Essencia Yoga Teachers

Danette Bauer

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A young individual cultivating her skills from experience working with communities, and her love for nature, to contribute to building a brighter tomorrow. She began the practice of Yoga looking for a physical outlet until discovering the numerous benefits that come from observing the breath and stilling the mind. Deciding to become a teacher did not come as a surprise for Danette was heavily involved in her yoga practice which transforms her spiritual, physical, and intellectual perspective on the world.  Sharing the gift of yoga by guiding moments of relaxation, strength, and peace is a beautiful blessing to give. She aims to build up individuals and communities from within to create feelings of hope and freedom as they uncover capabilities of the body. These opportunities of teaching give her a chance to explore a creative and courageous side of herself. Danette will always be a student, learning from the
internal and external worlds, and striving to inspire change and action.


Jeannine Bush Clinton E-RYT 500

 E-RYT 200 E-RYT 500

Jeannine Bush Clinton E-RYT 500, is the Founder of Essencia Yoga’s Registered Yoga School, offering 200, 300 and 500 RYT Accredited Certifications.

As the Lead Instructor, Jeannine teaches each class with a commitment to share the essence of yoga.  Her intention is to invite all that come through her classes, to grow in their awareness of the gift of breath, through the practical experience offered in class.  The process of movement and breath connection leads the practitioner through the opportunity to connect with the Essence of breath and life.

She integrates the wealth of treasure found through connecting with ancient tradition and ritual, having come through the Sivananda Line of instructors, as well as the very intuitive flow found in more modern expressions of Vinyasa Flow.  Her attention to detail has gradually become highlighted as she has personally experienced a renewed commitment to the growth and development that can occur with cultivating the core structure and alignment of an individual's practice (of asana/of teaching) from the grounding established in the foundational principles of yoga, integrating mind, body and spirit.

This balanced blend is formed and informed by her training received under various styles of instructors, some of which have brought about great affirmation of her intuition and some of which have kept her accountable with a more definitive approach. She incorporates into her teachings, the eight limbs of yoga, asana, pranayama, meditation, world music with tribal beats, silence and the restorative healing found in a more restorative approach as well.

Practicing since 2000, Jeannine views yoga classes, workshops, and trainings as opportunities to create a space for people to make key connections where needed.  Yoga meets us where we are, inviting the breath in, releasing the toxins out, invigorating the muscles, bringing a greater sense of calm, adding greater balance and focus, while eliminating stress.  This will bring about a clearing out of varying forms of doubt, fear and illusion; freeing up the whole person, to shine forth with greater vigor, as they live in greater alignment with their darma, their essence, their life purpose.


Sara Diaz


Sara has found yoga to bring her clarity in a season of great challenge.  Most people consider the teen years to be the most difficult time of life, where there is great vulnerability to the varied levels of pressure found in school, with peers, even in family relationships.  Like never before there is desire for autonomy and acceptance.  Sara believes that if people can accept themselves as they are uniquely, they will experience freedom. Sara would like to encourage other teens to pursue their passions and not worry about their age or what others have to say. She finds her bliss is a gift whenever it presents itself. For herself, Sara draws much of her inspiration from the water, and brings a calm, free-flowing mentality to her classes.

So, get out of your head and onto your mat and explore the possibilities that are available to you, as a teen in yoga. We are offering this class as a "Teen Yoga Sampler" of what might be available to you on a regular basis during the school year.


Kate Fleming

After a dozen or so years of a committed to one yoga teacher practice Kate decided it was time to delve deeper into the many facets of yoga that comes with teacher training. A life long learner and teacher of many things, Kate discovered how deep and rich the word and world of yoga is. The more that you learn the more you find that you don't know. 

 In the beginning of her yoga teacher journey, Kate enjoyed working with teens, beginners, Tibetan meditation, and discovering all that yoga can offer. But after a chance encounter with another Essencia teacher trainee, Kate met Dana Fish and became certified to teach G.I. Yoga. Working with military veterans and their families has become her calling and now Kate is leading the G.I. Yoga team of teachers.

"strength, flexibility, balance...stress, anxiety, depression...focus, meditation, connection...there is yoga for that!"


