OUR TEAM

Susan Marrufo

FOUNDER

Susan Marrufo, MA, E-RYT 500, left the United States and a job in advertising in 2008 to travel internationally and experience life beyond the confines of her cultural conditioning. She received her first 500-hr yoga certification in Thailand in 2009, where she began her studies of the classical yogic scriptures and delved deeply into esoteric tantric philosophy.  After 2 years of teaching month-long tantric based courses on the banks of the Ganges in India and the Pacific coastal towns of Mexico, Susan returned to the US to begin a residential internship with the Kripalu School of Yoga, where she taught in and project managed several Kripalu yoga teacher trainings as well as received her 2nd 500-hr teacher training certification from the Kripalu School of Yoga.

Since then, Susan has split her time between India, Thailand and the US, facilitating group courses in the inquiry of yoga and meditation as well as diving increasingly deeper into her own yogic studies. After many years of travel, she is happy to have found a home in the City of Angels.

Susan wishes to express deepest gratitude to her teacher, Sri Prem Baba.

 


Nick Marrufo

FOUNDER

Nick’s journey into the world of Pilates, yoga, and meditation began as a way to heal his body, mind, and spirit after experiencing a physical injury with chronic pain and a series of personal and professional milestones. As his body healed through the practices of Pilates and yoga, Nick also discovered the healing and restorative powers of meditation, and learned to incorporate these practices into complex daily life.

After almost 20 years wearing many hats in the corporate space, Nick took a pause from the fast-paced, intense world of technology to enter a world of health, wellness, and healing. Over the past several years, Nick has become a Balanced Body University-trained Pilates instructor and has been actively teaching and advancing his training. Trained at Bodyline Fitness in Los Angeles, CA, Nick is passionately committed to spending the rest of his life and career helping others in their search for health, mindfulness, connection, and balance.


Lucy Wilson

CENTER MANAGER

While studying dance in college, Lucy developed her yoga practice as a way to stay healthy – physically and mentally – and she has been in love with yoga ever since. She completed her 200-hour certification in 2015, and is pursuing her 500-hour certification, while continuing to teach yoga, dance, and perform professionally. She has a deep passion for anatomy and kinesiology, and is continually in awe of the beauty of the human body. Her goal is to help students create a nourishing and positive relationship with their bodies. Lucy taught on the very first day Samarasa Center opened its doors, and is ever-grateful for this community.

Aside from her role as a teacher, Lucy has also served students for the past 13 years by working administratively for various arts and wellness organizations. She is honored to hold the position of Center Manager at Samarasa.


Steven Arcos

I love yoga. The moment you step foot in my class you will know this. I spent my childhood (and my adult life) collecting comic books and wishing that I had super powers. With yoga I have accomplished that life long dream.  When you do something you love there is a passion that is present that is undeniable and visceral. My super power isn’t my flexibility or my strength. My power is my passion and my ability to care about and inspire my students’ journey. I believe in the power of intention. I believe in the power of laughter. I believe in the power that each of us brings to our practice.


Sonya Bender

Sonya began her journey in fitness teaching Indoor Cycling. Having an avid Pilates practice since her teens, Sonya organically found her way into a 500 hour Certification program to deepen her own practice and to open up a new avenue of fitness instruction to dive into! She now teaches full time all over Los Angeles! Studios she has taught at include Dr Pilates, Eden Sassoon Pilates, and Club Pilates. For her, exercise is part meditation, part fun, and part duty. Sonya hopes to inspire her students to stay dedicated to their own personal self care and self love. She is thrilled to join the talented team at Samarasa Center and can’t wait to help you get stronger!


Rachel Blaine

Rachel was introduced to Pilates in 2013 and fell in love with it immediately. She completed her Comprehensive Pilates Certification with Frank Zito and has since taught clients in Chicago and Los Angeles. Rachel is also a NASM certified Personal Trainer as well as a certified Nutrition Coach through Precision Nutrition. A mother of two young children, Rachel is very active as she teaches her kids the importance of movement.


