Meet Our Team

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Niki Scarpa Cohen E-RYT500, AYS, YACEP
Co-Owner, Yoga Teacher, Ayurvedic Yoga & Lifestyle Coach

Niki guides well-rounded classes that are light-hearted but meditative. They flow in a thoughtful manner and are designed to create balance, a feeling of calm energy and mindful presence. In her classes you will learn proper alignment of poses while you build strength, self-awareness, flexibility, focus, and the ability to relax. An experienced teacher with advanced training, Niki is registered with the yoga alliance as an E-RYT 500, and YACEP (Yoga Alliance Continuing Education Provider).

As a guide/coach Niki pulls from her training in yoga philosophy, energy medicine, Ayurveda, spiritual development, and her personal experience of living with anxiety, depression, and addiction. With a bottomless well of empathy for her students, Niki holds compassionate and non-judgmental space for all whom she teaches and mentors. 

Outside of the studio Niki is passionate about finding balance with the natural world, focused on finding a harmonious balance with the natural world, native plant & pollinator gardening, a lover of long hikes, and laying in the hammock. 

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Judy Farniok

Yoga Teacher

Judy is a 500 hour E-RYT, teaching Yin, Adaptive, Nidra and Aqua Yoga in the local community for over seven years. She has studied with several outstanding teachers including Paul Grilley, Judith Lasater, Indu Aurora, Sarah Powers, Gary Kraftsow, and Ken Nelson. Judy says, "My earliest yoga experience started back in the 70's in my college days - and became my centering and calming practice. After moving on to other activities, I returned to an active practice over the course of the last decade." 

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Amber Huttner

Yoga Teacher

Amber Huttner, E-RYT 500, was certified as an Anusara yoga teacher in 2001. Teaching for almost 20 years, her classes are fun, informative, and always emphasize learning new ways to progress and succeed on the mat. Amber brings an abundance of technical expertise along with her humor, compassion, and heart-felt instruction to her classes. Her students benefit from her enthusiasm for life and dedication to help them learn, heal, and grow on every level.

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Nancy Gomez

Yoga Teacher

Nancy came to her mat in 2001 for her first yoga class and has been hooked ever since. She is registered with Yoga Alliance as an E-RYT 200 hour teacher. She loves experiencing the benefits of yoga and is excited to share those with her students. Nancy will lead you through a strong steady flow from posture to posture with focus on building strength and stability, balance, stillness, awareness, and breath. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Dietetics, and she is an aroma therapy practitioner, as well as a  Reiki practitioner.

Melissa Gombola

Yoga Teacher

Inspired by her own personal yoga practice, Melissa is committed to helping others cultivate confidence & realize their own beauty & strength. Melissa offers mindfulness-based classes that promote awareness of body, mind & spirit, while creating intelligent & playful sequencing, empowering you to feel peaceful & at ease in your body as you step off your mat. Melissa is honored to hold a space for you as you progress on your personal yoga journey. Melissa is grateful that she has experienced the powerful benefits of yoga & is passionate about sharing that love & joy with others. 

 

Melissa is a Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT 200) with Yoga Alliance & trained with Inner Fire Yoga Studio in Madison, Wisconsin. She is certified as a Karma Kids Yoga Instructor. She holds a Masters Degree in Elementary Education. Melissa taught for eight years as a classroom teacher in Chicago, Philadelphia & Rochester. Melissa taught for five years with the little om BIG OM team in Madison. She teaches vinyasa & power flow yoga classes in the Twin Cities area. When off of the mat, you can find Melissa seeking out travel adventures, reading good books, drinking wine & hanging out with family & friends, and exploring the beautiful local trails with her husband & three young children. 

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Crystal Ann Hanson

Yoga Teacher

Crystal Ann Hanson is an Experienced Registered Yoga Teacher(E-RYT500), Certified Ayurveda Yoga Specialist (AYS), Certified Fitness Nutrition Coach (CFNC), Yoga Alliance Continuing Education Provider (YACEP), Sacred Activist Leader and holds a BS in Psychology. 

 

She uses an integrative approach utilizing all of these modalities when conducting private client consultations, workshops and teaching classes. Crystal enrolled in her first 200 Yoga Teacher Training (YTT) in 2009 through the Himalayan Institute. After feeling the many emotional, spiritual and physical benefits that Yoga and Meditation brought to her daily life, she had a strong desire to continue to learn and share with others.

