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Instructors

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Allison Smeltz

Owner, Instructor, RYT-500

Meet Allison, the passionate owner of Columbia Falls Yoga. With over 20 years of yoga practice, she has experienced firsthand the profound benefits of yoga for both physical and mental well-being. As a way to alleviate the stress and anxiety that comes with adulthood, Allison found solace in her yoga practice and has been committed to sharing this with others. As a yoga teacher, Allison specializes in restorative and flow classes and is dedicated to making her classes inclusive and accessible for all levels, abilities, and body types.

 

In 2021, Allison followed her dream and enrolled in a 200-Hour Yoga Teacher Training, studying under her friend Selena Garefino. Along with her training, she opened Columbia Falls Yoga in the heart of Columbia Falls and is now a 500-Hour Registered Yoga Teacher through Yoga Alliance (500-RYT). Allison's warm and welcoming presence in the studio creates a supportive environment where students can deepen their practice and find peace and balance. In her free time, she loves trying to keep up with her husband and doodle dog, Ernie on a bicycle or skis.

Ashley McCormick

Instructor, 200 HR Certified Yoga Instructor

Ashley is a born and raised Montanan who has been practicing yoga for over 20 years. She obtained her 200Hr Yoga Teacher Certification in 2016 in Whitefish, MT and has been teaching a variety of classes ever since, including Gentle Yoga, Hatha Yoga, Senior Yoga, Accessible Yoga, Silks Yoga, and Power Yoga. More recently, she has taken an interest in all things pregnancy, and in 2020, she completed her training to become a Prenatal Yoga Instructor and a Birth Doula. Ashley’s love for birth work was so strong during her training, that she knew that this was the career she wanted to pursue. She has slowly made the shift from her work as a Speech-Language Pathologist into the world of Prenatal Yoga, Doula Work, and Childbirth Education. Her goal is to assist women by sharing knowledge about their changing bodies and providing evidenced-based information about labor, birth, and the postpartum period so that women can claim their own birth right to experience a beautiful pregnancy and an empowered birth. When she is not on her mat, you can find her on a river somewhere, or at a music festival with her husband.

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Brienne Stekly

Instructor, RYT-500

Brienne is a holistic wellness expert with over 10 years of experience teaching Yoga in unique environments, from climbers at crags to park service employees and teens in wilderness therapy. With a strong passion for helping individuals heal and balance their physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being, she has recently completed her 500HR Yoga Teacher Training and is actively pursuing her 800HR Yoga Therapy certification. Brienne is certified in Trauma Informed Yoga, Children's Yoga, Senior Chair Yoga, and is close to completing her 300HR Kundalini training. She has been selected to continue her studies for a 1600HR Yoga Master certification from AYUSH and is working towards a Bachelors in Yoga Science.

 

In addition to her yoga teachings, Brienne also works as a Massage Therapist and is a proud mother to a three-year-old. With a broad knowledge of Yogic traditions and anatomy, she creates classes focused on structural alignment, therapeutic pranayama, and meditation. Brienne is excited to bring her teachings from the wilderness into the studio and help individuals achieve their holistic wellness goals.

Emily Jense

Pilates Instructor

Meet Emily, a dedicated Pilates practitioner and teacher. With a passion for movement and mindfulness, she has been practicing Pilates since 2017 and completed her teacher training through Balanced Body in 2020. Through her own practice, she has experienced the transformative power of Pilates, with increased strength, stability, and decreased pain and injury. Emily is eager to share the magic of Pilates with her clients and help them transform their bodies through intentional movement. With a supportive and encouraging approach, she creates a welcoming and empowering environment for students to deepen their Pilates practice.

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Leslie Riser

Instructor, RYT-200

Leslie has been practicing Yoga for over 20 years. What started out as a love and curiosity for movement, soon gave way to the more subtle aspects of the practice where she found greater moments of calm and connection in her life. She has studied various styles of Yoga, ultimately completing teacher trainings in alignment based practices combining breath awareness and meditation. She has additional trainings in trauma-informed yoga, yoga for anxiety, yoga for beginners, restorative yoga, and

the Yoga Tune Up method, which incorporates self massage techniques with the yoga practice. These trainings, along with her degree in Physical Therapy Assisting deeply influence her interests and class offerings. Her classes often combine traditional yoga postures with functional strength and mobility, as well as mindfulness and breath awareness. Leslie has found that her yoga practice continues to evolve and shift throughout her life to support her through different stages and transitions. She believes yoga is for everyone and is committed to meeting people where they are
and strives to make classes accessible for every body.

Madeline Axtell

Instructor, RYT-HR

Madeline practices yoga as a journey towards embodiment, a coming home to ourselves. She invites students into awareness of their physical body - through movement and wonder. Her degree from Penn State in Kinesiology and immersion in rhythm as a lifelong tap dancer, provide a strong foundation for her teaching. Madeline finished her 200hr training in Montana in spring 2022. In her classes you can expect a welcoming of every body, a purposeful playlist, and intentional, creative movement. She loves teaching in the early mornings and will greet you with an energetic smile no matter if the sun is up yet or not.

 

When Madeline is not teaching yoga, she is likely scrambling on rocks up high or laying low in the dirt making eye contact with wildflowers. Madeline is married to her best friend Keegan and has two mystical and delightful black cats.
 

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Sarah Downen

Instructor, 200-HR

Sarah grew up in Montana and has been practicing yoga since her teenage years. Her passion for yoga led her to complete her 200-hour training in Whitefish, MT in 2019 where she discovered her love for Yin Yoga. Sarah believes that Yin Yoga is a powerful practice that helps to deepen the mind-body-spirit connection through slowing down and holding poses for longer periods of time. In her classes, Sarah incorporates breathwork, aromatherapy, and reiki to provide her students with a truly nourishing experience. When she's not teaching, Sarah enjoys spending time in nature with her dog Clancy or curling up with a good book.

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