Leigh Simran Brown

After taking my first yoga class in the late 80’s in my hometown, DC, I knew I was home. I stepped deeper into my journey when I moved to NYC and found my first teacher Ravi Singh. While living in NY I was so blessed to study with some of the great Yoga masters including Pattabhi Jois, Dhrama Mittra and Yogi Bhajan. All these teachers have strengthened and added to the richness of my yoga practice. I took my first Anusara yoga class with Noah Maze in 2007 and was blown away. Since then I have studied extensively with John Friend, Noah Maze, Tony Guiliano, Kenny Graham, Chaya Spencer, Rebecca Benenati and many other wonderful teachers. I am in deep gratitude to my teacher, Douglas Brooks with whom I studied the deeply life enhancing philosophy, Rajanka Yoga. A deep bow to my teacher Michael Bernard Beckwith & the Agape International Spiritual community where I am licensed as a spiritual therapist and I serve as Executive Director. My love for yoga is in the process of remembering & learning who I really am in this ever evolving life. Learning to integrate all parts of myself; even life’s hardest challenges can become great gifts. I love to explore, honor, and take a stand for the divine beauty that emanates from all of us. Let’s do this together on and off the mat. Leigh has completed two full Anusara Teacher trainings, is a Certified Kundalini Yoga Teacher and a Registered Yoga Teacher RYT 200.


Anna Cantwell

The quiet solitude of yoga enthralled Anna from a young age, and Anna celebrates and explores many types of yoga. While teaching high school in Houston and receiving her Master’s degree, she fell in love with Baptiste yoga and practiced daily to relieve mental stress and physical tension. Forrest yoga was her next discovery, and it provided immense physical and emotional healing for her. She found that the alignment-focused, breath-based, build-your- own-heat practice was both challenging and rewarding.

Through a connection at her school, she discovered a Forrest training specifically catered to school teachers, and with that came a radical shift. Seeing her fellow teachers struggle under stress, she relocated to Los Angeles to teach yoga and bring the joy and peace of yoga to local schools.


Michael Chipman

Michael is a passionate practitioner of mindfulness meditation, and he loves sharing this powerful practice as a meditation teacher in the Samarasa community. He completed the Mindfulness Meditation Teacher Training course with David Nichtern at Samarasa in 2019 and now teaches regular meditation classes at the center, in addition to Mindful Meditation for the Creative Soul on Monday evenings. Michael is also a classically trained singer and published author with degrees in music from Oberlin Conservatory and the University of Utah, and he is on the voice faculty of the Colburn School in downtown Los Angeles. In his spare time… oh wait, nevermind.


Eileen Crowe

It was her passion for dancing and performing that led Eileen to pursue a Bachelor
of Arts in Dance from the University of California Irvine. During her studies at
UCI, she was introduced to Pilates as a part of the curriculum. As her training
progressed and she began to dance professionally, she discovered how Pilates increased
the performance, strength, and flexibility in her own body. From there she
developed an interest in its use as a form of rehabilitation in Physical Therapy. She
has seen firsthand the amazing transformation that Pilates created within her
clients’ bodies.

Eileen received the comprehensive Pilates certification through Balanced Body as
well as Pre/Post Natal Pilates, TRX Suspension Training and is a licensed
Massage Practitioner. Using her extensive background in Dance and Movement
Arts, Eileen strives to create a well-rounded class that focuses on alignment and
building a solid muscular foundation along with agility. As a lover of all things
movement related, you may find her practicing Yoga, hiking, cycling and
snowboarding. Currently, you can also find her performing with the fabulous LA
Follies, dancing all around town, and also in her car.


Emily Cummings

Emily is an LA based Yoga and Barre instructor. With a background rooted strongly in her dance training, she likes to get people moving with intention and in connection to the breath. Practicing yoga has helped Emily to hold space for herself, cultivate self love, and to create peace in her life. Her mission is to lead others to feel the same. She wants to inspire and challenge her students to develop a conscious, mindful practice that they carry with them off the mat and into their lives.


Nicole Galli

Nicole is certified in Pilates from Balanced Body University and at Core Conditioning. She has had the great opportunity to study with masters such as Dawn Marie Ickes, Maria Leone, and Jillian Hessel. With a longtime love of movement, she has also studied ballet, modern dance, and world dance including a variety of East Asian styles such as Kathak, a classical dance from Northern India, along with Javanese and Balinese styles of Indonesian dance. A 200-hour yoga teacher training program and continued barre work are evidence of her dedication to movement and mind-body work. An outdoor enthusiast, she stays active by running, hiking and skiing. Nicole regularly attends workshops and continuing education classes to enhance and expand her knowledge of Pilates. She thoroughly enjoys sharing her love of Pilates and movement with her clients.


Ruby Goldin

Ruby Goldin is a Yoga/Pilates Instructor and Personal Trainer who specializes in creative yet safe & effective exercise programming. Ruby believes that first and foremost, exercise should be fun, but secondly, it should be functional. The ultimate goal is to be able to continue to move, right? You’ll notice that even Ruby’s most challenging classes are always centered on core/pelvic stability and proper alignment. Ruby’s favorite part about teaching is being able to connect with her students, teach them something new about their bodies, and have fun in the process! Ruby teaches Monday and Friday mornings and is available for privates upon request.

