Shelley Williams has been an active student, practitioner, and teacher of mindful movement in the south bay community for over 15 years. She discovered her love of movement, however, long before that as a competitive teen gymnast, which then opened the door to the world of contemporary dance and professional modern dance performance. In 1996, Shelley was fortunate to find yoga and pilates as a healing addition and alternative to the rigors of training and performance. Since then, yoga has provided her with more than a moving expression of meditation; it has become a way of life. Her passion for learning, experiencing, and teaching yoga and pilates grew into a successful boutique neighborhood studio, The Pilates Room & Yoga Lounge in Hermosa Beach, which Shelley co-owned and operated for 7 years. Shelley continues this lifestyle as a resident teacher at The Pilates Room, Yogaworks, and The Yoga Loft, and also offers regular teacher workshops, Yoga Mittra Vinyasa Yoga Foundation Trainings, and adventure retreats both locally and internationally. She is a certified teacher of Hatha Yoga, Vinyasa Yoga, Prenatal Yoga, the Pilates Method, and the Gyrotonic Expansion System. Shelley is also designated as a Yoga Alliance E-RYT 500 Teacher, and a Pilates Method Alliance Certified Instructor. Her teaching is influenced by elements of Reiki, Ba Gua Zhang Tai Chi, surfing, modern dance, and world music.
Shelley is extremely grateful for the guidance and opportunities to study in-depth principles of yoga with inspiring masters such as Max Strom and Shiva Rea. Shelley earned a BA from UCLA’s World Arts and Cultures program, with an emphasis in modern dance, intercultural performance, West African Dance, and integrated arts education. Shelley also feels privileged to share quality teacher education with Genevieve Pujalet and Suzy Nece through Yoga Mittra Vinyasa Yoga School.
I can humbly and openly offer myself as a teacher because of so many people that have shared their presence, knowledge, inspirations, humor, trust, and personal experiences so openly with me over the years, both in the classroom and in life. The wonderful thing about being a teacher, is that we continue to learn not only from our own teachers, but from our students.
The opportunity and honor to teach students of all ages, in so many different settings, wouldn’t even be possible without my own wonderful, sage teachers. They continue to guide me on an ever-evolving path, and I am so grateful for their guidance. Every single one of them has shaped my approach to my own practice, to how I teach, to how I live.
As a young dancer and gymnast growing up in Fountain Valley, California, my first educator of the body as an instrument for artistic expression came from Christine Baltes. Later on, under the guidance of Linda Sohl-Ellison at Orange Coast College, I was introduced to the beauty and release of modern dance, and the art of presence in stage performance. This education continued and deepened with all of the amazing resident and visiting professors at UCLA’s World Arts & Cultures Department, as well as a scholarship position with Tremaine Dance School in North Hollywood.
I dabbled in the world of commercial dance for awhile, but found my real love of performing and collaborating within the growing modern dance community in Los Angeles. I was fortunate to perform with Helios Dance Theater for four wonderful years, under the artistic direction and killer creativity of Laura Gornstein-Miller, alongside the brilliance of fellow dancers and friends Diana Mehoudar, Maria Gillespie, Paula Present, Jamie Elmer, Kelly Knox, Stephane Nicoli, and Dietmar Koenig….wow, did we have so much fun!
Pilates and Yoga are often the kindly companions many dancers lean on to keep their body feeling balanced, so as injuries slowly started to occur, that is naturally where my path took me.
While rehabilitating from an ACL reconstruction surgery in my knee, I started taking Pilates lessons. My very first, formal teacher training in the Pilates Method with Ivon Dahl, taught me about refining the balance and structure of the body, how to integrate strength with flexibility, and was my first real introduction to breathing deeply.
Later that same year, a friend literally dragged me to a yoga class. In the first five minutes, I wasn’t sure I would make it through to see the end of class. As I exited the studio, I still wasn’t quite sure what had happened, but I realized that I felt more calm, more at ease, and more at peace in my mind than I had in years. Something happened in that studio that my heart recognized, and thinking back on it, what had happened was yoga.
About a year later, I met Max Strom and began to study with him at Yogaworks, Santa Monica, and then continued to explore the path of yoga under his benevolent guidance and wise teachings at Sacred Movement in Venice, California. I was fortunate to cross paths with so many deeply inspiring teachers and students while studying, and later teaching, at Sacred Movement. What a wonderful community! The first teacher training I participated in was a rich offering of the combined voices of Max Strom, Shiva Rea, Saul David Raye, and Sherry Brourman. That experience opened my inner Pandora’s box of an appetite for learning and living yoga that continues today. I continue, to this day, to take trainings and workshops every year, and the depth of the yogic path continues to enthrall me.
Max Strom and Shiva Rea continue to be my most influential mentors. Max has generously given me his time and support in so many ways- whether it be by simply listening, or by encouraging me to step outside of my own comfort zone. I am able to learn from both Max and Shiva on a subtler, deeper level by observing and assisting classes, teacher trainings, and deep study on retreats. The ever-evolving Shiva Rea continues to offer so many fertile learning opportunities for continued study in the Prana Flow community- I am grateful to be always inspired by her eloquence and creativity. In-depth workshops, class study, and specialized trainings (in various fields) with Shiva Rea, Max Strom, Maria Gillespie, Seane Corne, Maty Ezraty, Sharon Gannon and David Life, Tim Miller, Ray Long, Natalie Ferreira, Matthew Cohen, Hala Khouri, Suzanne Sterling, Carol McDowell, Cora Veit, Chris Tompkins, and Dr. Parla Jayagopal have also influenced my field of understanding and teaching expression in so many beautiful ways. From my heart lotus, a thousand thanks to each of them.
In 2003, I partnered up with Page Sieffert and co-owned The Pilates Room & Yoga Lounge in Hermosa Beach, California, through 2010. It was a great opportunity to share yoga and pilates with the local community, build relationships and friendships, explore teaching, and learn about the “business” of running a business. The fabulous Jennifer Swarbrick took over The Pilates Room in 2010, and brings fresh new energy to this bustling little neighborhood studio.
Being liberated from managing a studio has given me more time…..to live yoga, to play, to learn, to experience, to surf, and to pursue my interests in sharing yoga with other aspiring teachers. As wife to an amazing hubby, and mama of two beautiful, joyful children, I am stoked to have more time to spend with my family.
I love being a part of the local yoga and pilates community here in the south bay, and feel very fortunate and inspired in teaming up with Genevieve Pujalet in creating Yoga Mittra Teacher Training. The journey continues…..