Our Teachers

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Mandy Roush

Mandy Roush

Founder/Teacher

Yoga has helped me learn how to focus my attention on what is real and right now. That may be the sensation I am feeling in my body while I am in a pose, the conversation I’m having with a loved one, or the beauty of my surroundings. This practice has helped me manage reactivity, impulsivity and my fear of the unknown. By learning how to access what is real and let go of what might be or what was, I experience more ease and joy. I think the most important gift yoga has given me is a reconnection with my own inner knowing.

I love learning and I love teaching! I am so grateful for the opportunity to share this practice! My classes are strong and steady with an emphasis on breath and body awareness. I draw from my own experiences and the great teachers I’ve had the honor of studying with including Stacy and Dave Dockins, Live Love Teach, Baron Baptiste and Deborah Adele. I see each class as a practice, as teacher and student, to stay connected to what is needed moment by moment and respond accordingly.

My husband Nick and I are the proud founders of Root Down Yoga Studio. This studio and practice are central to our lives. We feel so fortunate to be surrounded by this incredible teaching team and our community of students. When I’m not at the studio, you’ll probably find me on my horse, in my garden or hanging out at home with Nick and our two cats.

Nick Roush

Nick Roush

Founder/Teacher

Like so many of us, as I found more professional “success” in my life, I gave myself less and less time to move my body and calm my mind… Before I knew it, I was an overdoing, overstressed, “professional sitter” desperately in need of a change. Thanks to my lovely wife Mandy, I started practicing yoga! After just a short time I noticed my strength return, but most of all, I just felt so much happier. I was calmer, more focused and less “knockable” by the life challenges we all face.

Yoga practice has touched and shaped every facet of my life. My relationships, my mental state, my body, the way I do business, everything! I think it comes back to “how yoga works”. The practice works because it gives you a venue to see what’s possible for you. As you are physically and mentally challenged, you learn the tools to help you grow and flourish in the midst of that challenge. Soon, what you previously viewed as a road block is now just a tiny speed bump. What would have previously taken you out is now just another chance to learn and grow. The practice creates so much more space for joy in life.

My yoga practice has led me to my life purpose: To live an inspired life and inspire others to what’s possible for them! I teach yoga because of my most sincere hope to share this life changing practice with you. I invite you to come practice with me and all the teachers at Root Down Yoga! Don’t worry, the practice will meet you right where you are today, no judgement, no expectations. Let the practice work its magic and reveal what’s possible for you!

Holly Bechtum

Holly Bechtum

Teacher

At the risk of sounding like an inspirational coffee mug, I want to state that yoga is a continuing journey for me. There is no end destination, and the path continues to change, depending on where I personally am at any given moment. This is not only true in the physical asana practice, but in all aspects of yoga philosophy. In this life that is packed to the gills with many, many obligations like; work, meetings, play dates, gym time, volleyball tournaments, a super long warrior 2, and so on, it becomes very easy to miss out on the journey portion and set my eyes on “when will it be over”, or “what’s next?”. It can feel like I’m aching for a resolution, or an end point, instead of enjoying what is happening right now.

The practice of yoga has taught me to be the very best human I can be in every moment throughout all of those obligations, by remembering that everything is one breath at a time. Not the next breath, or the one that just ended, but the precise breath I am committed to right NOW. This is the bit of the journey that so often I miss, because it seems so small. In truth, it’s the only way to fully experience life’s journey in total presence, and that is monumental.

By continuing to practice yoga and commit to each breath, I know that in those times of extreme busy-ness or stress, I possess the power to STOP at any time and simply take One. Conscious. Breath. Just one. If even for what feels like a nanosecond I’ve broken the hamster wheel of life, and come back to presence, I’ve succeeded! I just have to keep on practicing.

Leah Burgmeier-Olson

Leah Burgmeier-Olson

Teacher

I’ve been described in many ways: woman, mother, teacher, daughter, student, and lover of all things gifted from Mother Nature.  I am honored to now add the title of yogi to that list.  What started as a means to heal a physical injury has allowed for a transformative journey, one where I fell in love with yoga and it’s power to heal.  The emotional and spiritual aspects of yoga have taught me patience, compassion, and self-love.  What began as a class, became a practice and then a way of life.  And with healing came the desire to share this passion with others, especially children.  Open hearts and minds make children inherently able to receive the gifts that yoga has to offer.  Having seen the power and impact of mindfulness in my first grade classroom, I know that extending this gift through the Root Down community is part of my journey.  I feel blessed to help children embrace this mindset while increasing their confidence and filling their hearts with compassion for self and others, breath by breath, pose by pose.