Christina Graham

"Christina has been a student of yoga since 2002. She began practicing in high school to combat stress and anxiety and found that yoga created a healing flexibility in both body and mind. Driven to share this practice with others, and to fuse her background in Western medicine with Eastern philosophies, she completed her teacher training with Tapas Yoga under the guidance of many wonderful teachers.  As a Nurse Practitioner working with adult and geriatric patients, Christina aims to help her patients and her students learn techniques to improve their health through lifestyle interventions including diet, exercise, yoga, and stress reduction. It is her goal to help all individuals maintain health, live mindfully, and foster compassion towards the self. She believes that yoga is for everyone, and enjoys practicing and teaching a slow yet challenging Hatha flow class suitable for all levels. She encourages and enjoys providing modifications for injuries and health conditions to make yoga accessible for all. In her free time, Christina enjoys being in nature, cooking, blogging, and spending time with her family. She is an animal lover, long-time vegetarian, and Certified Plant-Based Nutrition Consultant."


Samantha Ho

Samantha’s yoga journey first started back in 2012 as a result of many life circumstances, which ultimately led to her taking her first exploratory step into the world of yoga. A firm believer in life’s beautiful synchronicities, Samantha has no doubt that a bout of shingles caused by work related stress and depression lead her one day to a meditation class, which later opened the door for her to feel guided to sign up to a surf and yoga retreat in Morocco as a then non-yogi!. That very action ended up being life changing, as it inspired her to teach herself yoga via DVD’s prior to her first retreat, and by the end of her first yoga retreat, she was a converted budding yogi!

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Over the years, Samantha has enjoyed exploring and practicing yoga in its many forms (including Power Yoga, restorative, Kundalini, Vinsaya Flow and Hatha), and feels fortunate to have experienced yoga retreats globally as an opportunity to deepen her practice, and connect with so many liked minded yogi souls and talented instructors.  For Samantha, these retreats are investments in her well-being to completely unplug from the noise, chaos and daily grind of work and allow herself space to truly reconnect, re-balance, refocus and reflect on what is important in life.

Samantha has found that her daily practice of gratitude, meditation and mindfulness along with yoga, has helped to cultivate a transformative shift in both her mindset and approach to life itself - which in turn, has changed her life for the better. Yoga has brought her both healing and personal and spiritual growth on many levels. It has helped to equip her with tools that enable her to navigate the obstacles that life can sometimes present, and to tackle life from a place of reflection and gratitude and see challenges as a source of personal growth and expansion. As a HR professional during the day, her yoga practice provides a welcome mental escape from the corporate world, and has brought stillness and balance to help to tame her monkey mind!

A student of life and yoga, Samantha is currently taking her yoga practice to the next level as a student of  Essencia’s 200 RYT program and is the only Brit member of the Essencia Yoga community. She is also a Level 2 Reiki Practioner, Mala Jewelry maker and a creative who enjoys journaling and traveling.


Mary Rittenhouse-Howard

Mary Rittenhouse-Howard 200 hour yoga teacher training customized

Mary Rittenhouse-Howard found yoga for the first time almost 17 years ago. It was not until recently that yoga stopped being something she did and became part of who she is. Mary truly believes that yoga is for everyone despite age, body type or physical limitations and through constant practice and dedication the movements, breath and poses can find anyone. 

As a vegan of 20 years, Mary believes in practicing compassion on the mat and off. A wanderer by heart, she also believes that yoga is a useful tool to help still our sometimes restless minds , bodies and hearts. Her class style is typically playful, inviting, mindful and soothing. Her goal is to share her love for yoga with as many people as possible.

Mary completed her 200hr RYT with Jeannine Bush-Clinton and started her 300hr certification program in early 2016 also under the guidance of Jeannine as well. Her goal is to offer pranyama and meditation to her students, as well as asana, to offer a well balanced  mental and physical practice. Currently Mary teaches a variety of classes at Essencia including Hatha, Vinyasa and Restorative. 


Kiersten Linde RYT 200


Yoga has been a part of my life for over 20 years and through steady practice I have increased my mobility and flexibility, as well as improving my own personal development, both on and off the mat. Yoga inspires me to live in the moment, and find happiness with all those I meet along my journey.

I completed my 200 hour Ansura training with Pulsation Yoga back in 2014 in Arlington Heights, and after 4 years of teaching I decided to take my knowledge to the next level and complete my 500 hour advanced Vinyasa training with Wild Abundant Life in July 2018. I continue to be a student of the practice learning from my teachers as will as the students that come to my classes, and I am deeply grateful for the wisdom they have shared with me. 

In my classes, I combine creative sequencing and humor along with a dose of inspiration to help you deepen your practice. I seek to help others thrive and live by nurturing body, mind and spirit with yoga, and my hope is that you step off the mat feeling strong and empowered as well as balanced.