Jenny Hannah

MEDITATION TEACHER TRAINING ASSISTANT DIRECTOR

Jenny Hannah offers alignment through mind-body communication. She is a meditation and yoga instructor, psychotherapist, art therapist, and group facilitator. Valued for her extensive trainings of psychology, the body, and Art, her holistic practice is potent and multi-faceted. She invites shadow aspects of individual and collective dynamics as teaching tools, encouraging personal and community growth through mindfulness awareness and inquiry. Jenny has a refined ability to weave complex themes into both verbal and non-verbal modalities, synthesizing direct experience through the process of communication, art,  and movement. Her approach is one of exploration and creativity, sealed with evidence based modalities.

By day, Jenny teaches Expressive Arts and offers counseling to college students at University of the West, a school based in Buddhist Principles. In addition to her own practice in relational art, she works at Coldwater Counseling, a Jungian psychology based center offering depth oriented approaches to therapy. Jenny has studied deeply and has been highly engaged with studies and practices of Buddhism for over ten years.


Garrison Lambert

I turned to yoga after growing sick and tired of feeling prisoner to my own thoughts and emotions. Yoga has become my connection to myself; the self that is joyful, loving, compassionate, and peaceful. Through intentional observation of breath, body, and mind we are able to grow more intimately aware of our true selves.
I incorporate aspects of functional movement training into my asana practice in an effort to not just move, but move well; both on and off the mat. We will seek to find maximum involvement and engagement in our practice and our lives.

Justine Malick

Justine is inspired by movement and the body, and her tremendous respect for the body is reflected in her teaching. Pilates and yoga support each other beautifully, and Justine whole-heartedly believes in the harmonious union of the two practices. Justine’s first explorations of movement began at a young age – she started walking at 8 months & hasn’t really stopped since. She also spent over 10 years as a competitive figure skater.

Justine is a 500hr RYT and has completed yoga trainings with YogaWorks and Embodied Flow; she also completed a comprehensive Pilates training through Body Arts Science International (BASI). Justine views movement as medicine and is forever fascinated by the healing and transformative power of working with the body-mind through the blend of these various modalities. In addition to studying Yoga & Pilates, Justine has completed trainings in Deep Bodywork Massage and Resistance Flexibility Strength Training (RFST).


E.J. Merlin

E.J. is a yoga unicorn: she is strong, balanced, inventive, has a horn on her head, and the body of a horse.
Growing up as a short Jewish girl in the deep American South, E.J. often struggled to feel comfortable in her own body. While she initially sought out yoga as a way to reduce stress, what she found was a whole-body wellness and a community she didn’t know she was looking for.
Yoga has given E.J. the mental strength to maintain her sanity during life’s difficult obstacles and the physical strength to think that she can beat anyone in an arm wrestling match.
E.J.’s objective as a teacher is to guide her students into feeling at home with themselves. Trained in the Anusara method under the guidance of Keric Morinaga, every E.J. class consists of precise alignment instructions, creative sequencing always leading from the heart, and between 2 and 37 references to ice cream.


Genna Messmer

Genna found her place on her mat nine years ago while living in Denver, CO. After experiencing reoccurring dreams of teaching yoga among a tapestry of different settings, she decided to follow the call and deepen her practice to receive her teaching certification in Forrest Yoga in July of 2015. Looking to enrich the lives of her students and her community with this magical practice, Genna brings a caring authenticity to an invigorating and mindful class. She looks forward to meeting you on the mat!


Donna Otten

Donna Otten discovered Pilates when she started rehabilitation to heal from a debilitating car accident in 2001 that left her with multiple complex injuries. She gained an immediate appreciation for the healing and strength-building effects of practicing Pilates. After a 15-year career has a portrait photographer and dealing with chronic pain, another life was calling her. In 2010 Donna  took a hiatus from photography to focus on gaining a deeper understanding of the Pilates practice that helped build and strengthen her mind-body connection.  She then decided to embrace Pilates fully by training to become a certified teacher and chose Bodyline for her education.  Donna received her certification with PhysicalMind and has continued her education through Balanced Body. Her Pilates practice has become much more to her than fitness. Donna continues this daily journey/practice of balance, mindfulness, Love and forgiveness and with an open heart hopes you will join her.