Stephanie Callen

Stephanie Callen

Teacher

An avenue to live full and love well. I began yoga a month after my dad died. I was 24, fresh out of college and reluctantly back in my hometown, La Crosse, Wisconsin. I felt angry, bitter, lonely, and trapped; I carried sadness and my heart was empty. A friend recognized this void and recommended yoga. As I began to practice more regularly, I experienced brief pockets… moments of space, where my mind wasn’t fixated on the thoughts of wishing my dad was still here or wondering what life would be like without him. I began to tap into, a sensation, a deeper calming breath; a new awareness of my body as it moved on my mat. The more I practiced, the more I felt present in my daily living. I noticed a greater ability to take joy in whatever it was that was happening right in front of me. Yoga has been, and will always be, a continuous journey of shifting myself to THE moment. It is with a joyful heart that my commitment to yoga has equipped me with the tools to live full and love well. Namaste!

Jessie Fortuna

Jessie Fortuna

Teacher

For me, yoga entered my life as just another fitness class to try, but it was one that I just kept going to. It wasn’t long before some major physical changes began to happen. I lost a significant amount of weight, the neck and back pain that I had carried around for years greatly diminished and my chronic migraine headaches actually stopped all together. That alone was enough for me to keep going. So that’s exactly what I did. I simply just kept saying “yes” to yoga. If there was a special class offered, I went. A new program or workshop, I signed up. An upcoming conference or training, I bought tickets. Looking back to almost four years ago, saying “yes” to yoga has completely changed everything! Not only do I feel great and have gained an amazing group of yogis I now call close friends, I know who I am and I love that person. I am JOYFUL! Yoga doesn’t change you. You are enough. It does help you find the best version of yourself. I invite you to say yes to yoga and let the joy in! Yoga can absolutely meet you exactly where you are and where you are is perfect. Yoga is a gift that has been given to me and I look forward to sharing it with you!

Lori Freit-Hammes

Lori Freit-Hammes

Teacher

As a busy mom of three with a full-time professional career, I turned to Power Vinyasa Yoga as a way to help me manage my stress, offer an element of cross training to my exercise routine, and provide me with relief from chronic pain in my neck, back and hips.  It’s done all that, plus so much more.

As a student, yoga has created a space within me to see life differently – to see the possibilities.  I’m the typical Type A, driven, overachieving perfectionist.  I push myself, push some more, and then wonder why I become overwhelmed, frustrated, resentful, or injured along the way.   Yoga has taught me to slow down, to accept, forgive, and to be gentle with myself and others.  It’s helped me quiet the voice of my inner critic, get out of the way of my self-imposed limitations, and begin to love and accept myself for who and what I am.

I teach yoga because I love and believe in the power of this practice.  I’ve been blessed to be part of this growing community and I want to offer that same opportunity to you.  Throw out any preconceived notions you may have in your mind about “yoga” and give it a try.  I hope to see you on your mat!

Julie Hatlem

Julie Hatlem

Teacher

When I was first introduced to yoga I fell in love with the grace and power of the physical movement of the practice. What I have come to love and respect even more, is the connectivity between breath and movement. Every breath, every movement, is a gift to connect to what is happening right now….to choose to respond with intention and awareness. It teaches me to respond to my practice, and my life, in a way that keeps me grounded. Not reacting, judging, or creating story. Do I get it right all the time? Heck no! I am human just like you!

I will always be a student of this practice and I am grateful for the opportunity to share it with you. I believe that yoga, just like life, is filled with moments of curiosity, change, inspiration, problem solving, and acceptance. It’s up to us to choose to be in it and tap into our greater  intelligence to get the most out of our practice and the experience. I invite you to come to a class and be curious, to move and breathe, and discover the grace and power of this practice.

Lisa Hesch

Lisa Hesch

Teacher

I am so honored to have the opportunity to share yoga with all of the children who attend our Sprouts classes here at Root Down! I have been a student at Root Down since the year the studio opened. I am so grateful for all the ways this amazing place has enhanced my personal growth.

Yoga has allowed me to create more space and balance in my life. Through regular practice, I feel stronger and more flexible, more centered and more peaceful. What a gift we can give ourselves – and our children! I love that we are able to plant seeds of all of the benefits of yoga with the little sprouts that join us on Saturday mornings!

When I’m not at the studio I enjoy time with my family, walking my dogs, kayaking the beautiful waters of the coulee region, and working at an area elementary school.