Maggie Markese


After an initial exposure of yoga in 1972, Maggie has had yoga as part of her overall fitness regime.  Maggie worked at the Chicago Health Clubs as fitness instructor. Her background in dance gave her the opportunity to dance with a company in Northern Spain. In the last 20 years Maggie’s love of yoga has deepened as she studied with various renowned teachers including Rod Stryker, Gabriel Halpern, Shiva Rae and Janet Stone.  

Maggie hopes to integrate all of her experiences into creating a space that allows practitioners to generate energy to open their bodies and minds through connecting with themselves and the poses on a deeper level.  She continues to experience, through teaching, how much yoga works on bringing alignment to the spiritual self through physical practice. She enjoys being a lifelong learner and feels inspired to continually deepen her practice and knowledge to be able to bring these benefits to class. She retired from teaching at the high school level a few years ago and during her years of teaching, she experienced that she learned as much or more from her students as they learned from her. She looks forward to this same fulfilling exchange in the yoga community.


Tabitha McDuffee


Tabitha McDuffee trained in several forms of dance, including ballet, jazz, contemporary, and hip hop from the ages of 4 to 15 and had hopes of dancing and choreographing professionally. But during high school she developed fibromyalgia and had to put aside her dreams for a career in dance. Practicing yoga regularly is one part of a holistic treatment regimen that has made it possible for Tabitha to continue dancing occasionally, despite her health challenges. She believes that movement can bring healing and encouragement, as long as we treat our bodies with patience and kindness. 

Though she is not a yoga teacher, she recognizes the many similarities between yoga and dancing and is excited to introduce yoga students to new ways to move and express themselves. She loves to travel and has noticed that Western countries are some of the only places on earth where dancing is not an integral part of life and community. She hopes her students will step out of their comfort zone in her classes and discover a brand new way to express the complex range of emotions that we all experience. 


Mai McKeon

Mai is so grateful for the practice of yoga and was inspired to share it with others so they may also experience the empowerment and transformation she has felt each time she steps on her mat. Although she truly believes off of her mat is where she benefits most from her practice. Mai shares, “I know my yoga is working when I’m being tested and my initial reactions are mindful and present rather than rash or impatient. When life seems to spiral out of control, my yoga reminds me I can control my breath and my reaction to any situation.”

Mai is passionate about spreading awareness for health and wellness, and her background as a nurse and educator supports her desire to cultivate feelings of healing, love, and light within her classes. She enjoys putting together creative sequences that celebrate the unity of movement and breath, and she loves organic flows that nurture growth within the mind and body. Her favorite mantra is “live your truth” and she hopes to create the space and energy for you in her classes to empower you to do just that!



Kristin Perkins


Hello. I’m Kristin, a yoga instructor with a zeal for traveling, philosophizing and bringing people together to enjoy the practice of yoga. I received my teaching certification in 2010 and am registered with Yoga Alliance. Additionally, I hold a degree in philosophy. The philosophical richness of yoga is what inspires both my personal practice and teaching. 

When planning my classes, I gravitate towards slow, fluid sequences. I tend to emphasize breathing exercises and postures that increase mobility through the hips so we feel calm and comfortable when we come into sitting meditation at the end of the session. I love welcoming people who are new to either yoga or meditation into my classes. I look forward to you joining me soon! 


Linda Perkins


Linda's yoga journey began almost 30 years ago after attending a class at a community college in Southern California. Being on the mat and moving through the yoga postures gave her the opportunity to relax and breathe. She has attended many types of yoga classes and workshops over the years and felt like the best way to grow in her own practice was to share yoga with others and go through the teacher training process.  She has blossomed with ease as she exhibits kindness and mindfulness in her teaching the way she does in her daily life, both in work and play.  She shares:   "I enjoy teaching a class that moves slowly through the asanas while connecting the breath to the movements and allowing quiet space between the postures to meditate and  go inward. By teaching this type of class it gives me the opportunity to give back the gift I have been receiving from yoga for so many years."

Jill Rehm

Like so many people, I began practicing yoga for fitness and stress relief. My body became stronger and more flexible, my mind a bit more quiet. But yoga is awesome because no matter why we come to the mat in the first place, we'll receive all the benefits of the practice if we just keep... practicing.

Over the years I've learned the invaluable importance of showing up as I am, both on and off the mat. I have learned to have more compassion and patience for myself and others. I have learned there is always more to learn!

I am fortunate to have teachers from a variety of lineages - Iyengar, Ashtanga, Sivananda, and Forrest yoga - and I draw from each of these traditions in my personal practice and teaching. Through deliberate movement and body awareness, my goal is to create a space where students can be completely absorbed in the present moment practicing asana as a moving meditation. To strengthen, to soften, to calm. Who knows, we might even have some fun.