Crystal teaches from her heart as she invites students to pause, connect, look inside and feel what is happening in the present moment, to observe the effects a practice reveals. Crystal’s classes include Mantra (chanting), Mudras, Pranayama (breath; prana practices) and teachings from the Vedas (ancient books of “wisdom”). Crystal is honored to teach and share from all of her training, modalities and life experiences respecting an integrative approach. Crystal Ann Hanson believes that we are ALL teachers and we are ALL students.

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Anna Corning

Yoga Teacher

Anna is a firm believer that the essence of yoga can serve as a guiding light for every living being, embracing the unique bodies and varied histories that they possess. Her classes invite students to explore the many questions we ask ourselves and the identities we assign ourselves, while bringing awareness to the ever-changing nature of this world. Integrating mindful, playful, and gentle tones, she encourages us all to stay curious, offering a variety of physical manifestations of traditional yoga poses and a safe forum where students may arrive exactly as they are.

 

Classical ballet training became interwoven with a steady yoga practice when Anna was a young teen, thanks to her wise mother's encouragement to seek a holistic approach to structural misalignments. Yoga, Ayurveda, and other modalities continue to guide her towards balance, contentment, and a more resilient approach to life's challenges. She integrates these practices into her everyday life which includes lots of gardening, cooking, reading, full time 'corporate' work, and full time dog-mom to her rescue pittie.

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Matthew Tift

Yoga Teacher

When Matthew found Spirit of the Lake in 2012, he knew he had discovered his yogic home. Simple breath awareness while moving through yoga poses brought undeniable benefits to his life. Matthew completed his yoga teacher training at Spirit of the Lake and now he immerses himself in ancient wisdom texts, academic research, and all things yoga. Matthew's yoga classes provide a welcoming and safe space to practice the physical postures of yoga in order to cultivate peacefulness, clarity, strength, flexibility, and the countless other benefits of yoga. Learn more at matthewtift.com.

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Karen Murray

Yoga Teacher

Karen's mission is to share and teach Self-Love through yoga, meditation, teaching, and empowering others. She began practicing yoga 30 years ago out of curiosity, then 10 years later, realized it was necessary as part of her self-care routine. Karen has scoliosis and yoga has helped prevent the usual worsening of back problems. Karen is working on recovering from a life-threatening accident, (bus vs bike), grief from a loss and nerve & joint damage from Lyme disease.  Yoga is essential in her own recovery, she is always happy to discuss with her students how to help an issue, injury (old or new) or strengthen/stretch something.

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Holly Slocum

Yoga Teacher

Holly grew up in a strong dance tradition and came to yoga 20 years ago. She is
a 500 Hour RYT whose powerful classes combine insightful meditations, creative
sequencing and a spirit of playfulness to help deepen one’s practice. Holly guides
students at their own pace to become aware of and remove obstacles in their
bodies so that they are able to more comfortably move through their lives. Yoga is
an expression of joy, an experience of community and a compelling lens for
studying yourself. Whether your goal is to become stronger, more flexible or
more fearless on and off the mat, yoga can be a great addition to any lifestyle or
exercise routine.
Holly is deeply grateful for the loving wisdom shared by her fellow teachers and
yogis.
“You are what you think. So today, say to yourself, ‘I am wonderful.’ And believe
it.”
Take a deep breath and join her soon…

Sara Mandel

Yoga Teacher

Sara is a Yoga teacher based in the Midwest. She is a firm believer that the struggles we encounter on the yoga mat can be taken and applied to all the other areas in our lives to help us with our daily challenges. That cultivating deeper awareness of our inner geography helps us get back in touch with our essential and true nature which is grace and love. 

Sara leads international retreats and has over 1000 hours of training. She teaches traditional Ashtanga Yoga, Vinyasa flow, and mobility drills, and has a passion for handstands and arm balances. She is also a passionate mental health advocate. In her spare time she enjoys creating content for her Instagram account and is a mom of two! 

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Elle Helvig

Yoga Teacher

In addition to the numerous physical benefits, yoga helps Elle slow down, relieve stress and calm the chatter of the mind. She enjoys sharing the gifts of this practice with others. Elle has been practicing yoga since she was a teenager and has been exposed to many different styles and traditions.  After completing the YT-200 at Spirit of the Lake she felt called to teach restorative and yin yoga. You can expect her classes to be relaxing and slow paced. Her sessions are a great balance to an active yoga schedule or to give yourself space to rest and restore. Elle also works full-time in a corporate HR role and lives in Excelsior with her husband Stephen. 