Beth Hietpas

Beth Hietpas

Teacher

I am a “Yogi” (don’t you just love that word?!) for many reasons.  Always an active person, but, not athletic by any stretch of the imagination, I was looking for that one physical activity that really settled in my body.  My experience with Vinyasa Flow Yoga has opened up an entirely new and wonderful world for me.  This powerful, though not over-powering, flowful Yoga practice has helped me better understand my own self, both on and off my mat.  The warmth, the community of breath, the community of people, the sweat, the tears and laughter, the challenge, the ease, the doing and being……ahhhhh…..Yoga.

Some days go better than others on the mat……just like anything else, some practices go more smoothly than others and, that’s OK.  However we show up, whatever our body shape, size, whatever our fitness level, no matter how strong, flexible, coordinated we are or are not…it doesn’t matter.  Yoga is an “equal opportunity” opportunity.  I have been teaching Yoga for several years and have as much to share with you as I have to learn from you. We can explore and experience the awesome, invigorating, humbling and grounding avenues of Yoga together.

My life’s work as a mother of 4 grown children and as a hospital-based Lactation Consultant provides me with endless opportunities to use the flexibility, strength, and balance of both mind and body that I have available to me because of my teaching experiences and personal Yoga practice.  This is gonna be amazing!  I promise….you will be changed by this practice!  See you in class!

Avis Johnson

Avis Johnson

Office Manager

Avis is the beating heart of the Root Down Yoga community. Nick and Mandy were blessed to meet her many years ago and before she was officially hired, she was a dedicated student who always wanted to lend a hand. We had to pull the laundry out of her hands! Her smile will light up any room and she embodies this practice we call yoga. She is the first person to arrive and the last to leave, she knows when to offer a comforting hug or a listening ear, and her fantastic sense of humor keeps us all on our toes. She makes sure all of the teachers, students and volunteers have what they need, when they need it. She is the welcome wagon for all students and she warmly and willingly offers her guidance and support. She does so much for all of us and yet never wants any recognition or attention for it. Which is why we had to write this for her. If Avis did write this, she’d say she loves her yoga practice, she loves her job, and she loves sharing the Root Down community with each of you.
Amber Moesch

Amber Moesch

Teacher

My grandma Marion lived to be 98 years old, and I often wonder if I will follow in her footsteps, perhaps even passing a century!  More than anything, what motivates me and shapes the way I practice yoga is the humbling thought that I might have more than 50 years to live in THIS body!  I am passionate about keeping my own human body working well and helping other people to do the same.  Through teaching yoga, I hope to be able to inspire you and give you skills to inhabit your body with more joy, strength, balance and ease, through all your years and in all that life brings you!

Trish O'Neil

Trish O'Neil

Teacher

In my mid-twenties, I taught myself yoga asanas from a book and set up a daily practice for myself. Before long, I was feeling more confident physically and emotionally. I was able to leave behind a dead-end relationship and finish college. I continued to practice yoga, often at home, throughout the next decades of my life. Then I put myself out to pasture: sinking into a comfortable couch night after night, eating comforting foods and gaining pound after comfortable pound. Yet, inside, I wasn’t comfortable at all. When Root Down opened its studio close to my home, I decided to try out “the hot yoga.” I lay on my mat in a puddle for most of the first class. I wasn’t even able to hold child’s pose! Then I went back, again and again. I took every class and workshop that Root Down offered, including teacher training. I regained enough strength, balance and flexibility to do a wheel and a headstand. Today I am younger than I was five years ago. My goal as a teacher is to share the self-acceptance and vitality that come from moving beyond self-imposed limitations – on the mat and in the world.

Pam Popp

Pam Popp

Teacher

Somehow yoga found me…. It all started with a simple invitation from a friend and from then on, it was LOVE ! Right away I realized that yoga touched me very differently. Was it the breath? Or the physical challenge? Maybe it was the peace that I felt on the mat or simply the love of hanging out with a group of awesome yogis? All I knew was that each time I practiced, it was a new, incredible experience in my mind and body. True awareness was found, so I kept going back.  Yoga has created a transformation in my life, it continues to remind me to let go, to stay in the present moment, to meet challenges with compassion and to just… breathe. One of the greatest things about yoga is that it is always a practice, both on and off your mat.  Lately, combining nature, water and yoga has sparked a new passion for me! SUP(stand up paddle board) yoga . After spending many hours on the water and receiving training, I am so lucky to now fill my summers paddling and teaching SUP yoga classes. How amazing it is to soak up the beautiful surroundings while practicing and teaching yoga on a floating board! Come join a class and play! This special yoga journey is so inspiring, evolving and exciting, I look forward to sharing, teaching and experiencing it with you!