Rachel Rusin

"I began my yoga journey many years ago when I met another mom on the playground who was giving free yoga classes in her husband’s hair salon after hours. I have strayed from yoga here and there over the years, but always ended up coming back to the mat. My teachers have included Daren Friesen at Moksha Yoga in Chicago, where I began the 200-hour teacher training, Gary Kraftsow, and Aadil Palkhivala. I am currently finishing the 200-hour training with Jeannine Bush-Clinton here at Essencia, and will continue on with the 500-hour training. I have never found another activity that engages me on so many levels: yoga is physically challenging, requiring strength, flexibility, balance and concentration; it is mentally and emotionally challenging to stay focused in the present moment, to breathe intentionally, and to ride the emotions that arise; it is spiritually challenging to come to the end of myself in my practice, to connect to something bigger, and to surrender. I also love the aspect of play and joy that yoga brings to the surface as we move our bodies with the music of our breath in a reverent dance. As a teacher, I hope to weave all of these layers of practice together into a coherent and balanced class, one that gets you moving with asana but that also gets you thinking, feeling, worshiping, meditating, and finding freedom."


Michael Ryan

Following a personal path, Michael was given the gift of sobriety in 2009. That same path eventually led him to a Yoga/12 Step Recovery class and ultimately to find Essencia in 2015 to obtain his 200 hour YTT certification. For Michael, the Yoga experience truly exposed a frequency of living that compliments sobriety so very well that It didn't take long for him to realize that part of this path was to share the gift of Yoga with others. 

With a strong focus on the meditative qualities available to you through the practice of yoga, you'll find Michael's teaching style to include many breath exercises (pranayama) and energy (chakra) building techniques. While there is so much still to experience and learn in the yoga world, please join him in energizing your day and balancing your spiritual and physical self. 

David Scott

After practicing yoga in the Chicago land area and all across the country for ten years, obtaining his RYT 200 at the Chicago Yoga Center in Lincoln Park was a continuation of David’s path.   David’s teacher, Suddha Weixler, has focused on B.K.S Iyengar based philosophies at his studio for over 30 years.   “Suddha opened my eyes and practice to so much, it was a blessing to train under Suddha and with my fellow students”.   

This past spring, David was riding his bike and needed a break, so he rested on the chairs outside this studio, not realizing it was a yoga studio.  “That’s yoga, I was open to my next journey, I didn’t try to force anything, and it just happened – Essencia found me”.   He loves practicing and learning along with his students.  The diversity of the yoga community, each person’s story, is highly valued by David.

David believes the change in perspective from ‘being” to “doing” is where the abundance awaits.   He loves adventure and recently took up paragliding while on a trip to California.  Trying new things, meeting new people and being open to learning from everyone.

Alignment, Breathing, Observing, Allowing, Reflecting -- are all part of his classes. 

Essential Yoga Teacher Traits - Poem

Anna Thelen

"I fell in love with yoga about ten years ago during a hard and very care-intensive part of my life. Yoga was a space to rest, move, breathe and be gentle with myself. It still is to this day. 

 A year ago I decided to take the leap and do RYT 200 hour training, and completed the course of study in January 2016. I loved every intense and beautiful part of it.  The training itself shaped me physically and emotionally, and taught me more about myself, as well as yoga. 

 I love creating the space and opportunity for my students to find peace and movement on their mats. Touching people emotionally and physically for that time is a joy and a gift that I am grateful to participate in.

Besides teaching yoga in the area.  I am a professional nanny for two wee darlings and a certified Birth Doula. I delight in spending time with my precious friends, salsa dancing, drinking a really good latte while devouring a new book, and always, returning to my mat for my own yoga practice."


Stacey Zagortz

Stacey Zagortz

Stacey began practicing yoga in 2000. She initially came to the mat for yoga’s physical benefits and to break up the tedium of a normal exercise routine. After several years of practicing, she began to incorporate yoga’s breathing techniques into her practice which vastly enriched experiences on and off the mat. Stacey credits yoga with helping her be calmer and be a better mother, wife, and human being. A former school teacher, she has been a registered yoga teacher since 2008 and has a Master’s degree in Education.

Stacey became an instructor in an effort to help people have fun and tap into and enjoy all of the amazing abilities of their own, unique bodies. Her intention is to allow all practitioners to discover their own strength and flexibility to bring balance and a sense of equinity to their practice and their lives.