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Anna Gasperlin

Yoga Teacher

 Anna began her yoga practice in San Diego in 2019. As an avid runner for years, she had little
interest in adding any movement to her workout routine besides running. After trying an aerial
yoga class on a whim, she fell in love with its challenging playfulness, so different from any way
she had moved her body before. Her love of mat yoga came shortly after as yet another way to
express herself creatively through movement. After completing both her Aerial Yoga Teacher
Training and her 200-Hr RYT, she is honored to share the gifts of yoga with others. To Anna,
yoga is much more than the time spent on your mat, it is a way of life that has positively
changed the way she interacts with others and with herself.


Born and raised in the Twin Cities, Anna moved away at the age of 18 to explore California.
After many compelling and educational experiences on the west coast, she is thrilled to be back
in Minnesota sharing her passions with this community. Aside from teaching yoga, she also
manages the Client Success team at a software start-up, and in her free time she enjoys
drinking IPAs at local breweries.

 

Elizabeth Morrison-Thron

Life Coach

A wife, mom to 3 adult children, music lover, avid reader, spiritual seeker, and outdoor enthusiast who is often camping and hiking, Liz knew when found Spirit of the Lake, that she had found her people. She is excited to now be a holistic life and wellness coach within a community that was an integral part of her journey.

As a coach, Liz integrates her training in business, education, life coaching, yoga, energy medicine, mindfulness, psychology, addiction, and spiritual development. She also incorporates her own experiences with chronic pain and illness, anxiety, depression, dysfunctional relationships, and abuse. She is passionate about helping people discover balance, presence, and peace. Aiming to help others gain clarity, confidence, and connect to a sense of joy and faith in their future, Liz believes that every person is remarkable, powerful, and capable of more than they imagine. She utilizes deep listening and compassionate inquiry with a focus on the whole person – mind, body, soul – so that your authentic self can emerge.

As someone who loves to learn and help others, Liz is certified in several areas: Master Life Coach, Meditation Coach, Therapeutic Art Coach, Health and Nutrition Coach. Liz has practiced yoga for many years, is currently enrolled in training to become a registered Yoga Alliance E-RYT 200-hour teacher, as well as Subtle and Yin Yoga teacher training programs. She holds a bachelor’s degree in education, has multiple business classes under her belt, and plans on returning to school in the future for her master’s degree to become a therapist.

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The Spirit of the Lake team is a group of compassionate owners, practitioners, and teachers who strive to assist with the health, healing, and happiness of all those we have the privilege to work with.

Scroll down below to learn more about our owners, gifted teachers, and healers!

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Nicole’s Specialties Include: 

  • Life Coaching

  • Anxiety, Depression

  • Mindfulness

  • Stress Management

  • Trauma Counseling

  • Yoga and Energy Healing

  • Veterans and Military Families

  • Spirituality and Ritual

Nicole Lovald, MS, E-RYT, BCC, Reiki Master

Co-Owner, Yoga Teacher, Life Coach, Reiki Practitioner

Nicole Lovald is one of the co-owners of Spirit of the Lake Yoga and Wellness Center and is a master’s level counselor, certified life coach, master reiki healer, and registered yoga teacher. As a natural healer all of her life, she has worked with a variety of populations (at-risk kids, veterans, domestic violence and sexual assault victims and more) in various settings throughout her career. 

 

Working from the perspective that everyone has the tools to heal within them, Nicole guides her clients to uncover their hidden potential and ability to heal. Nicole incorporates mindfulness, breathwork, guided imagery and relaxation, energy healing, as well as mind-body medicine techniques into her practice, when and where it is appropriate for clients. 

 

Nicole works with all ages, from kids who may be struggling with anxiety or school pressures, to adults who are experiencing a life transition, grief, stress, or any other life challenge. She brings in a whole person (mind, body, and spirit) approach to working with her clients therapeutically.

 

When Nicole isn’t at the Wellness Center or teaching a yoga class, you will likely find her at home playing with her kids, her dog, and relaxing with her husband. She loves to travel and hosts yoga retreats across the world (typically in a tropical location during our frigid Minnesota winter). 

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Amy Zitur, MOT, OTR/L
Co-Owner, Occupational Therapist

With a background in Occupational Therapy, Amy came to Spirit of the Lake in search of life balance between a demanding career and starting a family. She has experience of owning a business of her own, and enjoys the "behind the scenes" work that comes with the in's and out's of owning and growing a business. Although Amy's passion of helping others is rooted in the world of pediatrics, she has special training in stress and tension reduction exercises, extensive knowledge and training on how primitive reflex patterns impact function as a result of stress and trauma, and a deep understanding of the nervous system leading to strategies that assist in regaining homeostasis and overall function in a chaotic world.

 

In her spare time, Amy enjoys being outdoors, traveling, and spending time with her husband, dogs, and twin babies.