healer. Kirstin’s upbringing in Arizona had an emphasis on spirituality and exploring curiosities. On her journey of realization she is excited to share her knowledge of yoga, chakras, and reiki with students. Off the mat she enjoys spending time outside, playing games with friends and family and reading psychological thrillers.
Nathalie (RYT 200 + Reiki I and II Certified) completed her certifications at Thrive Yoga and has been practicing yoga for over 10 years. Growing up in Miami, she loved dancing and competed professionally in contemporary and modern dance. She obtained her bachelor’s degree in anthropology and sociology at Florida International University. Fascinated by the study of people, society, and cultures, she pursued diversity work and in 2017 she moved to the DMV where she worked as a legal interpreter and paralegal. It was in the area she met her husband and had a beautiful daughter which led to her to taking prenatal classes at Thrive Yoga. After her mother’s passing in 2020 and as a new mom, she reconnected to her yoga practice with a new set of eyes and found yoga to be exactly what she needed in her life to cultivate and restore healing and inner balance. Nathalie focuses on bringing a sense of warmth and playfulness to her classes through fluid movements and self exploration, creating a space for energetic alignment to take place. Outside of yoga, Nathalie enjoys spending time with her family, taking care of her home and garden, and exploring the flow of creativity through writing, dancing, painting, and photography.
Ashira (RYT-500, Licensed Massage Therapist, Professional Breathworker, Biodynamic Cranial Sacral Therapist, and certified in: Reiki I & II, Meditation, and Alchemical Alignment for Trauma Resolution)) is a holistic healer, mindfulness teacher, and coach with extensive trauma training. She is passionate about supporting people with emotional, physical, and spiritual transformation. Her favorite methods for change are breath and bodywork and she loves teaching mindful movement and meditation.
Ashira has made a career based on her intuition—reading bodies, voices, and energy for 25 years, as a Special Agent/Criminal Investigator and Deputy Director for the Federal Government, a world champion poker player, and a competitive fighter. She now lives a heart-centered life and has been told loving-kindness is one of her greatest superpowers. She adores animals and spending time at her family farm in West Virginia.
Travis (RYT200 Certified) graduated from Thrive Yoga School summer of 2022 after committing to grow in their practice. Travis came to practice yoga hoping to improve their physical health after an injury, and like many, found that yoga has become a pathway to healing so much more. Travis uses their experience in clinical mental health counseling and West African dance to develop experiences that target the mind-body connection. Their practices focus on interrupting the health impacts of collective and historical trauma in Black, LGBTQ+, military veteran, and older adult communities. Off the mat, Travis enjoys hiking, learning Spanish, beaches, waterfalls, anime & manga, and a good night out dancing!
Sarah (RYT200) has recently graduated the Thrive Yoga School and has been practicing yoga for almost 8 years. Sarah recently graduated from the University of Maryland and received her degree in Psychology. She will be receiving her Masters in Mental Health Counseling over the next two years and is eager to open up her own wellness center in the future. She is from Rockville Maryland and has always had a passion for mental health, wellness, healing, and self care. Off the mat she enjoys spending time with friends and family, working out, being outside, and going to the beach.
Alexis Baden-Mayer (RYT200) started taking yoga in 2003 at the dance studio where she taught ballet. Yoga, breathing and meditation became her refuge in 2016 when she had to give up teaching ballet to fulfill her responsibilities as a sandwich generation caregiver. After her parents passed away, she decided to deepen her yoga practice in the Thrive Teacher Training.
Alexis’s yoga classes benefit from her decades of dance training and teaching experience. What she knew about how to align the body from dance has been enhanced by what she has learned about the body’s energy centers (chakras) from yoga. Her creative sequences help students of all levels increase strength, balance and range of motion. Alexis is a playful and supportive teacher who lives for those aha moments when everything clicks and students find their power.
Come to Alexis’s classes to deepen your understanding of your body, get fit and explore breathing and meditation exercises to activate the rest-and-digest functions of the parasympathetic nervous system for stress relief.
Ally Austin (RYT 500) first started practicing yoga when she was 16. Nearly two decades later she’s taught on both the east and west coasts and practiced in several countries around the world. Yoga has profoundly impacted her life: she comes to her mat for fun, for guidance, and sometimes just for the quietness. In her classes you’ll slow down so you can listen and connect with compassion to all that’s around and within you.