Joshua Rybaski

Joshua Rybaski

Teacher

My father always says “If you work hard, your will hard work will pay off.” This lesson hit home at two major turning points in my life: 1) after a year of pursing my lips and spitting over my fellow, 8th grade classmates I finally taught myself how to whistle, and 2) during my sophomore year of college while starring diligently in the bathroom mirror and avoiding tedious math homework, I trained my body to wiggle my left ear. As you can see hard work pays off!

Yoga entered my life, the way most things do, as an outlet to escape the realities of hard work, in this particular case more tedious math homework; there was also the desire to “stay in shape,”- a term I use loosely when referring to my college years. Starting yoga in a college fitness class more than ten years ago, I never thought I would be a yoga teacher. The journey from student to teacher has been astonishing! I am excited to take what I love about my practice and share it with you!

Cheri Schuyler

Cheri Schuyler

Teacher

Yoga opened up a new world for me in 1999. A friend of mine was studying to be a yoga teacher and asked if I would be her practice student. I was hooked! It started me on a path of study to learn how my body works and how my mind is connected to all that is goes on in my body. The physical practice of yoga helped me connect more deeply with what was going on in my body. The unexpected bonus was that the anxiety that ruled my days diminished so much that I felt like a new person. With my breath and awareness, I could look at the world with less fear and more love.

This lead me to a deeper study of anatomy through massage school. It was also in massage school that I was introduced to Yamuna Body Rolling. It is a practice of deep body awareness that uses balls to create space and optimal function throughout the body. Gravity draws us down every day. YBR is a way to counteract the effects of that pull by releasing tight, constricted tissues opening space for joints to move more freely again. I love to work one-on-one or in small groups so you receive lots of individual attention.

I am humbled to be a part of the amazing community that is Root Down Yoga, both as a student and a teacher. I am always learning from everyone I meet here and am loving it all.

Emily Sustar

Emily Sustar

Teacher

Yoga, for me, is not just a practice of movement, but a way of choosing to live. I use yoga every day whether I’m on or off my mat!  Yoga goes beyond the physical asanas (poses) and into every aspect of life.  Yoga for me can be the choice to pause before reacting to a challenging situation, choosing to connect with someone instead of rushing through the moment, or tuning into my own awareness of my body and my thoughts.  Sharing these skills with people of all ages; adults, and children alike, is vitally important!

I was first drawn to yoga as a teen for the physical practice and physical benefits, but what kept me coming back the was feeling of being grounded, clear, and able to breathe in any situation after I left.   My practice and my teaching have been ever-evolving since I first started on this journey. After moving back to the La Crosse area after spending 10 years living in different parts of the country I was delighted to find Root Down!

I am a mother and have a background as a Montessori teacher.  I am passionate about families, children, mothering, and the sacred journey a woman embarks on to become a mother.  I teach Vinyasa, Yoga Sprouts (kids yoga), and prenatal yoga classes at Root Down.  I am a 200 hr RYT, certified to teach both adults and children and have trained with Stacy Dockins and Deborah Williamson.  I am a certified prenatal yoga teacher, and did my training at Blooma in Minneapolis.

Shelly Wolf

Shelly Wolf

Teacher

My yoga practice began watching videos at home until I accepted an invitation from a friend to try a yoga class at a cool new studio. This willingness to venture from the safety of my living room has turned into one of the best decisions I have made in my life. I too like many chose yoga as a physical practice to get in shape and lose weight. What I discovered was so much more! My physical practice has evolved into one of continued authentic self-discovery. This has touched every aspect of my life, physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. I hadn’t realized the effect on my ability to center myself through breath and the ability to remain present until a friend shared her observation of me during the hospitalization of my son. He was critically ill and we were told he may not live. These were unexpected words and ones of disbelief. After a 3-week ICU stay he came home and is doing well! I can still hear her sweet voice say, “the yoga is working, you were so present and calm during his stay.” Wow! This is why I want to share the gift of yoga with others!

I love the continued exploration of pushing my edge and being willing to fall flat on my face trying to take flight in crow! It’s through this willingness to try things and be vulnerable in a pose, that has transferred directly to my life. Can I be vulnerable and allow life to happen and not control it? YES!!!! It is amazingly freeing to just be in the now!! I invite you to come join me and discover the power and joy of now!